Tag Archives: Business

Google Plus vs Facebook

I recently started using Facebook a couple times a week, largely because there are a few people I care about who use only Facebook. Here’s the difference between the two social networks.

Facebook has accumulated and kept so many people for so long due to simple human inertia. Most humans are averse to spending time and effort to move to a new experience or platform unless there’s great reward and little risk in doing so. Facebook spends a huge amount of time and money, including employing many scientists, specifically to determine and maintain a balance where the pain of using Facebook is less than the pain of leaving it. The reward for using Facebook is the ability to connect with friends, play mindless games, and be served information you want.

Looking at Google Plus, it’s clear that not only would you have to rebuild your social network essentially from scratch, leaving behind many friends who are kept on another network by their own inertia, but you’ll have to learn a potentially more complex system, all without guaranteed reward. Google Plus also requires more effort to experience its potential rewards than Facebook. With Facebook, you can be mostly a passive consumer of information and services and experience much of what it has to offer. With Google Plus, you need to be more active in seeking out worthwhile sources of information and interactions. There are far more deep and intellectually challenging conversations to be had on Google Plus, but participating in them requires significant effort and many people aren’t interested in those conversations, especially at the cost of expending that effort.

Do the most unpleasant tasks first

Start your day by doing the most unpleasant tasks first.


Most of us have a task or two on that we really don’t want to do, and we procrastinate by doing other, less difficult or unpleasant tasks, often reasoning that we need to do those first. This goes for work and non-work life. The scientific literature on self-control suggests that willpower, our ability to make ourselves do things, is a very limited resource, and is at its peak early in our day. Given that, it’s best to do the most unpleasant tasks first and move from those to progressively more pleasant tasks as the day goes on. This approach will maximize our productivity.


Capital Oppresses Labor


Tolstoy was exactly right.

It doesn’t have to be this way, of course. Welfare Capitalism, as practiced in most of the developed world, allows the creative destruction of capitalism to proceed while shielding individuals from its excesses.

Supporting capitalism does not require that we support a free for all in which the capitalists use people and natural resources as they will. Capitalism left to run its natural course results in the destruction of individual life, liberty, and ultimately the environment we need to survive. A serious capitalist will acknowledge the need for strong government regulation of capitalist practices, even as he fights against those regulations that limit his own profits.

Be Kind to Other Workers

Be kind to other workers.

This is obvious, at least in theory, but it’s often hard to practice and can be the first thing dropped when you become busy. Kindness requires slowing down enough to recognize the humanity and inherent value in another human being, something that takes effort.

Here’s a little email I wrote to a colleague recently to show my appreciation for his efforts to be kind to our IT support staff.

I just want to say thank you for being so polite to our support staff.

I know you’re a polite person, but I know from experience that it’s easy to forget expressions of gratitude when you get busy. A note of appreciation from others can really make someone’s day and in some cases it’s the difference between them thinking of themselves as just wage slaves and believing their work to be important and worth doing well. No pressure though … 🙂

A Song of Lost Work

A Song of Lost Work


All those backups seemed a waste of pay

Now my database has gone away

Oh I believe in yesterday



There’s not half the files there used to be

And there’s a deadline

hanging over me

The system crashed so suddenly.


I pushed something wrong

What it was I could not say

Now all my data’s gone away

and I long for yesterday-ay-ay-ay.



The need for back-ups seemed so far away.

I knew my data was all here to stay,

Now I believe in yesterday.


I adapted this from several versions on the internet, taking the best of each, and then posted it on my door and sent it to my team, with the message “Let’s all do our backups so we don’t have to sing this song. If you aren’t sure what you need to back up, where you should put your valuable files, how often to do a backup, or anything else, please ask for help.

7 simple rules for hiring great developers

This article from InfoWorld presents a good list of rules (principles really) for hiring great software development talent. Some are more relevant to start-ups and small companies, but all are at least somewhat relevant to every technology company. I work for a very large company and have limited influence, but I do what I can to influence my workplace to follow these and other good principles.

American Work-Life Balance is Terrible


We definitely work too much in the US. I’m guilty of it and my kids call me on it regularly, though they appreciate that I make time for them. In the professional world, even if you’re an elite worker with skills that would be hard, and expensive, to replace, it feels like you’re in a race to justify your income and leisure time. I think we have an out of balance work ethic here, but I don’t know how to fix it.

Single mothers and the less common single fathers have even more pressure on them. It’s very hard for a responsible parent to take a break without feeling like they’re neglecting their child. The social structure here, at least among fully assimilated Americans, is wholly inadequate to support healthy family life. Only the Southeast Asians I know maintain the family structure necessary to raise children successfully without killing themselves from the effort.

Be Careful Using Spreadsheets for Serious Technical Work

The Reinhart-Rogoff case makes for an excellent cautionary tale on the dangers of using spreadsheets for serious work and also a great example of science working properly due to the open exchange of experimental data and documents.

Be Careful Using Spreadsheets for Important Work

Warning someone to be careful with spreadsheets sounds like some Captain Obvious level advice, but if you read the article, you’ll see there is some good reasoning behind it. I know from experience that it’s easy to make formula errors, especially during a long slog preparing data and formulas for review. I found and corrected several spreadsheet entry and calculation errors made by the financial/pricing analyst during my work on a recent proposal. This is relevant to both financial pros and people like me who’d rather write a program to do all the calculations and then just output them to a results spreadsheet for distribution. The ease of data entry in a spreadsheet and the temptations to take shortcuts are something to remain alert for.


Personal Pronouns Used In Communications Predictive of Relationship Quality and Outcome

From the article:

The constructs of We-ness and Separateness have long been of interest to social psychologists and marital researchers because the formation of a close romantic relationship involves a partial transformation of identity – a shift from being two separate individuals into being a couple.


This is not surprising but it’s certainly interesting and a good technique to use in evaluating your own and others’ relationships.

The same analysis can be used in examining cor­po­rate CEOs’ annual let­ters to share­hold­ers as input to company performance predictions. This makes sense once you consider that companies with egomaniacs as CEOs tend to do poorly. Laura Rit­ten­house makes a living practicing this type of analysis.