Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Pretty Scary Update!


In a world of pirating, marketing schemes, high powered PR, and multibillion dollar companies there's one group that is still getting the job done.  The internationally renowned sandbox game is back for it's third straight year.  Minecraft is the beautiful product of Markus Persson and his little team over at Mojang.  The project started as a side project by Persson that quickly spread as an internet phenomenon.  Since it's inception in 2009, Minecraft has beaten the odds (and the lawsuits) to become the poster child for what I'm calling the "electronic ma and pa company."  

When companies and governments are all up in arms over piracy and digital downloading, Mojang shows that a project can thrive in an open community.  The ingredients for success are simple.  Be open and be relatable with a project that people want.  If you don't believe me, go check out Minecraft (the pretty scary update is the time to do it), and be supportive of gimmick free products.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Using the User

For those of you that regularly follow me, I'm sorry for this out-of-no-where post.  I'll be back on schedule as soon as my classes stop demanding posts out of me....

Linus Torvald (look him up) had a very interesting approach to building software.  Raymond describes it as the "bazaar" style.  It's an approach that has an open air feel; operating in direct opposition to the closed door development style of most of the software giants today.  While you may agree or disagree with this style of development, there is one point that you need to learn from it.

Treat your user as a co-developer.

This is the key to knowing what to build, what to change, what to fix, and what to keep.  If your product is software or motorcycles or fireworks, use your user as a developer.  After all, isn't your product being designed for your user?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Confidence


Tricks and tactics seem to be the name of the game in the confidence department.  'Do this' and 'try that' is the battle cry in a war with self-esteem and confidence.  In the video above, Amy Cuddy suggests that body language is the latest way to alter how you feel, and as a result how you behave.  Without attempting to downplay her fabulous talk, let me recommend something better.  In analyzing the numbers of women in computer science, Paul De Palma indirectly suggests that becoming something is the key component of confidence.  He recommends practicing small problems and working within simple systems as a means of exploring an unknown space.  Practice little things.  Practice lots of things.  Rather than trying every trick in the bag, practice doing the small until you're confident you can tackle the big.  Engrain a practice until it becomes part of you, because when you're doing what comes natural you can't help but be confident in what it is you are doing.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Technology is a Human Opportunity


Watch what you do!  If you didn't realize this already, you should be aware that even the slightest legal missstep will result in Jason Bourne knocking down your front door and murdering you with a newspaper and ballpoint pen.

Okay, that first bit was probably a bit exaggerated.  As the above video explains, getting from point A to point B via computer network isn't really as simple as googling "Who's hacking me?"  From a civilians standpoint, trying to find out who's doing what on a computer probably involves something more along the lines of observing, logging, fighting (rather frustratingly) for warrants, contacting host companies, and possibly months of rinse and repeat.

Pursuing an invader isn't really worth all that the effort, especially if your case doesn't end up being the rare Cliff Stoll case (but wouldn't it be sweet if you did catch a German spy?!).  Let me rephrase that; pursuing an invader isn't really worth the effort to the individual; it's just too expensive.  That being said, the internet isn't a network of individuals, it's more like a manifestation of a world wide society.  It's this special place that connects everyone with everyone (and everything) in a (mostly) completely open way.  And like every society in existence, every individual within that society has moral responsibility to protect their neighbor.  The internet is the first chance humanity has had to evolve into a truly universal, utopian society. Let's not squander this opportunity, mmkay?