The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

DevMynd

I started a new role today as a Principal Consultant at DevMynd, a startup-y software development shop in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago.

DevMynd logo

I'll have more information later this week. For now, I'm really excited to start here, especially as I'll be learning a couple of new languages. So watch this space for really bad Ruby code coming up.

This fake news is from Donbass, dumbass

Laura Reston at New Republic has a good piece on how the Soviets Russian government is doubling down on its disinformation campaign against Western democracies:

One of the most recent battles in the propaganda war took place on January 4, less than a week after President Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats in retaliation for the Kremlin’s meddling in the U.S. election. The Donbass International News Agency, a small wire service in Eastern Ukraine, published a short article online headlined “MASSIVE NATO DEPLOYMENT UNDERWAY.” Some 2,000 American tanks were assembling on the Russian border, the agency reported. The United States was preparing to invade.

The story was a blatant fabrication.

Such tactics were pioneered during the Cold War, as the Soviet Union worked covertly to influence political dialogue in the West. From KGB rezidenturas scattered around the world, a small division called Service A planted false stories in newspapers, spread rumors, and worked to stir up racial tensions. In 1964, a KGB front group helped Joachim Joesten, a former Newsweek reporter, publish a sprawling conspiracy theory about John F. Kennedy’s assassination, which later became the basis for Oliver Stone’s JFK. In 1983, Russian operatives planted a story in a small Indian newspaper claiming that the U.S. government had manufactured the AIDS virus at a military facility in Fort Detrick, Maryland—and Soviet wire services then trumpeted the story all over the world. As U.S. officials later explained in a report to Congress, “This allows the Soviets to claim that they are just repeating stories that have appeared in the foreign press.”

The internet has enabled the Kremlin to weaponize such tactics, making propaganda easier to manufacture and quicker to disseminate than any guided missile or act of espionage. Russian operations like the Internet Research Agency have employed hundreds of bloggers to mass-produce disinformation in the form of misleading tweets, Facebook posts, and comments on web sites ranging from The Huffington Post to Fox News. “Since at least 2008,” Peter Pomerantsev, a Russian media expert, observes, “Kremlin military and intelligence thinkers have been talking about information not in the familiar terms of ‘persuasion,’ ‘public diplomacy,’ or even ‘propaganda,’ but in weaponized terms, as a tool to confuse, blackmail, demoralize, subvert, and paralyze.”

Meanwhile, our deranged President this morning openly threatened private citizen James Comey on Twitter, which should give everyone pause.

We were #1

Forty four years ago today, workers in Chicago completed the Sears Tower:

The original plan was to build two separate buildings. That was changed to a single structure, 1,454 feet high. As board chairman Gordon Metcalf explained, “Being the largest retailer in the world, we thought we should have the largest headquarters in the world.”

Construction began in 1970. The foundations were dug, and the steel frame began to rise slowly over Wacker Drive. On the way up, the Sears Tower passed the former record holder, the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York.

The Sears Tower kept is title until 1996. Today all the sky-piercing structures are going up in Asia.

Meanwhile, in 1992, Sears again moved its headquarters, this time to Hoffman Estates. The tall building on Wacker Drive is now known as the Willis Tower.

And in the meantime, Eddie Lampert has poisoned the company to death.

Things I'll be reading this afternoon

Some articles:

And now, Parker needs a walk.

Stuff to read after After Hours

Now that we're four days from Apollo After Hours, of which I'm the committee chair, and given that I still have work to do at work, the articles I need to catch up on keep piling up:

OK, back to the mines...

Gobbling up your free time

I mean, come on Google. No fair:

Starting now until April 4, you can chomp fruit, avoid ghosts, and collect PAC-Dots along city streets in Google Maps worldwide—all as Ms. PAC-Maps. Just tap on the Ms. PAC-Maps icon on iOS and Android, or click the Ms. PAC-Maps button at the bottom left on desktop, to enter the maze and start chompin’. Sign in to save your top score on the leaderboard and share with friends.

Here's Downtown Chicago:

That's the Civic Opera Building on the upper left and LaSalle and Jackson on the lower right.

Or try this possibly-recognizable board:

Any guesses where that is?

Job-hopping is the only way up: survey

Crain's reports this morning the results of a survey that shows most people in Chicago believe the only way up is out:

The scenario might sound familiar. You've been at a company five or so years; you work hard and reach your goals. Sometimes your boss lets you slide out early on a Friday to catch a Cubs game, and you're fully vested in benefits and options. Not a bad gig—plenty of people have it worse.

But there's a flip side: no clear path to getting ahead. When you've lobbied for promotions, your boss demurs. Your salary has inched up, but not enough to sweeten your lifestyle, and your responsibilities—well, they've stagnated, too.

A decade ago, you might have waited patiently for a promotion. But today, according to a new survey by Crain's and executive women's group Chicago Network, you're likely searching for an exit. Out of 650-plus Chicago-area men and women we surveyed in January, 62 percent—nearly 2 out of 3—said changing companies was necessary for advancement in the local job market. “Being loyal to a company (does) not pay,” wrote one anonymous survey taker.

I won't go into my own history, to protect the guilty, but I can say this lines up with many of my friends' experiences.

 

Blue-collar coders? Um, no

Via a longtime reader, LinkedIn software engineer David Max responds to Wired article with "no, coders aren't assembly-line workers:"

The implication is that one can learn enough coding skills to get a job writing easy code, and then settle into a long stable career writing more of the same. Maybe, but I doubt it.

The world of software development changes rapidly. Even if we need a lot more developers, that won’t change the fact that keeping up is a continuous effort. Even if the barriers to entry are getting lower such that there are programming jobs that do not require a four year computer science degree, that is still just the foot in the door. Once on the job, you will need to keep actively improving to keep up like the rest of us.

To put it another way, there may be more entry level positions open to people with less training, but that training will likely grow stale. A boot camp program might prepare you for a job, but what you learn today in a boot camp will almost certainly be different from what you would learn two years from now.

This is one reason why I prefer to hire developers with liberal arts degrees. And why I give a very straightforward problem to solve in interviews. And why I ask what books the candidates read.

Sears Death Watch

Sears Holdings Corp. now admits its totally foreseeable and totally preventable death may happen soon:

Sears Holdings Corp. acknowledged "substantial doubt" about its ability to keep operating, raising fresh concerns about a company that has lost more than $10 billion in recent years.

The retailer added so-called going-concern language to its latest annual report filing, suggesting that weak earnings have cast a pall on its future as a business.

How did this happen? Eddie Lampert killed it, possibly for sport.