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Submission + - "First, Let's Get Rid of All the Bosses" - the Zappos Management Experiment

schnell writes: The New Republic is running an in-depth look at online shoe retailer's experiment in a new "boss-less" corporate structure. Three years ago the company introduced a management philosophy that came from the software development world called "Holacracy," in which there are no "people managers" and groups self-organize based on individual creativity and talents. (When the change was announced, 14% of the company's employees chose to leave; middle management openly rebelled, but perhaps surprisingly the tech organization was slowest to embrace the new idea). The article shows that in this radically employee-centric environment, many if not most employees are thrilled and fulfilled, while others worry that self-organization in practical terms means chaos and a Maoist culture of "coercive positivity." Is Zappos the future of the American workplace, a fringe experiment, or something in between?

Comment Re:No, just no. (Score 3, Interesting) 694

The idea that in every field, we must have 50/50 is simply stupid.

I completely agree with you on this. As a worker in the technology field, I believe this is an area that naturally suits a meritocracy (confession: this is also why I am not a big union supporter specifically in tech). With that being said, I think Slashdotters should consider that there are some potential upsides to "getting women into tech/coding" efforts:

1.) I believe that people have natural affinities to certain fields of endeavor. It's possible (probable?) that more women than men don't find tech attractive. However, it is undeniably true that there may be some females who would otherwise like tech but are discouraged by a culture that feels like it is discriminating against them. To throw out a counter-example: I see a disproportionate(?) number of Slashdot posters who express no interest in sports. (I am a huge nerd and huge NFL fan, BTW.) What percentage of those Slashdotters might otherwise have found that they really like (football, baseball, hockey, whatever) but were turned off by a middle/high school culture where the football players were dicks and picked on nerds? Had they had a different environment in which to acclimate themselves to the topic, would they have found something that they really enjoyed and are missing out on because of how they were introduced to it? I was introduced to sushi in the mid-90s by a group of rich douchebag semi-friends (I used to spend on food in a whole day what they spent on a single sashimi order) who insisted I throw a glob of wasabi on top of everything, and I hated it. It took me more than a decade to figure out it was something I really liked just because of the social context in which I first experienced it, and when I tried it "on my own terms" I found out I loved it.

2.) Racists are generally people who have never spent serious personal time with a large group (not just a few) of people they discriminate against. Most of their opinions are formed by inherited bias or media. Similarly, MOST (not all) misogynists are generally men who have had very limited SERIOUS interpersonal experience with women outside their family. (I want to note for the record that my 17-year-old, turned-down-by-every-girl-I-asked-out self would certainly have qualified as a misogynist; just like at that age I thought "fags" were perverts because I didn't actually "know" any, even though I knew several who were my friends but I didn't know they were gay). Just like I think the "cure" for racism is to actually get to know a LOT of people of other races (not just a few and in limited contexts), I think the "cure" for misogyny is to get to really know a LOT of women, as friends, bosses, subordinates, co-workers, whatever. It may not relieve your frustration with dating, but it will certainly change your opinion of "what women want/are." And having more women VOLUNTARILY in tech cannot possibly help but make that situation better.

TL/DR: it makes no sense to force women into tech or require a certain percentage of workers be women (or other minorities). But efforts that encourage females (but don't mandate them) to enter tech should be encouraged by every male tech worker.

Comment Re:Not competitive (Score 1) 92

Between CNN and Flipboard, I can read lots of news for free

People don't go to the NY Times for the same news they can read on CNN etc. (I say this as one of the million digital NYT customers referenced in the article). CNN and free news aggregators tend to just republish stories they licensed from the Associated Press or UPI. (True fact: you can be a "news site" without having a single reporter, just pay your AP license and publish recycled content all day long! viz. Breitbart)

"Premium" news outlets like NY Times, Wall Street Journal, FT, Economist, Washington Post, etc. spend the money required in many cases to actually send their own reporters out who can do original reporting and offer additional information, differing views, or focus on in-depth/investigative reporting and add some "why" to the "how" that most AP stories consist of. That's worthwhile reading to me, and why I am more than OK paying a subscription for it - I think supporting quality journalism is an important thing to do. Otherwise nothing will be left but the Breitbarts of the world.

Comment Re:Monopoly on what exactly (Score 2) 216

I can't believe you think that's what I am saying. I am not saying they ARE the same. I'm saying, legally, HOW ARE THEY DIFFERENT.

