Strong opinions, weakly held

Links for March 12th

  • Jon Udell interviews Ward Cunningham about how the Eclipse portal exposes its innter workings by way of reports on test results, and the advantages the resulting transparency provides. Really, really interesting stuff.
  • Bruce Schneier discusses a report on the lack of security in implantable medical devices that provide remote access.
  • Wired Compiler links to Prism, a Firefox add-on that makes it easy to treat Web sites like standalone desktop applications. It provides a lightweight approach to creating apps like Mailplane.
  • The Morning News: Six-Word Reviews of 763 SXSW MP3s by Paul Ford. This is insane, and I mean that in the best possible way.
  • Postalicious is the WordPress plugin I used to produce this post.

1 Comment

  1. The visible workings/transparent systems thing is quite interesting, and something I’ve thought about too and tried to incorporate into our current product. As I said internally when I forwarded those links on, I think a bit part of why web technologies have been so successful is that because they expose so much of how they work, you can make small changes quite easily and without knowing how the whole thing works. Traditional applications tend to be fortresses, guarding all their secrets in compiled code and a complex build system.

    I’m trying to put as much of our system in itself as possible, which innately exposes it to modification and examination. We work a lot with people who are supporting several different 3rd-party applications for their employer and can’t afford to become experts in all of them, but are definitely smart enough to make small changes when they’re allowed to. So for instance, putting a messages.properties file in the application itself and allowing admins to edit it lets people change the wording of system messages without having to recompile or repackage the application; putting the CSS in there allows them to change the UI pretty much as far as they want to go, without having to – ahead of time – pick out all the individual things they might want to change and provide settings for them.

    It also provides ways to break the system, but that’s where versioning and rollbacks come in. If you screw something up, you hit “revert to previous version” and you’re back in business.

    Certainly my favourite software tools are ones that let you get inside and change them around a bit without a bunch of artificial constraints on what you can do. After all, they’re running on my computer, why shouldn’t I be able to change them?

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