Wednesday, April 29, 2009

This has to be the best resignation I've ever seen

If you're going to go out, you might as well do it with style.

This is how to notify your manager and colleagues that you're leaving.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ignite Minneapolis: great energy, but would the people in the back kindly STFU

Last night I went to the first event of, hopefully a long series, Ignite Minneapolis.

The event features a series of presentations that all follow a strict format of 15 seconds per slide for 20 slides, or a 5 minute presentation. Here's a video feed from the presentations last night. The topics were all over the board, but all of them were interesting. While the presentations were going on a projector was showing twitter comments in real time. I thought it was pretty amusing to see some of the speakers react to their hecklers. They seemed to take it all in good spirit.

There was a great showing of people. I'd say they were a bit overbooked for the space--the only problem of the evening was the disrupting noise of the conversations by the couple hundred people in the back of the room. In the future, I'd love to see a designated conversation area that's in a physically separated space from the presentations. Minnedemo did this well at Intermedia Arts.

The conversations at the event were half the draw for me. I had a chance to meet an attorney and an epidemiology student. I learned that attorneys are still in a process of transitioning from a paper document based system of doing business to electronically doing their business. I learned from the epidemiology student that, from a statistical standpoint, the spread of biological diseases shares the same characteristics as the spread of computer viruses.

It was also a chance to say hi to my neighbor Ben. We live about 4 houses from each other, but I swear we see each other more at these events than we do in the neighborhood.

In all, I thought the event was a tremendous success. It's hard to lose when Surly beer is provided free. I'm going to keep an eye out for the next Ignite event in Minneapolis. I'll try and get some of my non-technical friends to come along too.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Here's a delightful song about pirates and emperors

This is very well done.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stunning Pictures of Child Labor in Bangladesh is featuring a story by G.M.B. Akash on child labor in Bangladesh.

Having a visual image showing the lives of children in the developing world is far more powerful than what most textual descriptions can give.

One picture in particular struck me as signifying the tragedy. It's a picture that focuses on the hands of an 8 year old child laborer. The hands are beaten and worn worse than any of the retirement aged tradesmen that I know. To me, the picture symbolizes the imposition of the weathering effect of a career's worth of toil onto children. It's taking youth from children and imposing the pains of age prematurely.

As convenient as child labor is for us in the US to turn a blind eye to, I wish there were a way that more people could be made aware of the issue and do something about it.

Nice infographic: Where your tax money goes is hosting a beautiful diagram of where tax money goes.

Well done.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Protip: Take the dentures out before you skydive


I do not endorse the adhesive that she used to secure her dentures.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Cool Site That Describes, Demonstrates, and Animates Sorting Algorithms

Sorting Algorithms is a very well made site that shows how different sorting algorithms work. I think the animated demonstrations are an especially nice touch.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Amazing Tornado Video


Unbelievably stupid too.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hey Mom, This site is the #1 hit for the google keywords...

open google and type in "Tough Road To Ho" and you get a tidbit I wrote a year ago. I'm not sure I should be proud of this, but that's how a sizable amount of my traffic finds Intellectual Detritus. For those looking to learn more about the phrase Tough Road to Ho, welcome.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Funny Comic, If TV Science Were Like Real Science has a brilliant comic that speculates what some of our favorite science themed television shows would be like if they were to theme their content more towards how science actually works. Which is funny, because all I learned about science is from Horatio Caine.

From H, I learned that one can see the numbers of a license plate off a curved reflected surface in uneven light that was captured a grainy ATM camera feed by using the 'enhance' method.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Cool video of a helecoptor rescue at sea

The camera effects make the video look like stop motion with models, but it's real people.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Excellent Career Advice from Esther Derby

I'm going to have to make a habit of reading Esther Derby's advice more often. In her blog, Esther Derby gives 10 very good pieces of advice for developers to maintain the appearance of value. I agree with every point in the list.

Being visibly valuable is very important. I've been told that back in the day at Control Data, there was a big sign that read "An ounce of perception is worth a pound of performance." It's absolutely true that real performance is only worth what people perceive.

My own additional advice to people is to be cheerful and make your manager's job easier. The first part is because I think there are enough people who choose to express their negative emotions. Be genuine though. A forced smile is far more unsettling than a genuine scowl.

I think the second part is a little more complicated than it sounds. Making a manager's job easier isn't about being a yes man. It isn't about brown nosing either. Making your manager's job easier is about finding their pain points and removing/lessening them.

One thing I found was helpful is approaching a conversation about a problem with an application. I don't like doing this because it seems like you're coming to your boss with something bad and bringing a lot to the manager without any help on making it better.

One approach people take when communicating a problem with their manager is simply to report the problem. If this is something simple and typical I think it's OK to just fix the problem then report that there was an issue and you resolved it. If there's anything new about the issue though you may come off as a loose cannon.

Another approach is to just fix the problem and report that the problem was fixed. I think that an approach in the middle is best. When I find a problem I try to think of at least one viable solution before I report the problem to my manager. I think this is a nice way to build the perception that you're someone who brings a solution when reporting a problem. The manager may not agree with the solution, but at least you're adding some value to the message.

It's really simple, don't add to your manager's problems and contribute to the things that helps her. If it does come time for your manager to make a tough decision, being the person who makes their job easier is going to help you out a lot more than being the person who makes their job harder.