Wednesday, December 31, 2008
The last time I did this I tried to give them to a local book charity--but they had no interest. This time, after reading an article in the New York Times I was reminded of Amazon's Marketplace. I'm a loyal Amazon customer, so I thought I would give it a shot.
I put 161 books into Amazon Marketplace. The first sold within an hour of being list. Over the last two days I've sold 11 books. I set the price. Amazon takes a cut of the sale price. Amazon also does a computation of what they think the shipping charge should be and they bill the buyer, and credit that amount to my account.
For the 11 books sold so far, the cost I charged was £60, and Amazon has taken about £22 in fees. They've given me an additional £32 for their estimate of shipping costs. I've paid £38 in postage plus a couple of more pounds for a few padded envelopes. I've re-used envelopes for the rest. Gives me a net income of about £32.
I'll take that for 11 not-needed-by-me-but-wanted-by-someone-else books.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
This lovely video gives a different picture from the route maps. It’s a simulation of global air traffic from the fine folks at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences. The map uses data from Flightstats.com, and overlays their position on a Miller cylindrical projection.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Today's Wall Street Journal reports:
Russia's state natural gas monopoly OAO Gazprom warned Saturday that a pricing dispute with Ukraine could disrupt gas supplies to Europe. Ukraine could use its pipeline to divert Russian natural gas intended for European customers even if it fails to pay its multibillion debt to Gazprom by Jan. 1, said company spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov. If that happened, the company was "not sure we could fulfill our transit obligation" of Europe-bound gas supplies, he said.
The UK is dependant on gas from Russia as supplies from the North Sea are insufficient to meet demand. The UK has insufficient facilities for the storage of gas. Further, the UK is reluctant to invest in additional gas storage facilities. This was discussed at length at a meeting of The Scottish Oil Club in November 2005 by Adrian Fernardo of Star Energy who at that time was seeking to build additional gas storage. His presentation is published here.
We need to start building additional storage facilities and we need to reduce our reliance on gas from Russia.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Authors Note: This short article was originally written in c. 1999. It was written to explain what up until then had been intuitive but inexplicable. A longer article was written at the time; alas, it has been lost. Sometime this article will be updated. Meantime, it's being published here in the Blog with the hope that it might get more notice than at www.rmschneider.com/writing.
Knowledge Management is not new. Knowledge management goes back as far as human memory, and then evolved into stone tables, books, and file cabinets. Then--suddenly--in the late 20th Century "sticky notes" arrived.
One of the great myths of Knowledge Management that is a technology solution.
It's not. Knowledge Management is a process that can be used to share and transfer knowledge between traditional "silos" of service management. It is a management process that transforms "noisy" thoughts and ideas into learnings and then into knowledge.
There are four key questions that are key to developing a knowledge management process for any organisation:
- What kind of knowledge do you need?
- How do you get it?
- How do you develop, manage, and store it?
- What do you do with it?
Noise to Knowledge
I have developed a simplistic model which I call "Noise to Knowledge". It describes what I have observed to be natural processes for how information moves between three identifiable nodes: (1) Noise, (2) Learning, and (3) Knowledge.
Information inside each node is "stored" in particular types of "buckets". The most effective organisations have natural processes and tools which move the information through filters and tools to drive information from "noise" to "knowledge". Where the tools or processes are ineffective or do not exist, the organistion is at risk of being or becoming ineffective.
Information flows back and forth between these nodes. The "buckets" in which information sits in each node is different, and can be described with examples:
Noise: Discussions which may or may not be relevant or correct. In email, newsgroups (NG), conversations around water cooler or pub. Nuggets of information which may or may not "live".
Learnings: "the last posting" in a NG thread which confirms and finalizes the conclusion and/or learning. The "wrap-up" in a meeting. Stored in emails, "last posting", FAQ's, memos, etc. "One-time" then (maybe) file type of documents.
Knowledge: compendium of learnings (including what's remaining to be learned). In articles, published papers, books, maintained web pages, encyclopedias, etc. "Documents" that get written, checked, edited, published, maintained.
Information flows between notes due to Processes, deliberate or "natural", that push and pull the information through "filters". These "filters" are people, process, and tools.
It is essential that the right "tools" and storage media for information in each stage of his movement through the process are fit for purpose. Before computers, the world had this all figured out. Knowledge was in things like encyclopedias, books, standards, etc. Noise was what happened around the water cooler or in pubs. Learnings were stored in letter, newspapers, magazine articles, etc. The "half-life" of information in each media was influenced by that media and in general was inline with the value of that information. For example, information in the Encyclopedia Britannica had a different credibility that information in contemporary newspapers (which only are the "first draft" of history.
Once we got computers into the mix, all things changed. No longer was it clear where that information was "best" kept; and in the absence of having proper tools that were fit for purpose, information was inappropriately stored and published. For example, or many the only place they have to store and publish is via email. Storing knowledge in email tools is a great place for that information to be at risk of lost and difficult to be made available to others.
In general, due to their nature, participation, and the user-interface of the relevant tools, newsgroups about computing topics are pretty much no more than "noise" with some "learnings". Many learnings get lost; hence the repetitious questions. We have "pointers" to knowledge, but there are few processes here that work to move the information from "noise to knowledge". This appears to be not unusual for many "computing information/knowledge" communities (maybe because the information has a short "half-life" value). I've observed other "communities" where the nodes and processes I mention are more complete and hence more knowledge is retained and propagated.
