Archive for Tech

TMI Overload?

TMI is Too Much Information, for those of you who have not yet jumped on the information super highway. And that little piece of information is over in the breakdown lane. Watch this for sense of what we are facing. and be reminded that since this video is a year old, this information is even truer today.

Problem is not all the information is even information and most of the information is irrelevant or redundant. So how to find what you really need? I don’t actually have the answers, I am curious though. What are your ideas? What do you use to filter the information overload? Let me know.


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Remembering Ada – Women in Technology


March 24th is remembered by some as Ada Lovelace day. For those of you who have no idea who Ada Lovelace is, let us get acquainted. Ada Lovelace was the first child of famous poet Lord Byron and as he was disappointed in her gender and took no real interest in her, her mother took to schooling her in mathematics and science to prove her worth to both her father and society. Born in 1815 to high society where women were not expected to have a career or even a higher education, Ada was something of an anomaly. It is said that her mother exposed Ada to mathematics and science to root out the madness that Lord Byron was purported to show. Lord Byron clearly given to whatever proclivity overcame him and famous for many affairs and improper sexual relationships of the day, was not necessarily mad, but one can see why his wife might claim him to be.

But why a day to remember the scorned child of a famous author? Because Ada was famous in her own right and many say 150 years ahead of her time. Ada befriended inventor, philosopher and mechanical engineer Charles Babbage. Charles Babbage conceived of a machine to help with mathematical calculations called the Analytical Engine . Ada is best remembered for writing a translation and annotation to a paper describing the Analytical Engine that was so detailed and included a way to calculate numbers using the Engine, that many proclaim was the foundation of programming and she is credited with conceiving of the idea of software 100 years before it would be required.

And so on this day we are encouraged to remember women in technology as a way of honoring those who come before us.

I want to recognize two amazing women I have had the privilege to know in my amazing accidental career in high tech.

intel_logo-thumbJoanna, whom I met in my most recent job, is in the very unsexy high tech field of capital equipment. Joanna is about 15 years older than me. I can remember the first time I saw a computer, it was in a very large room at my university and we had to feed it cards to get our statistics data out of it. This was closely followed by the arrival of brand new Apple Macintosh personal computers that our school was testing. Before I even laid eyes on the giant Vax at school, Joanna was working in a lab at Intel hand processing 2 inch wafers that would become the precursors to the 8086 processor chip technology. She has the most amazing stories to tell about the early days in Intel. And the most fascinating mind who loves to discuss things like Jazz music and early California history.

netscapeAlison is almost her complete opposite. 15 years younger than me, Alison never really knew a life without computers. Finishing high school in 3 years with one abroad in Argentina, she graduated valedictorian but was not admitted to Stanford because she did not have 4 years of high school class work. She instead chose NYU and entered the medical program but quickly discovered she didn’t really want to be a doctor. Switching to computer science, she let her analytical skills run wild. Employed by Netscape pre IPO, and having served a stint at a major cell phone provider bought out by one the largest cell phone companies in France, Orange. She most recently serves as head of technical support for a large email security provider. Alison is the most intelligent and yet compassionate (they are sometimes mutually exclusive) woman in business I know. She completely understands what technology can bring our a crazy over connected lives and utilizes it to the fullest but not at the expense of personal relationships and personal fulfillment.

These two very different ladies bookmark the opposite ends of an amazing time in our history and technological advancement that I like to compare to a life spanning the invention of electricity. There are some many wonderful things that computer technology has unfolded for us and many more that I cannot even dream of. So thank you Ada, for giving us the ideas that helped spawn a tech revolution and for being in a woman in technology far ahead of your time.

Some day more people may know who Ada Lovelace is than know her famous father. She left us a far more valuable gift and today in her honor I say thank you.

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Want to be the person that isn’t laid off?

I have been a manager of people for over 10 years. I have hired and fired and sadly during this time, seen my fair share of layoffs. Some layoffs are clearly an opportunity to clean out deadwood but other are ones that cut deeply and competent, well intentioned people are let go. I have set in on many meetings where a group of managers have to make the gut wrenching decisions on who will get the axe. Have you ever wondered how those decisions are usually made? Well here is a little glimpse.

You could be on that list if:

You often respond to new ideas with “we tried that and it didn’t work” or “that won’t work” or “that will be too much work”.
Now this may be true but then again it might not be. The person who always poo poos ideas and is a general pessimist generally isn’t fun to work with and begins to be perceived as difficult to work with and perhaps even avoiding work. If there really is a good reason why you think an idea is flawed be fact based, quote statistics if available, outline other alternatives, and in a worst case scenario, let them discover for themselves why it was a bad idea.

– You often criticize others and rarely praise others.
Some people deserve criticism and no one trusts someone who never says something bad about someone else. But if your comments weigh too heavily to the critical side, then you are likely to be perceived as over judgemental, inflexible and generally people begin to want to avoid you. What better to avoid you than recommend you be one of those who is let go.

– You are a constant procrastinator or have be asked multiple times to complete something.
I am your boss, not your mom. I don’t want to nag. I hired a highly competent professional and expect that you can manage what I asked. If at the time I asked there was an unrealistic goal, you need to speak up then and renegotiate or at the very least renegotiate during the project if you feel the deadline will be missed. Waiting for me to ask you where something is, is too late.

– You are really quiet and afraid to make any waves.
Sure it is bad idea to be too negative or too vocal but it also risky to be too quiet. Everyone at every level in every position needs to have some element of marketing to their job. If others don’t know what you do, why and how you do a good job and can recommend improvements then I am not likely to be able to defend why you should keep your job.

Who is likely to make the cut?

People who are:

– Generally upbeat.
– Are willing to take on new tasks.
– Get things done on time.

You would think these ideas are a no brainer but you would be surprised how many people I have worked with and currently work with who just don’t seem to grasp the obvious.

Good luck in the next RIF.

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On my new obsession – Tweeting

My latest obsession

My latest obsession

I joined Twitter about two weeks ago. I know this is not a new phenomenon but it is yet another application, toy, website or service that I or the Mattman has joined, that is generally ahead of the curve. Here are some examples.

Joined AOL so long ago I have my name as a login and with a fairly common name (Google my name and I am almost never in the top 20 pages) this is extremely rare. I interviewed with AOL for job a few years ago and they were impressed.

Joined Netflix back when the only had one plan: 4 movies at $19 per month. In fact we are still granfathered into this plan but we pay $17 for 4 movies. I think you normally get 3 at a time for $17.

Bought the Gen One IPod, with mechanical wheel and all. Still have it and it still works. We also have like 10 other IPods.

Joined YouTube about a year before Google bought them. This was when it was mostly people talking to each other and big media hadn’t discovered them yet. I miss the old YouTube.

Starting reading blogs like BoingBoing before I had even heard of a blog in the general media. Like in 2001.

We bought our first DVD player in 1998, there weren’t very many DVDs to chose from back then.

Bought our first cell phones in 1995 or it may have been 1994. They weren’t like Sat Phones, but they were still pretty huge.

Starting watching Hulu within a month of it’s launch.

Cancelled cable more than a year ago and only watch TV through the Internet. From the news reports I hear this is very rare for our age.

Matt says we are late early adopters. We usually aren’t the one willing to brave something before anyone else has tried it but we usually are well into something before it breaks big.

As for Twitter, so far I love it. I think my favorite thing is it is like a mini diary. Fun to go back and see where I have been.

Feel free to follow me there at LestyoubeJudged.

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