All posts by theking

Site redesign

<P>Something that I've been aching to do for a while is to create my own theme; after some dinking around with CSS, I've not only been able to make the site 'left-handed', but this makes it more like my home pages at <a href="http://aduni.org/~tomh/">ArsDigita University</a>. <P>The top photo is a great-looking panorama of Davis Square, Somerville, Mass, captured by fellow Fletchie <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/pamelabeecroft/">Pamela Beecroft</a>.<P>In short, this is a fun diversion which deserves a lot of tweaks, but it's time to get back to <a href="http://www.openclinica.org/">work</a>.

Ethan On Outsourcing

<P>Ethan Zuckerman has written an interesting take on <a href="http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/?p=130#comments">outsourcing and blog writing</a> on his own blog. <P>Favorite quote: "Finding coders is easy. Writing a good spec is hard. So hard that it might be impossible to outsource."

Reviewed: Jeffrey Radcliffe’s Travelog

I haven’t reviewed music in a long time. I applied for a music reviewer position at Austin’s own AudioGalaxy back in 1999, and didn’t get the job. Since then, I read about music, and I download it quite a bit, but write about music? How do words even begin to explain a riff on a six-string guitar, or that playful sound that a siger uses to captivate the listener? Write about music? Me? Gedouddahere.

That having been said, I feel the urge to jump into a review of Jeffrey Radcliffe’s first album, Travelog. Jeffrey is a good friend, and I know him as being no stranger to travel. He left Oregon to join me and 34 other students at ArsDigita University when the hi-tech economy was already starting to turn dicey in 2000. He originally hails from my home state of Texas, but has been able to travel to Europe, Australia and other continents unknown.

So yes, you can listen to the album and say that it is based on an inspiration bourne from traveling the globe. However, the mind’s eye paints a different picture every time you slip the album into your player and press play–there are notes that you didn’t notice the last time you listened, there is a mood in one song you didn’t pick up on–and you begin to get the feeling that Travelog is more about the travel of the mind, not the body.

Take, for example, Lament, the last track of the album. Beneath the refrain, as you hear the song a second or third time, you begin to hear new sounds in the background you didn’t notice before. I need better speakers, you might say to yourself as you hear a rumbling noise, then a whispering hiss, much like sand being thrown against a windshield. But as you listen to it again, you begin to discover for yourself that it’s not you, and that Jeffrey’s sound is skillfully wrought to play with the listener. Listening to this album, you begin to wonder where he was when the breath of inspiration whispered into his ear each of these tracks.

What makes this album even more special is that it is distributed by a site that caters to local artists, CDBaby. If you feel the open-source love like I do and want to support local artists who don’t have record deals with BMI and are still talented anyway, buy this album. (You can sample some of Jeffrey’s other work here for free.) A special shout-out to Massachusetts people, if you thought ‘local electronica’ was an oxymoron, you are sadly mistaken. Buy this album.

buzz, buzz, buzz

Just took a look at <a href="http://incubator.apache.org/beehive/index.html">Beehive</a> and the cutely-named module for Eclipse, <a href="http://www.eclipse.org/pollinate/">Pollinate</a>. Does it bother anyone that a 1.0 release is still considered beta? I found this statement on the site:<P><code>This distribution is a beta release and is not intended for creating production-level applications.</code><P>If it's still beta, why give it a 1.0 label and <a href="http://incubator.apache.org/beehive/index.html#beehive2">start work on a 2.0 release</a>?

very nice to see you, too

From Foreign Affairs' <a href="http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20050501faessay84311/thomas-bleha/down-to-the-wire.html">Down to the Wire</a>: <P><code>Once a leader in Internet innovation, the United States has fallen far behind Japan and other Asian states in deploying broadband and the latest mobile-phone technology. This lag will cost it dearly.</code>
<P>No big surprise here. Japan is moving ahead of the US in broadband deployment. However, Japan had better learn from its Korean neighbors, who deployed broadband like <a href="http://www.technet.org/technetissues/broadband_hawley/">crazy</a>, if the graph is true to life. However, they overextended and many of the Korean telcos <a href="http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/_wsj-bringing_the_broadband_mi.htm">are now reorganized under bankruptcy</a>.<P>
And yes, it's been a while. I've been busy, what's your excuse?

