I don’t know why but the last few days has been so interesting about technology.
I was at the bus stop waiting for my daughter and was talking with one of the other parents. She had come up behind me and surprised me because I had my headphones in, listening to Welcome to Night Vale (A rather spooky but funny podcast)
She sighed about the cost of her Android plan. It was just too expensive. I told her that I went with the iPod touch + dumbphone combo. A dumbphone plan costs a lot less, and a pay per usage plan can be good and cheap.
Her son is blind and has gotten an iPad and a windows laptop through the school. He never uses the windows laptop because he needs to also use a $1000 screen reader dongle (that he can use on any windows machine but is a pain to set up) He spoke gleefully of VoiceOver and how easy it is to do everything on the iPad. He’s even in the photography club because the app can tell him what he is taking pictures of and he takes good pictures.
It is amazing that a slab of glass and metal can be something a blind person can use and it wasn’t even its main design intention. I’ve helped visually impaired people a few times, and usually things were made to be unique to the touch and all that, but it turned out to be really expensive, and not all that useful. The side-effects of apple tech is amazing.
Then there was the lady behind me in line at the pharmacy. I was reading an ebook on my iPod touch and she goes, “You can read a book on that thing?” I gave her a quick tour of books, movies, music and games. It also fit in my pocket better then a paperback, like the guy ahead of us. Somehow the conversation veered into wait times at the DMV.
There is a lot of technology out there, and you probably don’t need the hottest thing on the market. Look around. Think about what you are doing. Use what fits for you.
President Barack Obama on Monday acknowledged technical problems that he described as “kinks in the system.” He also promised a “tech surge” by leading technology talent to repair the painfully slow and often unresponsive website that has frustrated Americans trying to enroll online for insurance plans at the center of Obama’s health care law.
Well, it doesn’t look like we have to worry about Obamacare anymore. One of the fundamental lessons of Software Project Management is that adding people to a late project only makes it later.
It is obvious that the managers of the site have never read Peopleware or Mythical Man-month two of the foundation stones of modern project management.
Obamacare will limp along, it might even “work” for very simplistic and broad definitions of “work” but it won’t be fast enough for work-arounds and changes to be made that will render the website and the law moot.
And whoever the next president is, there will be more then enough incentive to kill it to put it out of everyone’s misery.
I was wondering what the grand edifice was going to be, that symbol of former glory like the Colosseum, ironically it will vanish with a press of an enter key. More’s the pity, there will be nothing to help people remember what happened and learn not to do it again.
Our daughter has homework but most of the time it is us just badgering her to do it. Which used to lead to shouting and slamming doors. So not only is there no learning there is also damage occurring to the family.
So now we let her have some time to do the things she wants and help when she wants it with homework after dinner. Sometimes it goes long, but that happens.
I found The Homework Myth and that is fascinating, but the reality is that some very noisy parents think lots of homework is a positive thing.
Really, it is just building resentment and those parents will be dying alone in a rest home somewhere far away.
It also means that their children will put off their dreams and have a major mid-life crisis where they do the socially acceptable things, but miss out on what they really want to do because they never take the time to discover it.
Youth is the best time to figure out what your talents are, but everyone is competing to outdo the Jones’ in extracurricular and other things. With all the exhaustion and sleep deprivation, people start turning to energy drinks and other things to keep up and then they sit at home in front of the TV trying to get the strength to go to sleep. Or worse turn to sleeping pills or alcohol to try to sleep.
Lots of numbing and very little living. Sorry, pass.
She was reading the board trying to catch up and she was stumped and raised her hand to know what BRDOFDIR was.
As soon as he said it, you could see it all click together and she turned bright red, because it was obvious by the first word what it was. It was worse because she was the one that brought up COO, CFO, CMO, and those kinds of people. The funniest part was she’s the savviest one in there and most likely to success, in my estimation. Brainfarts can be just awful.
This whole article from Jay Yarow is weak. He disparages John Kirk’s widely-cited Techpinions piece on Android market share, but addresses none of Kirk’s actual arguments. Underlying the entirety of Yarow’s piece is Church of Market Share dogma: higher market share is always better, just because.
The scary thing about this is that line of thinking would inevitability lead us to all markets going to monopoly. We’ve learned the hard way that monopolies are generally bad, though there are a few cases where they seem to have to exist.
The first thing I notice is how limited the thinking is that goes into the market share ideology. It is so simple, if you have 50% of the market share you would expect to be making 50% of the profits. But they are stumped by the fact that Apple has 18% of the market share and 45% of the profit.
