A Little Light Reading

We’re going out of town this Friday for a transcontinental trip (down to Atlanta for a friend’s wedding and some dental work, then out to Denver for a company conference and then on to Utah for a Johnson camping trip) so I thought I’d pose some good reading for you.

The topic: Public Choice Theory.
The short version: Public Choice Theory is basically the study of politics based on ecomonic principles. This is different from traditional political science in that most poly sci theories revolve around the way it should work in an ideal world, while Public Choice Theory describes how politics actually does work. (Technically, Public Choice isn’t just about politics, but hey, this is the short version).
The long version: A pretty thorough summary of Public Choice Theory can be found here
, with a shorter version here.

The gist: Politicians are motivated by self-interest before the interests of anyone else. This is bad because we don’t truly get how self-serving and self-perpetuating the current system of bureaucracy is, which only adds more taxation while providing less representation (sound familiar?).

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DAVid & Goliath

Okay, so Goliath has moved from “apps I’m playing with” to “apps I can’t live without” status in record time.

Because we have WebDAV set up for me to upload files at work, I’ve been using Dreamweaver MX to move files. There haven’t been any issues with checking files in and out until a few weeks back when I had to send my work computer in for repairs (the iBook’s LCD was freaking out). While it was getting fixed, I was using my other computer (a Dell 8100) to work.

No problem there; I had Dreamweaver 4.0 on the PC and simply overrode the checkout permissions for all the files checked out (locked) when my iBook died. The problem arose after I got the iBook back. When I set up 4.0 to DAV into the work machine, I made my profile (email) the same as in MX and when I returned to MX, it still registered the old checkouts and didn’t allow me to check any files in. Oddly, 4.0 still allowed me to check files in and out (I think it has to do with the version control that MX has in it, not because of some problem with DAV). So I had to resort to using the Dell as I figured out a way to override the locking problem.

I knew that OS X had DAV support built in but I had never messed around with it until this situation. Found out that I didn’t need to use the terminal to use DAV; I could GUI in using “Connect to Server” (Cmd+K). I soon grew tired of that; I couldn’t see locked/unlocked status in the Finder, changing the status necessitated a “Get Info” move, and the whole connection, which dragged at times, caused the entire Finder to hang anytime I was connected (even worse when attempting to save a file locally from an application).

So I downloaded a few different DAV clients and tried Goliath. In a few clicks I was able to override all the locked files and reset their states so I could interface with the files in MX with ease. No need to return to the PC, I’m back to doing it all on the iBook again.

Thank you Goliath!

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Why I will never buy a car from Twin City Subaru

The old Audi is on its last legs and will probably not last through the next winter. Just today there was this really weird smell coming from the engine (a combination of burning rubber and jalepenos). When I popped the hood and started rooting around–I am not a car guy–I found an electrical connector that wasn’t connected to anything. I have no idea what that means. Luckily we have a fabulous mechanic Bill who runs the Auto Union, but even he said at our last appointment that we ought to think about looking for a replacement.

So we’ve been looking at the Subaru Outback Wagon (like every third person in Vermont) and the nearest dealer is Twin City Subaru in Montpelier but I cannot, for the life of me, bring myself to enter their dealership. It’s not because I’ve heard bad stories about their service or because I’m against buying from dealers, it’s because of their TV commercial.

Now it is a local company so of course the ad dollars spent were limited–shot on video with minimal special effects and so forth–and there aren’t any people in the commercial (it’s no creditangels thank goodness!). The gipper is the song.

This perversion of some 1930’s radio jingle must only be heard to be hated. Words cannot express the insane agony I feel when the commercial comes on and the worst part about it is that it’s at the beginning of the advert which means I have no advanced warning to change the channel. Fingernails on chalkboard is less annoying than this piece of work; it is that bad.

I feel sorry for the studio hacks who were paid to perform it and for the cable guy who has to see it over and over again as he monitors the systems. But I have no pity for the company that chose to inflict this plague upon us.

And so, I’ve decided to never buy a car from Twin City Subaru in Montpelier, Vermont.

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How to Write Unmaintainable Code

When I first began working with programmers, I never quite understood why they never liked taking over or maintaining an existing project that was coded by someone else. I used to think, “Code is code; it shouldn’t be so hard to figure out, right?” But then I started doing a little of my own programming and realized that: 1) there are a million different ways to design a system and 2) there are a million more different ways to document it.

Of course, I never thought they wrote code so they would intentionally be irreplaceable. Until I read How to Write Unmaintainable Code by Roedy Green.

One terrific excerpt:

Bedazzling Names

Choose variable names with irrelevant emotional connotation. e.g.:

marypoppins = (superman + starship) / god;

This confuses the reader because they have difficulty disassociating the emotional connotations of the words from the logic they’re trying to think about.

Oh, in case you were wondering, yes, he’s kidding (another Canadian with a sense of humor).

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Coming Soon . . .

I’ve been using Movable Type for the last year or so to document my daughter Alison’s life, and am finally getting around to starting my own blog.

I’ve got to make a few more tweaks to this and then will start publishing.

Stay tuned.

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