Friday, April 28, 2006

Read the Fine Manual

Recently, we saw how easy it is to put together the Airbus A380.

Here's what the cockpit looks like. I wonder how thick the user manual is?

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The Beer Belly

Now THIS is what I need for a Friday afternoon at the salt mines...

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Three D's of Effective Leadership

I've harped on the lack of vision and leadership at a certain company I am encouraged not to name. This is so simple, I can't believe anyone wouldn't know this already. And yet...

The Three D's of Effective Leadership, courtesy GruntDoc.

Decide: you cannot lead without making a decision.

Delegate: Leadership is different from management. Delegate so you can Lead.

Disappear: Nobody goes to the delegate when the leader is around. Let the delegate work.

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Monday, April 24, 2006

I thought it was summer?

Ok, I went a couple of days without a curling post, but this was too good to pass up.

I'd like to see this trick done sober...

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Friday, April 21, 2006

I can see for miles and miles

This is the coolest use I've seen for Google Maps.

Where do you want to go today?

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Air Biscuit

Raymond Chen has an occasional theme going these days - how various Microsoft products got their name, and some of the code names behind the products.

Here at SuperMegaCorp, we occasionally give our products code names, although it's usually a more informal process. One of the most descriptive names we've ever used was "Air Biscuit".

A few years ago we started talking about moving our flagship product into the new age of web services, distributed clients, etc. Lots of talk. More talk. Nobody seemed ready, or able, to commit to anything specific. The joke among the developers was that trying to pin down some requirements was like trying to catch a fart in a windstorm.

So one day we're in a meeting room for a conference call with our Milwaukee office. The room is packed, and there are a whack of people on the speakerphone from Milwaukee. The guy running the meeting comes in, sits down in front of the phone and says, very loudly, "Fuck! It stinks in here! Did someone float an air biscuit?" Laughter breaks out, and over the telephone we hear, "Is everyone OK up there?"

And "Air Biscuit" was born...

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Summer evening birds are calling

Well, curling season is officially over, and now summer's here.

Time to put away the snow blower, shovel, curling shoes/broom, and get ready for camping season. We picked up this beauty last weekend.



The girls are all ready to go - they were packing furiously last weekend and they've made signs for their end of the trailer that read "Girls club. No boys allowed!" Fine with me... :) All I have to do now is break it to them that we don't actually go anywhere until May.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

On an Island

I'm a huge David Gilmour/Pink Floyd fan from way back. Unfortunately I wasn't able to see him in Toronto last week, but I did pick up his new album, On an Island.

I've had the chance to listen to it from start to finish a couple of times, and I'm impressed. It reminds me quite a bit of 1971's Meddle.

The songs blend into each other, in a Pink Floyd tradition, with lots of strings, piano and acoustic guitar. There's the obligatory saxophone of course, but also some unexpected harmonica and something that sounds a little banjo-ish.

An island theme runs through the whole album, from the title track On an Island to The Blue, which speaks of rolling waves, blue seas, and being marooned (a common theme from recent Floyd work).

Bottom line: Gilmour's best solo album, but still not as good as the last couple of Floyd albums, and nowhere near the Roger Waters classics Pros and Cons of Hitchiking and Amused to Death. Picture lying on a beach, drinking a fine single malt whisky and noodling on a guitar.

Castellorizon - starts with a medley of the album's sounds - if you like this, you'll like the rest of the album. Reminds me of Signs of Life, from A Momentary Lapse of Reason.

On an Island - wistful.

The Blue - hypnotic.

Take a Breath - a little dangerous, but not as dangerous as Run Like Hell.

Red Sky at Night - nice sax work by the man himself.

This Heaven - reminds me some of the work from his first solo album.

Then I Close My Eyes - quiet, airy. Waves breaking on shore.

Smile - takes me back 30+ years. Dave's been listening to some old Syd Barrett records...

A Pocketful of Stones - forgive me for saying this, but I think there's something about this song that brings Enya to mind. Even so, I think this is the best tune on the album.

Where We Start - long walks with someone you love.

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Monday, April 17, 2006

This week in the News of the Weird

This could have been my dog...

Man's Best Friend (Except Sometimes)

In February, two girls (aged 12 and 13) ran away from home in Cleveland, headed by bus for Minneapolis, along with Bambi, one girl's family dog (represented to the driver as a "guide dog"). However, the girls overfed Bambi on junk food, and the dog became so flatulent as to cause a commotion on the bus, which eventually drew police officers, who then discovered the girls were runaways. [Plain Dealer (Cleveland), 2-15-06] (Orlando), 3-30-06]


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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Best Jobs in America

CNNMoney has a list of the top jobs in America. Here's the top 10:

1. Software engineer
2. College professor
3. Financial adviser
4. HR manager
5. Physician assistant
6. Market research
7. Computer IT analyst
8. Real Estate appraiser
9. Pharmacist
10. Psychologist

Interesting list, if for no other reason than I'm a software developer and my wife is a college professor.

