Lesson from emacs: keep data easy to manipulate and easy to present

Spreadsheets Spreadsheets are evil. And do you know why? Because they're too powerful. Here is the sweet spot of spreadsheets: tables of related data on which calculations need to be made. Here is not the sweet spot of spreadsheets: everything else. Spreadsheet software is so powerful nowadays that you can make visualizations for almost anything. And some people are happy to spend a really long time creating and maintaing those, but I am WAY, WAY lazier than those people are.

Shu ha ri and evolution of a skill

Shu Ha Ri comes from the world of Japanese Noh theater, and has been since attached to the world of martial arts and <a title="Alistair Cockburn's words on Shu Ha Ri" href="http://alistair.cockburn.us/Shu+Ha+Ri">Agile development</a>. Roughly, "shu ha ri" means "learn / detach / transcend". The link has some words about that meaning. I'd like to talk about my particular take on Shu Ha Ri, which came out of a parking-lot conversation with a martial arts teacher friend of mine: <ol> <li>Shu.

Learning and fear

“Life is going to present to you a series of transformations. And the point of education should be to transform you. To teach you how to be transformed so you can ride the waves as they come. But today, the point of education is not education. It’s accreditation. The more accreditation you have, the more money you make. That’s the instrumental logic of neoliberalism. And this instrumental logic comes wrapped in an envelope of fear.

The Litany Against Fear

So, the litany against fear goes like this: I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Ruby is alive and well

I'm back from Rubyconf. Some people say Ruby is dead. We can probably gloss over Zed Shaw's famous <a title="Zed Shaw's famous rant on the Rails community" href="http://web.archive.org/web/20080103072111/http://www.zedshaw.com/rants/rails_is_a_ghetto.html" target="_blank">rant</a>, since it's from roundabout 2007. My understanding is that the thought came about because of the many new trends in programming languages: first node, then Erlang's comeback and the birth of Elixir. Evented programming, non-blocking IO, all the fancy buzzwords, and everyone craps on Ruby's Global Interpreter Lock.