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Check Out Rich’s Video

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Dave Palmer
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Sun outages
Dave Palmer   3/4/2013 9:50:53 AM
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@richnass: Your cable company isn't pulling your leg. Sun outages are a real problem with geosynchronous satellites. They occur when the earth, the satellite, and the sun are arranged in a straight line. The signal from the sun (which emits radiation across a wide range of frequencies, not just visible light) overwhelms the signal from the satellite. This happens twice a year, first around the spring equinox (later this month) and again around the fall equinox (in September).

As far as 160 mph speedometers go, this puts normal U.S. highway speeds right in the middle of the dial, which reduces the amount you need to lower your eyes to read the speedometer.

Regarding Yahoo's policy, I agree that there's no substitute for physical presence. That being said, there needs to be some flexibility for employees. I'm not sure that a total ban on telecommuting is the best idea.  But telecommuting should not be the norm, either.

richnass
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Re: Sun outages
richnass   3/4/2013 10:37:10 AM
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Thanks Dave. If that's the case (with the sun outages), I'm surprised I haven't heard about it before.

I'll take your word for it with respect to the speedometers, although that seems like a stretch.

Dave Palmer
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Re: Sun outages
Dave Palmer   3/4/2013 11:43:24 AM
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@richnass: You can find more information about sun outages here.  The outages only last for a few minutes a day, over a period of a few days.

Some possible methods of avoiding sun outages include: Netflicks, YouTube, Hulu, broadcast television, reading a book, or going outside.

Gorski
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Re: Sun outages
Gorski   3/5/2013 4:57:45 PM
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Many utilities try to find excuses for poor service. Your TV provider just found another one. Complain, complain, complain to them. It took 4 years of poor electrical service and many, many complaints by residents here in Glenview, Illinois to improve service. This year we have had NO interruptions. As to the 160 mph speedometer, it'sjust a sales gimmick. Remember when odometers only went up to 99,999? The Japanese added the 6th digit implyingtheir cars lasted longer, Well at on time they did. Now American speedometers have teh 6th digit and do last longer. My last three American cars made it to at least 125,000 miles. Finally, I think a mix of home and office work would make a nice combination.

GORSKI PE

Gorski
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Re: Sun outages
Gorski   3/5/2013 4:57:45 PM
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Many utilities try to find excuses for poor service. Your TV provider just found another one. Complain, complain, complain to them. It took 4 years of poor electrical service and many, many complaints by residents here in Glenview, Illinois to improve service. This year we have had NO interruptions. As to the 160 mph speedometer, it'sjust a sales gimmick. Remember when odometers only went up to 99,999? The Japanese added the 6th digit implyingtheir cars lasted longer, Well at on time they did. Now American speedometers have teh 6th digit and do last longer. My last three American cars made it to at least 125,000 miles. Finally, I think a mix of home and office work would make a nice combination.

GORSKI PE

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: Sun outages
Charles Murray   3/6/2013 10:03:26 PM
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I forgot that odometers used to top out at 99,999, Gorksi. Pretty soon, maybe we'll see cars with a seventh digit on the odometer. Check out this story about people who have surpassed one million miles.

http://www.mnn.com/green-tech/transportation/blogs/meet-the-king-of-million-mile-cars

greg
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Iron
Re: Sun outages
greg   3/5/2013 12:40:29 AM
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gauges of a car are often arranged so that when everything is normal, most the lines are pointing in essentially the same direction.  this makes it easy to notice when, say, your water temp is skyrocketing.

Larry M
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Re: Sun outages
Larry M   3/5/2013 9:38:04 AM
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I was about to post but Dave covered three of my four points (sunspots, 160 mph speedometer, Yahoo policy) exactly.

The speedometer thing isn't new.  In 2000, my son bought a 20-year old BMW and the second thing he did was to replace the speedometer head with one of greater range.

