Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Ask A Ninja: Special Delivery 7 "Pirates of the Caribbean" | Ask A Ninja

I saw Pirates of the Caribbean last weekend, and oddly, I find myself agreeing on some points with our eponymous ninja about it.

Entertainment aside, I spent part of the weekend catching up with some reading and notes.

One of the most interesting things is the list of non-work related programming tasks that have piled up. Over the years since I learned how to program, I've been collecting things that I think I could use, or that I need done by my computer. Some of these are relatively insignificant and are satisfied by some preliminary investigation, either writing a short script and casting it aside, or finding a pre-existing program that does close enough to the same thing.

Others remain, unfulfilled, and eventually coalesce into well defined entities in my mind.

I don't know whether anyone else does this(though I suspect many do), but I have defined in very specific ways, things that are thus far entirely imaginary. For example, I have strong and detailed mental designs of the functionality my home automation will have, or my wearable computer, my boat(ALFRED, Grayswandir, and Home One, respectively). These designs for imaginary things either eventually dissipate, or they continue to accrue detail and substance until I'm forced to actualize them(most of my writing started out like this, for example).

Sometimes the designs just have a suggestive name, sometimes they are almost complete specifications.

In the interests of possible feedback, and perhaps just catharsis, I'm planning on writing out, as best I can, the top five program designs I have unfinished in my head this week.

Tomorrow is one of the earliest and most irksome to me that it's unfinished. It actually started out as someone else's requirement which I took as my own, and since then it's grown and become something I want to have for myself as well.

I actually attempted twice to write this application, the sourceforge site for the first attempt still exists, empty and abortive, here.

The second attempt was an opportunistic hijack, some friends of mine started a company to do an xml authoring tool, and I gradually added to their plans to approximate my previous design. The short-lived company of course failed, via the usual mechanisms.

In my head, I still call it by it's Unix title from sourceforge, DocDesignr. Tomorrow I'll try to explain what I wanted it to do, and how I think it would be useful. I may not be the only one, as far as I know, Eliezer hasn't found a replacement tool, and presumably still has the need.

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