The last Mythbusters* episode I watched tested the Monty Hall Paradox. The last time it was popular in mainstream was on the game show Let's Make a Deal. Essentially, contestants are presented with three doors. Behind one door is a BRAND NEW CAR!!! and behind the other two are goats (the non-prize). The objective is to pick a door. Then the host will open one of the other two doors that does not contain the car. The contestant is then given the option to switch to the other unopened door or stick with their original door.
It's been widely accepted that switching will always increase your chances of winning the car. But in true Mythbusters fashion, Adam and Jamie re-created the game show and recruited a bunch of people to participate in an effort to test this theory. Each participant picks an initial door, then one of the other doors would be opened and the participant would decide if he/she wanted to switch or stick. This worked well but it was time consuming and there were a limited number of people. So they tried another method.
The two built a system that allowed them to test the scenarios quicker. It had two sections, with 3 doors each. Jamie was the participant on one section and Adam, the other. To test if switching is better, Jaime would always stick and Adam would always switch. They did this 100 times with the car being behind a different door each time.
At the end of the 100 rounds, Adam, the switcher, won the car many more times than Jamie did. About twice as much.
Being the eternal skeptic, I decided to test it out myself. For the sake of transparency, I JSFiddled it so you can see the logic. The code creates 3 doors and 2 players. In each round, it randomly selects one of the doors as the winning door. Then both player 1 and player 2 randomly select a door. Player 1 always stays and player 2 always switches. Everytime a player ends with a door with the prize, she gets a point. If you run the code with...say...10,000 round, you can see player 2 always has about twice as many points.
Still don't understand why this is? Neither did I..until I watched this video.
*I love the show and the people on their team are my heroes. Some of the myths they take on are just an incredible undertaking...like the "Dropped vs. Fired Bullet" myth.
I’ve always felt very comfortable walking up to strangers and starting a conversation. Since I was very little, my CEO father took me to business meetings with him and forced me to walk up to his friends and say hello – most often, I had never met these people before. Sometimes he would go with me, but usually he would just point to someone, and say “now I want you to go walk up to Mr. so and so and introduce yourself. Shake his hand and make sure to say your full name.” Memories of this go back to when I was five or six. I remember being very nervous but it always ended well and made my dad happy, which was obviously why I kept doing it. I hold on to a number of memories like this one, being in professional settings with my dad when I was younger. Whenever my dad introduced me to someone, he always followed the introduction with the detail of where they were from, and what they did for a living – sometimes he would even remember something about the person’s kids or recent news in the person’s life. He has a notably exceptional ability to remember nearly everyone he’s met as well as a detail about them, and this was always well received by those he was introducing me to. Over the years, meeting what seems like thousands of people when I was with my dad meant that I had many opportunities to sit back and observe my dad interact with someone, or watch someone before I met them.Sometimes, my dad would tell me to watch someone from across the room, and “read” them. He would ask me later that day what I observed, and teach me things about that person’s personality from what I told him of their demeanor, body language, and sometimes attire. I’m sure my dad wonders where all of that training went when I started dating, somehow early on in my dating life, those skills didn’t transfer. What all of those experiences did do for me was make it feel natural to approach people, and be able to have a conversation with nearly anyone. It helped me to feel like everyone I met was a friend, with no pressure to accomplish anything during the conversation other than learn more about each other and have a good time. I learned the value of humor and letting your own personality come through. People know when someone isn’t being genuine, is trying to put on a façade or is only saying things to get what they want. This is my advice – be yourself, be interested in getting to know the person you’re talking to, not the reason they are at the meeting, conference, etc. Make your sales pitch or your business need second after getting to know the person, and you’ll find greater success. Not sure how to start a conversation, or what to say to keep it going? Here are some tips from Fast Company
Tags: people skills, networking
General | Marketing | Randomness
For decades, retailers having been trying to gather their customer’s interest, habits, and behavior to better understand how they should be targeted. More importantly, they are using these collected and sometimes purchased demographics to determine when your life is about to change. They do this because most people’s purchasing habits are grounded and only change for important life events, such as: moving, filing for bankruptcy, getting a new job, etc. If retailers can find a way to predict when an event may happen, they can manipulate you with targeted ads.One of the most successful retailers of predictive analytics is Target. Every shopper at Target is assigned a unique Guest ID that is tied to their credit card, name, or email address. Target uses the demographic information gathered from this Guest ID to study shopping habits. What they found in particular, is that women shopping habits tend to change when they become pregnant, with increased purchases in unscented lotion, zinc and magnesium. Target can then use this information and send women ads specifically targeted towards them, based on how far along in the pregnancy Target’s algorithms think they are.
