Sunday, April 19, 2009

George Soros' book The Crash of 2008

I'm reading George Soros' 'The Crash of 2008 and What it Means; the New Financial Paradigm' . George Soros is the 29th richest person in the world, and a champion of progressive causes.

The thesis of this book isn't easy to quickly summarize, but it's a really good one. He says there are two ways of interacting with the financial world, as an observer or as a participant. The observational role entails looking at phenomena, and drawing rational conclusions. The participatory role involves manipulating the system and acting in your own self-interest. Now you would think that that the two states of interaction could be operate completely independently, so (for example) a stock trader would read the news, draw rational conclusions that would inform their trading activities. But the reality, according to Soros, is that human participants can't decouple the two. If you participate, your ability to be a detached observer is affected by what you experience firsthand. You come to believe that the rules that work for you are better universal rules than anything a detached observer would come up with. Maybe that works fine as long as you keep getting richer. But what if you and all the other participants screw up the whole market, and you've got a George Bush style administration that still thinks that these bozos are the 'experts' on the economy? The way out of the mess is to restore a balance with rational observation, and clear the air of old beliefs.

That's about as few lines as I could express it in!!

Soros includes some autobiography over the course of the book. He studied philosophy a lot when he was younger, especially Karl Popper, and he claims to not be a philosopher, but the book comes off as philosophy...actually quite good philosophy. I think Soros' way of viewing financial interaction as a kind of "bi-camerel mind" is pretty original stuff.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

iCrossing is hiring a Java developer in Chicago

My employer, iCrossing, has opened a search for a new member for the Merchantize team. Here's the description. To apply for the position, visit, select U.S. Career Offerings, Jobs by Location, then Jobs in Chicago, IL.

Java Software Engineer (Open Source / Web Analytics / ETL)


We’re a people business.

People are the heart and soul of our company, working every day to make our clients’ marketing programs successful.

At iCrossing, we combine experienced talent with world-class technologies to efficiently create marketing programs that truly perform. With more than 620 professionals in 15 offices in the U.S. and Europe, we are equipped to service the digital marketing needs of large enterprises and growing companies alike.

We’re seeking the talented, the experienced and the exceptional to give our clients the most creative and successful solutions for an ever-changing industry. When we find them, we offer a dynamic working environment, competitive compensation, the opportunity to work on exciting client programs, and occasional bagels.
We are seeking a highly motivated and technically proficient JEE Software Engineer / Software Developer to work on our industry leading and mission critical Paid Media Management (Search Engine Marketing, bid management) product.

Features of the position:
• Work on a high-visibility, high performance product that supports iCrossing’s industry leading SEM practice in a growing and fast moving industry.
• Work closely with all of the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask, AOL) and their APIs.
• Work in a fast moving and forward thinking development environment that is constantly researching and rapidly implementing the latest technologies.
• Research and participate in the advancement and implementation of open source frameworks and architectures such as SOA/ESB, MapReduce, Grid and Cloud computing, and others.
• Work with an experienced Agile Software Development team in a highly collaborative environment.
• Modern Java Enterprise open source based product stack, Java 6, Spring, Hibernate 3, Webworks/Struts 2, JMS, JUnit, MySQL and more.
• Learn current software development best practices (continuous integration, build automation, test driven development, pair programming, agile estimating and planning, etc)
• Apple MacBook Pro, 24” widescreen monitor, IntelliJ or Eclipse.
• A casual, fun, and creative work environment
Major Job Responsibilities / Accountabilities:
• Write test driven quality code.
• Work closely with your dev team.
• Follow and encourage development best practices.
• Develop knowledge of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) principles and techniques.

Required Technologies (At least one or more of the following)
• Spring
• Hibernate
• SQL scripts
• Shell Scripting
• Webwork (Struts 2.0)
• Linux / Unix admin
• Junit (required) or TDD (preferred)
• Grid Computing (GridGain preferred)

Bonus Technologies (Preferred any of these)
• MySQL (especially advanced knowledge of replication, storage engines, backup and recovery)
• Data warehousing design concepts, ETL
• Mondrian OLTP
• Amazon EC2 / S3 / AWS

Knowledge / Skills / Abilities:
• BS in Computer Science or equivalent level of experience
• Understanding and/or appreciation for Agile software development methodologies.
• 1+ yrs of professional development experience.
• Familiarity with source control using Subversion
• Familiarity with IDE tools such as Eclipse or IntelliJ
• Must possess effective interpersonal and communication skills and ability to work successfully in a team environment.
• Good organizational and time-management skills.

Do Not Apply if you:
• Do not know Java
• Have no interest in Agile, TDD or Unit testing
• Are close-minded and don’t want to learn new technologies.
• Are more comfortable working on the same technology you did last year.


Monday, April 6, 2009

Sinatra's Orchestras

I've been listening to music outside my usual comfort zones to see if there's anything I missed. For example, I never paid the slightest notice to the group Queen, but am listening to all their classics and finding there some good stuff in there. I'm also going through Sinatra.

I've always associated Sinatra with more affluent school friends' Dads who had paneled, shuttered studies, wore golf sportswear (which was pretty atrocious in the time period I'm thinking of) on the weekends and showed you their smug liking of Sinatra in their leather chair with a glass of scotch. Now that I'm actually listening, I see what about Sinatra imparted a feeling of "this music makes me feel upper class" to these guys. The orchestral introductions, for the ballads at least, have really brilliant and orchestration are often reminicient of late 19th/early 20th century Strauss, Mahler and Debussy. Because they're so immaculately performed and recorded, and more closely mic'd than classical recordings, they're pretty interesting to listen to. Then Sinatra comes in, and he might as well be singing "Hey buddy, remember the Music Appreciation classes we had to take in college, and how all the classy broads were suckers for that longhair stuff? Now you and me, buddy, we got class too." Now if you liked Sinatra's song as well...which still doesn't do much for'd be in heaven.

There's usually a middle section with more of the orchestral material, and a few bars at the end. It would be interesting to splice the orchestral parts of all the songs together just to appreciate the fine orchestral writing.