👨💻The Free-Range Technologist⚡
From Prof C. #25-March 2022
Why is my robot dog not as cool as Mizzou’s robot dog?
In one word, autonomy. My dog must have every movement or reaction programmed and anticipated by yours truly. Mizzou’s Spot is an autonomous system that can navigate most of its world independently. Autonomous systems are the platform on which tomorrow’s robots, factories, and services are being built. I am compiling a catalog of videos showing applications built on autonomous systems that are set to transform transportation, construction, and other industries. Check it out here and let me know what to add!
📖 Updated Guide: The ₿lockchain Game
For Face to Face and Zoom Workshops!
I created "The Blockchain Game" some years ago as a way to explain blockchain to non-technical audiences (with lots of help from then student Riley Coy). It is a hands-on exercise like MIT’s “Beer Game” (used to teach supply chain), and the game centers around a blockchain for student grades. I am proud that over 12,000 people have viewed the directions and hundreds have used this exercise in their classes and workshops. It is a Creative Commons resource, so anyone can take it and modify it for free.
Over the years, I have been able to simplify the activity, incorporate lots of great suggestions, and adapt it to zoom workshops/classes. I just released my updated guide and file downloads on Medium. And just use this link to schedule a zoom if you want a personal run-through of how to use this resource.
📚 Book Review: Profit and Punishment 👨⚖️
How America Criminalizes the Poor in the Name of Justice 👍
by Tony Messenger
There has always been a high cost to being poor--renting instead of owning, payday loans instead of credit, and purchasing one meal at a time instead of the month's groceries.
If you or I are arrested, we will make bail and return home. We have the money to await trial at home. But the process takes on new dimensions in the criminal justice system for those without money.
If you are poor and can't afford bail, then you sit in jail awaiting a hearing. Meanwhile, you lose your job and perhaps your apartment and car. Then to add insult to injury, when you can finally get a hearing and be released, you are handed a bill for your stay. Unable to pay, you are fined for non-payment and perhaps even put back in jail, only to receive another invoice for your "room and board" in jail. And if you have managed to maintain a job and keep your car, the state might revoke your driver's license for your sin of non-payment.
A required "ability to pay" hearing should make sure that poor people are not hit with these charges. However, a perverse series of incentives (the incarceration fees are used for the salaries and retirement system for local officials) makes it unlikely that such a hearing will occur.
In this excellent book, Tony Messenger explains how these modern debtors’ prisons work to keep poor people poor and use their money as a resource to be extracted by local government, despite the nearly 200-year prohibition on imprisonment for debt. The effort to eliminate modern-day debtors’ prisons is not a partisan issue. In fact, it leads to some interesting bedfellows (such as the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity and the American Civil Liberties Union).
Messenger is an excellent writer and tells great stories (sad and courageous). The main problem I had reading the book was getting so angry that this was happening in my state and country that I could not concentrate.
I hope that every one of you will put it on your reading list and use your voice and influence to bring this issue to the attention of everyone and to let your representatives know that you want to see change.
👨🏫 Upcoming Talks:
I will be presenting a number of talks this summer as part of the Mid-Missouri PMI (Project Management International)’s PMs in the AM Series. Registration will be available here and the topics include:
ClickUp for Project Management. One app to rule them all?
June 14 at 7:30 am on Zoom with co-presenter Chris Sanders, Project Manager for KCAV.
This session will be an active discussion with input from the audience on how to select project management tools. The presenters have been using ClickUp for a year or more as their primary project management tool. They will start the discussion by presenting the features that have drawn them to ClickUp and some of the difficulties with adoption.
Christianson's Law of Communications
July 12th at 7:30 am on Zoom.
An important corollary to Brook's Law is Christianson's Law: An increase in the communication channels/programs will decrease productivity (https://bit.ly/jsc-law). Can unified communication tools like Slack, Discord, and MS Teams help, or do they add to the problem? Prof C will present his experience and his desperate attempts to limit how clients communicate with him as a way to start the discussion with PMI members regarding their strategies.
Meaningful Mentoring of New Project Managers
August 9th at 7:30 am on Zoom.
Do you remember the first time you worked on a project? Were you thrown into the deep end or isolated in the kiddie pool? New PMs need both encouragement and big challenges to excel. Drawing on his experience as a Project Management teacher and numerous interviews with mentors and mentees, Professor C will provide practical advice on getting news PMS off to a great start on their Project Management adventure.
🙏 A Thank You for Making the Future Better! 🚀
It is always a great honor to get to teach and to share and I appreciate the opportunity that thousands of people have given me to share through workshops, the Free-Range Technologist, and my talks!
I want to send a small thank you. Just fill out this form and I will have an Explore-Learn-Build-Share laptop sticker and notebook sent to you!
And if you know of someone who would be interested in this newsletter, please let them know!
🔗 Links of the Week
Important and/or fascinating stories about technology and fun stuff. (Share your must-reads. Just drop me a line or tweet them to me.)
Live by the network effect, die by the network effect. Or so argues Cory Doctorow in The Last Days of Myspace how social networks are prone to sudden collapses on Medium. Short and interesting read. Perhaps there is some hope that manipulative social networks will fall!! 💥
When I was a kid, I loved printing presses. And I still do! How a Book Is Made is an article and photo essay from the New York Times that is so good, you can smell the ink!
For years, I have sent students and new founders Nancy Duarte's excellent video on framing a talk or pitch. I recently started sharing this video as well. It gives some key insights on narrowing down a list of benefits (or drawbacks). It is also interesting to think about from a consumer perspective. Originally from Annette K. I think🤔.
Re-discovered this one and it gave me a chuckle. As more and more organizations try to secure their systems and logins, I spend more and more of my day proving I am not a robot…
As always, be sure to hit reply and tell me what you have been up to, what you are reading, and what neat stuff you have discovered lately! I always look forward to getting responses from you all, hearing about what you have been creating recently, and the resources/lifehacks you are using!! And thanks to all of my colleagues and friends who read my monthly emails!