Category Archives: It seems to me…

Tariffs will hurt makers and encourage offshoring.

There was a time when my job depended on my skill wielding a soldering iron and diagnosing computer hardware failures. I haven’t done that in ‘a while’ but I do still build electronic circuits now-and-then.
I occasionally build prototype devices for a client and when I do the vast majority of the parts come from China.
The new tariffs proposed by the current administration will increase my costs by 25% on this parts. However, these new tariffs do not apply to finished consumer goods, like TVs, cell phones, and the gadgets I’m likely to be building. So I have two choices; pass along the increased cost of components to my clients, or, pay a company in China to build the gadget for me and import it as a ‘finished good’. Neither of these are good outcomes for the US Economy.
I’ve linked an article below from a well known ‘maker’. He presents the case in greater detail and also includes info. on what you can do to influence these new tariffs.

How to engage a fanatic?

I read an opinion piece today that spurred me to write this post.

I struggle with this very question quite often. I am not one to “un-friend” someone simply because I don’t agree with them or their views. I’m quite curious by nature so I am driven to discover the roots of their views. However, most often what happens is that I am shouted down, accused of being “preachy” and/or “being out of touch with the real world” and/or my personal favorite “that’s your college education talking”. When I emphasize that I really want to understand how they reached their viewpoint I am accused of trying to bait them.

My formative years were spent on and around farms in rural Michigan. I’ve lived in a small tent in the woods while searching for work; I’ve had to choose between eating and affording the trip to work; I’ve watched the last of my food go down the kitchen sink because I didn’t own a colander to drain my spaghetti. That is my real world.

I get it that you’re angry and frustrated. You’ve got my attention so stop yelling at me and let’s talk about it.

Yup, I’m over 50 and still love this technology thing I do.

Although I don’t have quite as many notches in my keyboard as this author I can certainly identify with his point of view. I haven’t been a ‘professional coder’ for many years but I still do write code most every day. I’ve evolved into a ‘technologist’; one who knows a good deal about a great many things yet is not expert in any. I’ve consciously given up the role of ‘expert’ on any given topic and traded it for a broad understanding of how all the pieces fit together.

Is it more valuable to be the ‘go to’ person for all things Javascript or, someone with experience ranging from COBOL to Node.js, video streaming to VoIP and embedded systems to data-center systems engineering? Frankly, I believe it takes about the same level of effort to do either. I spend a good portion of my waking hours reading; staying current (and relevant) can be a full time job in itself. I’ve come to learn of myself that I’m most rewarded by having a wide knowledge base rather than a deep one. The problem with being an expert on a given technology is what do you do when that technology is no longer relevant?

I don’t win contract coding gigs anymore, but frankly I don’t want them; the vast majority are too narrow in scope to be interesting and make money for someone else. I’m much happier consulting small businesses on how to improve their efficiency and lower their costs, advising start-ups on what NOT to do when rushing head-long to build the next-big-thing and running my own companies.

I love what I do and I’m quite happy to not be an expert thank-you-very-much.

Beware… Political opinion ahead…

I look forward to this election being over but not for the reason you may think. I look forward to being able to read my social media news feed without banging my forehead into my keyboard in frustration as I read something one of my ‘friends’ regurgitated from the various spew-fests that pass for political discourse these days.

SAY something! Fer freck’s sake do NOT just repeat/repost/share something posted by the PR machine of ‘your guy’. Ask questions! Demand detailed answers from EVERYONE. When they say ‘We have a plan…’ ask to see it. Do not let them gloss over it with something like “the details are still being worked out…” or “I’m not going to get into the details here…”; put-up or shut-up.

I have a news flash for ya — Both sides lie. Both sides spin the ‘facts’ into a frothy, cliché rich slurry that bears meek resemblance to reality much less Truth. If we continue to let them get away with it they have will have no reason to stop.

Question everything! Read everything and then make up your own mind — don’t let a punditainer tell you what to think. To do otherwise is truly un-patriotic.

Success = ((Business !> Product) & (Product !> Business))

I run two companies. I often get stuck in the process of improving my product at the expense of improving the business. This morning, while enjoying my coffee outside on a late-summer day, I came across an à propos blog post.

Alistair Croll writes in his blog Lean Analytics Book about the myriad ways a new shop owner can attract customers.

In addition to a slew of great marketing ideas he reminded me that when you run a company you have to think about ‘the business’ just as much as ‘the product’.

As to the title of this post; I can hear the code monkeys screaming at their screens and see the normal folk staring at the screen, heads slightly tilted with a “Huh?” face. Roughly translated it means that Success happens when the effort you spend on ‘the business’ is equal to what you expend on the ‘the product’.

For the code monkeys that are screaming at the inefficiency of the code I offer this explanation:

  • I am emphasising the fact that neither is greater than the other.
  • Although I have written code, in many languages, for a rather long time, I do not consider myself a software engineer. I write sometimes sloppy code that makes sense to me and get’s the job done.
  • Pragmatism beats Purity most every time. 😉

Stream of Consciousness will participate in the ‘SOPA/PIPA Blackout’ on Jan. 18

Stream of Consciousness will go dark from January 18, 2012 at 8:00 am Eastern US time through January 18, 2012 at 8:00 pm to protest SOPA/PIPA and Internet Censorship. You can learn more here.

The FrameAlbum website and frame feeds will NOT go dark and will continue normal operations.

Much has been written on how obscenely bad this legislation is to the health of the internet, and our Freedoms in general. I won’t bore you with my weak attempts where others have done so well. I encourage you to read for yourself and to contact your congress critter and let them know that this is hinders innovation, destabilizes the internet, is NOT effective and damages our Freedoms.