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Archive for December, 2015

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

I went looking for a good video with which to wish you a great 2016.

Problem was, they were either too saccharine, too boring or just didn’t fit me.

I also don’t have a lot of patience watching videos.

But I am a sucker for cats.

So here is my New Year’s message, along with a personal message.

Have fun. Be happy. Stay safe.

I’ll see you all next year.

YouTube credit: billschannel

Say Goodbye to 2015

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

Wow! 2015 sure went by in a flash.

I seem to say this every year, but this year was gone in three blinks of the eye — down from the five blinks that took 2014.

2016 will probably go a lot slower considering it’s an election year.

It won’t take long before the media/ad tsunami will become the watched pot that never boils and have us all longing for the year to be over.

But it’s still 2015, so if you’re looking to remember or review what happened this year you have many choices.

You can watch Faceboook’s version or Google’s view through search.

There’s Forbes review of tech, video and games or Geek & Sundry’s 2015 video game review.

For excitement there’s the best of GoPro’s Hero footage.

There’s CNN’s 167 facts and a look a look at who died.

There’s one more that you might not think to watch — NASA.

Watch the review of 2015 and the sneak peak below of 2016.

Katherine Johnson: As Good As, But No Better

Tuesday, December 29th, 2015

Assuming you follow the tech news in one way or another you know that 2015 hasn’t been a kind year to women in tech.

Although it didn’t start this year, trolling, bullying, trashing, violence and death threats have become almost everyday occurrences.

As with most haters, they manage to ignore or deny the positive, such as Ada Lovelace, a Countess who wrote the first-ever computer algorithm and dreamed up the idea of artificial intelligence.

So in the spirit of positivity and hope for improvement in 2016, I thought I would share the story of Katherine Johnson, who calculated the trajectory of Alan Shepherd’s 1961 trip into space, which was America’s first, as published by NASA, where she worked for many years.

I wonder how many techies could do something similar today without using a computer or other current tech.

http://www.nasa.gov/centers/langley/news/researchernews/rn_kjohnson.htmlShe Was a Computer When Computers Wore Skirts

08.26.08
By: Jim Hodges 

Katherine Johnson was 90 on Tuesday, an apt date because it also was National Equality Day.

Not that she ever thought she wasn’t equal.

“I didn’t have time for that,” said Johnson in her Hampton home. “My dad taught us ‘you are as good as anybody in this town, but you’re no better.’ I don’t have a feeling of inferiority. Never had. I’m as good as anybody, but no better.”

But probably a lot smarter. She was a “computer” at Langley Research Center “when the computer wore a skirt,” said Johnson. More important, she was living out her life’s goal, though, when it became her goal, she wasn’t sure what it involved.

Johnson was born in White Sulfur Springs, W.Va., where school for African-Americans stopped at eighth grade. Her father, Joshua, was a farmer who drove his family 120 miles to Institute, W. Va., where education continued through high school and then at West Virginia State College. He would get wife Joylette a job as a domestic and leave the family there to be educated while he went back to White Sulfur Springs to make a living.

Katherine skipped though grades to graduate from high school at 14, from college at 18, and her skills at mathematics drew the attention of a young professor, W.W. Schiefflin Claytor.

“He said, ‘You’d make a good research mathematician and I’m going to see that you’re prepared,’ ” she recalled.

“I said, ‘Where will I get a job?’

“And he said, ‘That will be your problem.’

“And I said, ‘What do they do?’

“And he said, ‘You’ll find out.’

“In the back of my mind, I wanted to be a research mathematician.”

It didn’t involve teaching, though she did it for a while, starting at $65 a month. While on vacation from a $100-a-month teaching job in 1952, she was in Newport News. “I heard that Langley was looking for black women computers,” she said.

She was put into a pool, from which she emerged within two weeks to join engineers who, five years later, would become involved in something new called the “Space Task Force.”

That was 1958, when the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics became the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
She did the math.

“We wrote our own textbook, because there was no other text about space,” she says. “We just started from what we knew. We had to go back to geometry and figure all of this stuff out. Inasmuch as I was in at the beginning, I was one of those lucky people.”

That luck came in large part because she was no stranger to geometry. It was only natural that she calculate the trajectory of Alan Shepherd’s 1961 trip into space, America’s first.

“The early trajectory was a parabola, and it was easy to predict where it would be at any point,” Johnson says. “Early on, when they said they wanted the capsule to come down at a certain place, they were trying to compute when it should start. I said, ‘Let me do it.

