Learning coding from boredom

February 27, 2012 | personal, politics, programming, technology
I think the point of math class is probably to teach people math, but what many of the best developers I know actually learned in math class was how to program. Nearly every high school math class I took was really, really boring. Not through the fault of the teachers; they were actually awesome. But I consistently knew just enough to be bored, yet not enough to actually skip the class. At first, I tried to act like I was paying attention, which meant that my face had to be vaguely directed at...

On Being Good

January 12, 2010 | politics, technology
Google’s motto is, “Don’t be evil.” I’ve always found that motto disturbing for two reasons. First, a company that can differentiate itself—successfully, no less—from its competitors merely by promising not to be evil implies that the average company is ridiculously corrupt. A person who announced, “My motto is, ‘don’t shoot people’” would be notable because no one thinks you should shoot people, making the promise weird and redundant—not because the promise represented some great sacrifice. Yet...

Entitlement Culture and Learning to Fail

February 18, 2009 | politics
The New York Times today has a column explaining how college students feel they deserve high marks just for putting in effort. To these students, I say: grow up. Real life does not reward raw effort. I will not pay you for building my house merely because you showed up every day and tried very hard. Customers will not buy your software simply because you launch Emacs from 9 to 5 and do your best to write good programs, and G-d forbid that my doctor got his M.D. because, dammit, he really worked...

Bill Gates on Reforming Education

February 6, 2009 | politics
Because the main thing I’m hearing about Bill Gates’ TED talk is, “Bill unleashed mosquitos!”, I want to encourage everyone to watch his entire speech. Bill Gates gave an outstanding explanation of the problems with the American education system, including a solid overview of how we can start to fix this problem. Teachers in general are diametrically opposed to being held accountable for their work. With some luck, Gates and others can help get the situation changed, enabling us to fix our...

TED Talk on the Third World

November 22, 2008 | politics
This is an amazing, riveting talk on the progress—both social and economic—that has been made in the Third World. If you vote, if you’re active in politics, you need to watch it.

The Impact of Gay Marriage

November 20, 2008 | politics
I have to confess, this is roughly my take on the situation. I’m not especially clear on what the hullabaloo is about.

The Fuel Economy of a Toyota Prius vs. a BMW M3

June 30, 2008 | politics, technology
And it turns out that the Toyota Prius isn’t necessarily that great for the environment after all. (This should not come as a surprise if you’ve been keeping up on the research into renewable energy.) Listen closely to the end of the segment, though—the point isn’t that the Prius cannot be more efficient than the M3, but rather that the driver has to do his part to drive more conservatively, too—something that I’ve argued, and been keenly aware of, since I started driving.

DSLAMs, BASes, and BitTorrent, Oh My!

June 29, 2008 | politics, technology
Bell Canada is currently engaged in a lovely kerfuffle with the CRTC (Canada’s rough equivalent of the FTC) for throttling BitTorrent traffic. The CRTC recently ordered Bell Canada to release its bandwidth numbers, and Bell Canada, after some protestations, complied. The little teensy problem with their data, as Ars Technica points out, is that the numbers indicate that any problems Bell Canada is experiencing have nothing whatsoever to do with BitTorrent, and can be trivially and cheaply fixed....

The Worthless ISOification of OOXML

April 16, 2008 | politics, technology
Tim Bray makes the same argument I’ve been making for months on why ISO-certified OOXML won’t actually make a lick of difference. At least the ISO has successfully proved how corruptible they are for all geeks to see, so I suppose the approval process wasn’t totally useless.

Parental Views on Video Games

April 13, 2008 | politics, technology
According to Ars Technica, parents would rather that their kids’ video games feature decapitations than sex. I don’t really have any commentary to add; just read the whole article.