Friday, July 21, 2006

Scott Adams' Cynicism Koan

Today's Dilbert is better than any I've seen in a long time.


Monday, July 17, 2006

Why is Unix not good enough for Enterprisenessosity?

Sounds snarky, I know. But I actually do want to ask the question.

It seems to me that one of the things that defines Enterprise code (besides abysmal performance, ridiculous user and administrator interfaces, feature bloat, and resistance to change, haha I can't not say it, my fingers wouldn't let me) is that Not Invented Here Syndrome is very strong. WS-Security exists because WS-People don't think HTTPS is secure enough, even though it's good enough for WS-Designers to do their internet banking with. WS-Transfer exists because WS-Designers forgot the WS-Standards are realized as SOAP over HTTP. Lots of products use databases when as Mr Bray so rightly puts it ext3 or ReiserFS or UFS or ZFS would do just fine.

So what is it about Unix that the Enterprise doesn't like? It seems like most are happy with its ability to act as infrastructure, in the sense that it can run a JVM and/or a .Net CLR, but don't want to use any of the higher-level services like secure, distributed filesystems it provides. Is it a familiarity thing? Are people coming out of Enterprise Architecture School -- whatever that means -- just not familiar with the capabilities of the world's best server OS? Are we just paying lip service to reusability, writing our 'general' components, all the while not acknowledging that the most general component of all has already built this stuff, and it's been in production for twenty years?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sixty-five trillion reasons...

...not to hold debt in US T-Bills denominated in US dollars. (Thanks for the correction, Atlas.)

Kotlikoff holds forth on the structure of the US economy.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Independence Day

230 years ago today, a nation founded itself. Whatever one thinks of its current (or past) leadership, its mores, its methods and its concerns, it has done a great deal for the world over that time.

Happy Independence Day, United States of America.

What We Really Know

What you truly own is what you can carry in one hand, running flat out, firing an automatic rifle over your shoulder.  Facetiousness aside, there's a point there.  Ownership, as a concept, is pretty contentious when/if the rubber meets the road. 

So that's what you own; what about what you truly know?  What you can remember, running flat out, firing an automatic rifle over your shoulder?  In that case, I know the feeling of fear, my name, my desire to live, my face in the mirror, and not a lot else besides a whole lot of song lyrics (what, you mean they don't pop into your head all the damn time too?).  But I know a lot of other things right now, sitting on a city bus typing this out on my way to the office.  I know I look like a huge nerd with his laptop out on a city bus, for one thing.  And I know I dislike commuting.

I think it's mostly about context.  Psychology's known about the effects of context on memory for a long time, but it's not something that we think about in everyday life.  One of the sideline expository devices in Charlie Stross's Accelerando is a pair of glasses the main character wears, glasses that feed him context about everything he pays attention to.  It's like an implant without the actual hardware; when he loses them, he loses so much of his memory that a lot of his identity goes away too. (sideline question:  how is what you know different from who you are?)  We're not to that point yet -- at least I'm not -- but we're getting there; I often find myself answering questions with the help of the internet when the I'm near a device that can access it, I don't even try to remember meetings anymore, and it's been a long time since I sent a letter through the real mail.  It wasn't until I spent a few days without network access getting my laptop up and running on Solaris (I've switched back to exclusively running Windows now, with Solaris and so on in VMWare, so that's no longer an issue) that I realized the extent to which I rely on my network connection to feel at home on my computer. Even if the job I was trying to do didn't require any network interfaces other than loopback (there's no place like 127.0.0.1!), not having access to the web made everything harder.

Ultimately I 'm not sure the distinction between "what you know" and "what you really know" is important.  After all, the context required for any given set of memories is usually present when you need them (what reason would you have for trying to recall something out-of-context?), and the mind is a flexible thing.