EppsNet Archive: Technology

When Empires Start to Collapse

 

Yeah, I think if you look at history, it’s really interesting when empires start to collapse, when you start to get such a breach between how the elite lives and how the rest of the country lives. There are usually two options: you can either start to placate and appease the vast majority of the country who are living in deprivation — some symbolic gestures of social programs just enough to keep them mollified so they don’t go out into the streets — or you can decide, “You know what, we don’t really care how angry the citizenry gets. What we’re going to do instead is ‘paramilitarize’ the country, we’ll put them under a massive surveillance system. “We’ll keep a really close eye on everything they’re doing, we’ll listen to their communications and we’ll crush, first by demonizing and then, criminalizing and, then, censoring any form of dissent so that… Read more →

Musk vs. Markey: A Battle of Wits With an Unarmed Man

 

.@elonmusk could respond to my tweets but failed to respond to my letter by yesterday’s deadline and answer basic questions about Twitter verification. Congress must end the era of failed Big Tech self-regulation and pass laws that put user safety over the whims of billionaires. https://t.co/BEn6n9EitW — Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) November 26, 2022 Pardon me for stating the obvious but Senator Ed and a lot of other pissy little congresspeople were fine with Big Tech’s self-regulation when that meant censoring people and ideas that they didn’t like. They’re also fine with the whims of billionaires like Zuckerberg, Soros, (former billionaire) SBF and so on when those whims include making massive donations to Democratic candidates and causes. A quick Web search on Ed Markey reveals that he went to law school, went into politics, has apparently never done a productive day’s work in his life, but he wants to tell the… Read more →

Unemployment Numbers Don’t Make Sense

 

From a Daily Wire newsletter: Tech giant Meta is laying off 13 percent of its workforce across all of its companies: Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, etc. That amounts to around 11,000 jobs — the biggest tech layoff of the year. That’s an especially high number when you remember that since its founding 18 years ago, Facebook has never had to cut back its workforce. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared to address the layoffs in a leaked video Wednesday afternoon, saying, “I want to say up front that I take full responsibility for this decision…It was one of the hardest calls I’ve had to make in the 18 years of running the company.” And… the company has signaled investors to expect further bad news in the fourth quarter. This comes after Meta announced a second straight quarter of declining revenue in October. Everywhere you look, big tech is struggling. Last week,… Read more →

Inflation Numbers and Unemployment Numbers

 

Latest inflation report came out today (BLS is the Bureau of Labor Statistics): Annual inflation via BLS just out: 42.9% airline fares33.1% utility gas30.5% eggs18.2% gasoline17.2% chicken15.7% coffee15.2% milk14.7% bread10.1% furniture9.2% vegetables8.2% all items8.2% fruit8.1% ham7.6% women apparel7.2% used cars6.7% rent3.7% men apparel — Ryan Struyk (@ryanstruyk) October 13, 2022 Core inflation excludes energy and food, so we get to say that inflation is at 8.2%, which is still the highest in 40 years, but most of the items on that list are energy and food, and many are a lot higher than 8.2%, so the 8.2% number doesn’t do justice to the enormity of current inflation. Biden economic adviser Jared Bernstein said this: What the president said was that a recession is far from inevitable and I think what he was referring to there is the strength of our job market. Look, you just don’t have a recession when… Read more →

A Celebration of Ignorance

 

I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy, when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries, when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness. The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30-second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations… Read more →

What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?

 

My son is visiting . . . we’re in a different place than the last time he visited so he asks, “What’s the wifi?” “PrettyFlyForAWifi,” I reply. “What is this, 2002?” “Don’t use it if you don’t want to.” Read more →

Hey Google! Does Joe Biden Have Dementia?

