Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Par les soirs bleus d'été, j'irai dans les sentiers,
Picoté par les blés, fouler l'herbe menue :
Rêveur, j'en sentirai la fraîcheur à mes pieds.
Je laisserai le vent baigner ma tête nue.
Je ne parlerai pas, je ne penserai rien :
Mais l'amour infini me montera dans l'âme,
Et j'irai loin, bien loin, comme un bohémien,
Par la Nature, -- heureux comme avec une femme.
Also in "Corto Maltese en Siberie."
For those of you who don't speak french, let me just say that being able to read Arthur Rimbaud is a particular pleasure.
I will not attempt a translation; my effort would undoubtedly fall short.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Don't they know Texas is the state where they shoot first and ask questions later?
The cynic in me is wondering who is going to run the backup systems for Health Net's* members health records... Oh, that's right: IBM, since they just took over that job...
Where's Chuck Norris and the Texas Rangers when you need them?
* I work at Health Net, although I'll be released as part of their outsourcing of IT to IBM, AT&T and Cognizant.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
I look at things this way:
All money (the whole of all the cash available today worldwide) is the future value of monetizeable labor (ml). This in turn is the product of human effort (he), skills (s), and tools (t). For this nifty equation:
ml = he (times) s (time) t
Note that there is no "time" element. It is assumed in the "human effort part". Also, skill includes knowledge.
(skill is a multiplier, so unskilled but not impaired: skill = 1)
(tools is a multiplier, so untooled but not impaired: tools = 1)
Note that tools include material (such as ore, wheat, flour, paper, whatever) and actual tools (computers, hammers, image-editors, trucks and airplanes, etc)
Note that skills include physical and mental abilities, as well as knowledge.
Now, tools are bought my monetized labor, so this creates a recursive equation:
tools = ml = he (times) s (times) t
and eventually leads to
tools = ml = he (times) s
So ultimately tools can be reduced out of the equation.
Which means money is human effort multiplied by skill.
Now, human effort is the activity that performs an output.
Skill is something that applied to human labor allows the reduction of the amount of time used to complete the activity, and/or increase the quality of the output, or even allow the output to be created.
For example, someone with poor English composition skills would take a very long time to write a analysis paper on Virtualization in 2008, regardless of the amount of effort expended. Someone with great English composition skills would be produce that output in much less time. Someone with no knowledge of computers, regardless of English composition skills, might never be able to produce the output.
The hourly model assumes a fixed skill level, and measures output in amount of effort over time.
This model is flawed for information technology because skill varies widely and a very skilled person could produce with very little effort (time) what an average person might take weeks to do.
So you need to stop thinking of "hours" worked, but rather of units of output. Since in the information age, you cannot readily standardize on what a unit is (A quip? A paper? A blog comment? A remark in a call? A reference to your company in the WSJ? Attending a conference?) you end up having to lump these things into "What Analysts Do" (conveniently initialized as "WAD") and applying an arbitrary measure such as hours for billing purposes.
I say create a new billing term such as Work Unit (WU). In your contract, instead of "number of hours included" put " number of Analyst Work Units included" and use those up as you go in the month, then summarize:
Work Units expended from 9/1/2008 to 10/1/2008
Blogging presence: 400
Conference Calls : 1600
Report Preparation: 2800
Report Delivery: 900
Direct converstations with Company empplyees: 800
Press Releases: 2500
Then, you review that with the client. If they want you to do more or less of each type of category, discuss strategy, tactics, and adjust.
Try to expend all "available work units per month", or roll them over (to accumulate for big projects). Adjust monthly billing to client to reflect their usage.
Finally, don't go crazy on the minute tracking. Ballpark it. The analyst needs to be fair, but who cares if 8 blog comments are worth 320 work units? Are then individual blog comments each worth 40 points? Not really. One might be long and insightful and worth 250, the other 7 might be simple me-toos.
Monday, October 06, 2008
A response to Simon Stapleton's question:
@Chris - how much of the problem is caused by management challenge (ie. how do we manage geeks), and how much of is social (ie. how do geeks fit into society)?
