1.01.2005

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» TIP: Know when to shut up
» RANT: When team players are not wanted
» RANT: Surfing the web, Bloomberg terminal style
» TIP: Feed off your opponent's success
» MISC: What's your boss's house worth?
» TIP: Unleashing the Killer App and Dating: what do they have in common?
» MISC: Our copier was on the fritz
» TIP: Help me Help you
» MISC: Hunting for Cheney's Greatest "Hits"
» RANT: Outsourcing is climbing the corporate ladder at Investment Banks

TIP: Know when to shut up

I have known smart and well meaning managers and leaders who became annoying, Lisa Haneberg blogged, because they:
  • ...Insisted on telling stories to illustrate points that people understood 10 minutes ago.
  • Made a point to be "open" and "honest" so that the staff likes him or her and in the process came across patronizing.
  • Did the corporate speak thing to ad nausea - vision, mission, meet our goals, yada yada yada...

When we manage and lead, it is about THEM, not us. We want to be open and genuine and share something of ourselves - sure - but let's make sure that we are not inadvertently self-centered and make everything about us.

  • What WE think.
  • How WE are going to approach the situation.
  • How much WE care about them.

If we really care, we will shut up and listen! Acting on their priorities. Responding to their needs. Clarifying their questions. Sharing just enough to enroll and empower, but not so much as to put them into a mental slumber. That's what will make a difference...

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got > Strength vs Weakness > When Less is More

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RANT: When team players are not wanted

So you need some fresh, innovative ideas. What do you do? Get a group of your best thinkers together to bounce ideas of each other? No, wrong answer, Dr. Christian Jarrett blogged. Time and again research has shown that people think of more new ideas on their own than they do in a group. The false belief that people are more creative in groups has been dubbed by psychologists the "illusion of group of productivity". But why does this illusion persist?

Bernard Nijstad and colleagues at the University of Amsterdam argue it's because when we're in a group, other people are talking, the pressure isn't always on us and so we're less aware of all the times that we fail to think of a new idea. By contrast, when we're working alone and we can't think of anything, there's no avoiding the fact that we're failing...

The researchers said "We suggest that working in a group may lead to a sense of continuous activity. This may provide group members with the idea that they are productive, because they feel that the group as a whole is making progress, even if they themselves are not contributing".

Other possible reasons for why people think they work better in groups include 'memory confusion', the idea that after working in groups people subsequently mistake other people's ideas for the own, and 'social comparison', the idea that in groups people are able to see how difficult everyone else has found it to come up with ideas too.

( Bartlett's Quotations includes this anonymous definition of a committee: "a group of the unwilling, chosen from the unfit, to do the unnecessary." Sadly, committees often fit this description. aka. Social Loafing)

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got > Opportunity vs Trap

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RANT: Surfing the web, Bloomberg terminal style

We need a new (computer) UI, best-selling author Geoffrey Moore blogged. God bless the GUI-it has changed my life more than any other technology-but we are both suffering from the same deficit: a deterioration in our multi-tasking capabilities... Definitely be on the net, but watch TV at the same time, keep your eye on the IM list, check your email, oh, and do your homework. No problem. Except that the UI on our PCs is not constructed to optimize this mental landscape. It is too single-state oriented. It reminds me of, well, me. These days I like doing things in single-threaded fashion. I think of it as becoming more Zen. My wife and children, on the other hand, think of it as, "Don't talk to Dad when he is driving."...

The current UI is still tied indirectly to the PC's original root metaphor, a typewriter. It needs to transition to another-the stock trader's workstation on Wall Street. It needs to recast itself as a media machine, with many concurrent feeds that enable traders to scan for information, detect trends, and transact, all very rapidly. Switching between states, foregrounding one without losing the context of the others in background, is the technical requirement. Picture-within-picture on a TV is a crude example. I think we can do much better...

In short, we need to recognize that the role of the user has shifted from passive consumer to active director, someone continually choosing from among multiple feeds to construct the desired experience, and reconstruct the UI to serve that new end.

Category: C++ Quant > Random Walk

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TIP: Feed off your opponent's success

CNNMoney - The common wisdom is that Wal-Mart's competitors sweat bullets when the undisputed 800-pound gorilla of retailing says it's going to play in their backyard. They fear the king of bottom-barrel prices will steal their business, eventually forcing them to drop their shutters, load up the wagon and scout out a "Wal-Mart-free" zone elsewhere.

