Computer Programming for Kids – 1 of 3

In the past couple months, I've begun to teach my kids how to program. I have three young kids. The oldest is  9. I want to teach them to program because I learned how to program at an early age. While others had the good fortune of learning piano, I was messing around on Apple IIe computers learning Logo and BASIC in elementary school. A few years ago, I tried to have my oldest learn Logo. It did not work out too good. I guess it came down to lack of interest. She asked about it a few times, but never really got into it. For this second go around, I decided to change my approach to emphasize self-direction and initiative on her part. My role would be to facilitate her learning to program any way that grabs her interest. To find some programming tools for kids, I searched for "programming for kids."

My product is trust

The recent nuclear reactor problems in Japan reminded me of an important message from Weick and Sutcliffe's Managing the Unexpected. Their book is about how some organizations have built systems that are able to quickly and effectively adapt to unexpected events. In that book, Weick and Sutcliffe highlighted some of anthropologist Constance Perin's work in Shouldering Risks: The Culture of Control in the Nuclear Power Industry. 

SeaMicro uses “lean engineering” to build servers economically in Silicon Valley

My wife recently found me a great deal on Bloomberg BusinessWeek to get a 3-year subscription for $18. While reading the first issue to arrive, I found a great story about a company in Silicon Valley that has created a flexible, U.S.-based manufacturing system for their product. The company is called SeaMicro. They make low-power servers for Internet companies like Mozilla and eHarmony. I liked what the CEO, Andrew Feldman, had to say about why they have taken the unconventional approach of building their servers onshore.

Fukushima will not hurt California

For all those people in California and the rest of the United States who are worried about radiation from Japan, I made this simple chart. It shows how radiation from Fukushima scales to other sources of radiation. The important thing to note is that everyone gets 3650 microSievert per year from natural sources. You can't escape that. This amount is 36,500 time greater than what a Californian might see from Japan.

Which is more lean? Little Caesars or Papa Johns.

I have been enjoying Ron Pereira's great blog at lssacademy.com. He recently posted the following question to readers: Is Little Caesar's Lean?

Is Little Caesars Lean? I'd like to offer my view. A basic feature of the ideal Lean system is pull initiated one piece flow. Pull initiated means that the factory does not make the product until the customer places an order. One piece flow means that the factory is able to accommodate order sizes as low as one piece as well as high piece-to-piece feature variation with no finished goods inventory.

I’m getting a BS in engineering and would like to continue on to graduate school. I am not sure if I should pursue a Masters in Engineering or a MBA?

Q. I’m getting a BS in engineering and would like to continue on to graduate school. I am not sure if I should pursue a Masters in Engineering or a Masters in Business Administration?

A. It depends on what you want to do with your education. If you want to do engineering, go for the Masters in Engineering. If you want to be a manager with a technical background, get the MBA.

I’m about to graduate and I have a choice of two jobs and a girlfriend.

Q. I’m about to graduate and I have a choice of two jobs. Job 1 is my dream job, but it is located out of state. Job 2 is a decent job located in town. I also have a girlfriend. She has a year left in school and I think there is a future for us. If I take Job 1, I know it won’t be good for our relationship. If I take Job 2, it won’t be good for my career. I really like this girl. What should I do?

A. I think this is the first time I will ever give relationship advice.

Putting the cart before the horse

This morning, I experienced my annual visit to the optometrist. The wait was 30 minutes, but that is not what I wanted to address. At the optometrist, they have a fancy machine that takes a picture of your eye. I’ll call it the eyephoto. This is an expensive machine and insurance does not cover it. If you want to have the eyephoto, you have to pay $35 out of your pocket.