Monthly Archives: April 2013

bad code is always the first step to good code

“Yes, there are such things as best practices in software development, and they have legitimate value, but as a beginner you are not obligated to internalize all of them at once. Just stop worrying about it! Make something you’re proud of, then improve it little by little. Learn one thing at a time and make incremental progress.

Most of all, remember that bad code is always the first step to good code. Never let any experienced programmer tell you otherwise.”

Don’t Let Architecture Astronauts Scare You
by Joel Spolsky

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Filed under programming


Well, the almost passive-house/almost net-zero Stow house sold in a week to a smart buyer who got a great deal. And we’ve already moved (to the 1958 split level mentioned earlier).

I’m missing…
– the warm basement (my office)
– the quiet HVAC (the new house has a typical forced-hot-air system)
– the even temps (both room to room, and time of day)
– those huge window sills!
– the attic playroom
– the very quiet location (far from highways and other major roads)

There are some nice things about our new place too though (the main one being that we are 3 or 4 minutes to the kids school) so we save lots of time/money/CO2 each day on that.

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Filed under about the house, erik-green, green

Experiences of ADHD-Labeled Kids Who Switch from Conventional Schooling to Homeschooling or Unschooling

“My analysis of these stories suggests that (1) most ADHD-diagnosed kids do fine without drugs if they are not in a conventional school; (2) the ADHD characteristics don’t vanish when the kids leave conventional school, but the characteristics are no longer as big a problem as they were before; and (3) ADHD-diagnosed kids seem to do especially well when they are allowed to take charge of their own education.”


Experiences of ADHD-Labeled Kids Who Switch from Conventional Schooling to Homeschooling or Unschooling

These kids and parents manage ADHD better without conventional schooling.
Published on September 9, 2010 by Peter Gray in Freedom to Learn

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Filed under ADHD, alternative education, homeschooling, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School, unschooling

CFLs time has passed

I won’t be buying any more CFLs (compact fluorescent light-bulbs). Time for LEDs!

CFL problems:

1. CFLs apparently often leak UV!!! — 2013 NIH report:
2. CFLs usually don’t last NEARLY as long as claimed (in my experience) especially in down-facing applications where they get especially hot
3. Cleanup of broken ones is a pain (worrying about mercury)

So that’s enough for me to jump ship to LEDs now that they are starting to be almost reasonably priced.

Excellent: Philips 409904 / 423343 Dimmable AmbientLED 12.5-Watt A19 Light Bulb (good Amazon availability)

Also excellent is a similar one from CREE. Not sure Amazon has a good stock of them, but I think HomeDepot has them.

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Filed under erik-green, green

ageism and creativity in programming

“I am 57 and I am a programmer, the same way Martin Scorcese is 70 and is a movie director. Or Ron Howard is 59, and Rob Reiner is 66. And that’s just film.”
— Dave Winer


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Filed under art, creativity, programming, technology

Blogroll – Programmers on programming

Dave Winer – Scripting News
e.g. Why don’t programmers speak for programming?
The soul of the new developer
Why you should learn to code
Educating the journo-programmer

Joel Spolsky – Joel on Software

Dan Bricklin

Paul Graham

Imran on Tech
e.g. Programming Knowledge versus Programming Ability

Patrick McKenzie –

James Hague –
e.g. Expertise, the Death of Fun, and What to Do About It

Rys McCusker – doesn’t write much anymore. old stuff not visible


See also…
Jaron Lanier

– Microserfs (a novel)
– Close to the Machine: Technophilia and Its Discontents, 2001 Ellen Ullman
– Computer Power and Human Reason, 1984 Joseph Weizenbaum

Not a programmer, but…
Malcolm McCullough
Abstracting Craft: The Practiced Digital Hand, 1998

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Filed under programming, technology

Facebook Home

Facebook was clever to do Facebook Home as they did. As Zuckerberg said in an interview, doing an entire phone would have meant they would have reached much much fewer people than they can with the Android approach.

Here are some related blog posts/articles related to Facebook Home (and the bigger picture battle between Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook)

Matt Drance

I Like It, but I Don’t Like It Like It
The Facebook phone is not as dumb as I thought it was going to be.
By Farhad Manjoo

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Filed under technology

Vacations Versus Everyday Home Life

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Filed under Uncategorized

Whatever happened to ‘go outside and play’? — I’ll tell you! :-)

CNN: Whatever happened to ‘go outside and play’?

(I think everyone actually knows this, but here’s my list:)
1) More families with 2 working parents.
2) More TV and video game options. Yes, they existed when we were kids, but not as many or as interesting
3) More organized activity options. There are many many more options for organized activities these days.
4) Parents sense (right or wrong) that if not #3, then #2… so “organized activities” is the lesser of two evils.
5) More homework — depends on where you live
6) Parents worried about their kids being kidnapped/abused.
7) More suburban sprawl — hard to get places on foot or bike safely
8) New playgrounds are boring — where are the BIG slides, swings, zip lines and dangerous teeter-totters and merry-go-rounds?
9) New playgrounds are built in inaccessible locations. Rare is the good playground in a walkable location.
10) FORGOT THIS ONE: Divorce rate is higher (meaning more single parents usually meaning more daycare)

Some of this stuff is catch-22/chicken-and-egg stuff. When kids aren’t around and playing in the neighborhood, it encourages other parents to schedule organized activities or plug kids in to the screen too.

– Consider cohousing or moving to a denser/slower neighborhood. Structure matters. When driveways are long and people drive straight into garages, it’s harder to strike up conversations and have kids to run into each other. Amazing neighborhoods with kids running around still do exist, but it’s rare, and sometimes fleeting.
– — alter your current neighborhood starting with your own house/yard (see also book: “Reinventing Community”) Be the change.
– Move somewhere rural enough that kids can ride around on their own on horses. My wife as well as many other people (in online comments) have had amazing childhood freedom with horses.

KID FIXES (bring the kids somewhere)
– Sudbury Schools — e.g. Sudbury Valley School — as a way to recreate the “childhood of your youth” with like-minded families. Bring the kids to the neighborhood. Nothing beats this!
– Drop-in unstructured camps — e.g. Stow, MA is offering an unstructured camp in Summer 2013. At a playground/huge field/basketball court/pavilion area with “counselors” there to help, but not to “do anything”.
– Skate Parks — My kids get bored at normal playgrounds fast. But at skate parks (with skateboards, bikes, scooters) they can often stay for hours. With lots of different aged kids. Up through teenagers and above. Age-mixing is amazing stuff. (Like at Sudbury Valley School I am always impressed with the older kids and their interactions with the younger kids. They really step up the respect and responsibility. And fun!)

– Lakeside beaches — nearby lakes with town beaches you often get kids playing together who don’t know each other at first for hours (if the parents can stay that long) Ocean-side beaches usually don’t have this same level of intermingling. But sometimes.
– Camps – there are some amazing day camps and overnight camps that are unstructured enough that they give the feel of this freedom and responsibility.
– Family Camping Trips – same idea as kid camps, but with the parents along. Not necessarily seeing each other all day, but together maybe at meals and in the evenings.

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Filed under camp, Cohousing, kids -- freedom and responsibility, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

Nailbase Insulation Panels for Deep Energy Retrofits

Ooooh. Didn’t know “they” made these. I assumed I could have a SIPs manufacturer make them though. Just didn’t know they had a name.

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Filed under deep energy retrofits, energy, house