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I don’t know a developer that doesn’t have at least a few derelict, dead, or otherwise abandoned projects laying around (like, oh say, not updating a blog for two years). We all have our reasons to drop a project – maybe it was a project you finished but never kept updating, maybe you learned just what you needed to know without finishing the project, maybe you found another piece of code that did what you needed or somebody beat you to the punch, maybe you just lost interest in what you were working on, or maybe you just gave up on it or had more pressing things to do.
Whatever the reason, we all have those moments where we look back at code we wrote however long ago and cringe. Of course, it probably seemed perfectly good code at the time. But, if you look back at your old code and it looks perfectly fine you’re either Douglas Crockford or you’re not learning anything (or possibly both). Maintenance and refactoring are normal parts of the software development life cycle and help us become better developers. But dead projects aren’t part of that life cycle, and they seldom get any better.
Looking back at your graveyard of dead projects can be a scary experience. You might be mortified of past mistakes you unknowingly made, but if you know better now then that’s a good thing. And maybe, just maybe, you can learn still something from those projects. You might even find an old familiar favorite ready to be dusted off and have you breathe new life in it. Yay Zombies!
Google recently updated its search results page, beefing up the left column and adding other features. For a while now, search results have been returning the top two results for “Did you mean…” when searching for many combinations of obscure, misspelled, and odd forms of words. In the newest redesign, the unstemmed results for the original search for these types of words are now listed below the “Did you mean..” results. A nice touch as it gives a view of the unstemmed results without having to use the ‘+’ operator. Result counts have been changed, too, showing just a count of results and the time it took to run the query (i.e. About 839,000 results (0.37 seconds)). Nice and simplified, But, it breaks Unthunk, so whacking is offline for now until I can update the code.
Back in November, Google made some changes that effectively killed Googlewhacking at Googlewhack and Unthunk. This past week I heard from a few old Googlewhacking friends lamenting the loss of this game. Well, Googlewhacking lives again! I’ve removed the definition link checking from Unthunk after considering a few other approaches to Google’s changes. Since you’ll never see definition links in non-idiom multiple word searches, it seemed fair to remove this restriction from the game. This opens up the thunklist to just about any “word” you can think of, real or not, which could make for some interesting whacks.
So it occurred to me this afternoon after reading several iPad jokes on Twitter and watching an old Mad Tv iPad comedy sketch that Apple must have seen the this coming and named its tablet the iPad to cash in on the instantly memorable name via viral marketing of bad jokes, even if it runs the risk of brand dilution of the iPod:
Apple Tablet Development Team Member 1: “We need a good, catchy name for our tablet, something that will really get people talking.”
Apple Tablet Development Team Member 2: “Hmm, Apple plus tablet equals Applet?”
Apple Tablet Development Team Member 3: “But where’s the ‘i’ in that?”
Apple Tablet Development Team Member 1: “iApplet? sound like an ointment for pink-eye.”
Apple Tablet Development Team Member 3: “Ha ha!”
Steve Jobs: “Lame. Why am I paying you guys again?”
Apple Tablet Development Team Member 1: “How about iReader?”
Steve Jobs: “That just channels Ralph Wiggum’s ‘Me fail English? That’s unpossible?’”
Apple Tablet Development Team Member 2: snickering “Let’s call it the iPad”
Apple Tablet Development Team: laughing followed by awkward silence
Steve Jobs: “Yes.”
Apple Tablet Development Team: Silence
Apple Tablet Development Team Member 3: “Uh, but won’t people make jokes like you can only use it once a month?”
Steve Jobs: “Yes.”
Apple Tablet Development Team Member 1: “Or call it the iPon?”
Steve Jobs: “Yes.”
Apple Tablet Development Team Member 2: “iPad. Really?”
Steve Jobs: “Yes.”
Apple Tablet Development Team: confused silence
Steve Jobs: “Don’t you people have marketing degrees?”
Apple Tablet Development Team: more confused silence
Apple Tablet Development Team Member 1: “Uh, yes?”
Steve Jobs: silence
Apple Tablet Development Team Member 1: coughs and clears throat
Steve Jobs: “Exactly. It will be a viral hit.”
Apple Tablet Development Team: “Ooooooooh!”
Apple Tablet Development Team Member 2: “So, we’re naming it the iPad because of the viral marketing opportunity of using bad jokes to make it an instantly memorable name?”
Steve Jobs: “Yes.”
Looks like the joke’s on us. Well played, Apple.
I just got an email from long-time Googlewhacker Will H that dictionary links are no longer appearing in some Google search results. Single words are linking in some instances but in combination they are not. For example, a search for “kafkaesque” links to a definition but a search for “kafkaesque nightclubby” does not.
I checked over at Googlewhack to see if Gary had any news on this. According to Googlewhack “Late 04 Nov 2009, Google stopped providing definition links for public searches under certain conditions. That effectively broke Whack — which could be fixed — but similar problems occur every few months, and often are corrected by Google.” That’s the most recent update at Googlewhack, so it looks like it’s been broken since the beginning of November.
A quick Google search turned up an explanation. About the time Google rolled its new live search it also changed the way it links words to definitions so that only single words and idioms are linked to definitions. Additionally, the dictionary links are now pointing to definition pages on Google instead of answers.com. Since multiple search terms no longer link, unthunk (and presumably Googlewhack) cannot validate whacks by checking for links when checking that the pair of terms returns only one result. Link checking could be removed altogether or moved in single word score checking, but the former would change the rules and the latter would require additional searches. As it is now, single word searches to get the counts per word are not performed unless pair checking show both are linked and only one result.
So for now, it’s dead, Jim.
I just got an email this morning from the Amazon Associates Program that they are closing Amazon Associate accounts in NC due to pending legislation:
We are writing from the Amazon Associates Program to notify you that your Associates account has been closed as of June 26, 2009. This is a direct result of the unconstitutional tax collection scheme expected to be passed any day now by the North Carolina state legislature (the General Assembly) and signed by the governor. As a result, we will no longer pay any referral fees for customers referred to Amazon.com or Endless.com after June 26. We were forced to take this unfortunate action in anticipation of actual enactment because of uncertainties surrounding the legislation’s effective date.
Please be assured that all qualifying referral fees earned prior to June 26, 2009 will be processed and paid in full in accordance with our regular referral fee schedule. Based on your account closure date of June 26, 2009, any final payments will be paid by September 1, 2009.
In the event that North Carolina repeals this tax collection scheme, we would certainly be happy to re-open our Associates program to North Carolina residents.
The North Carolina General Assembly’s website is http://www.ncleg.net/, and additional information may be obtained from the Performance Marketing Alliance at http://www.performancemarketingalliance.com/.
We have enjoyed working with you and other North Carolina-based participants in the Amazon Associates Program, and wish you all the best in your future.
The Amazon Associates Team
I’ve ditched the news page in favor of using a blog, yay!