This is a very heavy subject. The management challenge is that the geeks are in many ways much smarter than management, much more logical, much more rigorous in their thinking. The geeks operate in the Real World much more than management. Technical geeks are very good at knowing what can and what can’t be done in the physical world. They are closer to the metals, so to speak.
Management is more into what can and can’t be done in the social world, the human interaction, human motivation arena.
In the world of programming and hardware, the laws of physics absolutely dictate. There is no getting around them. For programmers specifically, the ones and zeros are immutable. They are subatomic particles. There is no getting around them. The trick is to take these ones and zeros, and make smart applications out of them. This requires rigorous thinking.
There is a black-and-whiteness to geekdom that’s hard to avoid. It either works or doesn’t. It either compiles or doesn’t. It either conducts current or doesn’t. There’s not a lot of gray area. In management, however, it’s all grey areas; nuances upon nuances. It’s a balance of power, where neither side is either right or wrong, where people measure effectiveness by the ability to influence by the gentlest of prodding. Geeks aren’t about that. The world of geeks is cut and dry.
Now, society needs geeks. Someone invented fire, the wheel, the boat, the sword, the bow, the nuclear reactor. These are all geeks. Look at Einstein: He was downright weird. Right, but weird. Deep down, society respects the geek, because it needs it. The geek is the guy who tinkers and comes up with what makes life easier. Management may have the idea of coinage, but the guy who figured out how to make the actual coins, he’s the geek. But geeks are not especially social company.
The problem with managing geeks is that geeks explore. Exploration is a faith-based process. Faith in the ability of the human mind to come up with concept and apply them to the real world. Now how do you quantify that in dollars? It’s really hard to put in a projection, a simulation, a project plan. What the geek really says when he says “I’ll look into it” is that he is going to rely on the unexplainable abilities of his brain to generate good ideas to solve the problem. He will rely on his past experience, his know-how, shall we say, to solve the problem. Can he write a manual of how that process works step by step? No.
When unshackled from the chains of management process, and keeping to his own rigorous thinking and mental rational triage, he will much more effectively identify optimal real-world solutions that address real-world problems.
The process that management would place on the geek is but a pale shadow of the geek’s own logical thinking capabilities.
And since the geeks are already some of the smartest people on the planet, how can business school graduates possibly come up with something better?
This is why they are generally disregarded by real geeks as incompetent and meddlesome.
Now, why do business people insist on fostering processes on the geeks? Because it works in manufacturing and fast-food. Process-lovers think that written-down, formal procedures are the ultimate in “management”. Geeks don’t. Geeks rely on the power of the trained human brain. And when the disagreement is framed this way, most can readily agree that the geeks just might be right.
Essentially, geeks self-manage. Placing management on them only frustrates everyone involved, and leads to sub-optimal performance.
SO this is my answer: Geeks self-manage. Traditional management doesn’t work on geeks.
Friday, October 03, 2008
Assume there's going to be a severe recession. Property prices are still about 50% overpriced. Keeping them artificially high through a bailout will mean less mobility and flexibility long term for the US workforce (too high mortgages, not enough money to save and spend; can't sell the house, can't move to take a better job).
Let the house of cards fall, but keep the cash to rebuild something else after that. If you burn the cash now, it will be a much bigger disaster, much longer in recovering. (My wife is Japanese. It happened to their country 1989-2006. It wasn't pretty for the common salaryman. You wonder why they work until 10 pm every single night? They had to to meet expenses.)
Thursday, October 02, 2008
So, this is my personal guarantee that come next elections, I will not vote for either of them.
My House rep Brad Sherman is earning brownie points big time with his opposition to the bailout. He can expect my support in future elections.
Check who your reps are at this handy locator.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
It's like giving money to gamblers.
I have a really bad feeling about that. Now we start to see the extent to which the not-so-All-Powerful US government can go. It's not going to be enough.
The day the US government balks at the buying of the bad debt, (say when it reaches 1 trillion) the economy will still tank.
The fact of the matter is that the US needs inflation now to drive salaries up so that people can actually pay their 30-year fixed mortgages. There's nothing that can be done with ARM. They are going to default wholesale. There's no reason for people to try to work out a deal on their ARM now... Just wait a few months and sell it to the Govt.
