Monday, April 07, 2014

Betas vs. Silicon Valley

Over the past couple weeks I watched the full series of Betas on Amazon Instant Video and found it pretty funny so last night despite my hatred of corduroy, weird facial hair, and sandals on men I decided to give Silicon Valley, from HBO, a try.

Wow, the two series could not be more different despite dealing with the same basic subject, youngish adults trying to make it in a tech startup.

 Both are ensemble casts of relative unknowns, both use a startup incubator as their jumping off point and both are driven by kind of a cynical humor, but that is where the similarity ends.  Betas is far more driven by situational humor while Silicon Valley draws much more on the characters quirks.  At first viewing Silicon Valley seems to be the "meaner" show, but when I watched again I changed my mind.  I think Mike Judge really does like the people he is lampooning but is doing his best to capture their flaws.  On the other hand there is no indication that the makers of Betas have any sympathy at all towards the characters.  Both shows made me laugh but I have to give the edge to Silicon Valley at this point because I cans see people that I know in the characters.

End of review - BTW the picture is not associated wit either show in any way.  I am just trying to cover up my profile picture with something that won't make people want to gouge their eyes out.

God, I wish people would get over their Ayn Rand fetish

Over the weekend there was a protest outside the house of former Digg co-owner/founder, former tech journalism personality, current Google Ventures partner Kevin Rose.  The protesters are opposed to the work Rose does in attracting startups to the San Francisco area and therefore supposedly contributing to gentrification, an increasing cost of living, and forcing people out of their homes (in other words making San Francisco more livable by providing jobs, cleaning up neighborhoods and bulldozing eyesores to replace with new better buildings).  Instapundit writes in response,

Okay, one more point: Anything successful, lefties will ultimately try to drag down. Because, at core, their politics are based on envy, resentment, and a wholly-earned sense of inferiority. Meanwhile, perhaps I’ll send some remedial reading to Mr. Rose. It may resonate differently now.

I'll let you decide for yourself about the basis of leftist politics, but what pisses me off is the idea that Atlas Shrugged (the proposed remedial reading) is some sort of useful guide to life.

It's not.

It's a crappy story by a shitty writer that lays out a philosophy for being a prick and justifying it as being for the social good.  It's scientology for politics.  The only difference between Rand and L. Ron Hubbard is that some of Hubbard's stories were amusing.  Well, that and Hubbard was far more successful in spreading his philosophy.

I disagree with many of the same things Rand did, and Randians (or Objectistists) as they like to call themselves do.  I just think that her proposed solution was bullshit.  The way to fix the system is success and then teach others to be  successful.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Per Valleywag, all future tech meetups must be held in a field with no visual or auditory stimulation

I can't really explain it just read the article.

Oh My God, the horror of a bunch of people wanting to meet for a social gathering at a bar.  Look I understand that if you aren't a 20 something straight male this might not be your type of place but there are a few options here:

1.  Don't go
2.  Suggest an alternate location
3.  Organize the next meetup at someplace that you like better
4.  Organize an alternate event

Those are just the first 4 off the top of my head.  Nowhere in my list is play the victim card so that once again everyone can see how victimized I am and how horrible the tech industry is.

Two reasons for that.

First, like all these rape trigger warnings that have started appearing everywhere this isn't really about the behavior being discussed it's about control.  I get enough of that from the government thank you very much.

Second, People who complain in this manner aren't interested in fixing the actual problem, and as soon as it is they will be findind some other vestige of the patriarchy that's keeping them down.

(That isn't too say that there aren't inequality issues that need to be addressed just that I question whether the author of the article is actually interested in addressing them)

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Re-watching "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles"

A highly underrated show.  3 examples of quality TV that FOX just threw away:

End - Season One

Opening - Season 2 (posted on G+ Last night sorry for the repeat)

 And Summer Glau as a Cop

Saturday, March 29, 2014

WTF? Nerd Porn?

On Mozilla and the Brendan Eich hiring

Just about the only interesting thing that happened this week -

On Monday (Mar 24th) the Mozilla Foundation elevated Chief Technology Officer Brendan Eich was elevated to CEO. 30 seconds later a backlash began, based on a $1000 dollar donation that Eich made in 2008 in support of Proposition 8.  Directors are resigning, employees are complaining, and developers are pulling apps and everyone is pushing for Eich to be fired.  All within their rights, but is it the right thing to do?