Legally, if I take a girl out on a date and I pay for a nice dinner and we have sex afterwards, it's not prostitution. That's because - although she might not have had sex with me if I didn't pay for dinner - there was no expressed or implied contract (offer, acceptance, exchange of value) saying that she DEFINITELY would have sex with me SPECIFICALLY in exchange for free dinner. Likewise, if a friend drives me somewhere and I offer to pay for gas, my friend may or may not take me up on it but will still drive me. If my friend said "if you agree in advance to reimburse me for gas and pay me for my time, then I will drive you there," then yes you have a contract for transportation services.

When you catch an Uber ride, there is a legal, contractual exchange of money happening explicitly for performance of services. It's not a very gray area at all. Legally speaking.

Comment Re:the lard of hosts for fat ads (Score 1) 344

Prior to the rise of advertising, almost all sites were 'independent'. They'll be around for a long time after the end of Internet advertising, because they're run for love, not money.

And none of those sites carried breaking news or the AP wire, at least not legally. Or had sports scores (ditto). Or showed streaming video other than self-produced content in 240 x 160 "QuickTime postage stamp theater" format. Or paid anyone to write content for them. Or provided social media capabilities (vital to the ubiquity of the Internet, whether you personally like/use them or not). Or did much of fucking anything other than be personal projects or part-time blogs that ran until the proprietor got a job/spouse/kid and realized it was an unsustainable time (and bandwidth cost) investment. All that would be left is e-commerce sites; personal sites where the creator can handle technical duties and pay the cost of hosting (remember, no ad-supported WordPress!); 100% sponsored sites (which would thereby lose all credibility of independent thought); big corporations that could afford making "loss leader" websites or sustain the costs of being subscription-only (also as bad); a tiny number of donation-only sites like Wikipedia with enough notoriety to sustain themselves; and some government pages funded by your tax dollars.

I loved the era when you had to install WinSock or MacTCP to use your college's Internet connection. Browse the Wayback Machine from 1996 and you'll get warm fuzzy feelings, but remember that this was when the Internet was a nerd phenomenon like Usenet, not a global force for easy information dissemination and democratization of media. To return to it would be the death knell of the Internet in all functional ways.

Advertising may be annoying. But it is what fueled the growth of the Internet into what it is today, and I personally don't see celebrating the death of sites like Ars Technica, Longform, Foxtrot Alpha, Jalopnik, The Onion, Kotaku, TheForce.Net, Grantland, Slate,, or pretty much any other site on the web that I currently enjoy for free. Insert whatever other site here that you enjoy reading and you do not currently directly pay for.Your mileage may vary, but I don't think "the rest of the world will celebrate" as you seem to believe.

Comment Re:The useless and redundant (Score 1) 55

Back in the real world, the reason there are so few phone companies is because the government gives them a monopoly on use of radio frequencies.

Umm, no. The reason that there are so few mobile phone carriers is that it is really f***ing expensive to put up 40,000 or so nationwide towers and all the network infrastructure and BSS/OSS needed to support them. Never mind care, devices, sales channels, marketing and all the rest. Cellular services simply don't work well with unlicensed spectrum (capacity planning is a NIGHTMARE if you don't know who you're sharing spectrum with and what their loads are), so you also need to have the money to buy spectrum licenses. (That's right, none of the carriers were "given" a monopoly on their spectrum, they had to buy it. For a lot of money.)

This is what business school professors call "high barriers to market entry." If you don't have giant piles of money in quantities starting with the letter "B," you naturally can't play. Sure, there are lots of MVNOs which can be stood up comparatively cheaply (as in the tens of millions of dollars startup cost), but those aren't new carriers, they are just resellers of one of the "big four." If you want to be a local wireless company where you don't need many towers etc. then you can do that - there are dozens of those in the US, primarily serving rural areas where the "big guys" don't see a good enough return on investment - but they have no pretensions of being competitors on a national scope.

It's like asking "why aren't there more car companies?" It's not because of regulation (though I am not personally a big fan of government regulation of wireless), it's because it costs a metric f***ton of money to become a company that builds its own cars.

Comment Re:Sprint quality is so good (Score 1) 55

That's adaptive multi-rate wideband, which goes by the commercial name of "HD Voice."

