#58

When it comes to innovation, an ounce of execution is worth more than a ton of theory
— Phil McKinney, American businessman

The Speed Dial - An abbreviated set of articles for the reader who has limited time.

How to coach teammates: A key responsibility of effective leaders
[wavelength.asana]

Think of an organization like a tree, with the CEO on the bottom. The individual contributors are the fruit—the people doing the work—and managers are their supportive branches. Coaching is a key tool for ensuring your teammates fully ripen.

 

It’s Hard to Believe, but Syria’s War Is Getting Even Worse
[nytimes]

Since the rout of the Islamic State last year, and steady government advances against other insurgent groups, a misperception has grown abroad that the Syrian war is winding down. Instead, the carnage is reaching a new peak.

 

The Catch-22 of Risk-Averse Organisations
[theartofmachinery]

Every risk-averse organisation needs someone to take the initiative to eliminate risks. But in a risk-averse organisation, that’s exactly what no one does.

 

Management/Culture

The 3 Types of C Players and What to Do About Them
[hbr]

Early in your tenure as the boss, you will spot the C players by their lack of preparation on assignments or their consistent failure to meet deadlines and follow up on requests. They may accomplish only 40% to 50% of what you were expecting. They tend to blame others or external factors for delays and incomplete assignments. Perhaps they even blame you for not giving them more-precise instructions and expectations.

 

How to Make a Small Tweak in Communication for a Surprisingly Big Change
[lizkislik]

And then one observably upbeat and seemingly unflappable fellow shook his head a little, and said he hated it when internal customers would ask, “Can’t you just…” and everyone in the room agreed. Vociferously.

 

When You Have to Carry Out a Decision You Disagree With
[hbr]

One of the great frustrations of being a middle manager is that senior leaders make decisions that go against what you would have done had it been up to you. Sometimes you are part of the decision process, and other times the decision is simply handed down. Either way, you are now responsible for ensuring that the plan is carried out


 

Finding the right challenge
[blog.intercom]

What does it mean to be challenged? I’ve found the greatest satisfaction in life comes from times I’ve pushed myself to try something new, or tried something I didn’t think I could achieve and then succeeded at it.

 

Development/Releases

One Bite At A Time: Partitioning Complexity
[facebook]

A recent programming project of my own reminded me that just because I can’t handle lots of complexity at once, it doesn’t mean I can’t program. I can program, but because of my weakness I use a style that partitions complexity instead of consuming it whole. Here are the elements of that style.

 

Write Dumb Code
[matthewrocklin]

The best way you can contribute to an open source project is to remove lines of code from it. We should endeavor to write code that a novice programmer can easily understand without explanation or that a maintainer can understand without significant time investment.

 

Save Side Effects for Last
[spin.atomicobject]

Over time, I’ve noticed a design heuristic that has helped me immensely over innumerable projects. It’s actually quite simple: You can think of it as saving your side effects for last.

 

Technical

Packaging Large Node Projects With RPM
[medium]

Despite being an old technology, RPMs provide many advantages when it comes to packaging software, such as verification of contents, and resolving of package dependencies. An RPM also ensures that we get the same version of code when installing across all machines in the deployment pipeline which is essential when utilising horizontal scaling. It’s for these reasons we use them at the BBC.

 

Caviar’s Word2Vec Tagging For Menu Item Recommendations
[medium]

At Square’s Caviar food ordering platform, one way we connect diners to great food is with restaurant and menu item recommendations. Rather than presenting a single overwhelming stream of recommendations, we segment them into distinct recommendation collections, each characterized by a common theme (e.g., “Delivery Under 30 Minutes”, “Pizza”, and “Recommended For You”). Individual collections are powered in various ways, including category taggings like cuisine type and dietary restriction, editorialized “best of” lists, custom algorithms, and machine learning:

 

News/Other

Customer Satisfaction at the Push of a Button
[newyorker]

HappyOrNot terminals look simple, but the information they gather is revelatory.

 

China Loves Trump
[theatlantic]

The people love a winner. The leadership loves a dupe.

 

Why does Costco sell luxury items?
[keranews]

When I shop at Costco, I saw they sell $20,000 diamond rings and $17,000 bottles of 60-year-old whiskey. Why do they sell stuff like that at Costco (which is a discount wholesaler)? I mean, if you're in the market for an uber luxury item, would you really get it at Costco?

 

Kenya’s Dangerous Path Toward Authoritarianism
[newyorker]

A recent media blackout has raised questions about the strength of democracy and the judiciary in East Africa’s most economically powerful nation.

 

Chinese police are using facial-recognition glasses to scan crowds for wanted criminals
[businessinsider]

Chinese railway police are using facial-recognition sunglasses to catch suspects at train stations in Zhengzhou, the capital of central Henan province.

 

The Plot Against America
[theatlantic]

Decades before he ran the Trump campaign, Paul Manafort’s pursuit of foreign cash and shady deals laid the groundwork for the corruption of Washington.

 

Engineering Marvel of the Winter Olympics: A Broom
[nytimes]

Flemming and Fowler, both 29, along with their friend and business partner, Will Hamilton, 37, were pouring their creative energies into a high-tech training device the likes of which the sporting world had never seen. They were building a better broom.

 

Bring On The Bikocalypse
[wired]

Chinese cities have been overtaken by the chaos and clutter of dockless bikes. American cities should follow their lead.

 

Pizza is a healthier breakfast than most cereals
[sandiegouniontribune]

Cold pizza, microwaved pizza, store-bought frozen pizza... It doesn't matter what kind of pie is on your plate this morning - it's probably a healthier breakfast than a bowl of cereal.

 

America’s Military Is Choking on Old Technology
[foreignpolicy]

As its rivals invest in new military hardware, Washington is stuck refurbishing obsolete equipment.

 

John Perry Barlow’s “Principles of Adult Behavior”
[carstenknoch]

John Perry Barlow is an activist, writer, former lyricist for the Grateful Dead and co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. He’s also an engaging Twitter-er who gets my attention with concise, insightful original tweets and great quotations.

 

Books/Podcasts/Videos

Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart
[goodreads]

From the bestselling author of Lawrence in Arabia, a piercing account of how the contemporary Arab world came to be riven by catastrophe since the 2003 United States invasion of Iraq.

 

Faceswapping, Unethical Videos, and Future Shock
[youtube]

I was going to tell a science fiction story about faceswapping, and mass blackmail. Then the news broke about unethical faceswapping videos, and software designed and marketed for creating them: and I realised the future had arrived faster than I thought.