It’s not crazy to imagine that some people are better at one activity than another. There might even be a gulf between people who are good at each of the two skills. Thom Hartmann has written extensively on this. He points out that medicating kids who might be better at hunting so that they can sit quietly in a school designed to teach farming doesn’t make a lot of sense.
A kid who has innate hunting skills is easily distracted, because noticing small movements in the brush is exactly what you’d need to do if you were hunting. Scan and scan and pounce. That same kid is able to drop everything and focus like a laser—for a while—if it’s urgent. The farming kid, on the other hand, is particularly good at tilling the fields of endless homework problems, each a bit like the other. Just don’t ask him to change gears instantly…
The woman who reads each issue of Vogue, hurrying through the pages then clicking over to Zappos to overnight order the latest styles—she’s hunting. Contrast this to the CTO who spends six months issuing RFPs to buy a PBX that was last updated three years ago… she’s farming.
February 2010 Archives
David Whyte—a brilliant poet who, among others things, speaks to and consults with large corporations, describes well an aspect of why the burden is so keenly felt:
There is an ancient Chinese story of an old master potter who attempted to develop a new glaze for his porcelain vases. It became the central focus of his life. Everyday he tended the flames of his kilns to a white heat, controlling the temperature to an exact degree. Every day he experimented with the chemistry of the glazes he applied, but still he could not achieve the beauty he desired and imagined was possible in a glaze. Finally, having tried everything he decided his meaningful life was over and walked into the molten heat of the fully fired kiln. When his assistants opened up the kiln and took out the vases, they found the glaze on the vases the most exquisite they had ever encountered. The master himself had disappeared into his creations.
How many of us create companies, create products where our blood and bone fuse with the glaze to create something so exquisite as to never have existed before? How romantically seductive is the image of giving one’s all to the fire? After all, as Whyte says:
Work is the very fire where we are baked to perfection, and like the master of the fire itself, we add the essential ingredient and fulfillment when we walk into the flames ourselves and fuel the transformation of ordinary, everyday forms into the exquisite and the rare.
I have to understand this viscerally if I’m going to be of service to my clients. But I have to be mindful, too, of the cost. In disappearing into the kiln, the potter created the most meaningful thing possible. But in the end, he ceased to exist.
You cannot use DHCP as a security mechanism. If a DHCP client elects not to follow the protocol, a network administrator can do little, other than to track down the offending device and shut it off. A malicious user who wants to access the network can always simply make up an IP address, send an ARP request for it, and then, if it does not get an answer, use the fabricated address. Access control based on client identification can be very convenient, but it does not prevent unauthorized access to a network. [Droms and Lemon, 2002, p. 16]
Droms, Ralph Ph. D. & Lemon, Ted (2002), The DHCP Handbook, Second Edition, Indianapolis: Sams Publishing.
IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
Title style means that you capitalize every word except:
Articles (a, an, the)
Coordinating conjunctions (and, or)
Prepositions of four or fewer letters, except when the preposition is part of a verb phrase, as in “Starting Up the Computer.”
In title style, always capitalize the first and last word, even if it is an article, a conjunction, or a preposition of four or fewer letters.
If caveman A is strong, swift, and accurate with a spear, and caveman B is weak and slow, but patient, this distribution of talent can be most efficiently used if A hunts and B fishes.
McConnell, Campbell R. and Brue, Stanley L. Microeconomics. 13th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1996.
It is unwise to stray far from the obvious and simple, lest untoward effects result elsewhere.
The lizard brain adores a deadline that slips, an item that doesn’t ship and most of all, busywork.
These represent safety, because if you don’t challenge the status quo, you can’t be made fun of, can’t fail, can’t be laughed at. And so the resistance looks for ways to appear busy while not actually doing anything…
Laziness in a white collar job has nothing to do with avoiding hard physical labor. “Who wants to help me move this box!” Instead, it has to do with avoiding difficult (and apparently risky) intellectual labor.
I remember once hearing a radio program about how recipes are passed on from one generation to the next, in this case, from grandmother to mother to daughter.
The daughter was talking about the pot roast she always made, beginning with the instructions: “Cut the ends off your piece of meat.” Asked why she did this, she said, “Because my mother always did.” The next interview was with her mother, who explained why she followed this seemingly important initial step: it was how she had seen her mother do it.
When the radio host asked the grandmother why it was necessary to cut the ends off the joint of meat before making a pot roast, she said, “Oh, it was because I didn’t have a pot big enough.”
So we credit recipes with much more authority than they necessarily deserve. It might be better to regard them really as more of an account of a way of cooking a dish rather than a do-this-or-die barrage of instructions.
It is important to understand that there are two different kind of single-sign-on solutions: delegated and federated. All the recent comparisons between OpenID and Facebook Connect failed to appreciate this fundamental difference. Facebook Connect is a delegated authentication service, while OpenID is a federated authentication service. They might offer very similar features, but they are very different.
A delegated solution means that one site is simply outsourcing its authentication needs to another pre-selected site. If your site uses Facebook Connect, you are delegating your authentication facilities to Facebook. Visitors to your site cannot use any other accounts, only accounts from the vendors you have pre-selected.
