A message for rich people: “Spend your money!”

Buy American wine. Drink it on your American yacht. Read Forbes for instructions on how to spend your money. Eat American caviar. Stuff hundreds into tip jars when you go get coffee. Read the “Most Expensive” blog for ideas on how to support the economy. We’ve got to keep our economy going, and since you richies have over 70% of the wealth in this country, it’s time to pitch in. You people are always going on about how great firefighters were in NY on 9/11, here’s your chance to be a hero, and it’s easier than running into a burning building.

In case you’re wondering what the hell I’m going on about, I just finished reading The Great Crash. It’s an excellent book. One of the things mentioned is the unequal distribution of wealth in the 1920s. When the economy started going south, rich people stopped spending money on trivial shit. Unfortunately, “rich people spending money on trivial shit” was a portion of the economy.

Once again, we’ve got an unequal distribution of wealth. And an economic crisis. Although there are differences, ultimately, we need to get money moving through the economy.

So, if you’re feeling stressed about your 401K, perhaps you’d like a massage. Don’t forget to tip your masseuse, so they can go out to dinner and support another set of workers, who will in turn consume more goods and services. Aren’t spending multipliers awesome?

Divide and Conquer.

“Mr. Obama has, for at least brief moments, been forced offline. As he sat down with a small circle of advisers to prepare for debates with Senator John McCain, one rule was quickly established: No BlackBerrys. Mr. Axelrod ordered everyone to put their devices in the center of a table during work sessions. Mr. Obama, who was known to sneak a peek at his, was no exception.” [Source]

Obama’s own employee gives Obama order. Obama follows order.

I like this because it reminds me of an off-hand comment from the GTD thing. This comment has been making a lot of sense lately.

“It’s not about who’s on top; it’s about division of responsibility.”

Programming Visas, and effective regulation

I read an article on H-1B visas in the Harvard Business Review, and there was an interesting point made that I wanted to share.

Multinationals, desperate to fill technical positions, have been seeking alternatives to the use of H-1Bs. A solution that’s growing in popularity is intracompany transfer visas, which allow a firm to bring an unlimited number of foreign employees into the United States. But employees are eligible only after they have worked for the company for a year. So a multinational might, for example, assign a new hire to spend 12 months working in a country with looser immigration rules before bringing him or her to the United States.

The article then goes on to discuss how companies are also trying to simply avoid basing workers in the US at all. I suspect that — long term — this is not something we should want to encourage.

I thought this was interesting because it’s a clear demonstration of how companies will find a way around regulations, and how carefully regulation has to be designed so that is effective.



I’m very entertained by this because I have never, ever been what I would consider a runner. But, I’ve been running a few miles here and there lately, building over time, and this past weekend, I ran at the Disney 10K Race for the Taste. Effectively non-stop (minus walking during three cups of water; one bathroom break), I got a time of 1:12. This was the first time I ever ran 6 miles at once.

The race itself was neat, because the course is set up so that you run through a bunch of the back areas at Disney, plus through the parks (before they open).

You can also check out my final tweet of the race. Yes, I posted to Twitter while running. Yes, I’m a geek.

Twitter Autocomplete (Tw-autocomplete Firefox Extension)

After lots of code, tests, and fun, I’ve produced a Firefox extension to add a useful, new feature to Twitter, as opposed to writing Twitter extensions as a joke 😀

Simply put, the extension provides autocomplete for Twitter usernames from your own list of friends while you’re using the web interface at twitter.com. It’s totally secure — no separate login required. Just install it, and use Twitter naturally.

When you start typing messages to people — using “@user” or “d user” — a list of matching contacts (along with icons) will drop in. You can click the person’s name to fill their username into the text box, or use the arrow keys along with tab/enter to select. As an added bonus, if you can’t remember their username at all, just type their first name, and the extension will figure it out.

There is another autocomplete script for Twitter, but it requires installing extra libraries, and I think this is simpler. Clearly it’s a feature in-demand.

The extension is hosted at addons.mozilla.org, a highly reputable site. They also provide lots of great management features that are handy to developers. I hope you enjoy using Tw-autocomplete.

This gives me hope.

This post is for those of you who follow international politics on any level.

