Archive for April, 2008

Steve Yegge on XEmacs

This post by Steve Yegge surely has to be one of the best blog posts I’ve ever read:

  1. It’s technical without being undecipherable
  2. It’s got enough humor and irony to keep me smiling
  3. It’s opinionated, but in the neutral sense of the term. You might also say “he has a thesis”.
  4. It’s informative
  5. It’s well-researched
  6. It’s respectful
  7. It makes me want to learn more


Emacs is a revolutionary, almost indescribably QWAN-infused software system. Non-Emacs users and casual users simply can’t appreciate how rich and rewarding it is, because they have nothing else to compare it to. There are other scriptable applications and systems out there — AppleScript, Firefox, things like that. They’re fun and useful. But Emacs is self-hosting: writing things in it makes the environment itself more powerful. It’s a feedback loop: a recursive, self-reinforcing, multiplicative effect that happens because you’re enhancing the environment you’re using to create enhancements.

I’m trying to dig through my memories of Steve Yegge and damned if I don’t recall writing him off a while ago for being a self-important idiot. This blog post has convinced me to give him another try.

ReadyBoost / VMWare Issues with SVCHOST.EXE

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been using VMWare on Vista to load a saved Windows XP image in which I do some specialized work. I’ve been frustrated because every time I start the image, my CPU bounces to 100% – about 50% for the VMWare process and about 50% for the mysterious Mr. SVCHOST.EXE.

If I manually kill the SVCHOST process, my network goes away. One or two cycles of diagnose/repair usually fixes it, and then I’m good to go for the rest of the day.

I resolved this morning to get to the bottom of it, and I believe the culprit is the ReadyBoost service. After disabling that service and restarting the machine, no more SVCHOST bullshit when I start the VM. I don’t use ReadyBoost capabilities anyway – I have 4 GB of physical RAM, which is fine for me – so disabling it would appear to not pose any problems.

Great Post on How to Present w/Powerpoint

Brett Lamphier of Athleon has posted a nice set of tips for the budding presenter. Excerpt:

Your slide deck is like your friend that’s hanging out behind you, integrate it into the conversation you’re having with your audience. Introduce them. Make them friends. It sounds weird but speaking with ease between your .ppt file, your audience, and your brain just makes everything work.

Great stuff. I could have used this when I was preparing for my own presentation earlier this month in front of the Seattle Tech Startups group. Luckily I don’t think I committed too many of the “don’ts” and I actually got a few of the “dos” as well.

WordPress is Hacking My Posts

Check out this screenie from the bottom my most recent post:

WordPress inserted that “Possibly Related Posts” stuff without me being aware of it. Hmm. If I wanted to advertise other people’s posts I’d charge for it. I think. What’s going on?

UPDATE: It’s a collaboration between WordPress and Sphere. Key point for me:

It’s setup for all blogs (hosted by WordPress) by default and can be turned off but if you turn it off, you won’t be included in the overall index and will lose any traffic that might come your way.


“Should” Is Not A Great Marketing Strategy

Is the better mousetrap you’ve been peddling being presented to customers with the admonition “You should use this” or “You ought to use this”, with no clear understanding of the immediate pain point that you can solve?

Example #1.  OpenID. Yeah, in theory it’s great that I can use one identifier to get me access to all of these current future services, and yeah, we *should* move to a saner identification and authentication scheme, but that’s not enough for me to overcome these issues:

1) Complexity: I don’t want to understand what an OpenID provider is, or why I need one.  I want to go to WordPress and say “Make this an OpenID”, and have them prompt me for whatever additional info they need.

2) Chicken-and-egg: I don’t want to go to OpenID until one of my daily services requires me to.  They don’t want to do that until enough people use OpenID.

Example #2: RDF, markup, and the Semantic Web. This is another case where in theory it would be great if we all tagged everything and let robot overlords do all the dirty work of aggregating meaningful information and finding the needle in the haystack, but why am I going to invest a bunch of time, with mediocre tool support, to do that today?  What pain am I feeling?  Google does fine by me.

Example #3: Open Source. A lot of the arguments for open-source come down to a theoretical argument against capitalism, closed knowledge systems, info-tyranny, the archaic intellectual property rules, or what have you.  Frankly, all of those arguments pale in comparison to free-as-in-beer.  What pain am I feeling?  The empty pocketbook is painful.  Everything else is grad-school rap session bullshit for your customers.

Example #4: Twitter Clones. I included this one because we may be at the cusp of a real change, with Twitter’s recent uptime problems and turnover in the engineering staff.  I’m on Twitter because (a) it’s simple and (b) all of my friends are on Twitter.  If it goes down for a short bit, it’s not a huge hassle – why move to Pownce or some hand-forged RSS MacGuyver replacement?  I’m not (yet) feeling the pain.  But if there is  more extended downtime, the evidence that we need to move to another platform will be incontrovertible.  Attention Twitter: the pain is starting.  Make huge strides now in your reliability or risk losing your franchise.

Everyone should  now go read (reread?) Clayton Christensen. (pun intended).

Daniel Gilbert on Happiness

There was a neat interview with “happiness researcher” Daniel Gilbert in yesterday’s New York Times. Excerpt:

Another thing we know from studies is that people tend to take more pleasure in experiences than in things. So if you have “x” amount of dollars to spend on a vacation or a good meal or movies, it will get you more happiness than a durable good or an object. One reason for this is that experiences tend to be shared with other people and objects usually aren’t.

(h/t Cassie)

Giraffe Labs: New Seattle Co-working Space

Reposted in its entirety from the Seattle Tech Startups mailing list, a notice from Brian Dorsey:

I’d like to announce a new fun cheap co-working space in Pioneer Square:
Giraffe Labs.

It started from our work on Saturday house and Six Hour Startup.
Justin Martenstein pushed the plan forward and we (myself, and Anders
Conbere) signed the lease last Friday for the former home of Jackson
Fish Market at 620 Western. (Thanks Hillel!)

This is however, not your traditional co-working facility, we don’t
have assigned desks and we don’t have conference rooms, or
receptionists. We do have a group of creative, engaging people,
working in a relaxed atmosphere (think couches and tables) at a price
that is hard to beat.

For $100/month, you get power, wireless and a place to work with
creative people nearby.

More info:

“Wait, doesn’t Seattle already have My Day Office, Office Nomads and
Yep, isn’t Seattle great, lots of co-working!

We’ll be at the space from 5-8pm this Thursday. We’d love it if you
came by to check out the space and talk about what we’re trying to do!

Take care,

This looks interesting. Some people, including yours truly, need to rub elbows with smart/creative types in order to be fully effective. Others need silence and isolation. If you’re one of the former, you should think about checking this out.