 

Here’s a fun experiment you can try out yourself . . . Pull up a Google search bar and type “does joe biden have dementia.” Of course you know Google has an autocomplete feature to fill in common searches. Here’s what happened when I started to type “does joe biden have dementia”: According to Google, the top search starting with “does joe biden have” is “does joe biden have a dog”! Are people making decisions about presidential candidates based on whether or not they have a dog?! Here’s the result when I type in the whole search phrase: There’s no autocomplete at all! Apparently I’m the only person in the entire universe to enter the search phrase “does joe biden have dementia.” Now switch search engines. I switched to DuckDuckGo and started typing the same search phrase. Here’s the result: With DuckDuckGo, I only have to type three letters to… Read more →

Wrong Harvard

 

I asked Google for directions to CVS at Harvard Place, which is a local shopping area here in Irvine. Google provided directions to Cambridge, MA. The good news is that traffic is light so I should arrive in just under 48 hours. Read more →

Skyrocketing Pedestrians

 

New technology shows promise reducing skyrocketing pedestrian fatalities — CNBC I thought from the headline and the photo that the article was about fatalities involving skyrocketing pedestrians . . . Read more →

Are You Sure?

 

I was closing out of Remote Desktop Connection Manager and got the popup shown here. Am I sure? To the extent that we can really be sure about anything, then yes I’m sure. Why is the No option selected as the default? Is there an assumption that I’m flying by the seat of my pants, acting randomly and without certitude?  That I’m not a confident person? That I lack the courage of my convictions? Read more →

Making it Easier for Women to Do Things They Don’t Want to Do

 

Apple launching tech camps for women in bid to diversify industry Like other major tech companies, Apple has been trying to lessen its dependence on men in high-paying programming jobs. I don’t think “dependence” is the right word there. Is that dependence like alcohol dependence, or like dependence on foreign oil? It’s an oblique way of saying “we’re trying to employ fewer men,” but explicitly singling out members of a certain group for unwelcome attention sounds discriminatory and possibly illegal. Women filled just 23 percent of Apple’s technology jobs in 2017, according to the company’s latest breakdown. “Just” — why do we assume that working at Apple is a goal that a lot of women have? Maybe women found better jobs? Or something else they’d rather be doing? Industry critics have accused the technology companies of discriminating against women through a male-dominated hierarchy that has ruled the industry for decades.… Read more →

Diversity in Tech Efforts Self-Defeating?

 

Panelists at the Inclusion in Tech summit lamented that we can’t tell if tech is doing better on diversity because the data stinks. My advice would be don’t worry about it. A lot of the noise around diversity in technology is self-defeating. If you’re a member of an underrepresented group, all you hear is that technology fields are hostile and awful and unwelcoming, you won’t be treated fairly, etc. And you wonder why certain groups are underrepresented? You’ve answered your own question. Why would anyone who wants to have a happy life pursue a career beset by unfairness and hardship? Why not instead be a meeting planner or a flight attendant? Asians are overrepresented in technology jobs but that’s a relatively recent development in the history of these fields. I don’t remember, when this transition from underrepresented to overrepresented was happening, hearing a lot about how technology fields were hostile… Read more →

The More We Rely on Technology . . .

 

We had a brief network outage at the office, during which Mr. Frick walked over to Mr. Frack’s desk and said, “The network’s down. We can’t do the screen share,” i.e., they can’t see each other’s computer screen over the network because it’s down. I was waiting for one of them — Frick or Frack — to say “Let’s just sit together in front of the one computer here like they used to in olden days” but neither of them ever did . . . Read more →

This is Where Your PDF Resume Will Take You

 

Received the following advice today: When applying for jobs, never send your resume in .docx format. Fonts don’t always get embedded and hiring managers cannot always open these files. Use PDF. Do we really want to work for managers who can’t open a Word doc? Imagine the world-class mentoring and career development you’re going to get from such a person. I mean, my wife can open Word docs no problem and she can’t even figure out how to turn on the TV. Thus spoke The Programmer. Read more →

More Links on Work-Life Balance

 

