Leadership Mode Activate

Congratulations, you’re getting promoted! You have excelled at the Thing You Do to such a degree that you’ll now be leading a whole team of people who Do That Thing. Very responsibility, much excite.

Okay wait, you may say. That’s cool, but I like Doing the Thing. I’m pretty good at it, and if I’m leading a team, will I still get to do it? Will I still get to perform the work that got me to where I am today?

The short answer is: Yes, you can! If it’s important to you to keep doing some “individual contributor” work as a manager, you can make that happen.

The long answer is: Well, you can. Like, if Mark Zuckerberg wants to go in and make some code changes to Facebook, he has the authority necessary to do that. And reportedly, in frustration with a pet bug or issue, Zuck has been known to bang out a fix and submit a merge request – which then hits a series of roadblocks around coding guidelines, localization, automated testing, and oh god why is this stuff so complicated these days ughhhhh.

And that’s good. It’s helpful for leaders to get their hands dirty from time to time, to get caught up on what their teams are doing, how they’re doing it, and get more context for the detail work involved.

But let’s be honest. Is Mark Zuckerberg’s time best spent mastering Facebook’s latest pull request rules around internationalization flow, or would that same time be better spent, I don’t know, figuring out how Facebook can ruin the world less?

As a manager, you too need to consider these tradeoffs. Yes, you have the ability to dig in and do the work yourself, but you now have a specialer ability: you can multiply your efforts across a whole group. As a leader, you’re in a position to solve bigger problems than you ever could by yourself, since you can deploy the full force of a team.

Leadership Mode Activate – Allen Pike

I could do without the Zuck reference, but the message is sound. This was something I struggled with when I became the manager of not just a team but a large team of people with arguably better skills than mine. Securing budget, running interference, talking with customers, and playing politics (albeit poorly) were more valuable than me changing firewall rules or adding a static route or running down anomalous traffic patterns.

Oh, I could also do without the giant robot analogy.

Still a good article.

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TV and Movie streaming is heading in the wrong direction

I made the decision that I won’t play the game anymore. I canceled my Netflix subscription and won’t subscribe to a service again until a Spotify of video streaming appears on the market.

What I do instead? I buy shows or movies on DVD or Blu-Ray that I’m interested in. Advantage of that method is that I can watch them whenever and wherever I want. I don’t buy many, however, and usually years after release on flea markets and other second hand marketplaces.

TV and Movie streaming is heading in the wrong direction – gHacks Tech News

I’ve drafted this very article beat-by-beat but waited to post it until I decided what to do about The Good Place and Doctor Who (I caved on both).

What I am doing right now is cultivating lists of the TV shows, movies, books, and music I consider must have. By must have I mean by me and not what anyone else might value. I maintain the lists in CamelCamelCamel.com so I know the best time to buy. If there is a good way to do this without Amazon’s involvement, I am keen to know.

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2019 Should be the end of Big Attention

The temptation and occasional reality of instantaneous attention at scale, and the riches that can come from it, are intoxicating. But the brief window in which this was feasible in a socially sustainable way, if it ever existed, is now gone. We need to go back to, rebuild, and strengthen the old Internet of millions of nodes at multiple scales, from the homepage to, yes, the huge aggregator, but no longer ceding the rules under which we interact with each other to the control of organizations unwilling or unable to do so in a responsible way.

2019 Should be the end of Big Attention | blog.rinesi.com

Agreed.

Moving my content back to my own site and federating out to the various SNS platforms proved so far to be a wise decision. I especially like that when people respond to something I wrote, regardless of the SNS platform they use I see them as comments on my site to the article itself.

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Slippery People

Slippery People:

One of my favorite covers that makes even more sense than you’d think: Byrne stole moves from the Staples’ world and then they stole some back:

Byrne’s Gumby-like dance moves for Stop Making Sense had been in part inspired by the way worshippers in Southern sanctified churches responded when filled with the Holy Spirit, their bodies writhing and undulating while speaking in tongues. “David’s inspiration was seeing people in church, and that’s what I connected with,” Mavis Staples says. “My head went off into the Bible.”

I played The Staples doing the song on Soul Train for my six-year-old and he jumped up and shouted, “I GOTTA DANCE!”

The only appropriate reaction.

(Via Austin Kleon)

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Lesser known Dired stuff

It is not a secret that I am a big fan of Dired. Recently I learned about a thing introduced relatively recently into Emacs, that is, the wdired-create-parent-directories variable. If you set it to a non-nil value, renaming a file or directory in Wdired to something containing one or more slashes will Do The Right Thing. How cool is that?

Also, I have set wdired-allow-to-change-permissions to t, and now I can change file permissions in Wdired with keyboard macros, for instance. (It’s probably not much more powerful than good ol’ chmod, but it’s Emacs!) Consult the manual for the details.

Marcin Borkowski: 2018-12-10 Lesser known Dired stuff

Dired continues to amaze me. It’s constantly one of those things I say I will make more use of.

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The Baboon and the Salt

Let’s break down this wonderful analogy a little bit.

Dave [Chapelle] sees himself as the baboon, obviously.

The salt represents short-term pleasures – a burst of money and wealth and so on. It sits in the hole and he wants it and reaches in for it.

The television executives are the bushman in this analogy – his bosses at the time, in other words.

The cage is the contract that Chapelle would have to place himself under. His creative choices, his personal freedom, all of that would trap him – but he’d have plenty of salt (short-term pleasures)!

The water is what they both want – long-term security.

