Saturday, 8 November 2008

Financial Shock: The Bad Decisions that Got Us Here

Financial Shock A 360ยบ Look at the Subprime Mortgage Implosion, and How to Avoid the Next Financial Crisis is an amazing read.

Amazing for 2 reasons:

  1. It was published in early 2008 and
  2. is covering – in-depth – the issues the news media is just now picking up on – e.g. the Fed nearly bailed out Bears Stearns a year ago – in 2007 – when 2 of their big hedge funds collapsed.1

Our financial institutions, like our economy, are complex and global in reach. Zandi does a fantastic job of navigating that complexity and arguing that it wasn’t a single decision, or policy change, that caused the collapse, it was many Really Bad Decisions.

I’ve been dog-ear-ing the pages containing jaw-droppingly bad decisions, easily a third of page have their corners down.

Here’s just 3:

  • CDOs
  • ARM
  • Negative Amortized Mortgages

1. Stearn’s said, ‘No thanks. We’ll handle it internally.’ Add this to the Bad Ideas List.

Friday, 20 July 2007

OurSpace – One Small Step in Commons

Who would really enjoy this book?
An art history, marketing, or communications professor who doesn’t yet grok the significance and importance of Creative Commons.

In all honestly, considering the 2007 publication date of the OurSpace by Christine Harold, I was hoping for a deep dive into all the culture under the Creative Commons license. Harold starts that conversation, after a deep dive into the history of the Situationalists, Adbusters, and some fairly opaque rhetoric. While I found both the first 2 enjoyable from an art history perspective (even if their tactics seem juvenile and parasitic), the latter détournemented me all around. As if there is only one Culture.

I found the pranks and hoaxes chapter amusing ( Sasha Baron Cohen amusing), where Harold illustrated how pranksters used the sound bite and specatle bias of broadcast media to distributed performance art pieces. Also know as ‘getting the media to cover fake stories’. But, I still don’t think the joke is funny. See, I have hope the confrontational tone and parasitic mindset around the natural instinct to maniuplate cultural artifacts is limited to history books like Harold’s. I have hope that 10 minutes from now the symbiotic relationship between corporate marketing culture and our marketing culture will be legitimate.

Or at least, we’ll be waving to each other from across the commons.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Saturday, 13 August 2005

Ruby on Rails is Agile Web Development

If you’ve been following along for a while, you know I’m on a quest to learn Ruby and specifically – Ruby on Rails. Back in May I started on Sam’s Teach Yourself Ruby in 21 Days. After the fourth time through day 15, I knew I needed some other assistance.

The inspiration to find the other assistance came from the How to set up a Ruby on Rails Weblog in 15 minutes quicktime movie. I ordered Agile Web Development with Rails, and in 2 days, I’m half way through the book with a better understanding of AJAX, web services, and a fairly useful project to show for it. Yes, you’ll start to see the changes.

Ruby and Rails?

Back in Day 1 of Teach Yourself Ruby I talked about the Principle of Least Surprise. This principle is how Ruby on Rails made web development fun again. I know that every two hours, I’ll have at a least one bug fixed and at least new featured added. Thanks David.

Monday, 21 March 2005

The Object-Oriented Thought Process

On my way to better understand object-oriented programming ( ) and thereby check “Learn enough Objective-C to be dangerous” off my ThingsToDo list, I picked up The Object-Oriented Thought Process by Matt Weisfeld.

Not having formal training in software engineering, I found the book’s focus on the language-agnostic basics of OO extremely helpful.

Here’s what I learned from the book:

  • Classes are almost always nouns
  • A Class’s ‘Responsibilities’ are almost always verbs
  • In the Model-View-Controller (MVC) pattern;
    • Model = the application object, the data-model
    • View = the screen presentation
    • Controller = the user interface’s response to user input
    • (this wasn’t as helpful as I’d like, it may just need to sink in)
  • ‘is-a’ relationship = one object is a specific version of a more general object (e.g. Hamlin is a turtle)
  • ‘has-a’ relationship = one object has another object contained within it (e.g. a bicycle has a seat)
  • Patterns are general principles for solving programming problems
  • AntiPatterns are specific examples of programming problems solved poorly or solutions to redeem poorly-solved problems

Weisfeld was mostly language-agnostic, he uses Java ( ) for his examples. At times, the example code gets in the way of the illustrating the point. With the little I know about Ruby ( ) (100% object-oriented, simpler syntax than Java), I may have chosen that language to illustrate OO principles to novices.

If you’re looking for a non-programming book to wrap your head around OO, I haven’t found an alternative to The Object-Oriented Thought Process.

Monday, 11 March 2002

March 11, 2002

Finished reading the The Adrian Mole Diaries over the weekend.

Ahhh, to be an oblivious, self-involved teen again. It really took me back. The formal English, as it often does, amplified the humor. Not such a complementary view of Americans, but I could relate to it also.

It took me 2/3 of the book to get involved and wanted more when the last third was over. Worth a visit to the local library.

It troubles me that Adrian Mole isn’t a real person. I can’t call him up and see how he’s doing. That just might be the issue I have with fiction. It’s very difficult to find more information on the imaginary.