Still Falling Down

Still Falling Down

October, 2005

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Don’t Destroy the Past

Brian Coyner has an entry on the O’Reilly weblogs about bad database design leading to even worse code.

First, let me say: Here, Here! and Huzzah!

When you design an application, you must spend time over-designing your database before you write any code. Assume that every requirement that you have been given will change before the bits are dry in your inbox. Assume that every time your business analyst or user liason or boss said “That’s as far as we will ever go with this product”, they’re wrong (or lying, your choice). Modifying code is a thousand times faster, easier, more reliable, and cheaper than a database modification and conversion. Studies have indicated that maintenance consumes up to 85% of the software budget. My experience has been closer to 98%. If you can move effort from maintenance to development, you move expenses from the cost center to the profit center.

Brian has a little example in this article, though, which I just have to jump on. He promotes the use of non-mutable key values for tables. That is, the key should not contain any business information which could change. I agree 100%. The example shows that by moving an account number from a key column to a non-key column, only an update of the non-key column is required.

What is a column update? It is the destruction and loss of data by replacing it with new data. What happens when someone (auditing, marketing, business intelligence applications) go looking at this customer or vendor? They see a history of events (payments, orders, disciplinary actions) against the current account number. It may be that none of those events pertain to that account. They occured when the value in that column was something different.

So when you sit down to overdesign the database for your next application, think about how you will preserve and track all the daily little changes to your application’s datastore. That store is not simply a snapshot of the current state. It must represent the changes that have occured and the timeframes in which they occurred.

Get a grip!

A television program in Iceland learns the dangers of live programming.

I have no idea what’s being said, but I think that the couple may be describing the difficulties of intimacy. The interviewer seems to find the man’s voice hilarious.

He’ll be doing the weather at the Arctic Circle real soon now.

Update:
Well, looks like I got taken in along with a few others. The real story appears to be that this is a sketch from some time ago on a Belgian TV show called “In De Gloria”. The people being interviewed are victims of medical mistakes. The language appears to be vlaams (?), a dialect of Dutch.

Look here and here for more info.

This has gotten a lot of play at big-boys.

Since I’m sure I’ve added even more misinformation to this, please feel free to correct me.

FEMA shows what causes disasters

A graphic (see below) on the FEMA website seems to show that the next step after Preparedness is Disaster.

Jeremy Zawodny has an entry that talks about this, but I think Jeremy is slightly off when he describes disaster leading to response, which leads to recovery, etc.

If you look carefully at this image, you will see that, except for Preparedness, in each of the phases of this diagram the arrows miss the next phase. Preparedness is the only phase which leads directly to the next one, which is Disaster.

Maybe the artist knew exactly what they were doing.

Update:

Garr Reynolds
takes all the fun out of this by actually doing a professional analysis of the image and it’s failure as a graphical presentation of FEMA’s mission.

Great quote, though: “Powerpoint should do no harm” (Edward Tufte)

If you really wanna be the ball, Danny…

Once again we hear from Stone, this time they reprint the Caddyshack quotes page from IMDB. If they really wanted to bring that wonderful movie back to life, here are the links they should have used:

CarlSpackler.com: Your source for Caddyshack Trivia, Games, Videos, Sounds, and much more!

Warner Brothers: Caddyshack – Official site for the movie.

And for more quotes:

Wikiquote’s Caddyshack page.

MTA looks to buy some votes with your money

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has generated a proposal to cut subway and bus fares by 50% between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. According to the Authority’s 2006 Financial Plan, as a result of the Gap Closing Program, their New York City Transit division will save $43.7 million with a reduction of 432 positions. These positions are involved in the delivery of new subway cars, the design of new electrical and signalling systems, and, of course, station, car and bus maintenance.

“Gap Closing Program”? Why does a organization with a billion-dollar surplus need a Gap Closing Program? Or is there really a surplus? Will we hear next year about the deficit? Sounds a little too Enron/Worldcom/Adelphia to me.

The money New York City residents have been paying in increased fares, which we are told is needed for system upkeep, will go to subsidize the tourist invasion of Manhattan during the holidays, but also to buy your votes on the Transportation Bond Act. I happen to be in favor of this bond issue, since I haven’t been able to find where they’ve hidden the line items which will actually go to operational expenses instead of capital expenditures. As a rule, though, I just don’t like vote buying.

So, the trains, buses and stations will be dirtier, the new trains will be delayed another year, signalling improvements will take a few more years to design and even more years to install. And we’ll take on more debt.

So, thanks MTA Executive Director Katherine Lapp, for a thoughtful proposal. And I’m sure the suburban commuters (of which, Katherine, you would be one if you didn’t have an Authority provided car and driver) whose rides are subsidized at the expense of city dwellers will continue to thank you. Oh, and how’s that 22% salary increase from Pete Kalikow holding up?

Commando Cody – Sky Marshall of Northwest Arkansas

Well, the folks at Stone thought this was an unusual auction over at Ebay, but I think Commando Cody’s effort is much more deserving of attention.

I hope whoever won the auction has fun as one of the Bozos on this Bus.

Request: Will the first person who figures out if this is a staged setup or if Cody really just dropped in on his way to meeting the Mother Ship please post a comment with the evidence? Thanks!

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