As my RSS Feed provider, Feedburner, is now part of the Google empire, they’ve decided that (for some reason) every feed needs to be moved to a different system. I’ve updated all the links on my blog accordingly, but please re-set your RSS feeds to my new feed address: http://feeds2.feedburner.com/bnjamminsblogOne Comment
My good friend, college roommate, and Bench Press partner-in-crime Eric never lets me down. Despite 3 years of rooming with me, basically letting me live in his room to use his old broken Mac to write my thesis and do my problem sets because my laptop broke down, he still found it in his heart to make it a tradition every year to gift me Dilbert: 2009 Day-to-Day Calendar come Christmas time. So, while I can’t say it was a surprise, I was very happy to come home and find this waiting for me:
There’s no better way of coping with work stress than to remind yourself that, hey, at least my life isn’t like Dilbert’s… Oh. On second thought…Leave a Comment
Just as with last year, wanted to reflect on the highlights of my life from the past year – as told through my blog!
- Installed Opera Mini on my Blackberry
- Despite being on a large tech case, I found myself at Safeway comparing brands of women’s shampoo
- Rolled out my current practice of making quarterly financial and strategic updates on … my self (which reminds me, I need to wrap up 2008’s ASAP)
- Reflected on Taiwan’s prominent position in the technology space
- Bid farewell to the very charming and very intelligent Jeremy Knowles
- Made a “Vasa ship” at work
- Went to Comic-Con and took many pictures of cosplayers (the Wiki link if you have no idea what that is)
- Made a standing offer with my homey Anthony of $100 for any troubled firm or division out there (we’re still looking at you, Circuit City)
- Bid farewell to the First Lady of Star Trek
Happy new year, everybody!2 Comments
When the Kenyan president was asked to comment on his country being judged the most corrupt country in the world as judged by the ease and frequency at which bribery happened, the Kenyan president noted: “Actually, we were ranked second. We simply bribed the judges to make us first”
A joke I heard from work (am fairly sure none of it is true).Leave a Comment
When Anthony and I laid down our bid of $100 for any failing company/business unit out there , we knew we were going to face skeptics.
We didn’t know we were going to face competition.
My friend Anthony and I are taking a stand. We were miffed when Motorola didn’t even consider our offer of $1 for Motorola’s handset division (seriously, why give it to Qualcomm’s ex-COO?). We were annoyed when our offer of $2 for Lehman Brothers was ignored (and now look where they are).
So, we’re going to draw a line in the sand right here. Right now.
Anthony and I will offer $100 (that’s 50 times what we were going to offer for Lehman – and they probably weren’t even worth that) to run the next failing bank or company division.
Do we have much management experience? No. Hardcore MBA with financial experience or brilliant technical expertise? Not really.
But, come on. Experts ran Fannie/Freddie, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, AIG, Merrill Lynch, Washington Mutual, Motorola’s handset division, Pfizer’s heart medication group, … the list goes on and on. And look where they all are now!
It’s time for some new blood.3 Comments
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the San Diego Comic-Con. Make no mistake, though, although the word “comic” shows up in the name of the event, the SDCC covers a lot more than just comics. If anything, I was amazed at the diversity I saw:
- Gender: I had been under the impression that over 75% of Comic-Con goers would be guys. Instead, much to my dismay, the gender balance was fairly even — I did not notice there being especially more girls or more guys!
- Appearance: Before going to the Con, I had braced myself for a mass of stereotypical comic book nerds — either extremely overweight or extremely scrawny, lacking in social skills, and possibly dressed up in cosplay gear. The Con shattered that conception — while yes, there were certainly people who could stand to lose some weight (or gain some muscle), and there was certainly no shortage of “cosplayers” (people who dress up as characters), I was astonished at the sheer of diversity of types of people there. You had people who were clearly big nerds, but right next to them (and oftentimes waiting for the same event) were people who looked like jocks, and people who looked “normal.”
- Subject matter: The Comic-Con isn’t just about comics. There was coverage of television shows (e.g. Smallville, Battlestar Galactica, Heroes), new movies (e.g. Watchmen), video games (e.g. Spore), and even fantasy/sci-fi novels (e.g. I got a book signed by famed sci-fi writer Connie Willis). Stars ranging from Sarah Silverman to Kristin Kreuk to Ludacris to Keanu Reeves were also in attendance. It’s no wonder that the San Diego Comic-Con no longer bills itself merely as the largest comic book convention, but as a pop culture convention.
In any event, what I took away from the Con:
- Maxis’s Spore looks like it will be one hell of a game, but with its sophistication and graphics, I wonder if I’ll need some sort of Cray supercomputer to play it. The concept is that you start out controlling single-celled organisms, and gradually you evolve them to the point where they become space-faring civilizations. Will Wright, the genius behind this game and games like Sim City and the Sims, was there giving an amazing demo and explaining his vision of the computer game as an art form. It was very cool!
