Tim’s Weblog Tim's Weblog
Tim Strehle’s links and thoughts on Web apps, managing software development and Digital Asset Management, since 2002.

Standing versus Sitting

Jamis Buck at Signal vs. Noise – Standing versus Sitting:

"So I propped my keyboard and mouse up on a few encyclopedias and gave it a go. The first week was rough on my feet and legs, which ached constantly. I kept a bar stool handy for resting periodically on, but I really tried to stand at least 80% of the time. After that first week, though, things improved rapidly.


Tue, 29 Apr 2008 19:50:17 +0000

Hire family people

David Heinemeier Hansson at Signal vs. Noise – Hire family people:

"When people have other obligations outside of work that they actually care more about than your probably-not-so-world-changing idea, the crutches are not available as an easy way out, and you’ll have to walk by the power of your good ideas and execution or you’ll fall fast and early. That’s a good thing!

[…] This is what companies need, startups or not. They need constraints and especially constraints on how often you can play the hero card to Get This Very Important Project Done. Most projects are just not that important and most things just shouldn’t be done anyway, despite how good of an idea you feel it is in the heat of the moment." 

Thu, 24 Apr 2008 22:25:16 +0000

PHP Connection Pooling Whitepaper with Benchmark Available

Christopher Jones – PHP Connection Pooling Whitepaper with Benchmark Available:

"The whitepaper [PDF] talks about the changes in the PHP OCI8 1.3 extension, explains some of the concepts behind DRCP and FAN, and gives best practices and tuning tips.

It includes a new PHP benchmark which shows up to 20,000 connections being handled by Oracle on commodity hardware using only 2G RAM." 

Thu, 24 Apr 2008 22:20:32 +0000

Be Good

Paul Graham - Be Good:

"There are many advantages of launching quickly, but the most important may be that once you have users, the tamagotchi effect kicks in. Once you have users to take care of, you're forced to figure out what will make them happy, and that's actually very valuable information." 

Tue, 22 Apr 2008 20:50:11 +0000


"“Seek” adds faceted browsing features to Mozilla Thunderbird and lets you search through your email more effectively."

Mon, 21 Apr 2008 11:05:21 +0000

The waterfall trap for “agile” projects

Gojko Adzic – The waterfall trap for “agile” projects:

"Because increments are done in detail, a lot of effort is wasted when a piece needs rework (and the initial releases are almost certain to fall into this category). Iterative development offers a chance to see the picture from the start, and guide the development towards the full picture in steps. Not carving stuff in stone from the start allows us to change them easier later on, and we know that we’ll need to do that. Jeff gave the following rule of thumb to check quickly if your plan is iterative or incremental: “it’s not iterating if you do it only once”."

Sat, 19 Apr 2008 22:21:12 +0000

Agile / Lean or Common Sense and Permission To Change?

Rob Bieber - Agile / Lean or Common Sense and Permission To Change?:

"What Semler’s story shows me is that if people are given the freedom to work the way that is most effective, they will. More than that, if you invest in them with trust, they will want to do these things as their commitment to the company will obviously go up based on how they feel they are treated.

Semler uses a key phrase throughout his books that is repeated over and over. “Treat people like adults”. Semco, Toyota, Amazon and Google seem to do a really good job at this, as I’m sure most high functioning companies do."

Thu, 17 Apr 2008 12:32:13 +0000

Excerpts from Ricardo Semler's book "Maverick: The Success Behind the World's Most Unusual Workplace"

Matt Linderman at Signal vs. Noise – Excerpts from Ricardo Semler's book "Maverick: The Success Behind the World's Most Unusual Workplace" (citing Ricardo Semler's Maverick):

"In other words, the successful companies will be the ones that put quality of life first. Do this and the rest – quality of product, productivity of workers, profits for all – will follow. At Semco we did away with strictures that dictate the “hows” and created fertile soil for differences. We gave people an opportunity to test, question, and disagree. We let them determine their own futures. We let them come and go as they wanted, work at home if they wished, set their own salaries, choose their own bosses. We let them change their minds and ours, prove us wrong when we are wrong, make us humbler."

See also his follow-up post Tips on how to work smarter from Ricardo Semler

Update (2016-10-20): TED Talk Subtitles and Transcript – Ricardo Semler: How to run a company with (almost) no rules:

“We said, let's devolve to these people, let's give these people a company where we take away all the boarding school aspects of, this is when you arrive, this is how you dress, this is how you go to meetings, this is what you say, this is what you don't say, and let's see what's left.

[…]  And we'd say [to kids in the school they founded], you put the rules together and then you decide what you want to do with it. […] They came up with the very same rules that we had, except they're theirs.

[…] But the fact is that it takes a leap of faith about losing control. And almost nobody who is in control is ready to take leaps of faith. It will have to come from kids and other people who are starting companies in a different way.”

Mon, 14 Apr 2008 21:08:15 +0000

Yours, Mine and Ours

Eric Sink – Yours, Mine and Ours:

"In terms of the size of the canyon, ThemWare is probably the worst possible scenario. If I am building software that I don't use and don't know how to use for people I don't understand or even like, how good is my software going to be?

