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Permanent link to archive for Sunday, December 02, 2001. Sunday, December 02, 2001

Time: "Developed at a cost of more than $100 million, Kamen's vehicle is a complex bundle of hardware and software that mimics the human body's ability to maintain its balance. Not only does it have no brakes, it also has no engine, no throttle, no gearshift and no steering wheel. And it can carry the average rider for a full day, nonstop, on only five cents' worth of electricity." 

Bara Vaida: "Howard Schmidt, Microsoft's chief security officer, is expected to leave within the next month to join the Bush administration and work with White House cyber-security adviser Richard Clarke, according to sources in the computer-security industry." 

NY Times editorial: "This is a nation built around the rule of law, not faith in the goodness of particular officials." 

NoMoreWar.Com: "Many of you are saying that suspending this site is the wrong thing to do, because now - more than ever - we need to maintain the call for peace." 

Even Doc Searls is a soldier in the war against ants. 

Michael Fraase: "Directories are a very powerful feature of Manila that is hidden in plain sight." 

Jim Roepcke: "This has been Pro Wrestling Interrogation Theatre." 

Glenn Fleishman: Gifts to delight Mac users

West Wing 

First, a question. Why haven't ABC and CBS followed NBC and started their own White House drama series? Now that we know that the people love watching high stakes drama, sort of a Dallas on a larger stage, why not have the Republican version? And maybe a third version where Pat Buchanan accidentally gets elected President? Hey you could probably even hire him to play himself.

That leads to the next question -- when do the mythical White Houses start becoming more real than the real one? Of course the actors don't control the nukes, or have the budget of the Executive Branch, but they're even more interesting than the real actors who live in the real West Wing.

The West Wing has been conspicuously silent on areas of political significance after the Sept 11 attacks -- all the michegas with military tribunals and freedom, but what if they took a stand?

Interestingly, it seems the TV networks have wandered into an area where they could do some damage, or good, depending on how you look at it. They could easily test the waters for us as to how good-natured Ashcroft and Bush really are.

All that assumes they haven't already made their deal with the devil.


The rainy season has started with a vengeance. There are a few signs that it's here for real. The leaky spots in the roof are leaking. The creek behind the house is a raging torrent. And the ants are back. I don't think I've ever written about the ants.

They're a seasonal thing, like the bees (that are really yellow-jackets). Once the ground gets saturated they look for dry warm places, like the kitchen. The first scouts are showing up now. They like the coffee maker, presumably because it's a little warmer than other spots. Not much ant food there. And boy do they like to eat. Just a drop of food left on the counter and thousands if not millions of ants beat a trail to it.

Not much to be done about the ants, I don't like the smell of the chemical sprays that get them to stay away. I'll keep you posted about their invasion.

Brain Power Magazine: "Most of us have, at some time, watched with fascination as a group of ants work together to bring food back to their nest."

Orven Lewis: "See if you can find Combat or other brand bait trays for ants -- little plastic disks that ants carry poison from back to the nest. After a couple days, they should be about gone."

Bill Appleton: "I know you are a pacifist, but one way to stop the cycle of violence is to kill every last one of your enemies, in this case, the ants. These are small, well organized California ants, they live in a single large nest that is in a dry, protected place up to 50 yards from where you see them. A situation like this calls for the suspension of civil liberties, and perhaps the use of chemical weapons."

Knowledge Management, Day 2 

A fair amount of kvetchy email about the Knowledge Management section I wrote yesterday. I want to clarify my pov.

Yes, I agree good writers make a big difference. But they need facts. That's what a KM system can capture.

Second, we do have writers on our team. I am a writer. So are Brent and Scoble. Jake is getting good, when he gets out of his head and relaxes, he's great. Doug shows promise. I like working with developers who communicate. Ask any of them. I stress this all the time. "Narrate your work," says Dave. Our RFC process generates excellent writing. Perhaps we have different values than other devteams. People wonder how we get so much done with so few people. Perhaps this is it.

Third point, every well-designed piece of software should have great docs. Show me a product that has great docs, and let's do a case study on how they got created.

Christian Langreiter: "Mathematica has great docs."


An important fact people may not have considered. In the endgame of a product ship, most of what developers do is writing. There's a lot of coordinating to do, lots of checking assumptions. An example, yesterday I wrote a 6-step RFC, it took about twelve hours from concept to sign-off. All writing. This morning I'm writing the code. Lots more writing as I document the steps I took, all the changes I made so people on the devteam know what to expect. Would a docs writer, working on a user's manual six months from now find this narrative useful? Without a doubt.


Last update: Sunday, December 02, 2001 at 8:33 PM Eastern.

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