How about we look at it another way?
Marketing 101 teaches us that we have to segment the market so we can focus our efforts into the most effective places since the company is limited into what they can implement at any point.
You can divide a market into three segments: the ones that pay resentfully, the ones that pay gladly and the ones that cost you money.
Apple had successfully limited itself to the one that will pay gladly. I think that is a really good place to be. It would be stupid to think otherwise.
Every schoolchild who’s ever squirmed in his seat, anxious for recess to arrive, can sympathize with students in Chicago. This year, many public schools in that city are scheduled to have recess for the first time in three decades. Chicago’s long recess drought isn’t unusual. Even before No Child Left Behind, recess was an endangered species. Since NCLB, every minute of the school day has been scrutinized for its instructional value—and recess, a break from instruction, often didn’t survive the scrutiny. It was, by definition, a waste of time.
Um. No recess for 30 years. It explains so much.
Play is needed to just allow the brain to assimilate the morning lessons.
Nothing is withheld from us which we have conceived to do.
Do things that have never been done.
A lot of people are spending a lot of effort to improve schools, but like trying to make cars more fuel efficient we’ve long ago reached the point of diminishing returns. Schools are about as good as they can get.
What has the auto industry done, they’ve changed engines. They’re using electric motors, or hybrid, or natural gas.
If you want schools to produce something different, do you think we should change engines?
We have to pick pretty much all the qualities we want in people we want to work with and for
Okay it isn’t quite that easy but that is what happens. It is easier for the school system if the students are obedient. If they learn something that’s a bonus really.
But you run into the candle problem.
The education system worked fine until the 1970′s when most of the mechanical jobs left these shores in the name of cost cutting. Now there is hardly any job that doesn’t require at least a dash of creative thought.
We need creativity more then ever, but if you choose to be a creative person what happens?
You are ridiculed unless you are already successful.
If you try to be an arts major you get pigeon holed into the loner emo group, if you hit the other side of the creative coin and go for science, or programming you’re slammed into the no-social life geek group.
In kindergarden they give you a big box of crayons and you can pretty much go to town, though soon you have to stay within the lines and be conventional. A family was looking for a new daycare for their little girl. They would visit and the little girl would ask for paper and crayons, and would draw a green sun, blue trees and yellow grass. They choose the one where the teachers complimented her on how creative the drawing was.
When you go into middle school they take away your crayons and give you textbooks, don’t wait until midlife to take back your crayons.
At one engineer job we took turns on fielding technical calls, for a company that made police radar and in-cruiser video systems and traffic control devices. One day a sales rep called in asking for a Diversity Antenna.
That confused me.
There is a technique called Antenna Diversity, cell phone towers use. You’ve seen cell phone towers they generally have sets of three antennas facing the same way, and in very simple terms one is on channel A, one is one channel B and the third on channel C. This technique lets more then one cell phone near each other connect to the same tower.
It is much like going to any fast food restaurant and asking for a Fry Deep. Which almost sounds like a technique, but is still something they can’t serve you because it isn’t a product.
So I asked the obvious question, “You want what?” He wants a diversity antenna, so I flip through the catalog just to make sure, maybe there was a product in there called a diversity antenna, but no. ”Sorry, I don’t see that in the catalog.”
“I know that that’s why I called you guys.”
“Smart move, what is it you are trying to do?” Trying a different tact, we had enough specialized accessories that we probably had something that would cover what he needed, if I could just figure that out.
“I’m trying to diversify the frequency spreading.” I actually look at the phone wondering if this guy was drunk or something, because he used words that related to radio stuff but in a way that made it sound like gibberish. Some radios use frequency spreading for various reasons, the military use that and frequency hopping so it is hard to eavesdrop on their communications. But those radios are really expensive and none of our radios can do that, we use a simple radio that the cop wears that we link to the video system so we can record what happens when the cop is outside of the cruiser and talking to the driver in the car.
I really want to help this guy and make the sale but he kept just jumping into jargon and not telling me what the client was trying to actually do.
“What product are you talking about here?” The in-cruiser video product. Good, I was worried that it might be for the road sign or something insane like that.
“And what exactly is the client trying to accomplish here?” He proceeds to go off the deep end telling me how he isn’t an engineer, how he’s been doing this for 10 years and never got such bad support, how he could design it himself, because he got an engineering degree, finally he screams at me that the customer just wants better range from the radio!
“Oh, he wants the external antenna, part #####. Shall I order one up for you?”