In 2001, Mitch Kapor, the designer of the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet, and the co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, started the Open Source Applications Foundation, or OSAF for short.
Kapor hired some of the most talented programmers and software designers around and went to work to create a new kind of personal information manager, code named Chandler.
In 2003, Scott Rosenberg, the cofounder of Salon, asked Kapor if he could embed himself in OSAF for the purposes of writing a book about the development of the application. For three years, Rosenberg sat in on company meetings, met with programmers and designers, and observed the progress, or more accurately, lack of progress, of Chandler. Rosenberg's book Dreaming in Code: Two dozen programmers, three years, 4,732 bugs, and one quest for transcendent software, examines why making good software is so hard.
Dreaming in Code is addictively good reading. Rosenberg tells the story of the smart people at OSAF and why they can't seem to gain traction with Chandler, even though they were veterans of other successful projects at places like Mozilla and Apple. Rosenberg also examines the larger picture of software development, recounting episodes in the history of computer science that add insight and context to the main story.
I interviewed Rosenberg about his book on February 13.
MP3 Link| Podcast feed | Subscribe via iTunes | Get Illuminated show archive
Where are our petabyte drives? Brian Hayes takes us through the reasons storage is “stuck” in the low terabytes. The tl;dr is that we got such exceptional capacity growth in the late 90s and early 00s we don’t need much more right now, so the focus since then has been on SSDs, networking, interfaces, etc, […]
Amélie Lamont, a former staffer at website-hosting startup Squarespace, writes that she often found herself disregarded and disrespected by her colleagues. One comment in particular, though, set her reeling — and came to exemplify her experiences there.
In this episode of the Flash Forward podcast we travel to a future where humans have decided to eradicate the most dangerous animal on the planet: mosquitos. How would we do it? Is it even possible? And what are the consequences? Flash Forward: RSS | iTunes | Twitter | Facebook | Web | Patreon We […]
White hat hackers get paid to find holes in their own employers’ online systems, and plug those holes before they become serious security risks. It’s a job that pays handsomely…mostly because few job candidates, even experienced IT professionals, have the skills to scamper over firewalls and infiltrate the deepest recesses of a battle-tested network. But […]
Why buy one of those expensive and confusing universal remotes, clogged with enough buttons to launch a space shuttle, when you could accomplish the same electronic control right on your favorite mobile device? The Blumoo Universal Remote, now just $52.99 in the Boing Boing Store, harnesses the audio power of all your household equipment right […]
You may not love Microsoft Word, but you’ve definitely used it. Other than being one of the most ubiquitous programs on the planet, it’s been the go-to word processing system for more than a quarter-century because it’s as basic as it gets. But occasionally, you’ve got assignments that beg for a lot more options than simple […]