Makers vs. Managers
I'm extremely short on time this week. The parentals are still in town so that squeezes my free time. It's nice to have them around, but it also throws me off balance so I have less time to blog. Still, I wanted to highlight at least a couple of things from last week.
The best thing I read last week, by far, was an essay from Paul Graham about engineers' schedules compared to managerial schedules. They basically operate on totally different wavelengths. To an engineer: meetings suck. Engineers have set tasks to get done each day and each meeting is an interrupt and considered a time suck because it doesn't immediately drive down towards burning down a task even if it has long-term benefits. The day-to-day for an engineer is valued in the amount of work that's been done towards an eminent deliverable, not the amount of time spent in the office. This isn't to discount how managers work: they operate on schedules. They're tied to their Outlook calendars and consider a good day of work being that they get done in their allotments of time what they meant to get done. An engineer's problems aren't so easy to plan for, all an engineer knows is that a task has to get done and he can come up with a rough estimate for it at best.
It feels like a constant struggle, but the solution is really just for each side to understand one another. Planning out days with meetings is important for engineers, but it's also important for managers to understand that mid-day time is at a premium for engineers because when you're in the zone you don't want to stop for a meeting. It's really all about balance, but it wouldn't be a challenge if the balance was easy to attain.
Security Glitches Galore
There were too many security issues last week for me to not touch on them real quick. The most high-profile one was probably that Network Solution, a company that handles credit card processing for e-Commerce, had a breach that could have exposed up to 600,000 customers. Even though they were in compliance with industry standards, malicious code was somehow snuck into their system. I wish they would share more information to help other companies guard against the attack. Hopefully, the folks maintaining the PCI standards will share their findings from the case with other vendors.
In the White House, information on a Secret Service safe house for the First Family was leaked via a P2P network. It's disturbing that P2P software was allowed on a computer which such sensitive information. I hope that this leads a deeper investigation into all branches of federal government and their security protocols.
Last week was really not a great week for Apple. First, it was discovered that they had sold exploding iPod Nanos. Then, it was uncovered that a series of invisible SMS message could hijack your iPhone. A patch has fortunately been released, but they don't force updates over the air and so any unpatched iPhones are vulnerable to this attack. I find it ironic that they have tight app store policies and yet they're now powerless to definitively stop a potentially catastrophic attack. To be fair: it's unlikely that anyone will try this exploit since it's not the easiest thing in the world to figure out, but never say never.
Google Voice Rejected from iPhone
There was a surprisingly backlash last week from tech journalists regarding Apple's denial of a Google Voice application for the iPhone. The application seemed to enhance the phone's functionality but Apple claimed that it duplicated existing functionality. Supposedly, the trigger was really pulled by the folks at AT&T. I don't think any of us have the full story, but the point is that the process is clearly ridiculous. Google had been already been talking to Apple about this application and I'm sure they're not happy that they wasted all that time and money. In the meantime, an unofficial version is floating around for the Palm Pre. If it becomes official soon, I may have to jump on this Google Voice bandwagon.
Yahoo Gets in Bed With Microsoft
The Microsoft-Yahoo deal has finally come to fruition was an ice cold reception. I have to admit that the terms are pretty strange: Yahoo's official search technology will henceforth be Bing, but Yahoo will be both company's international salesforce for search. Microsoft will additionally get a 10-year exclusive license to all of Yahoo's core search technologies, and Microsoft will compensate Yahoo with revenue sharing (at an initial rate of 88%). I think Microsoft made out like bandits, and, from looking at the stock price, so do investors. It's not necessarily a bad deal for Yahoo, but it definitely throws a wrench in everyone's predictions for Yahoo's future and I think it'll be a couple of months before anyone can forecast if its to Yahoo's benefit or not.
The Small Stuff
Ok, I'm 5 minutes overdue for bed, so time to race through the remaining stories.
AT&T blocked 4chan - pwnage ensued before AT&T un-blocked them.
There's no supported upgrade route from Windows XP to Windows 7 - the only real option is a format before installing 7 (unless you want a virtual machine).
Sprint bought Virgin Mobile. Still, no cares about Sprint. (Just kidding - I do because they have great prices, but their customer service still blows)
YouTube is now allowing in-video ads with FreeWheel.
Barnes and Noble is going to be offering free WiFi nationwide in a "suck it" move to Starbucks's iPhone-only WiFi.
If your Firefox 3.5 is sluggish, try these things.
Unemployment is higher in the Silicon Valley than it was during the dot-com bust, but I think it's just because a larger portion of their economy is tech-oriented now than before and the tech industry is now part of a cross-industry economic event.
I went to a the only American-owned sakery in the US yesterday and loved it so much that I think that sake is my new favorite liquor! To commemorate this, here's a picture of a cool mural I took at the Sake One sakery (by the way, my favorites are their Momokawa Pearl and Moonstone Coconut Lemongrass - gotta love that nigori):
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