Monthly Archives: October 2011

Max’s privacy war brings Facebook to heel

Max Schrems wasn’t sure what he would get when he asked Facebook to send him a record of his personal data from three years of using the site.

What the 24-year-old Austrian law student didn’t expect, though, was 1222 pages of data on a CD. It included chats he had deleted more than a year ago, “pokes” dating back to 2008, invitations to which he had never responded, let alone attended, and hundreds of other details.

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It’s an interesting development, though I don’t see how exactly Max’s actions brought “Facebook to heel”.

Persistence Is Best Predictor of CEO Success

First, in a new book, Teresa Amabile, of Harvard Business School, studied what motivates employees and teams within organizations, what makes them most enthusiastic about their work. She finds that it isn’t money, recognition, interpersonal support or clear goals. Instead, employees are most positive when they make progress. And it is almost redundant to say that persistent, efficient, proactive CEOs make the most progress.

The article’s author argues that it’s not about whether a leader presents “soft” or “hard” management style. It’s all about the execution of goals. Again.

Giving the F.B.I. What It Wants

In an era in which everything is archived and tracked, the best way to maintain privacy may be to give it up. Information agencies operate in an industry that values data. Restricted access to information is what makes it valuable. If I cut out the middleman and flood the market with my information, the intelligence the F.B.I. has on me will be of no value. Making my private information public devalues the currency of the information the intelligence gatherers have collected.
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A professor decides to flood FBI with the data about his private life. First, one has to have lots of free time to do so. Secondly, I think he underestimates computational power the Big Brother has at its disposal.

Clean, Safe, Cheap Nuclear Update

These are exciting times for clean, cheap energy as the first of many breakthrough products using radiation-free nuclear reactions is about to be demonstrated. On October 28th, Andrea Rossi plans to demonstrate his a one megawatt nuclear boiler in Bologna, Italy. It will be powered by tiny amounts of nickel and hydrogen. Fuel usage is so minuscule that it easily qualifies as renewable energy. The entire plant is built inside of a standard shipping container.

Rossi claimed the experiment to be a success, yet it’s based on research that didn’t go through peer review and contains a secret formula. Secrecy is understandable, because if it works, it can make Rossi the richest man on the planet. Whether it’s the biggest breakthrough in the history of industrialization or just a scam, time will tell. If the former will be true, I will call Rossi John Galt.

Utopia is creepy

I’ve noticed the arrival recently of a new genre of futuristic YouTube videos. They’re created by tech companies for marketing or brand-burnishing purposes. With the flawless production values that only a cash-engorged balance sheet can buy you, they portray a not-too-distant future populated by exceedingly well-groomed people who spend their hyperproductive days going from one screen to the next. (As seems always to be the case with utopias, the atmosphere is very post-sexual.) The productions are intended to present us with visions of technological Edens, but they end up doing the exact opposite: portraying a future world that feels cold, mechanical, and repellent.

Why perfection is so scary.

Steve Jobs: A Genius, Yes; A Role Model for the Rest of Us, No Way

In the weeks since his death, Jobs has been compared to Einstein and Edison. Maybe so. But the problem with using his interpersonal style as a management role model is that the rest of us, to parrot Apple advertising, will assuredly blow it. In business, the control freak boss—the emblematic Jobs model—is a recipe for unintentionally delivering your best employees as new hires to your closest competitors.

Whenever I read articles like this, I wonder if it is possible to deliver as great results as Jobs without the obnoxious personality traits he displayed. I hope it is, but I don’t really know.

The Hubble Blew My Mind

Secondly – and most importantly – my daughter told me the answer. This might sound weird if you don’t have kids – but for your kid to know the answer to something you genuinely don’t know – that’s really special for them.

All of this from a little black piece of glass and metal. I know I’ll be called a fan-boy for this, but yes, that was magical.

A short real story when pieces of modern technology play together. Do you still let yourself be amazed?

Slide Design for Developers

Make your text huge. And then get rid of half of the words and make it huger. Almost all of the presentations I’ve ever seen at every conference screws this up.

Most of my text in my entire deck is at least 90pt. Usually I like to sit around 150pt, with spikes up to 300pt or more. You cannot get large enough.

Simple and effective tips for slide design.

On Parenthood

I’ve been told several times that you should never be crazy enough to let the children outnumber you. I hope to ultimately win the War of the Lady Babies, but when it comes to children, I think all anyone can ever realistically hope for is a peaceful surrender.

Jeff Atwood on incomprehensibility of the joy of parenthood.