Category Archives: Smalltalk

The Importance of Names

Every once in a while someone is rolling their eyes when I, again, insist on a well-chosen name for a piece of software or an architectural component. And the same also goes for the text of log messages, by they way; but let’s stick with the software example for now.

Well, my experience with many customers has been the following, which is why I think names are important: As soon as the name “has left your mouth” the customer will immediately and sub-consciously create an association in his mind what is behind it. This only takes a second or two, so it is finished before I even start to explain what a piece of software does.

Assuming that my name was chosen poorly, and hence his idea about the software’s purpose is wrong, he will then desperately try to match my explanation with his mental picture. Obviously this will not be successful and after some time (hopefully just a few minutes), he will interrupt me and say that he doesn’t understand and shouldn’t the software actually be doing this and that.

It makes the conversation longer than necessary and, more importantly, creates some friction; the latter is hopefully not too big, but esp. at the beginning of a project when there is no good personal relationship yet, it’s something you want to avoid. Also, think about all the people who just read the name in a document or presentation and don’t have a chance to talk with you. They will run around and spread the (wrong) word. I have been on several projects where bad names created some really big problems for the aforementioned reasons.

My New Toy: Mac Mini

Having been a very happy iPod user for more than six years, I finally got myself a Mac Mini as a kind of New Year’s present. And I must admit that it totally blew me away! The overall usability and the many tiny details that show the degree of thinking that was put into the product are awesome. And of course the design is so much beyond any computer I ever had before.

My only problem now is to find and play with all those nice tools that make one’s life even better. What I already installed are of course Emacs, Eclipse, and a few more. Once I have gained enough experience there will probably be a separate post on what I consider useful.

Pecunia non olet (money does not smell)

You might now think: Has he finally lost his marbles? What’s going on here? Well, I have decided to regularly mention famous citations here and give a bit of an explanation about their background. And this first posting should of course be a bit of an eye-catcher. So here you go:

This is a {en:Latin} citation that is attributed to the {en:Roman} emperor {en:Vespasian} (9-79). Part of his efforts to consolidate the public budget was the introduction of a special tax for “restrooms”, or more specifically the newly built {en:Cloaca Maxima} (sic!). When challenged by his son {en:Titus} about it he responded with the above statement. Here are some examples how this saying still lives in today’s world

  • It is widely used to justify money coming from questionable sources.
  • In Paris public restrooms are called “Vespasiennes”.
  • And in Italy they are “Vespasiani”.