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Comment Re:too late on the memory thing (Score 1) 73

The email analogy is interesting. Sure, you can usually find something in your email archives if you really have to, but as a knowledge repository it *sucks*. And transcriptions of conversations will make an equally sucky repository, mostly useful for replaying a conversation. What these archives need is technology that can infer some useful info from all that data, like a digital PA whom you can ask questions. "Who was the project manager on that project I did back around 2005?" or "Did Central Services actually mail me the 27B/6 form at some point?" are questions you can get from an email archive with some Google fu, but "Who was involved in project X?" is a bit harder to answer.

Comment Re:What about speeding / useing the center of the (Score 2) 437

Even if the car would be programmed to follow the rules exactly, how much time would you actually lose on your daily commute? Really? Especially when weighed against the fact that you can spend the drive to work reading / working / making calls or whatever.

Comment Re:We need more carrot, not more stick (Score 1) 170

I don't think they even know what to measure (or how to measure it), let alone how to analyze the data. A guy is surfing the web 10 hours of every 40, and you might decide he's skiving. What if he is actually your best / most productive coder? Someone who continues to work on the train home? Or someone who does what everybody else is doing but declines to fill his downtime with pretend meetings or calls? Managers like to measure effort rather than results. For one, it kind of makes sense: your contract tells you to work 40 hours a week, so if you work less, they have a good legal stick to beat you with. Effort is also far, far easier to measure than results, especially individual results. But in the end, managers who only measure effort are only looking at how hard the galley slaves are rowing, not at how fast the ship is moving or even where it's going.

Comment Re:Intagibles (Score 2) 170

An increasingly common cause of burnout is cognitive overload. That doesn't mean too much work, but too many tasks, and/or too may distractions throughout the day. Our work is increasingly compartimentalized; where in the past we'd work on 1-3 things, nowadays it's not uncomming to contribute to over 10 different projects at a time. Upping the pace by managing away downtime using this software is a surefire way to push more people over the edge.

In contrast, monitoring software could also be used to spot employees on the verge of burning out (something that often goes unnoticed by the employee or their co-workers and managers), and offer advice to better manage their time, not to increase productivity but to prevent an actual burnout. It might actually suggest little breaks, a bit like RSI prevention software that locks out the keyboard every now and then for half a minute (annoying but it did help me recover). Even so I am not a big fan of monitoring software even in this case, simply because I do not think most managers can be trusted with the information. You get a warning from the system that Joey is about to blow a gasket, so you inform HR and inquire as to how to best get rid of Joey.

Comment Re:I dern't believe it! (Score 1) 732

For a small nation it makes sense to select a single multi-role platform: have one type of plane that will comfortably handle most missions we'll likely take any part in. But what I don't know is how well the F35 is going to perform as such a platform, and if it's the best choice at the price. What I really don't know is why on earth we as a small nation (the Netherlands) decided to commit to this thing as a level 2 partner and order 40 or so, instead of waiting until the performance and price are clear, then buy off the shelf.

Comment Re:Evidence (Score 1) 61

I think technology has a (major) role to play in education, but that doesn't mean that education has to be technology-based. We know that there are various ways to teach a kid, and any method in particular will work best only for certain kids. Same with the environment: some work best alone while others thrive in groups. Some need more help than others, some learn faster, some need discipline and planning while others learn fine on their own. And even in a school system where one can choose from a variety of school types to best suit their child, schools are still unable to really tailor the learning experience to the different kids that come to learn. That's where technology can play a role: enable the teacher to find out what kind of programme best suits each child, and enable the school to provide such tailored programmes without having to assign one tutor to every 5 kids.

Such tailored programmes may have e-learning and computerized tests, but it's only part of the curriculum, and certainly only part of the solution. We're not going to fix education by handing out iPads.

Comment Re:Amazing (Score 1) 258

Biking and public transport can be a great way to get around in the Netherlands... but not for everyone. People who live close enough to work to be able to cycle (within reason) are considered by their coworkers to be very fortunate. And trains are great as long as your journey has only one leg; having to change to another train, tram or bus means adding another 10-15 minutes to your journey no matter how short the second leg is. When I commuted from Rotterdam to Rijswijk I used the train. Fantastic, almost literally door to door transportation. However that route uses the sucktastic "Sprinter" trains (you know, the ones with no toilets), and by the time it arrived at my station it would already be jam packed with commuters. The only way to get a seat was to get a first class ticket (which I did). It beat having to go by car in heavy traffic, but only because it was faster. Most people whom I hear extolling the virtues of public transportation are people who happen to have a convenient route to use, or politicians. Also think about this: if only about 10% of drivers (in the Netherlands) decide to take the train to work instead, the public transport system would be utterly flooded in rush hour. Some routes are already filled to capacity.

The moronic attitude to cyclists in the US and UK you mention is something we have as well, towards cars. I remember someone saying: "We don't have too many cars in the Netherlands, just too many people who hate them". For a majority of commuters, even in a country with generally excellent public transport, cars are still a good if expensive way to get around. And even with traffic jams it'll often be faster. Some people look at a commuter stuck in a traffic jam as a stubborn idiot who will not let go of his "status symbol", but I see perhaps a family man who, thanks to his car, had time this morning to have breakfast with his kids. It's fine if you choose not to own a car, but don't smugly knock those who do, out of preference or necessity.

