Monthly Archives: May 2013

Open-plan offices make employees less productive, less happy, and more likely to get sick

A survey of 7,000 Dutch workers found that they were absent for 2.5 days a year on average because of complaints about their office environment, most commonly related to temperature. Roelofsen also noted in his work that even among the workers who are present, if the environment isn’t ideal for them they won’t work as hard. He estimated that quality improvements yield between a 5% and 15% increase in productivity.

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Someone put the numbers on what Joel Spolsky was preaching for years. But then, 2.5 days per person per year may still be less costly than a floor with private offices.

My one talk with Marissa Mayer

All this is to say that the promises execs make on acquisitions are meaningless. They own the thing, they will do what they want to with it. It doesn’t matter how many nice sounds Mayer makes on the deal. At the core she cares not one bit what the users of Tumblr think. She’s saying what she needs to say to make the deal happen. To avoid a PR crisis on Day One. To make the team at Tumblr feel like their work has value to the new owners. That somehow this acquisition isn’t actually an acquisition.

Why Tumblr’s acquisition is no different from other Yahoo deals and why Marissa Mayer is not a different kind of executive.

I’m delighted to announce

We promise not to screw it up. Tumblr is incredibly special and has a great thing going. We will operate Tumblr independently. David Karp will remain CEO. The product roadmap, their team, their wit and irreverence will all remain the same as will their mission to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve. Yahoo! will help Tumblr get even better, faster.

Why Tumblr’s acquisition is different from other Yahoo deals and why Marissa Mayer is a different kind of executive.

The end* of website development as a profession

Here in mid-2013, I think we’re approaching the point where we can declare the end of website development as a profession. There are now so many off-the-shelf tools and third-party services that it’s rare we encounter a problem space that doesn’t have some kind of existing solution we can point a client to.

The article doesn’t cover the market for large, customized web applications that are in high demand. Also, competing in the low-end probably never was such a good idea.

Designing blogs for readers

I don’t think there’s any reasonable way, or any need, to separate vanity and ego from a personal blog. Writing is inherently about its author, and is a product of their personality and opinions – that’s not something to be shy about, and we shouldn’t try to change it either. So, write for yourself – and hold yourself to an appropriate standard, because you’d better believe that others are judging the person as well as the piece – but as soon as you publish your views, you’re inviting readers to take a look. I think that the needs of the reader and the author are more aligned than many blogging systems seem to believe.

It took a while to arrive at these conclusions, but more and more blogs start be readable without a need to run them through Instapaper or a similar service.

“I Contribute to the Windows Kernel. We Are Slower Than Other Operating Systems. Here Is Why.”

There’s also little incentive to create changes in the first place. On linux-kernel, if you improve the performance of directory traversal by a consistent 5%, you’re praised and thanked. Here, if you do that and you’re not on the object manager team, then even if you do get your code past the Ob owners and into the tree, your own management doesn’t care. Yes, making a massive improvement will get you noticed by senior people and could be a boon for your career, but the improvement has to be very large to attract that kind of attention. Incremental improvements just annoy people and are, at best, neutral for your career. If you’re unlucky and you tell your lead about how you improved performance of some other component on the system, he’ll just ask you whether you can accelerate your bug glide.

How the quality of Windows code reflects Microsoft’s culture.

Silicon Valley’s Problem

Barely any of them start from an entrenched social problem and work backwards from there. Very few of them are really fundamentally improving society. They’re making widgets or iterating on things that already exist. Their goal is to make themselves as appealing—or threatening—to a big player as possible so they can get bought out for a few hundred million dollars and then devote the rest of their lives to a) building Burning Man installations, b) investing in other people’s widgets, or c) both. They really don’t care that much about making the world a better place, mostly because they feel like they don’t have to live in it.

How the demographics of Silicon Valley affect its goals.

Computers: It’s Time to Start Over

If you think about it, it’s weird. Everything about computer security has changed in the past 20 years, but computers themselves haven’t. It’s the world around them that has.

Disscussion of the current model of computer security, designed to protect users from each other, instead of protecting users from malicious content from the internet.