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Comments

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A Measure of Your Team's Health: How You Treat Your "Idiot"

Esther Schindler Re:How Would the Author Know? (255 comments)

You're right. But sometimes... itch itch itch MUST RESPOND NOW.

about 3 months ago
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A Measure of Your Team's Health: How You Treat Your "Idiot"

Esther Schindler Re:How Would the Author Know? (255 comments)

Ha ha ha ha.

Sorry. Just looking at my track record as a journalist, and comparing it to your comment. It made me snicker.

about 3 months ago
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A Measure of Your Team's Health: How You Treat Your "Idiot"

Esther Schindler Re:How Would the Author Know? (255 comments)

Um, no.

I have had lots of projects fail. Some were my fault. Some were management. Some were external. Plenty of reasons.

My point is that the existence of the team being ever-so-awesome does not necessarily have a correlation with its success. Just as actors can tell you about working on a movie with other actors where everyone felt creative and warm-and-fuzzy towards each other, and it has no influence on whether the movie is a commercial success.

about 3 months ago
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A Measure of Your Team's Health: How You Treat Your "Idiot"

Esther Schindler Re:The summary defines the problem. (255 comments)

You wouldn't have read the article if I had called it, A Measure of Your Team’s Health: How You Treat Your Less-Productive-But-Still-Well-Meaning Members. Also, we all do say, or at least mutter, "Elliot is such an idiot!" particularly in headdesk moments.

about 3 months ago
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A Measure of Your Team's Health: How You Treat Your "Idiot"

Esther Schindler Re:How Would the Author Know? (255 comments)

Is that really what you thought this was about?

There's a big difference from someone being semi-competent or having a "dial-it-in" attitude and someone who's just not up to the rest of the people around him. With the former, team members resent the individual: "Why am I working so hard when you can't be bothered? I just have to pick up the slack" -- and that creates dissension and a management nightmare.

With Elliot (and the many team members I've known like him), it's obvious to everyone that he's doing the best he can; he's just dumb (relative to the others around him). He can be frustrating, but it's not because he has a bad attitude; quite to the contrary. HE WANTS TO HELP. In a healthy team, everybody does his best to find a way for him to do so.

about 3 months ago
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A Short History of Computers In the Movies

Esther Schindler Re:Seconded (165 comments)

>>It would be nice to have an article about retired coders, what they did and their opinions of the dev world now.

Really? Cuz I could arrange that.

about 8 months ago
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Meet Slashdot 'Super Submitter' Esther Schindler (Video)

Esther Schindler Re:So /. is full of content from a marketing exper (53 comments)

How kind of you to say so!

Beer-wise: I am more of an ale fan than lagers, with particular fondness for IPAs and porters. But my attention is on good craft brews rather than a specific type. Or good craft anything; I appreciate good made-by-hand workmanship in any endeavor.

about 10 months ago
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Meet Slashdot 'Super Submitter' Esther Schindler (Video)

Esther Schindler Re:Wow (53 comments)

I have several responses to this comment.

  • Robert Plant wasn't that pretty to start with. Fortunately, he made good music, instead of trying to have a career as a model.
  • "When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good, you will not." --Yoda
  • My self-worth is not bound to my looks. Nor should it be (even though I was kinda cute when I was young). I judge my value by my skill in my chosen field (whatever that is at the time, whether it's optimizing compilers, explaining how OS/2 system internals work, or sharing advice on using Twitter), in whether I treat others with kindness, and, of course, by how much chocolate I get to eat. So if you were trying to put me down, it didn't work.
  • Oh how sad. With all the wonders that the Internet brings to you, the first and only thing you consider is how someone looks?! Young padawan, the joy, the utter joy of living online, in IP packets, is that we connect to one another based on who we are and not what we are. My gender doesn't matter. My color is irrelevant. What matters is that we can find people who share our interests -- science fiction, programming, baseball, whatever -- and we can be honest with each other (because we don't have to edit ourselves, saying "I have to live with these people" when a family member utters a deplorable statement such as "I like the Dodgers.").

    Thus we get to learn from each other, and our bodies matter least of all the things we bring to the conversation. Thus I could be friends with someone online for years before learning he was in a wheelchair, when in-person it would have been the first -- but least important -- thing I learned about him.

    And you think first about how attractive I am? I'm so sorry. You're missing so much of what online communities can bring.

about 10 months ago
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Meet Slashdot 'Super Submitter' Esther Schindler (Video)

Esther Schindler Re:So /. is full of content from a marketing exper (53 comments)

Filter it out? Just don't follow them...?

