February 19th, 2004

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Internet startup stories

I worked at an Internet startup in Manhattan from late February 1997 through mid-May 1999. I remember going to the company Christmas party in 1998. My friend and then-coworker and housemate Craig also came along, and he had invited his friend Deb. My hope at the time was that I would see someone get into a fight with one of the company's founders, but it didn't happen.

It was an interesting time anyway, though. At one point a gentleman came up to the bar by Craig, pulled out a cigar and started to unroll it. Turning to Craig, he explained that he had a bunch of hash and wasn't sure if he should put the whole batch in the cigar or if he should only put half in and save the rest for later. Craig did not feel qualified to offer an opinion on the matter.

Later, I was in the back room chatting with Deb when the same guy came over and started chatting with us (and, of course, hitting on Deb). He explained that he was the head of IT at another Internet startup and that his hiring strategy was to hire interns out of college who would work really hard and burn themselves out for really cheap. He then offered me his business card and asked me to call him if I ever was looking for a job.

He was quite loaded and friendly and amusing in that highly loaded kind of way. After chatting with us for some time he finally announced, Well, I'm going to go smoke a lot of grass now. I'll see you around. It was nice to meet you, ... and here he quite blatantly completely forgot Deb's last name. There was a pause, and Deb said, Deb. Ah, right, man, is my face red? he said.

Now, the thing was, Deb and I were standing with our backs to one of the venue's exits, and he was facing us and was lit mainly by the emergency exit sign, so his face was, in fact, quite red. So Deb and I both stared at his face for a moment, and then as one turned and looked up at the exit sign. This was followed by laughter.

I don't think the guy really understood what was going on, exactly, but he seemed to recognize that the laughter wasn't meant maliciously, extricated him from the situation as gracefully as he could, and went off, I assume, to consume vast quantities of the DEMON WEED.

So, basically, a good time was had by all. The end!
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I hate hate hate windows

I fully admit that this is a matter of tastes and that other people might actually like the Windows GUI paradigm. (However, those people are WRONG.)

OK, so what's with the hate? A lot of Windows programs have this sort of program-centric idea where you've got one big window that belongs to the program, and any other windows that belong to the program live in that window and can't move outside it. The big master window, and possibly some or all of the little sub-windows inside it, have their own menu bars and their own minimize/maximize/close buttons.

I really hate this.

I prefer an OS where a program's windows are all independent and where windows from one program can overlap the windows of another program and can be spread about madly all over the screen. I find it makes it easier for me to switch between applications to find exactly the one thing you want and it somehow feels less cramped to me. The Windows model seems to encourage having all your windows maximized all the time so you can put the little sub-windows where you want them. Which is a style I also dislike.

(I should note that there are Mac programs that use this design. All of the ones I've run into that aren't games, and even some of the ones that are games, allow you to turn it off, though, which I always do.)

The other thing I don't like is the idea that closing the main window of a program means that you exit out of it. Some programs (like the one I've been struggling with in Windows today) take a long time to start up, and clicking on a single button with an odd little icon on it seems like a bad way to exit out of such programs.

Especially if all your windows are maximized all the time, and so you have your big uber-window filling up your whole screen and then another little subwindow maximized to take up all the uberwindow's screen space so that there's about a quarter inch of space separating you from closing a single window and quitting out of the program altogether. That's just really not a good thing at all. In my opinion.

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By the way ...

One of the things I don't like about Garage Band is that I uses the 'closing the main window exits the program' paradigm. (But it's OK, because starting Garage Band back up on old macs only takes about a million billion years.) Oh well.
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