Earlier today I was asked a question regarding some of the spam on App.net and, being the person who runs NiceRank, I was quick to answer. Because I was looking at the raw numbers I found yet another pattern that could be used in the fight against spam to mark accounts as being run by machines rather than humans, and the math was sound. The first round of cleanups found several hundred accounts masquerading as people, and the second found an additional 3000. They are now all marked as being false records and relegated to the bottom-of-the-barrel with no chance of reprieve or parole. Another win for math … or so I thought.
As I sat in the lecture hall at a local university, I looked around as people listened to a pre-recorded audio segment. Working in education, watching people while they work out problems is nothing new. What was new, though, was the surprised looks some people had on their face when they recognised the voice over the speakers was mine. A year ago I would have been incredibly self-conscious about people listening to my voice, as it was not a sound that I enjoyed. However, after nearly a year podcasting, I can say that it’s now just another voice … although more familiar than most.
Sitting at the cafe around the corner from work, the clock beside me reads 11:00 AM. Like any other Monday, the coffee shop is awash with people chatting with friends or reading books in isolation. Looking around I can see only one computer open and in use — mine. I often come here to get some coding done before the day job begins and I am left bereft without the use of this wonderfully mobile little device. Coding is not the main reason I come to this cafe, though. I come here because of that feeling in the pit of my stomach that I feel each and every work day. I come here so that the unwelcome feeling will not prematurely rise to that spot in my oesophagus just above the stomach where acid burns away the shield that protects the muscular tube leaving a horrendously painful spot right in the centre of my chest. I have that feeling almost every minute of the work day, so keeping it at bay is key to productivity. But why must it be like this?
Companies are interesting constructs. They are collections of people with (generally) similar goals who combine their skills to varying degrees in order to accomplish various goals. Many companies excel at one specific thing externally, but how many companies are incapable of using these very same skills internally? Over the last three months I’ve been helping out a local electricians outfit. They’ve been using a Windows 98-based computer system since the late 90s, and they want to update their software so that it can work on mobile devices carried by electricians in the field. These electricians are, from what I’ve witnessed, really, really good at what they do. There’s just one little problem …