Comment Re:Right turn only (Score 1) 258

Over here (NL), that's actually the rule: cyclists have to keep to the right at all times except in cases where there is a special bike lane. At traffic lights, cyclists wait at the right side of the road even when going straight. Cars turning right have to give them right of way... but since this is a major cause of accidents, in many cases you'll see separate lanes for bikes at traffic lights, or a "bike waiting area" one or more lanes wide, in front of where the cars would stop, where bikes wait for the lights.

Comment Re:Profits. (Score 1) 179

Many people actually do. There are plenty of general and specialist hospitals in countries like India and Thailand that offer first world class service (some of them rank amongst the top hospitals). And some of the surgeons there got to that level by innovating out of necessity.

Comment Re:Two different markets (Score 1) 202

GP has a point though. I'm sure rich people are just like us: some like to show off, others don't care. But people generally think that design and quality matters, especially for personal items. I can tell the difference between a $50 shirt and a $500 one, and if I had plenty of cash I'd choose the expensive one. When I buy jewelry for my wife, I can choose from stuff ranging from dirt cheap to stupidly expensive, but the beautifully designed and well-made pieces that catch my eye are invariably the more expensive ones. Quality and design cost money... and yes, at some point they become overpriced, and it will be about the (barf-inducing marketing word) experience. It's much more enjoyable to go out to shop instead of ordering online, and when you do, it is better to go to a luxurious store where they serve you whisky and treat you like a god while you take the time to try on a few watches, compared to visiting a busy department store where you have to hunt around for a clerk to help you.

Comment Re:Sounds scary, but it makes sense. (Score 1) 69

That sounds a bit like the old "if architects designed houses like software engineers design programs..." trope. There is some truth to that, even if the fields of software design, architecture and aerospace engineering are vastly different. An important difference is that it is extremely unsafe to make assumptions in software engineering, yet we have no choice but to make them all the time. Our current world of software development is a minefield of bedrock turning to mud overnight, cable ducts that melt if they come in contact with a certain titanium alloy, doors that randomly explode if you put the doorknob on wrong, and turbine blades that come off if you happen to fly over the date line twice in one hour, to use a few crappy analogies. Some of this can be fixed, but until it is, it makes software development a complex affair, where perfection is attainably only at great cost; vastly more than consumers or producers are willing to pay.

You do need a good process, but as I wrote before, it's not a substitute for good people. What I often see in IT is incredibly low standards. Sloppy work, sloppy decisions, sloppy designs, sloppy planning. And that has something to do with the quality of the people that we hire. Not just the developers, but the architects, testers and managers as well. Especially the managers. I can't imagine that airplane mechanics finding a leftover bolt after putting an engine back together will just shrug and say: "That was probably already here when we started" (I sure hope they don't...). In IT, such decisions are made on a daily basis just to meet the deadline for pushing out a product that sort of runs. And if you're going to change that culture, you need better people; just enforcing it through process is not going to cut it.

Coming back to Chaotic Architecture: you need good people for that to work as well. If you just throw it out there without making some other changes, you're inviting disaster.

Comment Re: Sounds scary, but it makes sense. (Score 3, Interesting) 69

It doesn't mean to just let everyone use whatever they want; you still need oversight, from your peers as well as your manager. And good individual choices can (and should) at some point be incorporated into company guidelines.

I've worked with software that came from a "chaotic" environment. When it came to fixing bugs, there was a lot more moaning about "why the hell did he do that?!" compared to software developed against corporate standards, however the time and cost of fixing a bug were similar for both types of software. When it comes to adding enhancements, I found that the success factor was not having a company standard software architecture, but a good one. Software developed by a lone but clever developer entirely doing his own thing turned out to be easily enhanced due to outstanding software architecture. Software developed to company standards was equally maintainable if the standards were good enough, however in many cases one would find that the standards were applied poorly, or were themselves incomplete, leading to poorly structured and hard-to-maintain software. Again, in the end it comes down to people

Comment Sounds scary, but it makes sense. (Score 4, Insightful) 69

A few things I have learned from 20 years in IT:
1) On every project, (individual) people have been the critical success factor, not process.
2) While you will always need process, process is not a replacement for good people. Most common IT processes attempt to ensure that errors made by poor performers are caught, but they also ensure that your best people will not be operating at peak performance. This is sometimes called "predictable mediocrity"

This Chaotic Architecture thing sounds like a step in the right direction... putting trust (with oversight) in people rather than an ivory tower dictating company-wide policies. The real trick is how to organize that oversight without ending up with the same dictatorship by corporate architects. This requires effective management at all levels; daring to delegate and trust rather than dictate... but I've noticed a bad shortage of such Leaders in the places I've worked the last few years.

Comment Re:Good for experiments, not powerplant ready (Score 1) 337

A lot depends on the roof. On flat roofs, you simply get racks adjusted to the right angle, just put them down and weigh them down. Over here in NL, many roofs are tiled, in which case you simply lift a tile, slip a hook under it to hook on to the slats under the tiles, then bolt horizontal mounting rails to the hooks. I saw the neighbour across do this last week, took him perhaps a few hours to get 8 panels up. And I'm allowed to do my own wiring too, up to and including wiring things up in the breaker box; as long as I install everything to code, I'll be legal and insured. These guys sell DIY kits, you can pick and choose what part of the work you do yourself and which part they take care of. I have no idea what good options exist for US or Canadian homes, though. Or what is legal there to do yourself.

"A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked." -- John Gall, _Systemantics_

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