Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Behind the Scenes: Why Bother Organising?

So yeah, I wrote a post for the TOWER blog. From people who've read it, I've gotten comments like "what company do you work for again?", "[in a] possibly career-limiting move..." and "Simon dropped something of a megaton bomb...".

The post grew out of a conversation I was having with various people at work where I asked that exact question. And I still haven't heard a good answer.

There's the old compliance cherry - "it's the only way you can prove to a judge that this is all the relevant records". Except it's not - you can equally prove to a judge that your search algorithm will find all the records. And either way you'd still have the problem of proving that data hadn't been removed before you did your search.

Gordon talks about how it's always going to be faster to find something that's been properly filed. But we're talking degrees here. What do I care if it takes 10 times as long to find something in a mess then if it had been correctly filed, if we're talking about seconds?

Dean argues that letting Google keep track of your mess is really just getting a smart computer to organise your data. So, what do I care how it finds my stuff quickly? Would you honestly keep up with your personally filing if you knew a magic gnome would come along every so often and do it for you?

Gordon's points about context and control are interesting, but I still want better answers! I tried asking Google, but the top hit was my re-post of the original question...


Why Bother Organising?

This is cross-posted at the TOWER blog:

Last weekend I had to find my passport. The last time I remembered seeing it was two years ago (strangely enough, around the time I got home from my last over seas trip). I was pretty certain it was in the room with all our filing. Since it had been almost two years since I’d last done the filing (which was around the same time I last saw my passport) I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone.

By the end of the day, I had everything safely in its right file. Unfortunately, I still hadn’t found my passport. It wasn’t in any of the promising-sounding files like “holiday stuff” or “stuff to be filed”, and it definitely wasn’t behind the filing cabinet. So I resigned myself to the fact that I’d have to pay for a new passport, and started putting all the files away.

As I was putting the very last of the files into the filing cabinet, I felt something small slip inside and out peeked a blue corner. It was my passport! Naturally I’d filed it away in “Tax Documents” along with my will.

So despite filing my passport somewhere that obviously made sense at the time, it was still only pure luck that I’d found it at all. In fact, if I hadn’t bothered filing my passport in the first place and just left it in the big pile of bills and receipts, I would have found it a lot sooner.

My day really boiled down to one question. If I’m going to have to search through every document anyway, why did I bother spending a whole day sorting it out?

TRIM, much like my filing cabinet, makes me sort through my documents and put them all in the right home. And, just like my filing cabinet, if I make a stupid mistake somewhere along the way, it might take forever to find my passport again. In a world where the likes of Google promise to find my passport – no matter if its in “Tax Documents”, “Travel Stuff” or behind the couch – in less time then it takes me to actually ask for it, why should I waste my time organising and filing my electronic documents? What possible advantage does it give me?

Sunday, February 18, 2007


BattleLore: First Paint Job

A few weeks ago I picked up the board game BattleLore. The game consists of hundreds of small, soft-plastic figures. Everything randing from human foot soldiers to goblins riding giant lizards. As I mentioned last year, I've been having this desire to try my hand at painting miniatures, and so this box full of little grey men seemed like a good place to start.

I picked up some acrylic paints from an art shop, grabbed the painting guide the BattleLore people put up, and sat down to see what I could do. These are the results:

I only painted four to start with. They took me longer then I expected, but since it's been close to 15 years since I last tried, that's not to surprising. I'm not blown away by my work, but I'm reasonably pleased with these as a first effort.

Edit: Oh, and I've got a Flickr account now.


Thursday, February 15, 2007


Javascript: Oh, Duh

I'm sure some people are going to fall off their chairs when I say that I only just discovered this. It's very much a forehead-slap moment.

If you call a method in javascript like it was a parameter, you'll get back the source for that method. As an example, imagine you've got a method like this:
function simpleMethod()
var someVar = 5;
return someVar + 4;
If you do something like this:
var anotherVar = simpleMethod();
then anotherVar is going to be 9. If on the other hand, you do something like this:
var anotherVar = simpleMethod;
then anotherVar is going to be "function simpleMethod() { var someVar = 5; return someVar + 4; }".

I realise how basic this is. But suddenly a whole lot about JavaScript makes a lot more sense now.


Friday, February 09, 2007


World Dream Bank

I discovered Planetocopia today. It's pretty much pure awesome.

This guy named Chris Wayan has generated a bunch of "alternate Earths". Things like "what if the Earth was upside down?" or "what if both poles were over the ocean?". They're pretty interesting reads.

His article on how he generates his worlds is pretty interesting too - the map of things to keep in mind is pretty full on!


Monday, February 05, 2007


Random Story Idea

There's a big state dinner. Everyone's there - the President, the Speaker of the House, the Senate, Congress, everyone. Someone manages to slip A Plot Device into the food. This Device - could be a poison or miniature robots or a genetically engineered virus whatever - is designed to stay inside a person without harming them, until a signal is given. When that happens, they kill the host (poison, explode, etc).

So, it's unknown who's infected (is it everyone? just the people who had the soup? the wine?) - except for the people responsible. These people occasionally contact individuals and basically say "do this or you/your wife/your best friend will die". Some people die. Some people start making wild claims. Some people start voting strangely.

There's a team who's responsible for finding the bad guys. Mean while, some groups of the infected want to close the government down, others want it to keep running. Some want to report it all to the press, others don't. Some are desperately trying to help the heroes, others are trying to stop them.

The trick is that no one knows if the senator who's screaming for a bill to be voted on is doing so because he's been infected and has been told to, if he hasn't been infected and believes it's the right thing to do, or he has been infected and is trying to be a hero. Well, no one knows until the unfortunate senator dies...

And the bad guys are probably gearing up for something big. But no one knows what it is...

So it's kind of 24 meets the West Wing. Party politics, dirty tricks, back room deals, no one knowing who to trust. It would probably be lots of fun

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