One thing that hasn't been addressed is the suitability of video for the enterprise office. All of the tech sites seem to think that their readers want more video. Truth be told, it is a problem in the office.  The audio annoys co-workers. Headsets bring suspicion of goofing off. Content delivery is less efficient than print. I see little value to video in the office and usually skip it.

apresher
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Blogger
Rich's Video
apresher   3/4/2013 1:55:13 PM
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Dave, Thanks for the info on the sun outages. Never heard of that myself either.

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: Rich's Video
Charles Murray   3/4/2013 7:16:33 PM
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I didn't know about the sunspots, either, Al. I do know about lousy service, though, which is what I get from my Internet supplier here in the Chicago area. To add to what Rich said about home employment, I might add that the lousy Internet service makes it hard to be a home employee.

Elizabeth M
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Blogger
Re: Rich's Video
Elizabeth M   3/5/2013 8:36:25 AM
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Well first of all, I think a video blog is definitely an efficient and user-friendly way of getting some points across and fostering discussions on topics, so I like the format, Rich.

Secondly, I wanted to comment on your opinion about home employees. I think you have a good point, even though I work remotely and there is no way I could possibly even commute to the office form where I am! But I do think employees working together does inspire more collaboration and someimtes people come up with better ideas; that has been my experience.

Then again, I have worked in offices as a journalist where people didn't speak to each other much at all, since our jobs can be quite solitary when you really are working on a story and have to chat with sources and write privately.

But I know personally I wouldn't mind working in person with people, but it's not really an option. I also think there should be a balance and not an edict completely against working from home. Working from home sometimes makes sense and actually sometimes people can get more work done in isolation rather than in a busy office where it's easy to get caught up in idle chatter. So in essence, I, too, see both sides.

williamlweaver
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Re: Rich's Video
williamlweaver   3/5/2013 9:16:18 AM
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Love the video format, Rich.

When in comes to telecommuting, I'm getting a chance to try it out this semester as I am on sabbatical and have happily ditched the 2-hour daily commute (45-min in, 75-min out) for most days. I'm getting loads of reading, writing, and programming accomplished at home, but when it comes to collaboration, especially new product design and brainstorming, I agree that face-2-face is optimal.

I also suggest that face-2-face needs to be "optimized". The chance meeting in the hallway on the way to the restroom by your office is not optimized f2f. I'm pretty sure what Marisa Mayer has in mind at Yahoo is what has been so successful at Google -- an "office-less" office. Going into the "office" at Google means going to Day Camp. On-tap Caffeine, Sugar, and Food. Movable tables, chairs on wheels, beanbag chairs, ping-pong tables, arcade rooms, whiteboard surfaces, computers every few inches. Google, and now Yahoo are not a collection of offices or a cubical farm, but Idea Factories.

It is very difficult to contribute to the Idea Factory floor from home. Maybe someday with increased telepresence, but not currently...

phgphd
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Iron
Skype
phgphd   3/5/2013 10:15:07 AM
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Why doesn't Yahoo provide Skype like service.  That should be good enough for person to person interaction. And then there is 'chat' service. Chat saves me a 50 yard walk a few times a day.  I know a few people who work from home and they like it. If all people are doing is processing paperwork, they should work from home. Yahoo should have been more selective about who can no longer telecomute and let the local manager decide.

akwaman
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Gold
Re: Skype
akwaman   3/5/2013 10:36:51 AM
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Video conferencing is pretty much free, and this kind of collaboration works just fine, although I find that communicating through text is sometimes more efficient and here is why:

1) Each party is more likely to actually 'listen' to the others' ideas, instead of waiting for person1 to take a breath and blurting out what person2 is thinking.  It is hard to listen to others when you are trying to remember what you are saying.

2) There is no need to waste time with small talk.

3) It is easy to get side-tracked when in a physical voice conversation, but easy to stay on subject with a text conversation

4) More efficient to work at home, because no gasoline needs to be used.  No stress after driving in traffic and then trying to refocus on work. 