I think Wall Street is going to realize this soonest. And then: roller-coaster again.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
This website from Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky is turning out to be highly valuable. I hope they can scale, because they're about to be the Hot Property on the web.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
No matter what I do I keep getting this error when accessing the msdn homepage. It says:
Sorry, we were unable to service your request.
For the latest headlines and to see what's new, visit the MSDN home page.
Check out the various MSDN Developer Centers where you can find the latest product information, technical resources, and community offerings.
Visit the MSDN Library for the latest technical articles, reference documentation, downloads, and more.
This does not occur in IE6 or in Google Chrome. Go figure.
Update: I figured it out. I was logged in with my live account. When I'm logged out, it doesn't happen.
Tried again: Logged it to my live account, got the error; logged out, error went away.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
I tried Google Chrome, but after about 1 hour, I uninstalled it. It's true it's better than IE, but it ain't better than firefox; not for me anyway.
I tried ubiquity, the mozilla add-on, and that was Spectacular!
I'm in the beta for stackoverflow.com. Shaping up very nicely. Lots of difficult questions coming up on that site. Slant toward .NYET, but otherwise good.
Oh, Simon Stapleton sent me $10 for being the commentator of the month for August 2008 at simonstapleton.com. See, $10 bought a link. And my gratitude.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
August 15 update: The house is almost finished and looks great. The internet is back, but the house is a mess, so I have no time to get on the computer at home.
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Of course, hosting with blogger, I don't have to worry about server scalability at all... So, I just have to get really good at writing great stuff to get the 80% of the US population coming to my blog each month. Of course by then I'll be on CNN and Larry King and giving advice to Rupert Murdoch...
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Update: Glynn Foster twits: seemingly dennis is tired of funding it, and some internal politics around not accepting funding offers
Update: Dennis Clarke says that what Glynn wrote (above) is incorrect.
Update: genunix.org is available at http://genunix2.org/
Update: genunix.org is available again, at genunix.org.
Update: August 8 2008: more updates: Dennis is still in charge of Blastwave Inc. The servers are still running, and he's in the process of making some legal changes with blastwave. Note that I am just compiling information from various publicly available sources and you need to research this further before making assumptions. Want me to be more specific? leave comments asking me to, otherwise, I've got other things to do.
Update: August 12 2008: More info from Ben Rockwood.
The final word: August 21, 2008, from Dennis Clarke himself: http://www.blastwave.org/dclarke/blog/?q=node/111
I replied at the artima forum:
I think it's because companies are insular in nature, and the longer one is in the company, the more skewed their view of the real world is. Companies tend to stabilize things, (to have repeatable process, etc) so over time become a less challenging environment than the real world for the people who have been there a long time and have learned the politics of the company. These people tend to be managers and lifers (hoping company won't fail before they retire).
In this safer environment, the instinct is to hold steady. And that means not introducing new technology as rapidly as in the real world (which means you fall behind eventually) and not bringing new ideas as rapidly as in the real world (which means you fall behind eventually), and ultimately you have old technology and old thinking and that will not produce solutions to real world problems.
This is why startups are more brutal but more innovative. They live in the "current real world month" and have to deliver valuable solutions to actual current problems.
So, collective stupidity happens when people try to apply organizationally-reinforced old thinking and old tech to current problems.
I realize I didn't answer the question fully, but I think what needs to be done becomes painfully obvious.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
1) On procrastination: People who don't want to make any decision except for 100% certainty decisions are afraid. Afraid of what, you ask? Afraid of being criticized by their supervisors.
2) People BS to cover their perceived inadequacies. They want to look good. Again, out of fear their true nature will seem lacking.
3) Too much detail: They want to preempt the uncomfortable questions by higher ups. Higher ups have a way of asking questions that often make the underling feel belittled/threatened.
4) On over-use of process: it's classic CYA. If the shit hits the fan, then you can point to the process and say: "But, I followed the process".
5) Coffee-machine diplomacy, or, what I like to call "back-door shenanigans" are a symptom that open meetings and discussions do not foster openness and frankness from the rank and file.
6) Irrational Management: Nobody can be an expert. Granted. But in many companies, "I don't know" is the wrong answer. So better an answer that doesn't make sense than no answer. People would rather be known as hard-asses than ignorants.