Research behind the flexibility stigma (Article) Tara Siegel Bernard, “The Unspoken Stigma of Workplace Flexibility,” New York Times, June 14, 2013. Don’t become addicted to busy-ness (Article) Christine Carter, “Achieve More by Doing Less,” Mindful, September 14, 2015. Research about dual-centric workers (Report) Families and Work Institute, Catalyst, and the Boston College Center for Work & Family, Leaders in a Global Economy: A Study of Executive Women and Men (2008). Work-life integration (Video) Stew Friedman, “How to Integrate Work, Home, Community and Self,” YouTube video, 19:53, posted by “KnowledgeAtWharton,” May 28, 2008. Managing your life outside of work (Article) Stew Friedman, “Keep Your Home Life Sane when Work Gets Crazy,” Harvard Business Review, February 23, 2015. Research supports benefits of flex work (Article) Adi Gaskell, “Why A Flexible Worker Is A Happy And Productive Worker,” Forbes, January 15, 2016. Five simple tips to reduce the distraction and temptation of checking email all the time (Article) Lily… Read more →

Tech Gender Bias: Men Not as Concerned

 

According to LinkedIn: Despite a string of revelations that women in tech face considerable headwinds — from persistent gender-based pay gaps (per Bloomberg), to limited VC funding for female-led startups (per Fortune), to sexual harassment (per The New York Times) — just 29% of men say that discrimination is a major problem in the industry, according to data from Pew. In fact, some 32% of men claim that it’s not a problem at all. Here’s why I claim that it’s not a problem: Women are capable of making decisions for themselves. For the most part, they choose to do things other than work in tech and do startups. So what? (Pay gaps and harassment are not tech-specific, obviously.) Thus spoke The Programmer. Read more →

To Young Women Considering a Career in Technology

 

You’ve probably read a lot of articles about how sexist and awful the culture is for women in technology. I think if anything deters young women from technology careers, it’s this glut of articles saying how sexist and awful the culture is. I’ve worked in software development for 30 years. In my experience — and feel free to discount this because I’m not a woman — the culture is not tough for women. If anything, men give women the benefit of the doubt because they’d like to have more women around. As Holden Caulfield used to say, “I like to be somewhere at least where you can see a few girls around once in a while, even if they’re only scratching their arms or blowing their noses or even just giggling or something.” Yes, I have seen bad things happen to women in tech, but I’ve seen bad things happen… Read more →

One Thing I Can’t Tolerate is Intolerance: The Google Memo

 

The now-famous Google memo was first published by Gizmodo under the headline Here’s The Full 10-Page Anti-Diversity Screed Circulating Internally at Google. If you’re interested in the topic, you should read the memo yourself, otherwise you’re going to get a terribly slanted second-hand judgment, e.g., “anti-diversity screed.” I’ve read it and I don’t think it’s “anti-diversity” and it’s definitely not what I’d call a screed. I’ve seen that word — screed — used by multiple sources. That’s one way of dismissing and declining to engage with an opinion you don’t like: give it a label like “screed,” suggesting that the author is angry and irrational and not fit to have a discussion with. In my reading though, I found the original memo to be academic and clinical, much less screed-like than the responses I’ve seen. As usual (in my experience), the most intolerant people in the mix are the ones… Read more →

Where Are the Additional Women in Technology Supposed to Come From?

 

The jobs report for May contained discouraging news: continuing low labor-force participation, now below 63 percent overall. About 20 million men between the prime working ages of 20 and 65 had no paid work in 2015, and seven million men have stopped looking altogether. In the meantime, the jobs most in demand — like nursing and nurse assistants, home health care aides, occupational therapists or physical therapists — sit open. The health care sector had the largest gap between vacancies and hires of any sector in April, for example. — The New York Times We hear a lot about a shortage of women in technology jobs but we don’t hear about a shortage of men in traditionally female jobs. It’s really two sides of the same problem. Unless a lot of women suddenly appear out of nowhere, the only way to get more women into professions where they’re currently under-represented… Read more →

Why is Alexa an Improvement?

 

A neighbor is giving me a tour of his home improvement gadgets . . . We walk into the living room and he says, speaking slowly and distinctly, “Alexa, turn off all the living room lights.” After a couple of seconds, the living room lights dim and go out. “Why is that an improvement?” I ask. “I could have turned the lights off and on 15 times by hand in the same amount of time.” Later, I told my wife about this . . . “Maybe you’re sitting down and you don’t want to get up to turn out the lights,” she suggested. “You want to sit in the living room in the dark?” Read more →

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