Thursday, December 21, 2006

Google Reader

First I was reading the web. Then blogs arrived. Then I found it useful to read blogs via Newsgator inside of Microsoft Project. Now, I've discovered Google Reader, to read blogs. Terrific.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Quiet PC

I got tired of the hurricane noise in my den. I ordered a new "quiet" computer case from Quiet PC (Antec P150). Terrific case. Terrific company to specialise in such environmentally friendly products!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Fantastic Book on Microsoft Project

There are a number of books out there on Microsoft Project. I've run across one (and how I found this I can't remember) which is the book for project managers who use Microsoft Project to read.

"Dynamic Scheduling with Microsoft Office project 2003", by Eric Uyttewaal, ISBN 1-932159-45-2.

As Harold Kerzner says in the Foreward, "this book will convince you that project management can be done more efficiently and effectively using scheduling software". This book tells you how to do it with Microsoft Project.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Steve Yegge on how Google Works

Steve writes a very long piece on how he sees Google running, as an insider. He works there as a developer. The piece is not really about Agile Development, despite the title.

His world in Google is so different from others, that we can't help but be challenged to think differently about our own world and how to take some ideas from Google's world.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Adobe Acrobat 8 has built-in Web Conferencing

Now this is interesting.  See where "Enable users of Adobe Reader® software (version 7.0 or 8) to participate in shared reviews.Use the Start Meeting button to collaborate in real-time with the new Adobe Acrobat Connect line of products." 

It is likely that users of Adobe have not yet experienced web conferencing, and using this "safe" option could be their introduction.

I'm not sure that all products need to have built-in web conferencing, but it's clear that only a very small minority of the world has yet to experience it.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Skidmore Owings and Merrill

While at university studying civil engineering in the 70's, I had visions of someday working at SOM (Skidmore Owings and Merrill).  I didn't want to be an architect and preferred the engineering and business side of big building projects; but the thought of being involved with the creation of such lovely things was a goal. 

I ended up finding that I didn't really "get" structural engineering as much as I "got" fluid mechanics, so my career took a turn towards other directions.

I still wish thought, that when I grow up I can work for or with SOM.

Business Week reminded me of SOM.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Microsoft Live Writer

Microsoft's new tool, Microsoft Life Writer, has received a lot of attention.  All reports are very positive with little to no negatives.  I tried it a few days after release, but for whatever reason it would not connect to my blog on Blogger.  This is another try a few weeks later and it works. I guess there were initial teething problems.

Interestingly, it has one feature I really like: spell checking.  And it has "automatic correction" on spelling, which doesn't seem to workk.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

BBC Probably Gets It Wrong Again

Re the strange case of John Mark Karr ...

CNN (and other sites): "no JonBenet charges", e.g.

BBC: "JonBenet suspect charges dropped" at

How can charges which were never (apparently) filed, be dropped?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Edinburgh International Book Festival

Edinburgh is a terrific place in August. I can't keep up with all the events going on. Work and real life is definitely getting in the way. The Festival. The Fringe Festival. The Jazz Festival. The Film Festival. The TV Festival. And the Book Festival, my favourite.

Earlier in the week I heard Tim Waterstone talk about his style of management ... he's made many millions for himself and others. Tonight it's Jeremy Leggett and Fred Pearce on "Oil and Water". Robert Fisk of The Independant newspaper couldn't make his committment to appear, so I'll maybe get the opportunity to see Al Gore give his slide show later in the month

Highly recommended: Edinburgh in August.

Update: Al Gore's talk sold out (probably before announcement). Flogging his movie at the Film Festival, Book Festival, and at another event, all on same day.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

UKERC - Carbon Capture & Storage: Sustainability in the UK energy mix

I attended this one day meeting which focused, from the UK perspective, on the possibiltiies of geological storage of carbon di-oxide (CO2). It was sponsored by the UKERC Meeting Place, held at the University of Edinburgh, and broughtt together people from industry, finance, legal, and academic worlds.

The consensus of the meething was overwhelming--that being that is possible, practical, and economic to use geological carbon storage to mitigate the risk of relesing CO2 to the atmosphere. CO2 is a greenhouse gas which could lead to global warming.

While storing CO2 surely *can* be done, what's not clear to me is if it *should* be done compared to alternatives. It seems a short term prophylactic solution. I also wonder about the unintended consequences and as yet unknown risks.

