We’re so full of white there are no jobs

So Apple rounded out the big tech companies last week with a report that basically says all our stereotypes are true: white dudes run the show and Asians are really good at math.

Remember, stereotypes don’t just appear out of nowhere, they are, technically, derived from observed conventions.

This is a complicated problem. For penis-toting white people you’re born, you go to school, get a computer for Christmas, and totally geek out and get a job later on doing geeky things.

For penis-toting black people, you go to school, maybe you sit at a computer a little bit, you probably can’t afford a computer or a very good one, or Internet access, so you go do something else.

For women it’s a whole host of different issues. We know the arguments there, and frankly, I just don’t have enough information to speak about them. I’m inclined to believe that maybe women just aren’t, in mass, as interested in technology. Women also aren’t that interested in hunting, fishing, race car driving, farting, and whittling canoes from dead trees, but no one’s stopping them from doing those things. Men generally don’t like massages, perfume, or anal sex, but no one’s stopping them or trying to push them into that, either. Insert your own gay joke here. Then call yourself a bigot.

But back to the black and white dudes with computers. The difference in these two upbringings is that one kid almost certainly went to a school with things like air conditioners and computers. I kid you not, there are schools within Indianapolis that do not have air conditioning. Computers are also not high on that list. I do not know where the seemingly endless stream of grant dollars for these things are going, but they’re not getting to the kids.

So in 20 years time you do not get to scratch your head in bewilderment why there are no black people in big tech companies.

Our national response to this is to pressure these companies to find black people and hire them. Ditto for women and anyone to “dillute” that pack of white sausages.

I’m all for the diversity of things. You get better products and it’s obvious we have been since women have taken a more active roll in the workplace. We’ve all seen how much better Sterling Cooper is with Peggy. It’s good for everyone. Just as it is for getting different opinions and thoughts from different backgrounds.

Years ago when I was working for the State there was this push for digitizing court forms. Great idea, “Except it won’t work,” I said. “Too many people out in the rest of Indiana do not have access to good enough Internet for this. They don’t have computers or the ability to get to one. There are all of 6 public computers in all of Washington County. Three of them are for Workforce Development only.” You can’t just “eliminate the paper” because until a couple more generations die off and we push for broadband everywhere, we will have this problem. I was the only one to fight this battle because I was the only person who had spent more than 6 minutes outside of Indianapolis.

But we can’t get mad at Apple for this, or Google or Facebook or any other company. It’s not their fault the pool of people to hire from is lousy with white dudes. They didn’t create that world — society did. Or, more aptly, the government. And now the government and society want them to fix it.

Does anyone believe for a second that Apple, with more money than God, would hire for a position and say, “Well, that woman is really awesome, but let’s go with the guy.” I don’t believe that. I don’t believe anyone at any of the big tech companies hire based on anything but what you’ve done and what you can do.

Turns out, though, if you can’t do much, or don’t do much, you don’t get the job. This isn’t a country club where there’s some sign out front saying “No black people” or “No girls allowed”.

But like my last post, this comes down to personal responsibility. You can, in big cities, get on a bus and go to the library and take a book about HTML out and read it. It’ll cost you $1.75. I’ll even give you the money for it if you want. That’s how most everyone working in tech today got started — no degree required.

But we do have a societal responsibility to take in kids, help younger generations learn ever more complicated code and languages and techniques, and to ensure schools get real money to spend on real equipment. We have a responsbility to treat people with respect and dignity, to understand hardship, and to punish people for their racism and bias. Even in 2014 we need laws to protect people in clearly segregated places, but I don’t think Facebook is the bad guy (at least this time, anyway). We do not have a responsibility to hire to fill some peer-pressured feel-good numbers quotient.

 

My Experience Using Chrome

When I first bought a Mac, I installed FireFox because I was used to it from Windows Land. Then, I started to appreciate the aesthetics of the Mac and FireFox didn’t fit into that scheme. So, I installed Camino, which is like FireFox-lite for Macs. It was great. It was fast, secure and easy to use. However, it didn’t support extensions. At the time, I wasn’t too irritated by this as extensions were a pretty new and novel thing and I could live without them.

At some point FireFox started to catch up with Mac aesthetic standards and Camino fell by the wayside. So I went back to FireFox. Enter Safari 5 and I went back to that. It was super fast, easy to use and new extensions made it perfect. I loved it. MobileMe kept Safari on my Mac in sync with my iPhone and later my iPad and other Macs. Add a bookmark on my Mac, boom, it’s there on my iPhone in seconds. The extensions were great, blocking things like ads, Facebook ads, etc. I also loved the “Reader” feature.

Then Google introduced Chrome and only a few people started using it. It was new, shiny and I saw it as “another browser to support”. The extensions for it were useless and only a few hardcore geeks used it for whatever reason. I installed it, thought, “That’s nice,” and never used it again.

At some point, I don’t know when, people started to hop on the Chrome bandwagon. Extensions grew, Chrome got better from Google’s end and FireFox started to feel bloated in comparison. Chrome became the FireFox of our childhood, so to speak.

