January 30, 2012
Disclaimer:I do a lot of work for IDG with regard to Macworld. I'm a part of the Mac IT Conference board/committe/cabal/whatever term you'd prefer. I typically spend a half-year or more prior to the show, off and on, helping set up what becomes Mac IT. I do not do this for free. I probably would do that work for free, I think it's that important to the community, but I don't currently do so.
Also, while I wouldn't normally do this: This article is me and all me. IDG/IDG World Expo has nothing to do with it, it doesn't represent them in any way, shape or form. If you're pissed off about this piece, first, why, and second, don't be a punk and whine at IDG/IDG World Expo. The fault and responsibility for this is mine, and mine alone.
There, that out of the way, if you wish to ignore everything I'm about to say because I'm "part of the system", well, there's the door, watch the knob.
There have been a lot of really, really...well, I want to say "stupid" but instead, I'll go with a more useful term: useless things written about the 2012 Macworld|iWorld event. Most of them do not even begin to point out solvable problems, because they're in the realm of "Well, I don't like it, but I can't tell you why". Thanks for that feedback.
Quite a few complaints, (they'd have to work hard to be "criticisms") come from people who weren't there. I have a very hard time taking those seriously, but I do try, when they give me something to work with. They often don't.
Then of course, we have the "all the Mac press are a bunch of trekkies because they don't say enough bad things about Macworld". Well, the *actual* quote is:
Considering the unfailingly praiseful descriptions of Macworld|iWorld Expo coming out of most of the Trekkie-like Mac press, it's probably a good idea to look elsewhere for accurate coverage of the show.
My Ass, you may kiss it.
There's so much wrong with all of this. First, most of it is just useless. "You're not bagging on the show enough". That's what the above quote means. It's useless to say stuff like that, because what the hell can anyone do about it? It's not like you can win either way with that, so why even bother. I also really resent the statements from some quarters that the show staff and management doesn't listen to anyone but itself. I believe one particularly precious phrase was "Paul Kent Expo". My personal favorite, from Shawn King at "the four misanthropes of the apocalypse" in his "Macworld|iWorld iFan Pass" bit:
Yes, you can get into the conference track (which is no longer available – they are called “Tech Talks” now) for a fraction of the price.
Sigh... Bless your heart.
Another one, which I personally find amusing, by Stephen Hackett of 512pixels.net, in his "Reflections on Macworld" piece:
On one side, the old-school. The guy wearing the NeXT shirt. Guys like me, who have used the Mac basically their whole lives, and wouldn’t learn much from the Mac IT track.
Dude, based on your picture, I may have been doing IT work longer than you've been out of diapers, and there were sessions that I desparately wish I could have attended because they had gobs of knowledge I currently don't. There were folks there with years on me, and they were learning during the show.
You should maybe check your awesome "I know everything" ego at the door. You'll be surprised at how much you can learn when you don't know everything. (For example, in your article "How to Return the “Bounce Message” Feature to OS X Lion Mail", this line:
It was great for spam and emails from the mother-in-law.
Shows that you have a rather large misunderstanding of how spam works in the 21st century. Maybe you don't know everything after all. hmm...a session on How Spam Works and What You Can Do To Better Manage It On Your Network...actually, sessions on managing email servers and services in the modern computing environment...hmmm...)
In any event we see that if you ask enough people, eventually everything is useless.
The idea, dear reader, that the show is planned in some kind of bubble wherein all external input is ignored in favor of our whims, is bullshit. Pure and simple. I can actually prove it, at least in part, because well, I help put at least part of the show together. The sessions you see on the list are what people in various industries submit. We don't create the sessions and then find someone to fill them. Do we try to find someone willing to speak on various subjects or various areas that we think are of use to potential attendees? Of course, but we aren't creating the sessions and then telling "the chosen few" to run them. The foundations of what we're looking for in sessions are based on:
a) Our on experience in the field. For example, the Mac IT conference committee contains people who are IT consultants, IT managers, IT writers (If you've ever read an IT-focused book on Mac OS X or iOS, there's an excellent chance one of us wrote it), security and networking professionals. Between the five of us we have over a hundred years, combined, of experience in the IT arena with a Mac focus. We have a good idea of what is of importance to people in our fields.
b) What attendees tell us.
Yes, that's right, we actually listen to attendees, because those are the people the conference is for. It's why I, and many presenters, ask people to fill out the evaluation forms, because, well, that's their best chance to tell us what's going on. Some of the initial feedback we got that we'll be spending a lot of time figuring out how to act on:
1) 45 minutes, while right for some sessions, sucked for others. It really killed my AppleScriptObjC session, because it cratered the time available for looking at code. Not every session needs 90 minutes, but there are enough that do to warrant looking at setting up sessions with different lengths.
2) Having podcasts in a 'regular' conference room didn't really work. Podcasts aren't sessions in the traditional sense. We're going to see about fixing that too.
3) The Mac OS X section was poorly laid out. It was hard to see, the traffic flow design was, well, really bad, and while it did create a respite from the crowds, it was just a bad design. Again, this is a solveable problem, and it's going to be.
That's just what I had by Saturday. There will be others, and they will also be taken seriously. (Keep in mind that while I don't work on the conference committee for free, I do have to pay my way out to S.F. and for all my lodging while I'm here. I want this stuff fixed for my own sake as well as for others.)
Will every criticism be solved in the way the source wants or even at all? No. Macworld is a business, there are things they will do to keep that business going and profitable that some won't like.
