Monthly Archives: August 2013

Living With a Legacy Framework #

There are a number of reasons why no migration was done:

  • early migrations were deemed somewhat unnecessary
  • migrations are inherently risky
  • the product became our main product only later on, it wasn’t the company’s focus in the beginning
  • the company lacked a CTO able to articulate the use of spending money to upgrade a product that worked (i.e. politics)
  • new “visible” features were deemed more important than technical upgrades
  • debugging was a full-time job at some point, leaving no time for an upgrade

… However, due to link rot and time passing older blog posts, tips, hints and walkthroughs are often no longer available, or harder to search for. Also, training new employees and interns is much harder….

Basically I’m one third less productive when programming than I could be.

Yannick Mahe, “The Walking Dead: the consequences of living with a legacy PHP framework”, 19 August 2013

The lack of long-term support for a platform has consequences.

Customer Support and X-Per-Order #

Amazon regard Contacts Per Order (CPO) as their most sensitive measure of customer satisfaction. It measures the amount of customer contacts relating to orders that happen compared to total orders. Amazon have a massive customer base but this deliberate focus gives them the lowest CPO in the industry.@destraynor, “Customer Support: Always Easy, Never Necessary”, Inside Intercom

Good insight on their “orange juice test” too. It’s how one of my early mentors always tried to do customer support.

Class and Race in Education #

In 1963, kids in the 10th percentile of income fell behind children in the upper echelon of wealth by about a year or so. Today, that gap is closer to four years.

“Income has become a much stronger predictor of how well kids do in school,” Reardon says. “Race is about as good a predictor as it was 30 years ago. It’s more that income has gotten more important, not that race has gotten less important.”

Sarah Garland, “When Class Became More Important to a Childs Education Than Race”, The Atlantic, 28 August 2013

When I discussed this topic with Utah’s education statisticians several years ago, there were strong, significant interaction effects between race and income too.

Via Dave Pell’s Next Draft.

Stack ranking and Microsoft’s decline #

But one [reason for the decline of Microsoft] that’s not obvious to outsiders was the company’s employee evaluation system, known as “stack ranking.” The system—and its poisonous effects on Microsoft’s corporate culture—was best explained in an outstanding Vanity Fair feature by Kurt Eichenwald last year.Will Oremus, “Stack ranking: Steve Ballmer’s employee-evaluation system and Microsoft’s decline”, Slate, 23 Aug 2013.

The referenced Vanity Fair article is excellent (if you haven’t read it, you should), and was passed around the office a few times.

Via The Loop, who has an unabashedly low opinion of stack ranking.

The Racial Dot Map #

Awesome interactive map that covers all of the U.S. Kudos to the researchers. (The site is a bit slow due to all of the attention from the Internet.)

Also, see the write-up in Wired.

It made me curious to check out the are where I live. Any guesses on where the school district boundaries are?

Racial dot map of Cobb County, GA

The overall map of the Atlanta area is similarly fascinating.

Racial dot map of Atlanta, GA

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How Can Millennials Change Washington If They Hate It? #

  1. Millennials, in general, are fiercely committed to community service.
  2. They don’t see politics or government as a way to improve their communities, their country, or the world.
  3. So the best and brightest are rejecting public service as a career path. Just as Baby Boomers are retiring from government and politics, Washington faces a rising-generation “brain drain.”
  4. The only way Millennials might engage Washington is if they first radically change it.

Ron Fournieraug, “The Outsiders: How Can Millennials Change Washington If They Hate It?”, The Atlantic, 26 August 2013

No one wants to go into politics because there are few results, no accountability, and a great deal of selfishness and bickering.

HBR: Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders? #

In my view, the main reason for the uneven management sex ratio is our inability to discern between confidence and competence. That is, because we (people in general) commonly misinterpret displays of confidence as a sign of competence, we are fooled into believing that men are better leaders than women. In other words, when it comes to leadership, the only advantage that men have over women (e.g., from Argentina to Norway and the USA to Japan) is the fact that manifestations of hubris — often masked as charisma or charm — are commonly mistaken for leadership potential, and that these occur much more frequently in men than in women.

This is consistent with the finding that leaderless groups have a natural tendency to elect self-centered, overconfident and narcissistic individuals as leaders, and that these personality characteristics are not equally common in men and women. In line, Freud argued that the psychological process of leadership occurs because a group of people — the followers — have replaced their own narcissistic tendencies with those of the leader, such that their love for the leader is a disguised form of self-love, or a substitute for their inability to love themselves. “Another person’s narcissism”, he said, “has a great attraction for those who have renounced part of their own… as if we envied them for maintaining a blissful state of mind.”
Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, “Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?”, Harvard Business Review, 22 August 2013.

The entire article is excellent, and worth reading.

Steve Ballmer to retire #

Microsoft’s stock jumped 6% in early trading, so I’m not the only one to wonder why he hung on so long.

As much as I think he should go, Microsoft’s newly announced re-org (seemingly Balmer’s initiative) makes the timing weird.

Another domestic traveler wrongly detained by TSA #

After being held for most of the day without even water, his flight was cancelled by JetBlue. Near the end, he implies his apartment was likely searched during his interrogation.

Boy Scouts pressures Hacker Scouts to drop “Scouts” #

I admit to being a little mixed on this, but am not sure the representative from Hacker Scouts understands what she’s talking about.

Cook, in her blog post, wrote that Hacker Scouts was not modeled after the Boy Scouts and has never claimed any affiliation with the BSA. “We believe the charter itself may be unconstitutional,” she wrote, “and that ‘scouts’ is a world-wide connotation for a youth organization that existed before [the BSA] and will exist long after them.”Megan Geuss, “Be prepared to litigate: Boy Scouts pressures Hacker Scouts to drop “Scouts””, Ars Technica

Internationally, “scouting” means a member of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (they even claim the generic URL scout.org), which is colloquially referred to as the “international brotherhood of scouting” (even though it’s co-ed in most other countries).

WOSM permits one member from each country (the U.S. is a bit different, as both BSA and Girls Scouts are members). Membership is marked in all countries by wearing the world crest patch.

So, Boy Scouts of America has some well known trademarks to protect. If they don’t they’ll lose protected use of those marks under U.S. law.

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