Archive for April, 2005

How to get space on a crowded train

You know that guy on BART with the pony tail who hasn’t shaved in about a month? He sits on the edge of his seat and stares down everybody who gets on the train, occasionally breaking down in silent laughter — you know, him? Well, he was on my train this morning, and I finally realized something about him.

He’s not crazy. He’s a genius. On a crowded commute, nobody once dared sit next to him. And this was one of the good sideways seats, where you don’t have to wait for someone to let you out.

So from now on, I’m working on developing my crazy. Cue bug eyes and random laughter.

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Thought of the day

Why didn’t they give February 30 days and use the extra two to take a couple of the 31-day months down to 30? That would be much more consistent.

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Software design lessons from real life

Since moving to the bay area and starting work in San Francisco, I’ve been doing much more city walking than I ever used to. On my way from the BART station to work, I have to cross two streets. As a computer programmer (and as Distracto!), I’ve been thinking about which is the most efficient way to get there. Allow me to demonstrate with this map (xx is a crosswalk):

---------+--+----------------
         |  |    Market St.
---------+--+----------------
         |  |
[BART]   xxxx - A
         |  |
         |  |
         | -+---- New Montgomery St.
         |  |
         |  |
     B - xxxx   D
         |  |  /
-------x-+--+-x--------------
       x |  | x  Mission St.
-------x-+--+-x--------------
      /  |  |
     C   xxxx - E
         |  |
         |  |
         |  |
         |  |  [Work]
         |  |

Now, I could cross at A, and if the walk sign is on, it might seem like a good idea. But the time taken at A might cause me to miss D, forcing me to wait another full cycle. And for my particular case, it’s a much longer wait to cross Mission than New Montgomery.

It’s possible that if I had not crossed at A, I might have caught the tail end of the light at C, and then could immediately cross at E. And if I missed C, I could still cross at B and I’m no worse off than I was before. So now I never cross at A. I’m convinced it saves me a ton of time.

And the software design lesson? Don’t optimize prematurely. Wait until you know what your biggest bottleneck is, and work around that first. Okay, maybe it’s a strech, but these are the things that I think about on my way to work.

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What is it with blogs and cats?

A post by lilliebet got me thinking about something I’ve often considered before… Why do so many bloggers feel compelled to post pictures of their cats? It doesn’t really annoy me as much as baffle me. Are all these people graduates of the Wil Wheaton school of blogging?

Anyway, I was curious as to how many of these there actually were, and I smelled another Google query coming on. The last one was pretty well-received, so maybe you’ll like this too:

Google for people who blog pictures of their cats

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