Sunday, December 12, 2010

Old blog is old

I've been posting personal things over on my buzz account because the UI is easier.

I really want to set it up so that the posts are copied here automatically, but for some reason the Blogger feed widget doesn't like the feeds from Buzz. Blech.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Married, Finally!

Susan and I had our civil ceremony last week.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


There's a heat wave in San Francisco this week. Waking up this morning in the warm house with the windows open and a breeze blowing instantly transported me back to Susan and I's apartment in Manhattan. On summer mornings just like these, we'd wake up late and walk languidly together to union square for iced coffee and a waffle at 71, trying to absorb as much of the warmth and the company as possible before splitting up to our respective startups.

Thanks New York, you taught me how to live and introduced me to a great friend. Thanks San Francisco, for reminding me.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ad-hoc solutions to systemic problems do not scale (or: "stop bitching and get back to work")

Today at work, for the hundredth time since I've been there, somebody complained about how they have to log in over and over again to various internal services, and asked if there was any known solution. And for the hundredth time since I've worked there, people suggested various workarounds, including Greasemonkey scripts, bookmarklets, and third-party software.

For the hundredth time, people pondered why authentication (especially web authentication) sucks so bad, and wondered why biometrics hadn't taken off yet. The people who worked on the software in question heard their cue, and like clockwork, chimed in to defend why it really was necessary and useful to type your passwords twelve times at the beginning of each day.

The bit flipped, the algorithm advanced, and self-appointed security nazis popped out of the woodwork to yell at people for wanting to save their passwords and shave a few seconds off their morning routine.

The thing is, real security experts never chime in on mailing lists telling people what to do. Real security experts know that talking to people one-by-one is pointless: next month there will be a new n00b asking the exact same question, doing the exact same retarded thing.

Instead, real security experts -- people who want to achieve change in general -- work silently behind the scenes to change the system so that the players are automatically guided down better paths.

I see this pattern all over the place, not just in software, and it drives me crazy. Think of all the effort expended trying to save the planet by changing peoples' behavior one-by-one. If the planet needs saving, we are screwed because running commercials encouraging people to turn their thermostats down isn't going to make any difference at all. If the planet needs saving, we're going to need a concerted effort to find a systematic solution to a systemic problem, not people keying each others' SUVs and touchy-feely TV commercials.

Working on mass market software has taught me that you can't educate everyone. Even if you could reach them all, people are mostly lazy, dumb, and preoccupied. If you really want to make a change in this world, you need to change the system, not the people.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Love, Paraphrased

Her: So sad. After Katrina, peopled died just waiting for emergency response to get water to them.

Me: Wow... One thing I can guarantee: you'll never die of thirst in a hurricane aftermath. I'd go steal some or something.

Her: I know.