Thursday, November 27, 2008

Public service announcement

This is a public service announcement to citizens of the United States of America. You are being robbed. Your corporations -- er, news networks -- can only be trusted to muddy and obscure the fact that you are, indeed, being robbed. Wake up.



Are Bush and his cronies on a last-minute fleecing? That's where the media's blame will lie entirely after January 20, 2009, but you know better. You'll remember that Barack Hussein Obama II scurried to Washington, DC mid-campaign to vote for the original bailout with McCain and Bush, which was rejected even by Congress. That seems to say the only change you'll see from him is change on your dollar.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Yahoo! Laugh it up.

Public companies are such a funny thing. We entrepreneurs could profit $180,000 then $300,000 then $250,000 while being very well fed and travelled; living our dreams.

Now, try earning that, in millions per annum, as a company listed on the gambling board. I mean, stock exchange.

Ah! You would be deemed a failure and a loser; the press would profile shareholders and anal ysts crying that their money (which they passively bet on you gobbling up more and more, like a crazed animal) has gone to the person they bet against.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

201-year-old advice on current issues


What benefit is there to building upon hundreds of years of civilization and literature if our economic advisors and politicians refuse to read and learn from other civilization's mistakes?

"Luxury, Mr Cobbett, blasting, consuming luxury, will be our ruin; and if we do not soon give an example, which has never before, I believe, been given in the world, luxury will make us fall under the overwhelming power of France, and blot us out of the list of nations.

"The great must set an example of heroic self denial, they must give up their splendid, extravagant, and senseless pomp, or the whole nation must suffer for their obstinate blindness; if taxes must be raised for the continuance of the war, they must be raised either by the total abolition of all useless places and pensions, or they must be raised from the fortune of the great exclusively, for the poor and middle ranks are already ground to powder; and if the rich have not prudence, or foresight, or virtue enough to make great sacrifices of luxury to safety, we mast all suffer together, but woe be to them who might have saved us and would not."

Cobbett's Weekly Political Register

Click the image to the right to zoom in, or load up the full version.

If you're interested in more ancient advice and insight along these lines, see the parliamentary debates when England was considering how best, if at all, to return to a resource-based economy in 1819. The parallels to today's fiscal crisis are astonishing; from large bank loans being the popular solution proposed by government, to characters not tainted by a vested interest in that loan standing up in Parliament to plead for sanity; to point out the obvious cons of an economy-based society of debt and scarcity, where labourers are punished for abundance and advances in technology.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

First, kill all the lawyers

Thank Shakespeare for our title today.

Do you know anybody who has been arrested for stealing beach sand, or air, or water from the sky? Understand that with abundance, evil becomes almost irrelevant.

Is it conceivable that without the artificial boundaries of an economy, patents and corporations which maintain fictional scarcity of both resources and technology the devil could not walk freely among us, maintaining division, scarcity, hunger, greed, status, price and rank?

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

How to estimate without psychic powers

An interesting question on the process of churning out an esimtate was recently posed by a Creative Director in my LinkedIn group who is "looking to add measurability" while lamenting that "finding the time to follow up on jobs is difficult."

This is a common problem, so I'll summarize my thoughts on a potential alternative here, out in the open. I'll take the stance of advocate for the duration of this essay. Here's the elevator pitch:

We should stop considering our time entirely, unless there is a real danger that it would be worth less than the client's value. Billing for value rather than time is nothing new; you trade in this manner every time you head to the grocery store. Due to the power of modern programming languages and development tools, and the productivity of a true web developer with years of experience, it should never be a problem to provide more value than time invested.

There's more to it than being a less complicated way to approach an estimate. Make no mistake, we're talking cost estimate alone. The laborious task of filtering project goals down into to-do lists with associated time estimates is, of course, essential for planning your days. No way around that, if you manage your projects in a way that allows clients to know exactly what to expect, by when, incrementally.

Personally, I continue to approach estimates whichever way the client wants. The simplest case is when they tell us what they want, with a reasonable level of detail, and propose their own budget. It's easy to tell if the project will be worthwhile, and it wouldn't be unusual to start on such a project the same day it were first mentioned. These, I can now say in hindsight, tend to go even more smoothly than the ones we try to predict, down to which module we'll be tinkering with next Tuesday at 3:45pm.

More time to journey down the roads which open up to a developer as he builds a system an interconnects the modules. More time to work on bug fixes, class abstraction and IE6 compatibility. Less time spent gazing into crystal balls and explaining every failed prediction to a worried client who's expecting only what he or she has been told to expect.

A web site is grown rather than built. Builders charge for labour by the day. Gardeners sell their produce either based on how much profit the store can derive from it, or if they sell directly, how juicy the end user experience is. Don't we do the same?