Larry Hosken: New

I read the James Damore manifesto in which he calls for Google to stop trying extra-hard to recruit/retain women and under-represented minorities. I had first heard of this manifesto through the media/twitter outrageous-news-cycle, and thought he'd called for the firing of all women engineers. But then I heard he wasn't calling for that, that his views had been mis-represented… so I read the manifesto.

He doesn't call for the firing of all women engineers.

He does say that science shows that there are biological differences between genders and thus [hazy logical leap here] we must conclude that these differences are much more significant than any society bias, and therefore it makes biological sense that tech companies would have trouble retaining women engineers and Google should shut down programs that try to counter anti-woman bias.

(Via charts, he suggests that he understands that biological gender differences aren't so big, that there's overlap… but then he goes on to say that Google should shut down anti-bias efforts because biological differences explain why tech companies have trouble retaining women so… it seems he didn't understand the science after all. Oh! Scientists behind the research pointed out his fallacy, too.)

That big scientific study about gender differences in personality? Based on surveys of 17000 people. Number of USA sex-discrimination lawsuits in the USA per year? 24000-29000. If you want to study the way things can go wrong, maybe start there; you won't suffer from small N.

Permalink
& Comments

2017-08-13T19:48:36.196447

Book Report: A Visit from the Goon Squad

Maybe it's a novel; maybe it's a collection of interlocked short stories. There's a variety of styles and viewpoints here. I think I picked this book up because someone said there was a part set in San Francisco's early punk scene, with mentions of Mabuhay Gardens and Eye Protection and such. But this book wasn't a good place to find out about such venues/bands. Rather, in one chapter/short story/part/thingy there's the emotional journey of people who happen to be at such venues/listening to such bands. So I didn't learn so much from this book. Still, there are reasons to read fiction beyond learning things. One part of this book about a PR expert helping an ex-dictator, was pretty sweet. It's a nice tale of persuasion: persuading the world populace to tolerate this monster; persuading the monster to try her ideas. Since we don't see inside the dictator's head, nor the head of the world populace, the big shifts happen "off-camera"; but what we can see is still satisfying.

Permalink
& Comments

2017-08-12T18:14:54.261708

Book Report: Leading Teams

I'm used to management books aimed at team leaders. This book seems aimed higher, perhaps at directors. E.g. it talks about different levels of autonomy to grant a team; when I read this part, I thought of those as things handed down by higher management. (Those levels: executing the task; monitoring progress; designing the team itself; setting overall direction.) There were interesting anecdotes. Maybe if I'd spent more time thinking about these higher-level issues, I could have done better at figuring out how to apply these to situations I've seen. As it was, this book amused me but I'm not sure I got a lot out of it. (Maybe it would have helped if there had been more examples from engineering-land and not so many from aircraft crews? I'm sure there are similarities, but it's a stretch to find them.) We'll find out the next time I talk with an engineering director about something, I guess.

Permalink
& Comments

2017-08-05T22:24:56.476479

Book Report: The Beautiful Struggle

It's an autobiography of an African American nerd growing up in/around Baltimore around the time that I was growing up. This book has a lot of unexplained references. I understood some of the nerd references without having to look them up because I am a nerd of a certain age. But I missed plenty of them, too, because they weren't all totally easy. And figure that I missed 99% of the references which were meant for folks who grew up in the culture of Black Baltimore back then, son of an ex-Black Panther who passed down literature of the struggle… I read this mostly while riding buses and such; I pretty quickly gave up on looking up each thing I saw but didn't understand. Instead, I let the book wash over me. Thus, it was a fun read, but I didn't absorb much. I got some things out of it, some empathy. Like me, he grew up worried about bullies beating him up in school. Unlike me, his fellow nerds would pressure him into fighting so that bullies wouldn't get into the habit of picking on nerds. The way he explains it, you can see how that horrible dynamic played out.

Permalink
& Comments

2017-07-22T18:41:34.602660

Puzzle Hunts are Everywhere, even your mailbox

Matt Cleinman sent this out to some of the usual mailing lists:
Gather your team! Registration has just opened for the Hunt for Justice, an October solve-at-home puzzlehunt. Almost none of the puzzles are just paper—Teams will get a box full of clues to solve a quirky mystery with a whimsical van. And all money beyond expenses will be donated to the Innocence Project! An all-star crew of authors and designers are putting this on, including folks who have created/organized/written for Puzzled Pint, the game, NPR's Sunday Puzzle, the Berkeley Mystery Hunt, and many more events. Register today!
I'm one of the puzzle authors so be on your toes.

Permalink
& Comments

2017-07-14T13:27:00.837959

Book Report: Kangaroo Too

Kangaroo Too is the yearlong-awaited sequel to Waypoint Kangaroo. There is science-fiction thrilldom; there is wise-cracking. There are folks figuring out how to act humanely amidst the paranoia of a military intelligence community after a war and some Philbyesque revelations… but that sounds serious, and really the wise-cracking is very good and should be sufficient to earn your enjoyment.

