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The Email Larry Page Should Have Written to James Damore

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The Economist, writing from the point of view of Larry Page:

Your interpretation is wrong. Your memo was a great example of what’s called “motivated reasoning” — seeking out only the information that supports what you already believe. It was derogatory to women in our industry and elsewhere. Despite your stated support for diversity and fairness, it demonstrated profound prejudice. Your chain of reasoning had so many missing links that it hardly mattered what your argument was based on. We try to hire people who are willing to follow where the facts lead, whatever their preconceptions. In your case we clearly made a mistake.

Really strong piece that crystallizes my thoughts on this matter.

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alexanglin
1 hour ago
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Ottawa, Ontario
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ARKit’s A-Ha Moment

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Really impressive stuff.

Makes me think about this passage from today’s WSJ profile of Jony Ive:

In other technologies, from digital assistants to driverless vehicles to augmented and virtual reality, Apple seems to lag other tech giants, including Google, Amazon and Tesla.

Who exactly is Apple lagging in AR?

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alexanglin
20 days ago
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Ottawa, Ontario
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1 public comment
steingart
20 days ago
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that hand is creepy AF
Princeton, NJ

Hackers compromised smart fish tank at casino

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An unnamed North American casino was hacked through an on-site fish tank connected to the Internet, reports CNN. "Someone used the fish tank to get into the network, and once they were in the fish tank, they scanned and found other vulnerabilities and moved laterally to other places in the network," Justin Feir, director for cyber intelligence and analysis at Darktrace, told CNN Tech.

Image: example of a smart fish tank (not the kind the casino had) by Duncan Hull.

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alexanglin
27 days ago
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Ottawa, Ontario
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Girl Scouts to offer cybersecurity badges

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U.S. Girl Scouts as young as 5 years old will soon be able to earn their first-ever cybersecurity badges. 18 of these merit patches will be launched by the Girl Scouts of the USA starting in September, 2018.

(more…)

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alexanglin
56 days ago
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Ottawa, Ontario
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In Praise of the Whiteboard

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Modeling tools are great, but early stage modeling activities are best conducted on a whiteboard. It is better for collaborative development, and handles rapid change more effectively. And there are inexpensive solutions if one is not readily available.

When I lead seminars that cover modeling techniques, this question always comes up: “What’s the best modeling tool?” 

My answer: Start modeling activities on a whiteboard. Break out the software later, one the model has stabilized.

Using a whiteboard, you will get to a better solution, faster. 

I find this to be true across the spectrum of BI project types and modeling techniques. Examples  include:
  • Dimensional models (OLAP projects)
  • Strategy maps (Performance Management projects)
  • Influence Diagrams (Business Analytics projects)
  • Causal loop diagrams (Business Analytics projects)
There are two reasons a whiteboard works best for this kind of work: it supports collaboration, and it is better suited to the rapid changes common in early stage modeling. In short, a whiteboard is inherently agile.

Collaboration

The best models are produced by small groups, not individuals. Collaboration generates useful and creative ideas which reach beyond what a seasoned modeler can do alone. 

Each of the techniques listed above requires collaboration between business and technical personnel. And within either of these realms, a diversity of perspectives always produces better results. Brainstorming is the name of the game.

Use of a modeling tool quashes the creativity and spontaneity of brainstorming sessions. You may have experienced this yourself.

Imagine five people in a room, one person’s laptop connected to a projector. Four people call out ideas, but the facilitator with the laptop can only respond to one at a time. The session becomes frustrating to all participants, no matter how good the facilitator is. The team loses ideas, and participants lose enthusiasm.

Now imagine the same five people in front of a whiteboard, each holding a pen. Everyone is able to get their ideas onto the board. While this may seem like anarchy, it helps ensure that no ideas are lost and it keeps everyone engaged. The result is always a better model, developed faster.

Rapid change

The other reason to start on a white board is practical: it is easy to erase, change, redraw. And you will be doing a lot of these things if you are collaborating.

Imagine a group is sketching out a model, and decides to make a major change. Perhaps one fact table is to be split into two. Or a single input parameter is to be decomposed into four. If a modeling tool is in use, making the change will will require deletion of elements, addition of new elements, and perhaps a few dialog boxes, check boxes, and warning messages.  The tool gets in the way of the creative process.

Now imagine a whiteboard is in use. A couple of boxes are drawn, some lines erased, some new lines added. The free flow of ideas continues, uninterrupted. Once again, this is what you want.

Unimpeded collaboration produces better results, faster.

No white board? No problem.

Don’t let the lack of a whiteboard in your cube or project room stop you.

There are many brands of inexpensive whiteboard sheets that cling to the wall. These have the additional benefit of being easy to relocate if you are forced to move to another room.  Here is one example, available on Amazon.com:



There are also several kinds of whiteboard-style notebooks. These are useful if you are working alone or in a group of two. They provide the same benefit of being able to collaborate and quickly change your minds, but in a smaller format.  The one that I carry is called Wipebook:


I learned about these and similar solutions from clients and students in my seminars.

…and then the tool

All this is not to say that modeling tools are bad. To the contrary, they are essential. Once the ideas have been firmed up, a modeling tool is the next step.

Modeling tools allow you to gets ideas into a form that can be reviewed and revised. They support division of labor for doing required “grunt work” — such as filling in business definitions, technical characteristics, and other metadata. And they produce useful documentation for developers, maintainers, and consumers of your solutions.

But when you’re getting started, use a whiteboard!
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alexanglin
68 days ago
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Ottawa, Ontario
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State Word Map

2 Comments and 18 Shares
The top search for every state is PORN, except Florida, where it's SEX PORN.
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alexanglin
75 days ago
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Ottawa, Ontario
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2 public comments
Covarr
75 days ago
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I love when they're mislabeled. "The most popular TV show in each state" fails to mention it only lists a show in the state where it's most popular to prevent repeats.
Moses Lake, WA
alt_text_bot
75 days ago
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The top search for every state is PORN, except Florida, where it's SEX PORN.
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