MEK Studios,2013-02-10:/notional/20130210055031443 Critical thinking to start your day.<br>A blog of ideas, thoughts, and concepts for consideration. Copyright (c) 2013 Michael E. Kirkpatrick 2023-08-31T13:50:37-07:00 Michael E. Kirkpatrick The Mystery of the Bloomfield Bridge,2023-08-31:/2023/08/the-mystery-of-the-bloomfield-bridge 2023-08-31T13:50:37-07:00 2023-08-31T13:50:37-07:00 Tyler Vigen <p>A fun read digging into an infrastructure project &#8212; in this case, a pedestrian bridge in Bloomfield,, Minneapolis &#8212; and asking &#8220;why is this here?&#8221;.</p> <p><a href="">Justin O&#8217;Beirne</a> also does some interesting work comparing Google and Apple maps products with commentary on how maps tell the story of the place.</p> Fernando Tatis Jr.,2023-07-04:/2023/07/fernando-tatis-jr 2023-07-04T11:16:45-07:00 2023-07-04T11:16:45-07:00 Kevin Acee <blockquote> <p>I asked Tatis recently why he plays the way he does — valuing defense so much, stealing bases, rounding first on most singles as if he fully intends to go to second, using his finely tuned instincts in so many situations — when he could still be thought of as an excellent player and still make millions based solely on his power.</p> <p>“I feel like that wouldn’t be fair to my dad and the people that would have wasted their time with me, training me, teaching me this game, giving me these things that helped me,” he said. “And to God that gave me the talent. It wouldn’t be fair to everybody to not be doing everything that I’m capable of.”</p> </blockquote> My most exciting product launch,2023-01-10:/2023/01/my-most-exciting-product-launch 2023-01-10T09:32:16-08:00 2023-01-10T09:32:16-08:00 Michael E. Kirkpatrick <p>I was recently part of a tech layoff &#8212; my previous employer, Houzz, laid off 98 employees in mid-December. The most recent hires were let go (LIFO). As I&#8217;m applying to new position, I received this prompt today from Patagonia: &#8220;Tell me about the most exciting product launch of your career. What was your role? Describe the experience step by step.&#8221;</p> <p>My response: The most exciting product launch of my career was the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) which launched from French Guiana on December 25, 2022. I started as an intern in Systems Engineering, Mass Properties, on JWST in the summer of 2009. I was hired full time after graduating the following winter and became the lead Mass Properties engineer. I was responsible for maintaining a database of the mass of the spacecraft and its center of gravity as well as an inventory of the mass of each component part (to achieve orbit, a rocket can only lift so much mass). From there, I worked on the Alignments and Sunshield teams and the program for four years. We worked our way through challenges (too much mass in certain components, manufacturing tolerances that were too loose, and a deployments system that was high risk) as well as many successes (successful critical design reviews, prototype tests, and trade studies). I left Northrop Grumman to pursue a career in technology &#8212; I&#8217;ve loved building websites since I built my first in 2004, running for student government at UC San Diego. My father, also a Northrop Grumman, JWST team member, was in the launch control room supporting the deployments team when the rocket launched. He stayed in on Baltimore, Maryland until all the deployments were complete. So far in my career, my small contributions to that program will make the biggest differenece in human history.</p> Reentry,2023-01-03:/2023/01/reentry 2023-01-03T08:57:48-08:00 2023-01-03T08:57:48-08:00 Mandy Brown <p>Writing about re-entering work after some time away (whether it be a week&#8217;s vacation or something longer).</p> <p>She writes that we often come back to work with clearer eyes, a fresh perspective on our work and our workplace after time away.</p> <blockquote> <p>&#8230;[P]art of what a lengthy break can do is rid you of the fog you summoned to blunt your peripheral vision, so you can now see clearly what’s missing or what’s broken.</p> <p>It can be uncomfortable, that clearing away. It can be deeply unpleasant. But it’s also useful. It’s a sign of what you need to change. What I found was that when I gave myself permission to really feel that unpleasantness, when I didn’t try to get comfortable with it or avoid it, I opened some space to move: towards a reconfiguration or revision or reimagining of what my work was. Sometimes that meant laying tracks for a new role, sometimes it meant reshaping the role I was in; often it was something very small, a choice about which problems were mine to attend to and which belonged to someone else. Always it made a difference.