inessential by Brent Simmons


Random book recommendation: The Mezzanine is one of my favorite books ever. Fun and funny, and different from anything else you've ever read. When you arrive at the Pearly Gates, you'll be asked if you read it, and if you say no you won't be allowed in.

Sheila has a cool Radio weblog.

Sheila is a volunteer tester for UserLand. Here's what we do -- she downloads Radio, or whatever the product is, and goes through the whole process just like any other user. The difference is that she narrates her thoughts out loud and I watch and listen. It's one way I learn about the product and the docs and so on. I don't help. This way I can see the stumbling blocks.

But here was a funny moment.

At one point she was turning on upstreaming. She remarked that she was afraid of "the cloud" -- it sounded so nebulous, I guess, and she didn't know what it was. So I pointed to a computer sitting about two feet from her mouse hand. She jumped back in her chair. The cloud! Okay, so Sheila's not just any other user. But still these sessions are valuable.

Her Manila weblog was originally a test site -- she tested Manila shortly before shipping. She liked it so much she kept the site.

I don't recall everything that came out of her testing Manila, but here's one thing. She was really confused about the shortcuts generated for pictures. We were doing something like generating a name like "picxxx," where xxx is the msgNum. This way we could have unique names. She really wanted the shortcut to be the same as the title she gave the picture. That's how she expected it to work. So this was one of the last changes we made to Manila before we shipped it in late 1999. And it's a change I'm damn glad we made.

I would give anything to be able to sing like Frankie Valli. That huge range, that sound, tough and vulnerable. If you haven't listened to his version of "Stay" lately, crank it up. You won't believe your ears. The thing to know about the Four Seasons is not only can Frankie sing, but the band rocks.