Sunday, January 30, 2005

About Hiring Software Developers

Joel: "In fact, one thing I have noticed is that the people who I consider to be good software developers barely ever apply for jobs at all. I know lots of great people who took a summer internship on a whim and then got permanent offers. They only ever applied for one or two jobs in their lives.

It's pretty clear to me that just because you're hiring the top 0.5% of all applicants for a job, doesn't mean you're hiring the top 0.5% of all software developers. You could be hiring from the top 10% or the top 50% or the top 99% and it would still look, to you, like you're rejecting 199 for every 1 that you hire.

By the way, it's because of this phenomenon—the fact that many of the great people are never on the job market—that we are so aggressive about hiring summer interns. This may be the last time these kids ever show up on the open market. In fact we hunt down the smart CS students and individually beg them to apply for an internship with us, because if you wait around to see who sends you a resume, you're already missing out."

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Global Economics Paper No. 99: Dreaming with BRICs: The Path to 2050

This is the original Goldman Sachs Report about "BRICs"

BRIC economies - Brazil, Russia, India, China

"The Goldman Sachs global economics team released a follow-up report to its initial BRIC study towards the middle of last month. Just as the initial report focused on the growth potential of the so-called four BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) economies, the new report takes the analysis one step forward and focuses on the impact the growth of these four economies will have on global markets.

The report focuses on the impact of these economies on global commodities (using oil as a proxy), demand for consumer goods (using automobile sales to make the point), and the impact on global capital markets.

While the main conclusions of the report are quite dramatic, one must keep in mind that these results ultimately depend on these economies delivering the high growth rates projected in the first report published about 12 months ago. The main conclusions of the report are as follows:

Over the coming years the strong growth profile of the BRIC economies and their increasing importance will push up trend global growth to over 4 per cent, compared to the trend of the past 20 years of 3.7 per cent. An increase in the global trend growth rate of this magnitude has enormous positive implications for the entire world.

The BRIC economies' share of world growth could rise from 20 per cent in 2003 to more than 40 per cent in 2025. Their total weight in the world economy will also rise from approximately 10 per cent today to more than 20 per cent within 20 years.

As the centre of global economic activity continues to shift towards the developing world, all market participants, whether they be investors or corporates, need to put together a coherent strategy to address this shift.

The number of people with an income over $3,000 (approximation of middle class) should double within three years in these economies, and within a decade over 800 million people will have crossed this threshold.

Never before has this type of scale been observed in terms of gross addition of numbers to the ranks of the consuming class. In terms of sheer numbers, it is equivalent to the addition of a new America and Europe to the global consumer class.

Within 20 years, there could be approximately 200 million people in these economies with incomes above $15,000 (as a point of reference that is more than the population of Japan). Therefore, the huge pickup in demand will not be restricted to basic goods but impact higher-priced branded goods as well.

Despite the balance of growth swinging so decisively towards the BRIC economies, the average wealth level of individuals in the more advanced economies will continue to far outstrip the BRIC economy average.

Goldman Sachs estimates that by 2025 the income/capita in the G-6 will exceed $35,000, only about 24 million people in the BRIC economies will have similar income levels.

China and India will emerge as the world's largest car markets over time. Within 20 years, China most probably will have overtaken the US as the world's largest car market. India will also displace the US about 10-15 years later.

Highlighting India's greater inefficiency in energy use, the data indicate that within 15 years India's contribution to global oil demand growth will overtake China's. India's share of actual global oil demand will also peak near 17-18 per cent, similar to China's.

The report makes the point that the emergence of the BRIC economies has already had an impact on global commodity markets, namely the impact of China. The huge price run-up in most industrial commodities is attributed to strong Chinese demand.

The next stage will be the impact of the huge emerging middle class in the BRIC economies on consumer goods demand, and finally longer term will be the impact on financial markets.

The interesting aspect brought out by the Goldman Sachs report and one which you increasingly hear spoken by global asset allocators, is the dramatic under-representation of these economies in the global capital markets.

The share of these economies in global capital markets is currently 3.5 per cent, and depending on the extent of capital market development, they could account for anything between 10 and 17 per cent of global equity markets by 2020.

