Everybody wants to save the earth, nobody wants to help mom do the dishes.  --P.J. O'Rourke

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Lenovo s-10 Netbook Long Term Review

I have had my Lenovo S10 for almost a year now, so I thought it would be a good idea to update folks on how it's been going. In short, it's been great, in fact, almost unbelievable given the low price.
More...I have been using it as a backup, travel laptop and I use it pretty much every day. The light weight and compact dimensions are really the killer feature of Netbooks and in my experience it is well worth the trade off in performance and display/keyboard size. The only modification I have made to my S-10 was to max out the RAM (which was a snap to do BTW, one panel on the bottom of the computer gives you access to everything you need). Performance wise, it has performed perfectly well in run of the mill use like web surfing and apps and office productivity work. I have MS Office and Open Office draw and both suites work just fine, which I had not expected. The small size is perfect for plane use, where the small screen height is a decided advantage. Battery performance has been somewhat meh, and in actual use lasts 2-3 hours. Take this with the following caveat, I run the s-10 on the highest performance energy setting. The battery management software is o.k., but it seems to turn down the processor and display as power runs low (I am sure as designed). The trouble for me is that it keeps it there even after a recharge, it's a small PITA, and you may be able to fix it somewhere, but I can't be bothered with looking. If you are a Project Manager and have a lot of meetings, this is the gadget for you, take it to the meeting and make all the updates on the spot. By the time you are out of the meeting, the minutes are already in the team's in-boxs.

Friday, June 19, 2009

IT Project Management - Lessons from the Kitchen

86 The PMBOK and Get Cooking - Three things the IT PM can learn from a Chef

An IT project has a lot in common with a commercial Kitchen. Scott Berkin made this point in his book "Making Things Happen", and I could not agree more, in fact I have been saying the same thing for years. Why? A busy restaurant kitchen is an incredibly stressful and challenging environment, one that during the dinner rush is on the knife edge of the possible. Sound Familiar? Most of us have cooked for friends and family at Thanksgiving and have experienced the stress of cooking for a big group. The phrase "Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen" is undeniably true during these moments, and yet, you are only cooking one meal for 20 or so people. How does the relatively small restaurant kitchen crew pump out hundreds of individualized meals in just a few hours and what can that tell you about IT Project Management?
  • Meticulous Preparation
  • Appropriate Risk Management
  • Ruthless Efficiency


Meticulous Preparation: Nail the Basics

This is the ante, without it you don't even get to play. For every meal service there is at least another 3 days of prep. Menu's & specials are planned, portions and recipes are set, staff is trained, food is ordered, baked goods and deserts are made overnight and finally food is prepped as close as being plate ready as possible. Nothing is left to chance. Why? because shit happens, that's why...... learn it, expect it, embrace it. Look at the picture again, the guy on the left is clearly dealing with some "shit" that just "happened". What's the rest of the staff doing? Their jobs ! That guy is called the "expediter" he is akin to the project manager. He is able to resolve the issue without derailing other activities because they have nailed the basics.

Appropriate Risk Management: Nobody Likes Eeyore

IT folks as a group are so risk averse that they spend an incredible amount of time worrying about and planning for every little thing that could possibly go wrong (no matter how unlikely). This is incredibly counter productive and inneficient, unless you are doing Military or Medical work, if that's the case, knock yourself out. Plug the obvious holes and move on. In a commercial kitchen as in a large IT project, there is an unimaginable number of things that could go wrong; orders are late or incomplete, waitstaff get flaky, cooks get cuts and burns, food goes bad, people get sick or no show and random things catch fire. If the kitchen were run by IT folks, there would be an ambulance and fire engine stationed outside and two of everything inside. There would also probably be meetings held before and after every plate is prepared, but that's another story. You and your IT project team and business partners need to understand that all kinds of things will go wrong and be mentally prepared, because if you have nailed the basics in planning and prep, and don't freak out, you'll recover.

Ruthless Efficiency: If you've got time to lean, you've got time to clean.

In a well run kitchen, you are always working. Why? because management makes sure your working. The Chef doesn't send you an e-mail or wait for you to tell her that you're finished, she constantly walks around and makes sure you know what to do if you are idle. Let MBWA (Management by Walking Around) be your mantra. If a cook is not pulling their weight they are GONE - even in mid shift. It will kill your staff's morale and their respect for you if a team member doesn't pull their weight constantly. Be visible and keep people busy, don't be a jerk about it, but do it, quality, team cohesion and efficiency will all go up.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Datsun 240z Concept by Lars Mårtensson

I have never liked the new Nissan Z-Car, to my eyes it just doesn't
look right. This concept by GRID is much better in my eyes. Sure,
it's a touch busy, but the basic look is just right and really captures
the spirit of the original. The Mustang style rear-side scoops don't
really work for me. but the rear is very nicely done without being
derivative, and I am a sucker for louvers. Nicely done Lars !