It’s crazy to think how competitive retailers have become to get our shopping dollars and the lengths they will go to. One can only wonder what their next move will be to get our attention.
Marketing | Randomness
About five years ago, when I was a budding account executive in advertising, my boss at the time told me that I could benefit from re-evaluating my use of exclamation points. He was SO right. I was a major abuser and over-user.
Since then, I've noticed the unnecessary use of exclamation points grow and grow—in business communications and in my personal conversations—among men and women.
Exclamation points have their place, they were invented to show emotion in an otherwise flat medium—words on paper. Exclamation points convey excitement, anger or extreme passion, and are usually visualized with someone talking quickly and a high pitched voice—yelling, screaming, shouting—all of those things warrant exclamation points.
However; most often, I see exclamation points being used in very common email communications where, if said out loud, the tone would never be used the same as it is conveyed through email. People do not normally talk with exclamations at the end of every sentence, so why is it happening on paper? It's my opinion that over using exclamation points can damage the writer's credibility and can even make them sound ditzy.
Bottom line, if you’re excited about something, use your words, don’t abuse the exclamation point – keep it for something that really warrants the tone that you’re conveying.
Tags: Punctuation, Writing Style, Tone, Voice
General | Randomness
Last weekend I attended SoCal Code Camp sessions at CalState Fullerton.
SoCal Code Camp (http://www.SoCalCodeCamp.com) is a regular event held at CalState, Fullerton facilities in wintertime and USSD, La Jolla in summertime. The event is free and is highly supported by software development community. If you are a good presenter and have some info to share with fellow programmers consider signing up as a speaker for the next event.
The topics were quite diverse: for every time slot in the schedule there were at least 2-3 sessions of my interest so the choice was tough. I ended up going to talks on XBox Kynect SDK, HTML 5, Microsoft MVC, T4 templates in VS2010, new Async in .Net 4.5, WordPress, and Tropo API (voice and SMS apps).
Usually all the talks at SoCalDevCamp fall into three categories. Some of them are useful for my current job assignments, covering technologies and practices currently in use by our development team. Other discuss new trends, latest and greatest, something our team might adopt in the future, as well as technologies outside of my current field of expertise (say, discussions on Java or PHP, since I currently work with .NET). There are also talks not directly related to programming. These may include project management, agile techniques and such (how about a talk on “Driving electric cars” – I’ve seen it in the schedule).
A real gem in the last category was Gary Hoffman’s talk on Memory Improvement techniques. Gary is an excellent speaker. You can find his blog about code camp at http://theskillfulbrain.com/?p=101 with the link to his presentation at the end of his blog.
With huge leap in technology lately I find myself memorizing less and less facts and relying more and more on software tools to search for facts when I need them. That’s what we have google, bing and yahoo for, right? Why memorize the capitals if you can look them up online any moment? Why concentrate on the route to your friend’s house when you have a GPS? So does this trend benefit our thinking process? Well, I’ve heard people saying: “Stop filling your head up with junk you don’t need!” But doesn’t our brain need facts and experience as base materials for creative thinking? How many times have you solved some problem you’ve been working on the whole day when driving home or loading your dishwasher or getting ready to go to bed? Vital question is “do we have access to search engines at that time”?
Gary explained several techniques that help you memorize lists of objects (Capitals, U.S. Presidents or WCF configuration settings – why not?), numbers (phone numbers, SSN, street numbers), and even content of the books you read, which is obviously a lot more complex method or rather a combination of several memory techniques.