</p> </blockquote> AWS and Blockchain,2022-11-29:/2022/11/aws-and-blockchain 2022-11-29T09:57:17-08:00 2022-11-29T09:57:17-08:00 Tim Bray <blockquote> <p>[Andy Jassy] said something like this: “All these leaders are asking me what our blockchain strategy is. They tell me that everyone’s saying it’s the future, the platform that’s going to obsolete everything else. I need to have a good answer for them. I’ll be honest, when they explain why it’s wonderful I just don’t get it. You guys got to go figure it out for us.”&#8230;</p> <p>I can’t remember the details of how our findings got back to Andy. They were of the form “Ledgers are useful, cryptography tech is useful, blockchains aren’t, the field is full of grifters, but we could build distributed-ledger infrastructure and then these cool services on top of it.”</p> </blockquote> <p>As Tim puts so well: &#8220;There are many among Amazon’s senior engineers who think blockchain is a solution looking for a problem.&#8221;</p> Protect Me From What I Want,2022-11-28:/2022/11/protect-me-from-what-i-want 2022-11-28T13:20:24-08:00 2022-11-28T13:20:24-08:00 Tim Bray <blockquote> <p>So the chant over there is “No algorithms on Mastodon!” This chant is wrong, and the discussion around it teaches us that we need clarity on what algorithms are, what moral weight they can carry, and whether they can be avoided. (Spoiler: They can’t.)</p> <p>This all started when I interjected here, and the longest and most twisted Mastodon thread I have so far seen ensued. Let’s start with my initial remarks:</p> <blockquote> <p>I disagree. An algorithm is not intrinsically bad. As long as we understand that it represents the interests of whoever paid to have it constructed. I think an algorithm with human values that simply wanted to enrich experience is perfectly possible.</p> <p>I haven&#8217;t seen one, probably because nobody has ever had a financial incentive to construct it.</p> <p>Mastodon would be a good place to try to make one.</p> </blockquote> </blockquote> <p>Algorithms, and user interfaces, are all inherently designed and biased in some way to achieve an outcome. For example, at TrueNorth, we would display certain information for the Payments team when they were preparing checks for all of our truckers. That screen was sorted in a certain way and displayed certain information &#8212; it wasn&#8217;t the raw data from a single table in the database but rather multiple tables joined together. I think we developed a good algorithm but certainly one that could be improved from a process perspective (&#8220;How can we help the Payments team process payouts faster while maintaining quality and accuracy?&#8221;).</p> <p>Tim&#8217;s right, algorithms can be, and are in many contexts, good!</p> Just Don’t,2022-11-09:/2022/11/just-dont 2022-11-09T15:02:47-08:00 2022-11-09T15:02:47-08:00 Tim Bray <blockquote> <p>Do not, to quote the [Oxford English Dictionary], “represent as a small thing” the difficulty of something you’re asking someone else to do, when you’re not inside their head and don’t understand what they see and feel. The word “just” is a signal that you’re not taking their problem seriously.</p> <p>So, don’t do that.</p> <p>I’d like to say “Just don’t” but obviously shouldn’t.</p> </blockquote> Should A Ceo Be A Nerd About Their Company’s Products?,2022-10-11:/2022/10/should-a-ceo-be-a-nerd-about-their-companys-products 2022-10-11T13:18:30-07:00 2022-10-11T13:18:30-07:00 John Gruber <p>&#8220;Excellent companies, in any industry, seem to be led by executives who live and breathe whatever it is their companies do, and they stay up at night and wake up in the morning thinking about how to lead their industries in quality.&#8221;</p> The Thorny Problem of Keeping the Internet’s Time,2022-10-04:/2022/10/the-thorny-problem-of-keeping-the-internets-time 2022-10-04T07:40:46-07:00 2022-10-04T07:40:46-07:00 Nate Hopper <p>A fascinating mini-history of the Network Time Protocol &#8212; the foundational codebase behind synchronized time in our digital world.