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Monday 18 November 2002, 21:10 GMT
Please update your bookmarks.

I've finally taken the plunge and opened up Sore Eyes v2 - a new site with all the linky goodness you're accustomed to, plus such modern amenities as a CSS-based design, permalinks and a comments system. I hope you'll update your bookmarks and come visit the new site.

This site will remain, but all new weblog entries will be made at soreeyes.org. Once I've finished twiddling with the new site's CSS and otherwise adding bits and bobs like a search function I'll be turning my attention back to this site with a view to developing it as a proper personal site, as opposed to the weblog with links to a minimal amount of non-weblog content which hasn't been updated in about two years.

I hope I'll see you over at soreeyes.org.
Sunday 17 November 2002, 21:40 GMT
Joel Splosky on The Law of Leaky Abstractions. A very good, clearly written essay on how easy it is for software intended to protect users - or programmers, for that matter - from complexity to cause almost as many problems as it resolves. (See, for example, almost any product designed to allow you to produce web pages without writing a line of HTML. If it's from Microsoft, that goes double.)

He starts out by explaining how the internet works:
Imagine that we had a way of sending actors from Broadway to Hollywood that involved putting them in cars and driving them across the country. Some of these cars crashed, killing the poor actors. Sometimes the actors got drunk on the way and shaved their heads or got nasal tattoos, thus becoming too ugly to work in Hollywood, and frequently the actors arrived in a different order than they had set out, because they all took different routes. Now imagine a new service called Hollywood Express, which delivered actors to Hollywood, guaranteeing that they would (a) arrive (b) in order (c) in perfect condition.
Odd as this sounds, it's a very fair analogy.

It's not that people shouldn't use WYSIWYG HTML editors, or fancy string libraries with their C++ compiler. It's more that pushing an abstraction too far can have consequences that take a lot of cleaning up and will require an understanding of what lies beneath the abstraction.

[Via Electrolite]
The Voyage of Terry Waite's Clogs. Every bit as bizarre - not to mention quintessentially English - as it sounds.

[Via MetaFilter]
AbiWord up. Andrew Leonard meets the community of developers working on the AbiWord word processor.
Not only is contributing to a free-software project a good way to keep your skills sharp and build a résumé, but, Eric Sink observes, "People keep doing it because they like doing it. It compares very, very favorably to working for stupid corporations who ask developers to build projects that they then throw away, or to writing really good code and than have bad marketing put in front of it. Those kinds of things are very unsatisfactory for developers."

What is satisfactory is to receive the plaudits of your peers and to create code that people actually use. It's not about beating down Bill Gates (although Microsoft, by every indication, is increasingly obsessed with beating down free software), it's not about making oodles of bucks, it's not even about being the best.
I hadn't looked at AbiWord since version 0.7, so after reading this article I downloaded the current Windows version. It's a seriously useful little program nowadays, and it's a hell of a lot faster on my oldish PC than word processor component of OpenOffice. I'm not likely to uninstall OpenOffice any time soon, because I find that for home use I need a spreadsheet at least as often as I do a word processor and I find it useful to have to learn only the one program, but if I had a friend who needed to read and write MS Word documents and do simple word processing I wouldn't hesitate to suggest AbiWord.

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