Market capitalisation in the BRIC economies could increase by a factor of four times or $4 trillion (source: Goldman Sachs). While these markets will still remain dwarfed by the huge size and liquidity of Wall Street (despite such rapid growth), they will come close to approximating the size of Europe within 15 years.

If either of the above assertions is correct, then this should have huge implications for global capital flows and asset allocation trends.

In the world of low nominal returns I expect for the capital markets of the advanced economies over the coming decade, a large percentage of the incremental wealth created globally will occur in the stock markets of the developing world.

Imagine if in 15 years the stock markets of the BRIC countries really approximate Europe in size.

Is there any global portfolio investor positioned adequately to handle such a seismic shift in index weightings? Europe currently accounts for approximately 15-20 per cent of most global stock indices, compared to 3-3.5 per cent for the BRIC markets.

As the size of these markets converges over time, so too should their index weightings (some differences may persist for liquidity and free float reasons).

Can global long-only investors, wedded to relative performance, profit from this inevitable directional move, or will only the hedge funds (with no index fixation) benefit?

Given all the data above as well as the conclusions of the first BRIC report, can any asset allocator really justify having only about 3 per cent of his/her equity assets in stocks of emerging market countries?

Money has to move in this direction; the hedge funds, being more nimble and less constrained, have already begun to appreciate this fact.

The huge flows to Asia and more broadly emerging markets over the last 18 months, to me at least, are just the beginning of a multi-year trend.

There will obviously be cyclical ups and downs in these flows, but the secular trend is clear. More money has to flow into this region to properly represent its growing economic clout.

Do you want to be pre-emptive and anticipate this money shift or join the party later, when it becomes more accepted as conventional wisdom? Every institution has to make up its own mind."

(c) India

Monday, January 24, 2005

Weblog Netzwerke funktionieren wie ein Gehirn

Udell weist in diesem Artikel über Parallelen zwischen Weblog-Netzwerken und der Funktionsweise eines Gehirns hin. Ich denke der Vergleich ist sehr treffend.

Ein Weblog für sich alleine ist relativ witzlos, aber ein Netzwerk von Weblogs funktioniert auf ähnliche Weise wie die Neuronen in unserem Gehirn. Jedes Weblog, bzw. jeder, der ein Weblog schreibt, ist ein Knoten (ein Neuron). Er nimmt Informationen aus seiner Umwelt auf, insbesondere indem er andere Weblogs liest. Er filtert und verarbeitet diese Informationen und gibt etwas davon weiter, indem er es in seinem eigenen Weblog veröffentlicht. Die Information wird dann wiederum von anderen gelesen und weiterverarbeitet, die dieses Weblog lesen.

Im Weblog-Netzwerk bilden sich genau wie im Gehirn Synapsen aus: ich lese das Weblog von jemandem, der ähnliche Interessen hat wie ich selbst. Der Autor verweist in seinem Weblog wiederum auf andere Weblogs. Ich stelle fest, dass eins davon für mich interessant ist und nehme es daher in die Liste meiner „Blog-Feeds“ auf, also die Liste der Weblogs deren neue Artikel ich zukünftig regelmäßig lesen werde. Damit ist eine neue „Synapse“ entstanden …

Ein Netzwerk von Weblogs ist also praktisch ein globales Super-Brain. Es kann beliebig wachsen und praktisch unbegrenzte Mengen an Information verarbeiten. Es hilft aus der Fülle des „Information Overload“ die wirklich wesentliche Information herauszufiltern. Wichtige Informationen oder wichtige neue Ideen verbreiten sich sehr schnell im Weblog-Netzwerk, sie werden von sehr vielen Personen in ihrem Weblog zitiert und damit weiter gefunkt. Unwichtiges und uninteressantes dagegen wird ausgefiltert und nicht weitergegeben. Das Netzwerk ist fehlertolerant da jeder mit vielen anderen Neuronen / Weblogs verbunden ist - wenn ein von mir gelesener Weblog-Autor eine wichtige Information übersieht, wird vermutlich irgendwann ein anderes von mir gelesenes Weblog das Thema aufgreifen.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Maintaining corporate employee directories - HR systems and Active Directory

With Exchange 2003, employee information that is held in Active Directory (ADS) and in the Email-System is the same. This makes it interesting to think about how to keep this data up to date.