However, there are things we can't goddamned solve. Idiocy like the "SXSWisation of Macworld." What drove that statement? The lack of a designer/artist track at the conferences. Now, let us be clear, there were sessions aimed at designers that were not "how to draw a line" talks at Macworld. For example:
WB: The Passionate Photographer: 10 Steps To Becoming Great
Steve Simon, Documentary Photographer, stevesimonphoto.com
From the book of the same name, this workshop has revved up the passions of many a photographer. Steve Simon deconstructs the elements that make good photographers great; taking you to a higher level in your own photographic journey. Through this innovative 10-step process, you’ll be inspired to transform your passion into a unique personal vision. Steve will take you out of your comfort zone helping you determine what you want to say in your work while providing practical knowledge to translate your feelings into strong content.
WI: Speak to me O Muse: Adobe’s MUSE [code name]: Web Design for Designers
Andrew Shalat, Designer, Writer, Author, ShalatDesign
There’s a reason why Graphic Designers consider Web Design something of a speciality, something more esoteric than just plain old Design. It’s a different animal. It has a whole different set of technical issues that have to be understood, and overcome. To the dismay of most Graphic Designers, people who are experts in page layout, in typography, in logo design and branding, to their dismay, Web Design has never been as accessible to their skills and talents as it should be. There’s all that code, all that geek speak, all that technical jargon that gets between a designer’s vision and the web’s reality. But Adobe’s new (beta software) MUSE is the "rst major step by the software powerhouse to overcome that divide. MUSE lets you create sound, viable, robust web sites, using a familiar model that most designers who know InDesign and Illustrator, will be able to make sense of. The use of code is minimal, or even non-existent, in the user interface. So you get pretty close to that original ideal of Desktop publishing, WYSIWYG.
TT905: InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator: A Creative Sweet!
David Blatner, Co-Owner, InDesignSecrets
Whether your creativity fuels your work or your hobby, you need these power tips and techniques to build amazing-looking artwork efficiently using Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator. This is a fast-paced, fun-filled exploration of how to get these programs to dance together for spectacular results.
TT912: What Would Don Draper Do?
Dave Wiskus, Chief Creative Officer, Black Pixel
Designing elegant mobile interfaces requires more than intuition and an understanding of your user’s needs. By walking through successful and rejected designs, you’ll learn what to do—and more importantly, what not to do—when creating the interface for your next top-grossing app.
TT936: FEATURED ARTIST PRESENTATION: Digital Painting with Bert Monroy
Bert Monroy, Artist, Author, Lecturer
Bert demonstrates how he uses Photoshop and Illustrator tools – and shares the techniques he develops – to create his photo-realistic paintings. Especially noted for his hyper-realistic Photoshop illustrations, Bert’s masterpiece is Times Square. Every element was meticulously created from scratch — not from photographs — using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. The 6.5-gigabyte image was built pixel by pixel, using more than 750,000 Photoshop layers.
TT934: Back to Work: Rebirth & Transition in the New Workplace
Ben Spear, Brand Designer, Thinkside
Allana Taranto, Photographer, Ars Magna Studio
The advent of cloud computing, remote interaction, and social networking has created fertile ground for a new type of working environment…one that values agility and interaction over physicality and permanence. Co-working is a growing movement among independent entrepreneurs that leverages these values — illuminate the unexpected, expose new business models and increase our contact with the marketplace. As expectations for personalization and responsiveness continue, we respond with a co-woring-based practice that is enriched, sustainable, and interactive, resulting more creative work and stronger economics. How can this solution be applied to the world outside of co-working?
Six sessions, including two full-day workshops aimed at the "design" field. (Design having about as much specific meaning as IT). Is that the same as a full-on track? No. But it shows the idea that there was "nothing" for the professional designer is simply not correct. What there weren't were sessions on "How to use Photoshop". I'll make zero apologies for that, you can find a ton of cheaper, probably better, and more convenient ways to do that. Lynda.com is particularly good for that. Now, someone wants to do a session on Photoshop based on the skills and knowledge that they've acquired, and it's not generic stuff you can find anywhere, by all means, submit that session. But "here's what a gaussian blur is"? Really? That's the kind of thing you want at Macworld?
When the...precious...person who came up with the "SXSWification of Macworld" started bitching, I gave him the answer that I tell anyone pissed off with conference content:
Submit a session
That's not being snarky. If you, or anyone you know wants to change the content, do so. Submit a session. It may not get picked, but what the hell, if you don't even try, then honestly, stop complaining. You're allowing other people to control this, stop being upset they didn't read your mind. So of course, I get the "I don't know enough/I'm not good enough to teach". That of course, gets my bullshit-dar pinging, because unless someone is really new to their field, I don't believe it. I'm not an IT "genius", I didn't invent SNMP or anything I talk about. I just use my own experience, and figure if it's interesting or useful to me, it may be interesting to someone else, or help them solve a problem. It's how the community works.
So, on a lark, I check out the guy's website. Here, some data from his "about" page:
Degree in CompSci in 1982
Started as a print production artist in 1984
Been a Mac user since 1990
Been a print production designer since 1995
Been a graphic designer since 1998
He has *far* more experience in his field than I do in mine, yet he's not "good enough" to teach a session?
