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Dumb and Dumber

Dumb: I bought two books recently. One was called "Information Retrieval: Algorithms and Heuristics" and I was reading it over the weekend. Or trying to. By the time I got to the material on Bayesian, I was getting lost. However this is basic stuff - I knew it in college. This follows on from a realization not long past, that to get through "Modern Heuristics", I'm going to need a math refresher. Also I still haven't fully graped this metaprogramming example in JavaScript. Not good.

Dumber: Also at the weekend, I spent more time than I would like getting Textdrive, Mercurial and Trac to play nice - this is the infrastructure for a Django based weblog I'm writing. I reckon we waste who knows how many millions of hours a year on silly configuration matters, but it took me too long to set this up (you instinctively tend to know when you're the problem). Trac and Mercurial are written in Python. I might get to file some tickets and a few test cases to complete for next weekend, before getting back into work and wrapping up Atom Protocol. By comparison look at what Peter Norvig did for grins in Python recently.In Python. On a plane. Not good either.

So, Pete Lacey's kind observations notwithstanding, I sure don't feel smart at the moment.


April 9, 2007 06:28 PM

Comments

Jeff Atwood
(April 9, 2007 07:00 PM #)

"Nobody is really smart enough to program computers. Fully understanding an average program requires an almost limitless capacity to absorb details and an equal capacity to comprehend them all at the same time. The way you focus your intelligence is more important than how much intelligence you have."

http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000051.html

Jeff Atwood
(April 9, 2007 07:01 PM #)

"Nobody is really smart enough to program computers. Fully understanding an average program requires an almost limitless capacity to absorb details and an equal capacity to comprehend them all at the same time. The way you focus your intelligence is more important than how much intelligence you have."

http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/000051.html

Pete Lacey
(April 9, 2007 07:02 PM #)

I planned to spend this weekend knocking off a quick APP client. Lines of code written: 0
Hours spent installing all the bits and pieces: ~6
Hours spent looking for a suitable APP server to test against: ~6

That last goal is still unmet. I want something trivial to install that (ideally) is already implemented in the wild. Abdera looks like too much of a pain for my needs, the Blogger API doesn't look very stable or complete (no service documents). I'm now eyeing a WordPress 2.1 configuration with a backport of the 2.2 APP code.

(April 9, 2007 07:25 PM #)

Honestly, it's refreshing to see someone admit that they aren't a freaking mental Superman. If I had a dollar for every person that wants to come off like they know everything...

Koranteng Ofosu-Amaah
(April 9, 2007 07:59 PM #)

One consolation in all this, we are doomed to reinvent the wheel. That pointer to the metaprogramming javascript presentation was illustrative in that respect. All the gymnastics demonstrated in it boil down to a problem that has been solved before.

When building a dynamic web app, you are essentially building a forms application and this all boil down to the moral equivalent of the Xforms dependency engine circa 2003, which itself is essentially a simplified spreadsheet dependency engine codified in the 80s (Visicalc, Lotus 1-2-3, Excel).

The one thing that the XForms folks got right was their architecture. I sometimes wish people would connect the dots and not go off rewriting the same thing. All this to say, I don't think you need to grasp such things as 'metaprogramming JavaScript' beyond your understanding of how a spreadsheet works. It's just black magic.

Richard Rodger
(April 10, 2007 11:06 AM #)

That Peter Norvig post is pretty humbling alright... I think I'll have to go and learn Erlang or something...

Rick Thomas
(April 10, 2007 02:12 PM #)

Sucks to be down in the 99.9999 percentile and compete with the smart people. ;-)

Really though, look at what you've accomplished with the configuration: You solved a tough problem. Points! You shared the solution, freeing others to produce more/better software. Virtuous cycle! And you provided a case study and impetus for new solutions for configuring software, and in the broader view, sharing operational knowledge. I'll also point out your leadership via your writing here.

As for Norvig, and the book authors too, just celebrate the network of human practical genius - together we are the open shoulders of a giant.

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