August 10, 2012 - FILED UNDER Mindjet
Happy Fun Friday Links: Hacking Mat Honan, Lessons from Russell Kirsch and What Kids Can Teach Us About Life
Welcome to Chelsi’s Number One Super Happy Fun Link Time, a weekly collection of cool discoveries from around the Web. Most times they’re links that aim to get you thinking differently about communication, collaboration, culture, and life in general. Other times, LOLCAT ATTACK! Submissions are welcome, and you can send them through one of the usual suspects.
First, a great tweet from Leah Reich:
Software developer and self-proclaimed amateur writer, Karl Seguin, recently wrote this post and it reminded me of Leah’s tweet. After singing praises to Gabriel Weinberg for the level of transparency he allowed around the creation of DuckDuckGo (particularly the lack of experience with certain tools), Seguin writes, “Teams are often looking for ‘rockstar Rails coder’ or ‘ninja Java developers’. Unless you are specifically looking for people to contribute to Rails source, or hack the JVM, I believe that such specific requirements not only betray a company’s lack of understanding on hiring programmers, but also a lack of understanding on actual programming. This is worrisome when you consider that many such job postings are put together by programmers.”
The overall lesson here: good programmers should be measured by what they can learn, not what they already know.
Zynga’s in Quicksand, Ex Employee Tells All
A couple weeks ago I touched on how working in today’s startup culture can often be like wearing rose-colored glasses, but this anonymous post on Quora from an alleged ex-Zynga employee takes that to whole new level. The post, which had been voted up more than 600 times before it was deleted, told a very different story about startup expectations, and I don’t think we should just sweep it under the carpet. Here’s a snippet (thanks to TechCrunch for the coverage):
“Project direction and goals shifted daily, innovation of any kind was difficult – we were constantly forced to hew our game closer to the Farmville/Cityville playbook. Six weeks before shipping the studio was flown out to San Francisco to launch our game – 12 hour days seven days a week, free of the distraction of friends, wives and girlfriends. I watched alcoholism and substance abuse skyrocket, relationships crumble (including my own), people slept on office couches, two developers got divorced, one nervous breakdown. They attempted to smooth this over with more stock, free food and t-shirts. Free food doesn’t do you much good when you’ve lost fifteen pounds from not eating.”
Talk about life lessons. In this blog post, Joel Runyon tells the story of how he went to a Portland coffee shop to get some work done, and ended up getting an earful from a seemingly random gentleman. The man began by taking note of Runyon’s Macbook Air and claiming his distaste for iPads, citing their nature as consumption-based rather than enabling creation. “…the problem with a lot of people [is] they don’t try to do stuff that’s never been done before, so they never do anything, but if they try to do it, they find out there’s lots of things they can do that have never been done before,” he said.
That seemingly random man turned out to be Russell Kirsch, inventor of the first internally programmable computer as well as the first digital photograph. Runyon’s blog post, which includes a photo of himself and Kirsch in the cafe, is an excellent cog turner for anyone interested in getting their cogs turned.
Comic Sans gets a lot of crap for being, well, Comic Sans, and our widespread distaste for it has even spawned the “Ban Comic Sans” campaign. Organizers Holly and David Combs say that using Comic Sans in the wrong place is like “showing up for a black tie event in a clown costume.” And while it sure is fun to joke, what if there’s more to it than that? In this article Errol Morris reveals that a recent digital quiz was just a cover for testing how people’s opinions change when the text is set in different typefaces.
“We all know that we are influenced in many, many ways — many of which we remain blissfully unaware of,” he writes. “Could fonts be one of them? Could the mere selection of a font influence us to believe one thing rather than another? Could fonts work some unseen magic? Or malefaction?”
The results pointed to a small but noticeable effect in the authority of each font. Now that we primarily communicate digitally, I can’t help but wonder what that could mean for the future of our exchanges.
By now you’ve likely heard about how Mat Honan, Senior Writer for Wired, was hacked. This article covers the entire tragedy in detail — how easily it was done, why he ended up chatting with the hacker on AIM, what he lost (including all the photos he’d taken of the first year and a half of his daughter’s life) — and I’d by lying if I said I didn’t immediately go into my own Gmail account and activate the two-step verification feature.
Some of the most notable excerpts from Mat’s story:
“…what happened to me exposes vital security flaws in several customer service systems, most notably Apple’s and Amazon’s. Apple tech support gave the hackers access to my iCloud account. Amazon tech support gave them the ability to see a piece of information — a partial credit card number — that Apple used to release information. In short, the very four digits that Amazon considers unimportant enough to display in the clear on the web are precisely the same ones that Apple considers secure enough to perform identity verification. The disconnect exposes flaws in data management policies endemic to the entire technology industry, and points to a looming nightmare as we enter the era of cloud computing and connected devices.
“My experience leads me to believe that cloud-based systems need fundamentally different security measures. Password-based security mechanisms — which can be cracked, reset, and socially engineered — no longer suffice in the era of cloud computing.
“…I’m also upset that this ecosystem that I’ve placed so much of my trust in has let me down so thoroughly. I’m angry that Amazon makes it so remarkably easy to allow someone into your account, which has obvious financial consequences. And then there’s Apple. I bought into the Apple account system originally to buy songs at 99 cents a pop, and over the years that same ID has evolved into a single point of entry that controls my phones, tablets, computers and data-driven life. With this AppleID, someone can make thousands of dollars of purchases in an instant, or do damage at a cost that you can’t put a price on.”
They say life is wasted on the young, but I think young people know more about living than anyone else. This is a vlog from Talia Joy Castellano, a 13-year-old who has been handling cancer like a champ for 5 years. Diagnosed with Neuroblastoma in 2007, Castellano chose to experiment with makeup rather than wigs when she began losing her hair. “When I put on my makeup I feel like I can embrace those features that I really like about myself,” she says. “I feel if someone’s looking at me, they’re looking at my makeup, not looking at my bald head.” Her love for getting dolled up quickly turned into a tutorial channel on YouTube, where she currently has 119,484 subscribers.
Earlier this month Castellano was diagnosed with a second form of aggressive cancer: pre-leukemia. Her only option is to have a bone marrow transplant, which is an extraordinarily difficult and painful process that isn’t even guaranteed to help her. So she’s not going to do it. ”I hope you guys really understand where I’m coming from with not wanting to do the transplant… this is not fair to me anymore, I’m only 13. I shouldn’t really have to be doing this– no one should have to do this, not even adults,” she says.
She makes it clear to her viewers that she knows what her choice means, and against all odds remains one of the most upbeat kids I have ever seen. Check out her channel — where she promises to keep vlogging for as long as she can — and you’ll see nothing short of unbridled passion and positivity for the things she loves in life. At this moment, I can’t think of anyone I admire more.