Thursday, January 18, 2007

Manager Tools

A friend of mine recently blogged about the Manager Tools podcast, so I decided to check it out. The topics looked interesting so I set up iTunes to download the entire history of podcasts (that were available in iTunes - only the last year or so) and went to bed. What can I say? I have a long commute and sometimes I am starved for things to occupy the time in a constructive way. I can't quite remember how I managed before iPods and podcasts and platinum subscriptions to, but I am sure it must have involved banging my head with blunt instruments or something.

Anyway, I have been listening to the 'casts all week and, well, they are awesome. I don't really have the experience to endorse the content, but it all seems on target. I DO have the experience to endorse the presentation style and the topics covered, though, and they are great. I actually listened to two guys talk about how to insinuate yourself into a conversation circle at a social gathering for 29 minutes and 40 seconds and enjoyed it. I learned something. And I am almost anxious to attempt to apply the lessons. Me. A bona fide introverted INTP computer geek and pocket protector wearing scientist. Well, OK, maybe I have broken myself of the pocket protector habit, but the rest is true. Ask anyone.

So if you are a manager, or you want to be a manager some day, or you have a manager, you should go check these guys out.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Fear of the Unknown

I am starting to worry about the big upcoming announcements.

Change has been a constant companion ever since I took this job, so on the one hand I should be used to it. And I am. But on the other hand knowing the exact day on which your life may change (or start to change, as it won't happen overnight) is a bit unnerving.

Even though I think that the most likely scenarios will have me only indirectly impacted (e.g. I will know people who get walking papers) it is draining my energy.

I hope that Kindler makes good on his promise to make it quick.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Careers and Business Quality

I am reading The Tao of Warren Buffett by Mary Buffett and David Clark. It is basically a book of very short pithy statements that Warren has made with about half a page of commentary and interpretation. It hasn't changed my life, or anything, but I am enjoying it.

Saying number 28 is, "Managing your career is like investing - the degree of difficulty does not count. So you can save yourself money and pain by getting on the right train."

The commentary is basically that if you work for a wonderful company (great economics, great management, consistently great return on capital) then good things will happen. If not, then not.

I have never ever thought of career planning in terms like that before, but it absolutely makes sense. The pharmaceutical industry used to have great economics. The question is, does it still? Lately I think we are keeping our great returns with acquisitions and write-offs and cost cutting and other things that don't really have much to do with effectively growing an invested dollar. I mean they aren't unrelated, but they aren't really long term strategies. Can the pharmaceutical economics recover? If big pharma manages to break the mold of the blockbuster small molecule, will the FDA change fast enough for it to matter?

In a company with poor economics, "...raises will be few and long between, and there is greater risk of losing your job because management will always be under pressure to cut costs." Does that sound familiar to anyone?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Finding Investments

Rule #1 Investing by Phil Town is one of my favorite investment books. I am not completely sold on exactly how he uses the up and down arrows, but everything else seems pretty much spot on. The method and explanations are just so matter of fact. Clear. Simple. Plus he might be right about the arrows.

His matter of fact style is exemplified in this post on finding great companies in an industry (or in this case, failing to find any great companies).

Click here, click there, see this, see that. These companies are all crap, move along.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Times Change

My how times do change. I was thinking about the links I wanted to add on the right. I want to put links there that reflect what I look at and what I think about. What struck me, though, is the links that I decided not to put there.

I didn't put any links to the Pragmatic Programmer folk. The Pragmatic Programmer was one of the books that most strongly influenced how I think about the craft of programming and they continue to churn out excellent books (My Job Went To India, Pragmatic Ruby, etc.). They were some of the first blogs that I discovered and some that I read the most. But the guys have moved on to Ruby and Rails and I work in Corporate America where we are just barely starting to move to Java5. It just isn't relevant to me at the moment. Sigh.

Friday, January 12, 2007

A New Blog

So what does one talk about in the first post of a new blog? The post that no one will ever read?

I guess I'll just make it a short description of what I expect I'll cover in the blog. Since it is brand new I have no idea whether this will be the only post ever made, or whether I will catch the blogging bug full force and start blogging regularly.

Oh, and the name of course. I have to explain the name. Well, "Forty Two" and "42" were taken.

The bottom line is that this is a personal blog and I will ultimately write about whatever interests me. This will either interest other people or not, and other people will either read it or not.

So here is a list of some of the things you can expect to see me blog about. If I blog, that is.
  • Geek stuff. New toys, new technologies
  • Java stuff. I am a Java programmer and I love the whole idea of portable code running on a virtual machine.
  • Programming, code quality, methodologies.
  • Management/leadership stuff. Yes, I actually find this interesting.
  • Investing stuff. I am a value investor. I believe in the obvious goodnes of buying a dollar for 50 cents. But I have not had lots of money to invest in this life, so I am feeling my way along. I'm sure I'll have things to say about that.
  • Pharmaceutical industry stuff. I work for the largest pharmaceutical company in the world. I have opinions.
  • Poker
  • Personal stuff

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