Yes and no. You're correct about the above, which is the codec being used, but the larger point is that when you're calling between iPhone 6 or higher (or Samsung Galaxy 5+, etc.) users on the same network, you're using VoLTE. It's not about Sprint per se; if you are on a VoLTE-capable phone with any US major carrier, and you call someone else on that carrier with a VoLTE-capable phone, you will get that same enhanced audio quality.

From analog phones through GSM 3G, everything was built around circuit switched voice, with the same audio quality that was the standard since digital switches were introduced onto the landline phone network. LTE is packet-based from the ground up, and everything else is just an application on top, including voice. And VoLTE is the LTE voice application standard, which uses different LTE EPS Bearers and provides a higher voice quality. (True fact: if you have a LTE phone but it's not designed for VoLTE, when you place a call your phone will drop back to the 3G network in order to make a regular circuit switched voice call.) VoLTE inter-carrier support is limited so calls between carriers, even on VoLTE phones, will go through a PSTN bridge at some point where you lose the enhanced quality. But generally speaking any intra-carrier call between VoLTE-capable phones (if both users are on the carrier's LTE footprint) will provide that same high-quality audio.

Comment Re:Google is mining my user data? (Score 5, Insightful) 103

I know your post is funny, but let's not overlook the opportunity to critique what is possibly the worst Slashdot article ever.

Apple, Microsoft Tout Their Privacy Policies To Get Positive PR

As opposed to all those times when companies tout thing to get negative PR?

Apple hasn't changed its privacy policy in more than a year

Okay, looking for the news here.

but that didn't stop the company from putting up a glossy website explaining it in layman's terms

Well, this is bad because... you know, because, something?

Microsoft too has been touting its respect for its users's privacy.

Link? Article? Something?

This doesn't represent any high-minded altruism on those companies' parts, of course

Of course. Because, you know, [CITATION NEEDED]

it's part of their battle against Google, their archrival that offers almost all of its services for free and makes its money mining user data.

Dear Slashdot/Dice/whoever is actually running the show, can someone actually articulate where there is actually anything to talk about here? Maybe other than stoking a clickbait + flame bait war over who loves TEH GOOOGLES vs. the homosexuals who likes TEH APPLES and the obvious shills who are the only ones who claim to like TEH MICROSOFTS omg zerg rush?

Seriously, Slashdot, WTF? What. The. Fuck? An article about how one company hasn't changed its privacy policy, and how another has... not done anything? What The. Fuck?

Look, I haven't left this site yet because I haven't found a better alternative. But you're making it harder and harder every day to justify staying here with shit like this.

Comment Re:Estimates (Score 2) 299

what's really needed is for the sales people to not sell something they don't know what they're selling, because then you end up with a project that's starting and has a deadline before anyone knows wtf it's supposed to even do.

Then how would anyone every buy or sell any professional services work, or custom system development? If you are building a new ERP system for a client, you can't tell them "Well, we'll build it for you and then tell you how much it will cost after we're done." Maybe you can get away with a "cost plus" approach in the government (and we've all seen how well that works in terms of conserving taxpayer dollars), but in the real world a customer needs to budget for development well before it's delivered.

Or take another example: commercial airliners have a multi-year sales and development cycle; should Boeing salespeople not solicit any orders on a new plane until it's rolled off the assembly line (and how would they even know how many to build)? The fact is that in most industries you need to have customers pre-sold on any new product (software or physical) in order to 1.) know how much of it to make, 2.) to know what features are vital, and 3.) to have a reasonable payback period on your investment.

The fact is that there will always be things being sold or committed very early in the development process. The only way to keep things from going sideways is to have good salespeople managed by good managers and working with good engineers who all collectively communicate frequently to keep expectations manageable. And that requires good people, which is hard. There is no magic bullet to get this right or else everyone would be doing it.

Comment Re:Analog DRM, no way (Score 1) 92

In case you're wondering, it was simply that only the rental store could rewind rental tapes (cartridges). Not so much rights management as blanket functionality removal.

Yes, but it can also been seen as a rather clever technical solution to the question of "how do you get people to only watch a movie once if that is what they paid for?" Of course the smarter approach would have been that adopted by the later VHS rental industry - just pay for how long you keep it, not how many times you watched it. But these guys were writing the rules as they went along in an entirely new market, and it's at least a concept that was worth exploring given the technology at hand (and potential hostility of the movie industry).

The article notes that it was only the rental cartridges which couldn't be rewound by the home units, so it's not like that was entirely missing functionality. I still think it's a smart and simple technical approach to a business question given the limited technology at hand.