</p> Governance, not Moderation: remarks at the Trust and Safety Research Conference,2022-10-02:/2022/10/governance-not-moderation-remarks-at-the-trust-and-safety-research-conference 2022-10-02T12:11:49-07:00 2022-10-02T12:11:49-07:00 Ethan Zuckerman <blockquote> <p>I have many regrets about my work building a company that helped pave the way for Friendster, MySpace and ultimately Facebook and Twitter…</p> <p>But my biggest regret is that we unquestioningly adopted a model in which we provided a free service to users, monetized their attention with ads and moderated content as efficiently and cheaply as possible. We didn’t treat our users as customers: had they paid for their services, we probably wouldn’t have been as quick with the delete key. And we certainly didn’t treat our users as citizens.</p> <p>Here’s why this matters: since the mid-1990s, the internet has become the world’s digital public sphere. It is the space in which we learn what’s going on in the world, where we discuss and debate how we think the world should work, and, increasingly, where we take actions to try and change the world. There is no democracy without a public sphere – without a way to form public opinion, there’s no ways to hold elected officials responsible, and no way to make meaningful choices about who should lead us.</p> </blockquote> Official myths,2022-09-22:/2022/09/official-myths 2022-09-22T20:52:02-07:00 2022-09-22T20:52:02-07:00 Mandy Brown <blockquote> <p>I’ve read an untold number of articles about remote work in the past however many months, and among the recurring themes is the notion that young people need IRL cultures in order to grow and learn. Like a lot of storytelling about remote work, this analysis correctly identifies a challenge with remote culture but then presumes, absent any evidence, that offices must be better at resolving it. They are not.</p> <p>&#8230;Offices can, of course, be great places to learn and grow. But that’s the exception not the rule. I’ve witnessed and heard about tons of office cultures in which junior staff were tucked into a back room, given a long list of menial tasks, and then abandoned save for a once-a-week brown bag lunch&#8230;</p> </blockquote> <p>Along with some other good tidbits about offices and supporting your team.</p> Tim Cook, Sir Jony Ive KBE, and Laurene Powell Jobs,2022-09-17:/2022/09/tim-cook-sir-jony-ive-kbe-and-laurene-powell-jobs 2022-09-17T08:53:37-07:00 2022-09-17T08:53:37-07:00 Recode <p>Kara Swisher interviewed Apple CEO Tim Cook, LoveFrom Designer &amp; Co-founder and Former Apple Chief Design Officer Sir Jony Ive, KBE, and Emerson Collective Founder and President Laurene Powell Jobs on stage at the Code Conference 2022. I particularly liked two moments from that interview.</p> <p><a href="">YouTube Link</a> &#8212; The first was when Swisher and Cook reflected on aspects of Steve Jobs&#8217; style. She contrasted a perceived problem in tech today where executives and leaders can feel victimized when teams meet and debate points of view &#8212; when the expectation is that everyone in the room is in violent agreement and no dissent should be offered &#8212; to the way Steve lead his team; an environment that thrived on active debate.</p> <p><a href="">YouTube Link</a> &#8212; Laurene Powell Jobs commented on a trait Steve Jobs has to call people &#8220;all the time, everyday&#8221;.</p> <blockquote> <p>Steve actually called other people all the time. Everyday he had a list of people he called and he just would ask them &#8216;What&#8217;s going on? What are you seeing? What are you thinking about? What are you watching?&#8217; He would go across industry and call people who, of course, would answer the phone, and he would pick people&#8217;s brains constantly.</p> </blockquote> <p>Here&#8217;s to picking up the phone more often.</p> September 16, 2022,2022-09-17:/2022/09/september-16-2022 2022-09-17T08:36:42-07:00 2022-09-17T08:36:42-07:00 Heather Cox Richardson <blockquote> <p>The second story is the history of American immigration, which is far more complicated and interesting than the current news stories suggest. </p> <p>Mexican immigration is nothing new; our western agribusinesses were built on migrant labor of Mexicans, Japanese, and poor whites, among others, in the late 19th century. From the time the current border was set in 1848 until the 1930s, people moved back and forth across it without restrictions. But in 1965, Congress passed the Hart-Celler Act, putting a cap on Latin American immigration for the first time. The cap was low: just 20,000, although 50,000 workers were coming annually.