IBM and Hairdryers, who knew

Musical accompaniment included here

Poor IBM. They seem to have found themselves in a bit of hot water  or is it steam around their recent advertising which managed to spawn a “Hack the Hairdryer” meme and earn the ire of some.

The irony in all of this is that IBM has a WOMAN, Gina Rometty, an electrical engineer running the company. Having worked in corporate space myself, I have to imagine final approval had to have been made somewhere near the top, and that maybe even a woman was involved. If such is the case, it shows how hard and builtin this sort of thinking is AND how hard it is to avoid making mistakes.

This latest misstep also underlines the limitations of a “diversity” based model stood up as the solution for improving the “numbers” of  under-represented groups within a given community. Thinking about it, where is the master list for these groups, I mean gee whiz, someone ought to know right ? Or maybe that is the problem; we aren’t being specific enough about what group we intend to help.

We need to go back to first principles and determine what diversity really means. If we really want to see a change,answering that question honestly might help to determine what the tech community is really capable of not to mention being a really good first step.

We also need to address the thinking of communities , after all, and especially with the millennial generation, it’s all about communities.This means community leaders and members need to dust off that little used self-reflection skill set (or maybe develop one) and come to  a true  understanding of why a hair-dryer was chosen as opposed to a lawnmower. While we’re at it, lets update our notion of “meritocracy”  and add the word “equity” to our conversations as well.

 

So what exactly did Facebook Open Source for Deep Learning HW

Facebook recently announced it was open sourcing it’s AI/Deep Learning HW design, Big Sur.

I am not a member of OCP so it’s not clear I can get all of the documentation. However, from the way the industry media is falling over itself heralding this act of open sourcing it must be something compelling right.

In all of the articles I have read so far I have seen nothing of new processors, switch fabric ASICS etc… That is not to say that motherboard level design is trivial however I would have expect something more significant based on the column inches I have pawed through in the last two days

Maybe someone can help me understand what I am missing

Building and SELLING pschidt is not easy

First, the song, Devo’s rendition of “Working In A Coal Mine”.

I don’t know Elon Musk, nor have I ever worked at Tesla. Most interesting to me about Musk and Tesla is how they have managed NOT to take over the car industry, despite the quality of their product. In fact, over the summer an article from Yahoo News indicated that Tesla might be losing 4K/ copy of the Model S.

I point this out NOT to criticize Musk, Tesla or their efforts, instead I just want to underline how difficult it is to design, build, distribute and sell a product. Especially a product of this scale. Nonetheless and despite the challenges Tesla forges on.

I am not sure what their end-game is, and I am not necessarily a fan of electric cars. It’s not clear to me that e-cars are the most innovative solution for transportation and managing global warming. However , I do admire their trying.

In the immortal words of “Lonesome George: Ride on Josephine, ride on”

 

 

 

Off Topic, at least for this Blog

The accompanying tune: I don’t usually write publicly about stuff that happens outside of tech, after the events in San Berdoo however I felt compelled to do so. Here goes

It’s funny the flip-flopping that people do when it suits them. Sometimes, people often times public figures will swear words don’t have meaning, and other times, they fall over themselves declaring how words can hurt.

I have watched over the course of the last 20 or 30 years, how our discourse has become increasingly less civil; the acceptance of intolerance when speaking of others who hold different beliefs and values. SO much so that I doubt we can even parse rhetorical nuance anymore. It’s very black and white these days, you are either good or evil.For or against us, not shades of grade. Worse still, you’re not supposed to evolve and rethink positions you may have in previous years

I had hoped upon hope that the shooters in San Bernadino had no connection whatsoever to any “terrorist” orgs in any capacity. Don’t get me wrong, what they did was horrific, but seeing the rhetorical trajectory of all things related to the practitioners of Islam I knew any connections found would not help. Alas, my hopes were dashed.

What irks me though, is that while there was a short search for a connection in this case. There was no need of any similar search regarding the beliefs of the planned parenthood shooter. It was pretty clear, and worse tolerated that the shootings at Planned Parenthood were to be viewed as stimulating a national discourse around abortion rights.I even heard as such on an NPR show of all places while at the same time taking the recent shooting NOT as a catalyst for discussion. Instead, a dictum for more intolerant “they’re not one of us, they don’t have OUR values” acton

Words do in fact matter, what people,whether they are prominent nationally, or just a friend next door, say has an affect on someone somewhere, for good or for bad. I wish folks would remember that and at least take responsibility for it when the “collateral” damage as a result of their words occurs

I live in Oakland, I am from Los Angeles

First the music.