Comment Re:Why human in the loop? (Score 1) 104

It would seem being an air traffic controller would be an easily automated task.

So it would seem. But there are a lot of them today, and axing human workers in favor of computers - even if the computers can do the job better - is always contentious.

This appears to be one of those issues where the Slashdot "horde" is of two minds: 1.) Technology is awesome and more reliable! and 2.) Down with automation when it replaces human jobs (or down with even replacing national human jobs with international ones)! From what I understand, given the more generally socialist and "universal welfare" stance of Scandinavian countries (with their low immigration rates and [in some cases] petrochemical trust funds), it would seem like even more of a battle to replace human workers.

As they say, "where you stand depends on where you sit," and I will be curious to see where the Slashbot majority falls on this particular question of automated coolness vs. white collar (not tech per se but definitely middle class) local jobs. Are those (at least in the US, unionized) jobs more important than potentially better results for all travelers through improved technology?

Comment Re:Critical Cable? (Score 1) 145

There shouldn't be critical cables. There should be redundant paths to make the network tolerant to any individual cut.

There should also be a magic money tree to pay for all the digging and trenching, and the expensive rights of way to make sure that the East Dead Cowskull, Texas, Central Office has redundant fiber in the middle of the Panhandle.

Oh wait, there is a magic money tree! It's your phone or Internet bill! Because if any of the major fiber/ISP/cable/whatevers built 100% physically diverse networks, that's where the money would come from. Unless it came from taxpayers, which is even worse.

Comment Re:Can't trust them to make a AppleTV (Score 1) 174

That it can not store local movies as well is annoying. How many of us have kids who watch the same thing over and over and we watch our caps die a quick death?

You are familiar with iTunes Home Sharing, right? You download the movie/show/whatever once to a PC that's on the same WiFi network as the Apple TV, start Home Sharing, and away you go - get the content over your WLAN with no need to use up your Internet caps. No storage on the Apple TV itself (other than for buffering) required.

Comment Re:Pretty reasonable (Score 1) 235

Copyright infringement is not really, not morally a crime

Disagree. Like many other crimes, it's easy to rationalize when you think of it as a crime against a faceless conglomerate or something. And, let's face it, I have downloaded stuff for free before that I shouldn't, you probably have too, so we like to wave our hands and say it's not really a crime or morally wrong, because we abstract things so the "victim" is someone we have no sympathy for.

But that's not really true, is it? Let's say for example that the copyright infringement was giving away free copies of a very useful $4.99 app that an independent developer worked very hard on. Or maybe it was giving away free copies of a $3.99 Amazon Kindle Single by a first time author or a Comixology independent comic. If you were the party that made these things and then had other people redistributing them for free... you would be pissed, right?

The fact of the matter is that when Person/Company/Whatever X says "I made this thing, I would like you to pay for it in order to use it," then morally our only choice is to say "yes, I agree to your terms in order to get this thing you created" or to say "no thanks, your thing is not worth the price you are asking." Taking and using the thing but not paying the price asked is not a morally valid choice.

Look, we all know some content creators are greedy, unfair, predatory or worse. And if it's technically easy to pirate their works, a lot of us will. But let's not try to fool ourselves that this is a victimless crime, or to think that our moral evaluation of the part on the other end of the (non-)transaction makes any difference. Downloading for free stuff that the rightful owner wants you to pay for is not morally ambiguous. It's wrong. Many of us (including me!) sometimes do it. But let's not kid ourselves about the morality of what we're doing.

Comment Re:Why not ... (Score 1) 306

Exactly. This is the data apple has, it's the data being requested, the fact that neither apple nor the FBI can do anything useful with it should be of no legal concern to apple.

It's not what is being requested, though. The FBI is seeking something akin to the CALEA wiretap requirements that phone companies must comply with, where the carrier is responsible for turning over the plaintext or unencrypted audio, not a raw data dump.

CALEA is odd and outdated, in that it only applies to voice communications. (That includes VoIP services provided by wireless or landline phone companies.) There is no direct CALEA equivalent for data, though, in that if all you have is the encrypted stuff, then that's what you turn over in response to a subpoena. The FBI is trying to get around this issue by enforcing a CALEA equivalent on Apple, even though it's not a law - hence the disagreement and why Apple isn't being forced to re-architect iMessage so they can hand over the plaintext.

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