Two problems

Today on the BBC Radio 4 website, a regex crossword puzzle.

“Instead of a word or phrase, each clue is a regular expression (or a ‘regex’). To complete the puzzle, find the letter matching both the horizontal and vertical regex for each square.”

Great idea for a puzzle, and which reminds of this quote:

“Some people, when confronted with a problem, think ‘I know,

I’ll use regular expressions.’ Now they have two problems.”

—Jamie Zawinski

One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that “I know, I’ll use regular expressions” can be replaced with just about anything obviously difficult, like “Let’s ask the officers” in a military context.


The world is rudderless.

“The main thing that I learned about conspiracy theory, is that conspiracy theorists believe in a conspiracy because that is more comforting. The truth of the world is that it is actually chaotic. The truth is that it is not The Illuminati, or The Jewish Banking Conspiracy, or the Gray Alien Theory. The truth is far more frightening—Nobody is in control. The world is rudderless.”

—Alan Moore

Agile and Stack Overflow: Not all that and a bag of chips.

“Agile methods, however, make sure that the programmer is not allowed to do programming or think too much about how to design or change a technical solution. Everything must be done fast, with only the next two weeks in mind, and you are not allowed to think about a solution, you must delegate thinking to other people. And you have a chain of people that delegate stuff from one to another in a complete mess in which hopefully nobody will ever take responsibility fully for anything.”

“While Stack Overflow solves the technical problem, it doesn’t solve the moral issue. Stack Overflow is like the dude gives you instructions on building a noose when you ask for advice on how not to fall on the floor from a chair. Very helpful and technically sound detail, but perhaps not your intention. However, Stack Overflow, like Javascript, is pushed automatically, as THE SOLUTION. I know places where people are systematically disallowed to think and forced to use Stack Overflow instead. Almost every web-development course starts with ‘the way people solve problems: they search for them on Stack Overflow’.”

Dorin Lazăr: The sorry state of the programming world as of the end of 2016 AD

The former I agree with, if only because I see it all the time. Agile is not the end all be all answer to Getting Things Done.

The latter, not so much. It’s a great point about the morality of using Stack Overflow, but ultimately, the responsibility lies on the person posting the question or searching for an answer on Stack Overflow, not the person answering the question. Not encountering Stack Overflow in search of answers is hard, which makes it appear as if its “THE SOLUTION.” I get that. But there is nothing that compels someone to use the answers found there, especially as presented. Any programmer has to view the answers on Stack Overflow through the lens of their own entire context, not just the focused question being asked. No one answering a question is going to have that lens, and Stack Overflow doesn’t make providing that lens an easy task.

I have found and received a lot of great answers on Stack Overflow over the years, and given a few answers myself. But I was never foolish enough to think that I could plug-and-play an answer found there, nor has it been the only source of answers to my questions. Anyone who thinks Stack Overflow answers are the only solution needs to level up their programming skills. Blindly accepting arbitrary advice from arbitrary people  is just a bad idea in any context, not just Stack Overflow.

To err is human…

“To err is human. To fuck up a million times in a second you need a computer.”


“Do you know what you don’t know and therefore what you should know?”

“Have you yet recognized that you are and always have been your own teacher? Amidst all the noise and furor about education in this country at present, I have yet to hear this question raised. But it is basic. Liberal education has as its end the free mind, and the free mind must be its own teacher. Intellectual freedom begins when one says with Socrates that he knows that he knows nothing, and then goes on to add: I know what it is that I don’t know. My question then is: Do you know what you don’t know and therefore what you should know? If your answer is affirmative and humble, then you are your own teacher, you are making your own assignment, and you will be your own best critic. You will not need externally imposed courses, nor marks, nor diplomas, nor a nod from your boss . . . in business or in politics.”—Scott Buchanan, 1958

Meanwhile, at work…

Me: “It’s only unsafe if you don’t know what you’re doing.”
Colleague: “Do you know what you’re doing?”
Me: “No. But I think I know enough to get us out of trouble if we mess up.”
Colleague: “Okay. Proceed.”


Useful in so many situations…

You give me money, I’ll give you creative.
I’ll start when the check clears.
Time is money. More time is more money.
I’ll listen to you. You listen to me.
You tell me what you want, I’ll tell you what you need.
You want me to be on time, I want you to be on time.
What you use is yours, what you don’t is mine.
I can’t give you stuff I don’t own.
I’ll try not to be an ass, you should do the same.
If you want something that’s been done before, use that.

If you want your way, you have to pay.
If you don’t pay, I have final say.

Let’s create something great together.

The business cards are just as good, if not more useful.

Segura Via Boing Boing

Resurrecting the site

Things are in a state of flux as I get this site back to where it was. I updated from v2014 to v2017 in one go, and the menu system didn’t carry over properly (nor did my tags. WTF). I have a lot of pages, and they aren’t named in a way that makes sorting by title easy (whoops), so I am having to do some extra work to re-organize things. Excuses, excuses, I know…