Blog entries from March, 2008

My notes on Peopleware

Friday, March 28th, 2008 at 10:07pm

Earlier in the year I re-read Peopleware and I finally got around to comparing my notes with Hamish’s.

Here are my notes, in the form of quotes:

  • “Managers jeopardize product quality by setting unreachable deadlines. They don’t think about their action in such terms; they think rather that what they’re doing is throwing down and interesting challenge to their workers, something to help them strive for excellence.” – page 20
  • “Quality, far beyond that required by the end user, is a means to higher productivity.” – page 22
  • “Quality is free, but only to those who are willing to pay heavily for it.” – page 23
  • “The manager’s function is not to make people work, but to make it possible for people to work.” – page 34
  • “People cannot work effectively if their workspace is too enclosed or too exposed. A good workspace strikes the balance. … You feel more comfortable in a workspace if there is a wall behind you. … There should be no blank wall closer than eight feet in front of you. … You should not be able to hear noises very different from the kind you make, from your workplace. Your workspace should be sufficiently enclosed to cut out noises which are a different kind from the ones you make. There is some evidence that one can concentrate on a task better if people around him are doing the same thing, not something else. … Workspaces should allow you to face in different directions – A Pattern Language” – page 85-85
  • “The business we’re in is more sociological than technological, more dependent on worker’s abilities to communicate with each other than their abilities to communicate with machines. So the hiring process needs to focus on at least some sociological and human communication traits. The best way we’ve discovered to do this is through the use of auditions for job candidates.” – page 103
  • “Of course, if your people aren’t smart enough to think their way through their work, the work will fail. No Methodology will help. Worse still, Methodologies can do grievous damage to efforts in which the people are fully competent.” – page 116
  • “The purpose of a team is not goal attainment but goal alignment” – page 126
  • “… If you say the product absolutely has to be out the door by some arbitrary date, they will ask, “Why? Will the universe grind to a halt if we’re late? Will the company fold? Will the nation slide into the sea? Will Western Civilization break down?”” – page 138
  • “The fundamental response to change is not logical, but emotional” – page 197
  • “If the key learning doesn’t happen at the top and it doesn’t happen at the bottom, then it has to occur somewhere in the middle. That meas the most natural learning center for most organizations is at the level of the much-maligned institution, middle management. This squares exactly with our own observation that successful learning organziations are always characterized by strong middle management.” – page 212
  • “The ultimate management sin is wasting people’s time. It sounds like this should be an easy sin to avoid, but it isn’t. You have some needs of your own as a manager, and these needs may run squarely against your intention to preserve and use wisely the time of the people working under you.” – page 215

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Another IBM PC Convertible

Monday, March 17th, 2008 at 10:23pm

Today my third IBM PC Convertible arrived from the US.

Third? Yes, I picked up a basic unit over a year ago and then six months ago I picked up one with the printer slice.

Although in my quick test I couldn’t get it working, this one includes:

  • the later backlit display (confirmed working on one of my other units)
  • modem option
  • carry case
  • manuals

So, even if I can’t get this one working – it was listed as not working – it does give me more of the options.

Also, flicking through the manual is interesting as it gives information on options such as the printer even though the unit may have not included it.

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A use for that display stand

Sunday, March 16th, 2008 at 09:48pm

20 months ago I purchased a stand for my 24″ display but didn’t end up using it. For 9 months it has sat on my floor and before that it was being used by a friend on a 17″ display.

When I got the 24″ display I moved my old 19″ CRT (with scratches all over the surface) to my mum’s computer. Today I finally got around to replacing that with a nice Samsung 19″ LCD, but after setting it up I found that the stock stand was pretty hopeless.

Yes! A use for that stand.

While writing this post I discovered that it is two years to the day since I started this whole saga by getting the Dell display. It is still going strong.

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A walk-around lens

Sunday, March 16th, 2008 at 09:17pm

The kit lens from my digital SLR is a Canon 18-55mm lens. As well as the quality not being the best (I am far from alone in that opinion) it doesn’t have the zoom range that I want for a general purpose walk-around lens.

A few weeks ago I went into Luna Park with David to take some photos. For this I borrowed Hamish’s Canon 28-90mm lens (that he has since sold) and the extra length was good. However 28mm just wasn’t wide enough.

Last week I went to the Steamrail open weekend (repeating last year with a better camera) and this time I took along Hamish’s Sigma 18-125mm lens (that he has has his main lens). Although this is both longer and shorter than the 28-90mm, it is the shorter length that I used the most.

From a number of options I has narrowed down my choice to the Canon 17-85mm IS lens and for the past two weeks I have been monitoring eBay. After bidding on a few listings, last night I was the winning bidder for the lens, a hood and two UV filters for half what they would all cost new and consistent with the final price of other listings. Fortunately the seller (from the other side of the city) was coming my way and they delivered it today.

I knew it was physically bigger than the 18-55mm kit lens, but until I had handled it I hadn’t realised how much. Compared to my 28mm it is massive:

Canon EF 28mm and EF-S 17-85mm IS lenses

This difference means that the case I got a few weeks ago is now not big enough for this lens, and it is a bit too big if I have the 28mm on. Maybe I should have got a slightly smaller bag for when I will just have the 28mm (such as the upcoming Pub Standards meeting) and a bigger bag to take the camera with 17-85mm attached and the 28mm in a pocket.

That photo above of the two lenses was taken against some off-white paper (slightly larger than A3) curved up against the wall and with a business card to bounce the flash off the (white) ceiling. So it didn’t look dull I had to adjust the fill light in Picasa which resulted in it being a bit grainy. That is why I need to make a lightbox. Decent external lights (flash or floodlights), the camera on a tripid and controlling it via software would be a massive improvement.

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The first Pub Mongers

Thursday, March 13th, 2008 at 10:50pm

Due to venue issues, there was no Melbourne Perl Mongers last night. Instead there was a ‘Pub Mongers’, sort of the same thing except entirely at the pub with no planned talks.

But that didn’t stop Paul:

Paul using his portable presentation device

Pub Mongers (March 2008) – a photoset on Flickr.

One other change is that I didn’t bother taking my laptop along as the most I have used it for at a meeting for a long time is making a note of something to look up later. What I did take along was my good camera.

I only took along the kit 18-55mm lens (instead of the 28mm F2.8 lens I also have) as I still haven’t got a better walkaround lens (looking at a EF-S 17-85mm IS lens on eBay). This still gave me some experience in pretty bad light so hopefully things will only improve.

Continuing my plan on going to as many community events as I can I should be repeating this next week at Pub Standards Melbourne.

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