Function vs Design

My latest project, dubbed Domain Pigeon, is coming along well. I work on it when I can, getting in a few hours here, a few hours there, probably not totaling more than 15 hours/week. I’m at a point with Ruby and Rails where I am knowledgeable enough to know what to look for when I run into problems (which happens frequently).

With the limited amount of time I have to work on it, I’m trying to allocate my time better than my last project. With ALL IN Expert, I spent wayyyy too much time in the beginning worrying about the design of the website and the software. I literally spent like 10 hours one day experimenting with icons I was creating with Photoshop. This was probably a good sign that it was going to fail. I spent too much time initially deciding on nitpicky design details that really weren’t important.

On the other hand, there is value in spending small amounts of time working on the interface. Ideally, design should be driven by function. However, in my case I’m still working out the details on some of the functionality, so creating a basic site has helped narrow my focus in a lot of areas. Also, by designing the site as Igo, I’m starting to see what the final product is going to look like. It’s a pleasure watching beautiful things grow.

On an unrelated note, I’m removing the “Recommended Books” from the side bar. My original intent was just to share books that I liked, but it now strikes me as arrogant so I’m just going to nix the entire section. Also added Mark Cuban to the blogroll and removed some of the shittier ones.

Poker wisdom & life

Even though I haven’t seriously played poker in some time, I still browse the 2+2 poker forums often. There are a boatload of really smart people on the site. While most of the conversations are about poker, there are often great discussions about success, philosophy, happiness, & life — topics that are usually on my mind.

The general note to everyone is stop spending so much time grinding/ on two plus two and spend more time doing fun stuff you want to do. I have realized playing poker gives you the freedom to do a lot of **** that you could otherwise couldn’t and most people don’t take advantage of it. A simple example is I wanted to start working out, my trainer said what times are good for you? My answer was any time because I have nothing to do all day. I suspect this is true for a lot of you. Focus less on poker, focus more on life. Take advantage of your freedom and do stuff you want to do. If there’s a skill you want to learn, or something in your life you want to improve. Just ****ing do it, stop wasting your time browsing 2p2 and get useful things done in to improve your life. Personally I have realized there is no point in me saying I would like to do XYZ or I should try and do XYZ my new answer should just be I will do XYZ because if I want to do it there is no reason not to.

– Eagles on this page

And:

There was an episode on the twilight zone, where a ruthless criminal was killed running from the cops, and is greeted by an angel that was sent to grant his every desire. He couldn’t BELIEVE that he was in heaven, and was skeptical at first. Over time he began to ask for things, a mountain of money, beautiful women, naked fish sushi, etc, and was granted everything he asked for, and life (or death), so it seemed, could not have been better.

As time passes, the pleasure he receives from his constant indulgences starts to fade; the ease of his very existence grows dull. He asks the angel for some challenging work to mix it up a bit, but is told that in this place he can wish for anything and will be granted it – except the opportunity to work for the things he receives.

Without any struggles, living a purely blissful life, the criminal becomes more and more irritated. Eventually, in a fit of desperation, he tells the angel ‘I want out, I want to go to the OTHER place’. The criminal, assuming this is heaven, wants to go to hell. The angel turns to him, with a wicked grin on his face, and with the booming laughter of the devil says ‘Fool, this IS the other place.’

Raptor, same thread

There’s another thread in the High Stakes forum discussing the merits of playing poker, going to law school, or pursuing a career in finance. I enjoyed the thread to so much that I submitted it to HackerNews, something I rarely do.

My brother is currently struggling with some major life life choices. In a conversation with my mom he asked her, “If you had to choose between doing what you should do and what you want to do, which would you do?” My first answer, had he asked me, would be to tell him he ought to go with what he should do. But after considering it, I don’t know if I could tell him that without being a bit hypocritical.

We have a choice between stability and risk. From my perspective, my brother should choose stability. He doesn’t fully see the consequences of the risky path or how the stable path has a much higher chance of success.

Could it be the same for me?

Scriptaculous Troubleshooting

I spent the better part of the last two evenings troubleshooting some problems with the Scriptaculous library. On one of the pages for the project I’m working on there’s an element that is supposed to expand with some dynamically generated content when the user clicks a link. This was easily accomplished, except that the element expanded too far momentarily and then jumped back to the right size, creating a slight flicker. It also turns out that the element was expanding each time I clicked the link, so that it would start out with a hight of 24px, then be 36px, then 48px, and so on.

After way too much work, I realized that it was taking into account the size of the padding and border when determining the height to render.

Since I haven’t used it much, I naturally assumed that I was the one in error, but it turns out, the problem may actually be with the library. Anyway, after a lot of hacking away at it I finally achieved the effect I wanted and am that much smarter with Prototype now.

There’s a definite satisfaction with finding the solution to difficult problem.

PT Barnum on Business

This is be one of the best collections of business advice that I have ever seen.

The safest plan, and the one most sure of success for the young man starting in life, is to select the vocation which is most congenial to his tastes.

Work at it, if necessary, early and late, in season and out of season, not leaving a stone unturned, and never deferring for a single hour that which can be done just as well now.

Hey, a Post!

Not too much to say here.

On most weekdays when I’m not at work, spending time with my wife, or exercising I’m reading or programming. As much as I wish I could eliminate the first part of that equation, it is just a constraint that I have to work with for now.

I’ve been learning a lot about Rails. There is really no better way to learn that to just try to make something. For all that I read beforehand, I still had to reference the books tons, even for elementary things. I’m becoming more comfortable with it, but still have a ways to go.

One site I’ve been reading a lot lately is Mark Cuban’s blog. I think this guy is my hero.

Narrowing Down a Path

I spent a fair amount of time this weekend working my new Rails project. While I got a lot of work done, it reminded me how much work I could be doing if I actually had more time to do it. I’ve come to realize that I probably won’t be founding any HUGE startup soon. I simply don’t have time to manage anything that requires lots of time and involvement from me. I get home at 6:30 – 7 on average, which leaves little time to accomplish everything I want. 

Maybe this project will be really successful, but even if it isn’t, it should provide me with a solid foundation for more ambitious projects in the future. If by summer ’09 I can be a Ruby/Rails expert, I’ll have a lot more opportunities to do the type of things I want to do. 

Also, I’ve been blogging a lot less. Somewhat paradoxically, that’s not a sign that I’m doing less work, but a sign that I’m doing more. If there ever comes a time when I give in I’ll make sure to write about it, but I don’t expect that to happen… ever. 

For the few of you who continue to read this, thank you, and I hope you’re making progress towards your goals. 

Matt

Updates

Been fairly busy, but have been making some progress.

I started on a Rails site yesterday and I’m off to a nice start. It’s amazing how much of the syntax you forget when you go from reading about it to actually programming it. I constantly have to look up the most basic syntax issues, but hey, at least its actual progress.

Getting to experiment with the code to see how it affects the site is enjoyable.

I have about 4 hours of discretionary time each weekday. Some days I spend about 3 of that programming; others none. On average I get about 2 in by the time I eat, shower, and spend time with my wife.