</p> <p>After 1965, workers continued to come as they always had, and to be employed, as always. But now their presence was illegal. In 1986, Congress tried to fix the problem by offering amnesty to 2.3 million Mexicans who were living in the U.S. and by cracking down on employers who hired undocumented workers. But rather than ending the problem of undocumented workers, the new law exacerbated it by beginning the process of militarizing the border. Until then, migrants into the United States had been offset by an equal number leaving at the end of the season. Once the border became heavily guarded, Mexican migrants refused to take the chance of leaving.</p> <p>Then, in the 1990s, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) flooded Mexico with U.S. corn and drove Mexican farmers to find work in the American Southeast. This immigration boom had passed by 2007, when the number of undocumented Mexicans living in the United States began to decline as more Mexicans left the U.S. than came. </p> <p>In 2013 a large majority of Americans, both Republicans and Democrats, backed a bill to fix the disconnect caused by the 1965 law. In 2013, with a bipartisan vote of 68–32, the Senate passed a bill giving a 13-year pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, who would have to meet security requirements. It required employers to verify that they were hiring legal workers. It created a visa system for unskilled workers, and it got rid of preference for family migration in favor of skill-based migration. And it strengthened border security. It would have passed the House, but House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) refused to bring it up for a vote, aware that the issue of immigration would rally Republican voters.</p> <p>But most of the immigrants coming over the southern border now are not Mexican migrants.</p> <p>Beginning around 2014, people began to flee “warlike levels of violence” in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, coming to the U.S. for asylum. This is legal, although most come illegally, taking their chances with smugglers who collect fees to protect migrants on the Mexican side of the border and to get them into the U.S.</p> <p>The Obama administration tried to deter migrants by expanding the detention of families, and it made significant investments in Central America in an attempt to stabilize the region by expanding economic development and promoting security. The Trump administration emphasized deterrence. It cut off support to Central American countries, worked with authoritarians to try to stop regional gangs, drastically limited the number of refugees the U.S. would admit, and—infamously—deliberately separated children from their parents to deter would-be asylum seekers.</p> <p>The number of migrants to the U.S. dropped throughout Trump’s years in office. The Trump administration gutted immigration staff and facilities and then cut off immigration during the pandemic under Title 42, a public health order. </p> <p>The Biden administration coincided with the easing of the pandemic and catastrophic storms in Central America, leading migration to jump, but the administration continued to turn migrants back under Title 42 and resumed working with Central American countries to stem the violence that is sparking people to flee. (In nine months, the Trump administration expelled more than 400,000 people under Title 42; in Biden’s first 18 months, his administration expelled 1.7 million people.) </p> <p>The Biden administration sought to end Title 42 last May, but a lawsuit by Republican states led a federal judge in Louisiana to keep the policy in place. People arriving at the U.S. border have the right to apply for asylum even under Title 42.</p> <p>There are a lot of moving pieces in the immigration debate: migrants need safety, the U.S. needs workers, our immigrant-processing systems are understaffed, and our laws are outdated. They need real solutions, not political stunts.</p> </blockquote> How to Analyze A/B Tests Results?,2022-09-17:/2022/09/how-to-analyze-ab-tests-results 2022-09-17T08:33:33-07:00 2022-09-17T08:33:33-07:00 Tino <p>I had the opportunity to interview Tino yesterday. In his resume, he linked to his blog and I liked this post of his.</p>