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2013

How to be a star engineer!

Link: How to be a star engineer!: ""

We all want to be star engineers, right? Here's an intriguing article from about ten years ago engineers from top companies helped to dispel the myths about star performers and uncover the surprising secrets of stellar achievement for engineers.:

"In 1985, I was asked a series of questions, and have been tracking down their answers ever since. Bell Laboratories (then part of AT&T Corp. and now mostly belonging to Lucent Technologies Inc.) was perplexed. It hired the best and the brightest from the world's most prestigious universities, but only a few lived up to their apparent potential for brilliance. Most developed into solid performers of mostly average productivity who did not substantially further Bell Labs' contribution to AT&T's competitive advantage in the marketplace.

What the labs wanted to know was: what separates the star from the average performer? Is it innate or can star performance be learned? Could a program to improve productivity be designed that would help turn average performers into stars?" (from How To Be A Star Engineer)

Looking for eRoom

Link: Looking for eRoom: ""

Long time ago I worked at a company called eRoom Technology where we developed a product called… eRoom. It was pretty successful and it was bought by a company called Documentum, that in turn was bought by a company called EMC. Today, on a lark, I was wondering what had happened to eRoom and I can't really tell for sure.

Do you know: did eRoom become Documentum Centerstage? Or is that something else?

Do you know: does eRoom still exist? Or is the only thing left eRoom.net?

Did someone actually have to invent that?

Link: Did someone actually have to invent that?: ""

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A really charming article about John Karlin who was one of the first UX guys. He worked at Bell Labs back in the day and helped determine lots of little details about how telephones are designed. Simple silly things like that putting a dot (to "aim" at) visible through each finger hole of a dial phone improved accuracy and speed of dialing.

He determined, through testing, the best shape (square) and arrangement (a rectangular grid) and ordering (1-2-3 in the top row) of the buttons in touch tone telephones. Yes many other options were scientifically tested.

He also tested the impact of shortening the handset cables, and whether people could handle phone numbers that didn't include letters to aid memory.

Great article if you like to learn about inventors and invention!

Patents: Innovation Nation

Link: Patents: Innovation Nation: ""

An interesting view on patents from Judge Posner:

"In Posner’s view, many patents are unnecessary. Patents, he believes, are important for drug companies that spend hundreds of millions of dollars bringing a new drug to market — a drug that can easily be copied by a competitor. Without the protection that a patent affords, pharmaceutical companies would have far less incentive to come up with new drugs." (from New York Times)

In another article that discussed Posner's view on patents: "Why there are too many patents in America" (from The Atlantic)

Loomio: Collaborative Decision Making

Link: Loomio: Collaborative Decision Making: ""

Loomio is a new app looks quite cool and worth checking out:

"Loomio is a collaborative decision-making tool. Loomio reduces the cost of participation in decision-making, making it easy for any group to translate online communication into real-world collective action….Creating a world where it’s easy for anyone to participate in decisions that affect them. With the right collaborative process, groups generate better ideas, decisions and actions than any individual would by themselves. Loomio breaks down the barriers to participation in decision-making at every level: in neighbourhoods, community organisations, businesses, social movements, and local and national governance.Collaborative decision-making balances individual autonomy with the collective good." (from Loomio.com)

This is an area I am quite interested in! I am planning to check Loomio out.

Zero Dark Thirty

Link: Zero Dark Thirty: ""

I saw this movie last night and really thought it was great. I had read some negative commentary about Zero Dark Thirty:

"At the same time, a number of journalists and public officials—including three United States senators—have excoriated Zero Dark Thirty. Their main complaint is that the film greatly overstates the role played by torture—or “enhanced interrogation techniques,” in the CIA’s terrifying euphemism—in extracting from al-Qaeda-affiliated detainees information that ultimately led to the discovery of Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where he was killed by Navy SEALs on May 2, 2011." (from New York Review of Books)

With the benefit of having seen the movie, I feel this critique , like the whole article, is quite overwrought.

You have to be a very observant movie watcher (catching the many unfamiliar names that are rattled off) to truly have an impression that torture played a key role in the information that led to USM's demise.

Also you have to have missed TV shows like '24 ' and 'Homeland ' to be overly shocked by the depictions of torture. There was no blood, and the hitting was quite mild really.

[spoiler alert] I mean an interrogation scene in Homeland this last season had the interrogator very suddenly and unexpectedly pull out a knife and stick it hard into the victims hand as the hands were flat on a table. That was shocking!

See the movie. It's really interesting while being a edge-of-your-seat story.

Amazing: 400ms makes a difference

Link: Amazing: 400ms makes a difference: ""

Under the header "Natural Gas News Leak" (funny) there's a story about how the securities market reacted 400ms before a bit of news came out of the government and they reacted by trading on the news. The article has lots of charts and graphs which may say whether or how much money was made or lost. The article says:

"It is worth pointing out that the EIA Natural Gas Report comes out weekly (every Thursday at 10:30) and the market reacts within a few milliseconds. This is because the report centers on one number which makes it easy for machines to process and take action." (from Nanex.net)

N.E.A.T. Product from Gruve: Fact or Fiction?

Link: N.E.A.T. Product from Gruve: Fact or Fiction?: ""

There's something about this Gruve product that bugs me:

"The Gruve Solution is a new, completely revolutionary approach to weight management that incorporates the landmark discovery of N.E.A.T. (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) which is all the calories one burns while doing normal (non-exercise) daily activity. Scientific research over 10 years found that increasing the N.E.A.T in daily life results in sustainable weight loss and a dramatic improvement in overall health. In other words, increasing daily N.E.A.T. activity is more effective at achieving sustainable weight loss and control than short term intense exercise!"

All the superlatives and buzz words, and then the promises. They also seem overblown. It just seems like a glorified pedometer.

Next is the price: $179 for the device, and then an annual subscription after year one of another $80.00.

While apparently Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis has some coverage in 'the literature', I had to find that connection myself, there seems to be no mention of it on the web site. Another thing that makes me wonder.

What do you know?