Random Thoughts

Tech, words and musings from an Englishman in Seattle

Why Am I Sceptical About Hillary Clinton?

I find nothing appetizing about people that jump on a political bandwagon, especially in an area that I care deeply about.

Clinton, who is reportedly planning to seek the Democratic presidential nomination for the 2008 election, has aligned herself with hardline right-wing Republican senators in order to pressure Congress into researching the impact of electronic media on children.

Games are an art form. Politics does not belong in art.

Flame on.

Testing On The Toilet

Since I joined Google, I've been incredibly impressed by the focus on testing. You've probably heard that you can't escape even when you're in the bathroom - the test team post flyers in the stalls and in front of the urinals with useful testing hints.

Testing on the Toilet

Well now you get to see them too! The Engineering Test Team have opened them up on their new public blog.

We're unveiling the public release of “Testing on the Toilet”: one of Google's little secrets that has helped us to inspire our developers to write well-tested code. We write flyers about everything from dependency injection to code coverage, and then regularly plaster the bathrooms all over Google with each episode, almost 500 stalls worldwide. We've received a lot of feedback about it. Some favorable (“This is great because I'm always forgetting to bring my copy of Linux Nerd 2000 to the bathroom!”) and some not (“I'm trying to use the bathroom, can you folks please just LEAVE ME ALONE?”). Even the Washington Post noticed.


A Classic

Top 5 Parental Sex Aids for 2007

Parental Sex Aid Number 5 - Vaseline

I love this stuff. Rub some of this on your knob and there is no way those kids are getting through the door. Their little hands slip and slide all over that door knob and you can get at least 15mins…

As the first commenter said (and be sure to read the rest), you had me at “knob”.

Subscribed :-)

[Tip'O'Hat to Parent Hacks for the link.]

Five Things…

The Five Things meme has finally reached me - it must be really hitting the long tail of it's lifetime now!

So, you get to thank to Justin Uberti for tagging me as I unleash some trivia about my life…

Anyhow, the rules are that I tell you five things about me that you might not know and then tag five others to do the same.

With that out of the way, here we go…

  • My first coding experience was on a friend's KIM-1. Then a ZX-81 followed by a Spectrum, followed by etc…
  • At Sixth Form (High School to you Americans) I was instrumental in putting on a production of “HitchHikers Guide To The Galaxy”. I co-wrote the script in whilst supposidly in physics class with a friend of mine and then let him direct the adaptation while I did sound. We sold out all three nights and made a bunch of money for the school - we had people coming to see it from all over the country.
  • I wrote computer games at school and sold them. I wrote books of games with “code listings”. I was published in Crash.
  • In the early 90's I wrote an application for the official scorer's at TCCB cricket matches that replaced the traditional, centuries old, scorebooks. It was a TCL/TK app running on X-windows on BSDI Unix on 386 laptops that connected back to base so we could provide live updates to Teletext. That was over a SLIP connection. There was no PS2 mouse driver at the time so I wrote it. Think about it - 70 year old cricket geezers using X-windows on Unix in the early 90's. They loved it. Oh, and I also got to sit in the scorer's box at Lords during the 1993 Ashes series…
  • I love sailing. Especially sailing in far off distant lands. Unfortunately I've not got to do that much recently…

And with that I get to tag five other people. Lets go with:

Murky Direct3D History

I really need to sit down and write a history of Direct3D from day one, i.e. pre-Microsoft acquisition of RenderMorphics, through to around DirectX 6.

The anti-Microsoft venom that still surrounds the whole OpenGL v Direct3D wars still hurts - we honestly we're trying to (and did do) the right thing. Even the Wikipedia article I just linked to has unpleasant bias…

I still posit that the state of consumer 3D would not be what it is today without Direct3D appearing on the scene.

And OpenGL would still be in the same stagnant state that it was in 1995.

Anyhow, this little outburst was due to a comment on a blog I happened to stumble on.

Not quite a happy ending. OpenGL was totally shot down by Microsoft, who used its monopoly in the desktop OS market to push DirectX instead, a propriety Microsoft graphics library. Had they embraced openGL, we would be seeing good games on all platforms, not just Windows.

Lots of high-profile game developers signed an open letter to Microsoft, including John Carmack (who may have even authored the letter if I memory serves), to ask Microsoft to embrace OpenGL for the good of the industry, the developers, the games, and most of all, the consumers.