Piglet Ears

Small Business In-House IT - A Classic Sucker's Bet

If You Are Not Using SaaS Yet, You're Falling Behind, Fast....

Software as a Service and the Social Web

Two of the most important trends in Information Technology are the burgeoning ranks of mature web based hosted software applications and the Social Web or Web 2.0. Truthfully, and while a whole host of consultants would maintain otherwise, there is really nothing truly *New* about either of these things (this is true for most things in Information Technology BTW). Today's Web 2.0 is yesterday's Usenet, Chat or BBS. Yesterday's Mainframe, ASP and AOL is today's SaaS. Facebook, LinkedIn and My Space are merely more mature than earlier social collaboration and communications tools. As a small business owner, you are probably fixated on trying to figure out what you SHOULD be doing in the Social Web, and that's a good thing. Information wants to be free and tools want to be used. But don't loose sight of the forest for the trees More...In the rush to join the ranks of the twitterati and partake of the blogophoria, you're missing what I consider the most critical lesson and aspect of the whole Web 2.0 thing, and that is that these social web apps represent the first real consumerization of modern SaaS (putting aside search and e-mail). Facebook is a huge, complex and rich SaaS offering and you use it everyday without a second thought ! What happened to the traditional excuses given by IT Depts and Business Owners for not moving to hosted or open source software? Sensitive Data? Facebook knows all about you, your family and friends. Security ? Do you honestly think you or your IT Dept can do security better than Google? But I need technical support ! No you don't, you only think you do - after all how helpful and responsive was the last call center you called, chances are you'll get better help from the web anyway. Dump MS Office, Sharepoint, IIS and above all Access and then put the servers on E-bay next to Sarah Palin's plane. Loose the distraction, cost and limits of all your office productivity suites and small business software, it's holding you back.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

OCZ Vertex SSD - This Makes it Official, HDD are SOO Over for Notebooks

The writing has been on the wall for some time now, but I think this is shark jumping time for the traditional hard disk drive, at least in Notebooks and Netbooks. Finally here is an affordable (~$300), reasonably sized (120GB) solid state disk with a dramatic performance improvement over HDD's.
More...Given the cost per MB advantage that HDD's still enjoy, I am sure they will still be around in desktops, though I would not be surprised if we see more hybrid solutions where the O.S, swap space and other I/O bottleneck prone data are stored on the Solid State Disk, and less frequently used files are sent out to pasture on the HDD. It would also make sense to have an algorithm to intelligently manage moving files between the two as needs arise (Hello EMC). In a RAID configuration, these things would kill ! Laptop Mag has all the test data, and a before and after performance comparison on an SSD retrofit into a two year old laptop, it's eye opening. Check it out here : Laptop Mag OCZ SSD

Buffalo LinkStation Pro Duo RAID NAS Review

After years of trying to get a cheap workable storage and backup solution for our importanthome files I finally broke down and bought one of these last week. Some years back I had abad experience with an early Netgear NAS so I was a little leery of home NAS solutions, buta disk failure and continued frustrations with XP network sharing had left me despondantand desperate for a solution. I had heard nothing but good things about Buffalo, and MicroCenter had these on sale, so I gave it a whirl. Oddly enough Mr. Grey Ponytail the MicroCenter worker almost talked me out of it by giving me incorrect info about the product. Ponytail insisted that this device needed client software installed on every PC that wouldaccess it and that it wouldn't just show up as a windows workgroup member. Turns outhe was only impersonating a geek and had no idea what he was talking about, it doesn't needclient SW and it does show up as any other network device would in windows. Anyway, the setup went relatively smoothly with only a minor glitch and a stupid one at that. More...Buffalo's utility installer software needs to "find" the machine on the network, if it can't, the installer doesn't finish - better design would be to finish installing the utility SW and then run a config program. Buffalo's documentation is pretty much crap as well and doesn't even include instructions on how to swap a drive in the even of a RAID drive failure. The product itself isas advertised and exceeded my expectations for performance even on RAID 1. I also found theconfiguration using the web control panel comprehensive and well done. Considering thatthe LinkStation is only a bit more expensive than a 2 Tb USB external drive, it kindof a bargain.I'll update this post if anything untoward occurs with the box in the future, but so far so good.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sarah Haskins

Sarah does some clever bits poking fun at advertising targeted at women that I think you
may enjoy, there is more here if you are so inclined: Sarah Haskins on Current. Some of
the ads really are cringe worthy.

Realistic Mach One Loudspeaker

Man did I want a pair of these in the 80's

Shake Rattle and Roll - 3 Ways

The versions of the iconic R&R song, Big Joe was first, but I like
Bill Haley's version the best. Written in 1954 by Jesse Stone for
Big Joe Turner.


This is a fun and oddly riveting little physics time waster. Click on the image to check it out.