Kathy posts ‘Death by risk aversion’

You ever been on a team where something starts out as a fantastic idea but then gets worse and worse over time?

I’ve seen this happen and talked with Kathy Sierra about it last week at Search Champs (she used to work at Sun Microsystems and saw the same thing happen).

Out popped this fantastic post: Death by risk aversion.

I present to a lot of corporations. Everywhere I go I smell the fear. People are scared to do something different.

In big companies taking risks really isn’t appreciated. Oh, yes, I know I’ll get 50,000 examples emailed to me in an hour, but come on.

Here’s an example that someone I know (who doesn’t work at Microsoft) told me. He was looking at changing groups at his company. But doing so would need building up a reputation with a new group of people, would mean working harder, taking on new responsibilities, for no increase in salary (and a very real chance that he’d fail in his new job since it was something he hadn’t tried yet).

But, if he left his company to try something new, he’d have the same risks, albeit with a higher salary and with more upside if the company succeeded.

Three years ago I took risk after risk after risk and it paid off. I now have a great job that I love, a book that looks like it’ll be successful, and lots of great friends who are interesting (and lots of great readers who tell me off when I write something stupid, which is often).

But, am I taking enough risks? Well, I’m gonna speak in front of an audience I never thought I would be speaking in front of, and then I’m gonna go skiing in the Swiss Alps this weekend. That’s enough risk for this week.

Are you taking enough risks?


Arguing about how to bring computing to poor

Interesting article in New York Times today about Microsoft’s efforts to bring computing to the poor. One of the images that still stick in my head of visiting China eight years ago was a guy riding down the street on a rickety bike talking on a cell phone.

Over on TeleRead David Rothman says he hopes that MIT’s approach wins cause it’s easier to read on a big-screen device. Hey, I agree with that, but most of the world doesn’t. Go visit London. I rarely see someone reading a laptop or Tablet PC, but EVERYONE is staring into their cell phone screens. It’s really a huge cultural difference between the US and Europe (same can be said of US and Japan too).

Also, don’t underestimate the readability on the new high resolution screens. I read thousands of words per day on my cell phone. It’s amazing how many things you can do on a two-inch cell phone screen.

I also watch the kids around me. They’d rather have a cell phone than a big computer. Why? Cause they can talk! And they can carry the thing around with them everywhere. Oh, and it’s affordable. Very few kids can afford a $1,000 laptop.

What do you think?

Dual booting Windows on new Macs…

I got VERY close to plunking down $2,000 for one of those new MacBooks that Apple came out with. Why? Cause it is able to dual boot both Windows and Mac OSX and I wanted to have a machine that could have run both. An article showing how to do this is on Memeorandum right now.

But Steve Jobs pulled one of his favorite tricks. He removed a popular IO system and put in a new slot that no one uses yet. It’s called an ExpressCard. I’m sure it’ll be very cool soon, but today there’s no peripherals that use this.

Why does this matter? Well, go down to Sprint and ask for an EVDO card. Or Verizon. Or Cingular. They all have them. I would say these are all now NECESSARY for a traveling businessperson. I just got one yesterday and I’ve said goodbye to Wifi forever. My friends are all buying them (Phillip Torrone showed me his running on his 17-inch Apple Powerbook at Macworld expo).

Now that I have this capability I’ll never buy a machine that isn’t compatible. Torrone told me that’s why he’s not buying one of the new Macs either.

How about you?

By the way, I say this is a Steve Jobs trick because he famously pulled a floppy drive out of his NeXT computer which made it very futuristic (very few computers today have floppy drives, just 17 years later) but also made it hard to use at the time.