Poe 206

Edgar Allan Poe is not considered a top literary figure by many critics. He was considered even less during his lifetime. He was a critic himself, and his creative works did not earn him much of a living. Some of his subject matter makes too much fascination with him seem unhealthy. Nevertheless, few writers have achieved his subtlety and expertise in the writing art. His syntax, wordplay, semantics, and narrative organization all stand the test of time. Poe suffered an obsession agonizing over the tiniest details of crafting a sentence and a story. Good examples are his most famous poem “The Raven” and the opening to “The Fall of the House of Usher,” the first sentence being:

During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher.

Poe still surprises people today when they learn he pioneered genres such as detective fiction and science fiction. Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes borrows directly from Poe’s detective Auguste Dupin. That’s why the annual Mystery Writers Award, established in 1945, is named the “Edgar Award” after Edgar Allan Poe.

Poe was also a cryptologist, inviting his magazine readers to send in ciphers of which he would break the code. Historical sidenote: “William Friedman, America’s foremost cryptologist, was heavily influenced by Poe. Friedman’s initial interest in cryptography came from reading ‘The Gold-Bug’ as a child, an interest he later put to use in deciphering Japan’s PURPLE code during World War II” (Wikipedia).

Last but not least, Poe’s fascination with the macabre inspired a relentless exploration, with his famously clinical analysis, into a litany of frightening dilemmas and creepy situations. The above-mentioned Raven and Usher fit in that category. Other great examples include Loss of Breath, Berenice, The Man in the Crowd, The Premature Burial, and the list goes on. Here is a complete list where each story title is a link to the story, and each poem title is a link to the poem (or a description with a link).

To add real-life mystery to the fiction, Poe died from unknown causes at a young age (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849). The circumstances have attracted much speculation but with no definite explanation to date. He left us with a lot of food for thought, created during his brief adult writing life. So, let us not fail to toast Poe, on his 206th birthday January 19, 2015, and hope he has finally found that elusive peace of mind— or as Poe, citing his “depression of spirits,” requested: “Fail not — as you value your peace of mind hereafter” (Poe’s letter to Pendleton Kennedy, September 11, 1835).

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Resolutions and Exclusions

As part of the New Year tradition, I am posting my Resolution. I am also posting my Exclusions—some popular resolutions that I am not pursuing.

Resolution: My New Year’s Resolution is basically the same every year, and has two parts:

  1. Do more: “Do More” is my ongoing mode of travel through life because challenges are exciting and the more I accomplish the better I like it. Continue reading

Mont Saint Michel and Chartres

Book Review
Title: Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres
Author: Henry Adams
Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (June 3, 1986). Originally published 1904.

Henry Adams toured French mediæval gothic architecture, and apparently took a lot of notes, focusing on the Grande Cathedrals of Mont-Saint-Michel (built in the 1100s) and Chartres (built in the late 1100s to 1200s). The notes became the book. If that were the extent of the book, however, it could be summed with a few nice photos and captions. But there’s also 360 pages of mystery and fascination surrounding the architecture. Continue reading

Marketing Deeper

Conventional views of marketing is that it’s shallow, purely promotional, and not deeply informative like other forms of information, such as research articles and manuals. There’s been a large gap between deeper learning versus glossy brochures. Today, good marketing is bridging that gap. Continue reading

Content Marketing

When scientists publish articles in reputable journals, it enhances their reputation. When the scientist works for a company in the industry, it enhances the company’s reputation. That kind of knowledge leadership builds trust and indirectly generates revenue. No amount of marketing can create that kind of trust and customer loyalty, until now. That is precisely the kernel of truth upon which content marketing is built. Continue reading

The Doublecheckers

Exhausted after fifteen hours of preparing a CD product that had to ship that day, one last little error was found, and fixed. “It’s good to go!” said the person who fixed it. It was 11 p.m. on a Friday night, we had been working on this since 8 a.m., pushing to meet the deadline. There was a sigh of relief by everyone, except for me and my lead Quality Assurance Analyst. We looked at each other and nodded in agreement—“No, not good to go.” Continue reading

My 4th-of-July Thank You

Like every year around the 4th of July I hear a lot about the Fathers of America, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, John Adams. They were men of character, courage, and intelligence. We do well to learn from their example. We should be grateful year round for those who set such a high bar risking everything for others, doing what’s right without faltering in fear of painful consequences Continue reading

Archaeology of SDLC

There are some great names among the founders of the still-nascent field, industry, and profession of Software Testing & Quality Assurance: Dave Gelperin, Boris Beizer, Glenford Myers, Rick Craig, and Lee Copeland, to name a few. A name not often included in that list is Michel Foucault. That may be because Foucault was a social theorist and philosopher rather than a software quality practitioner. But I was listening to a Foucault interview on knowledge and culture from 1971, and as with all things interesting, I started thinking how it might relate to QA. Continue reading

Shakespeare 450

William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday is today, born 23 April 1564. Or at least it is traditionally celebrated on 4/23. He was baptized 4/26 so his birth date would be a few days earlier. Being born 450 years ago today adds a certain symmetry—he also died on 4/23, in 1616, 398 years ago today.

Just about a tenth of all the words in Shakespeare’s works are words that he invented Continue reading

“Software Test Essentials” in Tea-Time with Testers

My article: “Software Test Essentials” is published in Tea-Time with Testers magazine, March/April 2014 issue.

Tea-Time with Testers is the largest-circulated software testing monthly in the world, and one of the best international software testing publications available for today’s test and QA professional. Link to the magazine homepage.

Big Data and the New CMO

Marketers and especially CMOs transition into increasingly technical roles as marketing becomes an increasingly metrics-driven activity. Big data is largely to blame. Metrics deliver actionable information on human community, phone apps behavior, ecommerce behavior, social networking, browsing patterns, as well as metrics on real-world trends and transactions Continue reading

Persian Carpets

Book Review
Title: The Root of the Wild Madder
Author: Brian Murphy
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, New York, 2005

There are plenty of dry histories of Persian carpet making, and sterile picture books of Persian carpets, but too often they fail to do justice to their topic. That’s not a surprising problem for anyone trying to unravel an ancient art form that has survived millennia. Continue reading

Thanksgiving, Football, and Web Development

Thanksgiving reminds me of many things for which I am grateful. Thanksgiving is a time to count blessings, and a time to use football analogies for software projects. As the stuffing settles, and the games are on, my thoughts naturally turn towards the leadership, the coaching, the training, the practice, the teamwork, and the execution that all contribute to the successful launch of a website. Continue reading