"culture" entries

Four short links: 23 October 2014

Four short links: 23 October 2014

Hard Javascript, Responsive Progress, Software Experiments, and Facebook Emotions

  1. You Don’t Know JSa series of [CC-licensed] books [to be published by O'Reilly] diving deep into the core mechanisms of the JavaScript language.
  2. progressbar.js — responsive progress bar.
  3. Microsoft Garage — Microsoft software experiments, in public. This is awesome.
  4. Creating Empathy on Facebook (NY Times) — On Facebook, teenagers are presented with more options than just “it’s embarrassing” when they want to remove a post. They are asked what’s happening in the post, how they feel about it and how sad they are. In addition, they are given a text box with a polite pre-written response that can be sent to the friend who hurt their feelings. (In early versions of this feature, only 20 percent of teenagers filled out the form. When Facebook added more descriptive language like “feelings” and “sadness,” the figure grew to 80 percent.)
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Four short links: 16 October 2014

Four short links: 16 October 2014

Eye Catcher, Exoskeleton, Homebrew Cray, and Information Architecture

  1. Eye Catcher (We Make Money Not Art) — the most banal-looking wooden frame takes thus a life of its own as soon as you come near it. It quickly positions itself in front of you, spots your eyes and starts expressing ‘emotions’ based on your own. Eye Catcher uses the arm of an industrial robot, high power magnets, a hidden pinhole camera, ferrofluid and emotion recognition algorithms to explore novel interactive interfaces based on the mimicry and exchange of expressions.
  2. FORTIS Exoskeleton (Lockheed Martin) — transfers loads through the exoskeleton to the ground in standing or kneeling positions and allows operators to use heavy tools as if they were weightless. (via CNN)
  3. Homebrew Cray-1A – fascinating architecture, but also lovely hobby project to build the homebrew. The lack of Cray software archives horrifies the amateur historian in me, though. When I started building this, I thought “Oh, I’ll just swing by the ol’ Internet and find some groovy 70′s-era software to run on it.” It turns out I was wrong. One of the sad things about pre-internet machines (especially ones that were primarily purchased by 3-letter Government agencies) is that practically no software exists for them. After searching the internet exhaustively, I contacted the Computer History Musuem and they didn’t have any either. They also informed me that apparently SGI destroyed Cray’s old software archives before spinning them off again in the late 90′s.
  4. How Do Committees Invent? — 1968 paper that gave us organizations which design systems [...] produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations. That was the 1968 version of the modern “your website’s sitemap is your org chart”.
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Four short links: 6 October 2014

Four short links: 6 October 2014

Nerd Culture, Cited Papers, Better Javascript, Robo-Provisioning

  1. Why Nerd Culture Must Die (Pete Warden) — Our ingrained sense of victimization has become a perverse justification for bullying. Hear, hear.
  2. Best Papers vs Top Cited Papers in CS (since 1996) — it is astonishing (to your humble not-in-academia author) how often “best paper” is not the most cited paper.
  3. Javascript: The Better Parts (YouTube) — Douglas Crockford laying it down.
  4. Boxenautomate the pain out of your development environment.
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DevOps in the enterprise

Follow Nordstrom's journey to continuous delivery and a DevOps culture.

DevOps in Practice CoverWould you open an email with a subject line of DevOps and pants? I’m not sure I would.

Six months ago I sent Rob Cummings an email with exactly that subject and he did. And we can be thankful he opened it, because by doing so, he invited us to look back at the fascinating history of Nordstrom’s implementation of continuous delivery and a “DevOps culture.”

The story begins in 2004, in a different era of web operations and performance. Back then, Rob and his team drove out to the colocation facility to deploy the e-commerce site. It was an era in which everything was a bit more heavyweight and things moved a bit slower. But that was OK, because most companies were still figuring the web out, almost as much as users were trying to figure it out.

Then the world started changing. Customer expectations changed. The business’ expectations changed. Heck, even developer expectations changed. As a leader in Nordstrom’s operations department, Rob had to adapt. And all of this was complicated by the fact that the increased pace was starting to strain his team and the systems he was responsible for maintaining. Read more…

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Four short links: 22 August 2014

Four short links: 22 August 2014

Crowd Problems, Robot Butler, Opportunistic Encryption, and A/B Framework

  1. Blame the Crowd, Not the Camera (Nina Simon) — Cameras weaponize an already unwieldy mob of people.
  2. The Botlr — the Cupertino Starwood hotel has a robot butler (botlr) doing room service.
  3. tcpcrypt — opportunistic encryption of all network traffic.
  4. Sixpack — language-agnostic A/B testing framework.
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Four short links: 11 August 2014

Startup Anthropology, Ends to Means, Permission to Test, and Distributed Systems Research

