What I'm reading 9/4-9/11


Syria's Climate Conflict - Audrey Quinn and Jackie Roche

Peopleware - Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister

  1. "If you participate in or manage a team of people who need to use their brains during the day, then workplace environment is your business. "

  2. "A disturbing possibility is that overtime is not so much a means to increase the quantity of work time as to improve its average quality. Everyone knows that you get more work done after office hours than during, its a damning indictment of the office environment. The amazing thing is not that it's so often impossible to work in the workplace, but that everyone knows it and nobody ever does anything about it."

  3. "A California company that Tom DeMarco consulted for conducted a survey and recognized that the noisy environment was the worst problem workers faced, but decided that they couldn't do anything about it. This is a policy of total default."

  4. "Entropy is levelness or sameness. The more it increases, the less potential there is to generate energy or do work. In companies, entropy can be thought of as uniformity of attitude, appearance and thought process. Just as thermodynamic entropy is always increasing in the universe, so too corporate entropy is on the rise. 2nd Thermodynamic Law of Management: 'Entropy is always increasing in the organization'. That's why young companies are more fun to work for. The successful manager brings in the right people and lets them be themselves even though they may deviate from the corporate norm."

  5. "Allowing the standard of quality to be set by buyer instead of builder is termed flight from excellence. It makes good sense only if you ignore the effect on the builder's attitude and effectiveness, it costs more in the long run."

  6. "Turnover engenders turnover. Poeple leave quickly so nothing is spent on training. Since the company does not invest in the individual, the individual thinks of nothing but moving on."

  7. "On February 3, 1984, in a study of 32,346 companies worldwide, the authors confirmed a virtually perfect inverse relationship between people density and dedicated floor space per person. If you're having trouble seeing why this matters, you're not thinking about noise."

  8. "In Australia, there's a charming form of strike called work to rule where worker will follow every stupid detail of regulations such that work almost grinds to a halt."

  9. "Variation on a Theme by Parkinson - A company exhibits Parkinsonian behaviour if it is drowning in bureaucracy: 'Organizational busy work tends to expand to fill the working day.'"

  10. "People who wouldn't consider living in a home without windows end up spending most of their daylight time in a windowless workplace."

Rethinking Work - Barry Schwartz

  1. "You enter an occupation with a variety of aspirations aside from receiving your pay. But then you discover that your work is structured so that most of those aspirations will be unmet. Maybe you're a call center employee who wants to help customers solve their problems — but you find out that all that matters is how quickly you terminate each call. Or you're a teacher who wants to educate kids — but you discover that only their test scores matter. Or you're a corporate lawyer who wants to serve his client with care and professionalism — but you learn that racking up billable hours is all that really counts. Pretty soon, you lose your lofty aspirations. And over time, later generations don't even develop the lofty aspirations in the first place. Compensation becomes the measure of all that is possible from work. When employees negotiate, they negotiate for improved compensation, since nothing else is on the table. And when this goes on long enough, we become just the kind of creatures that Adam Smith thought we always were."

  2. "We want work that is challenging and engaging, that enables us to exercise some discretion and control over what we do, and that provides us opportunities to learn and grow. We want to work with colleagues we respect and with supervisors who respect us. Most of all, we want work that is meaningful — that makes a difference to other people and thus ennobles us in at least some small way."

  3. "Gallup regularly polls workers around the world to find out. Its survey last year found that almost 90 percent of workers were either 'not engaged' with or 'actively disengaged' from their jobs."

  4. "In the face of longstanding evidence that routinization and an overemphasis on pay lead to worse performance in the workplace, why have we continued to tolerate and even embrace that approach to work?"

A Field Guide to Developers - Joel Spolsky

  1. "By the way, the original hiring rule for Fog Creek, stolen from Microsoft, was 'Smart, and Gets Things Done.' Even before we started the company, we realized that we should add a third rule: 'Not a jerk.'"

  2. "When a programmer complains about 'politics,' they mean—very precisely—any situation in which personal considerations outweigh technical considerations. Nothing is more infuriating than when a developer is told to use a certain programming language, not the best one for the task at hand, because the boss likes it. Nothing is more maddening than when people are promoted because of their ability to network rather than being promoted strictly on merit. Nothing is more aggravating to a developer than being forced to do something that is technically inferior because someone higher than them in the organization, or someone better-connected, insists on it."

  3. "Anyway, I don't want to revisit the discussion of why private offices are more productive for software developers, or why just putting on headphones to drown out the ambient noise has been shown to reduce the quality of work that programmers produce, and why it doesn't really cost that much more in the scheme of things to have private offices for developers. I've talked about that already."

Friends at Work? Not So Much - Adam Grant

  1. "The economic explanation is that long-term employment has essentially vanished: Instead of spending our careers at one organization, we expect to jump ship every few years. Since we don't plan to stick around, we don't invest in the same way."

  2. "Focusing our friendship efforts outside work isn't the norm around the world."

  3. "What will make workplaces less transactional? Research suggests that social events aren't always effective: People don’t mix much at mixers, and at company parties, they mostly bond with similar colleagues."

Parsex - Clark Kampfe

  1. A little parser combinator library I wrote in a weekend.

"Silence is for the weak" - Paul Biggar

  1. "Why does this happen? Because of a belief that 'silence is for the weak'. You should just suck it up and get back to your desk. Put on your headphones and write me some code!"

  2. "My favorite example of this sort of insanity is the office in which each time any developer deployed to production, the speaker system automatically played 6 seconds of their favorite song across the entire office. You could actually watch productivity go out the window as dozens of developers fell out of the zone."

  3. "Its lunacy! Everyone tries to attract the best engineers with top-of-the-line Macbooks, expensive coffee grinders, catered lunches, and fridges full of expensive smoothies and beer. Why not attract them by giving them a great working environment, where they can spend their time deeply engrossed in their passion: writing code and building systems?"

Elixir Process Architecture or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love to Crash - John Bohn

  1. "With multiple third party APIs in play, there is a lot that can go wrong. One of the services could have an outage, an API may change, the service may start timing out, and so many more things can go wrong. How can you possibly account for everything? I recently had a system that I was interacting with that started concatenating Java errors, formatted as XML, onto the end of a valid JSON response, about 25% of the time. Am I supposed to write code to handle that specific situation? I don't think so. Even if you did account for everything, my code would be 75% error handling, 25% actual feature code."