Anyone in a field for coming up on thirty years has a gob of experience and knowledge to draw on that others in that field can use. Hell, the first time I spoke at Macworld was 1999. I didn't even have yet ten years of IT experience, yet I took that chance that maybe I had something worth saying. (It must have worked, because Paul can't get rid of me now.)
This isn't a case of not being good enough, this is a case of no self-confidence or being too lazy to actually try to fix the problem. But don't try to tell me that in almost thirty years, you've learned nothing worth sharing. (Also, that whole "get my company to pay for me to come to Macworld? If you're speaking, that's a great reason. Publicity if nothing else. "Our people are so awesome, they're speaking at industry forums." Come on people, this is not hard to figure out.)
There's another part to this of course, and the "SXSWisation" comment is a pretty big clue: Designers are no longer the class of the Mac/iOS world, they're a class. Other areas have gained prominence, including Music. Where once, a designer knew that if it involved Macs, they were the focus of attention, now, well, now they're just another customer. Some don't deal with that well.
Of course I was told that I was "lucky", that IT had "survived" the "SXSWisation" of Macworld.
We didn't survive you schmuck, that implies luck, and there is no luck whatsoever involved in Mac IT's success. We busted our humps to create content that attracts people and gives them a reason to attend. Instead of sitting back and waiting for what we "deserve" we went out and as a community, created the conference we want. Designers of all stripes can still do that. But you have to actually try. You have to take a goddamned chance and do a little work. You have to do something. No one handed Mac IT to me or anyone else. We created that shit. We built it, year by year, session by session, and any "reward" we have is because we worked for it. You can have the same reward, and if you want some advice or help, ask me, I will gladly help however I can. But you gotta do the work, no one's handing you anything. (Yes, I'm serious, I'll help. If nothing else, the more, better content we have for the show, the more reasons people have to attend, and the better the show is for all. Why would I not help?)
Mac IT is a reflection of the people who attend and teach it. The people putting it together only organize their input.
Same thing with the rest of the conferences, regardless of what they are called. If Designers want more designer content, then designers need to step up and create it. Or even give us criticism we can use. But "the SXSWisation of Macworld"? That's not a solvable problem. So I shan't be taking it seriously.
As far as the show floor goes, well, I can't say anything that will do anything for anyone. I was there, the vast majority of complainers were not. Were there times and places when and where the show floor wasn't packed? Yes, of course, don't be stupid. That always happens, even in the "glory days". Fuck, the last day of Expo was traditionally dead, especially about an hour before closing. This year, the lines to get badges on the last day were still out the door even at noon. Saturday hours work.
The reason it doesn't matter, is because impressions of the show floor end up being confirmation bias fodder. IDG will release numbers which will either be assumed accurate to prove the show is dead, or castigated as faked up lies to prove the show is dead. Anyone saying "Well, I was there, and it's not dead by a long shot" will be dismissed as a trekkie with no critical thinking skills. It's tiring, but I can't do anything about it, so I don't really care what those people think. It's like the drum circle. Normally, they're kind of stupid-looking, at least to me. But 500 people were having a great time in one. So it may still be stupid-looking, but was it a stupid idea? Hardly. People may bag on the music focus, (and thereby show they know nothing about the importance of music in the Apple ecosystem), but it meant I got to see Sal Soghoian play guitar, something I have long wanted to do, but never had a chance to do before. It was cool to see Sal doing the thing he loves so much, and you could tell by the way he plays that he loves to play guitar very, very much.
The exhibitor numbers were up, but those don't matter, because everyone will dismiss it as nothing but iPhone case vendors. But then, for these people, one iPhone case vendor, or one iOS-only dev is proof that Macworld is naught but a turkish market, thick with the stench of iOS and dirty merchants trampling the remains of the once mighty Mac. There were gobs of exhibitors showing all kinds of products, but because there wasn't an Adobe, Microsoft, or Apple booth, the show is irrelevant. That's what those people say.
Those people are complete idiots.
Which is why I honestly don't care about their opinion. Because again, their complaints aren't anything I, or anyone else can fix. They're not even the complaints of someone complaining about session content, but won't do anything to change it. That at least is fixable on some level, even if it won't be by him.
What these people really want is the return of something that's gone, and can not come back: that feeling they got when Apple was the underdog. A successful Macworld Expo when Apple was under attack and "beleaguered" was something special. It was a banding together of rebels. Well, the emperor is dead, and the rebels won, and now they have to deal with living in the world that follows, and as we see in rather a lot of stories, and real life for that matter, are learning that surviving the end of the rebellion is harder than the rebellion ever was. Mac users are no longer special simply for their existence, and they don't like that it's not special. Now, they have to go and prove themselves just like everyone else. Designers are no longer the golden children, they're just children. IT...well, IT was never special in the Mac community. Mac IT was created by hard work, and unlike too many others, we understand that the way to sustain success is rather a lot like how we achieved it: we keep trying to be better than last time.
The show floor is bigger than it was last time, it had new exhibitors, and I know of some companies that didn't have a booth this year that will next year That's all the show floor can ever be, and I'm fine with that. The sessions are good, even if every specialty doesn't have its own track. I had a chance to have dinner with Dave Wiskus, of Black Pixel, the man behind "What would Don Draper do?" He is a young kid, I mean, if he's more than half my age, I'd be surprised, and yet, like anyone motivated enough to stand in front of a crowd and talk about what he knows and thinks, he's also smart, and insightful. He said something at dinner that was stunningly intelligent: "just because I work with people who are smarter than me, that doesn't make me stupid." That shows just how smart Dave is, and that he's absolutely the kind of person we want to speak at Macworld. I didn't attend his session, but having met him and talked with him, I now wish I had, I think i'd have learned a lot. I think anyone designer or not, would have learned something from Dave's session, but only the ones who were there, did.
