Organizations and Sociology
I have lots of clients who have great ideas, wonderful vision, and yet have a lot of trouble understanding why I keep asking them for more and more specificity before I sit down and write some HTML or code. I’m afraid they sometimes think I’m a dolt because I keep asking for more detail about exactly what they want me to do. They find it hard to understand why I can’t just take an idea and run with it. Why do I need a detailed specification?
I ran into this passage a week ago, written over 10 years ago (but timeless), and the clarity and insight was so right on that I laughed out loud:
“The programmer, who needs clarity, who must talk all day to a machine that demands declarations, hunkers down into a low-grade annoyance. It is here that the stereotype of the programmer, sitting in a dim room, growling from behind Coke cans, has its origins. The disorder of the desk, the floor; the yellow Post-it notes everywhere; the whiteboards covered with scrawl: all this is the outward manifestation of the messiness of human thought. The messiness cannot go into the program; it piles up around the programmer.
Ullman, Ellen (2012-02-28). Close to the Machine: Technophilia and Its Discontents (Kindle Locations 352-356). Picador. Kindle Edition.
So when the client says, “Make that headline a little more greenish,” I now have something I can point them at so they’ll understand the difficulty of that seemingly simple task. I love it!
Well am I ever surprised! I would have thought that inserting a robots.txt file that tells googlebot to “go away” would cause it to “not index the site.”
Instead, I discovered that the googlebot may still spot the site and then put up a message saying that the site exists but is not indexed. i.e. the Googlebot still publicizes the existence of the site. It makes Google look like the good guys and us look like the bad guys for putting up a robots.txt. Yay for Google liberating all online information! Boo for us trying to keep our site un-indexed until we’re ready to make it public. (continue reading…)
Someone asked today about the meaning of “73” as used by amateur radio operators. It essentially means “Bye” or “Best wishes” and is used when you’re done talking to someone and signing off…as in “I’ll say 73 for now.”
I remembered that 73 was a “message number” as used by amateur operators in the 1950s when I got my license, so I looked further.
I got the lead I needed from SignalHarbor who says that in the April, 1935 issue of QST magazine, on page 60, there is an article “On the Origin of 73” — and that is correct! I looked it up (ARRL members can read old QST issues online). They quote from “Telegraph and Telephone Age” 1 June, 1934 (which I could not find), and list the following message numbers:
- 1- Wait a minute
- 4- Where shall I start in message?
- 5- Have you anything for me?
- 9- Attention, or clear the wire
- 13- I do not understand
- 22- Love and kisses
- 25- Busy on another circuit
- 30- Finished, the end
- 73- My compliments or Best regards
- 92- Deliver
“It appears … that in 1859 the telegraph people held a convention, and one of its features was a discussion as to the saving of ‘line time.’ A committee was appointed to devise a code to reduce standard expressions to symbols or figures. The committee worked out a figure code, from figure 1 to 92. … ”
And, of course, “30” is used by lots of people, including newspaper writers at the ends of their stories. Since stories were originally wired or telegraphed, this usage of “30” makes a lot of sense.
So where does “86” come from then? One of my favorites, but it’s not a telegrapher’s message. Google it and see which theory you believe. It clearly means “removed from circulation” or “ended” but the theories of its origin are interesting and inconclusive in my opinion.
Digital nomads, you can finally and really be the system administrator for your cloud (and other) servers from your iPad. Since December, each time I’ve left town, I have intentionally left my MacBook Pro at home in favor of my iPad. I found that just having a few specific apps allowed me to fully administer my cloud servers from the pad. Please note that a bluetooth (or other) keyboard is required for some of these apps to function fully. But generally I can do everything I need to when I’m on the road. (continue reading…)