[A picture of private offices at Fog Creek Software] Alert! This ancient trifle retrieved from the Joel on Software archive is well-past its expiration date. Proceed with care.

Joel on Software

Princeton, Philadelphia, Boston

by Joel Spolsky
Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I’ve been getting a little bit behind on my world tour trip reports, but things have been going so smoothly thanks to Liz’s heroic organization efforts that there’s not much to report!

Princeton was our smallest group so far—just 19 people, but the hotel was really nice. That afternoon we drove to Philadelphia, where we had about 55 people, including a couple of spies in the audience from our Philly-based web design firm who were there to get a sense of the kind of audience they were designing for.

I’ll interrupt this train of thought for a moment to talk a little bit about the gear I’ve been using. As I may have mentioned, my laptop is a Lenovo ThinkPad X61s, extremely small and light but with a comfortable full size keyboard. If you’ve ever thought about getting a ThinkPad but worried about the eraser-head trackpoint in between the G and the H keys that these things use as a pointer, don’t be. It takes a little time to get used to, but it works much much better than the more common touchpad because (a) you don’t have to take your hands away from the home row to use the mouse and (b) you never touch it accidentally while typing, causing the cursor to jump somewhere else.

My phone these days is the Samsung Blackjack, running Windows Mobile 5. Like Windows, it’s extremely frustrating and messy and disorganized. Also like Windows, if you’re willing to hammer away at it, you can make it do some pretty amazing things. In my world, amazing includes the fact that Liz can put things on my schedule and they’ll show up on my phone via over-the-air synchronization. Another thing I’ve come to rely upon on this trip is the high speed internet access… in most of the places I’ve been, AT&T has HSDPA access, which is pretty fast. But the phone stays in my pocket… the laptop connects over bluetooth to the phone which is running Internet Connection Sharing, a little applet that AT&T has tried to hide but which is still in the Windows folder on the phone. I’ve had HSDPA access in Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, New York, Princeton, even in the Hamptons. I just take out the phone, run the internet connection sharing applet and hit “connect,” then click on the appropriate bluetooth icon on the laptop, and, plink!, I’m on the internet at high speed.

That’s the main reason I don’t carry an iPhone — I use this HSDPA access every day and it rocks, and it’s inevitable that the next gen iPhone will have it, so I’ll wait, kthxbye.

OK, back to the trip report. Yesterday afternoon, I stopped by the ITA Software office in Cambridge (for all intents and purposes, the only large software shop that uses Lisp) to say hi and thank them for the useful search technology behind Orbitz, which made it possible to plan this trip even with all the multi-legged trips that brought Expedia to its knees. They were nice enough to take me out to dinner, too. Thanks!

This morning in Boston we had a huge turnout… 200 people who didn’t stop asking questions. For some reason which I can’t figure out, the demo part of my speech is taking a little bit longer every time I do it. I don’t think I’m adding things; I think I’m just explaining more. Who knows. Anyway.

There’s a new branch of Wagamama in Quincy Market. Looked exactly like the last one I ate at, in Sydney. A very nice addition to the otherwise dreadful dining alternatives of Boston’s Festival Marketplace.

The hotel internet in Boston was rather congested and I was having a lot of trouble doing anything online there, which is why yesterday’s Strategy Letter had so many typos. Sorry.

Brent Ashley: “I’ll provide some links here which will help the reader to understand how many of the points Joel makes in his essay are supported by existing technologies in various states of readiness. It’s a big pantry of ingredients that is waiting for the right chef to come along and combine them in a way that inspires the world to follow.”

Indeed countless people have already emailed me to say that “NewSDK is here, it’s (choose one) Flex Builder, Google Web Toolkit, Java Web Start, Silverlight, JavaFX, Flash, ActionScript, MORFIK, OpenLaszlo, … (many omitted)” Ahem. These are not HERE until your TAXI DRIVER has heard of them, because I assure you he’s heard of Microsoft Windows. Many of these technologies are developed by smart people who understand the world the way I talked about in the strategy letter, and are hoping to win the next platform war. But GWT is no more the NewSDK than Digital Research GEM, or IBM TopView, or Quarterdeck DESQView, or Concurrent DOS, or Microsoft Windows 1.0 was the OldSDK. They’re just horses at the starting gate.

I’m in Kitchener, Ontario right now, discovering that an even better predictor of a hotel I don’t really want to stay at is that it advertises that kings, queens, and presidents have stayed there. Sorry, darling, your hotel is charming, but I don’t care what your marketing materials say, if you really gave the Queen Mum these same shabby old towels as you gave me, Canada would be a republic by now.

Thursday morning is the Kitchener demo with 75 attendees; in the afternoon we’ll have an astonishing 240 people in Toronto, and then fly home. Tallyho!


Have you been wondering about Distributed Version Control? It has been a huge productivity boon for us, so I wrote Hg Init, a Mercurial tutorial—check it out!

Want to know more?

You’re reading Joel on Software, stuffed with years and years of completely raving mad articles about software development, managing software teams, designing user interfaces, running successful software companies, and rubber duckies.



About the author.

I’m Joel Spolsky, co-founder of Fog Creek Software, a New York company that proves that you can treat programmers well and still be highly profitable. Programmers get private offices, free lunch, and work 40 hours a week. Customers only pay for software if they’re delighted. We make Trello, insanely simple project management, FogBugz, an enlightened bug tracker designed to help great teams develop brilliant software, and Kiln, which simplifies source control. I’m also the co-founder and CEO of Stack Exchange. More about me.

© 2000-2014 Joel Spolsky