jm + work   70

Nick Mathewson on Twitter
"Gaze not into the abyss, lest you become recognized as an abyss domain expert, and they expect you keep gazing into the damn thing."


Words to live by....
ffu  funny  the-abyss  life  work  experts  expertise  sme 
18 days ago by jm
The Gig Economy Celebrates Working Yourself to Death - The New Yorker
At the root of this is the American obsession with self-reliance, which makes it more acceptable to applaud an individual for working himself to death than to argue that an individual working himself to death is evidence of a flawed economic system. The contrast between the gig economy’s rhetoric (everyone is always connecting, having fun, and killing it!) and the conditions that allow it to exist (a lack of dependable employment that pays a living wage) makes this kink in our thinking especially clear.
capitalism  culture  gig-economy  lyft  fiverr  work  jobs  employment  self-reliance 
9 weeks ago by jm
GitHub's new Balanced Employee IP Agreement (BEIPA) lets workers keep the IP when they use company resources for personal projects — Quartz
Huh, interesting development:
If it’s on company time, it’s the company’s dime. That’s the usual rule in the tech industry—that if employees use company resources to work on projects unrelated to their jobs, their employer can claim ownership of any intellectual property (IP) they create.
But GitHub is throwing that out the window. Today the code-sharing platform announced a new policy, the Balanced Employee IP Agreement (BEIPA). This allows its employees to use company equipment to work on personal projects in their free time, which can occur during work hours, without fear of being sued for the IP. As long as the work isn’t related to GitHub’s own “existing or prospective” products and services, the employee owns it.
github  law  tech  jobs  work  day-job  side-projects  hacking  ip  copyright 
9 weeks ago by jm
Maniac Killers of the Bangalore IT Department
On "techies" and their tenuous relationship with Indian society:
Technology was supposed to deliver India from poverty, but in Bangalore it’s also deepened the division between rich and poor, young and old, modern and traditional. As the city has grown richer, it’s also become unruly and unfamiliar. If the tech worker is the star of the Indian economy, then the techie is his shadow— spoiled, untrustworthy, adulterous, depressed, and sometimes just plain senseless. (“TECHIE WITH EARPHONES RUN OVER BY TRAIN.”) In one occupational boogeyman, Bangaloreans can see their future and their fears. [....]

“TECHIE’S WIFE MURDERED” read the headlines in both the Hindu and the Bangalore Mirror. “TECHIE STABS FRIEND’S WIFE TO DEATH” ran in the Deccan Herald. To read the Indian newspapers regularly is to believe the software engineer is the country’s most cursed figure. Almost every edition carries a gruesome story involving a techie accused of homicide, rape, burglary, blackmail, assault, injury, suicide, or another crime. When techies are the victims, it’s just as newsworthy. The Times of India, the country’s largest English-language paper, has carried “TECHIE DIES IN FREAK ACCIDENT” and “MAN HELD FOR PUSHING TECHIE FROM TRAIN”; in the Hindu, readers found “TEACHER CHOPS OFF FINGERS OF TECHIE HUSBAND” and “TECHIE DIED AFTER BEING FORCE-FED CYANIDE.” A long-standing journalistic adage says, “If it bleeds, it leads.” In India, if it codes, it explodes.
crime  tech  india  bangalore  pune  society  techies  work  jobs 
february 2017 by jm
Family life and "flow"
via twitter: "interesting conversation between author of a parenting book and the guy who introduced the concept of "flow"" -- summary, family life is interrupt-driven (via nagging) and fundamentally hard to align with "flow"
flow  life  family  work  nagging  happiness 
january 2017 by jm
How Fucked Up is Your Management?
Oh dear.
Score 1 “My management culture is fucked up” point for each of the following:

We have an unlimited vacation policy;

We don’t do regular 1:1s, but we have open office hours/are super available if anyone wants to chat;

We don’t have a process for interviewing, we just hire awesome people when we meet them;

We super care about diversity, but we don’t want to lower the bar so we just hire the best person for the job even if it means diversity suffers;

We don’t have defined levels and career paths for our employees, we’re a really flat org;

We don’t have formal managers for every staff member, everyone just gets their work done;

We don’t have, like, HR HR, but our recruiter/office manager/only female employee is super good if you want someone to talk to;

We don’t do performance improvement plans for employees that are struggling. We just have a super honest conversation about how they aren’t a good fit and fire them;

We would have some hard explaining to do if our salary list accidentally became public.
startups  management  culture  work  vacation  hiring  office-hours  managers  diversity  careers  hr 
october 2016 by jm
Algorithmic management as the new Taylorism
'its legacy can be seen in factories, call centres and warehouses today, although new technology has taken the place of Taylor’s instruction cards and stopwatches. Many warehouse workers for companies such as Amazon use handheld devices that give them step-by-step instructions on where to walk and what to pick from the shelves when they get there, all the while measuring their “pick rate” in real time. For Jeremias Prassl, a law professor at Oxford university, the algorithmic management techniques of Uber and Deliveroo are Taylorism 2.0. “Algorithms are providing a degree of control and oversight that even the most hardened Taylorists could never have dreamt of,” he says.'
algorithms  labour  work  labor  taylorism  management  silicon-valley  tech  deliveroo  uber  piece-work 
september 2016 by jm
A New Wrinkle in the Gig Economy: Workers Get Most of the Money - The New York Times
So using money from the sale of iStock to Getty, she and Mr. Livingstone set out to create Stocksy, paying photographers 50 to 75 percent of sales. That is well above the going rate of 15 to 45 percent that is typical in the stock photography field. The company also distributes 90 percent of its profit at the end of each year among its photographers.

