Yes Xeon 1650 v3 overclocks but not the 1620 v3

As some folks have discovered, only the $600 1650 V3 (Broadwell-ES) chip overclocks and it is now running on a test machine at 4.2GHz vs the stock 3.5GHz. This is the current best choice (although power consumption is much higher than for Skylake) if you want ECC and overclocking a relatively cheap part.

If a $600 6-core part can be considered cheap 🙂 Still it is a nice chip for machine learning rigs and with a true 4×16 PCI Express lane system like the ASUS X99-ws, this is probably the fastest stock part you can pair with lots of memory (128GB ECC) and 4 Titan’s. woo hoo!

The no 3.5mm headphone jack world

Well Apple introduced it, the last analog remnant in the digital world is going away and with it the emergence of Bluetooth headsets to listen to music. Now don’t get wrong I love the current analog headsets and I have a slew of them:

  • Shure headphones. I’ve actually forgotten the model numbers, but they are fifty years old and work super well, open back and the Consumer Reports winners the time.
  • Etymotic Research ER4 and ER6. I’ve had and lost a slew of these, they were one of the first in-ear monitors (you just jam them in and your get quiet) and they fit me great and sounded just awesome. Plus they are perfect on airplanes for those 10 hour flights where you want to listen to music as opposed to rumble.
  • A zillion off-brand IEMs thanks to review sites like head-fi.org where you get really great headphones for $130.
  • A wonderful headphone amplifier that you plugged into the USB of your computer or the analog jack and then you got really pure sound. Super bulky but wonderful sound quality.
  • Then there is the $10 Panasonics that seem to beat the pants off many other headphones that cost 10x more.

But now with a 3.5mm adapter, you can still use all that stuff, but it made me realize I wanted to see how Bluetooth had really moved forward because let’s face it the wire still sucks. My previous experiments had all kind of problems. The biggest being battery life, ugly headsets and let’s face it losing the darn things.

9to5mac.com had a good review of what their staff is using and the Wirecutter of course has their own but only for bulky headphones that I wouldn’t carry around and also for exercise wireless buds

  • Apple AirPods. These are brand new and use a proprietary bluetooth technology. I actually couldn’t stand wearing their old pods as they weren’t in the ear and kept falling out, but these look pretty cool.
  • AfterScokz Trekz. These are bone conducting headphones. Pretty interesting idea.
  • Jaybird Freedom In Ear.
  • J-lab Epic2 Bluetooth. Both 9to5mac and Wirecutter likes these but they are over the ear. The X2 are in the ear plug ins but otherwise the same although they will be hard to fit when exercising. Personally, the over the ear ones feel uncomfortable for me.

Apple Watch 2 and fitness trackers

Well, I normally wear and old school mechanical watch (Hamilton rules!) mainly because I liked Interstellar (and it was the star of the show). But my Garmin tracking watch band broke, my Suuonto watch (thanks Brad!) finally gave up the ghost after 15 years, and I tried the Apple watch, but gave them away.

So now with the Apple Watch 2 out and all those fitness trackers, what’s the right strategy:

  1. I originally thought the M1 processor in the iPhone was kind of a gimmick, but I now find I like seeing my altitude gains and the peaks, but there is no decent heart rate monitor.
  2. Apple Watch 2 finally has a GPS and they perhaps have figured out it is not a communications first device, but a fitness device first, but the battery life remains a big obstacle.
  3. Thewirecutter and the Trustedreviews.com site both think the Garmin Vivosmart HR. it has the key features I need, long battery life, continuously heart rate monitoring and the HR+ even has GPS tracking which I’ve found to be great on runs and rides.

Photos and scanning

Just spend a week getting to know relatives and sharing photos and I really reaped the rewards of weeks or maybe years of scanning old photos, but for many of us, getting a 35mm scanner and grinding through doesn’t make any sense. Nor does finding a VCR to digital recorder and cleaning your old videotape. In that case, a scanning service is a good option.

Personally I’ve found most of these services to provide too low a resolution (I normally record in  JPEG-200o format at 16 bit resolution at 4000 dpi plus with infra red dust removal, but I’m a nerd and have a Minolta Elite). But The Wirecutter recommends Memory Plus, so I might give them a try for the next round of video tape.

Notes on the next job…

As book-end to the advice for just starting out, here are some notes on getting that next job. As we get older, hopefully you’ve picked a great industry (if not, then see Notes on getting (re)started). But assuming you have a good set of expertise, how should you think about your next job. Most of the time it will be another division in your company but sometimes, it will be outside.

When I think about this, I ask myself three questions to make sure I choose well, I sometimes add this up to get a rating for the job, each question is worth 10 points, so ask yourself, if the rating is a 1 (“Iron Man himself couldn’t do this job”) or a 10 (“I could do this by 10AM and garden the rest of the day”):

  1. Is it a job that I can succeed at? Mike Maples was VP of Application at Microsoft when I started there 100M years ago and he said in one of the first presentations I attended, “make your commitments.” Alternatively you can think of this as, “under-promise and over-deliver.” Or as my buddy Reed told me early on, “find a job that is hard, but not too hard.” What all that means is that all to often, I get enamored with the title (I can be VP!) and forget that about seven seconds after you get the title, people start judging you. If you don’t have a 30-, 60- and 90-day plan for how you are going to blow away expectations, then watch out. As an experienced hire, people want to see instant results and you don’t want to get on the wrong end of that expectation. It is sometimes true that it is better to be a director and then earn the VP title than the other way around.
  2. Will my boss love me anyway? Put another way, if the job is super hard, what is the internal dynamics like. Is it a boss who has known me for years and willing to give me say six months. Or it is the kind of matrixes job where all the other VPs hate me, yet I need their help to succeed. Obviously there is a tradeoff between this and #1. The easier the job for you, the less you need love, you can just deliver.
  3. How long will it take and what’s the downside if I fail? If this job will take 10 years to get right, that means that you have to deliver for 40 quarters (put’s that in perspective doesn’t it) and survive five CEOs (most CEOs survive 1-3 years). On  the other hand, it might be worth it to take a difficult job in a difficult environment if the payout is in six months and it is guaranteed. The bigger question is what does your Linked page look like if the job or the company implodes since that affects the next gig.

