Sunday, August 24, 2008

Joe Biden Anti-Tech Guy

I've never really cared for Joe Biden this CNET article sums it up for me. Looks like I have even more of a reason to write in Ron Paul's name.

He's just another example of big government advocates trying to help maintain the status quo.
Last year, Biden sponsored an RIAA-backed bill called the Perform Act aimed at restricting Americans' ability to record and play back individual songs from satellite and Internet radio services. (The RIAA sued XM Satellite Radio over precisely this point.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Clients Can't be Assholes

Here's a presentation by Obie Fernandez on running a consulting business. There are some good ideas here. I like the part near the end (30 minute mark) where he says that they don't tolerate asshole clients. He provides an example of client "misbehaviour." His remedy was that the person had to apologize to the entire team.

This ties in well to the book The No Asshole Rule by Bob Sutton. Obie's goal is to head off "asshole poisoning." By not allowing this behaviour, he maintains a good working environment.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Build Times

Oh I wish that the product that I work with could have build times like the linux kernel.
For example, for the kernel, I can literally rebuild my whole kernel (which is just what I use on _that_ machine) in about 16 seconds. This is _not_ using ccache or anything else - it's rebuilding the whole tree with -j16.

Obviously Linus has a machine with at least 8 cores if not a machine that has 4 quad core processors. Also, he has enough memory to keep the entire kernel tree in the buffers. In addition, the kernel is highly modular so there aren't as many dependencies between systems. This means that there aren't a lot of extraneous header files that would slow down the build.

If you know about agile, you know why this is important. Fast build times means:

  • An automated build that can let you know at the minimum that your project is/is not building.

  • Fast builds "probably" means that your product doesn't have a lot of dependencies if it is large and this lends itself to incorporating tests and running those test via automation as well.

The above is the beginning of continuous integration. It can help your software quality especially if you take it seriously and start doing the other things that go along with Agile processes.

Sunday, August 03, 2008


This is a follow up to the Bias and Diets post earlier. The latest long term study on diets suggests that low carb diets work better than the low fat diets.
The biggest weight loss happened in the first five months of the diet — low-fat and Mediterranean dieters lost about 10 pounds, and low-carbohydrate dieters lost 14 pounds.

By the end of two years, all the dieters had regained some, but not all, of the lost weight. The low-fat dieters showed a net loss of six pounds, and the Mediterranean and low-carbohydrate dieters both lost about 10 pounds.

Another article about this study has more information:
For people with cholesterol problems, the low-carb diet seemed best; for those at risk for diabetes, the Mediterranean diet provided more health benefits.

"The take-home message should be that we should abandon the idea that low fat diets are the number one way for people to lose weight –- it wasn’t the best diet, it can be helpful for some people, but overall I think the first choice should be the Mediterranean or the low carb," he said.

Dunbar's Number, Rule of 150

I came across Dunbar's Number or the Rule of 150 while reading the The Tipping Point. I've noticed that the small companies where I've worked have been less than 150 people. BMH was approaching 150 employee's when it was purchased.

Since being bought out by a much larger company, the BMH operation has changed quite a bit. It no longer has the same feel even though I work with the same basic people. This probably has to do with the way in which the more common processes have been changed and the fact that one of the founders of BMH has become part time as he transitions into retirement.

Don't get me wrong about the above statements. I am not trying to be derogatory toward my current employer. It's more of comment/observation about the fact that small companies that want to grow need to realize that will need to change or they won't be successful.

Management has to prepare for the change and make that change easy or else they will lose the people that made them successful. (They may lose them anyway.) The Hutterite communities mentioned both in the article and the book recognized this early on and have a rule that communities must split once they reach 150 members.