The presentation by Dr. Carol Turlye, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, was downright scary. She spoke on the observed effects on CO2 increases in the world's oceans. The oceans' acid content is measurably changes, and it's cause is reliably thought to be increased CO2 in the atmosphere. See the paper published at the above link (along with all the other papers).

Update: Just noticed this article on Scientific American's web site which clearly explains the affect of CO2 on global warming. See Scientific American: If carbon dioxide makes up only a minute portion of the atmosphere, how can global warming be traced to it? And how can such a tiny amount of change produce such large effects?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Back in the dark ages of computing, when you had to keypunch your program into cards, stand in line at the input desk to hand over your creation to the bored college student who then fed them into the card reader (and you hoped he/she didn't drop your cards), and then you waited ... and waited ... and waited for your output.

In between pouring over the FORTRAN code which computed something technical for some course, a popular past-time for some was creating ASCII art. ASCII art is creative use of the text to create an image, e.g.

| | |
_/ \_

I didn't have the artistic ability to create it, but I did appreciate the achievement.

I've run across a site which presents the entire first episode of Star Wars as a ASCII Art Movie. Impressive creativity. Telnet to and watch.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Rogue Giants at Sea - New York Times

Rogue Giants at Sea - New York Times

I'm amused this now being "discovered". Not only have I personally observed at least "rouge" wave (amongst many very big ones), we also demonstrated the mathematics and probabilities of them in the late 1970's. Only thing is we didn't publish for some silly reason.

The wave in question was while aboard the "Shanghai Trader" in the middle of the South China Sea. I was working in the oil industry at the time and I was a young engineer leading a marine and site survey near an island where there was potential for building a marine terminal. We had to sail to a rig in the a few hundred miles away to pick up some equipment. While underway, we passed through a storm. Very uncomfortable. Every so often a "big" wave would appear. Bigger than the rest. That day cured me. To this day I avoid going on ships into the open sea.

The open ocean is composed of a mixture of waves with different fequencies and amplitudes. They add together to form the pattern of waves that one sees. You can do spectrum analysis of the wave forms to find the different components.

When the spectrum is highly "peaked", e.g. wave energy is focused at a few frequencies with high amplitude, the waves with slightly different frequencies interact to form a very long wave (low frequency) and high amplitude. Actually, it causes a "group" of ways to move this way. We called it "wave grouping". It's this wave caused by the interaction which moves along and appears to a stationary observer (e.g. on a boat) to happen less frequently than the "normal" waves. These waves are bigger than normal, and they move in "packs".

The mathematics of adding waves like this is learned in high school, I think, when one adds together in time two sine waves of slightly different freqency. A more advanced topic would be the Fast Fourier Transforms (FFT) of the wave time series to compute their spectrum, and from the spectrum synthesise a time series. Doing this synthesis for lots of waves of different amplitude frequency can simulate the actual sea surface.

I think I'll challenge my son to try to work this all out as an excercise. He's bored this summer and needs a little mental stimulation.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

What is ABC News Thinking?

ABC News is asking members of the public to notice and report how their daily lives have been affected by global warming. Heck ... scientists with sophisticated instruments, expeditions, computers, and journals have a hard time agreeing on what they notice.

ABC News wants to hear from you. We're currently producing a report on the increasing changes in our physical environment, and are looking for interesting examples of people coping with the differences in their daily lives. Has your life been directly affected by global warming?

We want to hear your stories. Have you seen changes in your own backyard or hometown? The differences can be large or small — altered blooming schedules, unusual animals that have arrived in your community, higher water levels encroaching on your property.

Please fill out the form below. We hope to hear from you. Thank you.

I'll give ABC News benefit of the doubt and call this "wisdom of the crowds" or something. Will be interesting to see where this goes.

Friday, June 16, 2006

BREITBART.COM - China Builds 51 Dams to Slow Toxic Spill

BREITBART.COM - China Builds 51 Dams to Slow Toxic Spill

Chinese authorities tried to slow the spread of a toxic spill by building 51 makeshift dams along the tainted river and using fire trucks to pump out polluted water before it reaches a reservoir serving a city of 10 million people, state media said Friday.

Poor design by incompetent designers and company executives?