5) Letting someone work at home is like giving them a raise, because they spend less on gasoline, insurance and lunches.

6)  You get happier employees and less conversational arguments that waste time and kill efficiency.

7)  There is a record of text conversations that can be useful in many ways.

Of course, it is important that the supervisors keep a close eye on the progress made by home employees.  This can be difficult and more work for the supervisors, but overall, in many cases this work at home is a winner for business.  It is certainly not something for everyone.

Ann R. Thryft
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Blogger
Re: Skype
Ann R. Thryft   3/5/2013 1:08:23 PM
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I think the discussion about telecommuting and F2F communication is an interesting one. I've been working remotely for 25 years, and I think it's pretty clearly the wave of the future--heck, it's the wave of the present, especially when combined with freelancing/home businesses, which have grown hugely. Yahoo is arguing against a global trend, one that has liberated many people, including mothers, to work at home. And like Elizabeth, a continent away from the US, I have worked for publications a continent away from me, in Asia. Commuting wastes a lot of time and energy and creates pollution. OTOH, I think occasional F2F meetings in person are a good thing, but so is the intelligent use of tools like Skype. 

Dave Palmer
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Re: Skype
Dave Palmer   3/5/2013 1:57:43 PM
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I think the concept behind the Yahoo policy is that unplanned face to face interaction (water cooler conversations, etc.) can foster innovation and collaboration.

There's a lot to be said for the benefits of this type of interaction, but it doesn't follow from this that nobody should ever telecommute.

Cabe Atwell
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Blogger
Re: Skype
Cabe Atwell   3/5/2013 3:29:34 PM
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Rich's "You know what grinds my gears"

Sometimes these things need to be discussed.

1.      Did you experience any disruptions? Solar flares, or whatever they were claiming, is a valid concern. Though, wasting paper to let you know is a crime.

2.      I think going from 120 to 160 seems silly for a commuter car. However, I have a few friends who do track racing, and street events too, I think they would like that option. But they all buy aftermarket speedometers that go even higher than 160. Maybe Ford's move is more of an artistic one. Where the needle sits will make people feel better about going 45? Who knows. Why stop there... max speed at 400mph. It just encourages an occasional testing of the needle's maximum.

3.      It depends on the job. Most of the time, it was a waste to go into work to just sit there all day by yourself. I had to drive 1.5 hours to and from a job once. By the time I got there 7am, I had already been up since 4:30am. After a month of this, I was done. I fell asleep constantly at work. There was zero need to be there. If you do everything on your own (most engineering jobs), then staying home is beneficial. Being distracted at work is the biggest contributor to slow development.

Yahoo is struggling to stay afloat. Keeping everyone on the same page and pulling the same cart, to use come clichés, is their only option.

 

Dave Palmer
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Platinum
Re: Skype
Dave Palmer   3/5/2013 10:40:21 PM
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Just to be clear, the problem is not sunspots or solar flares, it's the orbit of the satellite lining up with the sun. This is a result of the satellite's orbit around the earth and the earth's orbit around the sun. It's as regular as clockwork and it happens twice a year with all geosynchronous satellites. The cable company is not making it up.

Zippy
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Speedometer
Zippy   3/5/2013 11:04:02 AM
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With regard to the speedometer question, this is manufacturing efficiency for the car companies, in that "one size fits all."  As long as you are not Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, etc.  ...

richnass
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Blogger
Re: Speedometer
richnass   3/5/2013 11:11:29 AM
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Zippy, I disagree. They had them all the same before, but then switched to a speedometer with higher MPH.

