Big Iron

Back in the late 80’s/early 90’s, I used to argue that programmers should do their coding on an 8086 machine, an IBM XT for example, rather than something more powerful like a 286. My argument was that by using a slow machine, you had the same user experience as your average user, and you could optimize the program appropriately.

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Facebook and the Algorithmic Curation of Content

Facebook has recently got into trouble over an accusation that they are suppressing conservative news stories in the trending news categories. Facebook have an algorithmic system that promotes trending topics to a human curation team, who make the final decision about what gets promoted. Obviously human beings have bias. One of the interesting things that has happened in finance is that banks are using algos more and more to ensure that humans aren’t involved in situations where there can be a conflict of interest. One example is the 4pm FX fix which are now required to be handled algorithmically. There’s a trend here – algorithms are being used to ensure fairness. Will media companies be forced to have algorithmic editors to remove bias from reporting?

Prediction and Change

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the mistakes I make in predicting things. Often I will just observe a trend, and then extrapolate that trend into the future. This will be my prediction. The world doesn’t work like that though. Trends will last for a while, but then something changes, and before you know it the world has changed direction.

I want to think more about how and why a current trend could change direction. For example – what would it take for the trend of rising property prices in London to change direction?
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Surviving Post-Scarcity

I’ve been reading the “Beyond Scarcity” series on FTAlphaville recently, and it’s made some very interesting points. The posts argue that the current economic environment is deflationary with regard to goods. I think that is true, and one of the reasons is because of technology. Firstly technology is constantly making everything more efficient and because of global competition this is both reducing the production costs and making goods cheaper. Secondly technology is causing structural unemployment, which means less people have money to spend and there is less money flowing around the economy. Other factors causing deflation are the tight monetary conditions, the aging population, and potentially the effects of quantitative easing.

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Hacking the EZ430 Chronos Watch on the Mac

Today my TI EZ430 Chronos Watch arrived, and I spent a little bit of time hacking it on my MacBook Air. It turns out that even though the documentation seems to require either a Windows machine or a Linux box, you can communicate with the watch from the Mac by modifying the serial port information in the TCL source. I learnt this from a Google Groups post, and I’ve copied the modified TCL source onto my Github account.

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Developers as Capital

I’ve just been reading this Forbes article called “The Rise of Developeronomics”. The author argues that because increasingly software is the core value proposition that differentiates companies from each other, that software developers are more and more becoming the wealth creators in society. The author recommends investing in software developers as a way of leveraging your own capital. This article builds on an earlier article by David Kirpatick called “Now Every Company is a Software Company”.

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