BBC NEWS | | Urbanisation

BBC NEWS | | Urbanisation

What a terrific data visualisation! Shows the growth of "super cities" (urban areas) from 1955 through forcast 2015. If one were looking for causes of global warming and other environmental issues, one wouldn't be too far the root cause than seeing the evidence here.

Bill Gates

The whole world by now has heard that Bill Gates is stepping down, essentially now. He will be focusing his energy now on doing good things for the world with his money. The world will be much better for this. I do hope he is more successful in changing the world in his new way, than his success in changing the world with his technology.

I spoke with Bill Gates at Microsoft one time, in early 1983. I can only assume it was *the* Bill Gates. I was phoning them from UK for help with their CPM board for the Apple II we were using do to project planning. dBase was the software. Notes on those support calls are written in the DayTimer notes from that error that I still have on my bookshelves, for some strang reason.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

flashflood.swf (application/x-shockwave-flash Object)

flashflood.swf (application/x-shockwave-flash Object)

This is a graphic view of the timeline of the flooding of New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It demonstrates the inevitablility of flooding caused intially by the pile-up of water in the "funnel" to the east of the city, followed by the "filling" of Lake Pontchartrain with sea water which then needed to flow back to the sea via the city of New Orleans.

Saturday, May 27, 2006 | A parent's guide to Linux Web filtering | A parent's guide to Linux Web filtering

Excellent summary of how to configure safe internet browsing for the home based on Linux server, DansGuardian, and Squid. (video/quicktime Object) (video/quicktime Object)

My son found this "confusing". I found it amazing and creative. And try to get that song out of your head.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Ethanol: Myths and Realities

Ethanol: Myths and Realities

What Business Week fails to mention is the high energy cost of making the fertilizer required to produce the corn. THe fertilizer comes primarily from natural gas, which of course is a non-renewable energy source. Further, too much nitrogen is being used. It runs off and kills streams, rivers, lakes, and the ocean ...

This is a Saudi textbook. (After the intolerance was removed.)

This is a Saudi textbook. (After the intolerance was removed.)

Saudi Arabia must change.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Edinburgh Festivals are on their way � The Edinburgh Blog

The Edinburgh Festivals are on their way � The Edinburgh Blog

Nice summary of upcoming events in Edinburgh. A great reminder why Edinburgh is such a great city to call home.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Excel User Tip: Creating a database table from a summary table

Excel User Tip: Creating a database table from a summary table

When Microsoft first included Pivot Tables in Microsoft Excel (early 1990's as I recall), it took me a little bit of time to get my head around what they were and what they were good for. Once in head, I recognised how powerful they are.

The next step was to be able to do "reverse Pivot Tables" on data presented in summary Pivot Table format. That seemed impossible without doing coding in VBA or something.

This web site explains how to do it from with Excel without coding. First time I ever saw this. Perhaps this capabilty included in Excel when Pivot Tables entered into Excel. I don't know. But this is good stuff.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Foreign Policy: The List: The Five Top Global Choke Points

Foreign Policy: The List: The Five Top Global Choke Points

I like thinking about world-class risk analysis and management processes. It doesn't get any more world-class than considering these.

Airline Pilot Central - FedEx arrivals during Thunderstorms

Airline Pilot Central - FedEx arrivals during Thunderstorms

Look at this time-lapse representation of FedEx planes arriving in Memphis while thunder storms approach go over, then pass the airport. Notice how the planes seem to "scatter" when the thunderstorms are over the airport. Fascinating.

The American Thinker

The American Thinker

Imagine the nerve of ExxonMobil actually making a profit. Oh the humanity.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

NASA - Stellar Rubble May Be Planetary Building Blocks

NASA - Stellar Rubble May Be Planetary Building Blocks

When I was a kid I consumed "NASA Facts", a public relations newspaper sent out to promote NASA and their achievements. For nostalgia reasons, I wish I hadn't thrown them all away. Meantime, NASA now has computers and the internet to do the same things. See this link where there is a supurb animation of an exploding star (with a poor planet near by), resulting in a pulsar with a surrounding disk of rubble. The Hubble telescope has seen these same structures.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Foreign Affairs - Saddam's Delusions: The View From the Inside - Kevin Woods, James Lacey, and Williamson Murray

Foreign Affairs - Saddam's Delusions: The View From the Inside - Kevin Woods, James Lacey, and Williamson Murray

