Monthly Archives: January 2011

Wikipedia Ponders Its Gender-Skewed Contributions

But because of its early contributors Wikipedia shares many characteristics with the hard-driving hacker crowd, says Joseph Reagle, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard. This includes an ideology that resists any efforts to impose rules or even goals like diversity, as well as a culture that may discourage women.

“It is ironic,” he said, “because I like these things — freedom, openness, egalitarian ideas — but I think to some extent they are compounding and hiding problems you might find in the real world.”

Adopting openness means being “open to very difficult, high-conflict people, even misogynists,” he said, “so you have to have a huge argument about whether there is the problem.” Mr. Reagle is also the author of “Good Faith Collaboration: The Culture of Wikipedia.”

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So, now allowing everybody to work on Wikipedia content is considered ‘misogynistic’. Don’t mind that majority of the discussions there are free of “high-conflict people” and one has to look for controversial topics to find them.

An observation that all that’s really required to contribute is giving a damn about the content, regardless of contributor’s sex, qualifies as misogynistic too, I guess.

The Reason The Rich & Famous Commit Suicide

We believe that special something might be around the corner, might be able to change everything.

But the rich and famous don’t have that luxury. They already have the worldly success that so many of us think will make us happy. And they’ve discovered that it doesn’t.

At that point, there are only two conclusions they can draw.

Comments about “Misanthropic Randroids” underneath the article is what it makes it interesting.

Scott Adams on How to Tax the Rich

Whenever I feel as if I’m on a path toward certain doom, which happens every time I pay attention to the news, I like to imagine that some lonely genius will come up with a clever solution to save the world. Imagination is a wonderful thing. I don’t have much control over the big realities, such as the economy, but I’m an expert at programming my own delusions. I make no apology for that. A well-crafted delusion can be a delicious guilty pleasure. And best of all, it’s totally free. As a public service, today I will teach you how to wrap yourself in a warm blanket of imagined solutions for the government’s fiscal dilemma.

Scott Adams gives some crazy ideas to boost up creativity in the fight with US debt crisis. So far I haven’t heard of better alternatives.

How (not) to write Factorial in Java.

So please, do us all a favor: if you have the urge to add complexity because “someday we’ll need it, I just know it!”, or because “it’s not sufficiently flexible enough” or “we need reusability in our code” or (God help us!) because it’s “cool”–just go home early.

Fantastic article on overengineering, featuring idiomatic Java programming style.

Why I Left Google

I’d heard from other entrepreneurs that the hardest part of working for yourself is quitting your job.  The power of inertia–to continue living day-to-day and put it off until later–is surprisingly immense. In fact, I didn’t tell my parents about it until after I gave my two week’s notice to my manager.  I’m sure it seemed like a somewhat abrupt decision to them, but I actually was afraid they would manage to talk me out of it right after I had just built up the courage to take the leap.
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On leaving the cosy job. What the article doesn’t say is what really happened next.

Would-Be Suicide Bomber Killed by Unexpected SMS From Mobile Carrier

The would-be suicide bomber was planning to detonate a suicide belt bomb near Red Square, a plan that was foiled when her wireless carrier sent her an SMS while she was still at a safe house, setting off the bomb and killing her. The message reportedly wished her a Happy New Years, according to the report, which sourced the info from security forces in Russia.
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Ultimate proof that cellphones kill.

North Korea

On your arrival you will be assigned to a guide and a driver. That will constantly follow you. You can’t leave the hotel on your own. The daily program consists of 2-3 visits to a landmark. In the hotel you can watch BBC, NTV (russian chan),and a couple of chinese channels, so you can’t really complain about freedom of speech. The food is good, and you can’t complain about that either. In a park he saw elder women picking up herbs, the guide said that it was for the rabbits, although it was clear that it was the kind of herb that the “owners of the rabbits” could eat.

Pictures from a trip to North Korea. There’s nothing shocking there – just a plain despair.

Should employers be blind to private beliefs?

A senior colleague at Oxford told me of an astronomer who, on religious grounds, believes the universe is less than ten thousand years old. This man holds down a job as a competent cosmological theorist (not at Oxford, I hasten to say). He publishes mathematical papers in learned journals, taking it for granted that the universe is nearly fourteen billion years old and using this assumption in his calculations. He bottles up his personal beliefs so successfully that he is capable of performing calculations that assume an old universe and make a genuine contribution to science. My colleague takes the view that this YEC is entitled to a job as a professor of astronomy, because he keeps his private beliefs to himself while at work. I take the opposite view. I would object to employing him, on the grounds that his research papers, and his lectures to students, are filled with what he personally believes to be falsehoods. He is a fake, a fraud, a charlatan, drawing a salary for a job that could have gone to an honest astronomer. Moreover, I would regard his equanimity in holding two diametrically opposing views simultaneously in his head as a revealing indicator that there is something wrong with his head.

Richard Dawkins on ethical aspects of hiring scientists who are also devoted creationists. There are no surprises there for those familiar with Dawkins’ views, but it’s still an excellent read.

Startup Suicide – Rewriting the Code

CEO’s face the “rewrite” problem at least once in their tenure. If they’re an operating exec brought in to replace a founding technical CEO, then it looks like an easy decision – just listen to your engineering VP compare the schedule for a rewrite (short) against the schedule of adapting the old code to the new purpose (long.) In reality this is a fools choice. The engineering team may know the difficulty and problems adapting the old code, but has no idea what difficulties and problems it will face writing a new code base.

An article declaring application rewrites to be the ultimate evil. I’m missing more convincing arguments, since I have actually gone through some successful rewrites. Yet, it doesn’t change the fact that the advice here is valid more often than not.