When I started university a couple of years ago, getting an MBA after finishing my degree was something I was considering quite seriously. My mind has since changed and this blog post by Bob Sutton (who wrote “The No Asshole Rule“), Why Management is Not a Profession, gives food for thought about the real value of an MBA:
The discussion about the “value” of the MBA always seems to end — no matter where it starts and no matter what nuances are discussed by Pfeffer and others — with a focus on how much money it puts (or doesn’t put) in the recipient’s pocket.
The End of Business Schools? Less Success Than Meets the Eye has two interresting findings:
- Don’t bother if you’re not going to one of the top 10 business schools. You won’t make more money and you will actually lose two years of salary.
- There is no relationship between grades and salary at the top 10 schools. Only the networking that happens there is important.
Business school professors really hate this one, as it means that those students who do as little work in classes as possible, and devote all their time to networking, are acting in economically rational ways.
So that’s the money perspective about an MBA. What about what you learn from getting an MBA:
There is remarkably little conversation about whether it teaches people to do a better job of helping and serving clients, employees, or anyone else. (…) the societal message — and it is often quite explicit — is that the most effective managers take as much money as possible for themselves from their clients.
Getting an MBA is far from my mind right now. I really believe you can make a more than decent living without it happening to the detriment of people around you.
Popularity: 6% [?]
The last part is easy. Now what is architecture as related to software development, that’s a much harder problem (42 is still a good answer of course). I think I just read the best explanation of what it is.
use principled design:
- identify desired architectural properties
- constrain behavior to induce properties
- compensate for the inevitable design trade-offs
I think this is the best way to really understand why constraints are liberating. When designing, you choose the properties important to your application (whether it be efficiency, scalability, maintainability or any other -ilities). The architecture will codify a set of constraints that should lead to your application having these properties. These constraints free you from having to constantly think about any of the properties, as long as you respect the architectural guidelines.
An example from the slides: Constrain interactions to be stateless. This simplifies the server, improves scalability and reliability. However, it degrades efficency. Checkout the slides as Roy gives very detailed info on the advantages and tradeoffs of using a REST architecture. Seriously, these slides are gold. I will read them again and again over the next few weeks.
Popularity: 9% [?]
I want you to try finding the US population by going through the US Census Bureau website.
Did you find it? According to a recent study by Jakob Nielsen, only 14% of users could find it, even though it is big and red at the top of the page. (check the study to see a screenshot of the original image in case the website changed). Quite surprising no?
The problem is that it looks like an ad and most people are banner blind. The problem here is that it is in a sidebar with big red text, images and made-up term like “population clock”, traits people associate with an ad.
Even more interesting is to look at the heat map, showing where the user’s eyes stopped. In this case, the user clearly looked at the zone where the answer is, but quickly moved on.
Usability is an interesting beast. Results like this clearly show that you can’t take anything for granted and you need to test with real users.
Popularity: 5% [?]
The Rails Edge: Quotes and Notes is a very interesting collection of quotes from the rails edge conference. Two in particular caught my attention:
“Metaprogramming + DSLs is the Ruby equivalent of Design Patterns in the Java world”
— Chad Fowler. Fowler’s point here was more about the buzz and hype, just like there was a time in the early 2000s when every Java programmer wanted Design Patterns whether or not they were needed, Fowler sees a similar rush to add DSLs to Ruby programs.
“If programmers, on average, were able to write parsers and compilers, Ruby on Rails would not have taken off”
— Stuart Halloway
This is something I’ve noticed a lot recently: every plugin that gets released is a DSL! or it uses a cool metaprogramming trick! That’s nice, but was it really needed? And can we really talk about a ‘language’ when your plugin adds two simple commands to a controller?
I guess it’s a rite passage when learning ruby to write something using metaprogramming. The problem is when you start using it for everything, just like when you add patterns after patterns to your code, just because.
Again, this is a case of using the right tool for the right job. Metaprogramming is a power tool that is useful some time.
Here are other quotes that I like, as they echo the discussion I had with Fred Brunel at the last book club about process:
“The right process is always ‘not quite enough process’”
— Stuart Halloway
“Do the dumbest, simplest thing that almost works”
— Stuart Halloway, on process
“The traditional view, with sixteen pounds of documentation, introduces a single point of failure in the process, understanding the problem domain”
— Dave Thomas
“Getting a specification involves bullying the customer”
— Dave Thomas
Popularity: 26% [?]
One very useful feature of Texmate that few people seem to know about is Textmate Footnotes. It’s a Rails plugin that adds this menu at bottom of your pages:
When you are testing your app, you have links that takes you directly to the contoller, view, layout, stylesheets. You can also see the session, params and log for the current page. If you get an exception in your action, each line of the stack trace is turned into a link, taking you right to the file at the correct line where the exception occurred. If you haven’t tried it yet, what are you waiting for?!
Popularity: 6% [?]
I’m always interested and impressed by good examples of design and exciting ways to display information. Here are two links you need to check out and keep around when you need inspiration:
- 45 Excellent Blog Designs: The title says it all. There is good mix of simple and clean design along with more elaborate designs.
- Data Visualization: Modern Approaches: There are few here that are obtuse in my opinion, but I would kill to get a graph of how my music tastes evolved and varied over the last 10 years such as this.
Popularity: 8% [?]
Every time I write a post, it seems I spend a large amount of time putting the links in. My last post contained seven links and it feels like it took an eternity to put them in. I have to open another browser window, google the page, copy the link and then paste it in my post. For some reason, it feels like a very tedious process. I’m wondering if anybody has any tricks they use to make it faster? How do you manage all the links in your posts?
Popularity: 10% [?]