Friday, July 31, 2009

Daring Fireball: Microsoft's Long, Slow Decline

Daring Fireball: Microsoft's Long, Slow Decline: "They’re a software company whose primary platform no longer appeals to people who like computers the most. Their executives are either in denial of, or do not perceive, that there has emerged a consensus — not just among nerds but among a growing number of regular just-plain users — that Windows PCs are second-rate. They still dominate in terms of unit-sale market share, yes, but not because people don’t recognize Windows as second-rate, but because they don’t care, in the same way millions of people buy metric tons of second-rate products from Wal-Mart every hour of every day.

That’s the business Wal-Mart wants to be in — selling a zillion cheap low-margin items and turning a profit on volume. That’s not the business Microsoft is in."

Poor Microsoft, they aren't in the business they believe they are in. That is probably the most dangerous place to be. This is a classic mis-management by mis-measuring problem.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Way We Live Now - Kindergarten Cram -

The Way We Live Now - Kindergarten Cram - "I wonder how far I’m willing to go in my commitment to the cause: would I embrace the example of Finland — whose students consistently come out on top in international assessments — and delay formal reading instruction until age 7? Could I stick with that position when other second graders were gobbling up “War and Peace” — or at least the third Harry Potter book?"


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Speechless: Dilbert Creator's Struggle to Regain His Voice

Speechless: Dilbert Creator's Struggle to Regain His Voice: "After a few more searches, Adams arrived at his own diagnosis: spasmodic dysphonia. It was another neurological disorder, one that causes the throat muscles to clamp down erratically on the vocal cords, strangling speech. In all of Adams' meetings with physicians, no one had even mentioned SD; the disorder is so rare that few doctors have heard of it. Adams tracked down a throat specialist, who confirmed Adams' findings and told him that SD had no known cure. He'd never regain his normal speaking voice."

Interesting. I wonder if there is any relation to Target Panic.

Until this malady struck, I was a bad MoFo Robin Hood with the bow and arrow. I had shot naturally since I was a small child, and was rather cocky about my accuracy, even under extreme conditions. Squirrels running along powerlines or hugging stratospheric oaktop limbs, I almost never missed with my Osage longbow and cedar arrows. It was wonderful. Then the mind kicked in at the tender age of 28, and blew the whole shootin match. Once asked what he thought about when he stood in the batter's box before the pitch, the great Babe Ruth said, "Hell, if I tried to think, I couldn't hit the damn ball!" Aha! Don't confuse simple function with superfluous mindgames. Zen. Mind over matter. Second nature. Subconsciousness. The physics of spirituality. Nike got it right. Just do it!

They sound so simliar, both are related to over work of a neural pathway.

Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule

Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule: "For someone on the maker's schedule, having a meeting is like throwing an exception. It doesn't merely cause you to switch from one task to another; it changes the mode in which you work."

This is a good one to remember. It goes back to flow and you can even see it in The Wealth of Nations, while people have seen the existence of the problem for hundreds of years no one has done a good job quantifying it until recently. We have been fooled in school to think that anything can be done in the 50 minutes between bells. They're wrong.

From a cold start it will take 15 minutes or more to get into flow if you are working at it. Most people don't really understand how they do it so it takes even longer. Of course, since most people are interrupted more often then that so they never get there in the first place. If you are in flow and you are interrupted by a short question you can often get back in in a few minutes but a meeting is a total context switch which will drive you back to square 1.

I've been in meetings that were a total waste of time. The worst was a 14 hour meeting that made ZERO (0) decisions. That wasted tens of thousands of dollars and it didn't faze them in the slightest. The first time a manager should do is figure out who needs to be there and how much they cost per hour (all meetings are in hourly increments) and calculate how much the meeting will cost. Then decide if the meeting will generate more value then letting your makers actually make stuff.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Never Before Seen Image of Neil Armstrong's First Moonwalk Shows His face - apollo 11 - Gizmodo

Never Before Seen Image of Neil Armstrong's First Moonwalk Shows His face - apollo 11 - Gizmodo: "This weird and never-before-seen photo was taken by the top camera of the Eagle. As Armstrong walked his first steps across the surface of the Sea of Tranquility, on that little dusty ball of cheese we like to call the Moon."

Cool image.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Facilitation - Evaluation - Beyond the Edge - Viv McWaters

Facilitation - Evaluation - Beyond the Edge - Viv McWaters: "“Giving it all you’ve got commonly backfires. There is a paradox that when we are trying hard the result is often disappointing. A healthier climate is one in which we tell ourselves to just be average. Take the pressure off. Avoid the mindset that says “This one better be good!” or “Be original.”�When you try to do your best the effect on your performance is often to jinx it. In all cases there is something to lose. This can provoke tension and easily lead to anxiety.”"

You know I think some of this comes from school. We are trained, demanded to be different yet exactly the same. I had a friend in my high school programming class that did each assignment in a way that was not what the teacher expected so he almost failed the class, even though they all worked. Or on the opposite side of the spectrum you have a teacher that praises an essay that is finally different from the same old-same old even if it is repulsive.
Then there are a all the groups, how many can you identify just by the clothes they wear? Does it really matter if they are a clique in a high school or the consulting group in a major corp?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Johnnie Moore's Weblog: Avoiding presentations

Johnnie Moore's Weblog: Avoiding presentations: "My own hunch is that our education system has a huge amount to answer for. School was an extraordinarily rigorous drilling in the idea we should sit in serried ranks, at the behest of others. Any interaction was to be at the whim, and following the instructions, of the leader."

Need to remember this.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Annals of Education: Most Likely to Succeed: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker

Annals of Education: Most Likely to Succeed: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker: "A group of researchers—...—have investigated whether it helps to have a teacher who has earned a teaching certification or a master’s degree. Both are expensive, time-consuming credentials that almost every district expects teachers to acquire; neither makes a difference in the classroom. Test scores, graduate degrees, and certifications—as much as they appear related to teaching prowess—turn out to be about as useful in predicting success as having a quarterback throw footballs into a bunch of garbage cans."

I keep seeing things like this, mismanagement because of mis-measurement. When you spend a lot of time and effort not getting what you really want you have wonder what is causing these perverse effects.
The funny thing is is how different Collage and the NFL is, it makes sense that the one can't predict the other, they have relatively little in common. They may both be called football but are as different as a Trebant and a Porsche.

One interesting segment is that it takes a few years to find out if a person is good at something. That is about the half the time it takes master a subject (~10,000 hours) which is about what you would expect if someone is doing the same thing as they studied in college.

I know plenty of teachers and they all have complained about not learning enough about how to handle classrooms It is odd that isn't it.


Now on to the actually content of the video that was presented by Dr. Tae. from MeFi
1. School Sucks.
2. Make it meaningful.
3. Don't rely on fixed time periods for subject mastery.
4. Distributed teaching. e.g. get good teachers from anywhere.

Congratulations, Dr. Tae you have just derived from first principles what homeschoolers have known since the 1980's.

I agree with him that sharing knowledge is a good thing, right now do it for free because soon an ecosystem of distributed education will develop and someone will monetize it somewhere, somehow, but get your practice in now.