Being data-driven

March 12th, 2015  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  1 Comment

Via Rands in Repose: The Joyless World of Data-Driven Startups

Our capability to measure and record data is rapidly improving, at a time when more and more leaders are trying to protect their status and image by walking the middle ground, pre-calculating every decision and spoken word. The result is that the world increasingly uses and relies on data-driven decisions, from the smallest trivial matters, to policies in large corporations and entire countries. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it’s critical. But sometimes it fails, or results in unintended consequences that we may not notice for years.

New pages here

March 10th, 2015  |  Published in Uncategorized

Prompted by Chuck’s IT@UT project, I’ve added a couple of more pages about webAgent here: The story of webAgent: webAgent 2 and Was webAgent a good idea?

Enterprise apps

December 26th, 2014  |  Published in Uncategorized

Biggest [tech] news of 2014:

As corporate romances go, IBM and Apple’s must rank among the most unexpected. …

The recent apps release showed just how transformative this relationship could be. We were witnesses to apps which appeared to be designed for users[!] They were not designed for committees that prepare checklists of requirements.

We must applaud IBM for having the courage to resist the featuritis which plagues enterprise software design. This resistance requires saying No to those who specify and are thus authorized to purchase software and hardware. IBM has had to essentially say no to those who buy and yes to those who are paid to use. The quality of the experience is evident at first sight. The number of user actions, the number of screens to wade through have been ruthlessly culled. These are concepts and ideas which now permeate app design best practices. Yet they are practices which still elude the spec-driven enterprise software wastelands.

“Spec-driven enterprise software wastelands.” I wonder how he could have got that idea?

(via Daring Fireball)

Netscape turns 20

October 15th, 2014  |  Published in Uncategorized

Netscape Navigator, the browser that popularized the web, was released 20 years ago.

2014 Ig Nobel prizes

September 19th, 2014  |  Published in Uncategorized

It’s that time of year again. My favorites:

  • Physics: “Kiyoshi Mabuchi, Kensei Tanaka, Daichi Uchijima and Rina Sakai, for measuring the amount of friction between a shoe and a banana skin, and between a banana skin and the floor, when a person steps on a banana skin that’s on the floor.” If I were a high school physics teacher, I’d see if my students could reproduce this.
  • Psychology: “Peter K. Jonason, Amy Jones, and Minna Lyons, for amassing evidence that people who habitually stay up late are, on average, more self-admiring, more manipulative, and more psychopathic than people who habitually arise early in the morning.” Morning people rule!
  • Public health: “Jaroslav Flegr, Jan Havlíček and Jitka Hanušova-Lindova, and to David Hanauer, Naren Ramakrishnan, Lisa Seyfried, for investigating whether it is mentally hazardous for a human being to own a cat.” I can’t think of something to say that might not get me in trouble.
  • Arctic science: “Eigil Reimers and Sindre Eftestøl, for testing how reindeer react to seeing humans who are disguised as polar bears.” If this is one of the things you’ve wondered about, now you can find out the answer.

And Happy “Talk Like a Pirate Day” to all.


July 30th, 2014  |  Published in Uncategorized

The Most Dangerous Word in Software Development

Seems about right.


May 29th, 2014  |  Published in Uncategorized

The Register: Fat-fingered admin downs entire Joyent data center

As for the fat-fingered administrator? “The operator that made the error is mortified, there is nothing we could do or say for that operator that is going to make it any worse, frankly,” Cantrill said.

Nor would Joyent want to, he explained. The goal for the company is to learn from the problem and get better, not mete out punishment. “You don’t teach dolphins with a shock collar,” Cantrill explained.

This used to be the attitude throughout the University, and still seems to apply here in ITS-Systems. From what I’ve heard, though, there are places where “meting out punishment” seems to be the rule now.

BASIC at 50

May 2nd, 2014  |  Published in Uncategorized

Another anniversary: 10 PRINT "Happy 50th Birthday, BASIC" : GOTO 10

The mainframe is 50

April 7th, 2014  |  Published in Uncategorized

Today is the 50th anniversary of the announcement of the IBM System/360. Some coverage here and here.

Context reports

February 11th, 2014  |  Published in Uncategorized

Interesting: Context Reports

This morning I realized I might have a productive way to twist status reports into a useful exercise. Let’s call them context reports. A status report documents actions both completed and planned. A context report documents the reason why (and to a lesser extent how) you’re completing these actions and I suspect this information is far more useful to everyone involved. Let’s try it out by transforming common status report items into context report bullets.