Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Light Weight Programming

Well, it's almost summer here on the Cape, and as is the Cape tradition, time to get the kids to work. When I was a kid, it was really the only time you COULD get work, so you ended up spending all summer working seventy hours a week, because when Labor Day comes, your job goes.

This summer, my boy Jacob and I are doing a little bit of light weight programming. I won't make him work 70 hours a week (he's got it so cushy!), in part because in this new web model, you can write some pretty cool applications without working 70 hours a week. The traditional idea of the Internet's Long Tail is that, since distribution of products is so much cheaper, you can provide a longer list of products that appeal to more niche markets. It also means that, since development is so much cheaper, smaller projects become practical. Practical in an economic sense, and practical from a skills sense. To wit:

Our summer project? I'm going escape from AOL mail. AOL mail uses IMAP, and doesn't support forwarding, which means it's currently impossible to read in Google Mail. More than that, when I forward the mail from my laptop client, it's not formatted right. Ick. I like Google Mail. I don't like AOL mail. And, I have had my AOL address for so long, that to move it would mean no end of grief. So, Jacob's using his new Python chops to read my e-mails from the IMAP mailbox and put them directly into my POP mailbox, which I read from Google Mail. I'm not sure that we can get the recipients right - but we're going to try.

I tried a couple of products like this on the Internet, didn't like any of them. So, Jacob's writing it for a customer base of 1. Now, that's a long, long tail.

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