Jack Bauer Codes in Delphi

Jack Bauer Codes in DelphiWhile watching the 24 season 4 on DVD tonight I noticed Jack Bauer coding in Delphi. Check out the screenshot I captured using PowerDVD on my laptop at about 6:54 PM, 24 time. Jack writes a couple of lines of code just before determining that an EMP is about to go off in the building.

Delphi developers… the next time someone asks why you use Delphi instead of something else, tell them “if its good enough for Jack Bauer, its good enough for me”.

Knowing that Bill Gates is a big fan of 24 (a New Yorker article?), I’m surprised that Microsoft’s marketing group didn’t pay a Visual Studio product placement.

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How to Become an Independent Programmer in Just 1068 Days

Gus Mueller writes about becoming a full-time independent programmer and adds seven lessons learned along the way. I think number 7 is the most important:

Lesson #7 – It’s not good enough to write and sell something that people want, it has to be got to be something they’ll spend money for as well.

Why Del.icio.us Succeeded Where Blink Failed

Via Anil Dash. Here’s a refreshing and insightful mea culpa post by Ari Paparo, founder of Blink.com, an “online bookmarks” service launced in 1999. I had a distribution deal with Blink at one point, adding special Blink features to the NetCaptor sidebar and making a commission on user uptake. Ari reflects on the success of del.icio.us and the failure of Blink:

I don’t think it was that we were “too early” or that we got killed when the bubble burst. I believe it all came down to product design, and to some very slight differences in approach.

Blink failed because product design decisions killed the potential network effect that can occur when large groups of users share stuff. Personal online booksmarks are easy. Del.icio.us won because it made it easy for users to share and find new bookmarks – Blink made that very hard.

GMail – Would You Like to Map This?

Would you like to map this?I was missing the day God handed out directional sense. I regularly lose my car in large parking lots and have to visit a place about ten times before I can find it again without a map. That’s why I’m excited about this Gmail feature I noticed today. A friend sent me an email inviting me to a meeting next week. The email text included our agenda as well as the address of the place we’re meeting (I’ve been there before but don’t remember how to get there). Gmail was smart enough to parse the address out of the email text and ask me if I wanted to map it. That’s a lifesaving feature for directionally challenged people like me. Now if Gmail could help me find my car after the meeting…

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PMBA: Economics in One Lesson

Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics
The PMBA program includes Economics in One Lesson as a primer on basic economics. Its not your standard econ textbook. Hazlitt teaches through concrete examples and dismantling common economic fallacies.

Here’s the main point, according to the author:

The central lesson is that we should try to see all the main consequences of any economic policy or development – the immediate effects of special groups, and the long-run effects on all groups (p 55).

Hazlitt argues against artificial price controls, minimum wages, subsidies, government-issued credit, high taxes, price-fixing and inflation because these policies benefit special interests to the detriment of society as a whole.

As I read this book and found myself trying to apply Hazlitt’s reasoning to everyday buying decisions. Here’s an example.

My wife and I like Noble Fir Christmas trees. These trees can be expensive. A large tree can cost $90 at a private tree lot. This year we found a great tree at our local Target store for only $40. In an efficient market, everyone would buy their tree at Target and the private sellers would go out of business. Is society better off because we can buy trees for $40 instead of $90? Hazlitt would argue yes.

I have an extra $50 to spend on a jacket if I buy a $40 tree. The private tree sellers might lose their jobs, but new jobs would be created when I spend my $50 savings (or even if I save it, but that’s another matter). There is no net job loss, but I have acquired a tree and a jacket. My standard of living is higher and I am wealthier. If I had purchased a $90 tree, I would not have a jacket. I would have a lower standard of living and would be poorer. The lower prices and higher per-person productivity created by efficient free markets leads to wealthier societies with higher standards of living.

Hazlitt’s arguments make sense on a large scale. But are they overly simplistic? What if markets aren’t completely free? What if jobs don’t transfer easily from a dying industry to a new one? Can anyone recommend further reading in this area?

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