However, not everyone is spooked... Wal-Mart's become a preferred co-tenant to retailers such as Fred's, Aldi and Anna's Linen because when it breaks ground in a new area, these retailers view it as an opportunity to piggyback off its traffic. "In retailing, the whole name of the game is to feed off your competitors' footsteps. Wal-Mart is the biggest traffic generator around. It gets over 150 million customers a week," "Retailers only have to look at the profile of a Wal-Mart customer and their spending levels. Those retailers that fit the target should try to compete with Wal-Mart on convenience and price," Maurin said.

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got > Opportunity vs Trap

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MISC: What's your boss's house worth?

via USAToday - Ask Zillow - (Cofounded by Richard Barton who shook up the travel business when he founded Expedia.com) it tells you how much homes in your neighborhood have sold for and what the property tax is. It has gathered data from county property records for 62 million homes across the country, and adds more daily.

There's only one problem: You can't believe everything you see. The property values, or "Zestimates," are only within 10% of the right price 62% of the time, and the accuracy varies widely by county and state, ranging from a low of 47% for New York to a high of 82% for Nebraska, the company says...

Many real estate websites help buyers and sellers, including homevalue.com and realestateinfo4free.com, as well as regional sites. But these sites usually require customers to give an e-mail address or telephone number, which is passed to real estate agents who pay for leads on potential clients.

Category: C++ Quant > Random Walk

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TIP: Unleashing the Killer App and Dating: what do they have in common?

Bestseller author Kathy Sierra blogged
  • Look your best: You don't have to be the Brad Pitt of apps, but you should still make the effort to be pleasant looking... That whole "it's what's inside that counts" thing? It's true, but chemistry matters too, and we're genetically programmed to be attracted to attractive things... don't forget your mom's advice--"you never get a second chance to make a first impression."
  • Be fun: ...Be the one others want to be around. Make a list of the apps, products, APIs, frameworks, etc. that make YOU happy. The ones that make you think, "this is awesome." Or better yet, the ones where you never think about them at all... because you're too busy being awesome doing the thing that led you to that tool in the first place.Focus your energy on putting yourself on someone else's "makes me happy" list.
  • Be trustworthy and consistent: Make sure we can trust that when we click button A, thing B will happen. Every... single... time. And that it doesn't matter when we push it, or what you did before. Please, no unpredictable mood (or mode) swings. If you use a particular pair of methods in your API, and then reuse those same names in another part of the API, make certain that they all behave in exactly the same way -- or at least exactly as you'd expect in that different context (terrible API violation of this: the ejbCreate() and ejbRemove() methods for entity vs. session beans in EJB).
  • Don't be fake: Don't pretend to be something you're not. If part of your interface looks like it should do X, but does only Y (or worse, does X plus the recklessly dangerous Z), we may never trust you again. Don't try to be more than you are, and don't trick us into thinking you do one thing, when you actually do something completely different. Being simple and clean and real is far better than being a flashy fake.
  • Be polite, be helpful: Don't dash off in the middle of dinner to run an errand, but if you must, at LEAST tell us how long you expect to be gone, so we'll have some idea of when to become concerned. An application that doesn't tell you what's going on is just rude. It's OK to offer tips...
  • Be forgiving: We're not perfect. Sometimes we say or do stupid, wrong, or even dangerous things. Make it easy for us to recover and "save face", and we'll love you all the more. And the more you assume it was your fault, the better. Chances are, it was.
  • Be sensitive, be a good listener: But not over-sensitive. Pay close attention to the subtle things; don't make us have to yell at you in order to get a reaction. Try to anticipate our needs, but don't make assumptions! We never said this would be easy... and yes, we're a bit high-maintenance, but worth it ; )
  • Don't assume I'm an expert: You wouldn't expect that everyone you date will have studied human psychology, so you shouldn't expect a user to have read your manual cover to cover. Don't take us extreme helicopter skiing on our first date.
  • Be fun, Not funny: Be fun in the way that a great game of chess is fun (but not funny)... The best dates of all are with those who can make even the most trivial, mundane things seem... engaging and interesting. Find out what part of this experience really can be interesting, and enhance that.
  • Don't assume there's no competition: "There are plenty of fish in the sea" our mothers tell us when we're heartbroken at 15... There is always someone potentially better, and real loyalty can't be bought. "Frequent Buyer" points might make it look like we're loyal, but underneath we're just waiting for the right opportunity to dump you. Don't mistake current participation for long-term loyalty.
  • Married people really DO have more sex: No matter how fun the one-night stands appear, they're ultimately empty and unsatisfying. Go for the long-term commitment. Be in this for a lasting relationship. If you really really care, we'll know, and we'll be willing to forgive you when you screw up--as you always will.

