"culture" entries

Four short links: 26 September 2013

Four short links: 26 September 2013

Google's Data Centers, Top Engineers, Hiring, and Git Explained

  1. Google Has Spent 21 Billion on Data Centers The company invested a record $1.6 billion in its data centers in the second quarter of 2013. Puts my impulse-purchased second external hard-drive into context, doesn’t it honey?
  2. 10x Engineer (Shanley) — in which the idea that it’s scientifically shown that some engineers are innately 10x others is given a rough and vigorous debunking.
  3. How to Hire — great advice, including “Poaching is the titty twister of Silicon Valley relationships”.
  4. Think Like a Git — a guide to git, for the perplexed.
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Four short links: 18 September 2013

Four short links: 18 September 2013

No Managers, Bezos Pearls, Visualising History, and Scalable Key-Value Store

  1. No ManagersIf we could find a way to replace the function of the managers and focus everyone on actually producing for our Students (customers) then it would actually be possible to be a #NoManager company. In my future posts I’ll explain how we’re doing this at Treehouse.
  2. The 20 Smartest Things Jeff Bezos Has Ever Said (Motley Fool) — I feel like the 219th smartest thing Jeff Bezos has ever said is still smarter than the smartest thing most business commentators will ever say. (He says, self-referentially) “Invention requires a long-term willingness to be misunderstood.”
  3. Putting Time in Perspective — nifty representations of relative timescales and history. (via BoingBoing)
  4. Sophia — BSD-licensed small C library implementing an embeddable key-value database “for a high-load environment”.
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Process Is Not a Four-Letter Word

Standardization done right can save your sanity and improve your culture

Capital-P “Process” ™ is something many software developers, operations engineers, system administrators, and even managers love to hate.

It is often considered a productivity-killing, innovation-stifling beast whose only useful domain is within the walls of some huge, hulking enterprise or sitting in a wiki nobody ever reads.

I have always found distaste for process fascinating and now even moreso that configuration management and version control have become such core tenets of the DevOps movement. The main purpose of those tools is to provide structure for software development and operations to increase reproducibility, reliability, and standardization of those activities.

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Four short links: 13 September 2013

Four short links: 13 September 2013

Remote Work, Raspberry Pi Code Machine, Low-Latency Data Processing, and Probabilistic Table Parsing

  1. Fog Creek’s Remote Work PolicyIn the absence of new information, the assumption is that you’re producing. When you step outside the HQ work environment, you should flip that burden of proof. The burden is on you to show that you’re being productive. Is that because we don’t trust you? No. It’s because a few normal ways of staying involved (face time, informal chats, lunch) have been removed.
  2. Coder (GitHub) — a free, open source project that turns a Raspberry Pi into a simple platform that educators and parents can use to teach the basics of building for the web. New coders can craft small projects in HTML, CSS, and Javascript, right from the web browser.
  3. MillWheel (PDF) — a framework for building low-latency data-processing applications that is widely used at Google. Users specify a directed computation graph and application code for individual nodes, and the system manages persistent state and the continuous flow of records, all within the envelope of the framework’s fault-tolerance guarantees. From Google Research.
  4. Probabilistic Scraping of Plain Text Tablesthe method leverages topological understanding of tables, encodes it declaratively into a mixed integer/linear program, and integrates weak probabilistic signals to classify the whole table in one go (at sub second speeds). This method can be used for any kind of classification where you have strong logical constraints but noisy data.
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A Programming Life: Choose Your Own Adventure

Honesty, Evaluation, and a Success Story

I caught up with, Amye Scavarda (@amye), Client Advisor, Acquia, and Leslie Hawthorn (@lhawthorn), Community Manager, Elasticsearch at OSCON 2013 where both gave a talk on how to grow a career, that you’ll enjoy, in the open source world and beyond. Turns out it might not be so hard.

