Friday, May 11, 2007


Joel Spolsky, hear, hear!: "Virtually all American consumer electronics chains, national ISPs, telephone companies, credit card companies, and cable companies use Econ 101 management. Instead of having smart people figure out how to train their frontline customer service workers to serve customers well and profitably, they make up metrics that sound good and let the low wage, high-turnover customer service people come up with their own systems, which, inevitably, involve scamming customers and ripping them off."

Tom Evslin's Microsoft Memories recalls the culture of Microsoft while he was there in the early nineties. He closes commenting on problems with the sort of bullying culture Microsoft became known for:

"...Two problems with this approach: one is that kinder and gentler people, who may be still be very smart, get stomach aches and other unpleasant symptoms when they gave to confront bullying. Microsoft lost out on some people who could have contributed but couldn’t take this kind of heat. Second problem is that the bullying gets emulated down the line. There was nothing quite as absurd as a newly-hired college graduate thinking he could be as smart or rich as billg if he could only manage to be as rude."

I have very bright friends who were seriously put off by Microsoft interviews--so much so that they walked out of interviews or rejected offers.

From Carnival of Mathematics #7, one of the best but geekiest .sigs I've seen in a long time:

question = 0xFF; // optimized Hamlet

Warning: If it makes no sense, experience with bit-twiddling C code may be a prerequisite.

Methods for working with highly dimensional data are an area of personal interest, and I posted a bit on low discrepancy sequences a while back. On this front, Geomblog has an interesting post titled Faure sequences and Monte Carlo methods.

It's a litte last-year-ish, but if you haven't read it and you're interested, Love at First Byte was a nice little article on Donald Knuth in Stanford Magazine.

Five Great Puzzles and Paradoxes to Tickle the Mind.


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