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Ten things VPs never say

Scott Berkun has a list of the ten things VPs never say. Bang on.

Here are a couple more:

11. "I don't understand." Not understanding does not equal weakness. It's ok to ask someone to explain something technical.

12. "That didn't work. Let's try something new". Similar to a couple already in the list, but admitting failure goes a long way towards earning respect.

13. "What do you think?" VPs can't be afraid to ask for input, even from the lowly peons. Sometimes they have ideas that rock.

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True Story

When I was in high school, there was a girl in my class named Dawn. She was a "friendly" girl, and one of the guys in the class nailed her one weekend. For weeks afterwards, we had to listen to this guy telling us how he saw the crack of Dawn.

True story.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Art of demotivation

We've spoken before about the art of demotivation. In our office, we've got some artwork on the walls that isn't exactly motivational.

At one time, we had some abstract drawings of happy faces, and the words "Happy happy", or something like that, but then we laid off 40 people, and the drawings came down pretty darn quick.

For the longest time we had paintings of wine bottles. That sure wasn't helping my alcoholism hobby.

Now the weather is finally turning, and RIM is putting up a three story building that blocks out the view of where the trees used to be, before they were turned into a parking lot. To celebrate the coming of spring, the powers that be have put up some beautiful artwork of a canoe about to embark across a still lake.

Oh yeah, I'm gonna go crank out some code now...

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Friday, April 07, 2006

What's your victimization ratio?

Victim of love, it’s such an easy part
And you know how to play it so well


Are you a victim? "Next MSFT" describes the concept of a victimization ratio, which can be calculated by the number of problems you are powerless to solve divided by the total number of problems you are impacted by.

If you see ten problems, but you can only fix four, you are 60% boned.

This has got me thinking about what my VR is. I'll narrow it down and ignore things like the leadership/vision vacuum and just focus on software stuff. I figure in a day I see three or four bugs, and at least as many design flaws. By design flaws I mean the sort of thing that makes you wince a little when you read the code. If you say to yourself, "Man, I think I'm gonna hurl" when you're reading code, that's a flaw. If you have to gulp back that vurp, you've been victimized.

Out of the eight problems, I can fix three or four, so I'm hovering around a 50% victimization ratio. Not bad, but it could be way better. The tipping point is that fixing the fixable problems still makes me feel better than not fixing the non-fixable problems. So I'm a victim of love.

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Curling goes Hollywood

Curling hits the big screen.

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The big weight

Think you can throw it this hard? I couldn't, at least not without tearing something...

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The eyes have it

Without my glasses or contact lenses, I'm legally blind. When I'm asked to read the letters on the eye chart I have to ask where the eye chart is. I can barely make out the smudge on the wall.

This may bear looking into...

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We're number one!

For the eighth straight year Conestoga College has been rated as the number one college in Ontario. Conestoga's composite score this year was 88.9. According to the Key Performance Indicator survey, the next-highest-rated colleges were Niagara College, with a score of 88.4, and the London-based Fanshawe College, with 87.7.

The KPI surveys have been in effect for only eight years, so Conestoga’s eighth consecutive top overall rating means that no other Ontario college or institute has ever occupied the position that Conestoga maintains.

Nearly 220,000 students attended Ontario colleges last year for full- and part-time studies, apprenticeships, co-ops and other types of programs, a 30 per cent increase from a decade earlier. College graduates make up the largest portion of Ontario's workforce at about one-third or 2 million people.

And yet, colleges still don't get the respect they deserve.

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Monday, April 03, 2006

A380 Video

Build THIS in your backyard. And who says size doesn't matter?

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This week in the News of the Weird

News of the weird reports:

On Feb. 23, a woman asked a clerk at the Get Go! convenience store in McKeesport, Pa., to "microwave something for me. It's a life-or-death situation." The clerk complied, but when she realized that the item might be a severed penis, she called police. The woman later explained that it was a dildo-shaped container of urine because she had to be drug-tested for a job afterward and needed urine heated to "body temperature." Unexplained still in subsequent press accounts was why she stored the urine in that type of device. She was charged with criminal mischief (for contaminating a microwave food oven). [Washington Post-AP, 2-24-06; CNN-AP, 3-3-06]

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