Even Vatican Says ID Isn't Science

Posted by Jim Jagielski on Tuesday, November 22. 2005

Now, even though I don't think that it's the responsibility of religion to "dictate" science, and even though I do admit that the Roman Catholic Church doesn't have a perfect record of not trying to do just that, it's nice to see that even the Vatican's chief astronomer is quite clear in stating that Intelligent Design is not science.

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

Posted by Jim Jagielski on Friday, November 18. 2005

Yesterday I received an Email from a friend. Among other things he said that he noticed that I'd been doing a lot of work lately on Apache (I'm using Apache as the common shorthand for the Apache Web Server here :-) ). I agreed that yes, I had ramped up a bit over the last few weeks, fixing some bugs and adding a feature here and there. No, he said... I mean "a *LOT*" of work. This was confusing to me. Although I had been doing more development on it than usual (I do pride myself on the fact that even after over 10 years, I'm still actively developing and committing on Apache), I would consider maybe the amount of work as "a good amount" but certainly not "a *LOT*". How did he decide on that adjective? He then sent me a link, which he came upon. This is a link which points to a page on an "open source" company's site that provides "development statistics" on various open source projects. These stats are based on a tool called 'mpy-svn-stats' which tracks things such as "size of the log entry," the "number of commits" and the "number of paths" (that is, the number of touched files). It's then that I figured out what the problem was. You see, in addition to doing some real development, I also have been spending time doing some simple code cleanups; things like detabbing source code indenting, removing trailing whitespace, etc... This made it appear that I was developing code like a maniac, when instead I was "just" cleaning up code. Please note: none of those changes did *anything* to fix bugs, improve performance, add features, anything like that. They were completely non-functional changes. Yet they made it appear that I was doing a lot of "real" work. That's why I hate those types of "metrics" because they are basically meaningless. The "value" or "amount" of development depends on what the changes *do* . A single commit that changes one file and adjusts maybe a dozen lines of code can be (and usually is) significantly more important that 2 dozen commits that adjust the formating of if-else statements. Yet the latter is "seen" as more active. It's also for this reason that the ASF avoids these types of metrics as well. Not only are they meaningless, but they can do serious harm to the community around the project. They tend to imply a "hierarchy" of developers, rather than the real communal aspect so important the ASF projects. Not only that, but they give the wrong impression, provide a totally inaccurate picture of reality, and can encourage bad behavior. They are also very easy to trick, abuse and defraud. That is another good aspect of open source: you can go deeper than simple minded statistics and see what the changes actually do. But, imo, it's best to just ignore those "stats" completely... In development, it's usually quality over quantity.

Catching up

Posted by Jim Jagielski on Wednesday, November 9. 2005 in Junk Drawer

The last several weeks have been pretty crazy... So catching up on some belated postings. First of all, my wife's Mom passed on Nov. 3rd. We greatly appreciated the thoughts and prayers of everyone during this time. I did find the time to release Apache HTTP Server 1.3.34 however... it had been quite some time since the last release, and we were certainly due for one. But I find myself more and more working on 2.1/2.2/2.3... ApacheCon is in a little over a month... I'm looking forward to seeing everyone again and seeing (and being a session chair for) several of the sessions. As much as Las Vegas was nice, I'm happy with the venue change. I need to ramp up my Uebimiau patch; with everything going on I haven't had time to work on it. Also, we still don't have a CVS or SVN repo for the codebase, and it appears that the promised development reboot has fizzled. So it's back to patches and complete tarballs. I'm porting some of my admin scripts from Perl to Ruby, just for the heck of it. It's been way too long since I've done any woodworking; this weekend, I have a corner cupboard to do!

Things I love

Posted by Jim Jagielski on Tuesday, November 1. 2005

You know, for something that people depend on as much as the web (connectivity and service hosting), I'm constantly amazed how they want everything for dirt cheap. Servers cost money, bandwidth costs money, *people* cost money, and yet people don't even question how a company can sell web hosting, for example, for $5 month that "includes" 4GB of disk space and "unlimited" bandwidth. And of course, "dishonest" web hosts depend on that. They depend on nobody even using a fraction of their allocations, because if clients did, they'd be in a world of hurt. Same when they are looking for programming work or web site design work. They figure that since their nephew Tommy has a copy of Dreamweaver, he's a web site designer; or since he took some classes on "Programming" they'll grab him to code their new site. If you were looking for a doctor or architect or lawyer or any other professional, sure you'd consider the price, but you would also understand that they are, in fact, professionals and therefore are somewhat "deserving" of their salary. But not with tech people... I love that.

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