There is another important system with employee data: the HR system. Today’s HR systems usually come with a web-based self service portal. To seamlessly authenticate users with the self service portal, the HR system does need a link between its employee database and ADS … which is a very valuable link! And this link will even “maintain itself” – if it’s broken, the employee will very quickly complain to the HR department.

Further on, the HR self service portals usually have a process that allows employees to file vacation requests. The self service portal will automatically ask the employee’s manager for approval. Again, this is very nice because it is a mechanism that will ensure that the employee-manager relationship that is stored in the HR system is always up to date. If it’s broken, the employee will quickly complain to the HR department as soon as he’s going to plan his next vacation …

Another nice thing about HR systems is that we can expect them to maintain up-to-date links between employees and cost centres. This is an important part of the company’s financial controlling and I can assure you that if any of these links is not up to date, it will very quickly be corrected when the head of the department will receive his next cost centre budget report.

Pulling this together: HR systems with self-service portal functionality and vacation approval mechanisms make sure some very important data links are always kept up to date:
- employee -> ADS account
- employee -> manager
- employee -> cost centre

Therefore I argue that manager + cost centre information should be pulled from the HR system and replicated into ADS. This can probably be done by a fairly easy script.

Phone numbers and room numbers are missing in this picture so far. They are often not kept in the HR system, which is probably ok because HR would not be able to keep them up to date anyway. So I guess the right place to be the “master” of this information is ADS – and the IS department is responsible for maintaining this information and keeping it in sync (manually) with the phone system and the IS hardware inventory. This actually makes sense: IS gets informed about phone number changes anyway, because IS has to implement them. IS gets informed when the employee’s room number is changing – at least sometimes. And if not, well, then IS will catch up when doing its annual hardware inventory …

Finally, a script is needed to pull the phone number and office/room information from ADS and update the HR system's database. Having this data in the HR system's SQL database makes sense then the data can be queried on the HR intranet - no need any more for manually updated employee/phone lists in Excel! Having this data in a SQL tables does also make it easier to integrate it into other systems as well (e.g. the IT helpdesk system).

Saturday, January 08, 2005

"Let the world change you... and you can change the world"

At my traditional friday movie night I saw this movie ("The Motorcycle Diaries" / "Diarios de motocicleta" / "Die Reise des jungen Che"). Worth seeing!

"Im Jahr 1952, noch als Studenten, unternehmen Che Guevara und Alberto Granado eine neunmonatige Reise durch halb Lateinamerika: Zuerst auf einem alten Norton-500 Motorrad, dann, als dieses seinen Geist aufgibt, zu Fuß, per Amazonas-Dampfer und auf den Ladeflächen unzähliger klappriger Lastwagen. Aus den unbesorgten Jünglingen, die sorglos in den Tag hineinleben und mit fantasievollen Abenteuergeschichten die lokalen Dorfschönheiten bezirzen, werden im Laufe der Reise nachdenkliche Männer, die am eigenen Leib die wahren Tragödien Lateinamerikas erfahren. Eine endlose Geschichte von Armut und Reichtum, Stolz und Tradition, Temperament und Lebensfreude, Unterdrückung und Ungerechtigkeit ... "

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Why Saving the Church may be a self-defeating mission

by Brian McLaren, Leadership columnist

I often hear someone say, "We're exploring new ways of doing church." Or "We're seeking church renewal." Or even "We're developing a postmodern church service. It's very cool. We're very innovative." In all these ways, my colleagues and I, for all our good intentions, show that we may not be likely to succeed.

These efforts overlook one small detail. Whatever we change (style of music, style of preaching, use of art, candles, incense, etc.), we're not changing the thing that needs changing most.

Which is? One might recall Jesus' words about saving our lives and in the process losing them. Could it be that the church is as it is in so many places not because of a lack of effort or a lack of sincerity or a lack of spirituality (or even a lack of money, commitment, or prayer), but rather because our sincere efforts, passionate prayers, and material resources are all aimed in the wrong direction—the direction of self-preservation, self-aggrandizement, self-improvement?