I just blogged about how I have too much to read. Yet, this article, from the May/June 2006 issues of Foreign Affairs, has just moved to the top of the stack.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The fall of Baghdad in April 2003 opened one of the most secretive and brutal governments in history to outside scrutiny. For the first time since the end of World War II, American analysts did not have to guess what had happened on the other side of a conflict but could actually read the defeated enemy's documents and interrogate its leading figures. To make the most of this unique opportunity, the U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) commissioned a comprehensive study of the inner workings and behavior of Saddam Hussein's regime based on previously inaccessible primary sources. Drawing on interviews with dozens of captured senior Iraqi military and political leaders and hundreds of thousands of official Iraqi documents (hundreds of them fully translated), this two-year project has changed our understanding of the war from the ground up. The study was partially declassified in late February; its key findings are presented here.

Creating Passionate Users: The myth of "keeping up"

Creating Passionate Users: The myth of "keeping up"

This article surely rings bells. You ought to see the stack of to-be-read books and magazines in my home office. At least I have a holiday in a few months where some of the stack will be dealt with ...

Friday, April 28, 2006

CERIAS Weblogs » Security Myths and Passwords

CERIAS Weblogs » Security Myths and Passwords

Written by a professor of mine from University days, boy is this going to burst some bubbles!

Business 2.0: The best-kept secrets - Mar. 23, 2006

Business 2.0: The best-kept secrets - Mar. 23, 2006

From the magazine "Business 2.0", they present "5 tricks of the trade for everything from finding great employees to sparking creativity and even knowing when to pass on a deal." There's not an idea on the list that I don't like. And gee, that succinct presentation style of a photo with a couple of paragraphs is terrific.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Going Nuclear

Going Nuclear

Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, writes in the Washington Post on why he supports nuclear power.

In the early 1970s when I helped found Greenpeace, I believed that nuclear energy was synonymous with nuclear holocaust, as did most of my compatriots. That's the conviction that inspired Greenpeace's first voyage up the spectacular rocky northwest coast to protest the testing of U.S. hydrogen bombs in Alaska's Aleutian Islands. Thirty years on, my views have changed, and the rest of the environmental movement needs to update its views, too, because nuclear energy may just be the energy source that can save our planet from another possible disaster: catastrophic climate change.

Also, read James Lovelock's "The Revenge of Gaia: Why the Earth Is Fighting Back".

Friday, April 14, 2006

How I Work: Bill Gates - Apr. 7, 2006

How I Work: Bill Gates - Apr. 7, 2006

Intersting article on CNN on how Bill Gates works, including using SharePoint. In my efforts to move us out of the 20th Century and into the 21st Century using collaboration tools, it's enlightening that Bill works this way. More importantly, he allows (and expects) his organisation to work this way.

In my world, using SharePoint is "beneath" most executives, managers, and other leaders. That's what PA's and secretaries are for. Thus the organisation is not "allowed", empowered, or enabled to move into the 21st century. We end up with an organisation whose information needs are driven by databases in PowerPoint.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

These Guys Do What For a Living? And How the NY Times Sees It ...

Winds of Change.Net: These Guys Do What For a Living?

Mining is a dangerous business. Death is a possibility of every person entering a mine. Just a hunch, but I suspect there are considerably more deaths per year for mining for coal than any other energy manufacturing business.

Be that as it may, the New York Times, in an editorial also published at chose to severely critize the Bush Admininstration for "packing mine safety agencies with pro-management appointees -- which has produced a marked decline in major fines for negligent companies."

Did the Times consider that mine safety agencies are not the main control of reducing death in a mine? Did the Times consider that maybe companies are not naturally as negligent as they assume?

Did the Times look a the trends in mine safety, as measured in deaths per year? See where these stats are published:

Fatalities and Injuries for All Mining (Coal & Noncoal)

Year Average Annual
Deaths Average Annual
1936-1940 1,546 81,342
1941-1945 1,592 82,825
1946-1950 1,054 63,367
1951-1955 690 38,510
1956-1960 550 28,805
1961-1965 449 23,204
1966-1970 426 22,435
1971-1975 322 33,963
1976-1980 254 41,220
1981-1985 174 24,290
1986-1990 122 27,524
1991-1999 93 21,351

There have been 24 mine deaths so far this year. Assuming this trend continues, this will be approximately the same as the average of the previous decade. If you want to politicize that statment, it's about the same as achieved in the Clinton admininstration. I'd say the Coal Mining Industry and the Government (starting a long time ago) has made great progress. Surely they can do more. I would prefer that they had gone faster, but the facts speak for themselves when comparing current performance vs. longer term trends. Further, to try to make a political statement just doesn't cut mustard.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Computer Networks: The Heralds of Resource Sharing - Google Video

Computer Networks: The Heralds of Resource Sharing - Google Video

Fascinating 1972 video (available from Google) which describes the creation of the Internet by the people who did it--even before it was called the Internet. They touch on the technology and social changes they envision.