Tags: Code Camp, SoCalCodeCamp, memory techniques
General | Randomness | Software Development
… Is a phrase I’ve always wanted to yell while driving on the wrong side of the freeway, with a navigator pointing and shooting at some bad guys. But (un)fortunately, as a software developer those risky situations are far too rare. What’s up internet, I’m Robbie dela Victoria, one of the newest members to be added to the Exsilio development team. I’ve been an nerd/geek ever since I could remember, one of the first DOS/PC games to get me excited about computers was small strategy game called ‘humans’ circa 1992. I actually found a link on YouTube of someone playing the game. (Wow that brings back memories of boot disks and command prompts. haha) Growing up, I was always intrigued by hackers. One of the most famous ones I can remember reading about was Kevin Mitnick, and reading 2600 magazines to learn about phreaking (phone hacking). Fast forward some odd years and I started my first consulting company, directed towards small business, managing networks, troubleshooting computers, and installing new windows based servers. Slowly as the internet started to explode with potential, I started to find myself learning more and more about web development and creating websites. Fast forward even further and here I am, surrounded by developers and Über geeks alike. As far as the alphabet soup of skills, here is a quick breakdown of some of my skills in as many acronyms I can think of in 30 seconds.... READY, SET, And GO! C#, ASP.NET 3.5, ASP.NET 4.0, LINQ-To-SQL, MSSQL, MySQL, PHP, (x)HTML, XML, PCI DSS, Azure blobs, Azure queues, Azure SQL, Silverlight, RIA Services, WCF, XAML, jQuery.... and that’s all my time. Happy (Web) Surfing!
This is a piece for the team at Exsilio, our clients, and partners to know what our internal expectations are. Obviously, the title of this article is rather black and white, and it seemed to me of value to have a discussion on how Exsilio can be a challenging, yet very rewarding, place to work for reasons people may not immediately think of. I'm going to speak specifically about developers, but the general concepts apply to all categories of our team.
As a service based organization, people often believe that being successful in their job means having a specific technical skillset. For example, I'm a developer and I’m very good at programming in T-SQL and C#, so I should be successful. A strong technical skillset is a given, and honestly speaking, if your only asset is your technical knowledge then you're probably not going to succeed – at least not at Exsilio.
Let’s talk about what makes people succeed, get the level of appreciation they're looking for, and keep everyone else happy. So think about the real purpose of your job. Since I’m already using the example of a software developer, why do people want software developers, to write code obviously (this is the point where average developers begin to fail). But there are more fun ways to spend money, so why are they spending their money on this project? Fundamentally, at least in most cases at our company, it is to write code to create solutions which will make someone's life better or easier than it would have been otherwise. And it’s a solid understanding of this where you move from an average developer to a quality developer.
If you're a software developer and you're not thinking every day, with every task, about how your solution will enhance, benefit, and dare I say "amaze" the end-user, then you're in the wrong profession. You’re certainly working for the wrong company, if you work at Exsilio. It goes further than the code you write, it is the way people interact with the product you build, it is the way you present your product, and the way people receive it. The end product should practically glow with the pride and efforts of the person who is delivering it. This comes from the person building it affirmatively answering all of the following: Does this make sense? Do I know why I'm building this and understand the value it will be providing to people? Is this something I'd want to use every day? Am I proud of this product? Is this something that is commercially worthy?
I hear developers often say “I’m a developer not a creative designer.” I tend to translate this to, "It should be alright if I create something that looks like crap." Professionally, this may be correct; however, people know what looks good and what doesn't. While some make the excuse that it is subjective, most people would agree that Lamborghinis and Ferraris are truly stunning vehicles, they don’t need a creative designer had to tell them this. They know it based on basic senses. The same rule applies if you’re a developer without a creative person on your team; build something that you're incredibly impressed by. If you're incapable of doing this, then either you don't care about your project or you’re lacking in technical skills.
In the same regard as above, they often times say “I'm not a business analyst so I should just need a technical spec and not need to understand the business requirements”. To that I say something very similar. Simply put, if you're working on a project and you don't know the business rationale and use cases behind it, then 1. Your project is doomed from the start and 2. You probably should be working on it until you do.
