Pew Pew Laser Blog

Code. Glass art. Games. Baking. Cats. From Seattle, Washington and various sundry satellite locations.

Past Blogs

Software Development Jargon and Collecting Underpants.

6.25.2013

I spent a considerable portion of this evening reading New Programming Jargon. The article documents software jargon such as:

I would like to add one to this list:

(See http://www.robineldred.com/2013/03/collecting-underpants.html for more information on collecting underpants.) I first heard this term a few years ago here in Seattle when a fellow glassblowing student and I were discussing our day jobs.

Learn the Right Lesson From Your A/B Test.

6.15.2013

I can't remember exactly where, but a few weeks ago I read an article / blog post which stuck in my mind. The author stated that an A/B test had shown reduced visit times and a higher bounce rate when the article creation date was displayed at the top of the article rather than at the bottom. So the author kept the "date on bottom" aspect from the original design.

I understand the visitor behavior demonstrated by that test. When I'm looking for technical advice, I absolutely use an article's date as a signal of how trustworthy the information is. Three years ago - especially in web development time - is ancient history.

It seems to me that the blog author learned the wrong lesson from that A/B test. The visitors were saying "We prefer relevant and up-to date information". Leaving the article's date at the bottom of the article may have hurt the visitor's goodwill (aka trust in the brand) towards the site, and that's something that can't be A/B tested. A better solution would have been to add an update to the top of the articles which gives the visitor a current best practice or points them to a new, relevant article.

The Checklist.

6.2.2013

Checklists are a wonderful thing. Atul Gawande wrote an entire book about them: The Checklist Manifesto. Humans are fallible and will make mistakes, especially in complex systems where mistakes can mean lethal consequences. But careful planning (with a checklist) guards against "the stupid stuff".

My favorite checklist story is that of Van Halen's concert checklist; specifically the brown M&Ms. Van Halen's effects and equipment-intensive shows could cause major damage at injury at an ill-prepared venue, and the brown M&Ms signaled that the band's set-up specifications had not be followed thoroughly. If the brown M&Ms were there, what else in the contract had been missed? Can the ceiling girders or stage floor support the weight of the equipment?

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