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By TheophileEscargot (Sun Jun 05, 2011 at 07:11:10 AM EST) Reading, Theatre, MLP (all tags)
Reading: "Lustrum", "The One Minute Manager". Theatre: "Antigone". Me. Links.


What I'm Reading
Lustrum by Robert Harris is the second in his novelizations about the great Roman statesman Cicero. Liked this one even more than the first, "Imperium": the first half covers Cicero's finest hour as he uncovers the Catiline Conspiracy. Harris' journalistic background and fascination with politics help a lot: he actually makes the complex political maneuvering interesting as part of the plot, which is tricky.

The second half of the book is more depressing as Cicero gets carried away with his success.

Overall: a well-written, interesting: well worth reading. You can probably get away without reading "Imperium" and dive straight in.

Minor note: the book is written from the point of view of Cicero's slave Tiro who invented an early form of shorthand which included e.g. and i.e. and the ampersand. Clever guy.

What I'm Reading 2
The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. Very short management book, more of a pamphlet, was a huge cult hit in the Eighties with a vast array of spinoffs.

Most of the content is covered here,. The book is structured as a story where an interviewer meets a legendary One Minute Manager and his employees who gush about how wonderful he is in an appealingly servile manner. He works by being largely hands-off, but setting One Minute Goals at the start, keeping an eye on his employees, and issuing One Minute Praisings whenever possible, and One Minute Reprimands when things go wrong. The One Minute Reprimands make it clear that he is criticizing the Behaviour not the Person, and involve a few seconds Uncomfortable Silence before ending with a bit of body contact.

Seems pretty basic but might be helpful. I thought one tip was useful: if someone has a genuine problem they ought to be able to identify a difference between the current situation and the way things should be: otherwise they're just whining.

Theatre
Saw Antigone at the Southwark Playhouse. Good production. Pretty lavish and melodramatic but I think Greek drama needs that: the original had clever dactylic hexameter verse to add to the appeal, so it gets a bit boring if you just have it in prose.

Liked the chorus, which was partly does as a TV news crew commenting on events, some good singing there. The two main roles were good too: Jamie Glover as Creon falls apart from arrogance to despair quite nicely.

Seemed on a par with the National's much bigger budget "Welcome to Thebes" which I saw last year: very loose adaptation of the same play.

Review, review.

Me
Got a few managementy books in case I get that different job at work: but haven't heard much about it and it may have been quietly dropped. As I suspected life post-redundancy is going to be tougher: we're looking at outsourcing some of the development. (We lost two out of five developers, used to have about fifteen). I did think outsourcing was impossible due to the specialization, but after some thought we might be able to work something out.

So, decided to take the bull by the horns and wrote up a pretty radical plan to just outsource the fuck out of everything, got the other guys to kind of agree and sent it to the CTO. Have to see what will happen. Not sure outsourcing will work, but we don't have enough resources in-house to even keep things going either.

Must start serious job hunting again.

Links
Socioeconomics. Why BitCoin is a bad idea.

Politics. Wikileaks on Gordon Brown and Iraq. Nosemonkey vs. Euroskeptics round One Zillion.

Video. Milky Way from Dakota Plains. Spanish girl longboard skaters. Cyriak's latest horrific fractal lamb. Earth rotates under large telescopes.

Sci/Tech. Why Windows 8 Is Fundamentally Flawed as a Response to the iPad. Top 15 ways Chuck Norris messes with Agile. Evil science: stuttering.

Random. Obeasts news, via. Quiz from poll results Guardian or Mail reader? (I'm 66% Guardian, 48% Mail). How to watch the Daily Show in the UK.

< Another countdown coming to a close | Hopelessly Wrong vs. Hopelessly Touchy >
Lustrum for life | 25 comments (25 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Bitcoin by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #1 Sun Jun 05, 2011 at 08:02:15 AM EST
It appears to be a currency invented by gold bug engineers that don't actually have any gold. The circularity of the "mining" just seems a bit dumb to me. If you must endure a commodity currency, at least make it something pretty (gold) or needed everywhere (oil I guess, sadly).

As the article says, the transaction stuff seems neat.

Iambic Web Certified

Outsourcing by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #2 Sun Jun 05, 2011 at 08:26:02 AM EST
Our whole development organization (600+ people, from special board design to firmware and software and testing) is being outsourced to a software engineering company. Nothing is supposed to change, the new company only does software engineering, the current company is moving towards services.

It's an unusual sort of outsourcing deal, the current company keeps the IP, we'll see what happens.


Five years by jimgon (4.00 / 2) #4 Sun Jun 05, 2011 at 10:07:52 AM EST
At the end of five years they'll look for another outsourcer.  It all follows a similar cycle.  Wash, rinse, repeat. 




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Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure, supposedly the new corp by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #5 Sun Jun 05, 2011 at 10:27:17 AM EST
is looking to increase it's American footprint, why would they outsource us?


[ Parent ]
Management Consultants by jimgon (4.00 / 1) #6 Sun Jun 05, 2011 at 10:52:47 AM EST
Because the management consultants say it's the correct thing to do.  Still.  Even though they've been proven to be wrong on a macro scale.




---------------
Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
[ Parent ]
or they'll buy out the parent company by garlic (2.00 / 0) #24 Tue Jun 07, 2011 at 11:23:52 PM EST
like lenovo.


[ Parent ]
56% Guardian, 64% Mail by jimgon (4.00 / 1) #3 Sun Jun 05, 2011 at 10:05:15 AM EST
Surprisingly, or not actually, I'm well versed in current affairs over there.  That and the ratio seems about right. 