Stocksy is part of a new wave of start-ups that are borrowing the tools of Silicon Valley to create a more genuine “sharing” economy that rewards the individuals generating the value.
stocksy  stock-photos  photos  fair  sharing  photography  work 
july 2016 by jm
I am Alex St. John’s Daughter, and He is Wrong About Women in Tech — Medium
Great, great post from Amilia St. John, responding to the offensive sexist crap spewed by her father, Alex St. John
sexism  career  tech  amilia-st-john  alex-st-john  jobs  work  feminism 
april 2016 by jm
Tim O'Reilly vs Paul Graham: fight!
'In his essay on Income Inequality, Paul Graham credited me for pre-publication feedback. Because he didn’t do much with my comments, I thought I’d publish them here.'

... 'Mostly, I think you are picking a fight with people who would mostly agree with you, and ignoring the real arguments about what inequality means and why it matters.'
inequality  silicon-valley  tech  paul-graham  tim-oreilly  piketty  politics  economics  wealth  startups  history  work  stock-options 
january 2016 by jm
How Completely Messed Up Practices Become Normal
on Normalization of Deviance, with a few anecdotes from Silicon Valley. “The gradual process through which unacceptable practice or standards become acceptable. As the deviant behavior is repeated without catastrophic results, it becomes the social norm for the organization.”
normalization-of-deviance  deviance  bugs  culture  ops  reliability  work  workplaces  processes  norms 
december 2015 by jm
re:Work - The five keys to a successful Google team
We learned that there are five key dynamics that set successful teams apart from other teams at Google:
Psychological safety: Can we take risks on this team without feeling insecure or embarrassed?
Dependability: Can we count on each other to do high quality work on time?
Structure & clarity: Are goals, roles, and execution plans on our team clear?
Meaning of work: Are we working on something that is personally important for each of us?
Impact of work: Do we fundamentally believe that the work we’re doing matters?
teams  google  culture  work  management  productivity  hr 
november 2015 by jm
Defending Your Time
great post from Ross Duggan on avoiding developer burnout
coding  burnout  productivity  work 
october 2015 by jm
Kate Heddleston: How Our Engineering Environments Are Killing Diversity
'[There are] several problem areas for [diversity in] engineering environments and ways to start fixing them. The problems we face aren't devoid of solutions; there are a lot of things that companies, teams, and individuals can do to fix problems in their work environment. For the month of March, I will be posting detailed articles about the problem areas I will cover in my talk: argument cultures, feedback, promotions, employee on-boarding, benefits, safety, engineering process, and environment adaptation.'

via Baron Schwartz.
via:xaprb  culture  tech  diversity  sexism  feminism  engineering  work  workplaces  feedback 
september 2015 by jm
3 Lessons From The Amazon Takedown - Fortune
They are: The leaders we admire aren’t always that admirable; Economic performance and costs trump employee well-being; and people participate in and rationalize their own subjugation.

'In the end, “Amazonians” are not that different from other people in their psychological dynamics. Their company is just a more extreme case of what many other organizations regularly do. And most importantly, let’s locate the problem, if there is one, and its solution where it most appropriately belongs—not with a CEO who is greatly admired (and wealthy beyond measure) running a highly admired company, but with a society where money trumps human well-being and where any price, maybe even lives, is paid for status and success.'

(via Lean)
amazon  work  work-life-balance  life  us  fortune  via:ldoody  ceos  employment  happiness 
august 2015 by jm
The Travis CI Blog: Making Travis CI a Family-Friendly Place to Work: Our Maternity and Paternity Leave for US Employees
This is excellent -- I wish more companies took this attitude. Applause for Travis CI.
after a couple of weeks of research, we made a decision to offer our expectant mothers AND fathers:

2 weeks before the due date paid at 100% (optional, but recommended);
20 weeks for normal births paid at 100%;
24 weeks for births with complications paid at 100%;
Flexible working hours after the 20/24 weeks are complete (part-time arrangements can be made);
Your job will be here for you when you return.

When we relayed this information to the two US employees, one became a little teary because her last employer (a much bigger and older company), didn't offer anything. This being her second child, it was a huge relief to know she was going to have paid time off with flexibility upon return. While it was a great reaction, it shouldn't happen this way. If you value your employees, you should value their need for time away. At the same time, if you want to hire someone, whether or not they are already pregnant should be irrelevant.