I probably see every feature in terms of how difficult it will be to implement, rather than how valuable it will be for my users.

I probably find myself wanting to label or document the features using my jargon instead of theirs.

I probably create features that are tedious or unintuitive for my users. I can't imagine why the user interface I designed doesn't make sense to them.

ThemWare is hard."

Mon, 14 Apr 2008 15:17:31 +0000

Faster than expected... (Salesforce, Google + EC2 with Disks)

Timothy M. O'Brien at the O'Reilly ONJava Blog – Faster than expected... (Salesforce, Google + EC2 with Disks):

"When you can fire up Eclipse and deploy a custom application to Salesforce to have it show up for your users in the context of Google Apps (Gmail, GTalk, Google Calendar, Google Docs), your own in-house applications may start to look a little pale. Five minutes later when the damn thing shows up on your boss’ iPhone and the CEO’s blackberry, you are going to sound crazy when you tell them that it is going to take your development team a few more months to integrate your legacy applications with mobile devices. They are both going to look at you and say, “well can’t you just get the data into Google Apps?”"

Mon, 14 Apr 2008 14:24:13 +0000

fonts.info releases free fonts for web embedding (via font-face)

FDI fonts.info believes in the future of web fonts
Wed, 09 Apr 2008 20:43:53 +0000

Fire and Motion

Joel Spolsky at Inc.com – Fire and Motion:

"If your competitors are really solving a problem in a unique way, you won't miss out by focusing on your own customers. Rest assured that your customers are already trying to tell you that this opportunity exists, if you'll only listen. A minute spent understanding the competition is a minute not spent listening to customers, potential customers, and near-miss customers, who would be happy to tell you directly what it would take to sell to them. You might even come up with a solution on your own that's better than the one your competitor came up with. That's when you start creating your own fire and motion -- when you innovate."

Wed, 09 Apr 2008 20:25:00 +0000

Inspecting disk IO performance with fio

Ben Martin at Linux.com – Inspecting disk IO performance with fio:

"The vast array of ways that fio can issue its IO requests lends it to benchmarking IO patterns and the use of various APIs to perform that IO. You can also run identical fio configurations on different filesystems or underlying hardware to see what difference changes at that level will make to performance."

Wed, 09 Apr 2008 11:54:00 +0000

And now the appeals and reactions while OOXML sits on hold

Georg Greve at Groklaw - And now the appeals and reactions while OOXML sits on hold:

"Ha! Caught some of you. Because some of you *did* think Microsoft was changing and getting more open and was wanting to build bridges to FOSS, etc. I know you did. I hoped for a while myself. Well, take a look at the evidence splayed out before us on the ISO table. It speaks. And what it says is, "There is no new Microsoft."

And so we need to get smarter. Make the division more clear. People will choose well, given a clear choice. Firefox and Ubuntu and Red Hat and others have demonstrated that. There is no need to compromise. And if you are tempted by the money, think about the rest of us, will you? Look at ISO. Do you want to be like that?

Anyone, then, from this day forward who is naive enough to believe a single word from Microsoft needs to see a doctor right away. That is the single most important positive result from this OOXML process, as far as I'm concerned. Now we know."

See also David DeJean at Computerworld – Microsoft wins this OOXML battle, but loses the war

Thu, 03 Apr 2008 21:14:16 +0000

OOXML's (Out of) Control Characters

Rob Weir on the Microsoft Office XML format - OOXML's (Out of) Control Characters:

"Let's now look at how OOXML defines the semantics of its ST_Xstring type:

”ST_Xstring (Escaped String) - String of characters with support for escaped invalid-XML characters. For all characters which cannot be represented in XML as defined by the XML 1.0 specification, the characters are escaped using the Unicode numerical character representation escape character format _xHHHH_, where H represents a hexadecimal character in the character's value. […]”

In other words, although ST_Xstring is declared to be a restriction of xsd:string it is, via a proprietary escape notation, in fact expanding the semantics of xsd:string to create a value space that includes additional characters, including characters that are invalid in XML.

[…] The reader might think that I exaggerate the importance of this, that surely ST_Xstring is only used in OOXML in edge cases, in rare, compatibility modes. We wish that this were true. However, a look at the DIS 29500 shows that ST_Xstring is pervasive, and in fact is the predominant data type in SpreadsheetML, used to express the vast majority of spreadsheet content, including cell contents, headers, footers, displays strings, error strings, tooltip help, range names, etc. Any application that operates on an OOXML spreadsheet will need to deal with this mess."

A commenter says: "I thought OOXML stood for "optionally open XML" but it looks to me it actually is a recursive acronym: OOXML Obviously ain't XML"

Thu, 03 Apr 2008 07:29:35 +0000


"Supervisor provides you with one place to start, stop, and monitor your processes. Processes can be controlled individually or in groups. You can configure Supervisor to provide a local or remote command line and web interface."

 (Via High Scalability.)

Wed, 02 Apr 2008 19:10:55 +0000