"management" entries

Four short links: 8 October 2015

Four short links: 8 October 2015

Mystery Machine, Emotional Effect, Meeting Hacks, and Energy Consumption

  1. The Mystery Machine (A Paper a Day) — rundown of Facebook’s Mystery Machine, which can measure end-to-end performance from the initiation of a page load in a Web browser, all the way through the server-side infrastructure, and back out to the point where the page has finished rendering. Doing this requires a causal model of the relationships between components (happens-before). How do you get that? And especially, how do you get that if you can’t assume a uniform environment for instrumentation?
  2. Network Effect — hypnotic and emotional. (via Flowing Data)
  3. Cultivating Great Distributed Teams (Liza Daly) — updates and refinements on her awesome meeting hack/system.
  4. Smartphone Energy Consumption (Pete Warden) — I love new ways of looking at familiar things. Looking at code and features through the lens of power consumption is another such lens. (I remember Craig from Craigslist talking at OSCON about using power as the denominator in your data center, changing how I saw the Web). The article is full of surprising numbers and fascinating factoids. Active cell radio might use 800 mW. Bluetooth might use 100 mW. Accelerometer is 21 mW. Gyroscope is 130 mW. Microphone is 101 mW. GPS is 176 mW. Using the camera in ‘viewfinder’ mode, focusing and looking at a picture preview, might use 1,000 mW. Actually recording video might take another 200 to 1,000 mW on top of that.

Improving Uber’s surge pricing

Should algorithmic pricing be the norm rather than the exception?

The Newport Wedge by Tom Walker on Flickr. Used under a public domain license.

Request an invitation to Next:Economy, our event aiming to shed light on the transformation in the nature of work now being driven by algorithms, big data, robotics, and the on-demand economy.

Companies want a bigger share of the pie than their competitors, capital wants a bigger share than labor (and labor wants right back), countries want a bigger share than their rivals, but true wealth comes when we make a bigger pie for everyone. Well run markets are a proven way to do that.

Surge pricing is one of Uber’s most interesting labor innovations. Faced with the problem that they don’t have enough drivers in particular neighborhoods or at particular hours, they use market mechanisms to bring more drivers to those areas. If they need more drivers, they raise the price to consumers until enough drivers are incented by the possibility of higher earnings to fill the demand. Pricing is not set arbitrarily. It is driven algorithmically by pickup time — the goal is to have enough cars on the road that a passenger will get a car within 3–5 minutes. (Lyft’s Prime Time pricing is a similar system.) Uber keeps raising the price until the pickup time falls into the desired range.

This is clearly an imperfect system. In one case, surge pricing gouged customers during a crisis, and even in more prosaic situations like bad weather, the end of a sporting event, or a holiday evening, customers can see enormous price hikes. This uncertainty undercuts the fundamental promise of the app, of cheap, on-demand transportation. If you don’t know how much the ride will cost, can you rely on it?

Read more…


How to experience OSCON Amsterdam 2015

Find your way through OSCON with these four learning paths.

Paths by Francesca Gallo on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons License.

The open source movement has been with us for almost two decades, and it’s clear that open source is now a de facto choice for software engineers across the globe. The content that you’ll find at OSCON is a reflection of that fact.

The open source world and OSCON itself are vast. With 48 sessions over two days and a bonus day with 11 workshops to choose from, you’ll no doubt have some tough choices to make when you attend the event. Keeping that in mind, I put together four learning paths that encompass the hot topics and important transitions we’re covering at OSCON.

I’m looking forward to seeing you at OSCON in Amsterdam in October! Read more…


A world of continous partial employment

Managers and workers benefit when both have access to data and control.

Photo illustration showing Lyft car in front of a Walmart

Request an invitation to Next:Economy, our event aiming to shed light on the transformation in the nature of work now being driven by algorithms, big data, robotics, and the on-demand economy.