Next year will be a little different, and a little better, but if you want Macworld to be like the past, then I recommend you stop even reading about it. The past is dead. We remember it, we learn from it, but we never, ever tie ourselves to it. To do that is to start a long, slow spiral. I don't play that, and I know Paul won't.
For my part, speaking about Mac IT, I'd like to see:
- Some sessions that deal with how IT and companies are creating and managing websites, with a focus on CMS's. There's a lot of issues with "modern" websites, including scaling, back ends, monitoring, programming and security, all of which matter in the Mac IT space. I want to see about addressing that.
- More speakers talking about how their companies are handling Macs and iOS devices, and not just deployment. We did really good on this one, with folks from Good, IBM, Jamf, and others, but I want to do better. As a community, IT does best when we can share knowledge across the spectrum of sizes and needs. This year was amazing, but I want to see more.
- Let's start talking about cloud computing and resources with more regard to implementation, and less about "Oooooh, CLOUD!" I know my company has done a lot in terms of integrating cloud and local resources, and my boss has been instrumental in the success of this. Mike, you may as well accept it, because you're entirely too smart to be on the crowd side of the podium.
- More speaker diversity. This one is a bit of a firestarter, so before the hackles go up, chill a second. I don't mean anything even vaguely resembling quotas or diversity just to win points. That'd be stupid, and an insult to the speakers we had this and previous years, all of whom deserved their sessions. But, we only had five speakers who were women for example, and out of almost 45 speakers, I think we can do better. I know a few of you who are going to have their arms twisted rather a lot. I've no shame here, there are a lot of damned smart women in the field who have smart things to say, and I'm going to prod, cajole, or annoy the shit out of them until they submit sessions. We may not say yes to all of them, but I sure as shit want the chance to say yes. So yeah. Also, any IT person who thought they have nothing worth contributing: You're wrong. Stop it, and send us sessions.
- The Donnas performing at Macworld Blast. (Seriously, does anyone doubt this is a priority for me???)
- Better setups for saving the audio/video from the show, and figuring out a way to post them. This stuff is awesome, and it should be available past the show.
I'm not sitting still and no one else is either.
If you want the Macworld of old, well, that's dead. Move on or do not, it's up to you. The rest of us aren't gonna wait. If you have a fixable complaint or criticism, by all means, tell me, Paul, or any one of the Expo folks, and we'll try to solve it. But you have to give us a fixable problem.| Comments ()
January 18, 2012
Not going dark. Duh.
Here's one. Maybe, just maybe, if in the last oh, almost two decades, people had decided that the following:
"I wasn't going to pay for it anyway"
"If you put it on the Internet, it's public domain."
"If you put it on the Internet, you expect it to get stolen, get over it."
"You can't expect me to pay for something without seeing if I actually want it first."
"If I like it, then I'll pay for it."
"If it bothers you, you should protect it better."
"I'm HELPING YOU! I have LOTS of friends, SOME of them MAY buy your OTHER work."
...were the shallow bullshit justifications for stealing other people's work they are, then the justifications for idiocy like SOPA/PIPA/et al would be far, far smaller. Maybe if the internet community that is so, so, very up in arms had viewed things like piracy as the fault of the pirate more than the victim, the need for such things would be smaller.
But no. We have facebook game stealing artwork, lying about licensing it, and when the artists are so rude as to have a problem with this, the players of the game blame the artists for being unreasonable.
We have Google wanting noted designers to do themes for Chrome for free, and telling them, (including people who have work on Target Gift Cards) that the "exposure" should be more than sufficient "payment".
We have people taking someone's art, Photoshopping the original copyright off of it, putting their own on, and then posting it with a comment about don't steal art, and are so very offended when they get the DMCA takedown.
So do I think SOPA/PIPA are good? No, don't be stupid, they're horrid bills. But do I think that it is solely the fault of RIAA/MPAA/et al? No. The people using the above excuses and justifications share just as much blame. If nothing else, they created reams of justification for lobbyists to use when pushing these bills in Congress.
The Internet's relentless victim-blaming and support of piracy handed "the enemy" a fully-loaded gun, aimed at their own skulls, all the while screaming "I DARE YOU TO PULL THE TRIGGER". Spare me the outrage until you're willing to change your behavior.| Comments ()
January 17, 2012
Static Blog Publishing Done Easy
So from Stephen Hargrove's "Site Rewrite Complete" on his Spirit of Nine site, he goes into the steps that he went through to create a "static" html site. That is, one where the pages are static HTML, and none of Wordpress's problems and workarounds.
It's a system only a programmer could love or use.
I was referred to the article by Brent Simmons' "Stephen Hargrove’s Blog Workflow" post talking about it. Hargrove was himself inspired by Simmons' own version of it, detailed in "New publishing system / tour of my head".
Brent's system is also a system only a programmer could love or use.
Note, all of this is to get a site where the data exists as plain HTML so a database crash doesn't kill your site, or your database server being overloaded doesn't make your site unusable.
