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Comment: how about Excel? (Score 1) 143

by virchull (#47376581) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Replacing Paper With Tablets For Design Meetings?
A large company I know does dozens of design meetings (for supermarkets) with a new group of people in each meeting. Instructions go out on paper before and during the meeting. Responses are entered into pre-structured Excel spreadsheets. The meeting manager collects the spreadsheet responses. has code to analyze each response, keeps all the data for central use, and returns an analysis to each participant. Its pretty automated, but relies on 'ancient' technology for input. They also use yellow stickies and camera phones a lot.

Comment: Inter-mixing farms and homes (Score 2) 116

by virchull (#46481933) Attached to: Conservation Communities Takes Root Across US
15+ years ago, Pittsford, New York (a suburb of Rochester) decided it would remain a mixed community of farms and suburban homes. The town voted for a bond issue and used the proceeds to buy the development rights from the existing inter-mixed farm owners. They are now forever farms. Some of these farms raise commodities, e.g., beans, some raise produce, e.g., sweet corn, raspberries. As people drive about town, they pass by suburban home groups, then farms, then more homes, then more farms. It has been a win for everyone.

Comment: science writing at its worst (Score 2) 707

by virchull (#44344549) Attached to: The Man Who Convinced Us We Needed Vitamin Supplements
Almost all the studies in the article suffer from various statistical biases - selection bias, survivor bias, etc. I could find only 2 that may have been A-B blind studies over extended periods. One of those 2 is suspect because it was cut short and the article is talking about long term effects. This article was written to sell magazines, not to document biological effects. I take no stand whether vitamins are good or bad, but it is very clear that the article is poor science writing.

Comment: Hurricanes and time pressures (Score 1) 305

by virchull (#35707280) Attached to: NYT Paywall Cost $40 Million: How?
From my experience managing large teams that produced millions of lines of code on schedule, here are my guesses about what went wrong.
Factor #1: A requirements hurricane turbulently blew in one direction without control and consistency. It settled down in the 'eye of the storm', and then management said, 'Oh snap, we want it this way', and another turbulent hurricane blew in the opposite direction - without time or skill to change all the original requirements. These problems metastasize through all remaining steps of development.
Factor#2: Management said, "We need this big thing real quick. Lets get a big consulting firm to do it." Several firms gleefully responded.
Factor#3: Management told the selected consulting firm, "We need all of the big thing to go live at once, and remember we need it real quick." Big teams can be very productive, but only when they are carefully grown over a period of years. Quickly assembled big teams become a swamp that absorb money and grow weeds.

The $40-$50 million is just a down payment. Having built a kudzu swamp to serve an Internet market that is rapidly changing, the NYT will spend that amount several times over in the next 5 years to update it and keep it maintained.

Comment: the times, they are a'changin' (Score 1) 508

by virchull (#31845490) Attached to: Neil Armstrong Criticizes Obama's Space Strategy

We have at least 2 US companies building space launch capability, and several other international "space launch for hire" organizations are operating. NASA's Ares rocket development was a waste of money, and Obama was right to stop it. Let the commercial space trucking business competition get started, and lets try to get new US companies to be the winners in this business. Neil Armstrong is stuck in 1969, but meanwhile, "the times, they are a'changin'".

186,000 Miles per Second. It's not just a good idea. IT'S THE LAW.

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