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Ruby and Rails job boards in Boston

I get asked from time to time to recommend ruby, rails, and other developers in the Boston area, either for full time or part time gigs. I'm developing a list of good local job resources - started so far with the help of pal Brian D:

The new, now cancelled, Jay Leno Show

Finally I found someone expressing what I have been thinking about the fracas about NBC, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien etc. etc. And while I didn't know then what I know now, I did eagerly tune in for the first Jay Leno @ 10:00pm show, hoping to see the payoff to all the hype that preceded that first episode. Do you remember all the promos and the hints and speculation? Then, on that first night:

"What would Jerry Seinfeld -- Jay's good buddy -- do with five hours of prime time real estate? How about some TV producers, Mark Burnett or Jerry Bruckheimer or Nigel Lythgoe? You think they would have simply recycled old material or would they have used the opportunity to innovate? Jay had the chance to reinvent himself. He didn 't have to do a tired, watered-down version of The Tonight Show. He didn't have to do what he's always done before. He had the opening, if not the wherewithal, to break out of the mold." (from TV Squad)

True, true. I think Jay Leno in the end is the reason why he didn't do well at 10:00, not NBC, not Conan, not 'life the universe an everything." Sorry Jay - I used to be a fan.

Stop treating Americans like idiots and cowards

An excellent article in the Wall Street Journal about the way the media and politicians want us to react to the recent Christmas Day attempted terrorist attack.

"No amount of statistical evidence, however, will make any difference to those who give themselves over to almost completely irrational fears. Such people, and there are apparently a lot of them in America right now, are in fact real victims of terrorism. They also make possible the current ascendancy of the politics of cowardice—the cynical exploitation of fear for political gain." (from Paul Campos writing in the Wall Street Journal)

Bruce Schneier, as usual has a lucid and convincing commentary on the article:

"But as a nation we get to set our priorities, and decide how to spend our money. No one is suggesting we ignore the risks of terrorism -- and making people feel safe is a good thing to do -- but it makes no sense to focus so much effort and money on it when there are far worse risks to Americans." (from Bruce Shneier's blog)

He is always lucid and convincing. Here is a recent column in CNN, "Stop the Panic on air security":

"As circular as it sounds, rare events are rare primarily because they don't occur very often, and not because of any preventive security measures. If you want to do something that makes security sense, figure out what's common among a bunch of rare events, and concentrate your countermeasures there." (from Bruce Schneier, in CNN)

Frank Rick (again): The other plot

Ok, I am on a Frank Rich binge, but he does have one thought provoking article after another. In his column recently he wrote about The Other Plot to Wreck America:

"If they all skate away yet again by deflecting blame or mouthing pro forma mea culpas, it will be a sign that this inquiry, like so many other promises of reform since 9/15, is likely to leave Wall Street’s status quo largely intact. That’s the ticking-bomb scenario that truly imperils us all." (from "The Other Plot to Wreck America")

I just just finished reading the rare business/economics book (I usually skip them) called How Markets Fail. A highly readable and comprehensive review of economic theory as it evolved from Adam Smith to the present day. From the linked review in the Economist:

"For Mr Cassidy, the deeper roots of the crisis lie in the enduring appeal of an idea: that society is always best served when individuals are left to pursue their self-interest in free markets. He calls this “Utopian economics”. (from The Economist)

I suspect Mr. Cassidy would agree with Mr. Rich, above, and vice versa.

Fillibuster: Congress is totally broken

Thomas Geoghegan has a fantastic column in the New York Times explaining the mess we are in because of the perversion of the fillibuster rule. I don't know how we are going to get out of it, but… come on! You should definitely read the whole thing. Here's a key quote. Doesn't it make your blood boil?

