This shouldn’t be so @#!&! hard

So as is typical in Utah I moved into my house with an unfinished
basement and now to “save money” I am finishing it myself.  That’s
a bit of an overstatement.  I am actually watching other people,
mainly my brother-in-law, finish it.  I am amazed at how much time
a little experience can save.  Sure it isn’t hard to frame up a
room.  It isn’t hard to sheetrock.  What is hard is all the
little details that one learns only from experience and from hanging
around a bunch of guys that usually smoke a lot of pot, but that are
really good with their hands.  The last time I did anything – put
in a sprinkler system and built a huge deck – I spent months with my
brother (both of us are engineers) figuring out all the details. 
We made specific plans.  We calculated loads, water
pressure.  We did it all.  You know what?  My wife still
gives me crap about that.  For all of our upfront planning we
still didn’t do any better than the guys that smoke all that pot.

Why should you care?

A couple of weeks ago I listened to a lecture given by Adam Bosworth at
the recent Mysql conference, and a week ago I had the chance to attend
a presentation given by Aaron Skonnard on the upcoming features in
Indigo/Windows something or other services.  I have also been
reading through Wiley’s book on learning objects as well as perusing
lesscode.org.  I find the debate between simple and complex,
upfront and just in time design everywhere.   Simple designs
allow more individuals to participate.  HTML is popular because it
is easy to use and does not require an advanced degree to
understand.  Bosworth talked about the importance of RSS and how
it is the html for data.  I agree.  It is simple and
easy.  It lets many people participate.  When I was at the
lecture given by Skonnard he asked what eBay, Google and Amazon use for
data exchange.  I said RSS (you can see it here). 
Everyone laughed, but I wasn’t kidding.  Skonnard’s lecture was
aimed at a group of individuals for whom it is important to have lots
of layer that contain security, and interop, and bla bla bla. 
Lots of stuff.  Yes, in that realm all those layers are
important.  For the few that build systems that get stock quote or
weather reports (the archetype web service applications) I am sure that
all that stuff is important.  However, all that code will just
drown the rest of us.  Here’s something that will surprise you,
engineers don’t like to read docs.  They like to code.  If
they liked to read/write docs they would be english majors.  I
admit to having read a couple of rfcs in my life.  They
suck.  You have to consume unhealthy amounts of caffeine to keep
your eyes open.  Guess what.  The longer the docs are, the
more training sessions you have to go to, the fewer people there are
that will use your stuff.  That’s just how it is.

Did I mention that Indigo won’t ship for a year and since it is M$ it
probably won’t show up for a few years and it will have been re-branded
several times.  The big company way is lots of code, lots of
layers, lots of stuff to make hard things really hard.  That way
they can keep out the small guys who can’t afford to pay for all the
testing and the interop conferences and deal with all the support
required to keep all those layers running.  I won’t say that such
systems are never needed.  They are.  If you are building
skyscrapers or bridges or big expensive things then you need a bunch of
engineers with plans and designs and stuff.  If you are finishing
your basement, putting in a sprinkler system, or building a deck then
smoke all the pot you want and you can probably still get it right
without all the complex design.  Most of us are finishing
basements not building skyscrapers.

So does this have anything to do with learning objects? 
Yup.  It does.  In my previous life I worked on an LMS. 
I never read the SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model or is
it Stupid Crappy Overly Retarded Mess) docs.  I doubt anyone has
read them all.  No one likes to do data entry so all those IEEE
metadata fields will never be filled out.  There are a couple of
companies, probably paid by the DOD that will build SCORM compliant
systems.  I think they do it as a weapon.  To heck with
encryption, just make your stuff SCORM compliant no one will ever be
able to figure it out.

More later, I have to go work on my basement.

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