strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter – law 42 – #48laws by robert greene

Law 42

Trouble can often be traced to a single strong individual – the stirrer, the arrogant underling, the poisoner of goodwill. If you allow such people room to operate, others will succumb to their influence. Do not wait for the troubles they cause to multiply, do not try to negotiate with them – they are irredeemable. Neutralize their influence by isolating or banishing them. Strike at the source of the trouble and the sheep will scatter. –Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power (review)


Zechariah 13:7b

Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered

August 27, 2014 · antipaucity · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: books, commentary

7 things employees wish they could tell their boss about salaries

LinkedIn had an interesting article Friday whose title I snagged for this blog post.

The 7 items are:

  1. We don’t care about pay scales
  2. Forget policies. We talk.
  3. We think about our pay a lot.
  4. We will sometimes let you take advantage.
  5. When we have to negotiate … we both lose.
  6. No matter how much we earn, it’s not enough.
  7. Still, reasonable pay is ok.

Several of the points resonated with me – especially in light of things I have written previously.

“If the company can’t afford to pay an employee more, smart bosses say so. If they think a certain percentage raise is fair, they explain why. Smart bosses use pay scales to build their budgets, and use reason and logic - and empathy - to explain pay decisions to employees.”

Can’t agree more: if you don’t treat your employees like rational, smart human beings, but rather like mere resources – you create and/or perpetuate a culture of dehumanization.

“Many companies actively discourage staff from talking to each other about their salaries. I know a few companies that require employees to sign agreements stipulating they won’t disclose pay, benefits, etc to other employees.

Doesn’t matter. Employees talk. I did, both when I was “labor” and when I was “management.” Generally speaking, the only employees who don’t share details about their pay are the ones who are embarrassed by how much or how little they make.”

Yes, yes, a million times yes! In my blog post “publicizing compensation – why not?“, I point-out that forcing people to not talk about their compensation makes folks more likely to try to find out, and can lead to discontent.

“Employees think about pay all the time. Every time they deposit their paychecks they think about their pay. To a boss their pay is a line item; to employees, pay is the most important number in their family’s budget.”

Funny thing is: managers get paid, too – but rarely think about that when it comes to their employees.

“Occasionally the job market is a seller’s market, but many new employees are just really happy to land a new job. And since business owners are born cost cutters, it’s natural to hire every new employee for as low a wage as possible.”

This is related to the next point …

“Great employees are worth a lot more than their pay. You get what you pay for, so smart bosses pay whatever they can to get and keep the best employees they can.

When smart bosses find great employees they always make their best offer, knowing that if their best offer is too low, there is nothing they could have done.”

If you want to be the best possible employer ever, you need to start with your best offer to candidates. If you start with anything less than your best, you’re implying that you don’t really value their time, expertise, or potential contributions to your organization. It has been said that “everything is negotiable” – but if you don’t start with your best offer, you’re telling your current/future employee they have to make you want them more. It may turn out that your “best offer” is $120,000 per year with 3 weeks of vacation. And maybe that employee really wants 4 weeks of vacation – and is willing to accept a somewhat lower salary for that perk. Start with your best, and then massage it into what is best for both of you.

“We all want more. It’s natural. Unfortunately no boss can always give more. And that’s okay.”

Wanting more is not inherently wrong (though wanting more for merely the sake of more is probably unhealthy) – and that’s why the last point in this article is so smart:

“People are smart. They understand market conditions, financial constraints, revenue shortfalls, and increased competition. They understand when a company can’t pay top-of-market salaries. What they don’t understand is when they don’t feel fairly compensated compared to other employees in similar positions, both inside and outside the company.”

“Fair is a concept that only exists in economic theories not based on effort.”* When you look at services like Glassdoor, you can quickly see that salary is only a single facet of employee compensation (and important one, and [generally] a large one, but only one). And it’s easy to get caught-up in the mindset of keeping up with the Joneses. While it is nice to have “more”, it’s important that honesty and transparency flow from management to employees as well as the other way around.


* publicizing compensation – why not?

