Monthly Archives: July 2012

Apple – Environment

We’ve recently heard from many loyal Apple customers who were disappointed to learn that we had removed our products from the EPEAT rating system. I recognize that this was a mistake. Starting today, all eligible Apple products are back on EPEAT.
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Not only does Apple revert its decision after the feedback from customers, but also admits the decision was a mistake. That doesn’t happen often.

The Downside of Liberty

People on the political right have blamed the late ’60s for what they loathe about contemporary life — anything-goes sexuality, cultural coarseness, multiculturalism. And people on the left buy into that, seeing only the ’60s legacies of freedom that they define as progress. But what the left and right respectively love and hate are mostly flip sides of the same libertarian coin minted around 1967. Thanks to the ’60s, we are all shamelessly selfish.
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Interesting perspective on the common origin of modern social and economical individualism.

Engineering Management Is Dying

Drucker saw it coming. In the ’80s, he predicted the rise of the “information-based-organization”. He saw information as enabling an extremely flat structure, which like an orchestra, consisted of technical experts who perhaps dreamt of moving from second bassoon to first bassoon, or from a good orchestra to a better one, but had no interest in pursuing a career in conducting, a.k.a. management.

In software this is clearly happening. In a well functioning team, most of the feedback (information) an engineer needs comes directly from the process: compilers with built in analytics, online, peer-driven, code reviews, continuous builds, and automated tests.

Interesting observations about the changing role of managers in the agile environment.

Bruce Handy’s Collection of Boring Books

Hope for Man
By Joshua Loth Liebman (1966).

This volume, a posthumous sequel to a best seller from the 1940s, promises uplifting ammunition to take into battle against “today’s pessimists.” We are in the deep shadow of the Bomb, so kudos to Liebman for lighting the candle, however faint. But the title, cosmic and wan in equal measure, suggests a self-negating prospect: how much hope for man is there, really, if he needs a book like this to make his case? And yet: “There is hope for man,” Liebman concludes, hinging the species’ fate on an italicization.

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A collection of books that are not merely boring. They’re “exquisitely boring”.

Valve’s Handbook for New Employees

So the “growth ladder” is tailored to you. It operates exactly as fast as you can manage to grow. You’re in charge of your track, and you can elicit help with it anytime from those around you. FYI, we usually don’t do any formalized employee “development” (course work, mentor assign- ment), because for senior people it’s mostly not effective. We believe that high-performance people are generally self-improving.

An “internal” document from Valve that made quite a splash. It’s clearly a marketing material created to help with recruiting. Yet if even half of if it is true (and there’s not reason to question any of it), Valve is a truly remarkable experiment in management.

Nokia should fire Elop and the board should go too – Jean-Louis Gassée

“I think that Elop will have to go, but I also think that the board also needs to be renewed with people who have an understanding and working knowledge of the mobile industry,” Gassée told Computing in an exclusive interview.

This advice reflects the view that a mere exchange of CEO and the board can reverse the course of the company that has been driven primarily by the inertia and complacency of its mid-level management. It could work if Nokia had more time to straighten up its course than it has now.

20 Things I Should Have Known at 20

You will become more conservative over time. This is just a fact. Those you surround yourself with create a kind of “bubble” that pushes you to support the status quo. For this reason, you need to do your craziest stuff NOW. Later on, you’ll become too afraid. Trust me.

A collection of arbitrary advice I can’t argue with.

On Being Round by Neil deGrasse Tyson

This general flattening of objects that rotate is why Earth’s pole-to-pole diameter is smaller than its diameter at the equator. Not by much: three tenths of one percent—about 26 miles. But Earth is small, mostly solid, and doesn’t rotate all that fast. At twenty-four hour per day, anything on Earth’s equator is carried at a mere 1,000 miles per hour. Consider the jumbo, fast-rotating, gaseous planet Saturn. Completing a day in just ten hours, its equator revolves at 22,000 miles per hour and its pole-to-pole dimension is a full ten percent flatter than its middle, a difference noticeable even through a small amateur telescope. Flattened spheres are more generally called oblate spheroids, while spheres that are elongated pole-to-pole are called prolate. In everyday life, hamburgers and hot dogs make excellent (although somewhat extreme) examples of each shape. I don’t know about you, but the planet Saturn pops into my mind with every bite of a hamburger I take.

I must admit I’m a fan of everything this man does.