This blog is maintained outside office hours. The views stated in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of our employers.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

It only gets worse

As if my last brush with public intelligence was not bad enough, today I my attention was directed to a monument, recently erected (literally) in the environs of the Malta International Airport.

It looks, to put it very bluntly, like a big dick. And before anyone accuses me of having a puerile imagination or of being a pervert, it should be noted that the very same observation was made in the articles and posts that brought the piece to my attention. (Gamesroom link, posts in Maltese, as well as a letter in the Times of Malta this morning)

I refuse to contemplate the meaning of this monument. While I have no problem with genitalia of either sex being depicted in art (and no, I'm not gay) I do have a problem with the freakier exhibits, especially when, like the case in point, they appear to be

1.) Designed to shock, possibly because the sculptor is unable to create something which can move the audience in any other way.

2.) look like they haven't been washed in a long time.

Come to think of it, this scene will become even more graphic as the native pigeons will coat the top of the structure with their whitish droppings. I wonder what ol' Mrs. Liz would have made of it had she seen it during her visit in the CHOGM.

If this is the shape of things to come, I think I'll retire to a more sensible universe asap.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Of culture and other wonky stuff.

Pfft. Leave it up the the others and this blog would be totally devoid of any content at all.

Time to dust off my blogger hat and put a few words down, this time drawing inspiration from a conversation I overheard yesterday in the bus. Yes, I still refuse to pay through my nose for the priviledge of using the few narrow ribbons of asphalt in between the various craters which the natives insist on calling roads.

Now, this conversation between three young gentlemen started when one of them asked what had happened to a certain DJ who had apparently disappeared off the face of the planet. According to one of them, said DJ had stopped practicing because he had developed some ear problems, which event caused him some inconvenience in his musical efforts.

In chipped the third lad, who said something along the lines of "So what? Beethoven was stone deaf and still wrote."

The response to this was "What the hell has that got to do with anything? Beethoven just had to sit in front of his piano and bash away, this guy needs to hear properly to play!" and "Yeah, I mean, Betthoven didn't have the sound this guy has, there's no comparison!"

[Cue sound of strangled disbelief from my seat]

Although one has to thank [insert preferred divinity here] that these people had even heard of Beethoven, I must honestly state that, if I had any faith in Maltese culture (And that doesn't mean I had any to begin with) I well and truly lost it there and then.

I was reminded of a Doris Lessing quote which one of my friends (Hi Ralph) was rather fond of:
You can take a whore to culture, but you can't make her think.


Life today is sort of ok-ish. I'm working in Java again, and having constant metaphysical debates with the occupant of a neigbouring desk who believes, for some unfathomable reason, that C# is better. Takes all sorts I guess.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Greetings from the UK, where informal meetings are fun. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 17, 2005

A Trilogy In Two Parts

Well all, the road calls again and I'm wandering off to new pastures once more. Posting this by way of thanks to Office workers #2 and #3 and all my other colleagues for the last few months, who have made work an enjoyable experience again.

This blog will remain and I still expect to post on it. For historical purposes, and because we're too bone lazy to come up with another name, it will still be called "Three guys in an office". #2 and #3 are expecting their new colleague now, who will be known by the monicker of Office Worker #4 should s/he choose to be inducted into the inner circle of the blog. Best of luck to all of them.

Greets also go to our other colleague who has also left the company to travel to far off Oz. Cheers mate.

C ya all as soon as possible.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Marketing for the Mob

It happens only, like, three or four times in every major project, if you're lucky. You've planned out some spiffy new feature, convinced your client liaison that it will revolutionize their website/workflow/inner balance, executed it with a skill that a samurai would envy and even, if you found the time in between deadlines, documented it.

Then you meet the proverbial boss client, and hear the fateful words: I don't like it. Scrap it.

Then you hear that tinkling sound. That's your elation at a job done and done well, shattered into several million infinitesimal pieces and scattered all across the boardroom floor.

Another, slightly more gentle scenario is when you realize, three months down the line after deployment, that while everyone was thrilled about the project, something seems to be subtly wrong, mainly because no one is using the bloody thing. Then it dawns on you that that everyone really meant everyone except the people who were meant to do the donkey work of actually operating it.

It boils down to targeting, both of marketing and design. Sometimes we lose track of the focus of the audience, wasting resources pursuing the attention of the wrong people. The exact social dynamics of a client organization are inevitably varied and complex, but it's worth sorting out at an early stage who the decision maker is - generally through the subtle interactions that happen between parties present at meetings etc. In some cases you'll even find that the bugger pulling the strings never actually shows up until it's too late.

You'll learn to appreciate that there's a good reason that police employ criminal psychologists to draw up profiles. You have very limited input by which to determine what the top guy wants, unless you're lucky enough to get a really solid brief. In my experience so far, a really solid brief ranks up there with the myths of the holy grail, the bleeding lance, and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. So get stuck in.

The other group you'll need to target are the people who will operate the system. As Gil Grissom of CSI fame is so fond of saying, "before you're a forensics expert, you need to become an expert in everything". Same for systems design. Learn what these people do. Learn what they want. Learn how they think. Then you will be in a position to design something they like. If they like, they use. No other way about that, I'm afraid.

Then maybe we'll all hear that tinkling sound a lot less often.


I started this post at 8:15pm and am still typing at 8:57pm, mainly because I've stopped a bit to discuss the vagarities of life with a friend of mine who has come up with a noble plan to cheer up another friend of his. Just dropping this note in here to wish him luck and to say that hell, anyone who has friends who care enough to worry about them and try to make them feel better shouldn't feel like a god-damned failure.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Zen and The Art of Lazy Software Development

Today, very few people appreciate the value of true laziness. Instead, everywhere we are surrounded by it's bastard offspring, sloppiness.

When I was learning Java in an isolated monastery in the mountains of far off Tibet (actually Balzan) my wizened mentor (hi Styx) shared with me the wisdom of the ancients: that while the common hacker is content producing line after line of code, the Zen Masters of coding instead perfect the art of being lazy. Unlike the results of sloppy coders, which produce dysfunctional behemoths, the practitioners of the way of the sloth produce elegant, if unorthodox, applications which work pretty damn well and tend to be nicely reusable.

The mantra: Do only as much as is needed to get the job done in the simplest way possible.

Less than that, and you get inevitable reworks.
More than that, and you will need more maintenance.

How does one walk the path? OOP helps, but the journey must start in the mind. Learn to think carefully before you start to hack away. Most of the greatest software projects start when one's pantaloons are firmly around the ankles, with nary a PC in sight.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

They're here!!

Finally our M$ thongs are available!

check out the pics below... or else...

(online ordering available soon :P)

Tight fit. Posted by Picasa

And yes, he put it on the wrong way round. Posted by Picasa

Yes, it's Office Worker #3! Posted by Picasa

Feel The POWER!!! Posted by Picasa

No, he's not scratching himself Posted by Picasa

Yes, we're trying to imitate our childhood superheroes. Posted by Picasa

Flexible and Sexay! Posted by Picasa

Available in a variety of sizes! Posted by Picasa

The ultimate apparel for the developer of the 2nd Millenium. Posted by Picasa