• Questions you always wanted to ask a blogger

    Robert Basic seems to have been quite annoyed by the ever-recurring questions and statements people pose about his blogging habit, so he finally wrote a blog entry (in german), covering the following:

    But you mustn't go blogging this!

    But what about your social contacts?

    Get a Real Life.

    That must consume heaps of time.

    That's too complicated to me.

    Who is supposed to read all this?

    All bloggers do is whine and argue.

    That's all too commercial, bloggers just sell themselves.

    All bloggers are geeks and nerds.

    What do we need that for anyway? There's always email, forums and chats.

    You can't earn money that way.

    That just sucks.

    Why do you blog?

    I sympathize with his answers, but I guess that at least the last question didn't get answered fully...

  • Live blogging from the German Perl Workshop

    Yesterday, I arrived in Munich, land of the walking moustaches, for the German Perl Workshop that I will be attending from Wednesday to Friday.

    After discovering the open WLAN at FH München where the workshop takes place, I'm able to blog live from the talks. So, head over to IT-Dojo if you're interested in my findings.

  • Five things you didn't know about me

    Finally, the meme has reached me by Helaron, and here they are:

    My first and only crime was the theft of a Sinclair ZX81 magazine that was too expensive for my allowance in 1984. I didn't have a computer yet at that time.

    In my first semesters of computer science, I had been thinking about taking on catholic theology and become a priest instead.

    When I'm excited, my eyes start to water.

    I'm afraid of heights, but I can overcome that fear by will.

    There's actually a way to make me really angry. Unfortunately, there's no place left to tell it to you. :-D

    The stick goes on to my lovely Carolin, to Andy and to Kai

  • Act quickly when your team starts to rot

    Last week, I followed Carolins permanent advice once again and enhanced my diet by bying some fruit. The grapes looked very nice in the shop, but when I took them out of their plastic bag the next day, many of the ones at the bottom had already started to rot. To stop the mould from spreading, I had to throw away almost half of the bunch. If that happens with fruit, it's at least annoying. But it gets really painful if it happens to your team.

    Every manager likes to have a team that looks fresh and vibrant and meets his expectations. Sometimes, though, there's something rotten in the state of Denmark -- and like with my grapes, that rot tends to spread. One employee that airs negativity can eventually bring a whole team to the ground. He or she can become the proverbial one foul apple that spoils the barrel, as William Felps and Terence Mitchell of the University of Washington Business School found out recently. (I found the link on the Stronger Teams Blog)

    A team member that radiates demotivation, disrespect towards colleagues or permanent dissatisfaction poisons the work atmosphere and can do severe harm to the team. The article cites an interesting example about the sudden and surprising improvement of attitude of a team when a certain employee got ill for a few days and the equally prompt swing back when he returned.

    It's important for a manager to identify employees that have the potential of deteriorating the performance and work satisfaction of their team and act upon it as early as possible. The best time to do that is in the recruitment phase. When I do job interviews, screening people that don't fit my team is more important to me than deep knowledge or technical skills. If the interview went okay, I invite the candidate to a trial day where I can see how he or she interacts with my team. I can always teach an employee how to build a Linux cluster, but I can't reeducate people that haven't learned how to deal with dissatisfaction constructively. That's why technical skills always are only my number two priority.

    Seth Godin even thinks that job interviews are useless at all, because they don't seem to give you the right results to base your hiring decision upon. I don't agree completely, but I like how his juggling parable illustrates what's important in recruiting: let people demonstrate how they kick ass instead of just talk about it. Involve your team and see how they get along, too.

    Sometimes, unfortunately, a lack of social skills doesn't show from the beginning. That's when a manager has to deal with the tough decision of what to do with that person. In some cases, it's sufficient to "put them into quarantine" by giving them tasks that don't require much team interaction. There are some people, though, where the only reasonable choice is letting them go. Both for the company and for the employee, that's the worst possible outcome.

    That's why it's imperative to see the signs of rot and draw the consequences as early as possible.

  • Germany isn't a very happy place

    ScienceDaily reports that a pychologist from the University of Leicester published the first world map of happiness

    The meta-analysis is based on the findings of over 100 different studies around the world, which questioned 80,000 people worldwide. For this study data has also been analysed in relation to health, wealth and access to education.

    Among the top 10 of the happiest countries are many scandinavian countries. Other than the fact that the end of the list consists of african countries, this suprises me because countries like Finland are said to have a lot of depressed or even suicidal people due to the lack of sunlight over great parts of the year.

    With Austria coming in on third place, there's also a german-speaking country with many happy people. But Germany itself only ranks no. 35, miles behind Ireland and many of the other european countries. So, if living in Germany makes you unhappy, there are 34 choices where you could be better off...

    (via How to change the world)