Dave makes the astute point that he was the baboon, but he saw the bushman and the cage and he chose to drop the salt. He reached in for some short-term pleasures and rewards, but he saw that if he didn’t let go of it, he was going to wind up in a cage for a very long time. Sure, he might eventually get to the water, but he’d have to be in a cage for a long while to get there and he didn’t want to do that.

So he dropped the salt lump. He walked away from his popular show and the all-encompassing fame and the prospect of wealth to forge a path with a lot more freedom. He’ll get to the water eventually, but on his own terms, without being trapped in a cage.

The Baboon and the Salt – The Simple Dollar

The video is worth your time as is the entire article.

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Resisting Law Enforcement’s Siren Song: A Call for Cryptographers to Improve Trust and Security

Creating systems of trust and real security for users should be all hands on deck, from government to the private sector. We need to encrypt the web, secure data at rest and in transit, and ensure that homes, cars and anything that can be connected to the internet are safe and trustworthy. The array of options is poor since security architects have to bolt security onto insecure systems. But that’s all the more reason to encourage people who understand how computer security works (and how it fails) to help. After all, there are only so many hours in the day, and the more attention we pay to these problems, the faster and better we can address them.

It’s not just individuals and private institutions who should be focusing on improving security for users, of course. Governments should be shouldering their responsibility for public safety by leading, incentivizing and, in places, even legally mandating real digital security for their increasingly vulnerable citizens.

But they are not. While the U.S. government has pushed hard to make sure that companies give them information about security problems—in the Department of Homeland Security’s Information Sharing and Analysis Centers and in the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act passed in 2015, for example—there has been very little information or tools coming back to protect the public as technology users. This is even as we’re pushed into a world that increasingly relies on the internet for every facet of our daily lives. It’s also as the consequences of losing control of our data grow larger and more dire. Digital networks are now increasingly coming into our homes and cars. There are pushes to move to online voting, to the horror of security experts. The vast majority of us carry our phones with us everywhere; with them comes access to a tremendous amount of intimate information about us, our loved ones and our business and personal associations, both stored on the device and accessible through them.

The government should generate, incentivize and support efforts to build a more secure and trustworthy internet, along with the devices and services that rely on it. Instead, law enforcement in the U.S. and elsewhere too often demonize companies and individuals that offer strong security and pressure them to offer worse tools, not better ones.

Resisting Law Enforcement’s Siren Song: A Call for Cryptographers to Improve Trust and Security – Lawfare

Great piece, especially in light of the recent actions in Australia.

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Conan’s Japanese rent-a-family is told to laugh at all his jokes

You may remember that, in Japan, you can rent fake family members to fight loneliness (or for other reasons, like you want your kid to have a “dad”). Well, Conan O’Brien has been filming in Japan and, while in Tokyo, he hired a new wife, daughter, and father. He told them right from the start that they must laugh at his jokes (his real wife is “tired” of them, he says) and they do, even when it’s inappropriate. It’s funny, as are the other “Conan Without Borders” videos he and his crew shot in Japan. You can watch them all at the Team Coco website. If you love vending machines like I do, don’t miss the one labeled “Tokyo.”

Conan’s Japanese rent-a-family is told to laugh at all his jokes / Boing Boing

My friends got a kick out of Conan’s Japan trip. Most have no idea who he is but delighted in the absurdity.

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Find out what Twitter and Facebook think you like

Find out what Twitter and Facebook think you like:

Facebook and Twitter don’t like to talk about how, exactly, their algorithms determine users’ interests. According to their privacy policies, both collect basic information you provide in your profile, like your birthday and gender, as well as details around your log-ins, like what devices you use and your location, and your posts and “likes.” Twitter and Facebook may also receive information from your browser cookies, what links you click, and third party apps that you’ve connected to your account. They might also be able to match additional info from their partners to you based on your phone number or email address.

Though the details of their algorithms aren’t clear, Facebook and Twitter are at least attempting to be somewhat transparent about the end result of those programs. Your Twitter and your Facebook ad settings allow you a glimpse into what social media companies (and the advertisers who pay them) think you’re into.

(Via Quartz)

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The persistent, racist myth of “Chinese restaurant syndrome” just won’t die

The persistent, racist myth of “Chinese restaurant syndrome” just won’t die:

MSG is not bad for you.

Despite food scientists like Harold McGee sticking up for MSG, and the blizzard of food writers extolling its magical powers of deliciousness, the perception that it is somehow uniquely dangerous persists. Earlier this week, David Chang, the chef who has made defending MSG a bit of a hobby, tweeted about adding it to popcorn.

There was enough pushback, citing migraines and general bad-for-you-ness, that Andrew Zimmern, another chef, took to Instagram to defend the use of MSG in both home and restaurant settings.

It’s not just tastier popcorn we’re missing out on by eschewing the stuff. The Japanese chemist who discovered monosodium glutamate in the early 1900s, and who founded a company to produce it, envisioned it as a twentieth century path to better nutrition, for Japan and beyond. Kikunae Ikeda noticed that very different foods, like miso, asparagus, tomatoes, and cheese, all shared a common savory quality. Working with kombu dashi, a Japanese broth made from a type of kelp, he isolated that flavor and discovered MSG, a compound of sodium and the amino acid glutamate.

(Via Quartz)

love me some MSG applied from my delightful Ajinomoto glass dispenser. It doesn’t take much to take most anything to another level of deliciousness. My current favorite is sprinkling a bit on baked potatoes before the plain yoghurt (instead of sour cream) goes on. We’re a bit short on cheese.

As an occasional migraine sufferer, MSG plays zero role in any flare ups as far as I can tell. The Guardian has a long article on the topic.

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