Our future workplaces are increasingly managed by apps and algorithms. Is technology empowering workers, or making them ever more helpless cogs in a corporate profit machine?

When we talk about the “on-demand economy,” we are really talking about two things: the ability of a consumer to summon a vehicle, their lunch, or their groceries with the touch of an app or a few words to Siri, Cortana, or Google Now; and the lives of the workers who respond to those summons. Instant on-demand consumer services mean workers must also be available on demand.

As Logan Green of Lyft noted, his company provides “transportation as a service.” Perhaps the more general point is that it provides labor as a service. At least for now, the car comes with a driver.

Companies such as Lyft, Uber, TaskRabbit, Postmates, Upwork (and too many other new startups to count) all depend on a large pool of workers who make no set work commitments, who are bound to no schedule, but simply turn on an app when they want to work, and compete with other workers for whatever jobs are available.

These apps have gotten a lot of attention. But focusing that attention merely on “Next Economy companies” misses many of the deeper changes in the labor economy.

Read more…

Comments: 3

Lead with merit and be rewarded with success

Michael Lopp on the concept of merit badges for leaders.

Girl Scout Sash with Badges," by Steve Snodgrass on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license

Attend Cultivate, September 28 to 29 in New York, NY. Cultivate is our conference looking at the challenges facing modern management and aiming to train a new generation of business leaders who understand the relationship between corporate culture and corporate prosperity.

At our Cultivate conference in July, Michael Lopp had a fantastic session on “Leadership: By the Numbers,” which was a bit like leadership fundamentals that you may have forgotten or never knew. However, he also had a few slides in his presentation that were meant to be a brief tangent from his primary talk, but they grabbed my attention immediately. Lopp always has fantastic stories and pearls of wisdom from the hard-won experiences in his career like “Busy is a bug, not a feature.” But before he launched into his “Vegetable Talk” on how being a good manager is really basic—like vegetables—he explored the idea of having merit badges for leaders. Read more…

Four short links: 28 August 2015

Four short links: 28 August 2015

Ad Blockers, Self-Evaluation, Blockchain Podcast, and Mobile Fingerprints

  1. 10 Ad Blocking Extensions Tested for Best PerformanceThis test is about the performance of an ad blocker in terms of how quickly it loads a range of ad blocked pages, the maximum amount of memory it uses, and how much stress it puts on the CPU. µBlock Origin wins for Chrome. (via Nelson Minar)
  2. Staff Evaluation of Me (Karl Fisch) — I also tried the Google Form approach. 0 responses, from which I concluded that nobody had any problems with me and DEFINITELY no conclusions could be drawn about my coworkers creating mail filters to mark my messages as spam.
  3. Blockchain (BBC) — episode on the blockchain that does a good job of staying accurate while being comprehensible. (via Sam Kinsley)
  4. Fingerprints On Mobile Devices: Abusing and Leaking (PDF) — We will analyze the mobile fingerprint authentication and authorization frameworks, and discuss several security pitfalls of the current designs, including: Confused Authorization Attack; Unsecure fingerprint data storage; Trusted fingerprint sensors exposed to the untrusted world; Backdoor of pre-embedding fingerprints.
Comment: 1

Cultivate in Portland: Leadership, values, diversity

Building the next generation of leaders, for any size organization.


Register now for Cultivate NY, which will be co-located with Strata + Hadoop World NY, September 28 and 29, 2015.

At our recent Cultivate event in Portland, O’Reilly and our partnering sponsor New Relic brought together 10 speakers and more than 100 attendees to learn about corporate culture and leadership. Three themes emerged: diversity, values, and leading through humility.