While this isn’t foolproof, when I ask people these questions, I normally learn a few things:

  1. Most people spend less time casting a wide net for a job than they do researching the next cell phone they want. When you are heads down working, it is super hard to know what is out there. Being out looking for something is a full time job, so many times it pays to invest in the future when you sense the end of near. You want to get out before everyone else gets out (that’s the topic of another post :-). But one way to look at it is that for every ten years of job experience, you probably need an additional month to find the right position. So please don’t settle for the next job because your buddy told you about it, finding the next gig is going to take time. It is uncomfortable to be sure, you have to ask your personal board of directors, you have to meet investors and new people, but it’s your life and you d0n’t get a second chance!
  2. Be choosy about what you are choosy about. In other words, what are your real criteria for the next gig. So many times, you see and job and try to fit into it, the more senior you are, the more the job needs to fit you. If it fits, then you are going to be better at it. If you need more time with the family, don’t take a job that requires 100 hours a week. If you are exhausted and burned out, don’t become CEO of a turnaround. If you need to make that final nest egg before moving to Tahiti, then don’t take a job that will show results in 10 years.
  3. Finally and to repeat from the first post, ask your personal board. Deciding this stuff for yourself is really hard, you need a set of folks who can be dispassionate and analytic about who you are and have the courage to go against your best judgement.

And finally, good luck! The stakes are much higher as you are more experienced and each step is an opportunity to create a hole in your resume that’s hard to explain or a chance to solidify an amazing career 🙂

The seven deadly sins of building products 

A good buddy Duncan asked me about product development particularly in a startup. Seems like a common question. So here are my five let’s call it pearls of wisdom:

Sorry this got stuck in inbox but a few quick thoughts that you might call the seven deadly sins of making products:

  1. It just ain’t clear what it is. Watch the 2007 launch of the iPhone by Steve jobs a hundred times. It is the single best example of minimalism in design goals I’ve ever seen. It is a phone, and iPod and the Internet via a touch interface. The challenge is to see if your “points of light” to use a Coleism is as crisp. My budy Ludwig is particularly good at this brand of clarity but most folks aren’t. 
  2. 99.9% of all products are more complex than they need to be given their missions above. Complexity is the enemy of usability and sales. It is essentially way easier to do 80% of 100 feetures than 10 features done superbly. Maybe this is why Fitbit out sells the Apple Watch 5:1. The hard thing is for the business leader to have the taste and style of their customers. Better to want more than to find things confusing. The trick is taking general purpose hardware and making to work for precisely the right purpose. This is also know as the “dessert topping and floor wax problem” to use a Nashism. Products that are complex are also hard to explain and position. 

  3. The feature you want is almost never the feature that customers want. My buddy Duncan said it well,  music companies wanted reporting while technology companies give them antipiracy. It’s so common that the best feature is actually reporting rather than the product (personally I think the Eco display of the Prius sold way more cars than we can ever imagine). Usually the feature that people  is so simple that developers like me  don’t want to build them. And they take so much buffing and polishing that it is boring. 

  4. Business guys get bored by the daily guidance needed for great product development. It’s so much easier to say “just make it work” than to grind through and each and every 9am remind the developers what they want. But they are the most important people because they motivate and they create realism for the development team. It may seem strange to tell someone this web page needs a back button but remember the src thinks fundamentally differently than you. It may seems stupid but time after time the first 30 seconds of a product starting with opening the box are what matter. Clicking on a button that doesn’t work doesn’t help. 

  5. A great product doesn’t come together in a spec. It is molded in two ways: the inspiration (let’s bring touch screens to phones) which lets you recruit the very best developers. And the day painful grind of how you get there. Business geeks like me like to focus on a huge spec but don’t realize that 90% of the magic comes form typically one feature don’t super well. You don’t get that in a software gantt chart. 

  6. Don’t be afraid to change direction or create demos. Engineers hate demos. It is like asking Michelangelo to throw together a cheese pizza. As an engineer I want to build truly beautiful stuff. But the reality is that until you find the right product/market fit, committing too early to a course is not smart. Many times markets open and for a brief moment you have to change direction. Jobs did it when he took his iPad interface and said lets do a phone first. Gates did it when he turned Microsoft back to a focus on the 80286 instead of a 386 specific operating system. 

  7. Really do agile right. It’s such a slang term but the idea that the business leader reviews the technology teams progress every morning at 9am is the core and most folks never follow it. It’s boring for business guys and randomizing for technical folks. But the reality is particularly for startups it takes month long mistakes and avoids them with daily corrections. I know it’s hard work but you have to do it. 

The last thing isn’t really a sin but a touchstone, will you really be proud of the product 30 years from now. Will it have made a difference in the world? In the end changing the world to make it a better place isn’t a bad goal for you to spend most of your waking life thinking about 🙂