Five Links: Pattern Recognition Edition

Happy Friday, everyone.

When I was a reporter in Livingston, Montana, I wrote a story about a massive infrastructure campaign that was just kicking off — new sewer and water lines across town, changing traffic flows and redesigning streets, new green spaces and public art. I interviewed the primary architect, and he told me that the designs were influenced by A Pattern Language, published in 1977. That book has fascinated me; from the placement of a single window to the layout of an entire central business district, it breaks down the patterns of human behavior and then analyzes design techniques that best reinforce the desired patterns for a given space. It doesn’t say what should be done; it simply uses patterns to say if you want to accomplish Goal A, use Design Technique B.

In a roundabout way, this week’s series of links look at patterns and how they influence behavior.

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Five Links: Culture Is the Way We Do Things Edition

Happy Friday, everyone.

True story: I was at an OpenStack conference a couple of years ago, and on a whim, I signed up for a contest to install OpenStack in a certain configuration. I did it on a whim because I wanted the T-shirt, but I found out later that this was a huge deal — guys had been prepping their automated installs for weeks leading up to the event. I went to the organizer and tried to back out, and he got this panicked look and begged me to stay, just to show up — he had already told his manager that they had their first woman in the competition ever, and if I just showed up, no matter how badly I did, I was guaranteed the “diversity prize.” Long story short, I did terribly, but I got a T-shirt and a Venue 8 Chrome tablet.

I mention this, because I have stumbled across probably a half dozen stories on diversity in IT departments in the past couple of weeks, which seemed like an oddly-specific trend in articles. But that’s not all I’ve been seeing! I have hit a lot of really great articles on team work and productivity in general — attributes of healthy teams, setting effective priorities, and managing your talent.

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Five Links: All My Friends Are Dead Edition

Happy Friday, everyone.

The end of the year is often a season of reflection. This year, that reflection seems to have taken a nihilistic tinge, as a lot of people are declaring things dead. Change can feel like death, I guess, but I think it’s easy to conflate something evolving with that something going away. This week, I want to look at some of the technology deaths which, like Mark Twain’s, are greatly exaggerated.

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Five Links: Make Me Feel Safe Edition

Happy Friday, everyone.

The last few weeks have seen a series of DDOS attacks taking out major services through vulnerabilities in IoT security, outages from human error, and data breaches from major players like Yahoo and less reputable ones as well. There are a lot of different attack vectors and different types of information that is vulnerable — and this highlights the thin line between security and risk. Security is not exactly a buzzword and it doesn’t get a lot of attention until (like insurance, a warm coat, or a full tank of gas) you really need it. That’s this week’s theme — data security and privacy.

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Five Links: The More You Know Edition

Happy Friday, everyone.

There have been a couple of events lately that, at least tangentially, made me think about information and what we do with it. There have been a series of DDOS attacks on popular sites, at least one of which was driven by a blind army of smart devices. The other is the volatile and ultimately inaccurate polling leading into the US Presidential election. Both of these hint at the Wild West nature of technology — its flexibility and newness offers a lot of promise and a lot of unknown risks. So the theme for this week is — what is the quality of data and analytics and how do we do it “right.”

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Five Links: A Big Cup of Joe Edition

Happy Friday, everyone.

This week started off great with a bout on Monday with a lot of people talking about AI and virtual reality (links picked at random). I’m not saying I started a trend, I am simply observing a certain zeitgeist. This is week, I’ve been looking at more familiar worlds: Java, Java EE, and app development. This is the heart of what we do in middleware.

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Image credit: Headline Shirts. Also, the shirt is on sale now.

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Five Links: How Virtual Is Reality Edition

Happy Friday, everyone.

As always, the “Internets” is a fascinating place (assuming a massive denial of service attack hasn’t cut you off from Twitter and Spotify) and there is a new trend in the things I was clicking. This is probably inspired by my recent obsession with Westworld, but I have been thinking in general about the essence of reality and how far technology can go to both conceal reality and create it. So this week’s theme is reality-bending technology: virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and the technologies behind it.

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Five Links: We Are All Connected Edition

Happy Friday, everyone.

This has been a cool week on the web, and I noticed a trend in the things I was clicking. I saw a lot of articles and images that show relationships — mainly with the Internet of Things (relationships between devices, software, and people), but a couple of interesting ones on group dynamics.

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Why Group Brainstorming Doesn’t Work (Trello blog)

This deserves the top spot because of how counterintuitive it is, but the post makes some excellent points about how to get group ideas more effectively. Along with pointing out a lot of the pitfalls of group brainstorming sessions, it also has advice on how to be more effective in eliciting the best ideas from a group — including creating time for independent brainstorming, providing better structure to the process, and having a final decision.

Interactive Map of Internet of Things Companies (The Pointy Haired Manager blog, via IoT LinkedIn group)

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