Here's what I did:
1) Got a web provider that gave me a decent amount of space, with reasonably easy FTP access to said space. (digital.forest)
2) Installed Movable Type
Okay, done. Over the years, I made one major modification to that, which was using Disqus to manage comments. With that, what little work I did for commenting dropped by 90% or so.
Now, it's not as PURE a system as theirs, and the install is something only an IT person could "love". (Seriously, Movable Type's install is just crap, but tedious though it is, if you do what the directions say, it works.) There is a database, but I could take it down now, and the only problem the site would have is me adding new content. I can live with that, and it makes backups simpler.
When I add a post via MarsEdit, it's entered into the database, then the required static HTML pages are generated. The database is used as a SOURCE for the publishing system, not as the primary engine. Best of all, I don't really have to fuck with it, unless I want to update the page templates. That's done in Coda, and then I manually regen the site in Movable Type. That takes some time, but I don't care, I'm not staring at it happen.
For image resizing, by and large I don't. I use PNG for the format, and enough CSS to make sure the images fit the page correctly. Other than that, I don't resize shit. If it takes a little longer to load, meh, this ain't CNN, you're not learning anything world-shaking here.
But it is amusing to me to see the differences in approach. A programmer instantly thinks of creating their own system and maintaining it so it perfectly reflects their needs. A sysadmin wants something that will meet their major requirements and if it's not exactly perfect, as long as the mismatches can be handled reasonably, and it works, who cares who coded it.| Comments ()
January 12, 2012
Good deed du jour
A couple of my friends, who are AWESOME authors, Diane Duane and Peter Morwood found out today that some cocksucker skimmers emptied out their bank account. It looks like their bank will do the right thing, (yay), but that takes time, (boo!)
However, there's a way, if you're so inclined, to help. They sell all almost all their non-Star Trek books, (yeah, I know, I'd love to buy THOSE direct from them as well, but not in their control) directly from their site. Go there, take a look, buy something. Seriously, the only thing over six bucks on the site is a copy of the International Edition of the Young Wizards, volumes 1-9. Everything else is six bucks or less, and it's all pretty damned awesome. My latest fave is Peter's "Tales of Old Russia", a great sword and sorcery collection, set in, duh, Old Russia. If that's too much, Diane even has a code in her tumblr post that gives you %20 off. But seriously folks, it's SIX DOLLARS for some good folks in a jam. Spend the extra Buck-Twenty, you'll have better karma. DRM-free .epub and .mobi.
(Seriously, if you have kids who are Harry Potter fans, or you are yourself, and you haven't read the Young Wizards series, I cannot, can not say enough good things about it. Magic + Science + New York = awesome.)| Comments ()
January 10, 2012
Oh here we go
So Matt Gemmell has some issues with my post about comments in "Comments Commentary". He seems to have more of an issue with me, and how I write here, than anything else, but what the hell, let's play. Let's play:
John’s article (strongly in favour of comments, and openly derisive of switching them off) is another response to MG Siegler - and an angry one. Having browsed his blog archive, anger seems to be John’s default emotional state.
Actually, if Matt had read the comments, he'd have seen that I don't have a problem with no comments per se, just twee, pretentious reasoning that seems to require regular justification. But clearly, he's not only against comments on his site, he's against comments everywhere, since he doesn't bother to read them. Here, one of my own comments on it:
(no) comments in and of itself is no big deal. It's the pretense from Gruber, Siegler et al that somehow doing this is creating a smarter internet. *That* part is complete bullshit. If you (dis)allow comments, it doesn't make you smarter or better than anyone else.
That, by the way, is my main point: If you want comments, have comments. If you don't want comments, don't have them. But spare me the pretense that you're better/worse for either decision, and for fuck's sake, stop telling the world why. I have bad impulse control as it is, and I'm a 20-year sysadmin. Anger is not in fact my default state, (sleeping is, if you must know), but it's easily accessible. It's like telling the world why you're no longer using <platform> and moving to <platform>. Really, no one fucking cares what computer you use. I don't know what computer Woz or the fucking president uses, and I don't care. I have enough reasons to care about what computer someone's using, unless I'm maintaining yours, I don't care. At. All. Same thing with comments.
In any case, he writes a considered, long-form response on his own blog saying that it’s a fallacy to think that switching off comments will make people write considered, long-form responses on their own blogs. Hmm.
If that's what Matt considers "long form", he needs to stop relying on Twitter. That's not long form. THIS is long form. However, let's look at the gist of that. He's trying to get in a subtle dig about "Ooh, looks like they were right based on your response." No, they weren't, and the way I learned about Matt's article shows that. No one in the comments on my article, (as of writing this) talked about Matt's article. One person I follow on Twitter happened to, but he did so after I was deep into Skyrim, and by the time I saw twitter this morning, it was way out of view. If I hadn't used the @comment view in Twitter to see if anyone HAD talked about Matt's article (after I found out about it), then I'd have not known from there. It wasn't done in a way that showed up on my site, so I didn't know from there. (Tweets I get feedback on. Random websites from people I've never heard of, not so much.) So how did I even know Matt wrote this? I happen to read Daring Fireball. That's the only reason. And even then, I only hit the link because I was mildly curious if he was going to mention my rant, and if so, how? (Yes, and rather badly.)