Well exceeding even the Irish maternity leave entitlements, since it covers fathers too. And this is a startup!
travisci  startups  work  life  family  kids  paternity-leave  maternity-leave 
august 2015 by jm
In Praise of the AK-47 — Dear Design Student — Medium
While someone can certainly make the case that an AK-47, or any other kind of gun or rifle is designed, nothing whose primary purpose is to take away life can be said to be designed well. And that attempting to separate an object from its function in order to appreciate it for purely aesthetic reasons, or to be impressed by its minimal elegance, is a coward’s way of justifying the death they’ve designed into the word, and the money with which they’re lining their pockets.
design  ux  ak-47  kalashnikov  guns  function  work 
july 2015 by jm
The old suburban office park is the new American ghost town - The Washington Post
Most analyses of the market indicate that office parks simply aren’t as appealing or profitable as they were in the 20th century and that Americans just aren’t as keen to cloister themselves in workspaces that are reachable only by car.
cbd  cities  work  life  office-parks  commuting  america  history  workplaces 
july 2015 by jm
Soylent, Neoliberalism and the Politics of Life Hacking - CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names
Soylent’s not purchased by the Mark Zuckerbergs or the Larry Pages or the other tech aristocrats [...] Rather, it’s been taken up by white-collar workers and students destined for perpetual toil in the digital mills. Their embrace of life hacking represents the internalisation of management practices by the managed themselves.
life-hacks  soylent  food  politics  taylorism  efficiency  capitalism  work  life 
may 2015 by jm
Everything Science Knows Right Now About Standing Desks | Co.Design
"Overall, current evidence suggests that both standing and treadmill desks may be effective in improving overall health considering both physiological and mental health components."
standing-desks  treadmill-desks  desks  exercise  health  work  workplace  back  sitting  standing 
april 2015 by jm
Working Time, Knowledge Work and Post-Industrial Society: Unpredictable Work - Aileen O'Carroll
my friend Aileen has written a book -- looks interesting:

I will argue that a key feature of working time within high-tech industries is unpredictability, which alters the way time is experienced and perceived. It affects all aspects of time, from working hours to work organisation, to career, to the distinction between work and life. Although many desire variety in work and the ability to control working hours, unpredictability causes dissatisfaction.


On Amazon.co.uk at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Working-Time-Knowledge-Post-Industrial-Society-ebook/dp/B00VILIN4U
books  reading  time  work  society  tech  working-hours  job  life  sociology 
april 2015 by jm
Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2015
wow, 52.5% of developers prefer a dark IDE theme?!
coding  jobs  work  careers  software  stack-overflow  surveys 
april 2015 by jm
Programmer IS A Career Path, Thank You
Well said -- Amazon had a good story around this btw
programming  coding  career  work  life 
february 2015 by jm
Foreign Founders Should Look Beyond Silicon Valley | TechCrunch
'Reasons abound for international entrepreneurs and top technical talent to stay away from Silicon Valley and build their startup somewhere else.'

Strongly agreed. This factoid is particularly nuts:

'As Balaji Srinivasan of a16z has observed, roughly 50%+ of the capital allocated for early stage tech investments is actually flowing into Bay Area real estate, directly through office rentals and indirectly via home rentals as a primary driver of skyrocketing salaries.'
salary  bay-area  silicon-valley  usa  tech  jobs  work  real-estate  rent  startups  techcrunch 
january 2015 by jm
Misogyny in the Valley
The young women interns [in one story in this post] worked in a very different way. As I explored their notes, I noticed that ideas were expanded upon, not abandoned. Challenges were identified, but the male language so often heard in Silicon Valley conference rooms - “Well, let me tell you what the problem with that idea is….” - was not in the room.  These young women, without men to define the “appropriate business behavior,” used different behaviors and came up with a startling and valuable solution. They showed many of the values that exist outside of dominance-based leadership: strategic thinking, intuition, nurturing and relationship building, values-based decision-making and acceptance of other’s input.

Women need space to be themselves at work. Until people who have created their success by worshipping at the temple of male behavior, like Sheryl Sandberg, learn to value alternate behaviors, the working world will remain a foreign and hostile culture to women. And if we do not continuously work to build corporate cultures where there is room for other behaviors, women will be cast from or abandoned in a world not of our making, where we continuously “just do not fit in,” but where we still must go to earn our livings.
sexism  misogyny  silicon-valley  tech  work  sheryl-sandberg  business  collaboration 
january 2015 by jm
Avleen Vig on distributed engineering teams
This is a really excellent post on the topic, rebutting Paul Graham's Bay-Area-centric thoughts on the topic very effectively. I've worked in both distributed and non-distributed, as well as effective and ineffective teams ;), and Avleen's thoughts are very much on target.
I've been involved in the New York start up scene since I joined Etsy in 2010. Since that time, I've seen more and more companies there embrace having distributed teams. Two companies I know which have risen to the top while doing this have been Etsy and DigitalOcean. Both have exceptional engineering teams working on high profile products used by many, many people around the world. There are certainly others outside New York, including Automattic, GitHub, Chef Inc, Puppet... the list goes on.

So how did this happen? And why do people continue to insist that distributed teams lower performance, and are a bad idea?