You tell me when you want it and where you want it to land, and I’ll do it backwards and tell you when to take off.’ That was my forte.”

More flights became more complicated, with more variables involving place and rotation of Earth and the moon for orbiting. By the time John Glenn was to go up to orbit the Earth, NASA had gone to computers.

“You could do much more, much faster on computer,” Johnson says. “But when they went to computers, they called over and said, ‘tell her to check and see if the computer trajectory they had calculated was correct.’ So I checked it and it was correct.”

So the “computer” began using a computer. And in 1969, while at a sorority meeting in the Pocono Mountains, she gathered with others around a small television set to see Neil Armstrong land on the moon and take the first step by a human there. There was some marveling, but not much.

“It all seemed routine to people by then,” Johnson said.

But there was an extremely nervous “computer.”

“I had done the calculations and knew they were correct,” said Johnson. “But just like driving (to Hampton in traffic) from Williamsburg this morning, anything could happen. I didn’t want anything to happen and it didn’t.”

Her work at Langley spanned from 1953 to 1986. She is still involved in math, tutoring youngsters, and she remembers where NASA’s space program was, even as she watches where it is now on television.

“I found what I was looking for at Langley,” she says. “This was what a research mathematician did. I went to work every day for 33 years happy. Never did I get up and say I don’t want to go to work.”

Johnson also spends time talking with children, making sure that they know of the opportunities that can be had through mathematics and science. She laughs when she talks of being interviewed long distance by a fourth-grade class in Florida.

“Each of them had their questions, and one asked, ‘are you still living?'” Johnson says. “They see your picture in a textbook and think you’re supposed to be dead.”

Far from it. Instead, she’s celebrating yet another birthday on Women’s Equality Day, without admitting that there was a time when she didn’t feel equal.

Her father wouldn’t allow it.

Image credit: NASA

Amazing Augmented Reality

Monday, December 28th, 2015

I’m not sure how many people are reading blogs this week, so, to be honest, I didn’t want to “waste” my wisdom (that’s a joke).

Instead of a Monday Golden Oldie, I thought I would share something I learned this weekend that shifted an attitude I had.

I’ve read a lot about virtual reality and the changes it will wrought.

But most of those changes seemed to be in areas that seemed frivolous, such as gaming.

Additionally, I couldn’t see people running around with VR headsets in the real world; perhaps in classrooms…

And I didn’t have much (any?) sense of ‘augmented reality’, other than the meaning of each word, or how it differed from virtual reality.

Then I saw this video from Magic Leap and at least part of the hoopla made a lot more sense.

Even I think it’s pretty cool.

Maybe it will even be used for more weighty things than games.

2015 Christmas Wishes for You

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015

Obviously I wish the best of holiday cheer to all of you, along with predictions of happiness and success in 2016.

That said, I have a very special gift for my female readers (attribution: the Internet). Sadly, I’m not skilled enough to make a version for you guys.

However, you are welcome to share it with the women in your life; they’ll appreciate it — and you for thinking of them.

Merry Christmas To My Female Friends

If I were ol’ Santa, you know what I’d do
I’d dump silly gifts that are given to you

And deliver some things just inside your front door
Things you have lost, but treasured before.

I’d give you back all your maidenly vigor,
And to go along with it, a neat tiny figure.

Then restore the old color that once graced your hair
Before rinses and bleaches took residence there.

I’d bring back the shape with which you were gifted
So things now suspended need not be uplifted.

I’d draw in your tummy and smooth down your back
Till you’d be a dream in those tight fitting slacks.

I’d remove all your wrinkles and leave only one chin
So you wouldn’t spend hours rubbing grease on your skin.

You’d never have flashes or queer dizzy spells,
And you wouldn’t hear noises like ringing of bells.

No sore aching feet and no corns on your toes,
No searching for spectacles when they’re right on your nose.

Not a shot would you take in your arm, hip or fanny,
From a doctor who thinks you’re a nervous old granny.

You’d never have a headache, so no pills would you take.
And no heating pad needed since your muscles won’t ache.

Yes, if I were Santa, you’d never look stupid,
You’d be a cute little chick with the romance of a cupid.

I’d give a lift to your heart when those wolves start to whistle,
And the joys of your heart would be light as a thistle.

But alas! I’m not Santa. I’m simply just me,
The “matronest” of matrons you ever did see.

I wish I could tell you all the symptoms I’ve got,
But I’m due at my doctor’s for an estrogen shot.