August 17, 2014 · antipaucity · No Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: commentary, ideas, work

avoid stepping into a great man’s shoes – law 41 – #48laws by robert greene

Law 41

What happens first always appears better and more original than what comes after. If you succeed a great man or have a famous parent, you will have to accomplish double their achievements to outshine them. Do not get lost in their shadow, or stuck in a past not of your own making: Establish your own name and identity by changing course. Slay the overbearing father, disparage his legacy, and gain power by shining in your own way. –Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power (review)

August 13, 2014 · antipaucity · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: books, commentary

bglug presentation – 04 aug 2014 – basics of initial centos/rhel 6.x server configuration

Attached is the presentation for my talk on initial CentOS/RHEL 6.x server configuring.

bglug-2014-08-04-myers

August 4, 2014 · antipaucity · No Comments
Tags: , , ,  · Posted in: bglug, lug, personal, technical

how cold is it?

an oldy, but a goody


An annotated thermometer (degrees Fahrenheit)

+50
New York tenants turn on the heat
Minnesotans plant gardens

+40
Californians shiver uncontrollably
Minnesotans sunbathe

+35
Italian cars don’t start

+32
Distilled water freezes

+30
You can see your breath
You plan a vacation in Florida
Politicians begin to worry about the homeless
Minnesotans eat ice cream

+25
Boston water freezes
Californians weep pitiably
Cat insists on sleeping on your bed with you

+20
Cleveland water freezes
San Franciscans start thinking favorably of LA
Minnesota Vikings fans put on T-shirts—-YEAH!!!

+15
You plan a vacation in CANCUN!!!!!
Minnesotans go swimming

+10
Politicians begin to talk about the homeless
Too cold to snow
You need jumper cables to get the car going

0
New York landlords turn on the heat

-5
You can hear your breath
You plan a vacation in Hawaii

-10
American cars don’t start
Too cold to skate

-15
You can cut your breath and use it to build an igloo
Miamians cease to exist
Minnesotans lick flagpoles

-20
Cat insists on sleeping in your pajamas with you
Politicians actually do something about the homeless
People in Duluth think about taking down screens

-25
Too cold to kiss
You need jumper cables to get the driver going
Japanese cars don’t start
Minnesota Twins head for spring training

-30
You plan a two-week hot bath
Minnesotans shovel snow off roof

-38
Mercury freezes
Too cold to think
Minnesotans button top button

-40
Californians disappear
Car insists on sleeping in your bed with you
Minnesotans put on sweaters

-50
Congressional hot air freezes
Alaskans close the bathroom window
Two Harbors Minnesota Agates practice indoors

-60
Walruses abandon Aleutians
Minnesotans put gloves away, take out mittens
Boy Scouts in Two Harbors Minnesota start Klondike Derby

-70
Minneapolis residents replace diving boards with hockey nets
Ridgeway snowmobilers organize trans-river race to Buffalo,WI
Lackore Boys start to complain while working on snowmobiles

-80
Polar bears abandon Baffin Island
Girl Scouts in Two Harbors Minnesota start Klondike Derby

-90
Lawyers chase ambulances for no more than 10 miles
Wisconsinites migrate to Minnesota thinking it MUST be warmer

-100
Santa Claus abandons North Pole
Minnesotans pull down earflaps

-173
Ethyl alcohol freezes
The University of Minnesota (Twin Cities Campus) closes

-445
Superconductivity
Lackore Boys quit working on snowmobiles.

-452
Helium becomes a liquid

-454
Hell freezes over

-456
Illinois drivers drop below 85 MPH on I-90

-458
Incumbent politician renounces a campaign contribution

-460 (Absolute Zero)
All atomic motion ceases
The University of Minnesota-Duluth is closed
Minnesotans alert us as to how it’s getting a mite nippy


refound here

August 4, 2014 · antipaucity · No Comments
Posted in: humor, reprint

despise the free lunch – law 40 – #48laws by robert greene

Law 40

What is offered for free is dangerous – it usually involves either a trick or hidden obligation. What has worth is worth paying for. By paying your own way you stay clear of gratitude, guilt, and deceit. It is also often wise to pay the full price – there is no cutting corners with excellence. Be lavish with your money and keep it circulating, for generosity is a sign and a magnet for power. –Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power (review)

July 27, 2014 · antipaucity · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: books, commentary

apps on the network

{This started as a Disqus reply to Eric’s post. Then I realized blog comments shouldn’t be longer than the original post :) }

The app-on-network concept is fascinating: and one I think I’ve thought about previously, too.