I was out in Oakland yesterday for a spell to meet a friend who as relocating out here for a while. He’s a performing artist so I agreed to check his gig out and then go hang.

We found ourselves in Jack London Square at a block party which was part of the Megapolis festival. As a testament to how out of touch I have been with Oakland over the last few years. I was surprised to find out this was the 4th year for Megapolis.There are lots of reasons why  have been disconnected from the community.Work, parenting, my own projects, to name a few.

As my friends observed, things have changed significantly. Oakland is well on its way along the path of gentrification, ah yes gentrification, that special code word. BTW Why do we speak in code so much ?

In any event, Oakland has changed, and I am slowly  wrapping my head around the fact that some of this change change might wind up being good for Oakland despite my frustration around the how and the who.

P.S. And then there is our new mayor. The honorable Libby Schaaf who getting her feet on the ground and teasing us with some of her true colors. The comments at the end of the linked piece are interesting as well.

It always seems hard for people to account for the frustrations people develop around not being heard, or worse, recognized; and how those frustrations can often times provide an environment in which protest can often time also be the space for random venting as well.

Wither the MVP, rejoice in the old fashion art of product development

Music: Why must I chase the cat

Read this article  by Bill Aulet which was posted in Venture Beat. While phrases like “Minimum Viable Product” and “Lean Startup” are in vogue these days. Aulet takes us back to yesteryear. Back to a time where a product was a combination of assessing the market, querying potential customers, and most importantly, having some significant vision.It seems that lately, the “product” cycle is more about rapid iteration. I won’t deny that this approach facilitates some forward progress. However I need to also comment that it does tend to drive things in the direction of micro-iteration, which then consumes development resources in ways which generate lots of lines of activity in support of “features” while  at the same time taking resources away from deliberations and thinking which might foster the development of a truly innovative product and/or additions to them.

I liken it to the hardware world when the first PALS (Give me a 22V10 or give me death) and FPGA’s (Field Programmable Gate Array’s) came on the scene. Both of these were a type of hardware device which could be programmed to function in whatever way the designer desired. If, after programming, you didn’t like what it had, you could “erase” it and try again. This was a boon for hardware developers. Gone were the multi-month waits after taping our chip to get an actual piece of physical hardware back.You could literally try two or three implementations of a design out each day.You could fix bugs rapidly. You could add a “feature” in as fast as you could think it up. Oh my, “Slap me, I must be dreaming”, or so we thought.

That’s where the problems began. It was precisely because you could iterate rapidly (in hardware development terms) that features were added which maybe weren’t necessary even thought they added to the overall feature count of the product. Worse still, there was a marked drop in quality as the game became about spinning and getting something into the lab quickly to “show”. What is now called an MVP I supposed

In Mr Aulet’s piece, he points out how  becoming enamored with getting something built, coded etc.., can get in the way of the real work of true product development.To wit, you become a slave to the release cadence.

It’s great to see the software side of the business get some exposure and lead the charge forward. I hope part of the charge forward includes reflecting on lessons learned from others. One can only hope…

New Pschidt

First, the music.

Gots to here this one, Divine Fo Sho.

I can’t remember if I shared that after 31 years, I have finally left the hw development space. I am now officially in IT. Whoa, who knew.The internet is run on some clever and at the same time REALLY janky software. Life was so much more secure in the nice tight little  box that is a hardware engineer’s own private Idaho of an environment.

Also, I have decided that after 31 years of bearing witness and on occasion contributing,it is time to give back. I will be putting out my own podcast called “Bits Of Color”. it will be an accessible (for lay people relative to engineering types) podcast explaining hardware and software and  hopefully adding some additional insight. I WON’T be prognosticating on trends; at least I’ll try not to tempting as that is. With that said, I am a long time Apple fanboi so I if there is a bias, you will find it leaning in that direction.

The first episode of my p’cast can be found here on this site July 12. I’ll be talking about CPUs, what is and what is NOT possible.

Just for fun:

The French are smarter than we are

Been pulling’ for Marissa. I got’s to wonder though

You sure you want to go to the Magic Kingdom now ?

Homie has a weak chin

Given that KP DP’ed her, do you blame her

This Photo is such a lie. We all know millennials don’t really collaborate with gray-haired folk. What could they possibly offer ?

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