Even though we’ve grown older, this wish is sincere,
Merry Christmas to you and a Happy New Year.

Have a warm, wonderful Christmas and I’ll see you again in 2015 (although I don’t guarantee how many times:).

reindeer

Golden Oldies: No Reading = Poor Writing

Monday, December 21st, 2015

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over nearly a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written. Golden Oldies is a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time. [This particular post is a follow-up to last Thursday. Sadly, I’ve already seen resumes and business emails that are almost as bad as the imaginary cover letter below.] Read other Golden Oldies here

booksI harp a lot on the importance of clarity in written communications and the lack of good writing skills, especially in Gen X and Y. I’m not the only one, B-schools and corporations are spending time and money trying to improve them.

I think part of the problem is that these generations grew up on TV and the Net instead of on books. Obviously, not all, but too many.

Reading helps good language usage sink in—people who read absorb how to put words together without even realizing it.

It doesn’t matter what you read; it doesn’t have to be classed as ‘worthwhile’ or ‘good’ literature as long as you enjoy it. Whether it’s adventure, biography, fiction, mysteries (my favorite), fantasy (another favorite) or science fiction you’ll get a ‘feel’ for how words work.

If writing skills keep deteriorating then in twenty years when Gen Y is the bad old establishment a cover letter may look like this—keyboarding

Subject: Resimay

To hoom it mae cunsern,
I waunt to apply for the job what I saw in the paper. I can Type real quik wit only one finggar and do sum a counting.
I think I am good on the phone and no I am a pepole person, Pepole really seam to respond to me well.
Im lookin for a Jobb as a reporter but it musent be to complicaited.
I no my spelling is not to good but find that I Offen can get a job thru my persinalety. My salerery is open so we can discus wat you want to pay me and wat you think that I am werth,
I can start imeditely. Thank you in advanse fore yore anser.
hopifuly Yore best aplicant so farr.
Sinseerly,
PAT

If the Shoe Fits: Founder Ego Can Kill Your Company

Friday, December 18th, 2015

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mIf you truly want to succeed it’s important not to let your ego get in the way.

Or, as Marva Collins said, “If you can’t make a mistake, you can’t make anything.”

During the first startup boom in the Nineties it was called “founder ego,” but there were those, such as me, who just called it stupid.

Perhaps there is a new term I haven’t heard or it’s gone underground, but founder ego sinks more startups than you can imagine.

The thing to remember is that you

  • don’t’ know more than everybody else; and
  • can’t do everything better than anybody else.

You will screw up, you’re human, but people will think more highly of you and trust you more if you admit it and move forward by unscrewing it no matter where or who the solution comes from.

Thanks to Wally Bock at Three Star Leadership for sharing Collins’ quote.

Image credit: HikingArtist

Entrepreneurs: Wise Advice

Thursday, December 17th, 2015

The end of the year is always a time for reflection. I can only hope that you take all these words and concepts to heart.

You will be a better person and have a better 2016 if you do.

From Jessica Herrin, founder/CEO of Stella & Dot

Making decisions: What/which has the greater upside? What’s the downside, and is it worth the risk?”

Learning: I had that typical early-entrepreneur hero complex, where it was about how well I did versus how well I helped other people do the work. Then a mentor told me that if I ever want to run a large company, I should go work at one. So I got a job as a middle manager at Dell, and I had to develop skills as a leader. I also got pregnant with my first child, and I was always sick and tired, so I had to become far more focused in how I was spending my time. I learned to focus on what really matters.

Stella & Dot: Our revenue is around $300 million, and we have over 400 people in the home office and about 50,000 independent business owners in six countries.

Culture: I wanted to hire missionaries, not mercenaries. The challenge, especially when you’re growing fast, is to be incredibly fierce about your hiring filters. You have to commit to caring for the culture more than the quarter.

From Jon Olinto, co-founder of b. good restaurants

Goal: to build a community around the idea of “real fast food”—made by people, not factories—and the team felt like one big family, all working toward that goal.

Sustainability: You just have to look for and seize every opportunity to make your people feel valued and purposeful in their work.

Engagement: we incorporated features to reflect our family culture [on new mobile app], the app has also boosted staff engagement in a way we never even expected.

Finally, life advice from teen Jake Baily.

Jake Bailey found out he had Burkitt Lymphoma just one week before he was due to speak at a prize giving ceremony at his school. As senior monitor, it was his duty to represent the class. In the midst of intensive chemotherapy, Jake was permitted to leave the hospital for a brief period to deliver his speech. 