A federated solution means that visitors to your site can use any account they have, as long as it is compatible. It makes no difference to the site which account is being used, as long as it can interoperate. At its core, OpenID is a federated solution because its most important feature is the ability to use any OpenID account with any OpenID-enabled service.
You really can’t force creativity to happen. There are ways to encourage it and a process is there to help direct it, but in the end it has to just happen. So while a project may only take an hour at a desk, I can assure you more time was spent thinking about it.
The Real Work is not formatting the margins, installing the printer driver, uploading the document, finishing the PowerPoint slides, running the software update or reinstalling the OS.
The Real Work is teaching the child, healing the patient, selling the house, logging the road defects, fixing the car at the roadside, capturing the table’s order, designing the house and organising the party.
Think of the millions of hours of human effort spent on preventing and recovering from the problems caused by completely open computer systems. Think of the lengths that people have gone to in order to acquire skills that are orthogonal to their core interests and their job, just so they can get their job done.
(Via iPhone Development.)
I’m sure somebody has told you all this before, but let me point it out again: it’s not always about you. Products can be successful even if they aren’t right for you… I’m a techie, but I don’t need to be able to program on every electronic device I own. I don’t hate my dishwasher because I can’t get to the command line. I don’t hate my DVD player because it runs a proprietary operating system.
(Via Alan Quatermain.)
When I learned to drive, my dad insisted that I learn on a manual transmission so I would be able to drive any car. I think this was a wise and valuable thing to do.
But even having learned it, these days I drive an automatic. Nothing is black and white — I sacrifice maybe a tiny amount of fuel efficiency and a certain amount of control over my car in adverse situations that I generally never encounter. In exchange, my brain is freed up to focus on the the road ahead, getting where I’m going, and avoiding obstacles (strategy), not the minutiae of choosing the best possible gear ratio (tactics).
Is a stick shift better than an automatic? No. Is an automatic better than a stick? No. This misses the point. A better question: Is a road full of drivers not distracted by the arcane inner workings of their vehicle safer? It’s likely. And that has a value. Possibly a value that outweighs the value offered by a stick shift if we aggregate it across everyone in the world who drives.
Staying with floppies would have spared us the inconvenience of that transition but at what long-term cost?
Nothing is ever simply black or white. There was a cost to making the transition. But there was a benefit to doing so.
To change was not all good. To stay put was not all bad. But there was a ratio of goodness-to-badness that, in the long run, was quite favorable for everyone involved. However in the short term it seemed so insurmountable, so ludicrous, that it beggared the belief of a large number of otherwise very intelligent people.
For a species so famous for being adaptable to its environment, we certainly abhor change. Especially a change that involves any amount of money being spent.
Fact is, I liked neither Holden nor the book. One can recognize the book has a certain literary merit without needing to like the thing, of course. But it’s more to the point to say that Holden has a certain fundamental passivity that I dislike — the desire for people and things to be different without the accompanying acceptance of personal responsibility to effect those changes. To go back to Heinlein and his juvy novels, his teenage characters are not very big on internal lives, but they’re also the sort who go out, do things, fail, do things again, and eventually get it right. Holden merely wishes, ultimately a man of inaction. He’s a failure — a particularly attractive failure if you’re of a certain age and disposition, admittedly, but a failure nonetheless. I remember reading the book as a teen and being irritated with Holden for that reason; I couldn’t see why he required any sympathy from me, or why I should empathize with him.
I always liked Heinlein’s characters and could never really relate to Catcher in the Rye. It never occurred to my to analyze why, but I think John nails it here.
I have always thought Hans Christian Andersen should have written a companion piece to the Emperor’s New Clothes, in which everyone points at the Emperor shouting, in a Nelson from the Simpson’s voice, “Ha ha! He’s naked.” And then a lone child pipes up, “No. He’s actually wearing a really fine suit of clothes.” And they all clap hands to their foreheads as they realise they have been duped into something worse than the confidence trick, they have fallen for what E. M. Forster called the lack of confidence trick1. How much easier it is to distrust, to doubt, to fold the arms and say “Not impressed”.
(Via Daring Fireball.)
“You remember how he would trust strangers, and if they fooled him he would say, ‘It’s better to be fooled than to be suspicious’—that the confidence trick is the work of man, but the want-of-confidence trick is the work of the devil.”
Reasons for failure on a… project are legion.
At the end of the development cycle, you end up with [a system] that is a pale shadow of the shining, glorious monument to… engineering that you envisioned when you started.
It’s tempting, at this point, to throw in the towel — to add more time to the schedule so you can get it right before shipping… Because, after all, real developers ship.
I’m here to tell you that this is a mistake.
Yes, you did a ton of things wrong on this project. But you also did a ton of things wrong that you don’t know about yet. And there’s no other way to find out what those things are until you ship this version and get it in front of users and customers.
We can sit here in our geeky little dorkosphere arguing about it all day, but as much as Apple clearly enjoys our participation, the people Jobs wants to sell this to don’t read our rants. They can’t even understand them. My step-mother refuses to touch computers, but nowadays checks email, reads newspapers and plays Solitaire on an iPod Touch, after basically picking it up by accident one day. That’s a future iPad user if I ever saw one.