What if saving the church is a self-defeating mission?

Lesslie Newbigin often spoke of the greatest heresy of monotheism (in its Jewish, Christian, and Islamic forms): cherishing Clause A of the Abrahamic call while conveniently suppressing, forgetting, or ignoring Clause B. So, we want to be blessed (big, exciting, vibrant, wealthy, healthy, wise). We want to be great (a great nation, a great denomination, a great congregation). To this end we pray and pay and read and plead and strive and strain and yearn and learn and groan and labor. And we give birth to wind.

Meanwhile, might God be otherwise occupied, scanning the earth for people who will also cherish Clause B: to be made into a great blessing, so that all people on earth can be blessed through us? Are we seeking blessing so as to be a blessing to the world God loves?

Do you see the difference between renewing the church as our mission, and blessing the world?

Our persistent "bless-me" bug, like a nasty flu into which we keep relapsing, creates what some of my friends have called "the great commotion," a close approximation of the Great Commission, but a miss nonetheless. Seminar junkies accumulate plastic-covered notebooks that could fill an oil tanker. Authors like myself write books whose combined gross weight may exceed the weight of our congregations after a pot-luck dinner. But not much changes.

Our efforts are all bent to renew or strengthen the current systems, which are perfectly designed (as Dallas Willard has said) to deliver the results we are now getting.

So if we are a self-centered church in America, it is because our systems—including our theological systems—are perfectly designed to produce such a church. It has been said that the greatest obstacle to the coming of the kingdom of God is the church, preoccupied with her own existence. Could our preoccupation with making better churches rather than better blessing the world be the heart disease that plagues us? And could our Clause-A theological systems be the high-fat cause of that heart disease?

This is what's really going on beneath all the superficial talk of "emerging church." Far more than cosmetics are under consideration: the very purpose of the church, the gospel, and the pastorate are being re-thought. If that doesn't disturb, surprise, or excite you, you don't understand what is being said.

Everywhere I go, on the fringes and in unexpected places (including in all the wrong denominations where this sort of things shouldn't happen), I discover churches and leaders who are grappling with these deep questions. They want to be blessed in order to be a blessing to the world. Their dream does not stop with the church. They're thinking about God's kingdom coming on earth as in heaven.

These are good signs. Hopefully, the early signs of even better signs yet to come. How ironic if the church were to find life by losing it, by giving it away.

Copyright © 2004 by the author or Christianity Today International/Leadership Journal.

"I'm Leaving Church to Find Jesus"

"I'm Leaving Church to Find Jesus"
by Dan Kimball

"I just had a conversation with someone who grew up in a large evangelical Bible teaching church. She got to experience the whole quality spectrum of what a church provides for youth with great Sunday programs, camps, ski retreats etc. Yet, as she has reached adulthood and now is a mother of young children, she said that she is now “leaving church to find Jesus”.

Interesting comment. She says that she has become disillusioned with the evangelical church. She mentioned how “church” has become so shallow in terms of the teaching. Instead of teaching focused on the historical Jesus, the preaching is more about the how-to’s of basic life skills that may or may not even mention Jesus. She knows that how-to teaching was helpful, but she feels she needs to move on from there. In a way she feels she has “outgrown” this type of church. She feels there must be more. She wants to know Jesus more, and for her it means leaving the church to find Him.

She says that she is viewing church a lot different lately. She finds that the PowerPoint used by the worship team and way the words come up remind her of the Disney sing-a-long videos for children. She says that she is looking for intelligent discussion to grapple with the depth of the faith, and how to think of world religions, and how to process the issue of homosexuality – but instead she only finds that people sit and listen to the charismatic preacher and never question anything.

She is now visiting some smaller churches which focus more on liturgy where she feels there is more of a Jesus focus. She also likes that that many of the people there have higher levels of intelligent conversations about the historical Jesus that she never was able to find in her larger evangelical church. She now thinks she may even try and find more of a home church than an established church or denomination. She hopes to maybe find others who are looking for Jesus in the same way she is. And after listening to her, I have a strong sense she is not alone. I have a pretty strong hunch that more and more younger people who grew up in the contemporary church are experiencing the same thing."