Work with the 20 percent.

Amazingly insightful easy, as usual, on coding horror about The Two Types of Programmers.

The 20% folks are what many would call "alpha" programmers — the leaders, trailblazers, trendsetters, the kind of folks that places like Google and Fog Creek software are obsessed with hiring. These folks were the first ones to install Linux at home in the 90’s; the people who write lisp compilers and learn Haskell on weekends "just for fun"; they actively participate in open source projects; they’re always aware of the latest, coolest new trends in programming and tools.

That’s why I like working at Forum One so much.  Outside of work, I know my colleagues are off learning Erlang, writing their own MVC Framework just to learn what it takes, writing their own Wiki-like site, or building a search engine for restaurant menu igredients.  Outside of work, I’ve learned, and brought back, Jquery, SVN, Solar-PHP, and dabbled with CakePHP & Django.  It’s not just the programmers either, our sys-admins run their own websites/projects outside of work too.

Have I mentioned, we’re hiring?

jQuery 1.1 – Slimmer and faster

Version 1.1 of my my preferred javascript library, jQuery, was released today.  They have a great motto – “write less, do more” and as far as I can tell, they live up to it.  The release notes claim speed improvements of 10-20x for selectors over those in 1.0.4.  The release includes some interesting new features – such as passing functions for an attribute or a css property.  The flexibility of that is mind-boggling, but it could also lead to some hard to maintain code in the wrong hands.

Why do I like jQuery over say prototype/Scriptaculous?  At a very basic level, it probably comes down to personal preference, jQuery was easier for me to grok.  But what first got me hooked was its straightforward use of selectors to work on DOM elements.

jQuery selectors are a combination of CSS 1-3, XPath, plus some custom code to glue it together. Essentially, the best parts from both of these query languages were taken, combined, and used to create the final jQuery expression language. If you already know CSS (which most web developers do) then you’re going to be fine.

Put your beagle to work – snake edition

Instead of letting him sleep all day and generally lounge about, your beagle could be hunting pythons in the everglades with Python Pete. This can only end in tragedy when Pete ends up as a hungry python’s mid-afternoon snack.

For the past few months Lori Oberhofer, an Everglades wildlife
technician, has been training her seven-month-old puppy to pick up the
scent of the invasive Burmese pythons.

Border Fence company busted for, wait for it…

Over at Hit & Run, they’re linking to the news that Golden State Fence, the company hired to build the fence on our border with Mexica, has pled guilty to hiring illegal immigrants.  The IHT has a slightly longer story. I wonder if stories like the following amuse or depress the Onion’s writers.

Federal immigration authorities audited Golden State’s employee records
in 1999 and launched a criminal investigation after a second audit in
2004. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said last year that 100
employees at the company’s Riverside office were unauthorized to work,
including three who the company had been ordered not to employ after
the 1999 audit.

One day, they’re just gonna tag me like a polar bear

I came back from a client meeting today to find 1 person looking for me, and then two people aiming me to let know the first person is also looking for me.  Sometimes I hate AIM.  Although one day I turned off IM thinking I’d get some work done, but then I got a call to find out where I was.

From Office Space:

Peter Gibbons:
You see Bob, it’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care.

Bob Porter:
Don’t… don’t care?

Peter Gibbons:
It’s a problem of motivation, all right? Now if I work my ass off and
Initech ships a few extra units, I don’t see another dime, so where’s
the motivation? And here’s another thing, I have eight different bosses
right now.
Bob Porter:

Peter Gibbons:
Eight, Bob. So that means when I make a mistake, I have eight different
people coming by to tell me about it. That’s my only real motivation is
not to be hassled, that, and the fear of losing my job. But you know,
Bob, that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get

Unpatched IE Flaw exploits in the wild

If you’re using Internet Explorer, or are forced to use it at work, you should seriously consider switching browsers until Microsoft deems it time to release a patch to the latest Internet Explorer security hole. This one is pretty serious as it does not require any action on the user’s part beyond visiting a compromised website. Once you visit such a site, spyware and keyloggers can be installed on your machine to steal personal information. From the washington post article linked above:

Rather than download a “beta” (read: potentially unstable) version of
IE or wait around for Microsoft to issue a fix, a far better idea would
be to ditch IE altogether (or only use it only when absolutely
necessary). I use Mozilla’s Firefox for everyday browsing, but your mileage may vary. There are other options, of course, such as Opera and Netscape, to name a couple.

More details and interesting links on Asa Dotzler’s post titled Just think of it as an executable.

Blogging and Organizations

Via Network-Centric Advocacy, I had a small “aha” moment, from a piece they linked to on AlterNet, Blogging While Black. To me, it resonates with why many communications folks within an organization don’t know what to make of blogging. Being the Communications Director somewhere means your supposed to be crafting , filtering, and controlling the org’s message and outreach. Blogs can be a threat because anyone beyond the anointed can have a voice.

So if anyone can have a voice, how do you control what they say, or how well they say it? In my opinon, you let your experts loose to write about issues you care about, like the Center for Global Development has done (full disclosure: I work with them), and connect more frequently, transparently, and informally, with supporters.

But blogging is not exclusively or primarily about reporting the
news; it is fundamentally about grassroots communication between
individuals and groups without the filter of government agencies,
political parties, corporations and other such entities.

World Cup draw is today

The World Cup draw is tomorrow! The US barely missed being one of the eight seeded teams (but rival Mexico was seeded), chiefly because of the poor showing at the 1998 Cup. The FIFA rankings have a long memory, unfortunately. On the flip side, another strong run in Germany would go a long ways towards beeing seeded in 2010.

Don’t forget to set your Tivo to record it oon ESPN2 at 3pm EST if you can’t skip work to watch. Hmmm, I wonder if there’s a webcast to follow? Remember to get the official World Cup Draw Worksheet and Beer Coaster.

Update: you can follow the draw online.

Memorable quotes from after work beers.

Went out with Greg, Sandy, Nyk, and Corey to hang out and have a beer or more this evening. Some notable quotes from the evening:

Oh was I drunk? Sometimes I’m a virgin when I’m drunk
Greg, why do you have to be so f*cking belligerent
Five or six long island ice teas sounds pretty good right about now.
Schnippy aka Greg
Should I be watching Family Guy?
It’s not named after the ship. It’s named after the ship’s class.

IE developer switches to Firefox

Scott Berkun, who designed and worked on the development of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer versions 1 to 5, explains why he switched to Firefox.

He has great praise for the design team, particularly those who have kept the browser focused on appealing to the mainstream user.

“Firefox feels to me like what IE 6.0 should have been (or what i
expected it to be after I left the team in ‘99). It picked a few spots
to build new features (tabs), focused on quality and refinement, and
paid attention to making the things used most, work best.”

He also has some helpful critiques for improving the browser, to which Asa Dotzler responds.  The comments to Asa’s post are very informative too, Scott has even replied there.