Hypothetically, all “social networks” should have the same connections: yet there’s dozens upon dozens (I use at least 4 – probably more, but I don’t realize it). And some folks push the same content to all of them, while others (including, generally, myself) try to target our shares and such to specific locations (perhaps driving some items to multiple places with tools like IFTTT).

Google’s mistake with Google+ was thinking they needed to “beat” Facebook: that’s not going to happen. As Paul Graham notes:

“If you want to take on a problem as big as the ones I’ve discussed, don’t make a direct frontal attack on it. Don’t say, for example, that you’re going to replace email. If you do that you raise too many expectations…Maybe it’s a bad idea to have really big ambitions initially, because the bigger your ambition, the longer it’s going to take, and the further you project into the future, the more likely you’ll get it wrong…the way to use these big ideas is not to try to identify a precise point in the future and then ask yourself how to get from here to there, like the popular image of a visionary.”

That’s where folks who get called things like The Idea Guy™ go awry: instead of asking questions, you try to come up with ideas – like these 999. And if you can’t/don’t, you think you’ve failed.

Social networks should be places where our actual social interactions can be modeled effectively. Yet they turn into popularity contests. And bitch fests. And rant centers. Since they tend towards the asymmetric end of communication, they become fire-and-forget locales, or places where we feel the incessant need to be right. All the time. (Add services like Klout and Kred, and it gets even worse.)

I would love to see a universal, portable, open network like the one Eric describes. All the applications we think run on social networks (like Farmville) don’t. They run on top of another app which runs on “the network”.

Layers on layers leads to the age-old problem of too many standards, and crazy amounts of abstraction. Peeling-back the layers of the apps atop the network could instead give us the chance to have a singular network where types of connections could be tagged (work, fun, school, family, etc, etc – the aspect of G+ that everyone likes most: “circles”). Then the app takes you to the right subset of your network.

Of course – this all leads to a massive problem: security.

If there is only One True Social Network, we all end up entrusting everything we put there to be “safe”. And while some of still follow the old internet mantra, “if you wouldn’t put it on a billboard, don’t put it on a website,” the vast majority of people – seemingly especially those raised coincident to technology’s ubiquitization – think that if they put it somewhere “safe” (like Facebook), that it should be “private”.

After all, the One True Social Network would also be a social engineer’s or identity thief’s Holy Grail - the subversive access to all  of someone’s personal information would be their nirvana.

And that, I think, is the crux of the matter: regardless of what network (or, to use Eric’s terminology, what app-atop-the-network) we use, privacy, safety, and security are all forefront problems.

Solve THAT, and you solve everything.

Or maybe you just decide privacy/security doesn’t matter, and make it all public.

July 14, 2014 · antipaucity · 3 Comments
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: commentary, hmmm, ideas, insights, technical

stir up waters to catch fish – law 39 – #48laws by robert greene

Law 39

Anger and emotion are strategically counterproductive. You must always stay calm and objective. But if you can make your enemies angry while staying calm yourself, you gain a decided advantage. Put your enemies off-balance. Find the chink in their vanity through which you can rattle them and you hold the strings. –Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power (review)


Proverbs 14:29

He who is slow to anger has great understanding,
But he who is quick-tempered exalts folly.

Proverbs 16:32

He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city.

July 13, 2014 · antipaucity · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: books, commentary

think as you like but behave as others – law 38 – #48laws by robert greene

Law 38

If you make a show of going against the times, flaunting your unconventional ideas and unorthodox ways, people will think that you only want attention and that you look down upon them. They will find a way to punish you for making them feel inferior. It is far safer to blend in and nurture the common touch. Share your originality only with tolerant friends and those who are sure to appreciate your uniqueness. –Robert Greene, The 48 Laws of Power (review)

June 27, 2014 · antipaucity · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: books, commentary

who wants an “all-star team” anyway?

