Tag Archives: Skills

The Next Big Blue-Collar Job Is Coding

By Clive Thompson – Politicians routinely bemoan the loss of good blue-collar jobs. Work like that is correctly seen as a pillar of civil middle-class society. And it may yet be again. What if the next big blue-collar job category is already here—and it’s programming?

Among other things, it would change training for programming jobs—and who gets encouraged to pursue them. As my friend Anil Dash, a technology thinker and entrepreneur, notes, teachers and businesses would spend less time urging kids to do expensive four-year computer-­science degrees and instead introduce more code at the vocational level in high school.

You could learn how to do it at a community college; midcareer folks would attend intense months-long programs like Dev Bootcamp. There’d be less focus on the wunderkinds and more on the proletariat.

These sorts of coders won’t have the deep knowledge to craft wild new algorithms for flash trading or neural networks. Why would they need to? That level of expertise is rarely necessary at a job. But any blue-collar coder will be plenty qualified to sling Java­Script for their local bank. more> https://goo.gl/o8vkzl

The Ten Behaviors of Strong Personal Leadership


The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success, Author: Scott Eblin.

By Scott Eblin – Great leaders practice and exhibit strong personal leadership. They endeavor to live at their best so they can lead at their best. Their lives are structured for continuous improvement.

Here are the ten behaviors of personal leadership:

  1. Self reflection. Great leaders take the time to identify and articulate how they are at their best and then organize their life so they consistently show up with those qualities
  2. Self awareness. Great leaders are aware and intentional
  3. Self care. Great leaders understand that they perform at their best when they take care of their health and well being.
  4. Continuous learning. Great leaders never stop learning.
  5. Listening. Great leaders listen. They ask open-ended questions and pay attention to the answers.
  6. Operating rhythm. Great leaders know and leverage their operating rhythm.
  7. Gear shifting. Great leaders know how to quickly shift gears
  8. Focus. Great leaders focus on who or what is in front of them
  9. Clarity of purpose. Great leaders know what they’re in it for
  10. Gratitude. They recognize, acknowledge the good things in their life
  11. more> https://goo.gl/qXCpL1

The Irrationality Within Us

By Elly Vintiadis – After decades of research, there is compelling evidence that we are not as rational as we think we are and that, rather than irrationality being the exception, it is part of who we normally are.

So what does it mean to be rational? We usually distinguish between two kinds of rationality. Epistemic rationality, which is involved in acquiring true beliefs about the world and which sets the standard for what we ought to believe, and instrumental rationality which is involved in decision-making and behavior and is the standard for how we ought to act.

We are epistemically rational if we believe things for which we have good evidence and if we would change our beliefs in light of evidence against those beliefs.

We are instrumentally rational when we act in ways that are appropriate for achieving our goals.

In contrast, one is irrational when one’s beliefs or actions are not in accord with the requirements of rationality. For instance, if one wants to achieve a certain goal but acts in ways that do not lead to that goal; when one forms beliefs for which there is no evidence, or that fly in the face of available evidence; when one reasons faultily and so on. more> https://goo.gl/utg5OO

A Little Light Construction: Laser Welding in Three Acts

By Brian Simonds – Welding is said to be more art than science. In part, this is a nod to the vital, skilled work that welders perform. It’s also recognition of the fact that the physics of the process is really, really difficult to understand.

The laser welding process begins, as one might imagine, when a laser is focused to the surface of a metal. Although the surface initially reflects most of the light, it absorbs enough to cause significant heating. This heating slightly changes the way the metal interacts with the light, which in turn causes more absorption and even more heating.

Once the metal gets hot enough, it begins to melt and evaporate. The now-molten metal pool reacts to this evaporation by recoiling and creating a depression in the surface, like a trampoline reacting to a heavy load. When this depression is deep enough, it sends some of the reflected light back onto itself, which increases the absorbed light, creating more melting, generating more evaporation, making a deeper depression, creating more absorption, then more melting, and so on.

This continues until all the light is absorbed and a deep hole, called a keyhole, forms. In cross section, this looks something like a molten metal tornado with a hollow cavity surrounded by a turbulent funnel of very hot liquid. This all happens within the first few milliseconds.

In their textbook Modern Welding Technology, which has been metaphorically welded to my neocortex, H.B. Cary and S. Helzer estimate that as much as 50 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product relies on welding in some form or another.

The obvious applications of welding are in the manufacturing of big things like cars and trains, but there are less obvious ones like the battery casing in your mobile phone or the metal stents used to reopen clogged arteries. more> https://goo.gl/ngG3hh

In overvaluing confidence, we’ve forgotten the power of humility

By Jacob Burak – “If I only had a little humility, I’d be perfect,” the media mogul Ted Turner supposedly said sometime in the 1990s, in a moment of narcissistic exuberance.

Why be humble? After all, Aristotle said: “All men by nature desire to know.”

The internet and digital media have created the impression of limitless knowledge at our fingertips. But, by making us lazy, they have opened up a space that ignorance can fill.

What about all the commenting and conversations that happen online? Well, your capacity to learn from them depends on your attitudes to other people.

Intellectually humble people don’t repress, hide or ignore their vulnerabilities, like so many trolls. In fact, they see their weaknesses as sources of personal development, and use arguments as an opportunity to refine their views. People who are humble by nature tend to be more open-minded and quicker to resolve disputes, since they recognize that their own opinions might not be valid.