bob from maine
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Re: Speedometer
bob from maine   3/5/2013 1:11:29 PM
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RE Speedometers; If your car tachometer with a 5500 RPM red-line is showing 1600 RPM when you are driving 60, then the gee-whiz gizmo makers think your speedometer should be able to display a significant fraction of that maximum theoretical speed. Remember we came from 10 years of car makers installing 100MPH maximum speedo's even though the cars were easily capable of exceeding that "politically correct" number. Telecommuting; Have we heard the whole story on this? There are companies that make you re-apply and re-interview for your job every 3 years (the average life of "new" management). I interpret this as a sensationalized report on a company re-analyzing it's priorities (glad it's not me). Sunspots; Yes, sunspots cause communications disruptions. Radiation emmited during high sun-spot activity often exceeds the design limits of the compnents in satellites and they shut down to prevent damage. Increased cosmic radiation causes changes in the radio frequency propogation characteristics of the atmosphere. Antenna's aimed directly at the sun during the one or two days a season the sun is aligned with that radio path will be overwhelmed. Also, economically, it is much less expensive to blame service interuptions on sunspot activity than it is to upgrade equipment.

kenish
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Platinum
Re: Speedometer
kenish   3/6/2013 8:18:26 PM
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The tachometer in every car, truck, motorcycle, and airplane I've owned came from a big tachometer manufacturer, RPM   :)

As others said, telecommuting needs to be done under the right circumstances.  There are phases of projects where face-to-face is crucial and other times where I want to focus all day without interruptions.  People who telecommute 100% of the time need to think about the effects on their careers...I've seen "out of sight, out of mind" at play when it came time for bonuses or promotions.  Depends on the company culture, of course.

The Yahoo move could also be their way of finding out who is willing and able to help pull through rough times vs. "mercenaries".  The latter will vote with their feet, though there's probably dedicated employees where family obligations don't support coming into the office.  Maybe this is off-base since I don't know much about Y! 

Zippy
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Re: Speedometer
Zippy   3/5/2013 8:34:11 PM
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Richnass, I think there may have been a period when US automakers were all 120 mph, but Volkswagon Beetles were once at 90mph and Jettas are at 160 mph, so Volkwagon is a little more manic-depressive...   :)

William K.
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Platinum
Re: Speedometer
William K.   3/8/2013 8:10:19 PM
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One reason for speedometers to go to 150, at least for those mechanical ones, is that it compresses the portion of the scale that normal folks use, making it harder to read accurately. The result of the decreased resolution is that it is harger to spot decreased accuracy as well. That is the hidden motivation, the marketing weasels like it because it somehow delivers the impression that the car is sportier, whatever that means. 

I think that I once owned a car where 55MPH was straight up on the speedometer. THat was a good reminder to keep it at 55. It was not a new car at the time, but it was quite a while back.

bobjengr
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VIDEO
bobjengr   3/9/2013 2:06:54 PM
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 Rich, really like the format.  It certainly works for me. 

 I like the option of working from home but feel collaboration is (or can be) essential for certain types of jobs.  I own an engineering consulting firm and we have to be close to our test lab and model shop so telecommutinting is pretty much out as an option for us.   Writing, I can certainly make an exception for and feel it's a good way to go if possible.  Certainly saves on gas and time.  

Who are we kidding relative to the speed limit?  I can't imagine going 100 MPH much less 160.  (Don't know about the alignment of the needle either.  Is our level of distraction so great we have to have perfect alignment at the 1200 position?  Maybe so. )

I do have to buy-in with the sun spot statement by your cable company.  We subscribe to Comcast and they also made that comment in  a flyer sent with our monthly bill.  Probably something to it.

Charles Murray
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Blogger
Re: VIDEO
Charles Murray   3/15/2013 6:22:36 PM
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I agree, bobjengr. I don't think I've ever hit 100 mph in my 40 years of driving a car. One hundred sixty mph is ludicrous.

Jack Rupert, PE
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Platinum
Re: VIDEO
Jack Rupert, PE   3/22/2013 4:58:46 PM
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I'm split on the format, Rich.  It depends where I am when I want to take a peak at the technical blogs.  If I just want to take a quick break and see what's going on in the tech world, I don't want to watch a video...and hook up headphones to my laptop gives the wrong impression.  Is it possible to include a transcript?

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