Saturday, February 20, 2016

Gimme a sec

I abandoned cursive a long time ago, in junior high. But I find elements of cursive coming back into my handwriting now. I think it's because I'm older and busier. It's just more efficient to connect the letters.

When you're in second grade being taught cursive, the efficiency of the writing style doesn't resonate. Cursive is about efficiency. It saves you time from picking up the pen over and over, it makes your writing more efficient. Who cares about efficiency at age 8? I'm in second grade, got all the time in the world.

Maybe instead of teaching cursive in second grade, cursive writing should be offered in high school as an elective called "How To Write Faster." You'd attract the right kind of people to a class like that, the whole point of cursive handwriting would be clear.

Aw hell, I wouldn't have even signed up for that class in high school. But I would now. Because now I don't have time. If I can save milliseconds by connecting the 'p' to the 'e', or the 'g' to the 'h', or the 'a' to the 's', I'll take it. I'll take all the time anything can save me.

Friday, December 13, 2013

She owns it

Marissa Mayer totally owned this week's massive Yahoo mail fail:

This was a great message—whether you missed emails about your grand kids or were debilitated by the IMAP breakdown, the CEO told you what was up.

There will be more fallout from this. Yahoo is navigating a dicey renaissance—about the only thing you could point to as a success for Yahoo in the last ten years was reliable email service. So this will hurt. But how can you argue with Mayer's concise, honest assessment and apology?

Friday, November 22, 2013

A man at his end

He was the the ultimate American brand. Young, handsome, visible. For god's sake, don't let him get his head blown off. And they did. They did. The worst possible thing imaginable, happened. He ended.

Zapruder gave us a man at his end. We can watch it on demandwhich doesn't seem rightThis is a man ending, surprise and horror. A trajectory snuffed. Daddy? Honey? Son? So much more than Mr. President. Jackie was worried about the media photographing Jack, at his end, unguarded, opened. The agent wraps his coat around the president's head and back.

There's a weird detachment between JFK's cultural prominence and his end. You kind of think he's still among us, that he knows he's a shot president. Wondering and theorizing along with everyone else. Was there another shooter? Was Oswald hired? Did they botch my autopsy? It's hard to process that such a visible, high-profile man doesn't know what happened, doesn't know his ultimate storyline. He's the man who accompanied Mrs. Kennedy to Dallas, accompanied her to Parkland, accompanied her back to Washington.

November 22, 1963 from The New York Times - Video on Vimeo.

Conspiracy theories? That's loneliness, that goon. Aren't conspiracies believed most passionately by those so certain of government's ineptitude?

Fifty years. Surely this is it. Dallas acquiesced, that tension is now snapped. This fiftieth anniversary is the mother of them all, and it's own end.

It will still come around, as anniversaries do. And each time it will feel a little different. You've grown, learned. Like re-reading a book. You think you know what you're getting into, but--it's different? How could that be? Same story, same characters, same setting, same ending. Oh. It's me. I'm different. The tale now tells me different things, reveals new truths. JFK was a young president, a young man with a beautiful younger wife. He was a dad. He set bold goals for himself, and reached them. All that vigor and strength and hope, gone in a wisp.

Life and the world are awesome. His keep ending, right before our eyes.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Method Madness

Alexandra Samuel (B | T) recently wrote a blog for Harvard Business Review arguing that the only productive way to take notes is digitally. The opening line:
I knew right away, when you walked in here with a paper notebook — a paper notebook! — I realized that this meeting was not going to be a good use of our time.
The takeaway is that, according to Alexandra, if you use pen and paper to take notes during a meeting, you are a prehistoric, unproductive dumbass incapable of getting anything done.

The Comments were overwhelmingly negative. I didn't see outright flaming (maybe those were removed?), but I read plenty of comments that summed up my feeling about the article. Alexandra followed up with a post on her personal blog where she expresses how she's hurt by the negative feedback. Her mother tells her to let it go, what does she care about what a bunch of total strangers think about her.

And can we stop with the black/white, for/against, either/or absolute-ness of everything? Alexandra (bravely) joins in on the Comments to her HBR post, yet she refers to her detractors as "fountain pen devotees" and having "passionate reasons for paper." That's not what it is. Paper notes aren't better than digital notes, and digital notes aren't better than paper notes. The juxtaposition is wrongheaded. Judge people on their results, not on their note-taking method.

I've followed Alexandra for a while. She wrote an Atlantic piece a while back about balancing our digital stream and unplugging from distractions. Funny, it speaks to why I prefer taking notes (sometimes) with pen and paper. With pen and paper I don't have to fight a tool like auto-correct, which inarguably gets in my way more often than it helps.

But Alexandra is all-in on the realness of our digital lives, and she's not letting up. I don't know, I think she's trying too hard. You can want something to be real. But if it isn't, it isn't. I feel like she's trying to tell me not only that these digital relationships are real, but that they're enough.