7) Defensiveness. Being defensive comes from fear. Fear of not being accepted, valued, and recognized.
8) Victim Mentality. Sometimes, just sometimes, people might accurately see themselves as victims of a system that is designed to grind them down and spit them out. The only way out of that is to foster very open communications and to have great management skills. An anecdote: my 2007 performance review was abysmal. I blamed poor management of the resource I provide. Management disagreed. But wait: here's an interesting fact: in 2007 I had (count'em) 8 different managers. Did I play the Victim card or did I point out a real problem?
9) Email-itis. Again, fueled by fear. Much email is of the CYA sort. Also, it's easier to bring someone up to speed when there's an email trail. As far as bcc: that's either CYA or politics/gossip. As far as mass-email, that's disseminating information. A management function. If people are doing it in email, that means management is not doing it well.
10) Blackberry ignorance. Doing anything in a meeting besides being involved is detrimental. Perhaps, though, the meeting is rambling endlessly and the people who want to get work done have to do it in spite of the meeting. My recommendation: post a clear meeting agenda ahead of time and invite people on a voluntary basis. If they don't want to come to meetings, this says a lot about the value of the meetings.
11) Merit-whores: People do it because it works. it works at getting raises, promotions, visibility. It works because companies don't have a good systems or valuing individual contributions.
My take: the IT leaders are the ones who cause most of these problems. I would suggest they read about the Victim Mentality (point 8 in the post), as well as pick up The Elegant Solution: Toyota's Formula for Mastering Innovation (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0743290178/ - less than $5 used).
Simon, overall, quite interesting information.
This is also posted at 11 Behaviors Most Disliked by IT Leaders.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Thanks for the great food Todd!
Todd runs arcostream.com, and I'm doing some work there.
I'll be looking on and off for a solution, and if I find anything I'll post here.
Update: found this basically describing the problem.
Friday, July 25, 2008
I noticed your mention of FreshBooks on your recent blog post and wanted to send you a note thanking you for the coverage! (I work as their pr representation) If you haven’t seen it yet, I thought you may want be interested in their new upgrade! Details below, enjoy FreshBooks!
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
I am strangely reminded of the tagamotchi. Shall we all become virtual whale well-wishers?
Just an observation that sporadic unavailability makes a bunch of bits on platters and ram seem more human.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
User Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.9) Gecko/2008052906 Firefox/3.0
*** Extensions (enabled: 20, disabled: 0; total: 20)
Better Gmail 2 0.5
Download Statusbar 0.9.6.3
Extended Statusbar 1.2.8
Extension Developer 0.3.0.20080526
Java Console 6.0.05
lori (Life-of-request info) 0.2.0.20080521
PDF Download 220.127.116.11
Selenium IDE 1.0b2
Server Spy 0.1.6
Tabs Menu 1.4.8
View Dependencies 0.3.3.0
Web Developer 1.1.6
*** Themes (2)
NASA Night Launch
2007 Microsoft Office system
Java(TM) Platform SE 6 U5
Mozilla Default Plug-in
QuickTime Plug-in 7.4.1
Windows Media Player Plug-in Dynamic Link Library
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
What's my degree: Bachelor of Science in Information System, option Business Systems.
Fancy huh? Email/call me if you want me to send you photos.
Friday, May 09, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Ayumi Hamasaki, and I can't get enough of her tunes. (Japan)
Utada Hikaru. I don't have enough of her music yet. (Japan)
Mika Nakashima, great voice, great arrangements. Lots of different styles. (Japan)
Wallen, very nice. (France)
Kokia, Very nice, Need more tunes. (Japan)
Among many others.
Update: check out Love Addict from Mika Nakashima's album Love.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Saturday, February 16, 2008
My son Viggo is not interested in peeing in the toilet apparently. That doesn't stop him from taking off his pants, diapers, and peeing on the floor however.
You might think that would piss me off, but no, at least now he can tell the stuff is ready to come out. Now I just have to redirect him. Yay! Joy!
I've also been speaking in french to him a lot more, and he understand most everything I say. He started peppering his english with french words. Chapeau!