A major challenge for organisations is to ensure that the right knowledge management tools are provided for each phase of the knowledge management process. A suite of tools and technologies are required. These tools do not need to be, nor probably should be, large bespoke specialized "knowledge management" tools. The most successful tools are simple and ubiquitous —but that's the Achilles' Heel: if simple and ubiquitous they are likely to be mis-used either because that is all anyone knows, that is all they have, or worse—that is all they are allowed to have. Constraints on what people are allowed to have are caused by management (funding and leadership), the IT department (control and deire to reduce costs and make one size fit all), and self-inflicted (ability to change, learn, etc.).
At any moment in time, the "best" tools and technologies are going to be different from what they where and what they will be. That's a problem.
Most importantly, people need to know how to "drive" these tools and turn noise into knowledge, and knowledge into better knowledge.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Well, I guess this happens to everyone. I was curious about the recent disclosures of contributors to former President Clinton's foundation. After reading the article in the New York Times, I clicked on the link they provided to www.clintonfoundation.org, and see only:
the offending sql was:
SELECT T0.id AS T0_F_id,T0.site_id AS T0_F_site_id,T0.category_id AS T0_F_category_id,T0.sub_category_id AS T0_F_sub_category_id,T0.position AS T0_F_position,T0.title AS T0_F_title,T0.link_title AS T0_F_link_title,T0.copy AS T0_F_copy,T0.permalink AS T0_F_permalink,T0.metadata AS T0_F_metadata,T0.preview_text AS T0_F_preview_text,T0.location AS T0_F_location,T0.byline AS T0_F_byline,T0.status AS T0_F_status,T0.media_id AS T0_F_media_id,T0.initiative_id AS T0_F_initiative_id,T0.related_item_id AS T0_F_related_item_id,T0.user_date AS T0_F_user_date,T0.created_at AS T0_F_created_at,T0.updated_at AS T0_F_updated_at,T0.user_id AS T0_F_user_id,T0.date_string AS T0_F_date_string,T0.is_sticky AS T0_F_is_sticky,T1.id AS T1_F_id,T1.name AS T1_F_name,T1.alt_text AS T1_F_alt_text,T1.file_path AS T1_F_file_path,T1.caption AS T1_F_caption,T1.preview_text AS T1_F_preview_text,T1.user_date AS T1_F_user_date,T1.media_type_id AS T1_F_media_type_id,T1.category_id AS T1_F_category_id,T1.sub_category_id AS T1_F_sub_category_id,T1.site_id AS T1_F_site_id,T1.created_at AS T1_F_created_at,T1.updated_at AS T1_F_updated_at,T1.location AS T1_F_location,T1.byline AS T1_F_byline,T1.credit AS T1_F_credit,T1.guid AS T1_F_guid,T1.user_id AS T1_F_user_id,T2.id AS T2_F_id,T2.name AS T2_F_name,T2.description AS T2_F_description,T2.permalink AS T2_F_permalink,T2.parent_id AS T2_F_parent_id,T2.site_id AS T2_F_site_id,T2.page_id AS T2_F_page_id,T3.id AS T3_F_id,T3.name AS T3_F_name,T3.position AS T3_F_position,T3.site_id AS T3_F_site_id FROM items T0 LEFT OUTER JOIN medias AS T1 ON (T1.id = T0.media_id) LEFT OUTER JOIN categories AS T2 ON (T2.id = T0.sub_category_id) LEFT OUTER JOIN initiatives AS T3 ON (T3.id = T0.initiative_id) WHERE T0.status = 1 AND T0.site_id = 1 AND T0.category_id = 1 AND T0.sub_category_id != 2 ORDER BY T0.is_sticky DESC, UNIX_TIMESTAMP(IFNULL(T0.user_date, T0.created_at)) DESC LIMIT 5 OFFSET 0
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Costs and capabilities of computing hardware have changed by a factor of tens of millions in five decades. Currently, transistors cost less than 1/7800 of a cent apiece in modern CPU chips (Intel Itanium). Assuming I didn’t drop a decimal place, that is a drop in price by 7 orders of magnitude. Ed Lazowska made a presentation a few years ago where he indicated that the number of grains of rice harvested worldwide in 2004 was ten quintillion – 10 raised to the 18th power. But in 2004, there were also ten quintillion transistors manufactured, and that number has increased faster than the rice harvest ever since. We have more transistors being produced and fielded each year than all the grains of rice harvested in all the countries of the world. Isn’t that amazing?
Monday, December 15, 2008
Ever want to know about how wind energy works and how they go about designing machines to make it? I recently discovered that the Wind Energy Handbook is now available online at http://www.knovel.com/web/portal/basic_search/display?_EXT_KNOVEL_DISPLAY_bookid=1057. Registration required.
There is efficiency and effectiveness (money) for organizations who drive to having "scalable" SharePoint implementations. Joel Oleson writes about this:
If you've done much SharePoint administration you'll soon realize the sooner you can turn your site collections into repeatable, sustainable, objects with consistency and standardized administration, the sooner you'll be able to achieve economies of scale.
Don't miss Greg Alleman on "Risk Management in Fife Easy Pieces". He again writes eloquently on the subject.