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An open letter to Elon Musk re: Twitter
A month or so ago you completed your acquisition of Twitter, a social media platform. Not a software company, not an engineering company, a SOCIAL MEDIA platform. You have laid off over half your staff and with your ill worded ultimatum, the remaining half of your staff left as well.
In the meantime you have been holding ‘code reviews’ which are pointless in terms of fixing what is wrong with twitter. You then add a cherry to the top of the crap cake and allow a known traitor, Trump, back on your platform. I have been an engineer, a real, degree engineer, for 24 years and I can tell you are not facing a technological issue, you are facing a psychological issue.
I am part of your target audience, a late 40’s, white male, and I abandoned the platform even before you announced your acquisition earlier this year. Why did I leave? It was boring and there are better alternatives out there. Too right wing, too full of stupid, and just too boring to top it all off. The major technological gripe was how difficult it was to engage with others. In fact, this loops back to the social, psychological issue with Twitter. It is not compelling. The content is not unique, the whole microblogging idea has been done to death and no amount of software engineering will fix that.
I honestly don’t know how you can fix Twitter. It may just be an idea that has played out, like America Online, Myspace, Geocities and Angellfire. Websites and social media come and gone and it may be time for Twitter to go. When a traditional message board like Reddit or social media like Facebook exist, what’s the point of Twitter? With ad free alternatives like Mastodon, what compels me to use Twitter? All of these points are psychological, not technical. Forget code reviews and hire a team of psychologists, anthropologists, and sociologists.
I would wish you luck, but to be honest, I, like millions of people will not miss Twitter one bit.
Back to my old self.
After losing a job that I had for 7 years, it has taken a while to really get back to my self, or, a better way to put it is my new self. Getting laid off is very disappointing, but looking back, and looking forward, I am truly in a better place now. My new position is more intellectually challenging, the highest level position I have ever had, and I get paid more.
For those of you out there who have lost a job of no fault of your own, it does get better. In the beginning, you thing, what could I of done better? Why was I chosen? To be honest, I think it was a short sited dollars and cents decision. We were all late on our annual review/raise, and with new owners, I guess they figured it was easier to just cut all the higher paid employees and hope the lower experience/cheaper workers can take up the slack. There is really nothing you could do better. All of my reviews were great, even though the average raises were inflation level, at best.
With hindsight, it really was a good thing I was laid off. Even with great reviews, they were late and the raises sucked. I was getting bored working on the same project for years with no end in sight. Now that I am working again, I saw just how far my skills were wasting away. So far I have completed several tests that have been waiting in the wings for month, repaired broken test equipment, and participated in a new program from the very start, helping with specifications and adding standards. For the first time in a long time I finally feel like I am making a difference with my efforts.
For those of you that have lost your position of no fault of your own, don’t despair, it will get better. In fact, this may a time to start that small business you always wanted. Take some time off, regroup, and whatever path you are going to take will almost certainly be better than the one you were on. Remember, a business that has to make layoffs is, odds wise, more likely to fail in the next few years. This is not to be confused with selective terminations for ‘dead weight’, this is your classic someone drew a line in ledger and decided this is who is getting let go.
I’ll try to keep up the blogging, it is a good way to finish processing what has happened and I have more happy news to report as spring turns into summer.
Now that I am gainfully employed, I bought myself a benchtop CNC.
As my latest toy in my workshop, I purchased a benchtop CNC. With 3D printers all the rage, why did I go with a relatively old for industry, new for home use Computer Numeric Control milling machine? Well, the reasons are numerous; I can’t make printed circuit boards in a 3D printer, and I don’t like the texture of 3D printed items on a home quality 3D printer, I can work with a variety of materials, and have an upgrade path.
My main goal with my CNC milling machine is to create custom circuit boards. For the amount of boards that I want to make, it is really not worth the costs associated with contracting with a board house. If I accidentally create something popular, it will be as strait forward as sending the Gerber files to get made. The file formats that get used for my CNC are the same as the files used by professionals. In the future I will detail what tools I use to create circuit boards. I can fabricate a single layer, 2 sided board in a matter of minutes using relatively inexpensive blank boards.
The second thing that I don’t care fore is the texture and strength of 3D printed parts. I know a lot of it is determined by the type of plastic used, but it still is a limiting factor. I can take an injection molded plastic, like a housing for a controller or joystick and mill out whatever custom patterns I desire and end up with a full strength plastic housing with all the expensive mold work done for me already. The tolerances of CNC are superb as well. Many, if not all, of the molds used for plastic molding were produced on a CNC, with a little human finishing at the end.
The other advantage I like with CNC is the variety of materials I can work with, it can be plastic, printed circuit boards, wood, and even metal. There are sites out there with patterns to be used with a benchtop CNC or you can just make your own 2D drawings and import them into the CNC software. Everything I have used so far is open source, so the only money I have spent has been on the hardware, not the software.
Finally, there is an upgrade path with my little CNC. If I want to upgrade the spindle motor, I can, and work with harder materials. You can even swap out the spindle motor for a laser cutter. When researching which CNC to buy, the next tier up is over $1,000, and I can order a lot of boards for that kind of money.
For now, I will enjoy playing with my little CNC, coming up with custom controller housings and maybe some fun art as well. On top of that, I am learning gcode and how to control a CNC, and maybe I will upgrade way down the line.