Almost every speaker talked about the importance of diversity in the workplace. That’s important at a time when “maintaining corporate culture” often means building a group that’s reminiscent of a college frat house. It’s well established that diverse groups, groups that include different kinds of people, different experiences, and different ways of thinking, perform better. As Michael Lopp said at the event, “Diversity is a no-brainer.” We’re not aiming for tribal uniformity, but as Mary Yoko Brannen noted at the outset, sharing knowledge across different groups with different expectations. No organization can afford to remain monochromatic, but in a diverse organization, you have to be aware of how others differ. In particular, Karla Monterroso showed us that you need to realize when — and why — others feel threatened. When you do, you are in a much better position to build better products, to respond to changes in your market, and to use the talent in your organization effectively. Read more…

Four short links: 7 August 2015

Four short links: 7 August 2015

Dating Culture, Resilient Go Services, Engineering Managers, and Ads Up

  1. Tinder and Hook-Up Culture (Vanity Fair) — “There have been two major transitions” in heterosexual mating “in the last four million years,” he says. “The first was around 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, in the agricultural revolution, when we became less migratory and more settled,” leading to the establishment of marriage as a cultural contract. “And the second major transition is with the rise of the Internet.”
  2. Building Resilient Services with Go — case study of building a Go app to survive the real world.
  3. 90-Day Plan for New Engineering Managers — so much truth, from empathy to giving up coding.
  4. Networks Increasing Ad StuffingTV audiences (as determined by Nielsen C3 measurements: TV watched both live and three days after the show was first aired on catch-up services) are down 9% year on year, yet ad loads on some networks are up as much as 10% on last year. The dinosaurs are hungry.
Comment: 1
Four short links: 6 August 2015

Four short links: 6 August 2015

Music Money, Hotel Robot, Performance Rating, and SIGGRAPH Papers

  1. Open the Music Industry’s Black Box (NYT) — David Byrne talks about the opacity of financials of streaming and online music services (including/especially YouTube). Caught my eye: The labels also get money from three other sources, all of which are hidden from artists: They get advances from the streaming services, catalog service payments for old songs, and equity in the streaming services themselves. (via BoingBoing)
  2. Savioke — hotel robot. (via Robohub)
  3. Deloitte Changing Performance Reviews (HBR) — “Although it is implicitly assumed that the ratings measure the performance of the ratee, most of what is being measured by the ratings is the unique rating tendencies of the rater. Thus, ratings reveal more about the rater than they do about the ratee.”
  4. SIGGRAPH Papers Are on the Web — collected papers from SIGGRAPH.
Four short links: 3 August 2015

Four short links: 3 August 2015

Engineering Management, Smartphone Holograms, Multi-Protocol Server, and Collaborative CS

  1. A Conversation with Michael LoppMy job is to my get myself out of a job. I’m aggressively pushing things I think I could be really good at and should actually maybe own to someone else who’s gonna get a B at it, but they’re gonna get the opportunity to go do that. […] Delegation is helping someone else to learn. I’m all about the humans. If I don’t have happy, productive, growing engineers, I have exactly no job. That investment in the growth, in the happiness, the engineers being productive, that’s like my primary job.
  2. 3D Hologram Projector for Smartphone (BoingBoing) — is in hardware hack stage now, but OKYOUWIN maybe it’s the future.
  3. serve2dserve2 allows you to serve multiple protocols on a single socket. Example handlers include proxy, HTTP, TLS (through which HTTPS is handled), ECHO and DISCARD. More can easily be added, as long as the protocol sends some data that can be recognized. The proxy handler allows you to redirect the connection to external services, such as OpenSSH or Nginx, in case you don’t want or can’t use a Go implementation.
  4. GitXivIn recent years, a highly interesting pattern has emerged: Computer scientists release new research findings on arXiv and just days later, developers release an open-source implementation on GitHub. This pattern is immensely powerful. One could call it collaborative open computer science (COCS). GitXiv is a space to share collaborative open computer science projects. Countless Github and arXiv links are floating around the Web. It’s hard to keep track of these gems. GitXiv attempts to solve this problem by offering a collaboratively curated feed of projects. Each project is conveniently presented as arXiv + Github + Links + Discussion