Monthly Archives: June 2012

Screw the Power Users

But if you’re building a mainstream consumer product, then from day one you need to tell yourself, “screw the power users.”

That’s hard to do – after all, you’re a developer, so you’re one of the power users. You want to make people like yourself happy.

But I’d argue that’s one of the biggest problems that has plagued the software industry. We’ve all built stuff for ourselves, even though the vast majority of software users aren’t like us.

The creator of HomeSite and FeedDemon on harmful consequences of listening to power users.

Welcome to America

The handcuffs came off just before I was locked in a cell behind a thick glass wall and a heavy door. No bed, no chair, only two steel benches about a foot wide. There was a toilet in full view of anyone passing by, and of the video camera watching my every move. No pillow or blanket. A permanent fluorescent light and a television in one corner of the ceiling. It stayed on all night, tuned into a shopping channel.

Scary and sad. Fist-hand account of how the Land of Freedom welcomes journalists.

Twitter Engineering: Improving performance on

To improve the experience for everyone, we’ve been working to take back control of our front-end performance by moving the rendering to the server. This has allowed us to drop our initial page load times to 1/5th of what they were previously and reduce differences in performance across browsers.

Everything old is new again: Twitter discovers how the websites were build in the 90’s. And Twitter saw it was good.

The exercise habit

Right now I’m reading The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg and everything suddenly became very clear. Exercise is what Duhigg calls a “keystone habit”:

“Typically, people who exercise, start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. Exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change.”

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It sounds horribly douchebaggy. But of course it’s true.

Poland scores late goals in education

While media attention focused on the scorching performances of Pisa chart-toppers such as regions of China and South Korea, it was Poland’s success which perhaps offered the more relevant lessons to the struggling post-industrial economies of western Europe.
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Flattering article about Polish education system. Of course in Poland we know better.

The Facebook Illusion

The German philosopher Josef Pieper wrote a book in 1952 entitled “Leisure: The Basis of Culture.” Pieper would no doubt be underwhelmed by the kind of culture that flourishes online, but leisure is clearly the basis of the Internet. From the lowbrow to the highbrow, LOLcats to Wikipedia, vast amounts of Internet content are created by people with no expectation of remuneration. The “new economy,” in this sense, isn’t always even a commercial economy at all. Instead, as Slate’s Matthew Yglesias has suggested, it’s a kind of hobbyist’s paradise, one that’s subsidized by surpluses from the old economy it was supposed to gradually replace.
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Finally somebody has the courage to say that in the internet economy the numbers fundamentally don’t add up. Apparently we need another dotcom bust to make it plain to everybody.

The PHP Singularity

The best way to combat something as pervasively and institutionally awful as PHP is not to point out all its (many, many, many) faults, but to build compelling alternatives and make sure these alternatives are equally pervasive, as easy to set up and use as possible.

Jeff Atwood got fed up with the posts on how broken PHP is.