In my opinion - No, for a couple reasons:

First, we don't know what Eich's actual stance on homosexuality and gays is.  He may be a homophobe, he may be general supportive of gay rights bust think marriage is a religious sacrament, like many do, he may support gay marriage but felt that supporting prop 8 was right for other political reasons, hell he may have donated before he actually knew what prop 8 was, although that is unlikely bust some people are that politically tuned out.  The point is there are a lot of reasons why he may have donated and only one of them (homophobia) is actually nefarious, the rest are differences of opinion and opinions can change.  Eichs himself addressed this when this donation came to light the first time back in 2012 saying:

 Second, the donation does not in itself constitute evidence of animosity. 

Not a very illuminating answer, but a denial of actual homophobia.  Personally I sympathize with the guy I have been on the same side of the "you're a hater" line as him.  back in 2006 / 2007 a high school friend and I linked up on facebook.  Unknown to me in the years since high school this friend had come out of the closet.  No biggie, I know a lot of gays and have a number of gay friends.  In general I feel the same way about their lifestyle as I do breeders- I don't want to see you swap spit in public, I don't care what you do in private - in short his being gay didn't bother me.  Over the course of a few months it became apparent that we disagreed on Prop 8.  While I support gay marriage, and think those who don't are wrong, I also am aware that there is a lot of cultural baggage associated with the concept of marriage, and I felt (wrongly it appears) that the tactics that were being adopted would end up causing a huge political rift and so I was supporting the idea of full civil unions.  Apparently that makes me a bigot and I was told flat out that I was  unworthy of friendship.  OK, I can live with that (in general I am scum unworthy of friendship but for many other reasons, not this one), but in my opinion my (former) friend was wrong and now he can't share in scintillating universe that is the life of Chad.  Anyway the actual point of this rambling aside is that without knowing the motivation behind the donation the donation it self may not mean what people think. If that's the case then Mozilla may be losing a very technically competent CEO for some very poor reasons

Second reason, this all smacks of political theater to me.  This isn't a newly originated charge.  The donation has been public record since 2008 and it originally came to light in 2012.  Why weren't people resigning then? I mean,  he was Chief Technology Officer, and due to his history with the company a very influential figure.  My personal theory and one that Eich advanced in 2012 is that this isn't really about him, it's about putting others on notice:

 First, I have been online for almost 30 years. I’ve led an open source project for 14 years. I speak regularly at conferences around the world, and socialize with members of the Mozilla, JavaScript, and other web developer communities. I challenge anyone to cite an incident where I displayed hatred, or ever treated someone less than respectfully because of group affinity or individual identity.
Second, the donation does not in itself constitute evidence of animosity. Those asserting this are not providing a reasoned argument, rather they are labeling dissenters to cast them out of polite society. To such assertions, I can only respond: “no”.

"Agree with us or else"  In my opinion giving in too demands like that is like negotiating with terrorists.  It only encourages other attacks.  If there were actual evidence of Eich acting in a discriminatory fashion then he should be fired.  If there is a history of hate filled speech he should be fired.  In short if he engaged in actual bad behavior he should be fired, but he shouldn't be fired just because he disagrees with a group on a political issue.

I said this a couple weeks ago but I am going to reiterate - at some point tech companies and tech workers have to start realizing what the point of a business is.  A lot of them seem to be missing it at this point in time.
Another aside here - If you haven't seen it already check out "Betas" om Amazon Instant Video.  They  do a good job of skewering some of the tech industries self-importance.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I just have to ask - What the hell kind of place are these people working at?

So over the weekend a female developer at a tech startup in San Francisco (Julie Ann Horvarth - Github) quit and posted about what she describes as an ongoing culture of sexism and intimidation in the workplace. The tech press is sympathetic, commenters are not.

This evening Instapundit linked to a followup article about Github removing a "meritocracy" rug because female developers found it offensive.  Again the article is relatively sympathetic, the comments are not.

Meanwhile, here in my little corner of existence I am sitting here wondering, "What the F**k people?" Seriously, What the hell kind of companies are these that this kind of trash is going on?

