Farming versus Mining

Wil Shipley of Delicious Monster, maker of Library, has a nice post up that compares two ways of approaching the software business: farming versus mining. Essentially, farming is the old-fashioned way of building a business to last, building with the long game in mind. Mining is the new way to do business: build a business with the current hot model in order to sell it. Investors, at least the generation of investors who came of age in the last two decades, prefer the latter model: they make money as a business rises, usually with unmaintainable growth, and a number of investors make money as the business crashes and burns. The founders, as well as the investors who find them, of such companies are the new rock stars, but they are even better than rock stars, like other media stars, might begin to lose his or her shine after one flop too many. These new business stars don’t seem to have to worry about that. As long as the flop occurs after everyone has made their money, no worries.

To be fair, the software industry is only one of many industries to be troubled by this dynamic, which dates back to the shift in investing for dividends and slow, but long, stable growth to investing for growth in stock price. Shipley’s analysis is especially interesting because he goes on to make an argument about how easy mining is: ideas are easy. Implementation is hard. Certainly the farmers I know would agree that their work is hard, without guarantee of success, and likely to yield only small successes over a series of years.

Pixelmator Tutorials

I have switched recently to a MacBook Air. (I had offered to buy a new computer for my wife, but she doesn’t like new computers and preferred to take my MacBook Pro instead — I did, at least, outfit it with a new 128GB solid state drive before handing it over to her.) We have also purchased a Mac Mini to be the household computer, and it will also be where I do my downloading and cataloging of photographs from my fieldwork. The Mac Min will become, in essence, a production machine for me in addition to being a homework machine for our daughter — and perhaps, one day, a production machine for her.

I decided that I would not load up the MBA with all the software I had on the MBP. Photoshop and Illustrator, for example, just don’t work very well on a small machine I find. Luckily, for me, I have purchased both Acorn and Pixelmator in some of the bundles that various Mac software developers offer now and then. Even better, Pixelmator has a really nice collection of tutorials.

Microsoft Mathematics

> Microsoft Mathematics provides a graphing calculator that plots in 2D and 3D, step-by-step equation solving, and useful tools to help students with math and science studies.

And it’s free. Link (in the heading) is to the download.

DevonThink Academy

I have recently started using DevonThink again for keeping track of diverse research notes and documents. The good folks at Devon Technologies have a great collection of on-line tutorials — simple, small amounts of prose with an illustration, affairs — that are perfectly parsed for learning a little bit here and there to improve your understanding of the application and how you might use it. Great support like this only makes me like — in an emotional sense of the word — the product more, which makes me want to use it more.

Lightroom and JPEGs

All users of Adobe’s Lightroom software need to read Jeff Friedl’s post about JPEG settings in the application. In a nutshell, his own experiments with the quality “slider” reveal that its 0-100 range really amounts to 13 actual outputs, which may or may not match Photoshop’s same number of outputs when saving for the web. More importantly, he noticed that if you save a file as compressed, you do not really gain anything in terms of visual quality if you save above “75” on the slider. Files get bigger, but images do not get (noticeably) better. Great results from a great guy.

(For the record, I use, and paid for, his Flickr plug-in which allows me to upload directly to my Flickr Pro account from Lightroom. As I consider using Zenfolio, I will also likely use his Zenfolio plug-in.)

Software Is Hard

A great post from 2007 by Kyle Wilson explains [why “software is hard”]( Wilson was part of the team that tried to extend the Myst franchise into Myst Online and he is familiar with the folks who worked on the Chandler project. While he seems to believe that software is necessarily, and uniquely, complex, I would argue that many of his observations are applicable to all large projects, especially when they involve collaboration. (And peer-based collaboration seems to fall into some of these problems more than ones organized by hierarchy — shades of the cathedral and the bazaar, I know.)

File Names as Buckets of Metadata

Until someone comes up with a digital asset management application for audio that works like Lightroom, I may be stuck with doing things the old-fashioned way. Dustin Cow over at offered up the [following](

> Filenames will be in this format.
> Game-S[season number]E[episode number]-[Game name]-[Type of footage]-[Shot Number]-[description]
> Filenames should always use leading zeros. eg (EP01 NOT EP1)
> For example:
> Game-S02E04-Rock Band-Gameplay-05-Drum Tutorial (Say it ain’t so)
> Game-S02E09-MGS4-Interview-08-Matt Jones talks about engine
> Game-S02E14-Halo4-B roll-13-Master Chief mascot at E3
> Essentially the types of footage depend on the nature of the segment.
> For Reviews the types of footage are
> 1. Gameplay
> 2. Music
> 3. SFX
> 4. Commentary (only for sports games)
> 5. VO
> For Interviews, they are
> 1. B roll
> 2. Interview
> 3. VO
> The numbers before the description eg(05-Drum Tutorial in the above example) are not as important for interviews captured from tape as I can refer to timecode on the tape to see the sequence of events.
> The reason I need it for gameplay or any footage we capture wild without timecode/device control is so I know the sequence of gameplay rather than trying to guess if COD5-snow stage is before or after COD5-Helicopter stage.
> If the files are
> Game-S02E15-COD5-06-Snow Stage
> Game-S02E15-COD5-12-Helicopter Stage
> I don’t need to guess.
> If we are doing multiple segments on the same game over an episode,
> we will give the individual segments names and label it into the Game name.
> Game-S02E21-Halo4 History-Gameplay-04-Halo3 FMV
> Game-S02E21-Halo4 Technology-Interview-Jonty Barnes on new co-op features