Tags: question



A question of time

Some of the guys at work occasionally provide answers to .net magazine’s “big question” feature. When they told me about the latest question that landed in their inboxes, I felt I just had to stick my oar in and provide my answer.

I’m publishing my response here, so that if they decide not to publish it in the magazine or on the website (or if they edit it down), I’ve got a public record of my stance on this very important topic.

The question is:

If you could send a message back to younger designer or developer self, what would it say? What professional advice would you give a younger you?

This is my answer:

Rather than send a message back to my younger self, I would destroy the message-sending technology immediately. The potential for universe-ending paradoxes is too great.

I know that it would be tempting to give some sort of knowledge of the future to my younger self, but it would be the equivalent of attempting to kill Hitler—that never ends well.

Any knowledge I supplied to my past self would cause my past self to behave differently, thereby either:

  1. destroying the timeline that my present self inhabits (assuming a branching many-worlds multiverse) or
  2. altering my present self, possibly to the extent that the message-sending technology never gets invented. Instant paradox.

But to answer your question, if I could send a message back to a younger designer or developer self, the professional advice I would give would be:


When, at some point in the future, you come across the technology capable of sending a message like this back to your past self, destroy it immediately!

But I know that you will not heed this advice. If you did, you wouldn’t be reading this.

On the other hand, I have no memory of ever receiving this message, so perhaps you did the right thing after all.


Six impossible questions

What is the difference between right and wrong?

What is the difference between a cupcake and a muffin?

What is the difference between a website and a web app?

What is the difference between a startup and any other business?

What is The Cloud?

What is brunch?

Questions, please

The Brighton Digital Festival is in full swing, Reasons To Be Creative is underway, and Brighton is chock-a-block with all manner of smart geeks enjoying the seaside sunshine. It’s pretty damn great.

Not long now ‘till Brighton SF on Thursday evening with Brian Aldiss, Lauren Beukes, and Jeff Noon. I’ll be the host for the evening so I should make sure that I’ve got lots of incisive questions for the three authors…

What the hell am I thinking‽ I have no idea what I’m doing. Damn it, Jim, I’m a sci-fi fan, not an interviewer!

I could do with your help. If you have anything—anything at all—that you’d like to ask one or all of these luminaries, please share it with me. We’ll be taking questions from the floor on the night too, but I’d feel a lot better if I had a nice stack of good questions to get the ball rolling.

So please, leave a comment and let me know what I should be asking these three masters of sci-fi.

Questions for Mobilism

I’m going to Amsterdam next week for the Mobilism conference. Bizarrely, there are still tickets available. I say “bizarrely” because it’s such an excellent event—it’s like the European equivalent of the Breaking Development conference.

Don’t worry; I won’t be giving a presentation. I’ll leave that to experts like Remy, Lyza, Brad, and Jake. But I will be getting up on the stage. I’m going to moderating not one, but two, panels. I think it’s going to be fun.

We’ll be reprising the Mobile Browser panel from last year. Once again, there will be representatives from Opera, RIM, and Nokia. This year Google is also joining the line-up. As usual, Apple will not be present.

The new addition to the schedule is a panel on device and network APIs. I will be playing the part of a curious but clueless web developer interested in such things …because, well, that’s what I am.

I plan to open up both panels to questions from the audience. While I don’t quite fall into Cennydd’s camp, it would be great if more people would read this article on how to ask a question:

You have not been invited to give a speech. Before you stand up, boil your thoughts down to a single point. Then ask yourself if this point is something you want to assert or something you want to find out. There are exceptions, but if your point falls into the category of assertion, you should probably remain seated.

But I’m not planning to leave the questions entirely to the people in the room. Just as I did last year, I’d like to ask you to tell me what topics are burning in your mind when it comes to mobile browsers or device APIs.

Comments are open for one week. Let fly with your questions.

A quick theological question

Did Noah have to put two of every fish in the ark?

Update: I guess I should have titled this “A quick rhetorical theological question”, but in any case, thank you to everyone who sent me emails attempting to answer this question.

Philip wrote to say “only carried land animals” but doesn’t back that up with any references. Drew, on the other hand, had me RTFM by pointing to Genesis chapter 6, verse 20:

Of fowls according to their kind, and of beasts in their kind, and of every thing that creepeth on the earth according to its kind: two of every sort shall go in with thee, that they may live.

But that is immediately proceeded by verse 19 which clearly states:

And of every living creature of all flesh, thou shalt bring two of a sort into the ark, that they may live with thee: of the male sex, and the female.

Meanwhile, Pete points out there might have been seven of each type of kosher fish but just two of eels. Actually, it looks to me more like 14 of clean fish and 4 of unclean:

Of all clean beasts take seven and seven, the male and the female. But of the beasts that are unclean two and two, the male and the female.

Alternate translation:

Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.

There are a lot of ambiguities in the specifications. I can’t help but feel that Noah would have been better off if God had been more like Jason Fried:

Noah, just build it. Get real!

P.S. Please forgive my blasphemy. I have the greatest respect for people’s beliefs and I don’t mean to mock sacred institutions like Judaism, Christianity or 37 Signals.