The p&p DJ

I think it was Bill Gates who once said that we always overestimate where technology will take us in the short-term (2-3 years) but underestimate where we will be in 10 years. I think there's a tremendous amount of wisdom in that observation. If you think back to 1994, there is an amazing amount of evolution that I could never have predicted. I could have imagined e-mail getting prevalent, but not this prevalent. I could have imagine video games getting more realistic, but not the point where my wife didn't realize NFL Fever was a video game and not a real game when she glanced over at the TV. But the breakthrough that I didn't even really bother imagining was the high-capacity MP3 players. Kudos to Mr. Jobs and the folks at Apple for creating the iPod--that invention has revolutionized music listening. While I can respect another company coming up with a great idea (see my previous post on not being invented here), I still waited until last week…

 

Ahh, the Dell DJ! I just picked up a refurbished one for $175. I was a little reluctant at first, but I am completely sold on the concept. This things is AMAZING. I've put most of my 200 CDs on something small enough to fit in my pocket. Seven years ago, I bought a 110 CD changer for $300 or so. Now it sits like a dinosaur under my receiver with no use. Not having the fiddle with CDs is great. But more importantly--the portability!!! Amazing. On a flight to Providence a couple of weeks ago, I was watching looking at the monitor where they were showing a VH-1 Classic video. I thought it looked familiar, but I couldn't make it out. I finally put my headset on and realized it was R.E.M. "Radio-Free Europe". A great song off the first record of one of my favorite bands of all-time. I got a little sad that I missed the song until I remembered I had my DJ. I pulled it out and enjoyed a nice rendition of the album "Murmur" to close out my flight. Before high-capacity players, there's no way I have Murmur just lying around. The DJ will forever change the way I listen to music.

 

But like all breakthrough technologies, it has its hitch. Browsing is not easy (I hear the same goes for the iPod). Navigating through artists, albums, and tracks can get cumbersome when you have 2,000 songs on one device. It reminds me of the challenges of building the patterns & practices website. The great thing about our site is that there is so much content. The worse thing about it is that is has so much content. How does anyone make heads or tails and find what they want? No, Google is not a good answer. Introducing (drumroll please) yet another rev to our website…

 

As you'll see, we've done a major revamp based on customer feedback as well as internal feedback from our team and some field memebers. What I like about what we've done is that we've created a hierarchal approach based on an established taxonomy (Data/Application/Deployment/Infrastructure and Arch/Design/Implementation based on the 12-cell grid from our patterns guidance), but also given a shortcut (Patterns, Code/Blocks, and Guidance) in case you don't buy into the hierarchy and want to stick to a product model. Options are good. Like Dell, we may never get it right, but the importance is to keep improving. Of course, the Dell DJ doesn't have an entire web page to play with and there is such thing as too many options. Still, we share the same problems and I hope we both keep getting better. The only way is constant feedback, so don't be shy. If you like what you see, say so. If you don't, what should we change next time around?..

 

{Bad Religion - Stranger Than Fiction}