There are companies/"brands" I follow because I find their info cool or useful or they make me say, "How 'bout that!" Sometimes that's the case even when I have no interest in their product... in the same way that I can admire the Budweiser Clydesdales even if I'd never drink their beer. (I am a beer snob.) And there are companies whose stuff I like even though their Twitter feeds are lame. For example, I'm thinking of one quilting fabric company whose Twitter feed is nothing but dumb self-serving ads, and comparing it in my head to another quilting fabric company that regularly shares groovy quilt designs (made with their fabric of course), and asks Facebook fans which fabric they ought to feature in a print magazine ad, and so on.

But if you discover that what they say/publish is not-so-cleverly-concealed propaganda, nothing says you have to follow them.

about 10 months ago
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Meet Slashdot 'Super Submitter' Esther Schindler (Video)

Esther Schindler Re:So /. is full of content from a marketing exper (53 comments)

Actually, the book tells people to have human conversations. Not to create the kind of awful "branded" Twitter streams we both abhor. I advise people to do the same thing I do on slashdot: Tell other people about things they'll find useful and cool.

Which does not make me a marketing expert. It makes me a communication expert.

about 10 months ago
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Meet Slashdot 'Super Submitter' Esther Schindler (Video)

Esther Schindler Re:Thanks (53 comments)

I'm always friendly. Someone might have chocolate to share with me.

about 10 months ago
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Meet Slashdot 'Super Submitter' Esther Schindler (Video)

Esther Schindler Re:In 10 years had a total of one submission make (53 comments)

I don't think so much about what interests me. I consider what might interest you.

I looked through a few of your submissions. With a few, you have the germ of something that might work. But you just blurt out the "fact" of the link, like "CNN says bigfoot was found," and that fits into my "weather report" description. Oh, yeah? How nice for them. Instead, tell me what you found and why it matters to me. Why should I care? Why is this amusing or relevant or useful to know?

about 10 months ago
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Meet Slashdot 'Super Submitter' Esther Schindler (Video)

Esther Schindler Re:Thanks (53 comments)

::glowing smile:: You're welcome.

about 10 months ago
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Meet Slashdot 'Super Submitter' Esther Schindler (Video)

Esther Schindler Re:She's a chick right? (53 comments)

I lost count somewhere around 700 but that was just the paperbacks, and doesn't count the hardbacks. Fortunately for my book budget I am also a frequent visitor to my local library, and every so often I do cull the herd... which is how I keep some of the collections under control. (I also have 400+ cookbooks. And I review a lot on Amazon.)

about 10 months ago
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Meet Slashdot 'Super Submitter' Esther Schindler (Video)

Esther Schindler Re:She's a chick right? (53 comments)

The cats let me think I'm in charge. It's part of their charm.

I'll let you look at all the submissions that were turned down. See weren't they all worthy? Huh?!

about 10 months ago
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Meet Slashdot 'Super Submitter' Esther Schindler (Video)

Esther Schindler Re:She's a chick right? (53 comments)

Yes, she's hot. She has more science fiction books than you do.

about 10 months ago
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Computers and Doctor Who

Esther Schindler Re:Prime Computer (93 comments)

Oh how delightful! Since I don't remember any developer being dick-ish, your memory may be faulty. (Well, one guy briefly was dickish, but I don't think that was you, since he was rather an old fart.) I wish I remembered the name of the guy who gave me his copy of Steven Brust's Yendi, because I've had fond thoughts of that dude for a long time; it led to a lot of enjoyable reading time.

In any case, feel free to connect with me (and Bill!) on LinkedIn or whatnot. We can share gossip about the people we knew! (What a nice Friday-afternoon connection! You plastered a big smile on my face.)

about 10 months ago
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Computers and Doctor Who

Esther Schindler Re:Prime Computer (93 comments)

On general TV?

I have to wonder about the demographics of the marketing campaign. Still, that's better than most computer ads of the time.

about 10 months ago
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Computers and Doctor Who

Esther Schindler Re:Prime Computer (93 comments)

Oh how wonderful! I did contract work at Prime circa 1990 (designing a test suite management system for the 15 compilers they supported), so I got a major hoot out of this. I have to wonder: Where did they show these ads? To whom?

about 10 months ago

Submissions

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Object Storage versus Block Storage: Understanding the Technology Differences

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about a week ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "Even very technical people scratch their heads over the business value of object storage. In other words, what problems does it solve? What are its drawbacks and limitations? Which types of applications run better, what breaks, and what do you need to completely redesign to take advantage of the storage technology?

