What in tarnation? Senator Kerry is drumming up his base to rally the vote. Sounds like unwarranted government interference to me. I call for a separation of Sports and State!
Oh, by the way, Send Swish! You have until 4:00 pm today to vote. It's down to the wire.
Jabber, jabber, jabber. People love to write and talk; it’s inherent in human nature that a person who experiences something will want to talk about it. The web facilitates that by massive connectivity and relative anonymity, and finding people who want to talk about or listen to your interests is now easier than ever before.
At a recent panel discussion about social media, there was much discussion about the features that make or break a social site. Foursquare and Facebook Connect, and how to best leverage (or avoid!) the tools and buzz of "social," seemed to be the reigning topics of the night. However, everyone on the panel agreed on one thing: you must have a specific purpose in mind before implementing social features.
For site builders, it's a hard question to ask of a client: "How do social features fit into your business strategy?" You may lose the client if they reconsider adding these features. But if your client implements "social" to keep up with the Joneses, the Facebooks, and the Buzzes, they will not succeed. Even a minimal reconsideration of the role of social features can be the difference between "What a site!" and "What's the point?"
No one could really define the killer features that allows a site to build a community. They discussed the massive growth of Facebook, the civility of Metafilter discourse, and the seeming implosion of Myspace and Friendster. (Who?) The good and bad of letting people comment on a site--a lot of ambivalence about comments. But what features made a social-oriented site grow, or die on the vine? Rather than deal with how or why, the panel began focusing on the pragmatics of the tools.
The philosophical tech addict will still ask: why?
It came to me leaving the discussion: Site builders don’t create the community. The most you can do is provide tools, structure, and resources that facilitate a community coming together; the best you can do is make those tools and resources seamless, intuitive, and accessible to whatever community you plan to support. I'm not saying that you can't give a little nudge here and there, or, if you're into the gardening metaphor, pruning the conversations where necessary. Put out those tools, let everyone know what's fair and what's unacceptable, and then step back and let it grow.
Because a community either defines itself or is biding its time until it can disband.
2009 was a difficult year. However, this recession does have some similarity to others I have experienced. With unemployment still over 10%, this one may not be over, but there have been signs of a light at the end of the tunnel.
The past quarter was very hectic for our sales team. Fortunately, for the first time in a year, we had engagements for every one of our Test Engineers and a few even juggled a couple simultaneously. Regrettably we even had to turn down a few opportunities, but this was better than having more resources than assignments.
Last week we hosted a booth at a college career fair for the first time in over a year. During the last recession, it was two and a half years before we started recruiting again. The college was expecting 3,500 candidates, however, 3,800 job hunters attended. We collected 120 resumes and some of the students had excellent credentials. If the recovery continues, we will probably hire a number of these June graduates.
And the stock market continues to climb. With the Dow over 10,600, NASDAQ over 2,300 and the S&P over 1,100 on January 13, 2010, they are all higher than they were a year ago (Dow around 8,200, NASDAQ around 1,500 and the S&P around 840). Hopefully these indexes will be leading indicator like they have been in the past.
Every downturn I have lived through has been followed by an uptick in business and healthy recoveries. Lets hope this happens again and that 2010 will be a great year for everyone.
Recently I played in my sixth Invasion of Normandy paintball event at Skirmish USA in Jim Thorpe, PA. The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association estimates that over 5.4 million people played the game in the United States in 2007. It is the wildest, most insane and self-indulgent thing I do. One of my brother-in-laws talked me into this in 2004 and I have not missed one since.
It is a re-enactment of D-Day and the landing at Normandy that starts on Saturday and ends on Sunday at 1:00 PM. This year 3,500 paintballers played (several hundred more would have played, but they have to limit the number due to the camping facility and infrastructure). Half represent the Allied forces and the rest the Axis side. It is a true team sport where you depend on your comrades to cover and help you, not much different from our test teams at RTTS.
At noon on Saturday the Allied forces are placed in plywood replica troop carriers and all of the Axis players are over 100 yards away in the woods. Once a siren sounds, the plywood door drops and you, along with 100’s of teammates race out to face thousand of paintballs flying through the air. If you don’t immediately get a face full of paint, you spend the next 45 minutes trying to break through the tree line by sprinting from pallet to pallet, barrel to barrel or mound to mound just in front of the tree line. The fun lasts until you run out of compressed air or pods filled with paintballs or until you can’t stand from exhaustion.
This year was the first that I got to experience breaking through the tree line with my teammates. It took a trip back to our camp site for my group and I to reload and rehydrate and about a dozen direct hits to my body.
And it is rewarding to win the battle. Teammates (who you've never met) must come together as a group and support each other, communicate through verbal and non-verbal ways and ultimately work towards and achieve a common goal. In the end, it's just like our software teams!
After the first battle, which lasts a couple of hours, is won, the rest of the event is free-format. You insert at one end of the field and roam around until you find a fight to engage in. There are no rules to the free format except when it hurts too badly you leave the field of battle. My favorite part is making an enemy player run away or when I hit them so badly they raise their gun and retreat. Of course there is a price to pay and sometimes I was the one running away. Although I had over 50 welts and I could barely walk on Monday morning, I can’t wait to do it again next year.