- Grant Morrison, one of the greatest comic book writers of all time, is a crazy Scot. Picture a bald guy, dressed in an oddly colored suit, known for writing fairly strange comic books, in a very thick Scottish accent explaining how he views Desaad, the Dark God of Torture, as a guy with an obsession with pornography. And that’s what DC’s Final Crisis panel was like.
- Connie Willis has not only won practically every sci-fi award there is to win, but is a woman with incredible charm and sass. That was a very pleasant surprise, and made the waiting in line for an hour to get her to autograph a book for my girlfriend all the more worthwhile.
- Bill Willingham, writer of my favorite ongoing comic series Fables, is just as funny in real life as he is in his comic works. He apparently started out wanting to be an artist and submitted a sample of his artwork with a quick storyline attached. When he was hired, he asked, “What do you want me to draw?” To which the editorial team replied, “Umm.. the story that you pitched!” Shocked, but not wanting to pass up the opportunity, Willingham proceeded to give up his art pencils for his writing pencils. Oh, and I got his autograph!
- The Watchmen movie looks more and more promising. I attended not only the movie panel, but also a panel highlighting Dave Gibbons, the artist and co-creator of the series, and I have to say I’m very excited. I am still worried how they intend to move what was probably the greatest graphic novel of all time to screen, but if the trailer and the extra preview clips that I saw are any indication, they are trying to recreate the classic as best they can. As it should be.
- Joss Whedon is a genius. But, his new show, The Dollhouse, does seem to be slightly derivative of the Pretender. Oh well, I won’t hold a grudge if it’s any good.
And of course, no post on Comic-con can end without pictures of cosplayers!
Sailor Moon & Friends … fighting evil by moonlight?
Nightwing & Huntress! (DC Comics)
Mr. Fantastic and Spiderman (Marvel) discuss how to save the world!
I sense the Dark Side within you…
Superman and Wonder Woman!7 Comments
Earlier this week, I received my first full performance review. In consulting firms this is a bit more challenging to do as each consultant has probably worked with several teams and each in very different contexts and circumstances.
To deal with this variability, at my firm, each individual is assigned a “consensus reviewer” — someone who compiles feedback and review comments from every team that the individual in question has worked with.
This is then synthesized into a “consensus review” which compiles feedback (both positive and negative) as well as the perspective of the reviewee into a performance review which management then uses to decide on promotions and compensation.
Long story short, the review went well. My reviewer identified a number of my strengths (e.g. analytical skills, “idea ownership”) and weaknesses (e.g. slide presentation, tendency to “boil the ocean“), but noted that I was on a good upward trajectory.
While this was heartening to hear (I have at least a few more months of employment!), I must confess that I find the process of performance reviews to be unnecessarily tedious. Not only do they suck up time, they artificially create periods of extra stress for management as well as the rank and file who, every review cycle, feel the crushing weight of being scrutinized and compared.
What would be much more effective (and should be where the bulk of the work is done) is a “pay-as-you-go performance review“, one where management and staff understand that feedback is not something to be saved for an artificial deadline, but given freely and whenever necessary — both positive and negative. This way, management is not scratching their heads trying to come up with something to talk about from four months ago every review cycle. From a performance perspective, this also helps as it fosters a more open culture where feedback on a regular basis is not only desired but expected, and problems are corrected as they arise, rather than referred to vaguely several months later.Leave a Comment
I have recently been embroiled in a long and involved exercise involving a very complicated set of analyses to look at where the profits are in the broader technology industry — something which my manager and two partners have jokingly referred to as a Vasa ship.
When I stared blankly back at them, they chuckled before “kindly” explaining what it meant.
There was a time (a long long time ago) when Sweden was a great military power (no, I’m not joking). The King of Sweden, Gustavus Adolphus, wanted to create a flagship for his fleet — something enormous and powerful — not only to wave the Swedish flag but to also help bolster Sweden’s Navy which found itself frequently involved in wars with the other great powers of the time. To do this, he commissioned the construction of a ship — the Vasa — which was supposed to be the best and largest of its kind.
Of course, ships take time to build, and before the ship was completed, the King had became aware that the original Vasa design was already outdated by the newest models from England and France. To “keep up with the neighbors”, the King then demanded that his shipbuilders build something even greater — larger sails, better guns, etc. The shipbuilders did the best they could — given that they had already built a reasonable piece of the ship — and remade the ship — bigger and badder.
And of course, like all big engineering projects, this cycle of revision occurred again. And again. And again. Until, the ship became some bizarre, monstrous hybrid of what it was originally designed to do and all the myriad features and designs that the king had wanted in addition — becoming something it was never ever intended to be.
And, of course, on its maiden voyage — the Vasa sank to the bottom of the ocean, sending its architect to prison.
*gulp*Leave a Comment