Friday, September 19, 2003

Another entertaining and thought-provoking report from the Software Development newsletter, SD Show Daily, Sept. 18, 2003:

But Pugh´s next suggestion for improving communication surprised the
audience. "How many of you run your program through a spell checker?" he asked, and the class laughed. "Isn´t it supposed to be read?" he chastised them. "First rule of programming: Run Your Entire Program through a Spell Checker."

"I tend to lean to the extreme," he said, "but code should read like a
book. Your higher-level functions should almost read like comments. Spell it out. Unix programmers had a reason for making Unix commands so short: teletyping. We don´t"

Thursday, September 18, 2003

John Porcaro has an interesting marketing-related blog. Here's quoting some war-stories from Apple and some good advice. I remember situations like the one below where pride is killing cooperation. I could have used this advice back then:

"Far too often, the problem was that we didn't work together toward common goals. This was partly due to the usual politics you get in any large company, but in addition we all believed we were so smart that we were unwilling to compromise and follow the visions of others. Passive resistance was the company's dominant culture. We'd sit in meetings and smile and nod at the plan of the day, then go back to our offices and swear about how stupid that idea was and how we were damned if we'd every cooperate with it."

Read it all here: John Porcaro: mktg&msft: Lessons from a formal Apple Marketing Exec
Sanrio is a great example of how to extend a brand far beyond the original product. This time, their Hello Kitty brand is being used in taxis targeted at women and kids.

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Japan's Hello Kitty cabs: "Tokyo-based taxi firm Kanachu has commissioned 10 cars complete with Hello Kitty seats, blankets and umbrellas."

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

(Radio interview in Danish):

Et interessant interview med manden bag Hummels comeback, Christian Stadil. En rigtig "køwenhawner" med stor forståelse for branding. Lyt her P3 - Kronsj! Christian Stadil (kræver Real Player).

Great quote:

Once, after the violinist Yehudi Menuhin had finished a concert, a
woman came up to him and said, ‘I’d give my life to play the violin
like that,’ and he replied, ‘Ma’am, I did.’
As developers, our job
is to start with a poorly understood application and reduce it to
such a precise form that a computer can understand it. That takes
discipline,” said Watts Humphrey in his keynote address to an overflow
audience at the SD Best Practices conference in Boston on Monday,
September 15, 2003.

(Taken from the Software Development magazine's email newsletter).

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

There's an interesting new angle to the fascinating pre-frontal cortex activity and its relation to joy and illness.

I earlier blogged about the article Negative Thoughts Make You I'll. Now, Wired is running an interesting article on how left pre-frontal activity scientific is corellated with happiness, based on studies of meditation.

Wired News: Scientists Meditate on Happiness: "Last year Dr. Richard Davidson, director of the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin and a conference presenter, used an fMRI machine to map the brain of monk Matthieu Ricard.
While Ricard, a monk with over 30 years' experience in contemplative practice, engaged in what Buddhists call compassion meditation, Davidson measured the activity in his brain. The pictures showed excessive activity in the left prefrontal cortex (just inside the forehead) of Ricard's brain. "

The Dalai Lama appears in the article, too, and he demonstrates a healthy embrace of open, scientific inquiry:

If science proves facts that conflict with Buddhist understanding, Buddhism must change accordingly. We should always adopt a view that accords with the facts.

Then, with his trademark wit, he says:

"Cosmology, neurobiology, physics, psychology -- these are the things that Buddhist scholars really need to study."

But before the audience could nod in agreement, he added, "In order to refute them!"

The ever fascinating Tom Peters published a new book this summer, Re-Imagine. As part of its marketing blitz there is a very interesting interview with him at his web-site: A Conversation with Tom.

Delivering on his brand promise, it provides a dizzying tour of the state of the world and business in particular. Here are a few quotes to whet your appetite:

"So there's brutal, bloody, Darwinian chaos in the marketplace. In my belief, it's only the imaginative, the entrepreneurial, and the well-educated who are going to--I won't say "survive," but I will say "thrive."

"Given the new telecommunications--which means that no human being is more than six-tenths of a second away from any other human being--there's no reason in the world to think that the Chinese, who value education so much, and the Indians, who value education so much, are not going to be competing for the very best jobs"

"It's a scary time. It's an exciting time. The story which we attempt to tell is about energy and passion and excitement. It's about the application of creativity, as opposed to the continuous drudgery of rote work."

Read the whole thing here: A Conversation with Tom.

Monday, September 15, 2003

If you have ever told a joke to a foreigner and seen them "not get it" you know that humour is often very culture-dependent.

Today it hit me that this might explain why US humour as seen in the big syndicated TV-shows is often perceived as very unsophisticated here in Europe. My hypothesis is that since the US culture is a mixture of many cultures their humour has to be very explicit to be successfully understood by everybody there.

Hence, the largest common denominator rule for humor: the more diversified a culture is, the more explicit and unsophisticated its mainstream humour will be.

A corollary to this is that as the TV-shows gain a wider and wider audience their humour will be dumber and dumber. Maybe that's why they put in the canned laughter, just to make sure that even the most culturally separated viewers understand that something funny happened.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Sam Gentile's Blog: "things need to be written in managed code everywhere (I don't care if its .NET or Java or whatever) and we need to get away from C/C++ as sloppy error-prone and dangerous languages. Efficiency is no longer the issue in this day and age of fast processors and much memory. Code safety and productivity is."

Hear, hear! Hats off to the Perl mongers, the scripters, the Pythoneers, the VB-hackers, and the rest of the RAD crowd... and to Intel and their colleagues for making it possible to go to a higher level of abstraction.

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