TITLE: Quick Hits on the Way Out of Dodge AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: April 08, 2009 6:32 PM DESC: ----- BODY: Well, Carefree. But it plays the Western theme to the hilt. This was a shorter conference visit than usual. Due to bad weather on the way here, I arrived on the last flight in on Sunday. Due to work constraints of my workshop colleagues, I am heading out before the Wednesday morning session. Yet it was a productive trip -- like last year, but this time on our own work, as originally planned. We produced A good trip. Yesterday over our late afternoon break, we joined with the other workshop group and had an animated discussion started by a guy who has been involved with the agile community. He claimed that XP and other agile approaches tell us that "thinking is not allowed", that no design is allowed. A straw man can be fun and useful for exploring the boundaries of a metaphor. But believing it for real? Sigh. A passing thought: Will professionals in other disciplines really benefit from knowing how to program? Why can't they "just" use a spreadsheet or a modeling tool like Shazam? This question didn't come to mind as a doubt, but as a realization that I need a variety of compelling stories to tell when I talk about this with people who don't already believe my claim. While speaking of spreadsheets... My co-conspirator Robert Duvall was poking around Swivel, a web site that collects and shares open data sets, and read about the founders' inspiration. They cited something Dan Bricklin said about his own inspiration for inventing the spreadsheet:
I wanted to create a word processor for data.
Very nice. Notice that Bricklin's word processor for data exposes a powerful form of end-user programming. When I go to conferences, I usually feel as if the friends and colleagues I meet are doing more, and more interesting, things than I -- in research, in class, in life. It turns out that a lot of my friends and colleagues seem to think the same thing about their friends and colleagues, including me. Huh. I write this in the air. I was booked on a 100% full 6:50 AM PHX-MSP flight. We arrive at the airport a few minutes later than planned. Rats, I have been assigned a window seat by the airline. Okay, so I get on the plane and take my seat. A family of three gets on and asks me hopefully whether there is any chance I'd like an aisle seat. Sure, I can help. (!) I trade out to the aisle seat across the aisle so that they can sit together. Then the guy booked into the middle seat next to me doesn't show. Surprise: room for my Macbook Pro and my elbows. Some days, the smile on me in small and unexpected ways. -----