Archive for the 'Digital Boy… How To Live' Category

Definition of lag issues

Friday, November 6th, 2015

Every day I run into lag issues.  These are issues where something changes but the effects of the change haven’t played out yet.

Usually the people that change something aren’t aware of what the impacts of their changes are going to be.  I see this a lot in computer programming, but now I am seeing it in day to day life too.

A good example would be the post office.  A post office might open at 8AM daily.  So a company makes a rule for their employee of be in  front of the post office at 7:30 AM so they will be first in line.

Then if the post office starts opening at 7:00 AM it breaks the system the company put in place.  It could take years for that change to be recognized by the company.  Suddenly the company can’t count on their packages being first any more.  If their companies process assumes that the packages will be first other pieces could start breaking.

What makes this so tricky is that the breakage probably won’t be immediate.  It will probably take months before it starts happening regularly.  This is because it will take a while before the other customers will start adapting to the new time.

This is lag the change happens on Jan 1 for example but the breakages don’t appear until March.  What’s worse is when the problem presents 3 deliveries later.  Then it may be years before anyone realizes that the problem is that the initial drop off is happening too late.

Issues like this are very typical in IT, especially in Agile environments.  I don’t think anyone has come up with any good answers for this in IT yet.  I think these issues will start to appear more often in the main stream world.  It will be interesting to see how these kinds of things are handled.

Side Effect Of Driverless Cars

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

A lot of times technology doesn’t move forward because of surprise unintended consequences.

I think there is going to be a HUGE unintended consequence of driverless cars.  I think there were be a HUGE increase in alcohol and drug abuse.

I was thinking about how a lot of people are terrified by the idea of being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI.)

That’s my guess…

Swole Patrol

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

Physical fitness is confusing and most of the things we think we know are completely wrong.  The human body is very complex in mostly misunderstood.

I have noticed that if you want to have bigger muscles you want to focus on one thing.  That thing is doing activities that will force lots of blood into your muscles.

After some activities your muscles are full of blood so they get larger than normal.  We called this swole patrol at my old gym.

Going on swole patrol a couple of times a day is a very good way to encourage your muscles to get bigger.

My swole patrol routine is:

  1. a sixty second plank
  2. six should taps from a push up position
  3. six five second eccentric push ups

I do them all together.  It takes about three minutes and then I am all swole up.  It’s fun.  After a month or so I have seen a big different in the size and density of my muscles.  The size is bigger and the muscles are less dense.

I finally after 20+ years hit my goal weight

Saturday, October 31st, 2015

Back in the late eighties I was in my twenties and I weighed about 145 pounds.  No matter how hard I tried I could not gain weight.

Then in the nineties I got to 175 pounds in my last years of college.  I enjoyed that weight.  I was lite enough to run, climb… whatever, but heavy enough not to get slung around playing basketball or soccer.  It was nice weight.

Then in the early 2000s I started to close in on 200.  Then sometime around 2010 I reached just under 240 pounds.

At 240 I could still play sports, but running was starting to become very hard on my back and knees.

A week ago I saw the scale read 175 pounds, which is my favorite weight… it’s a weight that I haven’t seen in over 20 years.  Since then the scale consistently reads between 175 and 179 which is awesome.

Basically I weight around 177 pounds with a slight upward bias.

Once I lock in 175 I am not sure how I am going to change my behavior.  Right now I know that I have a 100% chance of losing weight if I do the following:

  1. Run for 21 minutes at 10 AM
  2. Run for 21 minutes at 5 PM
  3. Eat my first food at 6 PM (and then I get a giggling high off of a 6 PM meal)
  4. Eat my last snack at 11PM

If I do that I will 100% lose weight.  The 6 PM meal is epically fun… I laugh and laugh.

I have been able to turn that into a routine, probably because I am not doing a programming job right now.

Here’s the deal.  I have become good at creating a sticking to a routine.  So losing weight hasn’t been a problem.  Actually, that’s probably why I gained weight, because I love routines.  But I don’t think you can make a routine for maintaining a specific weight.

So now I have to figure out how to change my life so that I don’t just keep losing weight.  At the same time it’s unrealistic to think that I won’t gain weight when I change my life and if I ever get back to how I was I will have a hard time engineering my life so that I only eat for a few hours a day and so that I run twice a day.

So I think I will need to change to a rules based system.  A system where I weigh myself in the morning and then my behavior is changed for that day based on rules.

I think rules based life might work better for maintaining, but routine based life is better for losing/gaining weight.

Things are rarely as they appear.

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

Whenever I give someone a ride in my car the very first thing they notice is that is smells very good.  The reason it smells good is because I use a product called “Mother’s” to treat my seats every day.  It’s a leather/vinyl treatment.  I can’t really describe the smell, except it smells clean and safe.

So that’s enough.  Smelling clean and safe is nice, but people need to know why. They can’t be comfortable until they understand why.

So I have a Yankee Candle car deodorizer hanging from my rear view mirror.  It’s a pretty little thing.  It looks very nice.  It’s a very clear plastic, but it looks like glass.

