Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

" (X) On Software" Articles

Tired of waiting for a new IceBurg Secret?

Over vaction last week, I wrote three articles on
software development & Am seeking feedback.

Check them out:


Matt H.
Monday, August 19, 2002

Are we allowed to discuss Matt H. articles on Joel's site?  What about Joel articles on Matt's site?  Bella, where is your site?

Nat Ersoz
Monday, August 19, 2002

What an interesting mix of style.

First of all it comes over all formal, then starts going on about transformers.

I rather liked it.

Ged Byrne
Monday, August 19, 2002

Very difficult to read on that goofy grey background.

Monday, August 19, 2002

Looks pretty good, but a few suggestions:

1)  The default font size is too small on my machine (Windows 98, Internet Explorer 5.5, 1024x768).

2)  The background image is a little distracting.  Better to have just a plain, white background.

3)  The picture in the upper-left corner is a bit muddy.

Anonymous coward
Monday, August 19, 2002

Joel doesn't do anything to encourage this rather large community to get to know each other. Heck, he is rarely even seen here himself. I'm surprised that so many people still hang out here.

Joel, just add a "URL" field to the submission page. At least then if I have a weblog, it can be linked. Let *some* of the contributors' personalities shine through, buddy. Who is Ged? Who is Simon Lucy? Who is Bella? I don't know, because I know little about them.

It is better to have a smaller community of intelligent posters than a few thousand trolling dodos. The day we can kiss the H1B threads goodbye, we'll all be better off.

Mike Hunt
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

I had to stop reading once I discovered that the author thinks 'Robert Brooks' wrote 'The Mythical Man-Month'.  Doh!

Matt Stupple
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Dude, the Author is me.

It's -Fred- Brooks, which I had confused with -Rob-

My bad.  I wrote those articles at 3:00AM with my daughter on my lap in a boppy.  (If I picked her up, she's wake up again.  At least I had the week after her birth off work ...)

Geez.  I made a ton of typos too.  I didn't even bother to proof it - I have comments like "an HREF should go here" in a couple of them.

Get Over Yourself. 

As to the other posters - I appreciate the feedback.


Matt H.
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

How can you expect people to spend their valuable time reading your work and providing constructive criticism, when you can't even bother to proof it (your words)?

No one is going to deal with your central thesis when your (apparently unfinished) essays contain mistakes and typos.

Kudos on your efforts, but don't invite critics to the dress rehearsal.

Dunno Wair
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Well, thats whats great about the dynamic nature of the web: *poof* What typo? Its gone now *poof*. Everyone makes mistakes and this trial by fire of your peers help your writing and ideas get better.

Fawcette publishing basically has a author's submission guide that I borrowed these from:

1. Avoid alliteration.
2. Prepositions dangle awkwardly if you use them to end sentences with.
3. Avoid clichés and colloquialisms like the plague, or you will seem old hat.
4. Employ the vernacular, while eschewing arcane and obfuscatory verbiage.
5. Avoid ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
6. Take it easy with parenthetical remarks (however relevant), to avoid chopping up sentences (unnecessarily (we might add)).
7. To ever, however artfully, split an infinitive, marks you as grammatically challenged.
8. Skip the foreign words and phrases you know, n’est-ce pas?
9. Never generalize.
10. “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
11. Comparisons can clog up writing as badly as alliterations and cliches.
12. Avoid redundancy and verbosity, or readers will think you are repeating yourself and using too many words as well besides.
13. We really get @*&%$**)!! when you use vulgarities.
14. Clear, specific writing beats vagueness, we suppose. Whatever.
15. Overstatement totally destroys any credibility you ever had forever.
16. Understatement can, at times, perhaps shade a point to the point of its fading away.
17. One word sentences? Eliminate.
18. Analogies work about as well as fur on a flounder.
19. “Is” just sits there. Pick verbs that do something.
20. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, you should derail it.
21. Who needs rhetorical questions?
22. Its distrakting too punctuat, an spel rong.

Hope those tips help. One thing I found out after writing a few articles is to remove metaphors that some might be unfamiliar with, such as the story about optimus prime. A developer from India might not get it.

Ian Stallings
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

I've found a very high inverse correlation between number of grammar/spelling/typographical mistakes and quality of the overall message.  If you want me to read your article and take it seriously, you have to pay attention to detail.

Anonymous pedant
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Those comments actually do help, thank you.

I have cleaned up the HREFs, but I know I have a few more typos to go after. 

As for optimus prime ... now I know I'm dating myself. (In the time sense, not the relationship-sense.) 

The Military Cadet I now teach don't know who Optimus Prime is - they don't even know who "data" is on star trek the next Generation.  To teach them those leadership lessons, I have to go rent a video.  heh.  :-)

I might take the OP stuff out sooner or later.  Does someone else have a more culturally current  example/description?  (I'm thinking Articles on "The Last Castle" instead of "Patton", etc.)


Matt H.
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Hey guys,

Give Matt a break. He's letting us have a sneak preview and allowing us to comment before he goes public with these articles. The HREFs and such didn't break the flow for me. Content of articles is decent; nothing new or surprising in the first three to JOS regulars but would be helpful to someone out of the loop. There were a couple spelling errors that won't be caught by a spell checkers (their not there); I assume Matt has caught them.


Change (Requires MSPPT) which I did not understand to (This is a Microsoft Powerpoint file and requires Powerpoint to view.) which would successfully warn me not to bother trying to open it.

Keep up the good work.
I like your taste in Science Fiction.

X. J. Scott
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

So..., who/what is Optimus Prime?

"He's dead Jim" :-)

Greg Kellerman
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

> (This is a Microsoft Powerpoint file
> and requires Powerpoint to view.)

I had that, but my table structure looked funny;
the idea was to get descriptions that don't force
a CR/LF.

I'll take another look, though.


Matt H.
Tuesday, August 20, 2002

I found the articles on your experience as a cadet to be more interesting than your opinions on software development.

And I don't even really like the military that much.

You must be doing something right, I suppose.

Warren Henning
Wednesday, August 21, 2002

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home