If it wasn't for me reading DF this morning, or I'd waited too long and it wasn't on the main page, I'd have not seen Matt's article. It's possible, I could have gone for weeks and not seen it or never seen it. So much for the mechanics of the "other people will see this and respond" theory being all that reliable. It works if you happen to follow the people who write the response, or someone you follow tweets about it (and you see it), or someone actually tells you about it. There's a word for that: chance. Chance is how you win lotteries, not how you have a conversation. Also, if I somewhat tired and grumpy this morning, and written something on commenting, (DAMN YOU SKYRIM), I doubt I would have read Matt's article. So no, relying on some magical Intarweb telepathy doesn't work.
Now, ego searches DO work, but I dislike those, so I don't do them. That, by the way, seems to be the only reliable way for the method Gemmell et all espouse to work: you have to pretty much have a few saved ego searches and check them regularly. Fuck that.
(I’m actually being a bit unfair here; what he says is that comments-off won’t create more intelligent discourse. John’s response is intelligent as far as it goes, but I do take issue with its confrontational tone, implied ad hominems and nigh-constant needless profanity. I’d also say that this article that you’re reading now, with its many links to just such intelligent discourse, ably disproves his assertion.)
Oh christ, another one whining about profanity. Here, I'll let Stephen Fry answer that for me:
Swearing is a really important part of one's life. It would be impossible to imagine going through life without swearing and without enjoying swearing... There used to be mad, silly, prissy people who used to say swearing was a sign of a poor vocabulary -such utter nonsense. The people I know who swear the most tend to have the widest vocabularies and the kind of person who says swearing is a sign of a poor vocabulary usually have a pretty poor vocabulary themselves... The sort of twee person who thinks swearing is in any way a sign of a lack of education or a lack of verbal interest or -is just a fucking lunatic... I haven't met anybody who's truly shocked at swearing, really, they're only shocked on behalf of other people. Well, you know, that's preposterous... or they say 'it's not necessary'. As if that should stop one doing it! It's not necessary to have coloured socks, it's not necessary for this cushion to be here, but is anyone going to write in and say 'I was shocked to see that cushion there, it really wasn't necessary'? No, things not being necessary is what makes life interesting -the little extras in life.
Also, Matt clearly has forgotten what "Ad Hominem" means. Me calling the anticommentarian arguments, by and large, pretentious bullshit is not Ad Hominem. Me calling MG Siegler, Matt Gemmell, and Gruber pretentious idiots, vapid hipsters, or <pick your pejorative, it really doesn't matter> is not Ad Hominem. Calling people you disagree with names is not "Ad Hominem". It is not nice, and is probably being an Asshole, but it's not Ad Hominem. For it to be Ad Hominem, I'd have to say something like "MG Siegler is a hipster, therefore, he's wrong". THAT is Ad Hominem. Stop using that fucking concept to cover people being foulmouthed rantmavens.
The main topic covered (and it’s the first time I’ve seen it in this debate) is that responses on external blogs which link to your article will confer search-engine relevance and rank to you. From my understanding of search engines, that’s true enough (with greater rank being conferred by links from pages perceived to be high-quality themselves). John is outraged at this, and implies - but never quite states - that that’s the actual, evil hidden purpose of ‘comments off’. Accordingly, he spitefully refuses to even link to the article which prompted his response.
Matt's right: it is in fact spiteful. Petty as well. Too fucking bad, I guess if I were more smarter because I disallowed comments, I'd know better. Note that my only crime here is not linking. If you search for "MG Siegler Comments", you find the article in question pretty quick. Hell, this article attributes like hell to Matt. I just don't link to him. But again, that's the new stupidity: it's not enough to attribute, you have to link. Well, fuck you, no I don't, and it's not some kind of crime. Also, if SEO isn't important, why is linking so fucking critical? If the attribution tells you who wrote the bits I didn't, and/or the title, the link is a convenience, and a nice gesture. It is not in fact, required, and not linking is not wrong. But, in for a penny, in for a pound I suppose.
And I do think that anyone making money from their websites, or as web writers is aware of the search engine advantages conferred by requiring other sites to link to you to "comment" on your "conversation". I will allow that it isn't always a primary motivation, but don't tell me no one's aware of it. I evidently have the bad form to say it out loud. Oh well.
The real argument here, once again, is that those who switch off comments lack due humility. We’re not humble enough for John, and that angers him.
BAAAAHAAHAHAHAA....this from a guy accusing me of ad hominem. No you prat, it's not a matter of humility, it's a matter of NMDs and hipsters needing to make fucking sure we know a) they're smarter than us and b) why, every fucking second. If they change beers, fuck, EVERYONE has to know. If they saw a good movie, everyone not only has to know, but they have to know WHY it's good and the history of everything the director's ever done, and if you don't agree, well, "I just can't talk to you". Fuck that shit. Everyone does it, I do it here on occasion. But I don't expect it to be anything but annoying, and I don't think the fact I like something makes me smarter than anyone else. Probably makes me dumber, my taste in movies is pretty bad. (Yes, I liked Transformers 2, fuck you.)
It’s a very common argument against disabling comments (even moreso since I believe it’s the real motivation behind several other arguments), and it’s worthy of a serious discussion - which John’s article, in my allegedly not-so-humble opinion, isn’t.
If I could ban one thing from human discourse, it would be the false humilty we require of people when it comes to opinions. "In my humble opinion". Oh bullshit. If you're offering an opinion, it's not humble. You're taking a fucking stand on an issue. Could be a minor issue, could be a major issue, but an opinion is inherently not humble. If you want to have a humble opinion, shut the fuck up and stop blathering about it. People can be humble. Opinions cannot be humble. Who the fuck cares about an opinion if the person giving it is being a vacillating wussy about it?
