Denting or polishing, layoffs, talent, software — things I’ve been thinking about this week

Dents vs polish

The industry loves the Steve Jobs’ quote “We are here to make a little dent in the universe”.   It is kind of a strange quote, a little aggressive.  I wonder if the phrasing isn’t actually a little harmful.  It is a very high bar — and almost none of us will achieve it.  It encourages risk taking, it can encourage really bad behaviour, and it sets us all up for disappointment

Now that I am at a certain age and stage of my career, I have to be honest with myself that I am unlikely to make a dent in the universe.  But I keep beavering away — not to make a dent, but maybe just to polish out some of the rough spots I see, so that maybe life is easier and better for the next person coming this way.  It might be better for all of us to focus on small continuous improvements in the world around us — we are more likely to succeed and be content.

I worked on some great software with some great teams, and we had what seemed like audacious goals, and much of it will be forgotten in a small number of years.  Tho this screwdriver we shipped will probably be useful forever, I bet people will be using screwdrivers in the year 2791 long after Windows is forgotten.

Or maybe I am just engaged in rationalizing where my career has gone.  Even so, a focus on just continuous small improvements still seems like a good thing.

Xevo layoffs

My last employer did a bunch of layoffs last week.  Very sad and if I can help anyone find their next thing, feel free to give me a shout.  We had built a really great team at Xevo and were chasing some interesting problems.  One hurdle we faced was the unwillingness of auto OEMs to open up their platforms to apps and services.  The OEMs keep a tight grip on the compute and connectivity platforms in their cars, and as a result there is no real market for interesting apps and services.  Someday this will change — some OEM will open up their platform to innovation the way that AT&T finally opened up to the iPhone — but we are not there yet.

Talent

I love this direction from Biden on non-competes — the more we can do to free labor to flow to opportunities, the better off we are.  Non-competes are terrible.  I always felt that, if we couldn’t hang onto our best people, well shame on us for not challenging them or compensating them appropriately.  

Another interesting talent observation — this chart that shows the huge advantage the US has had with innovative immigrants.  Any policy that hampers this immigration is incredibly costly.

Software is awesome

I love the fact that someone has poured their life into decoding IR signals, and doing it with passion and structure.  Personal computing and open software tools have been so liberating for people.

Here’s another one — a complete stack for dealing with LoRaWAN devices.  With a great website.  Just awesome.  

Random

I learned during our heatwave that spraying down exterior heat exchangers is actually a reasonable idea.