Ultimately every IT admin wants to know if object storage is a good fit for certain workloads. This article defines object storage, compares it to alternatives, and gives an overview of where it can make a performance difference for enterprise computing."
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How Developers and IT Think Differently about Security -- and Why It Matters

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about two weeks ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "Despite the number of application security breaches that find their way into the news, most developers care passionately about writing secure code. However, developers’ top priorities for protecting the company’s assets aren’t necessarily the same items that the IT department cares about."
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The five greatest space hacks of all time

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about a month ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "Space missions are amazingly well-prepared affairs, every action and procedure is followed, right down to the most minute detail. But sometimes mishaps and emergencies occur. Some can be dealt with by sophisticated sensors and equipment. Some can be dealt with on Earth from Mission Control. But sometimes the only option is for an astronaut to get their hands dirty, using whatever comes to hand and a bit of DIY know-how. It’s amazing what has been grabbed, bent and improvised to save red faces – or, indeed, the lives of astronauts."
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Business Lessons from Mario and Donkey Kong

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about a month and a half ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "As of July 9, it’s been 23 years since Mario and the bellicose King Kong clone appeared in gaming arcades and then spread to our home consoles like kudzu. Since Donkey Kong (the first Mario game) appeared, writes Carol Pinschefsky, we’ve go-carted, golfed, and liberated oppressed princesses in over 250 games. You know what else we did when were saving a damsel in distress from a large, barrel-tossing ape? We learned some honest-to-goodness business lessons.

Yes, it's silly and funny. And then you think, "Wait. That's good advice!""
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What (not) to wear on an IT job interview: 6 real-life examples

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about 2 months ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "For a lot of slashdot denizens, the fashion choice for a job interview is, "What's clean?"

But still: Some of us give more thought to it than that. We know that how we dress conveys something, even if it's "proof that I'm a techie who is above such things." And — among women more than men, I think — some of us care about that image. And want to look pretty. (I do.)

So, in this article, with the help of a few brave volunteers, we examine how that dress or suit really comes across to the people who might ask, "When can you start?" You see six real-world people in real-world outfits, and hear what our esteemed judges think is the best choice for that IT job interview. Plus, you can vote on the outfits you think are best for each individual, and compare your opinion to those of the fashionistas and hiring managers. It's IT meets career meets fashion police – practical and, I hope, also fun."
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A Measure of Your Team's Health: How You Treat Your "Idiot"

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about 3 months ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "Every team has someone who at the bottom of its bell curve: an individual who has a hard time keeping up with other team members. How your team members treat that person is a significant indicator of your organization’s health.

That's especially true for open source projects, where you can't really reject someone's help. All you can do is encourage participation... including by the team "dummy.""

Link to Original Source
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Life Skills: Get someone to help you when they've no reason to

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about 3 months ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "Imagine you’re on a deadline that’s important to you. The project might not qualify as “mission critical” to the rest of the organization, but it’s certainly essential for your own team. Now you run into a roadblock: a task wherein you need input from someone from another department, or where you need the other person to actively do something.

The process works fine when your contact in the other department is motivated to help you get the work done. But what happens when he isn’t? This happens entirely too often — particularly for developers and IT folks who need input or sign-off of some kind.

In a perfect world, you already built alliances (if not friendships) with people in other departments, so that your colleagues want to help you. But that isn't always the case. What can you do to get someone to help you with a project task even if it's a distraction from his own work? Here's several pragmatic suggestions, including a few that don't include "promise chocolate.""
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Business bartering survival guide: Lessons from real life

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about 3 months ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "Trading your expertise for the skills of someone else is a great idea for cash-strapped businesses — which includes lots of techies, such as web developers and computer consultants. But bartering can go sour – and herein, Esther Schindler shares bartering tips she wishes she hadn’t learned the hard way.

For example:

The casual handshake nature of most barters opens up the chance of every project-gone-bad story occurring in your business, such as finger-pointing about product specs, timetables, etc. As with any contract, if you can point to the agreement (which can be as simple as "here's an email message to record what we agreed upon today; let me know if you see anything untoward"), both sides know what's expected.

Because... what if you're unhappy with the service? In a barter, what if you already consummated your part of the process (you did the tax return) but the other party was substandard (you hated the photographer's images). If you were paying cash, you'd withhold payment or otherwise ask for the other party to fix the problem. With a barter... it's sticky. It shouldn't be, but it is. Particularly when the nature of the delivery is "...when the customer is happy." (Imagine the storyline that begins, "Dammit those photos were just what he asked for!")