Intellectual humility relies on the ability to prefer truth over social status. It is marked primarily by a commitment to seeking answers, and a willingness to accept new ideas—even if they contradict our views. In listening to others, we run the risk of discovering that they know more than we do. But humble people see personal growth as a goal in itself, rather than as a means of moving up the social ladder. We miss out on a lot of available information if we focus only on ourselves and on our place in the world.

At the other end of the scale lies intellectual arrogance—the evil twin of overconfidence. more> https://goo.gl/F9v5hg

And their eyes glazed over

By Joelle Renstrom – Even when my students stash their cellphones, my classes look like an Apple commercial – faces hide behind screens embossed with the same famous fruit.

I have no delusions that they’re taking notes for class or referencing that day’s reading. A University of Waterloo professor who put a postgraduate at the back of his lecture hall to observe his students learned that 85 per cent of them did something unrelated to class on their laptops; a Cornell University study confirms that most students engage in ‘high-tech “doodling”‘ and communication during class.

One might think that the whopping $65,000 cost of attending Boston University for a year would provide ample reason to maintain focus during class, but one would be wrong.

Even students who take notes on their laptops miss out. A study from Princeton University shows that we process information better when taking notes by hand because writing is slower than typing (an argument often spun in favour of laptops), which helps students learn and retain the material. Similarly, people better comprehend what they’re reading if it’s on paper rather than on the screen.

Part of the reason people can’t seem to look up from their phones is that we’ve convinced ourselves we’re multitasking, rather than failing to focus. more> https://goo.gl/V35RyO

Screens In Schools Are a $60 Billion Hoax


Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction is Hijacking Our Kids—and How to Break the Trance, Author: Nicholas Kardaras.

By Nicholas Kardaras – We could look to Finland, whose school system routinely ranks toward the top globally and has chosen to skip the tech and standardized testing.

Instead, Finnish students are given as many as four outdoor free-play breaks per day, regardless of the weather—while here, a sedentary American child sitting in front of a glowing screen playing edu-games while over-scheduled and stressed by standardized testing is seen as the Holy Grail.

Rather than finding a digital educational cure, Dr. Kentaro Toyama, an associate professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Information, came to understand what he calls technology’s “Law of Amplification”: technology could help education where it’s already doing well, but it does little for mediocre educational systems. Worse, in dysfunctional schools, it “can cause outright harm.”

He added: “Unfortunately, there is no technological fix…more technology only magnifies socioeconomic disparities, and the only way to avoid that is non-technological.” more> http://goo.gl/yO3uxp

Can Self-Managed Teams Work in Government?


Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Author: Daniel Pink.

By John Kamensky – Focusing on three job elements is the secret to improving engagement: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

But what does “autonomy” look like in the real world?

One answer is self-managed teams. The concept has been around for decades, and there are success stories in the private sector.

Ethan Bernstein, John Bunch, Niko Canner, and Michael Lee say that fundamentally, leaders are looking for two things from their organizations: reliability and adaptability.

Reliability can mean adhering to rules to ensure standard approaches. This is important in a manufacturing environment. But this has to be balanced against adaptability, which allows continuous changes in order to adjust to a changing environment. This is being used in the software development environment and is currently being championed via agile approaches.

But finding the balance between reliability (which can devolve into red tape) and adaptability (which can lead to fragmentation and the loss of the advantages of scale) is not easy.

They suggest. “A piecemeal approach usually makes sense. Organizations can use elements of self-management in areas where the need for adaptability is high, and traditional models where reliability is paramount.” more> http://goo.gl/tTvoBB

5 Tips For Using a Software Architecture

By Jacob Beningo – A software architecture as defined in IEEE 1471 is “the fundamental organization of a system embodied in its components, their relationship to each other, and to the environment, and the principles guiding its design and evolution.”

The software architecture identifies the major system pieces and identifies the inputs and outputs for those pieces.

A software architecture is the blueprint for the software. The architecture provides a developer with the boundaries and characteristics for the system just like the blueprint for a building provides the foundation, height, and important characteristics to the building contractor.

Not even a single line of production code should not be written until an architecture has been laid out for the software. more> http://goo.gl/DJCmRT

How to Hire for Team Skills


The End of Average: How We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness, Author: Todd Rose.
The Essential Guide for Hiring and Getting Hired, Author: Lou Adler.

By Lou Adler – The big, seemingly obvious finding was that job descriptions listing skills, experience, competencies and behavioral traits were not great predictors of future success. While measuring these things could reduce interviewing errors due to bias, there were too many other factors that could cause a person to underperform.

The Most Important Interview Question: Can you please describe your most significant team accomplishment of your entire career?

Imagine I’m interviewing you and I ask you to describe the most significant team accomplishment of your entire career. This could be managing a team or a project or being on an important team. What team accomplishment would you pick and how would you describe it?

After providing a quick overview how would you answer the following clarifying questions?

  • Who was on the team and what roles did they play?
  • When did it occur and what was your assigned role? Did this change at all during the project?
  • How did you get on the team?
  • What were the objectives of the team and were they met?
  • Describe the plan or project and how the team was managed. Were you part of this?
  • What was your biggest contribution to the team? How were you recognized formally for this?
  • Who did you influence the most? Did you coach anyone? Did anyone coach you?
  • What did you like most about the team? Least?
  • What would you change if you could about the team makeup?
  • Who were the executives on the team and did you influence them in any way?
  • What was the biggest team problem or conflict you faced and how did you handle it?

By itself, this type of question and fact-finding would reveal a lot about the team skills of the person being interviewed. more> http://goo.gl/gHZxV2