The Most Valuable Gifts: Time and Books

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

http://xkcd.com/1616/

During the holiday media gift frenzy it is the truly wise who remember that the best gifts aren’t electronic or screen-dependent.

The very best aren’t paid for with money, either, but with a much more precious currency — time.

Time to love.

Time for friendship.

Time to play.

Time to talk and laugh together — F2F

Food cooked and shared together at (someone’s) home.

Not just during the season, but scattered throughout the year like diamonds on a velvet cloth or stars in a clear night sky.

Along with time, the most wonderful gift you can give a child is a love of books — real books.

Real because reading a printed page affects the brain in different and better ways than words on a  screen.

Whether your child reads or you read to them start with the books from Lost My Name, which creates personalized books using your child’s name.

Lost My Name — founded in 2012 by Asi Sharabi and Tal Oron — creates customised books based around a child’s name. The books are created and ordered online, then sent out to printing partners around the world. (…)  “As a technology company, we’re very proud to be innovating on one of the oldest media formats in the world – the physical book,” said Oron. “We think technology equals possibility. And possibility is the dominant currency in wonderful, nostalgic storytelling, where the book’s job is to inspire children to believe in adventure; that anything can happen if they imagine it. As screens become more and more seductive to children, there is an increasing need to inject more magic into books – to find new ways to spark their imagination.”

Even better are the books by Randall Munroe, former NASA roboticist, who specializes in science humor and whose 2014 book, “What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions,” became an unexpected mainstream hit.

Munroe believes that anything can be explained simply using normal language and proves it in his new book (which is a good choice for anyone on your gift list).

“Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words.” The oversized, illustrated book consists of annotated blueprints with deceptively spare language, explaining the mechanics behind concepts like data centers, smartphones, tectonic plates, nuclear reactors and the electromagnetic spectrum. In his explanations, Mr. Munroe avoided technical jargon and limited himself to the 1,000 most commonly used words in the English language. This barred him from using words like helium and uranium, a challenge when describing how a rocket ship or reactor works.

For book links and great comics (sample above; chosen for enabling holiday restraint) visit Munroe’s site.

Books are good for adults, too. Check out this month’s Leadership Development Carnival for critiques of books that run the business gamut from being a better boss to upping your game wherever you are in your career.

Another great thing about real books is what you can do when you are done reading them.

  • Some you’ll want to keep for your own library;
  • some you’ll share with friends, colleagues and those you mentor; and
  • the rest can be donated to your local library.

Happy reading! Happy discovery!!

Image credit: Randall Munroe

Commitment by the Numbers

Tuesday, December 15th, 2015

kg_charles-harris

There’s a lot of talk out there about the best ways to engage your people, with the dual goals of juicing creativity and innovation and hiking productivity.

As founder and CEO of Quarrio, I spend a lot of energy and time building and sustaining a culture that fosters an environment in which our people flourish.

I believe that is what  produces the desired engagement results.

That is why we don’t give a damn about gender, age or alma mater; even skills and experience take a backseat to attitude when we hire.

My whole team, not just senior staff, talk about this frequently.

Recently one them shared this internet meme as a mathematical view of what we all believe.

And since it’s the time for gifts and sharing, I thought I would share it as my holiday gift to you.

This comes from 2 math teachers with a combined total of 70 yrs. experience.

What Makes 100%  ?

What does it mean to give MORE  than 100%?

Ever wonder about those people who say they are giving more than 100%? We have

all been to those meetings where someone wants you to give over 100%.

How about achieving 103%?

What makes up 100% in life?

Here’s a little mathematical formula that might help you answer these questions:

If:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Is represented as:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26.

Then:

H-A-R-D-W-O-R-K 

8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98% 

And

K-N-O-W-L-E-D-G-E

11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 = 96%

But, 

A-T-T-I-T-U-D-E 

1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5 = 100%

And, 

B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T 

2+21+12+12+19+8+9+20 = 103% 

And look how far ass kissing  will take you.  

A-S-S-K-I-S-S-I-N-G 

1+19+19+11+9+19+19+9+14+7 = 118% 

So, one can conclude with mathematical certainty, that while Hard Work and  

Knowledge  will get you close, and   Attitude  will get you there.

It’s the  Bullshit  and  Ass Kissing  that will put you over the top. 

Now you know why some people are where they are!

I wish you a wonderful holiday season filled 100% with joy, family, friends, colleagues and great food.

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