“Peopleware” is a must read for software managers

I’m reading an interesting book, “Peopleware – Productive Projects and Teams”.  Many say that this book is a must read for software managers.  There is a section which talks about the difference between the standard of quality that the market will accept (lower) and the standard of quality that the builder (e.g., programmer) wants to deliver to the market (higher).  A builder’s self-esteem is strongly tied to the quality of the product, so market-derived quality standard seems to make good sense only if you ignore the effect on the builder’s attitude and effectiveness.  Something to possibly consider in the future.  Of course, there is no right or wrong answer.  Check it out on Amazon.

It’s important to connect with the Silicon Valley tech community

The Silicon Valley area is based on the principles of cooperation and collective innovation. Really, this means that techies from other companies interact with one another frequently and even job hop every 2-3 years in order to gain more skills and experience. In my personal opinion, I think that techies are doing themselves a disservice by not getting involved with the local tech community. Imagine if you were in Nebraska or Ohio, you wouldn’t find such an innovative, entrepreneurial environment there like you would here. If you don’t take advantage of what SV has to offer in terms of a vibrant tech community, go live somewhere else because you’re paying too much for cost of living.

Local companies have a great opportunity to tap into this rich community in many ways. Here are my suggestions for managers of tech employees:
• Recognize external involvement during annual employee review time
• Be open to new ideas and technologies
• Hire more experienced candidates from the local area, not just new college graduates and internal transfers
• “Walk the walk” – interact with managers from other companies
• Cultivate an environment that encourages your employees to build marketable skills that other companies desire
• Sponsor and promote local tech community events

Why do fruit picking robots have to look so scary?

Did you know that Japan produces 2/3s of the world’s robots?  I’m reading up on robots and agricultural and some of these robots look very scary. It reminds me of that evil character in one of the recent Spiderman movies with the long arms. If I was a farmer and saw this on my farm, I would have a heart attack.

Some open questions about robots to consider. Does it make sense for a robot to be the next best alternative over humans or a set of other technologies? For instance, can a robot do it better, the same, or worse? How much does a robot cost in comparison to human labor? Does the task require a few robots or many robots? How long should the robot operate when it’s on? So my question out to the folks, in what way ways can robots help today’s fruit farmers?