Partly because we've done a poor job of showing our industry how to be successful at it, and partly because it's hard. Having successful distributed teams requires special skills from management, which arent't easily learned until you have to manage a distributed team. Catch 22.
business  culture  management  communication  work  distributed-teams  avleen-vig  engineering 
january 2015 by jm
The open-office trend is destroying the workplace
Wow, where has this person been for the past 20 years that they haven't had to encounter this? I can only imagine having a private office, tbh.
my personal performance at work has hit an all-time low. Each day, my associates and I are seated at a table staring at each other, having an ongoing 12-person conversation from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  It’s like being in middle school with a bunch of adults. Those who have worked in private offices for decades have proven to be the most vociferous and rowdy. They haven’t had to consider how their loud habits affect others, so they shout ideas at each other across the table and rehash jokes of yore. As a result, I can only work effectively during times when no one else is around, or if I isolate myself in one of the small, constantly sought-after, glass-windowed meeting rooms around the perimeter.
business  office  productivity  work  desks  open-plan 
january 2015 by jm
How Paul Graham Is Wrong
If 95% of great programmers aren’t in the US, and an even higher percentage not in the Bay Area, set up your company to take advantage of that fact as a strength, not a weakness. Use WordPress and P2, use Slack, use G+ Hangouts, use Skype, use any of the amazing technology that allows us to collaborate as effectively online as previous generations of company did offline. Let people live someplace remarkable instead of paying $2,800 a month for a mediocre one bedroom rental in San Francisco. Or don’t, and let companies like Automattic and Github hire the best and brightest and let them live and work wherever they like.
business  remote-work  economics  silicon-valley  bay-area  vcs  matt-mullenweg  automattic  work 
december 2014 by jm
Dan McKinley :: Thoughts on the Technical Track
Ouch. I think Amazon did a better job of the Technical Track concept than this, at least
engineering  management  technical-track  principal-engineer  career  work 
december 2014 by jm
Tech’s Meritocracy Problem — Medium
Meritocracy is a myth. And our belief in it is holding back the tech industry from getting better.
culture  hiring  diversity  meritocracy  tech  software  jobs  work  misogyny 
october 2014 by jm
Ex-Apple managers reveal Cupertino’s killer workload
a “firehose of emails that are just going out at 2:45 in the morning” and “if you forwarded something to one of your people at 1 o’clock in the morning and they didn’t reply promptly, you got a little annoyed at them.”


Fuck. That.
apple  workplaces  work  time-life-balance  downtime  insane  sick  1am  management  corporate-culture 
october 2014 by jm
Painless, effective peer reviews
This sounds like a nice way to do effective peer-driven team reviews without herculean effort, which were one of the most effective reviewing techniques (along with upwards reviewing of management) I encountered at Amazon. (Yes, the Amazon approach was very time-consuming and universally loathed.)

The potential downside I can see is that it doesn't give the reviewer enough time to revise any review comments they have second thoughts about, whereas written reviews do, but that would be an easy fix at the end of the process. Also, it's worth noting that in most cases, a good review requires a bit of time to marshal thoughts and come up with a coherent review of a peer, so this doesn't completely avoid the impact on effort. Still, a definite improvement I would say.
hr  management  reviews  performance  peer-driven-review  360-reviews  staff  peers  work  teams  amazon 
august 2014 by jm
Brave Men Take Paternity Leave - Gretchen Gavett - Harvard Business Review
The use of paternity leave has a "snowball effect":
In the end, Dahl says, “coworkers and brothers who were linked to a father who had his child immediately after the [Norwegian paid paternity leave] reform — versus immediately before the reform — were 3.5% and 4.7% more likely, respectively, to take parental leave.” But when a coworker actually takes parental leave, “the next coworker to have a child at his workplace is 11% more likely to take paternity leave.” Slightly more pronounced, the next brother to have a child is 15% more likely to take time off. And while any male coworker taking leave can reduce stigma, the effect of a manager doing so is more profound. Specifically, “the estimated peer effect is over two and a half times larger if the peer father is predicted to be a manager in the firm as opposed to a regular coworker.”
paternity-leave  parenting  leave  work  norway  research 
july 2014 by jm
Startup equity gotcha
'Two months ago, an early Uber employee thought that he had found a buyer for his vested stock, at $200 per share. But when his agent tried to seal the deal, Uber refused to sign off on the transfer. Instead, it offered to buy back the shares for around $135 a piece, which is within the same price range that Google Ventures and TPG Capital had paid to invest in Uber the previous July. Take it or hold it.'