A few people will say their thoughts out loud.  It goes something like:

“Wow, it smells so good in here.  I need to get one of those things that you have hanging on your rear view mirror.”  Then I say, it’s not that deodorizer, it’s the treatment I put on the seats, it’s called Mothers.  Then they lean over and smell the seats and say “wow it is the seats.”  The I say, “things are rarely as they appear.”

See people have to understand why something works before they can be comfortable.  Even if their understanding is wrong.  It’s ok if the misunderstanding results in a pleasant car ride.  It’s not ok if the misunderstanding results in false medical results (like the article) or horribly bad emissions (like vw.)

As a person trying to live, you have to be aware that most of the things that you look at when you step outside of the door are lies.  Most of the lies are harmless.  You’ll be just fine if you think the nice smell is coming from a hanging deodorizer but it’s actually coming from the seats.

I generally try to just go with it, just enjoy the harmless lies as if I was at Disney riding a ride.   But don’t forget that most of the things you think aren’t true so when it matters you have to get focused and really understand what’s going on.



Satiated The People For Entertainment And Productivity.

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

I have always said that it didn’t matter how fast we can build stuff because no matter how fast we get the demand keeps going up.

I think that’s fact is now over.  We can deliver so much stuff that people can no longer accept more.  I can no longer accept more.

Here is a real example.  If someone I really trusted and liked told me that there is a new TV show that is absolutely 100% amazing; I would gladly listen to them talk about it.  However, I would not watch it.  I don’t need or want another TV show, no matter how good it is.  Heck, I like a lot of TV shows now and I am strongly considering getting rid of DirectTV.  I just don’t need it.

It’s very hard to get people to install apps, play games, go to web pages, like a new team, like a new brand, hit the like button on a plnkr… it doesn’t matter how much value people would get out of these things.  It doesn’t matter if it’s better than what they are using now.

The time of creation is over, the time of digestion is here…


Why it’s hard to compete with corporations.

Friday, October 23rd, 2015

Yesterday I was thinking about business and what the deal with businesses is and I realized that corporations don’t need to make a profit.

See people actually don’t need to make a profit in the short term.  For example if you work M-F on Saturday you don’t need to make a profit.  When I was growing up I had a good friend and their family made money selling refinished furniture at the Flea Market.  So they earned on Saturday and Sunday, but they didn’t earn M-F.

The point is that you can make money now, or before now, or after now.  You don’t always have to be making a profit.

Corporations, like us, don’t always have to be making a profit either.  Corporations can make money now, before now, or after now.

So what’s the difference?  Corporations can live forever or at least until the end of the financial system.  So unlike humans corporations alway have more “after now.”

I think there are basically three kinds of corporations:

  • growing corporations
  • dieing corporations
  • corporations that are so big the system would fail without them

See the goal of a corporation is to be an integral part of the system.  It doesn’t have to make a profit, it just has to grow and grow until it is necessary.  Then once it has achieved necessary status it can’t become irrelevant.  But it doesn’t need to make a profit.

Communication across stations.

Wednesday, October 21st, 2015

Communication across stations is usually a mistake.

As humans we like to cluster up into groups.  In our system we like to cluster up into groups according to station.  Busboys like to hang our with busboys, waiters with waiters, dish washers…

One reason is because groups tend to create their own language.  We may share the same words, but the meaning of the words/phrases vary.  So for busboys the phrase ‘late night’ might mean 10:00 pm but for the dishwashers ‘late night’ might mean 1:00  am.

When we talk to people in our own station the amount of energy we expend per word is lower because we don’t have to translate as much.  When we can talk with a lower energy level that is relaxing and pleasant.

When we talk to people outside of our station we have to do additional processing and the energy we expend per word is higher.  When we have to do lots of extra processing to chose words that make sense to everyone talking is stressful.

In our society some people have power over other people.  The people that have power over other people operate at different stations.  So busboys don’t determine if a busboy will get hired or fired.  An owner or a manager makes the determination.

Words spoken between busboys and owners have a very high chance of being misunderstood.  An busboy might very well says words that mean one thing to the other busboys but mean another thing to the owner.

In addition when owners make decisions about busboys and dishwashers they are usually unintentionally cruel and abusive.  Generally, more decisions they make the more cruel and more abusive they are.  Many times managers try to fix things by telling the owner that they have done a good job and everything is better.  Often the manager has to attempt to fix everything after the owner has done major damage.

Manager often make the owners feel good even though they have been very cruel.

When a busboy talks to an owner the busboy is playing with fire.  The owner may very well take action and when they do they will probably be very very cruel and very very abusive.  Then a manager will need to try to fix things after the owner ‘feels’ like they have ‘fixed’ everything.

Generally, its a mistake to talk outside of your station unless it’s to those that you would typically report to or that would report to you.  The words have very different meanings.

I once watched a movie about Elon Musk.  Elon was bumping trying to figure out why his cars weren’t being delivered.  He went to a big show room where cars that were 99 percent complete were being held.