Permalink
& Comments

2017-07-09T23:01:51.982979

Milestone: 32 Million Hits

Wow, it's the site's 32 millionth hit.(Well, sort of… remember a few months back I whined about how my then-web-hosting provider had messed up some things? I lost a few weeks' worth of logs then.) As usual, these "hits" aren't a measure of humans visiting pages; that count would be much lower. It's just requests to the website: every time a robot visits some page, the count goes up. If a human views a page that contains a dozen graphics, those graphics cause another dozen hits. So it's not as impressive as it sounds. But it's easy to measure so that's what I measure. We can take a look at the log:
45.33.89.177 - - [07/Jul/2017:08:26:47 +0000] "GET /new/atom.xml HTTP/1.1" 304 - "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10_8_2; Feeder.co) AppleWebKit/537.31 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/37.0.2062.120 Safari/537.36"

IP address suggests this is coming from a server farm. The "Feeder.co" in the user agent got me to look at feeder.co, an app for reading "feeds", such as my blog's feed. Looking elsewhere in my logs, I think this is a bot that checks on my feed hourly for new material. Wow, can you imagine if I tried to blog hourly? Feeder.co is a feed reader app, which lets you choose several sites and shows you updates from those sites, like, for example, blog posts on this here blog. Feed readers are great. I use mine heavily. If you're not reading this in a feed reader, I'm kind of surprised that you're keeping up with me and with the things that interest you more than me and you're doing it all by hand somehow‽ Don't work so hard.

Permalink
& Comments

2017-07-07T13:47:45.142783

Book Report: Scaling Teams

It's a book about managing and directing software developers. It's pretty good. It has a bag of tricks; it tells you which tricks are appropriate for which situations; it tells you symptoms of those situations so you know what you're dealing with.

I read a lot of management/business books for a non-manager. Did I ever tell you how that started? I was working at Geoworks, my first job out of school. For a while, a few of the more enthusiastic managers there started speaking weird jargon. They'd read a popular business book of the day, were trying to apply its lessons. That book was Thriving on Chaos, meant to help stodgy manufacturing companies adopt more adaptable processes. It didn't have so much advice that applied to our situation, but I'm still glad I read it. The next time someone told me my group should do something from the book, I could understand what they said and reply We already do that (but with the right Thriving jargon).

Dave Loftesness worked at Geoworks and got to see those eager-to-apply-techniques-willy-nilly managers running around. And then he went on to lead a bunch of folks there, including me. And then at a bunch of other places. Along the way, he figured out that a trick that works in one situation can backfire in another. When he co-wrote a book about managing/directing teams at a place going through growing pains, it's not just a one-size-fits-all set of to-dos. It's a set of things that can go wrong with directions on how to put them right.(Which can lead to other things going wrong, of course. You need more people, so you recruit people… and now those people step on each others' toes so you have to figure out how to organize them…) It's good stuff.

I kind of wish I hadn't got this book on Kindle; there are multi-column tables that didn't fit so well on my tiny Kindle screen.

Permalink
& Comments

2017-07-03T21:45:06.680045

Curtis Chen has a new novel out and a new game-ish thingy to provide some backstory. Go visit www.kangaroo2.com to learn more about the novel Kangaroo Too. And then visit __.kangaroo2.com for the game-ish thingy. As with the previous Kangaroo novel, the puzzle to figure out the "__" is on the book cover.

Permalink
& Comments

2017-06-26T00:52:13.394777

Book Report: It's Complicated

It's about teenagers using social networking sites… Speaking of social networks, I'm lahosken@mastodon.social on Mastodon. What? What was I talking about?

Right, the book It's Complicated. It's about teenagers using social networking sites. Parents are scared plenty of what might happen to their teenaged kids on social networks, scared by news reports. (New technologies keep coming along, but fear is always a great way to sell news content.) Teenagers want to spend more time on social networking sites since their scaredy-cat parents won't let them hang out anywhere besides home or school. (Well-meaning parents reading this book might think: I will fix this. I will let my kids hang out at the mall. Good for you, but the kids will still want to stick to social networking instead: none of their friends' parents will let them out of the house, so there's nobody to hang out with at the mall.) This book lets you know that modern teenagers have it pretty tough. There were things in this book that scared me. E.g., these "digital native" kids think that whatever they find via Google is true because Google is a good site. Google is a good site, but it's not good at finding the truth; it's good at finding pages that are relevant to the topic. If I search for "Luke Skywalker", the first result I find has a lot of information about Luke's story, no doubt lovingly gathered by fans… but if I didn't know Luke was a fictional character when I started reading, I might not figure it out from what's written there. And that's a topic where folks aren't lying on purpose.

Permalink
& Comments

2017-06-16T13:35:52.439630

Tags

Archives:
1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017

Feed