"But the Senate, as it now operates, really has become unconstitutional: as we saw during the recent health care debacle, a 60-vote majority is required to overcome a filibuster and pass any contested bill. The founders, though, were dead set against supermajorities as a general rule, and the ever- present filibuster threat has made the Senate a more extreme check on the popular will than they ever intended" (from New York Times, "Mr. Smith Rewrites the Constitution")

About our credulousness: another great Frank Rich article

Another great column from Frank Rich -- Tiger Woods, Person of The Year. I recommend reading the whole thing. Here's a telling quote:

"The most lethal example, of course, were the two illusions marketed to us on the way to Iraq — that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and some link to Al Qaeda. That history has since been rewritten by Bush alumni, Democratic politicians who supported the Iraq invasion and some of the news media that purveyed the White House fictions (especially the television press, which rarely owned up to its failure as print journalists have). It was exclusively “bad intelligence,” we’re now told, that pushed us into the fiasco. But contradictions to that “bad intelligence” were in plain sight during the run-up to the war — even sometimes in the press.

Yet we wanted to suspend disbelief. Much of the country, regardless of party, didn’t want to question its leaders, no matter how obviously they were hyping any misleading shred of intelligence that could fit their predetermined march to war. It’s the same impulse that kept many from questioning how Mark McGwire’s and Barry Bonds’s outlandishly cartoonish physiques could possibly be steroid-free." (from Frank Rich, Tiger Woods, Person of The Year)

Great production of “All My Sons” in Boston

I've been a subscriber at the Huntington Theater for years and years now and this new play is the best one by far this season and one of the best in the last few years.

"All My Sons" by Arthur Miller, at the Huntington Theater in Boston, MA, USA

I have to say that the productions at the Huntington recently have been uneven at best. I don't know whether my tastes have changed or whether something's different but I more often leave with a "meh" than with a "yay!".

Last night was a Yay! I recommend going to the Huntington Theater in Boston to see "All My Sons"

Zappos Rule

I don't own or buy many shoes. Recently I needed to replace a shoe and visited my previously favorite shoe store, twice (they had to get the right size from the other store, or something…) but left not satisfied. This is a really good store, but they didn't have what I needed

Also, I found that, like salesmen everywhere, they made up stories to explain a price differential ("it's more expensive because it has goretex") or tried to convince me to take an ill-fitting shoe ("you can just cut the toe off the removable insert and it will be perfect.")

Enter Zappos, which I wanted to try for a while. With their encouragement, when I couldn't decide between two brands, I ordered both. I received them about 24 hours after I ordered them. They are both on my feet right now so I can try them in a real world environment (yeah, wearing two different brands at the same time - real world.) Once I decide, I will ship back the other paid and, with less effort, and more choice, indeed I am happier.

Zappos: huge selection, free shipping both ways, good web site, and great (although perhaps a tad too chipper) customer service. Nice. Too bad I buy shoes only once every 2 or 3 years 🙂

The Boston node of OSDV

I've been working quite a bit on the Open Source Digital Voting foundation project over the last 9 months or so. It's really weird but I've turned myself into a mini-expert on how elections are organized and run here in the USA. It's fascinating and way complicated.

OSDV is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing a suite of election (as in Democracy) hardware and software.

The umbrella name for that project is TrustTheVote: an open source project, which will work closely with election officials around the country to learn requirements and then develop software which in turn will be offered free of charge to those who want to deploy it. So we won't be selling the technology, but we will be evangelizing it like crazy. Think Apache or Drupal.

Here are some links to satisfy your curiosity:

We are getting closer and closer to being properly funded with some major contributions so it is time for me to start finding people who might want to join the team. This being an open source project, the idea is of course that any interested person can look and work on the code.

But we also plan to hire 3 developers in the Boston area. Right now it looks like a good part of our code will be Ruby and Ruby on Rails. But that may change; it certainly will be broadened. Really more than anything I would ask if you consider yourself a really good software developer, who loves to design, write, debug and deploy code. And then secondly I would ask if working on a project that is mega ambitious and/but that has a chance to really have an impact on our society - whether that excites you.

Please contact me directly if you want to learn more or throw your virtual hat into the virtual ring.