Potpourri of thoughts

So, this is a collection of thoughts I’ve had over the last few weeks and thought, I should write about that in my blog. It’s interesting that my blog has kind of developed this mixed flavor – originally it was just for me to follow my own personal growth, but now it’s a mix of that and a soapbox, which is funny because it probably doesn’t have a lot of readers. (my web stats broke a while ago and I never got around to fixing them, so I don’t actually know)

Anyway, my first thought is related to the cloud. I recently told someone that you shouldn’t build anything that you want to still be working ten years from now on the cloud. This is partially because companies come and go, partially because companies get gobbled up by other companies that don’t feel the need to follow the original company’s agreements to their customers, and partially because of what I call the “microsoft office effect”.

Let me digress to explain the office effect. Office, as software, probably peaked around 2002. That’s when it was the most intuitive, most useful, most stable. However, there’s a team of people hanging around microsoft for Office, and they felt the need to earn their paychecks and didn’t want to get fired, so they talked themselves into a series of what I would call downgrades.. things that made the software less intuitive, less stable, etc. Their managers were soulless evil middle manager types, and so they encouraged the creation of new file formats for each version of office. The net result is the software got steadily worse, but everyone had to upgrade to it or not be able to read each other’s documents.

And, of course, this happens with cloud services too. APIs drift, parameters get added and dropped, etc, because the team maintaining $WHATEVER has to earn their paychecks. It’s one of the evils of capitalism that everything keeps getting marked “new and improved” when in fact it is new but not improved.

Anyway, that said, kill the cloud. Until and unless every cloud service can have a IETF-style approved interface and a guarantee not to drift, and be provided by several competing vendors, encourage everyone you know not to use it and *especially* not to rely on it. Remember, there is no cloud, it’s just someone else’s computer. Also remember the hundreds of thousands of man-hours thrown away when various “free web page” places shut down during the dot com bust.

Segueing into another thought – I was musing how little of today’s software is going to be runnable on *anything* in 20 years. One of the unfortunate phenomenons I’ve been seeing more and more of is people upgrading just to upgrade – I can’t run the latest Allen & Heath mixer control application on my mac because I refuse to “upgrade” past 10.10 [for a variety of reasons] and for no good reason they’ve decided to use settings for the compiler that produce a application that isn’t compatible with 10.10. I’ve been seeing this more and more – realistically, there is no reason *not* to try and make every binary run on the widest number of operating system versions possible, but some developers are so in love with upgrading or playing with the latest toy that they will kick out i.e. applications that will only run on windows 10. Which is also, IMO, awful.

Anyway, one thing that the developers, especially those of web sites but also those of applications, don’t seem to get is *we just want them to keep working*. Sometimes we might want some new features but we *really* don’t want the user interface to change. JIRA, your new interface isn’t any better than your old one and you threw away thousands of man hours of people using it having to struggle to find things they already knew where were. Shame on you.

OK, on to another point. All new governments should go far beyond simple checks and balances, because we have seen that over time, checks and balances are eroded by corruption. Watching for and weeding out corruption should be built into every layer of the system and the founding document should recognize that over time people slide steadily downhill towards placing the needs of the few above the needs of the many. I am guessing we’re watching the endgame for the USA, I am curious what is going to come next and hoping that the loss of life and violence is kept to a minimum. I’m kind of hoping we just break it up into 10-12 countries and start over..

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