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November 03 2010

Four short links: 3 November 2010

  1. Five Google Engineering Management Mistakes -- interesting to see informed criticism, because Google's style is often presented as a winning model. TLs [Tech Leads] were still evaluated as individual contributors. Leads to poor management practices: Grabbing all the sexy work for themselves; Providing negative evaluations for team members so they look good in comparison; Not paying attention to team member needs or requests; Confrontational relationships between team members and TLs (in some dysfunctional cases).
  2. Community Escrow (Simon Phipps in Computerworld) -- interesting take on open source as a way of protecting against the interests of a vendor changing to no longer be aligned with those of the customer. The kicker: If the product was "open core" - with the key commercial features kept proprietary - it will be very hard for anyone to provide continuity. This is especially true if you are using the software as a service, because the critical know-how to make the software reliably run in the cloud is unlikely to be included in the open source project. Hear, hear. Cloud and open core are new enough that we still blow kisses every time we meet, but that honeymoon will pass and before long it'll be hostile cold stares and long contemplative silences spent gazing out the window, musing on their shortcomings.
  3. Data Story Telling (Pete Warden) -- Pete nails something I've been chewing on: in this model, a new form of media is like an infection hitting a previously unexposed population. Some people figure out how it can be used to breach the weak spots in the audience's mental 'immune system', how to persuade people to believe lies that serve the propagator's purpose. Eventually the deviation from reality becomes too obvious, people wise up to the manipulation and a certain level of immunity is propagated throughout the culture. The same is true for advertising: we're in an arms race, novelty against neuroplasticity.
  4. Whimsy (and Clothes) For Sale (NY Times) -- “We could never afford to make product in volume, so we adopted kind of like a Beanie Baby approach: we’d create small collections that supremely rabid buyers would end up buying,” Mr. Lindland said, noting that some customers own more than 20 pairs of his signature pants. “They’re a collectors’ item, oddly enough.” Small-run manufacturing embraced as a differentiating advantage, rather than as a competitive disadvantage.

October 07 2010

Four short links: 7 October 2010

  1. How to Manage Employees When They Make Mistakes -- sound advice on how to deal with employees who failed to meet expectations. Yet again, good parenting can make you a good adult. It’s strange to me that in the technology sector we have such a reputation for yellers. Maybe it’s business in general and not just tech. [...] People stay at companies with leaders who rule like Mussolini because they want to be part of something super successful. But it does tend to breed organizations of people who walk around like beaten dogs with their heads down waiting to be kicked. It produces sycophants and group think. And if your company ever “slips” people head STRAIGHT for the door as they did at Siebel. I’d love to see a new generation of tech companies that don’t rule through fear. (via Hacker News)
  2. Information Wants to be Paid (Pete Warden) -- I want to know where I stand relative to the business model of any company I depend on. If API access and the third-party ecosystem makes them money, then I feel a lot more comfortable that I'll retain access over the long term. So true. It's not that platform companies are evil, it's just that they're a business too. They're interested in their survival first and yours second. To expect anything else is to be naive and to set yourself up for failure. As Pete says, it makes sense to have them financially invested in continuing to provide for you. It's not a cure-all, but it's a damn sight better than "build on this so we can gain traction and some idea of a business model". Yet again, Warden reads my mind and saves me the trouble of finding the right words to write.
  3. 0Boxer -- Chrome and Safari extensions to turn gmail into a game. (via waxy)
  4. Twitter's New Search Architecture (Twitter Engineering Blog) -- notable for two things: they're contributing patches back to the open source text search library Lucene, and they name the individual engineers who worked on the project. Very classy, human, and canny. (via straup on Delicious)

May 19 2010

July 23 2008

TERRA 438 PART ONE: Trouble in the Tropics: Invasive Lionfish

The invasive lionfish--venomous and voracious--has reached the tropical western Atlantic, where its reproductive rate is soaring. Invasive species expert, Lad Akins, of the Reef Environmental Education Foundation; along with College of the Bahamas marine science intern, Everton Joseph; and specimen collector for the Bermuda Aquarium, Chris Flook, team up in the waters of the Bahamas, where they dive, collect, tag and dissect, to better understand the invader in its new home. They'll run key field experiments, to identify potential controls, and assess the likely impacts of the invasion, on fragile reef ecosystems and ocean-based economies.

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