As rbranson on Twitter put it: 'reminder that startup equity is basically worthless unless you're a founder or investor, OR the company goes public.'
startups  uber  stock  stock-options  shares  share-option  equity  via:rbranson  work 
june 2014 by jm
Here’s Why You’re Not Hiring the Best and the Brightest
Jeff Atwood's persuasive argument that remote working needs to be the norm in tech work:
There’s an elephant in the room in the form of an implied clause: Always hire the best people… who are willing to live in San Francisco. Substitute Mountain View, New York, Boston, Chicago, or any other city. The problem is the same. We pay lip service to the idea of hiring the best people in the world — but in reality, we’re only hiring the best people who happen to be close by.
recruiting  remote  hiring  business  coding  work  remote-work  telecommuting  jobs  silicon-valley  jeff-atwood 
april 2014 by jm
Sacked Google worker says staff ratings fixed to fit template
Allegations of fixing to fit the stack-ranking curve: 'someone at Google always had to get a low score “of 2.9”, so the unit could match the bell curve. She said senior staff “calibrated” the ratings supplied by line managers to ensure conformity with the template and these calibrations could reduce a line manager’s assessment of an employee, in effect giving them the poisoned score of less than three.'
stack-ranking  google  ireland  employment  work  bell-curve  statistics  eric-schmidt 
march 2014 by jm
Making Remote Work Work
very good, workable tips on how to remote-work effectively (both in the comments of this thread and the original article)
tips  productivity  collaboration  hn  via:lhl  remote-working  telecommuting  work 
february 2014 by jm
Girls and Software
a pretty thought-provoking article from Linux Journal on women in computing, and how we're doing it all wrong
feminism  community  programming  coding  women  computing  software  society  work  linux-journal  children  teaching 
february 2014 by jm
Register article on Amazon's attitude to open source
This article is frequently on target; this secrecy (both around open source and publishing papers) was one of the reasons I left Amazon.
Of the sources with whom we spoke, many indicated that Amazon's lack of participation was a key reason for why people left the company – or never joined at all. This is why Amazon's strategy of maintaining secrecy may derail the e-retailer's future if it struggles to hire the best talent. [...]

"In many cases in the big companies and all the small startups, your Github profile is your resume," explained another former Amazonian. "When I look at developers that's what I'm looking for, [but] they go to Amazon and that resume stops ... It absolutely affects the quality of their hires." "You had no portfolio you could share with the world," said another insider on life after working at Amazon. "The argument this was necessary to attract talent and to retain talent completely fell on deaf ears."
amazon  recruitment  secrecy  open-source  hiring  work  research  conferences 
january 2014 by jm
Paul Graham and the Manic Pixie Dream Hacker
Under Graham’s influence, Mark [Zuckerberg], like many in Silicon Valley, subscribes to the Manic Pixie Dream Hacker ideal, making self-started teenage hackers Facebook’s most desired recruiting targets, not even so much for their coding ability as their ability to serve as the faces of hacking culture. “Culture fit”, in this sense, is one’s ability to conform to the Valley’s boyish hacker fantasy, which is easier, obviously, the closer you are to a teenage boy.

Like the Manic Pixie Dream Girl’s role of existing to serve the male film protagonist’s personal growth, the Manic Pixie Dream Hacker’s job is to embody the dream hacker role while growing the VC’s portfolio. This is why the dream hacker never ages, never visibly develops interests beyond hardware and code, and doesn’t question why nearly all the other people receiving funding look like him. Like the actress playing the pixie dream girl, the pixie dream boy isn’t being paid to question the role for which he has been cast.

In this way, for all his supposed “disruptiveness”, the hacker pixie actually does exactly what he is told: to embody, while he can, the ideal hacker, until he is no longer young, mono-focused, and boyish-seeming enough to qualify for the role (at that point, vested equity may allow him to retire). And like in Hollywood, VCs will have already recruited newer, younger ones to play him.
hackers  manic-pixie-dream-girl  culture-fit  silicon-valley  mark-zuckerberg  paul-graham  y-combinator  vc  work  investment  technology  recruitment  facebook  ageism  equality  sexism 
january 2014 by jm
AMAZORK - by Zachary Mason
> reorg

Ok, you reorganize all zero of your direct reports. Way to stay out of trouble, Hoss.

Perhaps you'd like to coin an acronym?
amazon  amazork  via:jrauser  sev2s  reorgs  work  zachary-mason  games  interactive-fiction  zork  text-adventures 
december 2013 by jm
Why GitHub is not your CV
There is really astonishingly little value in looking at someone’s GitHub projects out of context. For a start, GitHub has no way of customising your profile page, and what is shown by default is the projects with the most stars, and the projects you’ve recently pushed to. That is, GitHub picks your most popular repos and puts those at the top. You have no say about what you consider important, or worthwhile, or interesting, or well-engineered, or valuable. You just get what other people think is useful. Aside from which, GitHub displays a lot of useless stats about how many followers you have, and some completely psychologically manipulative stats about how often you commit and how many days it is since you had a day off.

So really, your GitHub profile displays two things: how ‘influential’ you are, and how easily you can be coerced into constantly working. It’s honestly about as relevant to a decent hiring decision as your Klout score.
cv  github  open-source  hiring  career  meritocracy  work  via:apyhr 
november 2013 by jm
Why Every Company Needs A DevOps Team Now - Feld Thoughts
Bookmarking particularly for the 3 "favourite DevOps patterns":

"Make sure we have environments available early in the Development process"; enforce a policy that the code and environment are tested together, even at the earliest stages of the project; “Wake up developers up at 2 a.m. when they break things"; and "Create reusable deployment procedures".
devops  work  ops  deployment  testing  pager-duty 
november 2013 by jm
New faculty positions versus new PhDs
The ever-plummeting chances of a PhD finding a faculty job:
Since 1982, almost 800,000 PhDs were awarded in science and engineering fields, whereas only about 100,000 academic faculty positions were created in those fields within the same time frame. The number of S&E PhDs awarded annually has also increased over this time frame, from ~19,000 in 1982 to ~36,000 in 2011. The number of faculty positions created each year, however, has not changed, with roughly 3,000 new positions created annually.