Oh, and plenty more."
Link to Original Source

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Record Number of Women in Software Development

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about 3 months ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "The number of females in software development has increased by 87% since first being measured in 2001, according to Evans Data’s recently released Developer Marketing 2014 survey. In 2014, 19.3% of software developers are women, or approximately three and a half million female software developers worldwide. While today’s number is strong compared to 2001, it is even stronger compared to the years of 2003 to 2009 when the percent of female developers dipped into the single digit range. The survey of over 450 software developers, which is now in its fifteenth year, also shows that today’s female software developers tend to be younger than their male counterparts with just over 40% being under the age of thirty.

As one of those women-in-tech, I gotta say, Huzzah!"
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Tech giants uniting to fund open-source projects

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about 4 months ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "The OpenSSL Heartbleed security hole, arguably open-source's biggest security breach ever, made many major technology companies realize just how much they all depend on open source and that such vital projects as OpenSSL need adequate funding. Thus, writes Steven Vaughan-Nichols, the Linux Foundation brought together (take a deep breath, it's a long list) Amazon Web Services, Cisco, Dell, Facebook, Fujitsu, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, NetApp, RackSpace, and VMware to form a new project to fund and support critical elements of the global technology: The Core Infrastructure Initiative.

OpenSSL will be the first project under consideration. In 2013, OpenSSL, which was at the heart of Web security for millions of companies and organizations, got by on a mere $9,000. In past years, OpenSSL has received an average of $2,000 per year in donations.

The CCI funding will pay key developers to devote their efforts to OpenSSL. It will also provide other resources to assist the project in improving its security, enabling outside reviews, and improving responsiveness to patch requests.

Think it'll address some of the issues?"

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Which Buffy the Vampire Slayer Characters are on Your Team?

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about 4 months ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "Are you a Buffy, or more of a Xander? Rikki Endsley looks at seven Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters commonly seen on teams and the unique contributions each brings to projects. For instance:

Angel, the handsome and powerful vampire, is the team member who is either a huge asset or a giant liability, depending on his unpredictable mood. The “rock star” team member tends to get a lot of attention and often appears to be a team leader, but in reality he isn’t as productive, reliable, or valuable as his teammates.

"
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Evaluating When to Kill a Project: What Criteria Do You Use?

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about 4 months ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "It happens to all of us. Sometimes, the right way to fix a project is to cancel it. Making the decision to do so, though, has to be more than a gut response. Whatever the reason – at some point, you have to decide whether to keep plugging along, or to pull the plug.

It's easy to come up with a blasé statement like “I evaluate whether my original project statement will ever be achievable. If I determine that the project cannot meet my goals and objectives, we stop it.” But that assumes you know how to make that determination. Here's some advice on how to calibrate the issues to consider in the “Go/No-Go” decision process, whether the project is something of your own devising (anything from a personal coding project to a novel), or a corporate death march.

For example, "Are you dependent upon resources that are outside your control? If so, can you get them under control?"

And Hugo-award-winning CJ Cherryh points out, it might be that the inspiration isn't there at the moment, but you can set it aside to consider later. She adds, “Never destroy it – for fear it will achieve holy sanctity of ‘might-have-been’ in your memory. Being able to look at it and say, ‘Nope, there was no hope for this one’ is healthy.”

What criteria would you add?"
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The Spam Battle Report 2014

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about 5 months ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "Like anything else, spam evolves, as do the means by which it gets delivered to your e-mail inbox and the manner in which sysadmins prevent it from doing so. If your thoughts on spam-fighting are a few years old, it's time for an update.

For instance, starting with the good news: According to Kaspersky, in 2013, the proportion of spam in email flows was 70%, which is 2.5 percentage points lower than in 2012. The bad news is that spam that does get through is far more dangerous. According to John Levine, chairman of the Internet Research Task Force's Anti-Spam Research Group and president of the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial E-mail, "The ongoing threat is that spam is now essentially 100% criminal, and it's as likely to try to plant bank-account-stealing malware either directly or via links to compromised websites as to sell you something." As one example:

The content of spam is evolving to become more dangerous in new ways. For instance, Nick Gonzalez, a spokesperson for the security company Barracuda Labs, observes, “One new way we’ve seen are campaigns that use embedded Excel spreadsheets. The spammers break the words into individual cells to bypass the anti-spam tools. When viewed in an email it looks like a typical HTML attachment but it’s much more difficult to analyze."

So, here's the current state of the spammy art, and what you ought to know to fight it effectively."

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Can anyone design a job application platform that doesn't suck?

