Thursday, July 31, 2008

When Interests Colide

Tech pundit Joel Splosky author of the blog Joel on Software and one of my favourite books on hiring talented software developers Smart and Gets Things Done has posted an article comparing Starbucks and software development companies on customer service.

I agree with Joel that you should rely on your front line staff to use proper judgment when dealing with customers rather than dictating a number of hard and fast rules from management on down.

Little Brother

The latest book from Canadian super sci-fi writer Cory Doctorow called Little Brother is marketed as a young adult novel but that shouldn't deter you from picking it up. Read this post by Cory for a more detailed explanation of why it ended up in the YA section.

The novel follows a group of teenagers in San Francisco after a terrorist attack. The government responds to the attack in a draconian manner and civil liberties are trampled upon. This doesn't sit well with kids and they fight back in the only way they know how, buy using the technologies and social engineering that kids are oh so familiar with these days.

I really did love this book and so did my friend Alexandre based on his review. It is a very near future allegorical romp which contains plausible technologies. As a geek nothing drives me crazier than those deus ex machina moments you see in books and movies where they pull out some crap that doesn't even exist. One of the things I love most about Cory's writing is that he's able to avoid this contrivances. In fact the technology is so plausible in the book there is a rss feed on instructables.

Anyway as always Cory has released his book under the creative commons license and you can download it from the books website.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Friday, July 18, 2008

Terry Fox Run 2008

Once again I'll be taking part in this years Terry Fox Run. The run will be taking place on Sunday September 14th where I will participate with the Blades@Ease team. We are always looking for more members for the team so if you are interested in doing the run on roller blades please contact me.

My goal in fund raising this year is $1200. Last year our team collected over $2000. Let's work together to end cancer and keep Terry's dream alive. All money raised goes to cancer research; please support my participation by donating.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rock Climbing for Dummies

So I went indoor rock climbing on Tuesday night at Vertical Reality with my buddy Alexandre.

Before starting the night I went through my pre-climb checklist:

  1. Greasy Chinese food meal - Check
  2. Sprained wrist 2 weeks previous - Check
  3. Intense fear of heights - Check
With all that in mind I was ready to go.

The cost of climbing for one night was $20. There is a $10 fee per night, $5 for a half hour of training and $5 for equipment rentals. The equipment consisted of a harness and climbing shoes. The shoes are ridiculously small and cramp your toes horribly which is apparently the way they are supposed to fit. Personally I think they are trying to take your mind off the fact you are about to climb a 30 foot way by putting your feet in constant pain.

Anyway, after the quick training session we were ready to climb walls. I was up first so I went about 10 feet up the baby wall. Then I decided that I'd like to find out what it was like to fall off the wall from this height rather than getting all the way to the top. Happily all the equipment was working and Alexandre slowly lowered me to the ground. This gave me the confidence to head all the way to the top of the baby wall.

After coming down it my my turn to belay Alexandre. We then took turns going up or trying to go up the various wall faces at Vertical Reality. We were able to make it up a couple of the easier walls but some of the harder ones were way beyond us.

All in all I had a great time and I'm planning on heading back when I have a spare evening.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Monday, July 7, 2008

Starbucks Losing it's Luster

The Chicago Tribune runs a great op ed piece on how Starbucks has lost is cache. It makes me wonder if this is indicative of all elements of popular culture. At what point do the masses turn upon the popular. It seems like we love to build things up only to tear them down again.

Mind you I completely agree that the brand is over saturated and something has to change in order to make Starbucks fresh again.

Update July 8th: Just like I mentioned earlier people just love shooting down successful companies.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008