Red Squirrel Reflections
Dave Hoover explores the psychology of software development

Dave Hoover
dave.hoover@gmail.com

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Old Archives

 

Sat, 13 Jan 2007

Rose's First irb Session

HooverObitvaMacBook:~ davehoover$ irb --simple-prompt
>> 'rose'.capitalize
=> "Rose"
>> 'RoseHoover'.swapcase
=> "rOSEhOOVER"
>> 943222 + 3000000000000000000000
=> 3000000000000000943222
>>

[/learning] permanent link

Tue, 09 Jan 2007

Pioneers: independent, yet cooperative

I'm slowly working my way through The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, a book that looks at democratic capitalism form a historical and theological perspective. Much of what I've read reminds me of the talks and writings of Nathaniel Talbott on homesteading. I read a quote last night that reminded me of a quality that makes many ThoughtWorkers special, and something I'm trying to cultivate at Obtiva. I'm talking about this contradictory quality of being fiercely independent, and yet cooperating almost continually with their colleagues. The quote that struck this chord was about a family that journeyed from upstate New York to the Iowa territory in 1842:
They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal. p. 135
I immediately thought of Obie and Aslak when I read this. When the three of us were on our first project together at ThoughtWorks, I was star-struck by their development prowess. They are certainly intelligent, ambitious, and motivated guys, but the thing that struck me was the breadth and vitality of their personal networks. Colleagues were frequently IM'ing them with questions ... and whenever we were stuck, we didn't just have Google at our disposal, we had a responsive network of world-class developers to ask questions of. And we often did. This is a habit (and network) I have taken with me as I left ThoughtWorks. While individual qualities are critical for success, a cooperative network is a distinguishing asset that is hard to detect on a resume or portfolio.

[/learning] permanent link

Thu, 28 Dec 2006

Limits and Frontiers

I'm currently reading The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism. This quote caught my attention...
Even while we pursue this inquiry, practical persons elsewhere are hard at work on startling inventions the rest of us will not learn of until tomorrow, their sense of adventure stimulated by the "energy crisis." Someone somewhere is struggling to invent better batteries for electric cars. Someone is pushing toward a breakthrough in hydrogen-powered engines. Someone is trying to unlock energy from some material no one else has thought of. Thousands of bright young men and women are now competing -- to serve humankind; to acquire fame like Edison's; to launch whole new industries, even a new era of world history; and, perhaps, to make a personal fortune, too. Inventors are competing to end the oil age, primitive and polluting as now in passing it appears to have been. The "limits" of the earth are not yet known. Limits are a frame of reference bounded by one time. In the light of another time, today's limit marks a frontier. p. 71

[/learning] permanent link

Wed, 25 Oct 2006

A Knowledge-Motivated Person

I was doing some last minute preparation for my Apprentice to Journeyman talk at GLSEC tomorrow when I reviewed my notes from my recent exploration of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and felt compelled to share a quote:
"He'd no longer be a grade-motivated person. He'd be a knowledge-motivated person. He would need no external pushing to learn. His push would come from the inside. ... Motivation of this sort, once it catches hold, is a ferocious force." (page 197)
This quote is significant for me because my transition from being grade-motivated to knowledge-motivated has been a profound experience.

[/learning] permanent link

Mon, 29 Aug 2005

Monty Hall on Ajax

One of my favorite personal code katas is coding the Monty Hall dilemma. In honor of this excellent mind-bender, I decided to use it as the subject of my introduction to Ajax.

I'm sure I'm the 30,000th programmer to blog on Ajax, but I can't resist. I started my programming career as a Perl CGI developer and coming out of the Perl community, I learned to disdain JavaScript and any code that lived on the client-side. (Probably similar to the disdain that most non-Perl programmers have for Perl code.) Fast-forward to 2005 and I'm willingly diving into JavaScript in order to experience the wonders of Ajax. As I whipped up a combination of HTML, JavaScript and Perl, I experienced a paradigm shift. This stuff opens up some incredible opportunities! At first glance, I'm feeling like Ajax is going to change just about everything about web development as I knew it.

I grabbed prototype and fired off some asynchronous JavaScript calls (using scriptaculous for some nice Effects) to a tiny little Perl CGI that plays the role of Monty in the game. It was a lot of fun.

So without further ado, here's my brief tribute to Monty Hall. If anyone is interested having me write up a walkthrough of the client-side and/or server-side code, let me know.

[/learning] permanent link

Sun, 13 Feb 2005

Unfavourable Conditions

I'm reading a collection of sermons given by C. S. Lewis during World War II. My favorite thus far has been "Learning in War-Time." I think I must have written down half the content of the sermon as I transcribed my favorite quotes. Here's one:
"If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavourable. Favourable conditions never come." p. 60

[/learning] permanent link


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