Of course, Microsoft wouldn't listen, and used their power to push out OpenGL and gain market control, as per their traditional modus operandi.

Sorry to be Debbie Downer, just wanted to point out that the ending isn't so happy after all.

To which I responded:

Regarding Zach's comment - Not to totally thrash a dead horse or anything, but I was the PM and oddly enough one of the developers on Direct3D and it's predecessor, Reality Lab.

We did not set out to “kill” OpenGL. OpenGL was stagnant, did not run on commodity hardware and had laughable realtime software rendering support. I posit that if it were not for Direct3D giving the 3D graphics hardware industry a kick in the arse, we would not have the games we have today and OpenGL would still be stagnant.

At the original PDK outing of Direct3D, all the 3D hw guys really had no idea what was going on - they were all aimed at arcade and military applications. No one was focussed on the consumer.

I wish people would look at that time objectively and not with “MS hate” in their eyes. Hmm, maybe it's time I wrote it up.

btw - it was Chris Hecker that authored the letter.

Time to sit down and write that history post…

Findory Is No More

Greg Linden, founder, developer and writer calls it quits on Findory.

I've always liked the site, and visit it regularly. I also met Greg at a Gnomedex once and found him to be hyper-intelligent and fun to talk to.

It must be really hard to just “call it” after four years, even if it is the right decision. Hell, it was hard enough to call it on SwitchGear after eight months (which was also the right decision).

Findory.com launched on January 2, 2004. The website just passed its three year anniversary and, including the early work on the ideas behind Findory, Findory has been in my life for nearly four years.

In the last few months, I have been evaluating new directions for Findory. I asked colleagues I trust for their thoughts and pulled in two senior advisors (thanks, Bill and Dan).

Some good options came out of these discussions, but none lead down a path I am passionate about. I built Findory to follow a passion.

Thanks Greg, and good luck in whatever you do next.

Marketing 101

Now that is marketing.

Respectful, ingenious, class.

10. We're moving the first people in and are completely bought out - 389 residences before the completion of construction in a market that is decidedly not booming. (Don't get me wrong, this was a good building priced well in a great location. But, our marketing was the x factor in making it work.)

Godin is, to my uneducated ears, a total purple cow, the engineer of marketing. This just proves it.

Maybe :-)

Opt Out Of Unsolicited Credit Card Offers

I wish I had known about this loooong ago.

In a similar fashion to the do not call registry for cold sales calls, you can opt-out of the pre-screened credit card offers that are:

  • annoying
  • wasteful of trees
  • an identity theft nightmare

Visit OptOutPrescreen to do the business.

OptOutPrescreen.com is a centralized service to accept and process requests from consumers to “Opt-In” or “Opt-Out” of firm offers of credit or insurance.

OptOutPrescreen.com is a joint venture among Equifax Information Services, LLC, Experian Information Solutions, Inc., Innovis Data Solutions, Inc., and TransUnion, LLC (collectively the “Consumer Credit Reporting Companies”).

Btw, for those of you that might think that the site itself is a scam (the fact that it asks for your SSN should set your spidey-sense tingling), note that the FTC links to the site, it's SSL'd and the matter has been debated on Ars Technica and other places. Personally, I believe it's legit.

I've signed up - let's see what happens.

[Many thanks to Lifehacker for the link.]

Google Is The Number One Place To Work

According to Fortune Magazine, Google was the best company to work for in 2006.

Life for Google employees at the Mountain View campus is like college. It feels like the brainiest university imaginable - one in which every kid can afford a sports car (though geeky hybrids are cooler here than hot rods).

Here the shabbily dressed engineers always will be the big men (and, yes, women) on campus. “Hard-core geeks are here because there's no place they'd rather be,” says Dennis Hwang, a Google Webmaster.

Pretty cool, huh?

DayLife - Dig Deep

I've been playing around with DayLife today, and to be quite honest, I really like it. DayLife, for those who have somehow managed to miss all the coverage is a new aggregation site with a number of twists. There has been a bunch of commentary since it came out, so I'll just add a few of my impressions.

I like the design, the feel of the site. I love the use of images and callouts.

But most of all I love the ability to dig deep. Interested in that story on infant car seats Well, just dig a little deeper. Try clicking on the link on the right hand side to Graco Inc. Now you can dig deeper into the people and organizations related to the company.

I love it!

As someone who wants to know as much as possible about a story that interests me, DayLife might be a keeper.

Definitely one to follow.

© 2001 to present, Steve Lacey.