Simon's Blog

Doesn't it seem like everyone with nothing to say seems to take an awfully indulgent amount of time to say it?
I want me some of that action!


Hoarding, as my brother so often reminds me, is a disease. In the cupboard at work I have 15 ancient thin client machines which I've always meant to use for some low-power purpose.
I keep telling myself that one day I'll run up a lightweight linux client on them and use them for some project or the other - but it's never going to happen.

The truth is I'm not going to run up a lightweight bootp server any more than I'm likely to use that pile of DDR2 DIMMs that I pulled out of those servers all those years ago.
I won't find a use for all those ultra thin server CD/DVD writer drives with SATA interfaces and there's no way I'll ever use all the 7940 IP phones in boxes in our store room.
When the Zombie apocalypse comes and we're in desperate need of copper for bullet jackets I will however feel confident that I'd stored away hundreds (literally hundreds) of LAN cables for a reason.

Hoarding is the scourge of the geekitype. We keep stuff because we recognise its value, but we never realise that value. Having lots of stuff doesn't make you a hoarder, having lots of piles of stuff does...

Today there is a large skip sitting outside work as I type.
And I can't waste it...

i-device hell

I've bought my last i-device.

While I like the aesthetics of the devices I am finally tired of the microscopic changes that they implement in the name of upgrading.

And this is the increasingly annoying issue with cloud services in general. In the past you'd buy a program that would do what it did, the way it did it, until you upgraded. When you upgraded there would be a new way of doing things - there'd be a ribbon bar, a change of standard font, some fixes for previous inconsistencies. In today's world you lose control of the application as it undergoes microupgrades in the guise of a service update.

So one day I open by iPhone with a swipe, then it's the home button. One day I can pick my phone up without the display coming alive, the next I have a 'Raise to Wake' option, which is new - and enabled - that I didn't ask for.

It reminds me of the early days of gmail for groups where one day there was a feature or an api that worked one day and the next there was no feature or it had completely new parameters.

I'm opting out.
And waiting very patiently for the ubuntu phone to get good. Sigh.


Facebook is starting to remind me of a neurotic partner. It reminds me of events I shouldn't forget, tells me of things that I might want to do and keeps me informed of the people that IT thinks are important.

It wants to know everything I do and it doesn't want me to do anything without it.

The moment it tells me that I'm not allowed to be friends with a particular person I know the circle is complete.

Scope Creep and Vacuum

Many years ago I had two Windows guys working for me who had completely different styles. One was a Microsoft enthusiast who spent most of h is waking hours reading up on the latest thing that Redmond had implemented, the other was a guy who'd been in the industry about twice as long and who only read up on new technology as an absolute last resort - Scope-Creep and Scope-Vacuum.

To one I gave the projects I wanted to live, to the other I gave the projects I wanted to die...
(I made the mistake of telling a colleague about this approach and identifying the two people concerned which I promptly forgot about. Months later when I gave her project to the executioner she rang me, called me a bastard and hung up. (True Story))

The only thing that I'd neglected to tell her was the thinking behind my assignment. Intuition would suggest that the enthusiast would make a better job of a project, however in actual fact the opposite was the case. The enthusiast is far more likely to trigger scope creep than th e executioner was to create scope vacuum - because we EXPECT scope vacuum.
We EXPECT people to be lazy, so we're always checking up on them to make sure they're doing what we wanted. What we're less good at is making sure they don't implement something we didn't ask for.

What's the problem with doing more you might ask?
Consider a properly run project. It has a set of requisitites, deliverables, a timeframe and a design. We can measure the progress of a pr oject against them and we can check off milestones. We might even have a Gannt chart which tells us how the project will proceed. When a milestone starts slipping or a deliverable seems to have dropped off the radar it'll show up in the plan and we'll follow up on it.

What we're less likely to follow up on is the off-the-menu item the enthusiast slips into the project while noone's looking (The most common excuse for this being that if we don't do it now it will be harder - or cost more - to do once the project is complete). It's an out-of-band scope creep item - none of the project team know about, none of them considered it or approved it and there's been no discussion about the way it will be integrated into the project nor what priority it has.

The impact on the project is unknown. It could be nothing. Then again it might lead to a project delay while the enthusiast spends time - which should have been spent on an actual project deliverable - implementing this addition.
It could lead to further delays while the rest of the project team integrate this item into the project.
It could lead to even further delays when it doesn't integrate and has to be backed out.
It could even (and I have had experience of this) be implemented, become a core part of the users' toolset, FAIL, and lose ALL THE DATA in the process - because the enthusiast didn't amend the project backup strategy to include the new item.

When I gave a project to Scope Vacuum it was always more work for me - but the project always ran better.

People are strange.