But I'm glad he thinks that my only issue here is that I have a "right" to comments. Based on that vapid, lazy response, Matt has another right. It involves his lips upon my ass. Why do I grant him that right? Because for someone so willing to support people's "right" to have their blog run in the way they seem fit, he seems to have a big problem with how I run mine. Funny how that happens when someone won't let you determine how they think or respond to things. He's not the first one to pull that schtick, the "you can run your site however you want, but...". Whatever. (Also, given that he doesn't allow comments, I'm unsure as to why he had to come all the way over here to read my horrid little rant or how he even knew about it. (Maybe he follows me on twitter? Fuck if I know.) It's not like I get that much traffic, I don't have that many readers. I don't even have ads. This site isn't designed to be a moneymaker. Hell, the main pull to my site in terms of traffic/google is a three year old article on SNMP. This is NOT that popular a site, really. Yet, over and over, people come here, and act like somehow, I made them. That's like walking in my yard and bitching you stepped in dog shit, and I should clean it up better for strangers. Really?)
Like I said, you can have comments or not, but for fuck's sake, stop acting like (not) having them does anything for anyone but you.| Comments ()
Teaching is actually kind of hard
Have you ever seen something that you wanted to be really good, but realized, no, it wasn't? Like, you were thinking this could be awesome, but then when you get into it, you realize it's just kind of...bad. Yes John, we know, Star Wars Episodes 1-3, let it GO.
HAH! Stupid voices inside my head, that wasn't what I was talking about.
No, but you were thinking it.
Shut up, go back to building the harp trap.
W00t! I'm outta here!
Okay, now that's done. So here's the thing: there are a lot of people a lot who have an interest in learning how to program, and would like to teach themselves. The problem is, pretty much every self-paced course makes the same mistake: it leads you through a bunch of rote lessons, that you fundamentally don't care about, and you lose interest because you can't stay interested enough to remember what you did ten minutes ago.
So I'm new to JS, but not programming in general. Hell, almost finished that CompSci degree once.
But I get into CodeYear, and well...damnit. The first day, the day when you want to hook people...and it's just rote monkeywork, boring exercises, and inconsistent presentation. For example, semicolons. Now, some languages require them. Some don't. In JS, they're optional. However, if you're going to use semicolons, then explain why they matter, why you're using them in the lesson, and enforce their use. Even if it's just for "if you ever want to learn a different language, this is a good habit to get into". But be consistent. Don't say "you should use a semicolon after each statement", then, when I leave one off accidentally, not even mention it.
Really, here are my thoughts on it as I'm going through day one:
it's monkeywork. For example, i messed up because I forgot a semicolon. Instead of taking that as a chance to teach me why that's a bug, it just tells me I screwed up and moves on. In another example, I deliberately left off the semicolon, and now I don't get an error. So do I need that or not? If I'm new, I don't know.
Why isn't there a semicolon in the substring() lesson
I did it right, but I used a different word. you don't care that I still don't know why I don't need a semicolon all the time, but you're fussing about me doing it RIGHT, just with a different word?
If it seems picayune, maybe it is, but again, I am actually new to JS. I couldn't code my way out of a paper bag in that language, and I actually want to learn, but it keeps throwing up reasons why I don't care. For example, that last one:
I did it right, but I used a different word. you don't care that I still don't know why I don't need a semicolon all the time, but you're fussing about me doing it RIGHT, just with a different word?
WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU DO THAT? It was in the word substitution lesson, wherein I learned that if I use the wrong word, even though the code is valid, CodeAcademy tells me I did it wrong. I didn't do it WRONG, I used a DIFFERENT WORD. Christ, when a student wants to explore, you don't slap their hand, you encourage that. This is teaching 101: encourage students to dig into the material.
Yes, I know, a lot of this is a function of that robotic console shit they use, but that brings me to another point: If I were to ever use JS, I'm using it in a browser not the CodeAcademy console. So why are you teaching me a bad habit, and not even telling me that "Hey, this isn't really how you're going to use JS, but for our first baby steps, it will help us focus on JS, not reloading pages in a browser." If you really wanted to get uppity, and you were a bit clever, one of the first things you'd teach someone is how to set up the browser to do what the console does. Even if it's an overly simplistic thing like a button on the screen that says "Test code" and just reloads the page, that would be something of immediate use to the student. Nope. Nothing. "Do what I say, exactly how I say it. All independent thought will be in error."
Also, "oops, try again"? Not a really helpful criticism of a mistake. Keep in mind, this is just part of the first day. Some other comments in my brain dump document:
Now I'm using methods, and I don't know why. what the fuck is this for? Do I memorize this and hope?
I'm on lesson 4 of day/week one, you are jamming methods down my throat, and that's a LATER?
There is a lot of this in CodeYear. "Just do this, we'll explain it later". Fuck, do you really not want me to ever learn anything but how to type what I'm told, where I'm told, when I'm told? This isn't even GOOD rote learning at this point. I'm not even through day one, you've dumped methods and functions in my face, but I don't know why, or what the fuck they are, so I hope that by the time you get around to explaining shit, I'll still be here. (well, fortunately, I do, but if I really didn't know anything about programming? Ye Gods. Also, I won't be here, so I guess it never mattered.)
you hit me with a series of things that require function parameters, then you hit me with one that doesn't, and you don't TELL ME WHAT'S UP?
