Archive for August 2000

2000/08/04 04 Aug

Joel on Software presents... Free Desktop Pictures!

Stuck behind a desk? Brighten your monitor a bit with these high resolution digital pictures I took this summer in East Hampton.

deskpic-A: deskpic-B: deskpic-C: deskpic-D:

2000/08/07 07 Aug

In Strategy Letter I, I wrote:

If you're going into a market with no existing competition, lock-in, and network effects, you better use the Amazon model, or you're going the way of Wordsworth.com, which started two years before Amazon, and nobody's ever heard of them.

I was happy to hear back from Sanj Kharbanda over at Wordsworth, who wrote:

Thanks for noticing us!

Read all about it: Wordsworth Responds

While we're on the topic of bookstores, my friend Jill McFarlane is opening a small bookstore and has created a weblog about it.

2000/08/09 09 Aug

Have you ever heard of SEMA? It's a fairly esoteric system for measuring how good a software team is. It will take you about six years just to understand that stuff. So I've come up with my own, highly irresponsible, sloppy test to rate the quality of a software team. The great part about it is that it takes about 3 minutes. With all the time you save, you can go to medical school.

The Joel Test: 12 Steps to Better Code

Russian

Sedelnikov Andrei has started translating my User Interface book into Russian! The cool thing is, since I have Windows 2000 and the latest IE, I can just go to that site and see the page appear in the original Russian without thinking about fonts, code pages, or encodings. It's all automatic. I read Hebrew newspapers, too, and the fact that it "just works" is fantastic!

My latest wishlist for Manila (the software that runs Joel On Software -- quite well, I should point out)

2000/08/10 10 Aug

Setting up PaxDigita

Over the last few days I've started working furiously on setting up PaxDigita, a software company based in New York City.

That's not going to be the real name. I'll tell you the real name as soon as it's been through the trademark search.

I visited a place called TechSpace which provides temporary offices and business services to high tech startups. Sounded good. But the offices were tiny and crowded. I know the real estate market is tight, but this was ridiculous. They had two kinds of offices: "cages" and "bullpens". Very funny. Can you imagine trying to hire the world's top computer scientists to work in "cages"?

The Nielsen|Norman Group

If you asked experienced UI designers to list the world's top names in UI design, you would get surprisingly similar results. Norman. Laurel. Tognazzini. Nielsen. Those four names are probably everybody's top four. They are the writers of the four best UI books that have ever been written.

It seems to have escaped everyone's notice that all four are working together now, at the Nielsen|Norman Group. This is an incredible dream team. Imagine the Institute for Advanced Study in the forties when Einstein and Feynmann were there. Now imagine if Newton and Kepler were there, too, and you get some idea of how exciting this is.

P.S. The books are:

The Design of Everyday Things, Donald Norman

Tog on Interface, Bruce Tognazzini

Art of Human-Computer Interface Design, Brenda Laurel

Designing Web Usability, Jakob Nielsen

These four books are the "Great Books" of UI design and should be required reading for every software engineer and UI designer.

2000/08/14 14 Aug

Silly, Paranoid Theory of the Day

I'll bet that Verizon management decided that too many people were pronouncing their new name "Very Zohn" instead of "Vuh Rise ON", so they staged a "strike" just to get in the news a lot so that people would learn the new name!

Speaking of Verizon (formed by the merger of BellAtlantic and GTE): whenever a company changes its name, the only thing that it logically means is that they concluded that their old brand name was a liability, not an asset. BellAtlantic and GTE have spent so long pissing off so many people with such bad customer service that their names had negative brand equity.

Which reminds me. On a completely unrelated subject, my company PaxDigita is now known as Fog Creek Software.

2000/08/18 18 Aug

Michael Volker, an entrepreneur in Canada, has a great web site on Business Basics for Engineers.

2000/08/21 21 Aug

I just got through reading Why Does Software Cost So Much?, an excellent book of essays by Tom DeMarco. I bought the book because it came from one of the authors of Peopleware, which is the all-time best book about software management ever written.

About half the essays prove that Tom DeMarco is simply the world's leading genious of software project management, and you shouldn't skip this book.

2000/08/22 22 Aug

Not to rain on everybody's parade, but there are three important ideas from computer science which are, frankly, wrong, and people are starting to notice. Ignore them at your peril.

Three Wrong Ideas from Computer Science

Fog Creek Software

My consulting company, Fog Creek Software, is now open for business in New York City. If you need top quality, high-end custom software development, or know somebody who does, please get in touch!

2000/08/28 28 Aug

I'm designing the compensation package for programmers at Fog Creek Software!

How do you compensate programmers?

Reader's feedback is here.

Rant Time

Normally, I edit documents for this site in FrontPage or Dreamweaver. Today, I wanted to post a document that I had originally written in Word.

Unfortunately, Word, which "uses HTML as its native format," made a mess of it. The "HTML" that it generated was full of unnecessary formatting crap that only Word cares about. That took 15 minutes of manual editing to strip out. Later I discovered that Word uses smart quotes, and it leaves them in the doc, even though they are not a part of HTML and they don't show up right on non-Windows platforms. That took another 15 minutes to hunt down and remove.

Grumble grumble grumble. Good thing there's Demoroniser!

2000/08/30 30 Aug

Yesterday's compensation story generated a flood of good feedback. I've reworked the policy extensively based on this feedback. Although you'll see that the basic idea is the same, it's been refined a lot thanks to my readers, and it's almost completely rewritten.

The process feels a lot like open source. It's not really the source code in this case, it's the blueprint for making a software company which I'm developing, in the open, with feedback and enhancements sent in by a community of contributors. I wrote a bit about Open Blueprint Companies here.

2000/08/31 31 Aug

How to look like you're wearing a $350 Prada T-Shirt for 1/10th the price

The trick is to buy Patagonia Capilene Silkweight T-Shirts in white or black. They look fantastic, they're the lightest, most comfortable thing I've ever worn, and you can sweat like crazy and nobody will know.

no, nobody paid me to say that. i just love these t-shirts.

Joel's Next Business

I'm sick of computers. I think my next venture will be a very tastefully decorated shop, lots of wood and bronze, that only sells mustard and mayonnaise.

It will be called "Smith, Smith, Smith, and Son: Purveyors of Fine Mustards and Mayonnaises Since 1804". We will have Lime-Basil Aioli, (which real foodies know does not involve limes), we will have all kinds of exciting imported mustards with lots of seeds and stuff, and it will be conveniently located on Newtown Lane in East Hampton, right next to the train station, so you can pick up some mustard for your smoked-chedder-and-pear-on-champagne-raisin-semolina-bread sandwich on the way to the country house.

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