Econ Theory 101.

Over the spring, I took Michael Fairbanks’ class in International Entrepreneurism. It’s not entrepreneurship as much as it is business as usual in developing countries; Fairbanks founded the OTF Group, which specialises in strategy consulting for developing nations like Macedonia, Jamaica, Rwanda, etc. One of the last lectures he delivered in the class was a discussion of strategy versus innovation. Which economic strategies exist that support innovation? Which suppress it?

In the class, we came up with nine ways to explain prosperity in developing countries:

1. Macroeconomic: structural incentives should be put in place by the government, everything else will follow. Stabilize, Privatize, Democratize, and Liberalize. See Jeffrey Sachs, Dani Rodrik.

2. Microeconomic: firms compete, not nations. See Michael Fairbanks, Michael Porter.

3. Institutional Domain: rule of law and social welfare leads to predictable behavior.

4. Natural Capitalism: all investments and development should be made with future prosperity in mind. See L. Hunter Lovins, Amory Lovins and Paul Hawken.

5. Cultural School: culture matters, and a cultural heritage can make you progress-prone or progress-resistant. See Harrison’s Culture Matters.

6. Knowledge School: individuals should be in pursuit of closing the ‘idea gap’. See Stiglitz and Romer.

7.Comparitive Advantage: all wealth is based on finite resources, and some countries can manage their resources better than others. See
Adam Smith, Ricardo, Malthus.

8. Human Capital: all knowledge has legs, the only investment worth caring about is ourselves. See
Gary S. Becker, and a nod to Nordstrom and Ridderstrale’s Funky Business and
Karaoke Capitalism.

9. Evolution: survival only belongs to the fittest. See Thomas Seoul and
Jared Diamond.

In this list, there are specialists who concentrate in one field, maybe two, maybe three. But what if a specialist can diversify and analyse developing countries from all nine different points of view? In the lecture, Fairbanks points to a place like the Fletcher School as a place with an ability to train diverse enough scholars/practitioners able to analyse on many levels; places like the Kennedy School all subscribe to Sachs’ point of view, and other schools like Columbia’s SIPA and Johns Hopkins’ SAIS can’t do much better than that.

Maybe I’m wrong, but seeing all the economic theories up on a wall is fascinating in and of itself. Fairbanks is big on fascination, and with it, he captures attention. At least for a short while.

Job History.

When I started working ten years ago, I had a BA in Russian and that was it. No technical skills. Some language skills, some office experience, but that was about all that there was. I got a job in the Ukraine after kicking around Austin Texas for a time, after graduation. I was earning 26k. Since I lived outside of the US for 300+ days a year, I got almost all of my taxes back to me. When I left several years later, the salary wasn’t that much higher, but it had always gone up every year, so it was close to 30k.

The other day I saw this on craigslist, and was pretty floored by the job description:

We’re a small Marketing company that has been in the Boston area for twenty years and we’re looking for a new team member to help us expand our web presence. We’re looking for either a PHP expert or a knowledgeable JAVA J2EE developer who has experience with a variety of other Open Source technologies and an expert knowledge of web based technologies like Flash, Cold Fusion, and Oracle. A strong working knowledge of C++ would also be desirable.

The job is full-time. You’ll spend approximately 20 to 30 hours a week as a developer and the remainder of your time filling out other critical roles within the organization: mail room, running errands, answering phones, light cleaning, etc.

We are currently hoping to find someone with either a BS or a Masters in either Computer Science or Software Engineering. You should be able to produce a portfolio of your work and provide three or more references.

The position pays 25k a year and requires travel to Worcester once a month. You can expect full benefits … (etc.)

holy crap, dude.

I can’t wait to stand in line for this one. Does it include toilet-washing, together with the phone and mail duties? At least the company could have billed it as a part time job and spared some college kid the agony of answering the phone after getting a BSCS…but wow.

Is all respect for the IT profession just going out the windows or what?