Kiln's Evolution, Part 1: DVCS as Code Review

November 9, 2009 | personal, programming, technology
One of the things that really sucks about doing online code reviews is that, in all the systems I know, your code reviews do not integrate with your source control. If the code reviews are versioned at all—and they’re frequently not—then they’re in an entirely different system than your real VCS. For larger reviews, where you’re talking about a major piece of functionality, that means that your source control system will end up lacking the history of how a feature came to be. In other words,…

The Launch of a Secret Product

October 14, 2009 | personal, programming, technology
For the past year, an odd thing has happened, if you’ve followed my doings. My work on Fog Creek Copilot seemed to dwindle, I became tight-lipped about what I was working on, and I started getting really excited about an upcoming product release. Also around this time, my knowledge of Mercurial, Python, C#, and ASP.NET MVC all seemed to dramatically increase, even though my free-time code output shrank to nothing. What was going on? Oh, the usual. I was working on a top-secret brand-new…

WALL•E's Soundtrack

June 30, 2008 | personal
In my earlier review, I compared WALL•E—at least the first half—to a silent film. (True, the sentences, “Directive?”, “WALL•E,” “EVE,” and “Classified!” are indeed spoken, but since that’s it, I’m willing to fudge a little.) Silent films were, of course, not actually silent; a pianist—or, for larger locales, an organist, or even an entire orchestra—provided music to accompany the visuals. I had hoped that WALL•E would honor that tradition by having an outstanding soundtrack. I was not…

WALL•E: The Last Great "Silent" Film

June 29, 2008 | personal
I was more excited about the arrival of WALL•E than I have been about any movie in a very long time. WALL•E would be one of the last Pixar films with minimal Disney influence, promised to make us fall in love with a pair of robots, and, I hoped, would give the Pixar a chance to redeem itself from Cars (also known as “Doc Hollywood with less nudity and more automobiles”). Besides, the trailer for this post-apocalyptic G-rated adventure used part of the soundtrack from Brazil. What wasn’t there…

The Ultimate Philosophers

April 11, 2008 | personal
Whenever someone asks me who my favorite philosopher is, my answer usually elicits either a blank stare or a chuckle. My answer is always Bill Watterson. Watterson’s comics meant a lot to me when I was growing up. Even though I was hardly an impossible-to-manage kid (cough), I empathized strongly with Calvin’s view of the world. As a constant daydreamer myself, his blurring of reality and fiction spoke to me in a way that few other works, comic or otherwise, really could. As I grew older,…

An Ode to Primer

April 10, 2008 | personal
One of my absolute favorite movies is Primer. Written, directed, and scored by an engineer who also serves as the film’s leading actor, Primer stands as a testament to what science fiction can be. Too many science fiction works either are nothing but social commentary that use science as a glorified MacGuffin, or else have plots that exist primarily to rant about new scientific ideas. Primer has neither fault, beautifully embracing hard science while having a riveting interpersonal drama based…

A Gentle Story for the Sabbath

March 28, 2008 | personal
Not remotely related to science or technology, but this nice story of a mugging taking a beautifully positive turn is more appropriate for the end of the week anyway.

Chicken Chicken Chicken

October 7, 2007 | personal, technology
Chicken chicken chicken chicken, chicken chicken chicken chicken. (Chicken chicken chicken—chicken chicken chicken—chicken chicken.) Chicken chicken chicken chicken chicken chicken! Chicken chicken chicken chicken chicken.

Who Killed the Electric Car?

September 7, 2007 | personal, politics
A few days ago, I watched Who Killed the Electric Car?, a documentary covering the growth and decline of electric cars in the 90s. The movie focuses on the GM EV1 as its poster child, interviewing several EV1 drivers, sales personnel, and parts manufacturers. Because I had only a dim memory of the EV1, or even of the concept of electric cars being on the road, I found a lot of the documentary fascinating. To be sure, the documentary has a clear message: the electric car was killed because it…

Psyches and Schedules

September 6, 2007 | personal
Over the last two weeks, I’ve altered my schedule in a very simple way: on most days, I get up earlier and go to bed earlier. At one point, I was a morning person. Sleeping 'til 8 or later was a rare treat; most days, I got up at 6:05 AM sharp. For the first two years I was in college, I made the radical change of getting up at 7 instead of 6, but otherwise kept the same schedule. In my last two years of college, though, I fell apart. Most college students sleep from about 2 AM—10 AM, and if…