My daily readings 05/06/2009

  • tags: no_tag

    • My favorite talk was by Damien Katz. He told the story of how he had decided to take a risk, quit his job, and work on his then amorphous project. He wanted to work on cool stuff, and that was the only way he could do it. Even if nothing else came out of it, he knew it would have been a great learning exercise. Something great did eventually come out of it, as he created CouchDB (which looks awesome btw) and IBM eventually hired him to work on it full time.

      Damiens’ story reminded me of the time I started working ErlyWeb a few years ago. After I left the company I was working for at the time, I decided to take a few months and work on something cool. I didn’t know what exactly it would be or how long it would take, but I knew that I wanted to build a product that would help people communicate in new ways, and I wanted to build it with my favorite tools. I knew the chance of failure was high, but I figured the learning alone would be worth it. I also viewed open source as an insurance policy of sorts. Even if I couldn’t get a product off the ground, my code could live on and continue to provide value to people.

    • The moral of the story: if you’re not working on cool stuff, take a risk and try to make it happen. Don’t worry about building the next Google or making lots of money, because you’ll probably fail. But the lessons you learn and the connections you make will be worth it.
  • tags: System, Complex, Simple

    • Nah, he’s referring to lots of things “Systematics”, as he terms them.
    • Interestingly, even in biology, isn’t it the theory that life started simply – single cells, for example – and evolved into more complex structures only after the simple systems proved that they worked (survived in their environment)?
    • There is no other way to do it. I’ve tried. Start simple or FAIL !
    • As far as software is concerned, I wish I could tattoo this on the back of my developers eyelids. Every project that I have seen where people were trying to migrate from an old VB6 application to a .Net application, in one big bang , with all of it’s functionality has failed or come in 4 years late(Which is still a failed project. This usually comes from smart ass developers who think they can do it but invariably fail due to lack of requirements or poor understanding how the old application does things without the proper documentation. The successful projects all start from scratch and release something small at first and build up over 2-4 years. Just my experience working my way up from developer to CTO , but what would I know?
  • tags: no_tag

    • “A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. The inverse proposition also appears to be true: A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be made to work. You have to start over, beginning with a working simple system.”
  • tags: Car, industry

  • tags: no_tag

  • tags: no_tag

    • But shareholders still hung on every word from the 78-year-old investor’s lips. Between sips of Cherry Coke and bites of peanut brittle, he served up some wisdom that might have saved a lot of heartache (not to mention jobs and untold financial losses) had investors heeded it over the last decade: keep it simple.
    • It had been a long weekend. Everyone was heading to the airport. One C.E.O. told me, “If I can just hold on and try to think like Warren for a couple of days when I get home every year after this weekend, it’s a success.”

      I shook Mr. Buffett’s hand goodbye and tried to remember his words from the day before: “There is so much that’s false and nutty in modern investing practice and modern investment banking,” he said. “If you just reduced the nonsense, that’s a goal you should reasonably hope for.”

  • tags: startups, failure

  • tags: startup, failure

    • No, wait: The most amazing thing is that I have often gone into B&H to purchase a specific product, only to be talked into something cheaper. For example, once I went in to buy a field video monitor to use for some interviews I was conducting. I expected to pay $600 until the salesperson said, “Why don’t you just get one of these cheap consumer portable DVD players? They have video inputs, they work just as well, and they’re under $100.” This was no accident. “The entire premise of our store is based upon your ability to come in, touch, feel, experiment, ask, and discuss your needs without sales pressure,” B&H’s website says.

      But wait: The conveyer belts, the prices, the smart salespeople, the fact that they recommend cheaper products almost as a rule — none of these is actually the most amazing thing about B&H. Really, the most amazing thing is that because the owners of B&H are Orthodox Jews — Hasidim, in fact — the store closes every Friday afternoon for the Jewish Sabbath, and on Jewish holidays. Moreover, B&H’s website, which reportedly accounts for 70 percent of sales, shuts down, too. is, to my knowledge, the only major online retailer that closes for 25 hours every weekend.

  • tags: no_tag

    • In discussing his often fantastical, sometimes silly, sometimes visionary concepts, he has said, “If I could use two words to describe what it is that I enjoy it is that I love to be sneakily outrageous . . . [It may be that] I have decided an idea has no practical worth and would never be likely to be adopted seriously (like most of my ideas), but I like it anyway.”
  • tags: startup

    • Truth be told, I don’t think I ever bought anything from Circuit City anyway. On weekends, I would occasionally wander into the local branch, attracted like a moth to the bright wall of plasma TVs. When I actually needed a new TV, however, I found the Circuit City salesperson to be so aggressively unknowledgeable and remarkably useless that I fled to Best Buy, where I was helped by a cheerful, 20-year-old twerp who knew everything. I later learned that in 2007, Circuit City had fired the chain’s 3,400 most experienced salespeople and replaced them with generic, untrained, near-minimum-wage workers.

      So it was no surprise to me that Circuit City failed. The chain’s CEO, in an e-mail, blamed the demise on “poor macroeconomic conditions” — an assertion that was repeated by The Associated Press, which cited “the expanding financial crisis” for the liquidation.

  • tags: MapReduce, Hadoop

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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