Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ambient Findability

Alright, so I clearly read more slowly when I'm not on vacation ... today I finally finished Ambient Findability, by Peter Morville.  It's funny, I was actually expecting this to be something technical about the ubiquity of GPS devices, or fun tricks with RFIDs, or geo-IP databases.  Instead, it's a really interesting philosophical wander through the ways that humans and information come together ... "find" each other.  Bring a highlighter (or, more likely, the function on your e-reader) because you're going to keep finding quotes, study results, anecdotes and references to other sources that you'll want to be able to find later.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Mad Men Tax Incentive of 2011

A few months ago, I went to the opening night of a play at the La Jolla Playhouse ... and sat next to a man in plastic flip-flops.  SRSLY?  Apparently all he could muster that day was sliding off the couch and driving to the theatre, without an ounce of energy left to dress like an adult.  I really hope he got home okay, because he must have been exhausted.  If he was responsible, he took a cab home.

So today, I'm calling for what I call the "Mad Men Tax Incentive of 2011."  (Cue patriotic march music.)  Our government needs to immediately convene a panel to survey the current state of domestic fashion, rating each item of clothing on a scale of "snazziness."  Then, when citizens purchase items that are above the eightieth percentile on the snazziness scale, they can deduct the entire purchase price from their taxable income next year.  Dressing nice is a form of "social donation," you see -- for instance, your date doesn't have to avoid running into friends, for fear they'll notice your choice of footwear.  That's a gift.

Let's face it, you feel better when you dress nice.  Folks comment on it, attractive people take a second look at you, you walk taller and have a better attitude.  I know 2010 was kinda crap, and seriously only rated a pair of baggy sweats for most of us.  But if we're gonna turn it around in 2011, we gotta start somewhere.  This is it -- write to your congressperson today and demand they support the Mad Men Tax Incentive of 2011.  For America!

I'm Gabe Schuyler, and I approved this message.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Apathy in an Age of Mechanical Reproduction

"I give up.  I'll do it your way."  They smiled and left.  I squared my shoulders and settled in to do a sub-optimal job.

The discussion was with the cinematics group.  They'd purchased a render farm and wanted one operating system (and thus one rendering engine) on each node.  I'd figured out that we could boost the output by putting two virtual machines on each block of physical hardware.  The math bore me out, but they didn't understand the math.  So after several iterations of back and forth, I just gave up.

This exchange happens at most companies.  The non-techical folks "want one of these," and sometimes we consider it and offer that they "actually want one of *these.*"  It either increases their bang for the buck, or skirts some technical limitation, or makes administration easier for us.  But not lately.  My suggestion of alternatives results in their director contacting my director and complaining (with everyone cc:d) that I "just don't understand how they work."

I've gotta fix this.  Why don't they trust my technical advice?  Why am I content to give up on explaining?  I take my work very personally -- which is great when I succeed -- but really sucks at times like this.  Where do I start, when caring less isn't an option?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Introducing HTML 5

I just finished off my second computer book in as many weeks, Introducing HTML 5, this time.  Interesting stuff, like the Python book before it, but didn't really get me itching to dive in and create anything, like the Python book before it.  Meh.  Maybe next one -- I'll just have to keep reading.

What next?  Maybe a quick trip into the land of big data.  Or perhaps something more crafty ... dunno what.  I wonder if I should find something about establishing non-profits and get a hackerspace started.  Something's gotta hook me ... can't wait to see what.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Crunch Time

While normal folks are making new year resolutions, my company's fiscal year still has three months left in it.  So today I looked at the official list of "things to do this year" that I'm supposed to accomplish at work.  Gak!  I've got a year of work to do in three months...

From what I can tell, the problem is that I've been busy getting plenty of important things done, but at the cost of not working on anything really strategic.  Virtually nothing I do during the day actually makes for progress against the official list.  My this-year goals are all strategic; the contents of my day are all fiddly bits.  I'll have to flip this around if I'm gonna make those strategic goals happen.

This is a common problem for sysadmins.  Has anyone solved it yet?