(via Javier Omar Garcia)
via:javier  career  academia  phd  science  work  study  research 
october 2013 by jm
To solve hard problems, you need to use bricolage
In a talk about a neat software component he designed, Bruce Haddon observed that there is no way that the final structure and algorithmic behavior of this component could have been predicted, designed, or otherwise anticipated.
Haddon observed that computer science serves as a source of core ideas: it provides the data structures and algorithms that are the building blocks. Meanwhile, he views software engineering as a useful set of methods to help design reliable software without losing your mind. Yet he points out that neither captures the whole experience.

That’s because much of the work is what Haddon calls hacking, but what others would call bricolage. Simply put, there is much trial and error: we put ideas to together and see where it goes.


This is a great post, and I agree (broadly). IMO, most software engineering requires little CS, but there are occasional moments where a single significant aspect of a project requires a particular algorithm, and would be kludgy, hacky, or over-complex to solve without it.
bricolage  hacking  cs  computer-science  work  algorithms 
september 2013 by jm
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer retires: A firsthand account of the company’s employee-ranking system
LOL MS. Sadly, this talk of "core competencies" and "visibility" is pretty reminiscent of Amazon's review season, too:
This illustrated another problem with [stack ranking]: It destroyed trust between individual contributors and management, because the stack rank required that all lower-level managers systematically lie to their reports. Why? Because for years Microsoft did not admit the existence of the stack rank to nonmanagers. Knowledge of the process gradually leaked out, becoming a recurrent complaint on the much-loathed (by Microsoft) Mini-Microsoft blog, where a high-up Microsoft manager bitterly complained about organizational dysfunction and was joined in by a chorus of hundreds of employees. The stack rank finally made it into a Vanity Fair article in 2012, but for many years it was not common knowledge, inside or outside Microsoft. It was presented to the individual contributors as a system of objective assessment of “core competencies,” with each person being judged in isolation.
When review time came, and programmers would fill out a short self-assessment talking about their achievements, strengths, and weaknesses, only some of them knew that their ratings had been more or less already foreordained at the stack rank. [...] If you did know about the stack rank, you weren’t supposed to admit it. So you went through the pageantry of the performance review anyway, arguing with your manager in the rhetoric of “core competencies.” The managers would respond in kind. Since the managers had little control over the actual score and attendant bonus and raise (if any), their job was to write a review to justify the stack rank in the language of absolute merit. (“Higher visibility” was always a good catch-all: Sure, you may be a great coder and work 80 hours a week, but not enough people have heard of you!)
amazon  stack-ranking  employees  ranking  work  microsoft  core-competencies 
august 2013 by jm
Casalattico - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
How wierd. Many of the well-known chippers in Ireland are run by families from the same comune in Italy.
In the late 19th and early 20th century a significant number of young people left Casalattico to work in Ireland, with many founding chip shops there. Most second, third and fourth generation Irish-Italians can trace their lineage back to the municipality, with names such as Magliocco, Fusco, Marconi, Borza, Macari, Rosato and Forte being the most common. Although the Forte family actually originates from the village of Mortale, renamed Mon Forte due to the achievements of the Forte family. It is believed that up to 8,000 Irish-Italians have ancestors from Casalattico. The village is home to an Irish festival every summer to celebrate the many families that moved from there to Ireland.


(via JK)
rome  lazio  italy  ireland  chip-shops  chippers  history  emigration  casalattico  work  irish-italians  via:jk 
may 2013 by jm
Operations is Dead, but Please Don’t Replace it with DevOps
This is so damn spot on.
Functional silos (and a standalone DevOps team is a great example of one) decouple actions from responsibility. Functional silos allow people to ignore, or at least feel disconnected from, the consequences of their actions. DevOps is a cultural change that encourages, rewards and exposes people taking responsibility for what they do, and what is expected from them. As Werner Vogels from Amazon Web Services says, “you build it, you run it”. So a “DevOps team” is a risky and ultimately doomed strategy. Sure there are some technical roles, specifically related to the enablement of DevOps as an approach and these roles and tools need to be filled and built. Self service platforms, collaboration and communication systems, tool chains for testing, deployment and operations are all necessary. Sure someone needs to deliver on that stuff. But those are specific technical deliverables and not DevOps. DevOps is about people, communication and collaboration. Organizations ignore that at their peril.
devops  teams  work  ops  silos  collaboration  organisations 
may 2013 by jm
Older Is Wiser: Study Shows Software Developers’ Skills Improve Over Time
At least in terms of StackOverflow rep:
For the first part of the study, the researchers compared the age of users with their reputation scores. They found that an individual’s reputation increases with age, at least into a user’s 40s. There wasn’t enough data to draw meaningful conclusions for older programmers. The researchers then looked at the number of different subjects that users asked and answered questions about, which reflects the breadth of their programming interests. The researchers found that there is a sharp decline in the number of subjects users weighed in on between the ages of 15 and 30 – but that the range of subjects increased steadily through the programmers’ 30s and into their early 50s.

