Friday, February 3, 2017

Things every hacker once knew...

Things every hacker once knew...  This is a fascinating essay by Eric S. Raymond.  Almost everything in it is well known to me, though I don't think Eric would consider me a “hacker”.  I'm five years older than he is, and I suspect I started with electronics (though not computers) a bit younger than he did – so some of the things he lists don't even seem that antique to me! :)

Update: first link fixed.  Thanks to all who commented or emailed to let me know!

Model X update...

Model X update...  We've had our Tesla Model X now for just over a month.  How do we like the car after having had it for a while?

Very much, thank you!

We continue to be thrilled by the visibility and quiet, perfect for the kind of sightseeing and wildlife viewing that we love so much.  The comfort of all the little things like heated seats and automatic doors is very nice, though it still feels a bit weird for we who have been driving pickup trucks for 30 years! :)

I've had just one problem with the car other than those I've previously described in posts: the rear-view mirror inside the car is permanently darkened.  All three rear-view mirrors are supposed to automatically darken when there are bright headlights behind the car, and the two exterior mirrors work fine.  The software upgrade is performing well, though I'm still a little disappointed by the restrictions on it.  We haven't been able to try auto-steer yet, because the limitations currently in force mean that there are no roads anywhere near us where we can use it.  The current restrictions are (a) you must be on a limited-access highway (i.e., an Interstate or something like that), and you have to be going under 45 MPH (i.e., high traffic situation).  Well, in this neck of the woods we have neither Interstate nor heavy traffic, so we're SOL until the restrictions get lifted.  This is promised once sufficient experience has been gained by the entire fleet of Tesla cars.  Won't be much from northern Utah!

We're going in for our service appointment (to look at the non-retracting spoiler and the rear-view mirror) next Tuesday afternoon.  Later that same day we're meeting friends for dinner at the Red Iguana.  Should be an interesting day!

Oh, one other Model X related thing: we've purchased a couple of accessories.  The first one, which we're already using, is a pair of color-coded silicone covers for the Tesla fob (which replaces a key).  The covers add some cushioning and waterproofing, but the color-coding was what we really wanted: red for my fob, black for Debbie's.  The fob is how the Model X figures out who you are, and determines the settings for the seats, mirrors, etc. that it restores to the driver's seat.  We've also purchased a couple of tempered glass screen protectors, one for the giant screen in the center console, the other for the smaller screen in front of the steering wheel.  I'll be installing those this weekend.

Random morning thought...

Random morning thought...  While I was reading the news this morning about the 63,411 things that Trump did last night, a memory surfaced: some advice I got many years ago from an executive trying to teach me how to manage an engineering group.  He told me the most important thing I could do was simply to do.  When I looked baffled, he said “Do something, even if it’s wrong!”  That led to a more interesting discussion about the importance, in leadership, of making decisions and setting a course of action.  Even more interesting was his assertion that a core skill of managers is the ability to make decisions in the presence of imperfect or even absent information.

I felt the truth of that advice on many occasions in my decades of management experience.  I was surprised by just how often subordinates would be unable (or unwilling, to the same effect) to make a decision and instead raised it to me.  I hope it's true that I didn't do the same to my bosses!

What dawned on me this morning is we're seeing that principle in action at the level of the President of the U.S.  The sheer speed with which Trump is taking actions means that we're seeing low information decision-making.  Well, I guess there's one other possibility: that all these actions were queued up in some master plan.  I'll dismiss that, however, on the basis that if any such plan actually existed certainly it's presence would have leaked, and most likely much of its contents.  So I think it's more likely that it's “Do something, even if it’s wrong!” that's going on.

So here's the big question: is that a good thing, or a bad thing?

I really don't know.  I do know, however, that it's frightening.

I'm handling it this morning by listening to Frank Zappa's Apostrophe, which ever gives me joy...