Friday, November 15, 2002

How To Shoot Yourself In The Foot

by the US Guvmint:

1. recruit smart people with a capacity for languages
2. train them in Arabic.
3. experience a shortage of Arabic interpreters and translators
4. dismiss the trained Arabic-speaking recruits.

Why fire these people? Because they're gay.

That's a pretty silly reason to fire a translator, don't you think? Does gayness mean your ears don't work, so you can't hear properly? Or that your tongue is unable to form words in English, the "destination language", in this case?

That's like dismissing these people because they have blond hair. Or wear colored contacts. Or are short. And what, I ask you, does that have to do with translating Arabic?

Thanks to Kim, for the tip.
4 a.m.

And the Insomnia Gods have blessed me. Yay. (wags flag listlessly)

Y'know the irritating thing about insomnia? You always feel so cheated. I should be asleep, not lying in bed twiddling my thumbs! All this sleep time, going to waste!

When I was a kid, I always thought it'd be kind of cool -- I'll study Greek at 3 in the morning! Yet, the actual study of Greek never seems to happen. So, now, a proverbial grown-up, I roll out of bed and read, or most recently, plot/write story(ies), or post meaningless entries to my blog.

I know why I have insomnia. I have insomnia because I'm an INTJ and had an important meeting today. That's pretty much it in a nutshell.

Would you like to know what that means? Of course you would. INTJ's are a temperment type rather rare in the US, though found in much higher percentages online, for reasons I'll probably go into in depth later, but, suffice to say, have to do with the distancing nature of the communication itself, and the ability to find communities of like-minded individuals with similar obsessions, modes of communication, and tendency towards obtuse jokes. Just accept it, and read a copy of David Kiersey's Please Understand Me to learn more.

So, I'm an INTJ, uber-rational and uber-rationalizing type, and I had an important meeting today. So, NATURALLY, I will spend the next week -- including all night tonight, apparently -- obsessing over what was said, what I did or did not do well, how I could have done better, what other people might have been thinking, what the overall outcome of the meeting was or was not, why or why not, and basically critiquing my performance up one side and down the other. INTJ's can be characterized by an immense self-confidence in their chosen field of expertise, and no one who knows us realizes how much we agonize over, basically, everything else. Agonize. No, really, I'm not exaggerating. INTJ's are the people who relentlessly rehearse phone calls. No wonder we're attracted to email and blogs and other delayed-message communication, with their capacities for soul-revealing introspection combined with opportunities for endless editing before publication. Not that we're the only type finding that attractive, that's more of an NT trait than one reserved just for INTJ's.

And the fact that I know all this about why I have insomnia doesn't actually help me get to sleep. No, no, it just gives me fodder for a rambling blog. Not quite the desired outcome, though useful at times. It's like knowing you're an alcoholic when you're standing in the corner store getting ready to buy a bottle of Mad Dog 20/20. Knowledge of your own nature doesn't necessarily change your nature. That's a different journey.

Interesting Somebody Else's Sig: Those who say a thing cannot be done should stay out of the way of the person doing it.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Oh, All Right

I wasn't going to buy it. I generally prefer theatrical versions of films. A good half of the time, if not more, they are superior to the Director's Ego Cut™. And I go a long, long time (sometimes forever) before viewing "supplementary material". For someone more than passingly interested in the film industry, its history, and the art-n-craft of screenwriting, it's a little odd. But then, I'm a little odd. Some things, I'm just not ready to deconstruct yet.

The review over at Amazon has convinced me.

"...the changes--sometimes whole scenes, sometimes merely a few seconds--make for a richer film. There's more of the spirit of J.R.R. Tolkien, embodied in more songs and a longer opening focusing on Hobbiton. There's more character development, and more background..."

You got me. The magic words. Richer film. More of the original spirit. OK. You got me. Sold, or at leasted "added to Wish List".

But you know what I really want? Really, really, deep down*? I want those Argonath bookends from the Collector's Gift Set. Everytime I watch FOTR, the sheer awe I feel when the Fellowship passes these magnificent statues -- it's chilling. It brings home such a sense of the history of the world Tolkien created, my jaw just drops every damned time.

[*] I mean, aside from absolute power.

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

More Books

*smacks lips*

What's with all the HCI/UI/fluffy stuff, Sid? Well, it was brought home to me again and again when I was still working for OpenSales/Zelerate on OpenMerchant and AllCommerce, that our biggest problems weren't, though some might disagree, the usefulness of our product, but the usability. Oddly enough, I've had this realization on every project I've worked on, for every company, since then. That includes the bookstore gig.

It doesn't matter if you write the coolest piece of software on earth, the alpha and omega, the remote control toaster-GPS locator-Ecommerce website frills, whistles, and bells, if no one is going to USE IT because it doesn't make sense.

And since I, like so many other software developers, particularly dislike my time and effort going to waste, I must remember not just the requirements document (if I'm lucky enough to have one), and all the irritating things the client said in our meetings, but that I am not the user of the product, and I never will be. And, horrifyingly, that I'm working on a product, for users.