 I mean I am in no position to judge whether or not there was rampant sexism at Github.  I have never worked there and never known anyone who worked there.  It wouldn't surprise me if there was some, it also wouldn't surprise me if Horvarth was just impossible to work with and on the verge of being fired she quit and threw her accusations out there in order as a preemptive first strike.

It doesn't really matter.

What does matter to me is what kind of douchebag boss let's his office get this dysfunctional?  I am far from Mr. Office Decorum and I'll tell you I would have fired every person imvolved (or better, done like the Romans and have them draw beads then crucify every tenth one in the parking lot as a warning to others).

This is just f**king ridiculous.

I have worked at a number of tech companies and the only place you ever hear about this kind of thing is from Silicon Valley startups.  People need to start learning what the words work and office mean and CEOs need to start realizing that there is no reason to keep disruptions like this around.

Developers are a commodity item anymore.  India and China are pumping them out by the millions, cut your losses and move on.

It's a sad state of affairs when you can count on a teenager working at McDonalds acting better than these so called professionals.

(Does IBM still have a dress code?  I was just thinking about the studies on school uniforms where they found an improvement in berhavior when students had to wear uniforms.  I wonder if that carries over to the adult workspace?)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What I am reading 3/18/2014

#google #viacom #patenttrolls #bushsfault #netneutrality #NSA #Snowden #journalism

Google settles its seven-year YouTube copyright battle with Viacom - Self Explanatory :-)

Why is the Patent Office So Bad At Reviewing Software Patents? - "For a start, examiners spend barely any time looking for prior art (the pre-existing publications and technology that could invalidate a patent by showing that the invention wasn't new). PTO examiners spend an average of only 18 hours per application and only a fraction of that time is devoted to looking for prior art. And when they do look for prior art, examiners tend to use a limited set of databases of patents and technical journals."

EU Committee accepted two-tier InternetProponents of a strict net neutrality have suffered a defeat in the EU Parliament. The lead industry committee ITRE agreed in Brussels on Tuesday for a draft regulation on the digital single market, specifically the establishment of "special services" such as TV broadcasts, video conferencing and health services in a "better quality" provides.

     Petition here if you need it  It goes without saying that this is obviously the work of evil Bush appointees.

A 10-Point Plan to Keep the NSA Out of Our Data - "WIRED consulted with experts to compile this list of 10 measures tech companies should adopt to protect customer data, whether it resides on a distant corporate server or is making its way across the Internet. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a running scorecard tracking which companies are already employing some of these items on our wish list."

Explaining what’s behind the sudden allure of explanatory journalism - "These new efforts in explanatory reporting aim to take advantage of the Web’s wealth of information while being reliable. Landman called it a “reaction to the shattering of the package that the Internet has caused. What you get now is a kind of machine-gun barrage of news. It’s harder to find the context.” - believe as much of that as you want.  What's really behind it is an attempt for professional journalists  to reestablish their positions of authority in disseminating information.  

We are all intelligence officers now - honestly I haven't finished this yet.  It's kind of long and densely written, but it's by a guy who works at the NSA so it's worth a look.

Monday, March 17, 2014

What I am reading 3/17/2014

#jobs #Tech #geek

11 Reasons I Won't Hire You - Another one of those you're doing everything wrong I'm here to correct you pieces that start popping up this time of year.  I don't know, I guess the guy has some worthwhile points but at the same time he seems a little divorced from reality.  I do know that if I walked into an interview and someone started in with the attitude that seems to be displayed in this article (and I have had interviews like this) I would just turn around and walk out (and I have) and the I would tell everyone I know to avoid company x like the plague (and I have). 

How to set up your own private instant messaging server - "The video below will walk through the process of setting up and installing Prosody, a lightweight Lua-based instant messaging server application. We'll be using Ubuntu 12.04 for our server, though Prosody is a cross-platform application and will run on Windows, OS X, and a number of different Linuxes"

Google’s Eric Schmidt On Critics Who Say College Isn’t Worth It: “They’re Just Wrong” - “The economic return to higher education over a lifetime produces significant compound greater earnings.” It’s true, on average, economists find that college raises wages by about 15-30 percent. Despite the debt, it’s a wise investment for many students."