I found the video sobering on two fronts. I was at university in 1972. First, despite (as I remember) these ideas being in the minority and controversial, they were right. Second, I remember discussions of these issues at late-night discussions in the dorm and I used equipment like that shown in the video.

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Risk in Risk Management

(free registration required to read this link).

Tom Wescott writes a terrific article on a practical and pragmatics process for building realistic risk ppalns and budgets and integration them into project plans. This is the same message I've been promoting (and doing where possible) for many years. It's so revolutionary it's hard to see how this will change the world overnight. After all, the proposed process expects the project stakeholders and owners to actually fund risk mitigation activities (vs. making it charity work).

Well done Tom.

Friday, February 24, 2006

On Making the Right Choice: The Deliberation-Without-Attention Effect -- Dijksterhuis et al. 311 (5763): 1005 -- Science

On Making the Right Choice: The Deliberation-Without-Attention Effect -- Dijksterhuis et al. 311 (5763): 1005 -- Science: "On Making the Right Choice: The Deliberation-W"

Science magazine publishes a paper supporting the idea that "contrary to conventional wisdom, it is not always advantageous to engage in thorough conscious deliberation before choosing."

Sunday, February 12, 2006

NPR : Podcast Directory

NPR : Podcast Directory

Terrific list of podcasts available from National Public Radio in USA.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Go Lady!

I'll always think of this video clip when I see fancy, expensive cars

Sunday, January 15, 2006

The origins of the Great War of 2007 - and how it could have been prevented

The origins of the Great War of 2007 - and how it could have been prevented: "Niall Ferguson"

Niall Ferguson writes about how the "Great War of 2007" was made certain by three causes:

1. increasing reliance on the Middle East as a source of petroleum
2. large increase in a younger population in the Middle East compared to Europe and North America.
3. increase in religious fervour in Middle East compared to Europe

It is also interesting how Ferguson notes that history is repeating itself.
As in the 1930s, an anti-Semitic demagogue broke his country's treaty obligations and armed for war. Having first tried appeasement, offering the Iranians economic incentives to desist, the West appealed to international agencies - the International Atomic Energy Agency and the United Nations Security Council. Thanks to China's veto, however, the UN produced nothing but empty resolutions and ineffectual sanctions, like the exclusion of Iran from the 2006 World Cup finals.
A risk of those change demographics are more people with an alternative view of the past. As discussed in "Failing the Stalin Test" by Sarah E. Mendelson and Theodore Gerber in Jan/Feb 2006 issue of Foreign Affairs, that most young people in Russia think that Stalin did a good job and about 20% said they would vote for him if he ran for president today.

How, without remembering and understanding the past will be able to avoid the same mistakes?

New Scientist Premium- Editorial: Methane emissions cause red faces all around - Editorial

New Scientist Premium- Editorial: Methane emissions cause red faces all around - Editorial

The New Scientist Magazine (subscription required to see entire article) reports that between 10 and 30 percent of all methane tha is routinely and continuously pumped into the atmosphere is that methane emitted by vegetation. This methane source has never been noticed before, nor is there understanding why plants make methane.

And we thought we understoond global warming.

iTunes Appears to be a "Hog" on my machine

I mentioned before that learned to really find Podcasting useful to me. See However, I've also grown to notice that Apple iTunes, during Podcast update, seems to be the single biggest "hog" of resources on my machine. Why is it such a sluggish program?

Math Will Rock Your World

Math Will Rock Your World

My 13-year old son wonders what learning mathematics will do for him in the future. He's at the point in life where you make choices about the school courses you wish to take. He's required to continue with math which is good--even better is that he wants to continue. This Business Week cover-story will be of interest to him, I hope.