29 August 2004


It has been my practice to warn the Gentle Reader when I have a "geeky" post for you. It occurs to me now that I must actually differentiate design-geek, culture-geek, and techno-geek posts from one another. The first category includes anything about infographics, input devices, industrial design, and various other things that start with the letter “i.” The second category includes anything about superheroes, vampires, elves, or anything else that people have figured out how to simulate with dice. The third category includes anything that includes the internet, prefixes like Giga- or Tera-, or an acronym combined with a number containing a decimal point.

But this categorization is not as clear as it looks. HTML 4.0 is both design-geek and techno-geek. Computer games could be culture-geek if they're about vampires, design-geek if they're about the economics of EverQuest, or techno-geek if they're about rendering algorhtyms.

Okay, never mind the subcategories.

This is another “geeky&rduqo; post. You've been warned.

MKB, who is tearing his hair out over RSS because he doesn't want to read my blog in the gorgeous format which I have labored so hard over, points out this amusing article about incompatiblities in RSS standards.

There are 9 versions of RSS, all of which are incompatible with various other versions. RSS 0.90 is incompatible with Netscape’s RSS 0.91, Netscape’s RSS 0.91 is incompatible with Userland’s RSS 0.91, Netscape’s RSS 0.91 is incompatible with RSS 1.0, Userland’s RSS 0.91 is incompatible with RSS 0.92, RSS 0.92 is incompatible with RSS 0.93, RSS 0.93 is incompatible with RSS 0.94, RSS 0.94 is incompatible with RSS 2.0, and RSS 2.0 is incompatible with itself.

If you're thinking mocking thoughts about how that is not funny, then you don't want to go on to read more of Dive Into Mark and his excellent series of essays "those that tremble as if they were mad." If, on the other hand, you chuckled darkly at that last bit I emphasized, then the listings in the index to as if they were mad alone are worth making the trip, and I'm guessing you won't be able to resist laughing over several of the articles there.

Consider this little gem about the importance of good specifications:

Most developers are morons, and the rest are assholes. I have at various times counted myself in both groups, so I can say this with the utmost confidence.
If your spec isn’t good enough, morons have no chance of ever getting things right. For everyone who complains that their software is broken, there will be two assholes who claim that it’s not. The spec, whose primary purpose is to arbitrate disputes between morons and assholes, will fail to resolve anything, and the arguments will smolder for years.

Truer words were never spoken.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You didn't mention the thoroughly incompatible competitor to RSS, Atom.I'm not sure what all the whinging's about, though. I built a barebones RSS reader that handles the basics of RSS 0.92, RSS 1.0 and Atom in a day. (You know you're a geekboy when you build RSS readers for fun.)

- JD