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Technician - "We can't even get decent physical health care. Mental health is like witchcraft here."
One minute manager is pretty good by dmg (4.00 / 1) #7 Sun Jun 05, 2011 at 10:54:23 AM EST
If that's the one with the monkey analogy running through it?
--
dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.
That seems to be by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #8 Sun Jun 05, 2011 at 11:57:40 AM EST
One of the many followups.
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Outsourcing works great by ucblockhead (4.00 / 4) #9 Sun Jun 05, 2011 at 01:27:44 PM EST
for the outsourcing companies.  Otherwise, it generally shows none of the expected savings and produces large quality shortfalls.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
Yar by duxup (4.00 / 1) #11 Mon Jun 06, 2011 at 12:52:23 PM EST
My experience is limited, but I've yet to see anyone actually demonstrate that they've made an substantial savings, but several cases where outsourcing caused issues and didn't save much more than a dime.
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[ Parent ]
The trouble with outsourcing by ucblockhead (4.00 / 2) #13 Mon Jun 06, 2011 at 01:28:16 PM EST
The basic problem that companies don't seem to get is that it is in the best interest of the outsourcing company to increase costs charged to the customer and to minimize its own costs.  This generally leads to cost overruns, and low quality.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
You got it by duxup (4.00 / 1) #15 Mon Jun 06, 2011 at 02:28:53 PM EST
For whatever reason they don't seem to get that that most companies have a really hard time evaluating the quality / costs of their own work, and then evaluating work done by another company for them is even harder to evaluate.  So once your in.... for the most part you can't justify getting out of the outsource system as savings are just assumed to be occurring.   And the companies providing the outsourcing service totally know this.  

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[ Parent ]
The main problem with outsourcing by dmg (2.00 / 0) #16 Mon Jun 06, 2011 at 10:47:47 PM EST
Is the dishonesty about the reasons for doing it. It may or may not save money, but it absolutely does get those fixed costs off the balance sheet. Which can work wonders for the credit rating. Cheaper borrowing. If the incentivization and management of the contract is done correctly it shouldn't be much more expensive than paying employees and with right shoring can be cheaper, As for low quality, most in-house developers are able to provide that too.
--
dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.
[ Parent ]
You are ignoring the true incentives by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #17 Mon Jun 06, 2011 at 10:58:37 PM EST
Under most outsourcing contracts, bug fixing actually makes the contracting company money.  There's actually a perverse incentive for these companies to use shitty labor.

On the other hand, bugs cost a company money, which gives it an incentive to push employees to produce better quality software.

Management idiots have been ignoring this for twenty years, and suffering the consequences because they don't like it when their own employees give true cost estimates and thus fall prey to outsourcing snake oil vendors.

(Though many of these managers are bean counter idiots who "cut costs" by outsourcing and then run off to some other company before the shit hits the fan.)
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
Repeat after me by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #18 Tue Jun 07, 2011 at 03:05:31 AM EST
Do not outsource your core competencies. And get really good at writing contracts and incentives. But not too good or nobody will want your business.

[ Parent ]
indeed. by garlic (2.00 / 0) #25 Tue Jun 07, 2011 at 11:26:12 PM EST


[ Parent ]
Although I largely agree by Herring (2.00 / 0) #19 Tue Jun 07, 2011 at 04:08:13 AM EST
We've had some success with getting certain bits of code developed by another company. They're more effecient because they don't have the bureaucracy and their developers are better - and do what's in the fucking spec without arguing over every little thing.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky
[ Parent ]
What I learned from 1 minute manager by johnny (4.00 / 6) #10 Sun Jun 05, 2011 at 10:24:15 PM EST
I managed a technical publications group of about 30 or 35 people when this book came out. I read it. It had one or two interesting insights, about par for the typical management book.

My group gave me a copy of a parody of the book; I forget what it was called. Anyway it took up on the idea in 1 minute manager that you should always say something positive before offering a corrective or injunction. The example given was how to deal with female subordinates (it had an illustration). The example given was, say, "Nice earrings. Get to work."

So I started saying that to all the women members of my staff on my daily "management by wandering around" encounters.

Many of the women in my group began to wear outlandish earrings, which amused us all.

SO overall I think it was a very good management book.

She has effectively checked out. She's an un-person of her own making. So it falls to me.--ad hoc (in the hole)

Vimeo by duxup (4.00 / 1) #12 Mon Jun 06, 2011 at 12:52:57 PM EST
Vimeo needs a tagline, something about every video being impossibly hip.
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1 minute manager by Merekat (4.00 / 2) #14 Mon Jun 06, 2011 at 02:22:30 PM EST
Seems pretty basic...in fact it seems like the quality of mentoring and support I am getting from senior management on intractable problems right now. I don't need them to advise me to set goals and then delegate. I need them to move the 2-3 political blockages above my level that is causing the problem with actually doing that. But that would be the harder problem and they wouldn't feel all satisfied at the end of the day at having helped me if they try to solve that one.

Unity of Purpose by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #20 Tue Jun 07, 2011 at 10:12:23 AM EST
Honestly, what do you think would happen to your company if a bunch of merekat-level managers simply decided to just do their own thing? What a trainwreck that would be!

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
I don't have to wonder by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #21 Tue Jun 07, 2011 at 01:13:56 PM EST
I work at a company exactly like that.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Yeah, but I'm sure they're not attracting many by ambrosen (2.00 / 0) #22 Tue Jun 07, 2011 at 04:54:45 PM EST
headlines about it.

Or...

[ Parent ]
Dear God. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #23 Tue Jun 07, 2011 at 06:17:22 PM EST
Ouch.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Lustrum for life | 25 comments (25 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback