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Outgrowing software — Benedict EvansThe car industry probably created more millionaires in retail and real estate than in the actual car industry - making cars was just one industry, but mass car ownership changed everything else. I often think that’s a good way to think about the state of tech today: 80% of the world’s adult population has a smartphone now, so how many things can we do with that? That’s what ‘software is eating the world’ means. But part of that is also that Walmart wasn’t built by car people, from Detroit. It was built by retailers. Sam Walton was born a decade after the Model T, and this year’s MBA class was born the year Netscape launched. At a certain point, everyone has grown up with this stuff, everything is a software company, and the important questions are somewhere else.
How to hack your deadline: Admit it's uncertain -- ScienceDaily"Stakeholders are always dealing with a complex set of uncertainties, but they are rarely shared with project managers. The goal is to bring the two worlds closer together and incorporate the knowledge that's uncovered into the management process," Bordley said. "I like to ask stakeholders to think of a situation that would cause a deadline to get pushed forward by a month, for example. Tell me about that situation, estimate how likely it is to happen. Focus on the extremes. That way, you end up with optimistic and pessimistic deadlines that are more than just numbers."
Why the 'Worst' Crypto Networks Will Be The Biggest - CoinDeskThese crypto networks will have a familiar failure pattern: A well-meaning protocol designer comes in and looks at a complex reality. They don't understand how it works because it's complex and messy. Rather than trying to understand why it looks like a mess and whether that is serving some deeper purpose, they attribute it to the current design being "irrational, ugly and inelegant" They come up with an idealized protocol design which makes sense on paper After the initial marketing hype and buzz fades away, the protocols users and community don't like "living there" and slowly migrate away.
Addicted to Your iPhone? You’re Not Alone - The AtlanticFor example, rewarding someone with an instantaneous “like” after they post a photo can reinforce the action, and potentially shift it from an occasional to a daily activity.
Women code better... IF they're anonymousNow a team of researchers has done an exhaustive analysis of millions of GitHub pull requests for open source projects, trying to discover whether the contributions of women were accepted less often than the contributions of men. What they discovered was that women's contributions were actually accepted more often than men's—but only if the women had gender-neutral profiles. Women whose GitHub profiles revealed their genders had a much harder time.
Google and Facebook go after GoGoogle DeepMind employs more than 200 AI researchers and engineers. Over the 18 months or so it's spent on AlphaGo, the team ballooned from two or three people to 15, Hassabis said. "Go is a pretty sizable project for us," he said. DeepMind recently hired Matthew Lai, a London researcher who developed a system capable of playing chess at the grandmaster level. His software was able to reason in a way similar to how humans do, a more efficient method than IBM's attempt to crunch every possible outcome before making a move in the 1990s.
Corner cases and documentationOne day, Lauren was playing with the MIT command module simulator’s display-and-keyboard unit, nicknamed the DSKY (dis-key). As she toyed with the keyboard, an error message popped up. Lauren had crashed the simulator by somehow launching a prelaunch program called P01 while the simulator was in midflight. There was no reason an astronaut would ever do this, but nonetheless, Hamilton wanted to add code to prevent the crash. That idea was overruled by NASA. “We had been told many times that astronauts would not make any mistakes,” she says. “They were trained to be perfect.” So instead, Hamilton created a program note—an add-on to the program’s documentation that would be available to NASA engineers and the astronauts: “Do not select P01 during flight,” it said. Hamilton wanted to add error-checking code to the Apollo system that would prevent this from messing up the systems. But that seemed excessive to her higher-ups. “Everyone said, ‘That would never happen,’” Hamilton remembers. But it did.
Who needs software?The original document laying out the engineering requirements of the Apollo mission didn’t even mention the word software, MIT aeronautics professor David Mindell writes in his book Digital Apollo. “Software was not included in the schedule, and it was not included in the budget.” […] By mid-1968, more than 400 people were working on Apollo’s software, because software was how the US was going to win the race to the moon.
