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Ken's blog

Pretty But Useless

I've spent a bit of time the last few weeks helping out a friend who has a beautiful web site for her band, but can't update some of it. It was done as a favor -- and a nice favor it is -- but while she's able to edit some pages using a WYSIWYG editor like Contribute, other pages are produced by scripts and therefore can't be edited without digging into code she doesn't understand and doesn't want to deal with.


Here's a nice post from a guy who organizes his life using a notebook. I love my Treo and all, but nothing really substitutes for pen and paper.

The Craft Of Programming

This essay, sparked by a conversation about how to hire good developers, is nearly ten years old, but a few stories I've heard recently brought it to mind again, so I thought it would be worth reprinting. Some of it is dated (I don't write much Perl anymore) but the principal is still sound. (The team I hired using these principles did some really wonderful work, I might add, although they were also a bear to manage on occasion. But I wouldn't have traded them for a hundred by-the-book uncreative and uninteresting programmers.)

Put On Your Platform Shoes

The New York Times today announced that it's going to open itself up as a platform. "Everything we produce should be organized data," said an executive.

Weeds In the Garden

I recently came across the CSS Zen Garden, probably not for the first time since it's been around for ages, but I'd never really looked at it in detail before.

That and a Million Dollars

At dinner a few nights ago, a friend who works for a large university said she was going to a few days of training on a new content management system the university had purchased. I'd never heard the name before, but she said it was in use at a few other educational institutions. The price tag was more than a million dollars.

Where the Readers Are

A few years back a colleague asked me what web sites I read most often, and I sat back and said that I really didn't read any sites regularly anymore. The days when I'd make obligatory stops at and and were long behind me. Instead, my reading focused on RSS feeds (then in Bloglines, now in Google Reader), a few really good email newsletters, and sites like (And I still have not broken, and probably never will break, my two-newspaper-a-day habit, but that's another post.)

Harmonica? Really?

Yes, I've started a technology consulting firm and named it after an instrument that's too often seen as a toy, and dismissed by serious musicians. But that's the point. Over the years I've seen simple solutions dismissed in favor of large and expensive projects that, if they don't fail entirely, produce complex systems that cost too much, don't make sense, and don't even meet the original need very well.