[A picture of private offices at Fog Creek Software] Alert! This ancient trifle retrieved from the Joel on Software archive is well-past its expiration date. Proceed with care.

Joel on Software

27

by Joel Spolsky
Friday, February 27, 2004

I hope you're not all missing the excellent stuff going down on the Ask Joel forum.

On Apress: “ And although they would not put a doggie on the cover of my book as I requested, because a certain other book publisher threatens to sue his competitors when they put anything animal like within 90 feet of their covers, their graphic designer worked overtime to create underground cover art called User Interface Design for Doggies complete with three golden retrievers, which they framed and sent to me. ”

On Microsoft Program Managers: “ So the programmers think they're deciding everything and the program managers think they're deciding everything. How can they both be deciding everything? They can't. Who is really deciding, then? Let me give you a hint. Of the program managers and developers you know, on the whole, who has better people skills? eh? speak up boy, I can't hear you. Duh! Of course it's the program managers. You knew that. Developers couldn't people-skill their way out of a summer intern party at BillG's lakeside mansion. Developers have such weak people skills they can't even imagine what people skills could be used for, other than the purely theoretical concept of getting a theoretical date ("I ... like ... big BUTTS and I can not LIE..."), so it's no wonder they're not even aware of the secret that I can finally reveal today. ”

On Lisp: “And I have the ultimate respect for Paul Graham -- I think there's a good probability that in a year or two we will credit him with being the man who solved spam. But I think that if you try to ignore the fact that millions of programmers around the world have learned lisp and don't prefer to use it, you're in the land of morbid cognitive dissonance. ”

On Big-M Methodologies: “ Everything about RUP, for example, is obsessed with figuriing out what the business objects and business rules are so you can do a payroll system. We do things like add spell checkers to an editor window. ”

On Usable Programming APIs: “Indexes are one based. That's how humans count. Zero-based is better, I agree, but one-based is what humans expect, and the program model must conform to the user model for ease of use.”

On Starting Fog Creek: “ The law firm that was recommended to us was big and famous and wanted a $30,000 retainer just to talk to us. There was a time during dotcom mania where you weren't someone unless your law firm was VLG or MoFo. I was literally told that you had to use VLG or maybe, distant second, MoFo, or I could never convince VCs to invest. "They won't take you seriously if you don't have a serious lawfirm." I snorted up my milk. ”

On teaching your boyfriend C++: “ Forget it! Give up! ...  Teach me about women's shoes and I will feign interest and then promptly forget everything you told me.”

On software pricing: “With software sold in corporations, as soon as your price gets up in the $3000 level, the amount of approval it needs is so absurd that you are not going to sell products without a salesperson making a few visits. Hiring the salesperson, sending them out to make presentations, hotels, airfare -- now it costs $50,000 to get the sale done just in sales closing costs. That's why you see a lot of software products at $100,000 and a lot under $3000, but anywhere in-between and it's impossible to make sales. ”


Have you been wondering about Distributed Version Control? It has been a huge productivity boon for us, so I wrote Hg Init, a Mercurial tutorial—check it out!

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About the author.

I’m Joel Spolsky, co-founder of Fog Creek Software, a New York company that proves that you can treat programmers well and still be highly profitable. Programmers get private offices, free lunch, and work 40 hours a week. Customers only pay for software if they’re delighted. We make Trello, easy web-based collaboration software, FogBugz, an enlightened bug tracking and software development tool, and Kiln, a distributed source control system that will blow your socks off. I’m also the co-founder and CEO of Stack Exchange. More about me.

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