A friend sent me this job listing recently, and I see it suffers from a wrong-headed (though well-intentioned) institutional fixation that hiring managers seem to have: that of wanting an “all-star team”.

“we are building an all-star team”

Sigh. This mentality is promoted by smart, successful people like Joel Spolsky:

“You’re going to see three types of people in your interviews. At one end of the scale, there are the unwashed masses, lacking even the most basic skills for this job. They are easy to ferret out and eliminate, often just by asking two or three quick questions. At the other extreme you’ve got your brilliant superstars who write lisp compilers for fun, in a weekend, in Assembler for the Nintendo DS. And in the middle, you have a large number of “maybes” who seem like they might just be able to contribute something. The trick is telling the difference between the superstars and the maybes, because the secret is that you don’t want to hire any of the maybes. Ever.”

What’s wrong with the premise? Easy – just watch any sports all-star game: they all, each and every one, stink. Why? There is rarely ever such a thing as an “all-star team”. Stars, by definition, are individuals.

Sure – you have the anomalies: the 1927 Yankees, for example. That one magical time when all the stars aligned, the wind blew in the right direction, the grass bent just so, and everyone did exactly what they needed to do every time. They had 6 future Hall-of-Famers on the roster – names you know (and some you don’t): Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Earle Combs, Herb Pencock, Waite Hoyt, Tony Lazzeri. They won 110 games and only lost 44 (it was before the 162 game season).

But even the 1927 Yankees didn’t win every year. Just the next year they still won, but lost a player from tuberculosis. And the next year they only won 88 games.

In 1927, Lou Gehrig batted .375. In 1929 it was only .300.

In 1927 Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs. In 1929 only 46.

What happened? Other teams learned to adapt, the rosters changed, the weather was different, the grass grew differently … in short: the “magic” wasn’t a formula – it was just magic.

In baseball, the All-Star Game is ostensibly a show for the fans (though, given the shortness of each players’ appearance in the game, and how managers might be inclined to less-heavily (or more-heavily) use players from their own teams, you wonder how much of a “show” it really is). A bunch of excellent baseball players who normally play against each other are brought together for a few hours to play with each other… and then go back to being opponents two days later.

I saw this at Opsware: they had a hiring philosophy that you should “never hire someone dumber than yourself” (if you were an interviewer). Theoretically, this should have lead to a corporate environment of smart people. And it did – mostly (I’ll leave-out some of the less-than-stellar hires Opsware made while I was there). But it also lead to having a roomful of smart people – ones who weren’t necessarily really “smart” when it came to talking to other people .. a distinct problem. (Take a look at this Quora entry on things smart people do that are dumb.)

Smart people sitting in a room and solving ideas tend to lead to the architecture astronaut view of the world. (Ironically, the same Joel who only wants to hire the best-of-the-best also realizes that super smart people will tend to get so enamored of their own ideas that they’ll craft little silos where they can sit and happily yammer-on about their pet interest.

I’ve had the privilege of working with some scary-smart people. And I’ve had the horror of working with some scary-smart people.

Sadly, it is far more often the case that the super smart people I’ve known and worked with have been horrors and not privileges.

We all want to work in the best environments we can – we want good benefits, interesting work, quality family time, great coworkers, awesome bosses … We all like to think that the folks we work with are amazingly brilliant – among the best in their fields. But what is the statistical likelihood of that? Pretty small.

If IQ were the only guide for potential success, you’d think that everyone would want to gravitate towards places that have masses of high-IQ folks. Like Mensa. Like we think Google must be. Or like Dave Eggers’ fictional company The Circle.

But IQ isn’t the only determinant of success – we can see that clearly with some of our most famous politicians, business leaders, cultural influences, etc.

Putting a bunch of smart (or athletic or fast or whatever other term/factor you want to use to quantify “all-star”) folks together in one room to become a team isn’t really realistic. What makes a good team is complex – there’s shared vision, good interpersonal skills, knowing whom to contact for what, and more. It’s not merely having a bunch of people who are “the best” at what they do. It’s having people who can be [close to] “the best” together.

June 25, 2014 · antipaucity · 7 Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: commentary, complaint