Finally, the researchers evaluated the knowledge of older programmers (ages 37 and older) compared to younger programmers (younger than 37) in regard to relatively recent technologies – meaning technologies that have been around for less than 10 years. For two smartphone operating systems, iOS and Windows Phone 7, the veteran programmers had a significant edge in knowledge over their younger counterparts. For every other technology, from Django to Silverlight, there was no statistically significant difference between older and younger programmers. “The data doesn’t support the bias against older programmers – if anything, just the opposite,” Murphy-Hill says.


Damn right ;)
coding  age  studies  software  work  stack-overflow  ncsu  knowledge  skills  life 
april 2013 by jm
How Kaggle Is Changing How We Work - Thomas Goetz - The Atlantic

Founded in 2010, Kaggle is an online platform for data-mining and predictive-modeling competitions. A company arranges with Kaggle to post a dump of data with a proposed problem, and the site's community of computer scientists and mathematicians -- known these days as data scientists -- take on the task, posting proposed solutions.

[...] On one level, of course, Kaggle is just another spin on crowdsourcing, tapping the global brain to solve a big problem. That stuff has been around for a decade or more, at least back to Wikipedia (or farther back, Linux, etc). And companies like TaskRabbit and oDesk have thrown jobs to the crowd for several years. But I think Kaggle, and other online labor markets, represent more than that, and I'll offer two arguments. First, Kaggle doesn't incorporate work from all levels of proficiency, professionals to amateurs. Participants are experts, and they aren't working for benevolent reasons alone: they want to win, and they want to get better to improve their chances of winning next time. Second, Kaggle doesn't just create the incidental work product, it creates a new marketplace for work, a deeper disruption in a professional field. Unlike traditional temp labor, these aren't bottom of the totem pole jobs. Kagglers are on top. And that disruption is what will kill Joy's Law.

Because here's the thing: the Kaggle ranking has become an essential metric in the world of data science. Employers like American Express and the New York Times have begun listing a Kaggle rank as an essential qualification in their help wanted ads for data scientists. It's not just a merit badge for the coders; it's a more significant, more valuable, indicator of capability than our traditional benchmarks for proficiency or expertise. In other words, your Ivy League diploma and IBM resume don't matter so much as my Kaggle score. It's flipping the resume, where your work is measurable and metricized and your value in the marketplace is more valuable than the place you work.
academia  datamining  economics  data  kaggle  data-science  ranking  work  competition  crowdsourcing  contracting 
april 2013 by jm
12 DevOps anti-patterns
my favourite:

3. Rebrand your ops/dev/any team as the DevOps team

CIO: “I want to embrace DevOps over the coming year.”

MGR: “Already done, we changed the department signage this morning. We are so awesome we now have 2 DevOps teams.”

Yeah great. And I bet you now have lots of “DevOps” engineers walking round too. If you’re lucky they may sit next to each other at lunch.
devops  ops  dev  company  culture  work  antipatterns  engineering 
april 2013 by jm
the real reason Marissa Mayer canned remote Y! employees (apparently)
After spending months frustrated at how empty Yahoo parking lots were, Mayer consulted Yahoo's VPN logs to see if remote employees were checking in enough. Mayer discovered they were not — and her decision was made.

we're hearing from people close to Yahoo executives and employees that she made the right decision banning work from home. "The employees at Yahoo are thrilled," says one source close to the company. "There isn't massive uprising. The truth is, they've all been pissed off that people haven't been working."
yahoo  work  remote-work  teleworking  slacking  marissa-mayer  funny 
march 2013 by jm
OscarGodson.js | What I Learned At Yammer
some pretty interesting lessons, it turns out: a 'take what you need' vacation policy means nobody takes vacations (unsurprising); Yammer actively work to avoid employee burnout (good idea); Yammer A/B test every feature; and Yammer mgmt try to let their devs work autonomously.
yammer  startups  testing  analytics  culture  work 
march 2013 by jm
IBM insider: How I caught my wife while bug-hunting on OS/2 • The Register
Wow, working for IBM in the 80's was truly shitty.

'IBM HR came up with a plan that summed up the department's view of tech staff: a dinner dance. In Southsea. For our non-British readers this is not a glamorous location.

As a scumbag contractor I wasn’t invited, but since I was dating one of the seven women on the project, I went anyway and was impressed by the way IBM had tried so very hard to make the inside of a municipal leisure centre look like Hawaii. This is so crap that the integrity checks I’ve installed to watch myself for incipient senility keep flagging it as a false memory.

The only way I can force myself to believe the idea that the richest corporation on the planet behaved that way is that the girl who took me is now a reassuringly expensive lawyer who was kind enough to marry me and so we have photographic evidence.

(I wish to make it clear that I’m not saying IBM had the worst HR of any firm in the world, merely that my 28 years in technology and banking have never exposed a worse one to me.)'


And indeed, so were MS:

'We, on the other hand, were regarded as hopelessly bureaucratic. After Microsoft lost the source code for the actual build of OS/2 we shipped, I reported a bug triggered when you double-clicked on Chkdsk twice: the program would fire up twice and both would try to fix the disk at the same time, causing corruption. I noted that this “may not be consistent with the user's goals as he sees them at this time”. This was labelled a user error, and some guy called Ballmer questioned why I had this “obsession” with perfect code.'


