1. Work Environment

    The most important thing when it comes to offices is the possibility for people to move around and adapt to what and whom they are working with. It must be easy to team up for ad-hoc meetings and for people working on the same project to collaborate. A single, open space is not up for the task—the noise level is too high. Neither are cubicles.

    An office should be composed of rooms with many and large whiteboards, of quiet sections where you can read or hack without disturbances and of areas where you can engage in leisure activities to recharge.

    It is of the utmost importance that people “in the zone” are not disturbed by loud brainstorming sessions or people chatting during lunch or breaks, but it is equally important that brainstorming and other creative sessions can take place.

    Equipment must not be an obstacle for the user. It is impossible for people to perform at 100% without good monitors, keyboards, desks and chairs.

    As for culture and other things social, the most important thing is that people feel encouraged to collaborate and ask questions. Nowhere should you hear the word “stupid” or people blaming each other. Often hearing “what if” and “how about” being uttered are sure signs that you are working in a collaborative and creative environment.

     
  2. John Cleese on creativity.

     
  3. Indian Among Cowboys

    A friend of mine had a separate set of clothes for school. I never asked why he had to change before we could play. It did not matter to me.

    I remember when I was brought to a wedding for the first time. I also remember the first funeral I went to. My mother had me wear finer clothes than usual. I did not ask why, but had seen on television that you are supposed to. I remember feeling special, like James Bond.

    At a country music festival years ago, I wore blue jeans, a cowboy hat, and a toy .44 Magnum. I felt like a cowboy, and my friends and I acted accordingly. There were no Indians to play with though.

    Today I worry about wearing the wrong clothes. My mother gave me a book on the subject: how to dress, how to tie a tie, what business casual means, and so on. I still feel like James Bond in formal attire.

    I spend my days in a co-working space with people from a dozen other companies. Some former classmates of mine just relocated to the same place. They wore funny shirts and such at campus. Today, in the office, business casual. I do not care, and they do not care that I wear the same worn-out T-shirts as usual.

    My coworker wears a funny shirt except on days with important meetings scheduled. He visited a tailor before going abroad to speak with investors.

    If I had a meeting with important business people, I would dress and act accordingly. I would feel like Harvey Specter in Suits and have a great time, but it bothers me that—maybe—my gorilla-fighting-a-kangaroo shirt would not be acceptable.

     
  4. All human beings are entrepreneurs. When we were in the caves, we were all self-employed: finding our food, feeding ourselves. That’s where the human history began. As civilization developed, we suppressed it. We became ‘labor,’ because they stamped us, ‘You are labor.’ We forgot that we were all entrepreneurs.
    — Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner
     
  5. Recently, when Eliezer wanted to explain why he thought a certain person was among the best rationalists he knew, he picked out one feature of their behavior in particular:

    I see you start to answer a question, and then you stop, and I see you get curious.

    For me, the ability to reliably get curious is the basic front-kick of epistemic rationality. The best rationalists I know are not necessarily those who know the finer points of cognitive psychology, Bayesian statistics, and Solomonoff Induction. The best rationalists I know are those who can reliably get curious.

    Being curious is important in software development.

    In a project that I am involved in, we are evaluating technologies to use. We have different approaches to tackle this problem. This leads to heated discussions, which is good because it shows that people care about the product. However, too much arguing can be a demotivator and have a negative impact on productivity.

    Here is the heuristic I use to design and build a system:

    1. Find subsystems. Maybe you decide on a client/server architecture. The server needs to communicate with clients and be able to save data. Iterate. Focus on the server and find its components, then look at the client.
    2. Find constraints. You may need clients for two or three platforms, maybe they need to work with a slow or missing connection. Fast feedback is important, and the only viable communication protocol is HTTP. You can get websockets to work on the clients, and it would be a perfect fit. So the server should support websockets.
    3. Find third-party libraries and frameworks that solve your problems. Evaluate them. What are their benefits and drawbacks? Have they been put to the test? Is the community strong? Is the project being maintained? Would it be better to make an in-house solution for this or that part, and how long would it take?
    4. Build prototypes. Test them. Find out if a solution built on these technologies would break or hold in the real world. Focus on the experience of your first users but keep scaling in (the back of your) mind. Think of possible maintenance issues.
    5. Build. Ship. Refine.
     
  6. 10:19 20th Jan 2012

    Notes: 19

    Reblogged from appliedcoffeetechnology

    appliedcoffeetechnology:

The sad part about this is that it’s plausible.

    appliedcoffeetechnology:

    The sad part about this is that it’s plausible.

    (Source: humblybumbly)

     
  7. Instead of asking ‘what problem should I solve?’ ask ‘what problem do I wish someone else would solve for me?’
     
  8. Oliver Segovia wrote a piece on the subject of finding happiness. He argues that instead of following our passions, we should focus on finding big problems:

    Like myself, today’s twentysomethings were raised to find our dreams and follow them. But it’s a different world. And as the jobless generation grows up, we realize the grand betrayal of the false idols of passion. This philosophy no longer works for us, or at most, feels incomplete. So what do we do? I propose a different frame of reference: Forget about finding your passion. Instead, focus on finding big problems.

    Putting problems at the center of our decision-making changes everything. It’s not about the self anymore. It’s about what you can do and how you can be a valuable contributor. People working on the biggest problems are compensated in the biggest ways. I don’t mean this in a strict financial sense, but in a deeply human sense. For one, it shifts your attention from you to others and the wider world. You stop dwelling. You become less self-absorbed. Ironically, we become happier if we worry less about what makes us happy.

    I think he hits the nail on the head. Humans are hard-wired problem solvers. Further, we get satisfaction from tending to the needs of others. A clear line of sight to the customer is important for job satisfaction and feeling passionate about what we do. Steve Denning expresses it well in The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management:

    The meaning that we see in work resides in the responses of the people for whom we are doing the work.

    And my personal favorite:

    The meaning of the software we’re coding doesn’t lie in bits and bytes; it’s in the cool things that users can do with the software.

     
  9. 18:53 9th Jan 2012

    Notes: 655

    Reblogged from swedishproblems

    swedishproblems:

cred: ticktockguy
god jul alla fina :’)

    swedishproblems:

    cred: ticktockguy

    god jul alla fina :’)

     
  10. When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called a Religion.
    — Robert M. Pirsig