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    Wednesday
    Jul232014

    Building the Best Software Services, can you find the secret guild?

    I have been the bay area for the past two weeks for business meetings before I head back to Redmond.  Actually haven’t been here for two weeks straight, taking two trips.  I’ve lived for 22 years in Redmond, and before that spent 32 years in Silicon Valley.  I go back and forth often enough that I have an office space in both locations.  How Silicon Valley works is different than Seattle/Redmond, but there is a common trait.  The guys who belong to the secret guild of low level programmers who can build services that scale and run like an energizer bunny.  Working on OS at Apple and Microsoft got me used to working with the developers who belong to the secret guild.

    What is the secret guild?  Here is a post that tells the story.

    the secret guild of silicon valley

    The governors of the guild of St. Luke, Jan de Bray

    A couple of weeks ago, I was drinking beer in San Francisco with friends when someone quipped:

    "You have too many hipsters, you won’t scale like that. Hire some fat guys who know C++." 

    It’s funny, but it got me thinking.  Who are the “fat guys who know C++”, or as someone else put it, “the guys with neckbeards, who keep Google’s servers running”? And why is it that if you encounter one, it’s like pulling on a thread, and they all seem to know each other?

    The reason is because the top engineers in Silicon Valley, whether they realize it or not, are part of a secret Guild.  They are a confraternity of craftsmen who share a set of traits:

    ...

    Read the post to get the rest of story.

    For those of you too lazy to click on the link, here is the closing paragraphs.

    Finally, the implicit compact that the Guild makes with a company is that their efforts will not be in vain.  The most powerfully attractive force for the Guild is the promise of building a product that will get into the happy hands of hundreds, thousands, or millions.  This is the coveted currency that even companies that have struggled to build an engineering reputation, like foursquare, can offer. 

    The Guild of Silicon Valley is largely invisible, but their affiliations have determined the rise and fall of technology giants.  The start-ups who recognize the unsung talents of its members today will be tomorrow’s success stories.

     

    Wednesday
    Jul232014

    Turbines Blade Pressure causes Bat's Trauma, not impact

    Telegraph has a post reporting that Bats are dying because of the turbine blade pressures, not impact.

    Bats get ‘the Bends’ when they fly too near wind turbines, experts have claimed.

    Queen’s University Belfast said pressure from the turbine blades causes a similar condition as that experienced by divers when the surface too quickly.

    Conservationists have warned that the bodies of bats are frequently seen around the bases of turbines, but it was previously assumed they had flown into the blades.

    However, Dr Richard Holland claims that bats suffer from ‘barotrauma’ when the approach the structures which can pop their lungs from inside their bodies.

    Suggested answer by Dr. Holland is to turn off the turbines during migration.

    Dr Holland said energy companies should consider turning off turbines when bats are migrating.

    "We know that bats must be 'seeing' the turbines, but it seems that the air pressure patterns around working turbines give the bats what's akin to the bends," he said.

    The effect on wildlife of wind turbines is slowly being discovered.

    Salon reports that offshore wind farms are helping seals find food.

    Go wind power! For once, the green energy source has made the news for the wildlife itdoesn’t inadvertently slaughter — and that it may even be helping to thrive. Offshore wind farms, finds a study published today in the journal Current Biology, are making more food available for seals.

    A farm off the coast of Germany, researchers found, is acting as an “artificial reef,” attracting fish and crustaceans and the grey and harbor seals that feed on them.

    Tuesday
    Jul222014

    Think Google Infrastructure will hit $3bil/Qtr in Q4 2014 or Q1 2015?

    Google’s data center group is on a growth curve that is mind blowing.  Last quarter was $2.65 Bil.

    NewImage

    Note not all of this spend is the data center group.

    When you stare at this graph it seems like the $3bil mark is only a few quarters away.

    If you are a believer in size brings efficiency, then Google is clearly one of the leaders.

    Tuesday
    Jul222014

    What you mean there are bogus repairs? Hell yeh

    WSJ had an article on bogus repairs on trains at port complex.

    TERMINAL ISLAND, Calif.—Ten thousand railcars a month roll into this sprawling port complex in Los Angeles County. While here, most are inspected by a subsidiary ofCaterpillar Inc. CAT +0.44%

    When problems are found, the company repairs the railcars and charges the owner. Inspection workers, to hear some tell it, face pressure to produce billable repair work.

    Some workers have resorted to smashing brake parts with hammers, gouging wheels with chisels or using chains to yank handles loose, according to current and former employees.

    In a practice called "green repairs," they added, workers at times have replaced parts that weren't broken and hid the old parts in their cars out of sight of auditors. One employee said he and others sometimes threw parts into the ocean.

    It is bit ironic that the term “green repairs” is used to describe the practicer.  What could be more non-green (environmental) than damaging a part to create a repair transaction. 

    Even so, they said, car men are under pressure to identify repair work to be done. The quickest way to do so, they said, was to smash something or to remove a bolt or other part and report it as missing.

    They weren't instructed to do that, the workers said. But they added that some managers made clear the workers would be replaced if they didn't produce enough repair revenue.

    "A lot of guys are in fear of losing their jobs because there's no work in California," said one worker, standing in front of his small ranch house a few miles from the Terminal Island ports.

    Car men are expected to justify their hourly pay "and then some," this worker said. "If you find no defects, it's a bad night," he added, and that creates a temptation to "break something that's not broken."

    This is a consequence of having performance based systems that are short sighted.

     

    Saturday
    Jul192014

    In the Microsoft Layoffs treasure to be found, Got mine within an hour

    The Microsoft Layoffs are all over the news.  The announcement that up to 18,000 would be let go over the next year got people’s attention.  When you go through the various Microsoft announcements it doesn’t say that Microsoft is letting go of bad performers.

    The first step to building the right organization for our ambitions is to realign our workforce. With this in mind, we will begin to reduce the size of our overall workforce by up to 18,000 jobs in the next year.

    Microsoft is eliminating roles.

    It’s important to note that while we are eliminating roles in some areas, we are adding roles in certain other strategic areas.

    So if you happen to be an amazingly good person with years and years of experience and Microsoft decides your role is no longer needed, then you could be one of those who has their role eliminated.

    One of my good friends who has been at Microsoft 21 years had her role eliminated.  At first it was sad that she had her role eliminated.  Then in our e-mail discussion we discussed what she could next and how we could work together.  Out of the 18,000 having their job reduced there are good people and some awesome.  I have found one of the awesome ones, and there are many more.

    There is a huge perception issue that because you are let go, you are a bad performer.  Wrong.  There are great people in those who were let go which is why there are dozens of recruiters ready to hire.  Local Seattle News KiroTV covers some perspectives on the local job market.

    “It's probably a good time to be laid off any time in the past 5 years,” said Hilwa.

    Seattle tech companies can't hire people fast enough.  Amazon continues to grow its empire in South Lake Union and tech giants like Google and Facebook continue to expand in Seattle. 

    University of Washington professor Ed Lazowska told KIRO 7 he sees the layoffs as a positive.

    “I believe that those who are displaced from Microsoft in the Seattle area will rapidly find new employment in the field,” said Lazowska.

     

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