Friday Four

Friday, April 29, 2016

1. I enjoyed reading a list of six things to ask when interviewing for a remote job, especially this item:

"How do you work through 'collaborative problems' with remote team members?"

GOOD: "If there's drawing we have an app that we use where anyone can draw and anyone can see what's being drawn. We also will get everyone in a video call and hash things out on a regular basis if needed."

BAD: "We don't generally get everyone on a call. The people that are on site work at a whiteboard and then start implementing" [minor format edits]
Not only is this a good set of the kinds of things to look for, it's a reminder that one might more properly regard "job interview" in the plural.

2. Do you feel inundated when you open your email? I have for quite some time, but found hope in the form of someone else's thoughts on the matter, which include the following commentary:
If you have 24,000 messages in your Inbox, that means you aren't keeping track or setting priorities on which tasks you want to complete. But just because you're not setting those priorities, that doesn't mean nobody is. It means you are letting availability heuristic - whatever is "latest and loudest" - govern access to your attention, and therefore your time. By doing this, you are rewarding people (or #brands) who contact you repeatedly, over inappropriate channels, and generally try to flood your attention with their priorities instead of your own. This, in turn, creates a culture where it is considered reasonable and appropriate to assume that you need to do that in order to get someone's attention.
That doesn't perfectly describe my situation, but I have been unhappy with my solution to the cultural problem it exemplifies. (Toys R Us, I'm looking at you. Daily.)

Whether or not you agree with everything Robert Lefkowitz says, he has an intriguing solution he calls "email bankruptcy." I've heard the term before, but he lays out what that means and how to achieve it. (And no, you don't have to jettison all your old emails.) I am intrigued and plan to try his solution with the following twist: As emails arrive from companies that are too aggressive with their marketing, I'll attempt to unsubscribe (and filter them out if I am unsuccessful), and delete most (or all) past correspondence from them.

I achieved the holy grail of "inbox zero" years ago, but didn't have a good way to maintain it. This is simple enough to maintain that I think it will work.

3. John Cook wrote recently of a copy of Inside OLE, which he keeps in his office as a "technical memento mori:"
Despite my one-time infatuation with OLE, throughout my career I have mostly focused on things that will last. In particular, I've focused more on mathematics than technology because the former has a longer shelf life. As I quipped on Twitter one time, technology has the shelf life of bread, but mathematics has the shelf life of honey. Still, man does not live by honey alone. We need bread too, even if it only lasts a day.
Lacking a readily-available skull, I thank the statistician for expanding the range of possibilities -- although I have to admit that until just now, I hadn't thought of searching Amazon. He also has caused me to realize that I've fallen out of the "book of happiness" habit.

4. According to Futility Closet, I now live near "the largest collection of wrecked ships in the Western Hemisphere." The satellite view from Google Maps pictured there is interesting.

-- CAV


Today: Corrected some typos. 


Steve D said...

I now live near "the largest collection of wrecked ships in the Western Hemisphere"

The Bermuda Triangle?

Gus Van Horn said...


Hah! Good point. Perhaps that claim should have been qualified by something like, "within a 20-mile radius".

That said, I vaguely recall seeing an argument way back to the effect that the Bermuda Triangle does not have a particularly high concentration, statistically, of wrecked ships than any other similarly-sized expanse of ocean.