The digital life is something. But there's more. There's face to face. And pen to paper.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Big Buzz

Big Data was easily the tech buzzword of 2012. Easy to write it off as a fad, but the chatter is setting the tone for the future of data analysis and development. For example, an InformationWeek article, 5 Big Data Predictions for 2013, almost offhandedly announces the demise of the data warehouse as we know it.

The end of the data warehouse? That sounds awfully premature, at least in my business. I'm in oil and gas, we don't have streams of unstructured data we're struggling to make sense of. Or do we? A data warehouse meets our needs adequately. Or does it?

Point is, I don't know for sure.

So I listen. I keep my ear to the ground. Data analysis and management are topics that interest me, so I pay attention to what others are saying about them. Maybe I pick up a tip that helps me today. Maybe I'll get introduced to a concept that defines the rest of my career. Or maybe I'll be prompted to ask a question about my organization's data that I wouldn't have thought to ask if I hadn't explored beyond the sphere of my current environment.

So buzz or not, I'm listening to the Big Data discussion. I don't want to be caught off guard in 10 years when the data warehouse I've known and understood my whole career finally goes extinct--and me and my career with it.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Don't be a dick

Let's not be dicks, okay? You don't know what someone else is dealing with, what pressures they endure. Then comes you, out of nowhere, being a huge dick.

Being A Dick \ˈbē(-i)ŋ ˈā ˈdik\: Pursuing your own personal joy or pleasure or enjoyment, knowing you're hurting someone.

You're being a dick the moment you're aware that what you're doing is hurtful. Hurt doesn't have to be your initial intent (that's for assholes). But once hurting someone else becomes a consequence of your actions, and you don't let up, you're being a dick.

When you call the royal hospital you're just being goofy. There's no way you'll get through. Someone will answer the call and they'll know you're screwing around and they'll either be playful about it or hang up on you. But you fool the operator, and she patches you through, and you don't stop her.

That's the line, dick.

When she says she'll patch you through, you're supposed to stop her. You're supposed to laugh and say you were just kidding, isn't my accent terrible, are you having a laugh, ha ha ha. But you don't, and you humiliate her to death. Kids lose a mom. Husband loses a wife. Because of you. Dick.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Blog Fix

It's #Meme15 time again. Jason Strate (B | T) started #Meme15 as a way to encourage SQL Server professionals to blog about something other than SQL. I'm definitely more of a SQL enthusiast than professional, but #Meme15 has attracted some great SQL pro's, and I like the opportunity to participate in a community blog theme with them.

April's assignment:
What are ten blogs that you think other SQL Server professionals should be following but might not be?
This ought to be fun. In no particular order:
  • OCDQ Blog:  Jim Harris is indeed obsessively-compulsively concerned about data quality. Check out his podcast too.
  • Harvard Business Review's Management Tip of the Day:  I try to be prepared every day for what may be next in my career. Reading the HBR management tip helps me better empathize with my supervisor, and helps me expand my leadership skills in bite-size chunks. For me, following HBR is immersing myself in a culture of success.
  • Harmless Drudgery:  There's no one more delightful in the word nerd world than Kory Stamper. Kory's relatively new blog, Harmless Drudgery, is the most delicious, interesting, charming thing out there. Someday it will be our favorite HBO series.
  • xkcd: If you're not following XKCD, then I don't even understand you.
  • Practically Efficient:  Eddie Smith (@eddie_smith) is a Mac guy, so some of his posts don't resonate with me. But he often lobs a nugget of wisdom, a link, or a universal truth that changes my course.
  • Ask E.T.:  Edward Tufte is the master of data visualization. He doesn't blog, per se, but he does provide an RSS feed of his online bulletin board activity. Doesn't sound too thrilling, subscribing to bulletin board posts, but I've discovered some really interesting discussions on data visualization and user interface design. New posts are relatively rare, like 1-2 a week.
  • Better Explained:  I loved math as a kid, hated it as a teen, then came to love it again as an adult. The problem with math in my teens, I now see, was that I was too curious. That is, I always asked "why" Algebra worked the way it did, and was always told to stop asking questions and "just learn it." So Kalid Azad's slogan Learn Right, Not Rote was instantly appealing to me. Anyone in IT could take away some pointers from Kalid on how to explain complicated concepts in easy-to-understand language.
  • Understanding Uncertainty:  David Spiegelhalter takes on some common statistical misconceptions. Content is UK-based, posting is sporadic, but he's usually quick to jump on a popular discussion that's misinterpreting some sort of statistic.
  • Datachix Blog:  As a father of three daughters, I like to keep up with what smart women have to say about technology. Julie (@JulieChix) and Audrey (@DataAudrey) are active on Twitter, so some SQL geeks probably already know of them. But if you don't, check them out.
  • Austin Kleon:  I think Austin Kleon (@AustinKleon) is the most exciting creative force out there right now. He just published a fabulous little book called "Steal Like An Artist" that can inspire anyone to get more creative in their work.