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about 5 months ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "Why does it take a half hour and triplicate-input-redundancy to apply for a job online? Why can’t these online application platforms just pull in LinkedIn data and be done with it? Isn’t it easier for these job application systems to just read our resumes and cover letters? Lisa Vaas has techie and business answers to these questions, hypotheses, and more.

...But half an hour later, I’m still fiddling with the thing, tweaking and correcting improperly filled-in fields as my life slowly drains away. I’m not even given a chance to see how the ATS translated my resume to populate its fields. Vaya con dios and fare thee well, job application.

Just from a user experience viewpoint, it’s irritating. . . .Why can’t these online application platforms pull in LinkedIn data and be done with it? Is all this really necessary to apply for a job? Or is it a Darwinian endurance test to winnow out the impatient and those lacking the ability to put up with horrific user interfaces?

A few questions come to mind: Why can’t somebody just create an ATS that doesn’t suck? Also, Wouldn’t it be easier for them to just read my cover letter and resume?

"
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iRobot ships a meeting robot that will attend meetings for you

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about 5 months ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "Hate meetings? Now you have an out. Just send the Ava 500 remote presence robot to attend meetings for you. Reports Wayne Rash, the autonomous robot will memorize your office, factory or lab space, avoid running into people and objects, and if HR rules require it, will even avoid running over interns. This robot can pretend to be you, it will bear an image of your face (or other body part) on its Cisco remote presence HD screen, and will even speed with your voice. The iRobot people say it will interact with others just as if it were you. You can make presentations, inspect manufacturing facilities and even discuss your blown bracket in the hallways.

I want one."
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Management Lessons from Heinlein

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about 5 months ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "Robert Anson Heinlein was an influential science-fiction author who created great page-turning stories, invented a “future history” that was in some ways prescient, and had a major impact on the SF field. But, it turns out, Heinlein’s short stories and novels also have quite a few good pointers for anyone who needs to make things happen.

The most obvious items that spring to your mind, I expect, are from Lazarus Long, such as this one:

Heinlein’s recurring character, Lazarus Long, certainly offers plenty of management advice. In Long’s first appearance in Methusaleh’s Children, in which another character asks what Long expects a meeting resolution to be, he says, “A committee is the only known form of life with a hundred bellies and no brain.” That’s an oft-quoted quip, but too often it leaves off the next line: “But presently somebody with a mind of his own will bulldoze them into accepting his plan. I don’t know what it will be.” It was an important thing for me to learn: The plan that is adopted often is not “the best” but the brain-child of the most persistent communicator.

...but it turns out to be a minor example. See if you agree with these, and what you'd add to the list."

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How to Tell Your Client That His "Expert" is an Idiot

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about 6 months ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "It’s a danger for any consultant, and for most inter-departmental internal project staff: To get the work done, you need to work with someone else who supplies expertise you lack. But when the “expert” turns out to be the wrong person how do you tell the client (or boss) that you just can’t work with that individual? It’s possible to do so, but it does take a deft hand. Here's one set of instructions, but surely there are plenty more you could add."
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The Standards Wars and the Sausage Factory

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about 7 months ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "We all know how important tech standards are. But the making of them is sometimes a particularly ugly process. Years, millions of dollars, and endless arguments are spent arguing about standards. The reason for our fights aren’t any different from those that drove Edison and Westinghouse: It’s all about who benefits – and profits – from a standard.

As just one example, Steven Vaughan-Nichols details the steps it took to approve a networking standard that everyone, everyone knew was needed: "Take, for example, the long hard road for the now-universal IEEE 802.11n Wi-Fi standard. There was nothing new about the multiple-in, multiple-out (MIMO) and channel-bonding techniques when companies start moving from 802.11g to 802.11n in 2003. Yet it wasn’t until 2009 that the standard became official.""
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When the Project Manager Is the Problem

Esther Schindler Esther Schindler writes  |  about 6 months ago

Esther Schindler (16185) writes "Project managers need to be great traffic cops, coordinators, and problem solvers. When they do their jobs right, they make everyone around them more effective. But when they’re bad — ouch. They can become the worst sort of bottleneck, and inspiration for a lot of heavy drinking.

The question is: How can you tell that the source of the problem is the project manager rather than the situation in which an otherwise-good project manager finds herself? And even when it's obvious, what can you do about it? In The Cure After Diagnosing a Bad Project Manager, Tim Walker helps you identify when it’s the project manager who’s the problem as well as causes and some useful, non-career-limiting solutions. ("Copy out, then copy up" might have been useful to me in one poopstorm.)

Got suggestions to add to his list?"

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