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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Great Writing

George Dinwiddie wrote this and it struck me as worth quoting...

5. In spite of a technical background that goes back to childhood, my sailboat has virtually no electronics.
The depth sounder died years ago. I use a leadline. The knotmeter also gave up the ghost. I drop a potato chip off the bow and count the seconds until it reaches the stern. I made up a chart to convert that to knots. I’ve got a VHF radio, but it’s an old one that predates using frequency synthesizers, so it doesn’t have all the frequencies now in use. I’ve got a magnetic compass. And paper charts.

That’s it. No GPS. No radar. Nothing fancy, at all. Of course, the Chesapeake Bay is generally a pretty forgiving place to sail. I’ve only been in pea-soup fog a few times. So partly this lack of fancy toys is an expression of YAGNI rather than me being a luddite.

The main reason to sail without those aids is to experience more deeply using my own senses. I’m more aware of my surroundings because I’m looking around, rather than looking at a dial or screen. I feel how the boat moves through the water, how it responds to the wind and to the helm. And that’s really the reason for going sailing, in my opinion. If I just wanted to get to the other end of the trip, there’s faster and more efficient ways.


I haven't seen the Chesapeake Bay for nearly ten years. Oh, and in my mind, about five minutes ago.

What would it be like if more requirements - or any software engineering documents, for that matter - were written like that?

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