I still ignored it, thinking it couldn’t be much better than Safari. I don’t visit malicious sites, so the “it’s more secure” bit is valid and I respect it, but I don’t care.

HOWEVER, I’m a tab-hoarder extraordinaire. I never restart my Mac until it comes crashing down around me, about once ever 4-5 weeks. Usually because Photoshop did something stupid. I never quit my browser because I always have tabs open that I want to come back to later. Right now, I have two tabs open to sample code I’ve been playing with and three tabs for sites I’m referencing for various research purposes and four tabs open related to a website I’m working on for a client. This is the norm on my desktop and I suspect on many other’s desktops, too.

Safari crashed yesterday, as it is prone to do after 7-10 days of heavy use for 10 hours a day. I have Flash disabled in Safari and use an extension to load H.264 versions of YouTube videos. But, that still causes Safari to misbehave. Safari also leaks memory like the dickens. I have 8GB of RAM in this machine and Safari usually holds up to 2GB worth and never lets go until I quit it. That’s a pain and makes me lose work.

So, with one crash yesterday I lost 19 tabs of things from the past day or so I was working with. Pulling them out of my history would be hard as I don’t recall what the URLs were and in some cases what the sites were even about. I just saw them and thought, “Neat. I’ll come back to this in a bit.”

That prompted me to bump Chrome to the top-spot in my dock. I’ve been using it for a few days now and it still feels snappy, stable and is using 122MB of RAM. Safari, however, uses about 80MB just as you open it. The best part is that I have yet to break this thing even with Flash enabled. Extensions have been able to fill in the gaps where I find them – like Reader and Facebook Ad blocking. I don’t like that I can’t customize my toolbar, which seems really unlike Google, but maybe it’ll get updated soon. I’m tired of looking at the “AdBlock” button all the time.

They’re some nice UI choices in Chrome, like how the tabs show key words in the page titles, not just the first few words. And the tabs are easy to drag around. However, with a full bar, it’s very difficult for me to move the whole window. I have to grab that sweet few pixels around the Close/Minimize/Resize buttons.

I’m sure at some point I’ll miss the ability for it to sync with my iPad and my iPhone, but I’ll learn to live without it. They’re other matters about Chrome I don’t like. For instance, when I “Copy Link Address” from a Google result, instead of copying “www.justinharter.com“, it copies this:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CBgQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fjustinharter.com%2
F&ei=NkqTTb6GJYPI0QGK6OXMBw&usg=AFQjCNG55ScwONQY0KvUFBCM98ERsDdWeg

Not cool.

Chrome also has the same problem as Safari where it tries to direct me to items in my history when I want to visit a new site. For instance, yesterday I did a search for “Chrome Reader Extension”. Today, if I do a search for “Chrome” it automatically fills in “…Reader Extension” and takes me to that instead. Not what I wanted at all. I have to remember to type “Chrome” + ‘Delete’ key to really tell it, “No, search for Chrome. Seriously. I mean it.”

Admittedly, Safari has the same issue, but it’s better than when it first came out. Used to be that typing an address in Safari would make it search for every random word on every page you’ve ever visited. That got real old, real fast. An update arrived and it made it smarter, but still not perfect. I do think it’s better than Chrome’s, though. This is by virtue of having the address and search bars separate. It keeps their respective caches cleaner.

I’m enjoying Chrome well enough for now. If it can survive longer than Safari under my workload, it’ll be a keeper.

Google Rolls Out Updated Algorithm

Google:

Many of the changes we make are so subtle that very few people notice them. But in the last day or so we launched a pretty big algorithmic improvement to our ranking—a change that noticeably impacts 11.8% of our queries—and we wanted to let people know what’s going on. This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.

Translation: “We see you people trying to game our system by doing a bunch of bogus link crap. Stop it.”

Google Takes my Advice!

From Google:

We’ve been exploring different algorithms to detect content farms, which are sites with shallow or low-quality content. One of the signals we’re exploring is explicit feedback from users. To that end, today we’re launching an early, experimental Chrome extension so people can block sites from their web search results. If installed, the extension also sends blocked site information to Google, and we will study the resulting feedback and explore using it as a potential ranking signal for our search results.

I’m going to take credit for that:

Maybe Google needs to be a little less automated and a little more human?

My suggestion would be for Google to get more customizable. I know I can do filters and searches within the search box, but that’s a pain every time I want to do a search. Why can’t I just tell Google, “Never show me results from about.com, ehow.com, etc.”? A simple blacklist feature in my account settings can go a long way.

Searching for Indy

I just stumbled across Google Trends, one of those sites that I remember exists every once in a while and I go noodling around for a few minutes.

I did a search for “Indianapolis” and “Indy”. While the search for “Indianapolis” was pretty steady and flat, “Indy” had a different set of results:

Interesting how much the traffic jumps around May, no doubt thanks to the Indy 500. What’s more, they’re a couple other bumps along the line each year, no doubt thanks to the NCAA Final Four. It’ll be interesting to see what the Super Bowl in 2012 will look like from a search perspective.