Again, thank Cthulu I know about void returns and functions that don't need parameters. But if you teach people a bunch of functions with parameters, like substring, and then you hit them with one that doesn't, (hell if I remember which one, I only remember substring because it's in my notes), this is a great time, an AWESOME time to say "So, you may have noticed we didn't put anything in the parentheses. Don't worry, that's normal too, and here's why....<short, but friendly talk about functions/methods, maybe with a diagram.>
oh holy fuck, I'm on arrays now, and I don't know what the fuck is going on.
Literally, out of nowhere, arrays. I would hope they have a reason for flooding you with this, but I don't know. Shit, they never explain what the period is for, or the general order of things with regard to periods. Or that it's called a "dot" not a "period" in this context. It's like starting at zero:
That's the level of explanation that works for n00bs. It's like what my mom said when I asked her in public, at the age of six, "Mommy, where did I come from?" Her answer? "Chicago". It was a correct answer, (I was in fact, born in Chicago), I knew that people are from Chicago because most of my family is from there, and so cool, I'm from there too. Note how it was a correct, concise answer that would later be filled out with supplemental data, but at the time, given that I was a n00b at life, it was probably the best answer. It must have worked, I'm told I was happy with it, and didn't need any followups.
The real issue here is what's the point? What can I do with this? Not some abstract bullshit like "Well scripting is the lingua franca of the modern Internet." Way to go PretentiousMan. Again, for the people who get that, and can be motivated by that, they don't need CodeYear, they just need a decent book or two.
Here's what I would do: Build Pong. Make the idea behind CodeYear that we're going to build a simple video game. Pretty much everyone with a computer has either played, knows about, or at least heard about Pong, and most people like games, even if they aren't gamers. It has the attraction that a game has, and in its own simple way, deals with some pretty complex things, like animation, momentum, etc. So it's a definite, easily recognized goal that is fun, and as Cos said, "If you aren't careful, you just might learn something."
Start by analyzing pong. What do you need to do to create Pong? Well, you need to create a place to play Pong, an area in a window. You need to draw the pong playing field. You need to move the paddles. You need to keep score. You need to know when someone has scored. You need to be able to tell when the ball and the paddles intersect. You need to move the ball. You need to not allow the paddles to move out of the playing area.
You're teaching, not just lecturing, or worse, drilling.
It's not folks. Teaching, as "soft" as skill as it may be, is really hard to do well. You have to manage, lead, inspire, guide, correct, encourage, praise....all of it. The only people who think that's easy are the ones that suck at it. I've taught before, I know how hard it is to do well. I like CodeYear's enthusiasm, I think their hearts are in the right places, but heart and enthusiasm are only inspiration. You still have to do more than dump information on people and assume they'll get it.| Comments ()
January 5, 2012
Inspired by Kanye
...and his comments about math.
I think he's wrong, but not for the reason most people might think. I think he's wrong, because if you become a fan of math as I am, at some point, you realize something: Math is how you can describe the universe.
I think you either get why that's amazing, or not. If not, I hope one day you do.| Comments ()
January 4, 2012
One minor point on the comment bullshit
I'm going to pick on MG Siegler here, because well, he's the current poster child.
I welcome feedback. Just do it on your own site or on Twitter, Facebook, etc. That small barrier alone removes most of the idiots.
Let’s be totally honest here: anyone worthwhile leaving a comment should do so on their own blog. Very few read blog comments anyway. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Commenting is a facade. It makes you think you have a voice. You don’t. Get your own blog and write how you really feel on your own site.
While we're being totally honest, let's understand something that Siegler's philosophy creates: Juice, specifically Google/search engine juice. The idea that somehow, "forcing" people to comment on a story on their own site(s) will magically create more intelligent discourse is bullshit, and it's stupid bullshit. It will do no such thing. So...what will it do?
Well, if I play by his and Gruber's rules, it will create links back to their articles. It will create SEO gold, and alllll kinds of search juice. When you make your money from such things, and Gruber and Siegler do, well, comments kind of suck. They don't juice you as well. So fine, I can play, but I'm doing it on my terms. If I comment on an article by someone espousing this stupid bullshit about comments, I'm not linking to shit. Why should I give them juice and ad money for free? What the fuck will they do for me in return? Give me a cut of the ad money/other income from the increased search juice it generates?
At best, they will maybe, maybe say "Thank You", but I'm not holding my breath, because well, the sense of entitlement with regard to links & SEO juice is not small. SEO juice is money, I don't give money away to random entitled elitist hipsters.
I'll reference the article(s) in question in a reasonably clear way. I may even use the title, (In this case, it's "Comments Still Off" on Siegler's parislemon tumblr blog.) That way, I'm still attributing "correctly", (for at least smallish values of "correctly".) But even the minimal SEO value I generate, I'm not giving that away just because someone's too fucking snotty to allow their precious genius to be "tainted" by comments. You want me to link to you? You want me to help boost your SEO? For Free?
Fuck You. Pay Me, as Mike Montiero is fond of saying. I make no small amount of money because of this site, albeit indirectly. You don't get to siphon that for free, not even minimally, and damned sure not when you're being a total snot about it.
Earn your voice.
Earn your SEO boost motherfucker. My time has value, so does my bandwidth. You want me to give you both, cross my fucking palm with silver.
(my son's comment: "Thirty pieces and you'll betray Jesus". Every year, that kid gets more awesome.)| Comments ()