Cars are gonna be commoditiesIt may make more sense for the cars themselves to be owned by someone with a big balance sheet - a GE Capital, if you like - that owns hundreds or thousands or cars with an optimised financial structure, rather than individual drivers getting their own leases. That in turn means that the cars get bought the way Hertz buys cars, or - critically - the way corporate PCs get bought. In this world what matters is ROI and a check-list of features, not flair, design, innovation or fit and finish. The US car-rental companies account for around 15% of the US industry's output, and some models are specifically designed with this market in mind. They're not the cool ones. That poses a challenge for Apple, and indeed Tesla. If the users are not the buyers, the retracting door handles or diamond-cut chamfers don't matter.
Before the metaphor became realityIn a glowing review for the Los Angeles Times, Larry Magid expressed amazement over many of the metaphor and skeuomorphic features that would come to define the personal computer, surrounded by quotation marks that are remarkably quaint today. "Once you've set up your machine, you insert the main system disk, turn on the power, and in a minute you are presented with the introductory screen. Apple calls it your 'desk top'. What you see on your screen looks a lot like what you might find on a desk," he wrote. His analysis of the user-friendly visual interface—which was quickly copied by Microsoft and soon spread to virtually every personal computer—sounds strikingly like the awe we expressed after first seeing the iPhone's intutitive touch screen-controlled operating system in 2007. "It uses a hand-held 'mouse'—a small pointing device which enables the user to select programs, and move data from one part of the screen to another," Magrid wrote. "When this process was described to me, it sounded cumbersome, especially since I'm already comfortable with using a keyboard. But the mouse is so much more intuitive. As infants we learned to move objects around our play pens. Using a mouse is an extension of that skill."
Laptops 'ain't gonna happen!' -- NYT columnist in 1985Was the laptop dream an illusion, then? Or was the problem merely that the right combination of features for such lightweight computers had not yet materialized? The answer probably is a combination of both views. For the most part, the portable computer is a dream machine for the few. The limitations come from what people actually do with computers, as opposed to what the marketers expect them to do. On the whole, people don't want to lug a computer with them to the beach or on a train to while away hours they would rather spend reading the sports or business section of the newspaper. Somehow, the microcomputer industry has assumed that everyone would love to have a keyboard grafted on as an extension of their fingers. It just is not so.
No software runs as fast as "no code."the fastest way to get something done — whether it is having a computer read a line of code or crossing a task off your to-do list — is to eliminate that task entirely. There is no faster way to do something than not doing it at all. That’s not a reason to be lazy, but rather a suggestion to force yourself to make hard decisions and delete any task that does not lead you toward your mission, your values, and your goals. Too often, we use productivity, time management, and optimization as an excuse to avoid the really difficult question: “Do I actually need to be doing this?”
Yes, I know, it's just a simple function to display a window, but it has grown little hairs and stuff on it and nobody knows why. Well, I'll tell you why: those are bug fixes. One of them fixes that bug that Nancy had when she tried to install the thing on a computer that didn't have Internet Explorer. Another one fixes that bug that occurs in low memory conditions. Another one fixes that bug that occurred when the file is on a floppy disk and the user yanks out the disk in the middle. That LoadLibrary call is ugly but it makes the code work on old versions of Windows 95. Each of these bugs took weeks of real-world usage before they were found. The programmer might have spent a couple of days reproducing the bug in the lab and fixing it. If it's like a lot of bugs, the fix might be one line of code, or it might even be a couple of characters, but a lot of work and time went into those two characters. When you throw away code and start from scratch, you are throwing away all that knowledge. All those collected bug fixes. Years of programming work.
Sites like CucumberTown, Forkinit, and BigOven offer comparable services, but Fork the Cookbook is distinguishable by its commitment to user-experience and interface. It has no news feeds, up/down votes, or likes. The Forking Chef is adamant about focusing on the recipes rather than social features and design that does the recipes justice.
To build something truly reusable, you must convince three different audiences to use it thoroughly first.