On Ego and Software Development

March 28th, 2009

I've been thinking a lot about ego lately, and how it applies to software development. Writing software – like any other human endeavor – is influenced by the need to be recognized and hopefully praised for our work. I am no different; it is most likely ego that drives me to release open source software and to refine it even when there is no direct benefit to be had for that work. In this respect, ego is beneficial as it compels me to writer better code, but in the context of a day-job work, ego is a liability.


Improving video player applications with an old-school feature

March 25th, 2009

Dear video player application writers, there is a simple feature that would improve my movie watching experience greatly. A feature that I have never seen implemented – on Linux or Windows, and that is the ability to remember the position in a video file where I stopped watching. With current video players, if I want to finish watching a movie that I started watching the day before, I have to drag the slider around and to do a mental binary search to find the point where I left off. What I would like the player to do is to remember where I left off and start playing from that point when I open the file again.

A VHS cassette

Remember these?

There is an obsolete piece of technology popular in the 80s and 90s that had this feature. You may remember it; the VHS cassette. Granted, it was a side-effect of the antiquated way it stored video, and not a design feature per se, but that doesn't make it any less useful. When you inserted a VHS cassette you could be pretty confident that it would start playing at the point where you left off…

It wouldn't be difficult to look up the last played position of a movie file and restore it when the file is next played. A filename and file-size is probably adequate to identify a movie file, and the player would only need to keep track of a small number of recent files. On operating systems that support it, the current play time could be stored in an extended file attribute, making it independent of a specific application.

However it is implemented, I think this is one old-school feature that deserves a come-back!

© 2008 Will McGugan.

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