Victor Rozek's award-winning and thought-provoking "Out of the Blue" column was consistently one of the best things to read in any IT publication on the market. We are pleased to add his voice and thoughts about the computer industry and the world at large in this column, which runs once a month in The Four Hundred. That's Victor above with his other half, Kassy Daggett.
March 18, 2019 Victor Rozek
My father-in-law recently had a cancerous lobe removed from his lung. As surgeries go, it was relatively serious, but also relatively common. In an age of organ transplants, a lobe removal is no longer particularly noteworthy. What is notable, however, is that the procedure was performed by a robot.
Robotics is part of the so-called fourth industrial revolution that includes companionable fields such as AI and biotech. In aggregate, they are poised to radically transform the economy. But although the word “transformation” has become a new-age descriptor for optimistic change, its consequences are purely contextual. For every automated medical procedure, …Read more
March 11, 2019 Victor Rozek
Ever do the corporate perp walk? No, not the one with the handcuffs and the coat thrown over the wrists. That’s reserved for guys with lawyers who think the coat will distract us from the reality that their client is getting arrested. I mean the one reserved for the little guys where they give you a cardboard box for your stuff, 10 minutes to pack it, take your badge, and have security escort you in a walk of shame through the building while your colleagues pretend not to notice. Then they dump you at the curb like yesterday’s garbage, left …Read more
January 21, 2019 Victor Rozek
By almost any measure, it was one of the biggest news stories in last hundred years. And I’ll bet you missed it. In fairness, almost everyone did. After all, there was nothing entertaining or scandalous about it, so it failed to meet the current criteria of news worthiness. Plus, it dealt with concepts not easily collapsed into sound bites. It was loaded with strange, off-putting words like Prokaryotes and Eukaryotes, and alien goings-on such as Endosymbiosis, and Molecular Phylogenetics.
Too complex for Twitter, too impersonal for Facebook. So, almost everyone missed it – at least those of us outside the …Read more
December 10, 2018 Victor Rozek
My father once bought a house in San Francisco for $15K and change. By any measure it was a modest home, three bedrooms, one bath, 1,300 square feet, located in a lower-middle class district in the Upper Mission. Working class blue-collar families lived there, and our neighborhood was chockfull of diversity long before that word became both fashionable and divisive. Just on our block we had German, Mexican, Italian, Polish, and Chinese families. Kids played in the streets, and at dinnertime front doors opened and mothers called for their children in thickly accented English.
One of the unique characteristics of …Read more
November 7, 2018 Victor Rozek
(Sponsored Content) Imagine for a moment that you’re on a floundering ship, surrounded by angry water. You look around for a lifeboat only to discover they are stored below deck, in the vessel rather than hanging off the side where they might actually prove useful.
But that effectively describes an equally chancy IT practice: conducting system-monitoring activities from within the system. When the digital waters rise, the value of a monitoring method vulnerable to a variety of server and facility mishaps greatly diminishes. Once disaster strikes, there is ample irony but scant comfort in restarting monitoring operations after …Read more
November 5, 2018 Victor Rozek
As all evangelists before and since have been compelled to do, 19th century preacher Dwight Moody gave some advice to the young. “Preparation for old age should begin not later than one’s teens,” he said. “A life which is empty of purpose until 65 will not suddenly become filled on retirement.”
The start-early portion of Moody’s advice is well intended but wildly unrealistic. Teenagers have no more comprehension of life after retirement than elephants have of space travel. Besides, when life’s essentials are steadily provided for you, there’s little to suggest that someday they might cease to be. Regardless, the …Read more
October 8, 2018 Victor Rozek
While Congress, by constitutional fiat, may not abridge your right to free speech; your employer can and does. Of necessity, corporations worry about being accused of tolerating or, worse, promoting a hostile work environment. And because harassment laws draw no practical distinctions between sexual innuendo and pornography, or religious advocacy and political endorsement, or insults and threats, or jokes, cartoons, or any other form of expression for that matter, corporations generally wish you’d just shut the hell up.
Legally, corporations are liable for the aggregate of all their employees’ speech.
Even something seemingly benign, if repeated often enough by enough …Read more
September 17, 2018 Victor Rozek
One of the consequences of being wildly successful is that others are eager to imitate you. In a culture worshipful of winners and disdainful of losers, nothing, it seems, guarantees credibility quite as much as raging success. Whether expounding on mangos or mergers, the opinions of the successful always receive rapt attention. Their brains are picked, their writings analyzed, and every budding entrepreneur wants to harness the secrets of their success.
So when Jeff Bezos, arguably the most successful man on the planet, says that hiring the right people is “the single most important element” in ensuring Amazon’s continued success, …Read more
August 6, 2018 Victor Rozek
Only two days in, my stay in Lassen Volcanic National Park was cut short by vanishing stars. Evidently the “new normal” knows no boundaries and has no respect for vacationers. It seems that every year now, there are fires, terrible fires, consuming the West. In Redding, California, 50 miles west of the park, 966 homes and six people were lost. More are missing. Over 90,000 acres of drought-stressed brush remain ablaze. As of this writing, 38,000 residents may have to be evacuated as swirling winds are spreading flames in all directions.
But in the distant mountains I knew nothing of …Read more
July 16, 2018 Victor Rozek
To a greater or lesser degree, we all wear a necklace of expectations – our own and those of others. As each bead is added and the expectations grow, the cumulative weight can either feel reassuring, like having an instruction manual for your life, or crushing, like a stone.
For the most part, expectations are well intended, and from an early age they serve as a social template for responsible citizenship. In Western countries, the basics include: graduating from high school; going to college; getting a degree; finding a job; getting married; buying a house; and having children. Broadly speaking, …Read more