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got

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MISC: Our copier was on the fritz

so I put a note on it: "Service has been called."

When the technician told me he had to order parts, I added a second note: "Parts have been ordered."

During the next five days, when we had to use an older, slower copier on the other side of the building, someone taped a third note to the machine: "Prayers have been said." - RD

Category: C++ Quant > Random Walk > Jokes

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TIP: Help me Help you

via Oprah - Suppose you want a man to do something for you, and you've asked him, oh, a thousand times. He's promised he would, which is what's so frustrating - if he flatly refused, at least you'd understand why he isn't taking action.

He doesn't want you to remind him about what he needs to do, even though he keeps forgetting. Don't ask him to do a specific task ("Fix the drip in the shower") but to be in charge of solving the problem ("The leak in the shower is driving me crazy"). Offer to help him ("Tell me what tools you need, and I'll go get them for you")...

Category: C++ Quant > Random Walk

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MISC: Hunting for Cheney's Greatest "Hits"

Letterman's Top Ten Dick Cheney Excuses
  • Heart palpitation caused trigger finger to spasm
  • Wanted to get the Iraq mess off the front page
  • Not enough Jim Beam
  • Trying to stop the spread of bird flu
  • I love to shoot people
  • Guy was making cracks about my lesbian daughter
  • I thought the guy was trying to go 'gay cowboy' on me
  • Excuse? I hit him, didn't I?
  • Until Democrats approve medicare reform, we have to make some tough choices for the elderly
  • Made a bet with Gretzky's wife

You can understand why this lawyer fellow let his guard down, because if you're out hunting with a politician, you think, 'If I'm going to get it, it's going to be in the back.' -CraigFerguson

He is a lawyer and he got shot in the face. But he's a lawyer, he can use his other face. He'll be all right. -CraigFerguson

Category: C++ Quant > Random Walk > Jokes

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RANT: Outsourcing is climbing the corporate ladder at Investment Banks

via CNNMoney - ...After years of outsourcing technology support and other back-office operations to countries like India and China, financial institutions are increasingly looking to move large portions of their investment banking operations abroad, according to a recent report by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu... what began as technology support is now morphing into more analytic operations. "Most of the large financial institutions were in the IT side of outsourcing but as they leveraged that experience, they got more interested" in moving more of their investment banking and research activities abroad, said Niket Patankar, chief executive of outsourcing firm Adventity Inc.

Among the leaders in outsourcing and offshoring are the big investment banks: Citigroup (Research), Morgan Stanley (Research), Lehman Brothers (Research) and JPMorgan Chase (Research). Typically, those banks have moved their research analysis operations offshore in order to take advantage of the time difference between the U.S. and Asia as well as the cheaper labor. "Investment banking has a lot of number crunching that to a large degree can be done anywhere," said Alenka Grealish, manager of the banking group at Celent LLC. "By taking press releases and data feeds and digesting them offshore, the components can be made into basic analyst reports" that are available to clients early in the morning...

Offshore operations give financial services companies a foothold in new and emerging markets such as China, where there are more revenue opportunites than mature markets like the U.S. The report also predicts that driven by the need to take aggressive cost-cutting measures, the financial services industry will move 20 percent of its total costs base offshore by the end of 2010, compared to the current average of 3.5 percent...

It takes about three years for banks to see full benefits from an offshoring program, said Deloitte's Lowes, as companies overcome the initial learning curve of doing business abroad and gradually build their scale. Firms that aggressively expand their scope and scale will deliver much higher returns on the foreign investments than those that simply dabble in the practice, he said. Top performers can see cost savings of up to 60 percent while bottom performers report savings of less than 20 percent, Lowes said. Lowes added that those companies that reinvest some of their cost savings towards continuing to expand their operations offshore are going to be the true long-term winners. "The economics (of offshoring in banking) are strong and the risks are being successfully mitigated" he said. "Today it's a competitive necessity."

(The globalization of work tends to start from the bottom up: first assembling, followed by manufacturing, and later, programming. Can strategic corp planning be at the end of this progression?)

Category: C++ Quant > Fix the Job You Got > Opportunity vs Trap

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