Key highlights include:

  • Some old school first steps in taking a look at your work life [Discussed at 0:57]
  • Don’t start by trying to improve what you are worst at [Discussed at 2:38]
  • How and when should you learn new programming languages? It depends. [Discussed at 4:09]
  • Success stories aka how this has worked for Amye [Discussed at 5:24]

You can view the full interview here:

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Four short links: 12 September 2013

Four short links: 12 September 2013

PaaS Vendors, Educational MMO, Changing Culture, Data Mythologies

  1. Amazon Compute Numbers (ReadWrite) — AWS offers five times the utilized compute capacity of each of its other 14 top competitors—combined. (via Matt Asay)
  2. MIT Educational MMOThe initial phase will cover topics in biology, algebra, geometry, probability, and statistics, providing students with a collaborative, social experience in a systems-based game world where they can explore how the world works and discover important scientific concepts. (via KQED)
  3. Changing Norms (Atul Gawande) — neither penalties nor incentives achieve what we’re really after: a system and a culture where X is what people do, day in and day out, even when no one is watching. “You must” rewards mere compliance. Getting to “X is what we do” means establishing X as the norm.
  4. The Mythologies of Big Data (YouTube) — Kate Crawford at UC Berkeley iSchool. The six months: ‘Big data are new’, ‘Big data is objective’, ‘Big data don’t discriminate’, ‘Big data makes cities smart’, ‘Big data is anonymous’, ‘You can opt out of big data’. (via Sam Kinsley)
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Four short links: 28 August 2013

Four short links: 28 August 2013

Cloud Orchestration, Cultural Heritage, Student Hackers, and Visual Javascript

  1. Juju — Canonical’s cloud orchestration software, intended to be a peer of chef and puppet. (via svrn)
  2. Cultural Heritage Symbols — workshopped icons to indicate interactives, big data, makerspaces, etc. (via Courtney Johnston)
  3. Quinn Norton: Students as Hackers (EdTalks) — if you really want to understand the future, don’t look at how people are looking at technology, look at how they are misusing technology.
  4. noflo.js — visual flow controls for Javascript.
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Four short links: 23 August 2013

Four short links: 23 August 2013

The Internet of Americas, Pharma Pricey, Who's Watching, and Data Mining Course

  1. Bradley Manning and the Two Americas (Quinn Norton) — The first America built the Internet, but the second America moved onto it. And they both think they own the place now. The best explanation you’ll find for wtf is going on.
  2. Staggering Cost of Inventing New Drugs (Forbes) — $5BB to develop a new drug; and subject to an inverse-Moore’s law: A 2012 article in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery says the number of drugs invented per billion dollars of R&D invested has been cut in half every nine years for half a century.
  3. Who’s Watching You — (Tim Bray) threat modelling. Everyone should know this.
  4. Data Mining with Weka — learn data mining with the popular open source Weka platform.
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Four short links: 7 August 2013

Four short links: 7 August 2013

Toxic Behaviour, Encryption Deception, Foursquare Strategy, and Problem-First Learning

  1. Toxic Behaviouronly 5% of toxic behavior comes from toxic people; 77% of it comes from people who are usually good.
  2. More Encryption Is Not The Solution (Poul-Henning Kamp) — To an intelligence agency, a well-thought-out weakness can easily be worth a cover identity and five years of salary to a top-notch programmer. Anybody who puts in five good years on an open source project can get away with inserting a patch that “on further inspection might not be optimal.”
  3. On Location With Foursquare (Anil Dash) — Foursquare switched from primarily being concerned with the game-based rewards around engagement and the recording of people’s whereabouts to a broader mission that builds on that base to be about location as a core capability of the Internet.
  4. The Flipped Flipped Classroomthe “exploration first” model is a better way to learn. You cannot have the answers before you think of the questions. (via Karl Fisch)
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Four short links: 17 July 2013

Four short links: 17 July 2013

Augmented Reality Books, Open Source Success Patterns, Kernel Kourtesy, and Speculative Fiction

  1. Hideout — augmented reality books. (via Hacker News)
  2. Patterns and Practices for Open Source Software Success (Stephen Walli) — Successful FOSS projects grow their communities outward to drive contribution to the core project. To build that community, a project needs to develop three onramps for software users, developers, and contributors, and ultimately commercial contributors.
  3. How to Act on LKML — Linus’s tantrums are called out by one of the kernel developers in a clear and positive way.
  4. Beyond the Coming Age of Networked Matter (BoingBoing) — Bruce Sterling’s speculative short story, written for the Institute For The Future. “Stephen Wolfram was right about everything. Wolfram is the greatest physicist since Isaac Newton. Since Plato, even. Our meager, blind physics is just a subset of Wolfram’s new-kind-of- science metaphysics. He deserves fifty Nobels.” “How many people have read that Wolfram book?” I asked him. “I hear that his book is, like, huge, cranky, occult, and it drives readers mad.” “I read the forbidden book,” said Crawferd.
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