  1. Anthropology of Mid-Sized Startups — old but good post about the structures, norms, and dimensions of startup culture. Like a religion, a startup will care for its collective interest by defining certain things as sacred. A classic example is the company’s logo. This symbol is, quite literally, “set apart and forbidden” by brand guidelines, which often specify exactly how the logo must be presented and how far it should sit from the other elements on a page (thus separating the sacred from the profane).
  2. What Leads To — I love the elegant mechanic of decomposing an end back to a means you can do right now. Lots more sophistication obviously possible, but the fact that it’s not just about “thumbs up this end!” or about actions divorced from intention, makes it a step ahead for social software.
  3. Researching Link Rot (Pinboard) — graceful notification of a test, and with the simple ability to opt-out.
  4. The Space Between Theory and Practice in Distributed Systems (Marc Brooker) — I went through everything I’ve read on distributed systems and arranged them on a spectrum from theory to practice the two ends would be really well populated, but the middle would be disturbingly empty. Worse, changing to a graph of citation links would show a low density from theory to practice.
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4 Steps to a culture of performance

Guidelines to maximize, allocate, and use resources strategically

Highway Night Photograph Lights Night Lighting. Photo: Pixabay

Highway at night. Photo: Pixabay

Companies that are driven by web performance, like Google, develop a culture of performance from the top-down thanks to performance-minded CEOs. For the majority of organizations, however, this is not the case. Often, it’s up to those working at every day performance monitoring to inform the organization of the business value of a company-wide focus on performance, convince key stakeholders to make real changes to processes and infrastructure, and maintain an ongoing performance-driven culture.

Step one: Build your case

Before you can instill a culture of performance, you first need to demonstrate the value of strong web performance to your colleagues and superiors. To do that, you must build a case based on business standards that everyone can relate to, specifically by demonstrating the clear link between web performance and revenue. Calculate how much revenue you would lose if your site was down for hours, or even minutes. Ask how much time IT spends fixing problems when they could be working on other issues. Figure out what your competitors’ web performance is like and how yours compares (if it’s better, you have to keep up; if it’s worse, it’s an opportunity to take advantage of their weakness).
Read more…

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Four short links: 7 July 2014

Four short links: 7 July 2014

GV Library, Blockchain Equity, Organisation Anti-Patterns, and Cognitive Biases in Software Engineering

  1. Google Ventures Library — collection of design, engineering, founder docs.
  2. SWARM — crypto equity. Stock via the blockchain. (via Jesse Vincent)
  3. Organisational Anti-Patterns (Leigh Honeywell) — failure modes involving power and labour.
  4. Cognitive Biases in Software Engineering (Jonathan Klein) — failure modes for estimations, testing, and evaluations explained with psychology. Because brains.
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Four short links: 3 July 2014

Four short links: 3 July 2014

Go Libraries, Salary Transparency, Printed Houses, and IoT Alliance

  1. DropBox Opensources Go Libraries — including memcache and a general abstraction for caching layers.
  2. Transparency with Salaries (NPR) — Atkison has meetings like this all the time. He says it gives him a chance to explain why some employees make more than others — and to explain to employees how they can make more. For a lot of employees, knowing what everyone makes is less exciting than it seems. By moving from negotiation to clear expectations of salary levels, bumps, etc., I can also see it helping the company understand what it values.
  3. Printing Buildings from Recycled Materials (ComputerWorld) — The printers, supplied by WinSun Decoration Design Engineering, are 20 feet tall, 33 feet wide and 132 feet long. Like their desktop counterparts, the construction-grade WinSun 3D printers use a fused deposition modeling (FDM) technology to deposit materials one layer at a time in a process that’s similar to squeezing frosting from a pastry bag. 10 single-room buildings in a day. (via Slashdot)
  4. Microsoft Joins Internet-of-Things Alliance (Computerworld) — more vendors joining AllSeen Alliance to agree on the open comms standards for IoT apps and devices. Google/Nest notable by their absence.
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Four short links: 24 June 2014

Four short links: 24 June 2014

Failure of Imagination, Meat Failure Mode, Grand Challenges, and Data Programming

  1. Maximum Happy Imagination (Matt Jones) — questioning the true vision of Marc Andreessen’s recent Twitter discourse on the great future that awaits us. His analogies run out in the 20th century when it comes to the political, social and economic implications of his maximum happy imagination.
  2. The MirrortocracyIt’s astonishing how many of the people conducting interviews and passing judgement on the careers of candidates have had no training at all on how to do it well. Aside from their own interviews, they may not have ever seen one. I’m all for learning on your own but at least when you write a program wrong it breaks. Without a natural feedback loop, interviewing mostly runs on myth and survivor bias.
  3. Longitude Prize — six prize areas, Grand Challenge style, in clean flight, antibiotic resistance, dementia, food, water, and overcoming paralysis. Mysteriously none for library system that avoids DLL hell.
  4. The Re-Emergence of DatalogMichael Fogus overviews Datalog and provides examples of how it is implemented and used in Datomic, Cascalog, and the Bacwn Clojure library. See also notes from the talk.
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