Adam Fields (weblog)

This blog is largely deprecated, but is being preserved here for historical interest. Check out my index page at for more up to date info. My main trade is technology strategy, process/project management, and performance optimization consulting, with a focus on enterprise and open source CMS and related technologies. More information. I write periodic long pieces here, shorter stuff goes on twitter or


Designing community

Filed under: — adam @ 2:33 pm

There’s something really important in here about designing community.

And also, it’s about Snakes on a Plane.

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Putting Comments Out of Our Misery.

Dante: You hate people!
Randal: But, I love gatherings, isn’t it ironic?

I hate comments. But I love conversations. As I peruse the web, I find myself (as many of us do) drawn to leave comments across the pages that other people have written. But it’s an incomplete puzzle – a comment as it exists now is an endpoint. It may lead to something else, but it’s up to someone else to figure out what that thing may be, or even if that evolution will happen at all. Comments tend to follow one of two patterns, neither of them productive:

  1. The comment thread trails off as people get disinterested, and nothing really comes of it.
  2. The comment thread gets so long that it’s impossible to follow, things get repeated, and the people commenting on the last page aren’t really talking to the people on the first page. Nothing really comes of it.

The process isn’t helping us out here. We haven’t even gotten into vanity comments, flame wars, or any of that stuff that’s detrimental.

Working on ORGware, we’re revamping comments. We’re starting with two major changes, and there will be others. The first big change is that every comment you leave on someone else’s post also gets posted on your own blog, and it will have to be positively rated before it appears anywhere else. If you want to blather on about whatever, you’re free to do that, but you won’t be allowed to join the discussion unless some threshold of other people think you have something useful to say. That’s a relatively minor one, but it’s important. It shifts the focus of the comment from the commenter to the discussion, and it makes it possible for the community to weed out (passively, by ignoring) the irrelevant wanderings.

The second change is far more interesting, and it deals with how the comment thread metamorphosizes into something else entirely – a discussion with usable output. Right now, you post, people comment, maybe people make followup posts on their own blogs… and if you want more than that, you have to do it yourself. We’re building in another step. Comments on their own, for any post that has an action output, are no longer an endpoint – they’re a stepping stone to writing that action output. Writing “good” comments (in the opinion of the original author and/or the community) gets you an invitation to help edit that output product, which can become a letter, or a fax, or an email, or even a followup post for more discussion. Britt has posted a good overview of the interface I designed for this, which we’re simply calling the comment editor now until we come up with a better term.

More to come…

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This is seriously badass

Filed under: — adam @ 3:00 pm

“This is a HOWTO that describes how to take a stock RedHat9 system and convert it to Gentoo, remotely over ssh and while it is running.”

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How to troubleshoot your HD picture

Filed under: — adam @ 9:46 pm

Seems like a useful article from Popular Mechanics on some common things that can go wrong with HD.

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Skype protocol reportedly broken

Filed under: — adam @ 3:43 pm

A Chinese company is claiming to have produced software that will seamlessly integrate with Skype.

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Pixmantec acquired by Adobe

Filed under: — adam @ 2:22 pm

I got word this morning that Pixmantec was acquired by Adobe. Great going, guys!

Rawshooter is by far my favorite raw converter, and it’ll be great to see those tools integrated into the Adobe suite.

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I’m with Ebert

Filed under: — adam @ 1:44 pm

After that last debacle, we saw Superman Returns on Sunday, at a different theater (but also an AMC one, since they seem to have acquired almost all of the good Manhattan theaters), and our experience was ruined in an entirely different way. We went to the DLP showing, for ENHANCED PICTURE AND SOUND. The sound was great admittedly, but the projector was miscalibrated and about 2-3 stops too dark. Many scenes were missing shadow detail, and some were entirely black. When we complained, the people at the theater first said “there’s nothing wrong with it”, then “that’s how it’s supposed to be”, then “it can’t be calibrated on our end”, then finally “we’ve been complaining to the projector people and we have someone coming to look at it next week”.

WTF?!?! Why are you lying to me? Just come right out and say it’s broken, we fucked up, and give me my money back?!

Anyway, I now have six free tickets to AMC theaters. I’ll have to find something interesting to do with them, since I don’t envision wanting to go back to the theater anytime soon.

As for the movie itself, I was thoroughly underwhelmed. Mainly, I was pretty strongly appalled that they seemed to have not decided if this was a sequel or a reboot, and as a result many things about it were confused. If this is 5 years later, why does everyone appear 7 years younger? We’ve already done the “Lex Luthor does something diabolical to increase his real estate holdings” and the “Miss Tessmacher gets all upset when people are going to die and crosses Lex at the last minute” plot elements, and they simply feel repeated here without any significant evolution. Why is there no mention of the last time Superman simply disappeared for no apparent reason, in Superman II?
Other random comments:

  • I’m not going to comment on the physics, because that’s a losing battle.
  • Yes, once again, please read Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex before making a movie like this.
  • On a DLP screen, you can see entirely too much of Brandon Routh’s makeup. In some closeup scenes, his face looks like it was added in after the fact with CGI.
  • Where’s all the rest of that great Kryptonian technology that Lex was going to use to defend his giant island?
  • Kate Bosworth was simply not the right choice for Lois Lane. James Marsden is not terribly compelling. The rest of the casting was pretty much on-target. Kevin Spacey was great, but should have toned down the tag lines a bit. Okay, a lot. Show me the money or something.
  • That kid should totally have had Batman Underoos.
  • My favorite scene was the one where the lights go back on and everyone else realizes that Lex has backed away from the pool.

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Finally, a good use for Flash

Filed under: — adam @ 5:37 pm

Gliffy is an online diagram maker (a la Visio).

You all know how I feel about diagrams. This rocks!

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