The US has had a policy of not speaking to Iran for many years. There’s even a debate in the current presidential election around “should we talk to our enemies?”.  Well, apparently someone in the current US administration thinks so.

There’s a lot of people who pooh-pooh talking, and I understand and agree with them. If you need to put up a building, standing around and talking about it won’t put the building up. If you have to make food for dinner, talking about it won’t make a nice beef stew. Talking is basically useless.

Unless you’re doing something that involves people. In that case, talking is hugely important.

Easy exercise

I’m trying a neat workout program, called one hundred pushups. Right now I’m on week 3 of the program. It’s pretty neat so far — only needs about 5 minutes, 3 days a week. If you’ve been thinking about getting in better shape, definitely take a look at this. Literally, if all you’ve ever done is *think* about exercise, this plan is for you. There’s a version for people who can only do 5 pushups, so you’ll definitely be covered.

I’ve also been running between 1 and 2.5 miles every weekday morning. The whole day just cruises by after, and I feel like I’m getting lots more done, just because of a morning workout. I hate waking up early, but I just force myself to get over it, because of how awesome the rest of the day will be. Plus, I can listen to some tunes, or a podcast. Although, I’ve noticed if I start with the podcast, I end up thinking too much and ruining the run.

Apple negotiates, not dictates

The confirmation that the iPhone will only be activated in AT&T stores is a sign that a definite concession that was made to get the price cut made. I enjoyed activating my phone from the comfort of my home — it was nice. So, it does reduce the user experience which they’re always going on about.

But, that’s a one-time deal, and it’s not an outrageous expectation of the customers. No one buys a phone because they like the activation process, and it’s not a bolt out of the blue to activate in-store.

Plus, for the long-term, it gets more of the iPhones out to market, while still ensuring a profit in the short-term, and thus continuing to establish Apple as a leading player. Portable computing is obviously where we’re headed, and Apple wants to use its current goodwill to put them in front of the upcoming wave. Overall, it’s a good move for them.

I think the lesson to take away from this is that while short-term luxuries are nice, don’t let that which is not needed prevent you from making a good long-term move.

Velocity, or v = dx / dt

I was coworking at Stardust today, and we got to talking about Agile Development, and the concept of velocity.

Disclaimer: I hate buzzwords. But, these terms have specific meanings, and although it sometimes sounds cheesy, there really is something to this Agile movement.

Basically, velocity is an Agile concept that is a self-calibrating method for estimating how much work can be done in a unit of time.

The trick is that velocity doesn’t really measure the work done, it measures how much estimated time it takes to fill an actual week of working. The trick behind velocity is that you track (per task) the estimated time of completion, and the total amount of estimated work completed in a unit of time (usually a week). As long as the developers who are on the project are always the same ones handling estimates,  if they have a tendency to overestimate or underestimate, it will be canceled out after the first week or two. Make sense?

If you haven’t tried Agile development processes, I strongly recommend it. There’s a game that was created to help explain how Agile/XP works,  calld The XP Game. It’s a reasonably entertaining way to learn business stuff (better than a pointy haired lecture!), and doesn’t take long.
I’ve still got lots to learn about the finer aspects of applying Agile/XP, but I’m happy to talk with anyone about these ideas — I might learn something new 🙂

The answer is Simple.

Let’s take the average person. They want to go into Burger King and order a Whopper. They don’t want to order 4 oz of ground beef (precooked weight, tolerance of +/- .2 oz, stored above 140F for no more than 2 hours); a bun with sesame seeds (gross weight 5 oz, between 50-70 sesame seeds evenly distributed across the top of the bun); a slice of tomato no thicker than a quarter inch, but no thinner than an eighth of an inch… They don’t care about the process, only the result. Is it tasty enough? Is it filling enough? Does it meet the requirements of a burger?

The exception, of course, is the builder, or the engineer. The person who is designing the burger (not the employee cooking it; the person at corporate who actually formulates the blueprint for the company’s food) wants the burger consistent. They want to know all of the details. They care.

So, when dealing with “I don’t care”, the answer is simple. Yes, or no (with a simple reason why not). Handle everything for them, and they’ll love you for it.

When dealing with “I care” — jump in the deep end, and pull them in too. Show them everything you’re handling, and they’ll love you for it.

Of course, the trick is telling the two apart.