(thanks, Conor!)
via:conor-delaney  os2  ibm  microsoft  work  1980s  pc  uk  steve-ballmer 
november 2012 by jm
On Being A Senior Engineer
Encyclopedic post from John Allspaw (of Etsy) on the topic, with an "Obligatory [List Of] Pithy Characteristics"
senior  engineering  career  tech  coding  work 
october 2012 by jm
Don’t waste your time in crappy startup jobs
7 reasons why working for a startup sucks. Been there, done that -- I wish I'd read this years ago. It should be permalinked at the top of Hacker News.

"In 1995, a lot of talented young people went into large corporations because they saw no other option in the private sector– when, in fact, there were credible alternatives, startups being a great option. In 2012, a lot of young talent is going into startups for the same reason: a belief that it’s the only legitimate work opportunity for top talent, and that their careers are likely to stagnate if they work in more established businesses. They’re wrong, I think, and this mistaken belief allows them to be taken advantage of.

The typical equity offer for a software engineer is dismally short of what he’s giving up in terms of reduced salary, and the career path offered by startups is not always what it’s made out to be. For all this, I don’t intend to argue that people shouldn’t join startups. If the offer’s good, and the job looks interesting, it’s worth trying out. I just don’t think that the current, unconditional “startups are awesome!” mentality serves us well. It’s not good for any of us, because there’s no tyrant worse than a peer selling himself short, and right now there are a lot of great people selling themselves very short for a shot at the “startup experience” -- whatever that is."
startups  work  job  life  career  tech  vc  companies  pay  stock  share-options 
july 2012 by jm
Many Niches » Blog Archive » On Working At Amazon
(catching up on old posts) good article from a recent hire, discussing some unusual aspects of the corporate culture
amazon  culture  work 
june 2012 by jm
Bog Body: Committing to Open Source
Oisin Hurley on viable strategies for a commercial software company to handle participation in open source. Shame I've never found anywhere to viably put these into action, but they sound accurate
open-source  oisin-hurley  oss  corporate  work 
august 2011 by jm
LRB · James Meek · In the Sorting Office
'The postwoman is paid a pittance to deliver corporate mail. She hasn’t done her job well, yet so few people have complained about missed deliveries that she hasn’t been found out. Across the world, postal services are being altered like this: optimised to deliver the maximum amount of unwanted mail at the minimum cost to businesses. In the internet age private citizens are sending less mail than they used to, but that’s only part of the story of postal decline. The price of driving down the cost of bulk mailing for a handful of big organisations is being paid for by the replacement of decently paid postmen with casual labour and the erosion of daily deliveries.' (via Tony Finch)
via:fanf  post  mail  postal-service  holland  dutch  postmen  work  jobs  business  politics  lrb 
april 2011 by jm
Dylan Collins asks: has Ireland peaked as an Internet hub?
based on Twitter's surprise move passing over Dublin for London, and how to fix it: "launch the Internet Visa, an aggressive program that allows all Irish Internet companies to recruit from anywhere in the world. Reduce the red tape (combine all permit and visa documentation), guarantee a turnaround time measured in days (a small number) and avoid all the mistakes the UK has made with its Startup Visa initiative. Bring the talent from everywhere outside the EU to Ireland. Ireland doesn’t scale organically. So it needs to in-source. We need to be honest about our shortcomings and tackle them with something which will make HR Directors smile. Imagine a country with all the existing advantages of Ireland plus the ability to hire anyone in the world you wanted. Who in their right mind wouldn’t establish their European base there?" He's dead right, this is a massive problem for the Irish tech industry right now
ireland  bureaucracy  red-tape  twitter  tech  business  visas  work  government  dylan-collins 
april 2011 by jm
CareerZoo
jobs fair this weekend in Dublin, in The Mansion House -- if you're interested in talking to someone about working for Amazon, come along! (plug plug)
amazon  work  dublin  hiring  careers  jobs  from delicious
january 2011 by jm
Rules of SCRAM
'GOATS just stand around during this phase and stare at each other, rolling their eyes frequently at howlers (such as using serialization to SOAP for storage, or databases as RPC mechanisms). It is often useful for GOATS — or anybody, really — to take notes for the monthly BACKSTABBING drill.'
funny  scrum  software  project-management  coding  work  from delicious
january 2011 by jm
Skills shortage a major worry - Sunday Business Post
true -- very difficult to hire good staff in Ireland right now
hiring  ireland  software  jobs  work  from delicious
november 2010 by jm
The Scale-Out Blog: Building the Open Source Hackers Cooperative
'I work for a for-profit company that is willing to sponsor projects in exactly the way described in this article. We are looking for (a) control, (b) stability, and (c) a development model that is cheaper than doing it ourselves. If such cooperatives existed we would be interested in them. I'm sure we are not alone, because this is how all for-profit businesses tend to think. The cooperative is a viable model because of the way it reinforces and maximizes member interests.'
open-source  cooperatives  work  job  free  libre  co-ops 
august 2009 by jm

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