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PBX I'm Paul Bissex. I build web applications using open source software, especially Django. Started my career doing graphic design for newspapers and magazines in the '90s. Then wrote tech commentary and reviews for Wired, Salon, Chicago Tribune, and others you never heard of. Then I built operations software at a photography school. Then I helped big media serve 40 million pages a day. Then I worked on a translation services API doing millions of dollars of business. Now I'm building the core platform of a global startup accelerator. Feel free to email me.


I co-wrote "Python Web Development with Django". It was the first book to cover the long-awaited Django 1.0. Published by Addison-Wesley and still in print!


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Beware of the "just"

This post on the 37signals blog validates something I have been saying for years, and have recently been telling my students to watch out for: client requests that hinge on the word "just."

As in: "Can you just make this webcam grab into a 16x20 print?" Or, "Can you just make our shopping cart work like Amazon.com?"

"Just" means, "I have no idea how this is actually going to be accomplished, but I would like it to be instantaneous."

The "just" rule is a corollary of "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing." Suggestions or requests involving the word "just" often have a frosting of technical detail, as if to suggest that the speaker's casual attitude toward the effort required stems from an intimate understanding of the process.

In fact, when people express themselves in this way it's generally because they don't want to wait for (or pay for) the effort the task actually requires. They may not even be conscious of this fact. By tapping the task on the head with the magical "just," they hope to see it shrink down to mouse-size in a flurry of fairy-sparkles.

We all do it. We all have our areas of expertise and our blind spots. But as a creative professional, if you learn to listen for the word "just" in your discussions with clients, you can catch unrealistic expectations early and save yourself and them a lot of frustration.

Monday, November 21st, 2005

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