He went from car to car asking why each car was not complete.  Most of them were missing a few items from 3rd party vendors.  He got his cell phone out and called the vendors (I assume it was owners of the vendor company) and asked for the parts.  The vendor promised to deliver the parts shortly. Elon felt good and then he told the worker that if he needed any more help to call him directly.

I remember the look in the worker’s eye.  The worker was trying to be nice and said thank you.  Elon hadn’t help though, there was no part.  He made a few calls and some other owners made promises.  Who knows what the unintended consequences those calls might have been.

Had Elon just prevent a life saving part from getting to a hospital?  Had Elon just caused a kitten to be slaughter some where?  I mean what’s going to happen because all of these owners are pushing and pulling levers all over the place going to be?

Talking outside of your station is usually bad.  When big shots do things that are cruel middle managers hide their cruelty from them.

I recently, disconnected from every person that I would not directly report to on linked in.  I noticed that people that would happily talk to me in person or over email were very hesitant to communicate with me over linked in.

I am hoping to nurture communication with my fellow programmers, my direct bosses, junior developers, and recruiters.  I think having direct links others is a detriment to that goal.

Rating System Contexts

Monday, October 19th, 2015

In our society our focus has moved away from providing good service to obtaining good ratings for service.

I think the key tool in this effort is context shifting.

What I mean by context shifting is collecting the rating in one context and advertising the rating in another context.

Here is a story that shows this context shift.

Every day I meet a couple of people that work for a giant mobile phone company.  They work in customer service and when you call the company you are calling them.

So if, for example, you have garden gnomes and you see a big truck from the company backs over your garden gnome and smashes it you would be upset.  If the truck had a number on it you would probably call the number and be mad.

You are one of two kinds of people.  Either you know what’s going on or you don’t.  So here’s what’s going on.

The person you call is a very nice person who is desperate for work and takes abuse all day long.  They can’t do anything for you except try to make you feel better.  At the end of the conversation they will ask you to rate them. If you give them a rating less than perfect they will get minimum wage for that week’s work.  If they get perfect rating for the week they will get $10 per hour for the week. Basically, the difference is whether they will be able to buy groceries that week or not.  That’s the absolute truth.

So if you know what’s going on you won’t make the poor person go with out groceries.

So if you give them a less than perfect score that won’t make a difference to the company other than they get to pay the worker less.  The truck driver will never even hear about your complaint.  They won’t ever know.  It won’t get beyond the call center.

Outside of IT only 1 in about 400 people are mean.  Most people are incredibly nice (assuming they haven’t been drinking) so most people give the abused worker a perfect score in hopes that the worker will get to buy groceries that week.

So in truth most workers get perfect scores for the week.  Perfect score = groceries.

Now when the ratings are reported the company changes context.  They don’t report it as most people want their customer service representative to get groceries, they report it as most people are perfectly satisfied with their service.

On one side you are asking if the abused employee should get groceries and on the other side they are reporting the fact that most people want the employee to get groceries as everyone loves their service.

If you’re reading this then you are probably in some kind of IT and you are probably in a small minority of people that are clueless as to how the world operates.

What it comes down to is that when you give a less than perfect rating to your car salesman, or you customer care service, or your cleaning person from a national hotel chain you are unknowingly being incredibly cruel.  So cruel that a child may not get lunch because of your action.  What you aren’t doing is fixing the problem, if your mad because the hotel chain changed to soap giving your service a low rating won’t even register as a blip on the radar for the person that made the decision.  All you will be doing is ruining some person’s week.

So when you see a commercial that says 99% customer satisfaction that means that they are good at setting up a rating system that makes the person asking for rating really desperate to get a good rating.  It doesn’t mean the customers are satisfied, not at all.

Don’t be cruel, give a good rating, if you want the company to fix a problem then complain about the problem on social media.  When you complain on social media the right people take notice.

Seriously, if a truck backs over your garden gnome and you call the number and they don’t help at all then give the poor bastard a perfect rating and then go onto your facebook/twitter/linked in account and describe the incident and describe what the company did.  Then they will take it seriously.  The customer service call center rating will be a black hole, giving a low customer service rating is just cruel.

Real Time/Lagging

Saturday, October 17th, 2015

A few days ago I posted about millennials and why they don’t get along with older people.

It’s time to be more specific.  In general they get along great with older people.  They get along great because they are very nice.  Things tend to fall apart on larger, more complex projects.

I have been watching very carefully.

Pre-millennials assume real time information.  We assume that when we see something happening that it is happening in real time.  It’s a foundational part of our lives.  We assume that if it’s not in real time then their will a note that reads something like “this data is 5 minutes old.”

A lot of millennials assume information is very laggy.  They assume that information lags behind reality.  They also assume that information coming from different sources lags at different rates.

So it doesn’t surprise them if their phone says one thing, their computer says something else, and their TV is showing something else.

Real time is a foundational belief for pre-millennials.  So any time anything chips at that belief we usually get mad.  Most millennials have no idea that we have that foundational belief so when we get mad by the laggy nature of the current world it seems very random to them.

As time progresses life if getting laggier and laggier so it’s going to be hard and important to adapt.