At the end of the day, if the software you’ve written doesn’t make your users feel like they're being more successful and impressed both by function, feature, and general beauty, then the project was a failure. Average developers, developers who shouldn't be working at Exsilio, simply take what was delivered to them on a technical specifications document and deliver on that. Anyone who's been around me in meetings to review projects and status hopefully knows this.
While this piece was aimed at the developer, it conceptually crosses the boundaries for all of the delivery groups in our organization. It is really an honor that our customers have chosen to work with us on some truly amazing, incredibly high profile, and cutting-edge projects, but with that comes an awesome level of responsibly. With that level of responsibility come the intangibles that make people the best they can be. At times, these are the same things that can make Exsilio a tough place to work for reasons I think most wouldn't ever think of. Over the six years, I’ve thought it is worth it, and honestly I have to believe the people who’ve stood the test of time have thought so as well.
Client Relationship Management | General | Randomness | Software Development
Hi, my name is Dan and I’m a newbie to Exsilio Solutions’ marketing team. As a part of my corporate induction I was asked to write a short intro blog about myself.
To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of ‘About Me’ writing assignments, never have been. This sentiment dates all the way back to those ‘introduce yourself to the class’ moments back in grade school. I’m not sure why that is, and I chose not to read too deeply into it. So with that being said, I’m going to make this as short and sweet as I can, for my own personal sake.
I was born and raised in Bothell, WA just northeast of Seattle and not too far from Exsilio’s office in Redmond. I have two wonderful parents, an awesome younger sister, a skillfull brother-in-law, a charming 1yr old nephew, and a beautiful girlfriend that I live with in Seattle’s Leschi neighborhood. I’m a Taurus. And more importantly, I’m a Husky. Go Dawgs!
I’m truly excited to be joining Exsilio’s team as a Marketing Manager, working with Microsoft’s Live Events team. Just two weeks into my new role here and I’m already working with product teams from Windows 8, Windows ‘Mango’ Phone, Windows Azure, and SQL Server ‘Denali’. That’s pretty cool in my opinion.
I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me at Exsilio!
Tags: Introduction, Writing
So, this is my first blog post--primarily because I find that I don't think I have anything very interesting to say--but I thought I'd write a few words about Fantasy Football. First off, I love football...always have, I am from Chicago, it's a rule, you just have to. However, FF brings this to a whole new level of appreciation. Exsilio has a FF league, 12 members strong, and it's a lot of fun. I especially like the members who "don't know anything about football" end up having a really good time. It's only the end of Week 1, and already the chatter has begun..."My stupid kicker got injured on the first play!", "I knew the Bears defense would rock-they have Urlacher", "Did you see Wes Welker kill it on Monday?" ... and these comments are from the people who DON'T know anything about football! It gives us something other than work to discuss and give each other crap about, and I like that.
Even my stupid team, which I lovingly drafted with as much forethought as the 60 seconds in between picks in the draft would give me, causes me to get all worked up-Mendenhall, really? 1 point? C'mon!
So, I might try to blog a bit more--at least to let you know how "Katheryn's ShiDres" are doing this week...and we have a matchup against "Password is Taco" (great team names, huh?) for Week 2, so I ask you...Are you ready for some football?!
Hello all—my name is Miko and I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself as one of Exsilio’s new Marketing Managers.
No, not this guy.
I wish I could just tell you that I was a military child and let you make the connection that I've lived in many places, but I can't; for some reason, my family was always on the move. I was born in the Philippines and have lived in Hong Kong, Texas, Nevada, California, and now Washington. I like to think that because of my constant relocation, I’ve developed an ability to adapt to many different environments.
Being at Exsilio is an exciting venture for me because of the work atmosphere. The folks here are very talented and hold their work to extremely high standards. As I am an entry-level addition to the team, I think it’s fantastic to be able to start in such an excellence-driven culture.
I’m glad to be on the team!
Tags: Writing, Introduction
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