Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Good reminder of fundamentals

Great anecdotal post from a product management blog on my blogroll.

This taught me several valuable lessons

1. Baseball metaphors don’t travel well.

2. Usability and look & feel aren’t the same thing.

3. Local functionality matters. Řešení SAP ERP HCM je navrženo pro globální podnikání, podporuje funkce pro výplatu mezd, regulační požadavky a obsahuje nejlepší zkušenosti z praxe pro více než 47 zemí.

4. Translators,Translators, Translators.

Read the blog post in full for the complete context. Always a good reminder.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Good product design is almost always a good investment

I was reminded of this truth today. My wife is a forgiving woman full of grace :-) who forgives me for not being enthusiastic with the vacuum cleaner. This might be changing!

We recently bought a Kone -> and I seem to find myself wanting to use it more often. We also have a Dyson for more regular vacuuming. I very much doubt that the Kone is better technically than the Dyson but I do think they got a lot of the usability and product design 'right' with the Kone.
So what do you have? You have a customer who seems to enjoy using the product and his wife will hopefully think he is a good man for doing so.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Way to go Austin!

According to this Wired report -
Austin, Texas has the highest percentage of residents who read or write blogs

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Good people of Austin Energy

We lost power this morning, around 4:30am. It was starting to look bad outside, the storm clouds were heading towards Austin. Kim called the power company couple minutes after we lost it. It turns out that the power lines run through a rather large bush (i thought it was a tree till today) and the primary and the secondary power lines ended up making contact in the bush thus shorting out.

The fine folks at Austin Energy showed up 5:30 (in spite of the weather) and had the problem resolved by 7:45. Well done gentlemen and thank you for working through the rain.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

It is cool to geek once in a while

Technology review did a very good 2 part article (links below) on the latest generation of math whizes (what do you call a collection of math wizards?). These men and women play a very interesting and vital role in our economy and have a direct hand in the sub-prime mortgage market collapse that occurred recently.
If you want to understand what CDO and Derivatives have to do with modern economics this is a good place to start.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

It does not take a MBA to do this...

  • It is not easy
  • Nor is it always possible
  • But it is worth striving for.
  • It does not need a good ROI
  • It always makes good business sense!
This blog post is what got me thinking ->link

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Requirements and Refactoring

This is a dog story. Well the protagonists are dogs but this story is not about dogs, it is about requirements management.

Requirements management is one of those phrases that puts majority of the people in the software industry (well people in general) to sleep. It needn't and in fact it is VITAL.

Assume you are a young strapping gunslinger in the 1870's who just graduated from gunslinging school. You are excited and ready for some action, you are hoping to ride shotgun on the coach transporting the gold from one town to another. You are hoping to draw fast, fire true and make your name known. Instead you are told to spend time with the boring people who maintain the books, you are told to go talk to the bank president and understanding his concerns and his goals...blah..blah..blah.. at some point you stop listening and you fall asleep. After all, you came out of gunslinging school not good listening school.

Finally, you leave town with the coach carrying the gold. Oh No! it is Ben Wade !! You decide it is time to put your education to work. Wade's gang hits the back of the coach first and retrieves lot of the gold and loses interest in your crew.... but you decide you will kill as many of them as you can and make your president proud. There is a fierce firefight and for a while you take down two of them for every one of you who goes down. Eventually the shooting ends and you and the rest of the survivors drag yourself into town. You are expecting praise for your courage and determination - instead your president chews you out and he is MAD!!! what happened...?

Well it turns out, he did not care as much about the gold as he did about the chief accountant who was traveling with you. He wants to expand his franchise and he was planning on using his chief accountant to train a whole cadre of bankers. Since you decided to stay and fight back, the chief accountant is now dead and that is exactly what the president did not want.

Could you have avoided this? Oh yes this is what the old man was talking about when you were told to listen earlier..... costly lesson eh.

Wait didn't i say this was a dog story. Hrmm... well then, here is a less dramatic example: my wife and I got two puppies recently. Bella and Zooey are five months old and came straight from the breeder to our house. So as we went through the usual new puppy process we realized that we had three tags for each of them with their names and our phone numbers plus an additional number. How did this happen?
- my wife ordered custom tags for them with their names and my number
- the vet we took them to for their rabies shots saw they had no tags on them and made them tags with their shot info and the vets number on it. Of course it had their names also.
- I registered them with AKC and akc sold me on a recovery plan for them for the cheap one time price of 12$. This meant now they have a tag with their names, a unique AKC id and a 1-800 akc number to call.

This is mainly a communication issue but also a requirements issue. And you thought this was a boring subject ;-)

1. I saw two westerns recently, 3:10 to yuma and "annie get your gun". Ben wade is so the man!
2. I am aware that gunslingers are predominately men but that does not mean that requirements management is a male problem.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Watch what you say....

I came across this article on as part of work related research.
Jesus' maker, David Socha, said he created the biblical toys to give girls an alternative to dolls in G-strings and boys a source of amusement not modeled on "demons" and "spawns of Satan."

"The Bible's full of violence, but I don't think violence is glorified in the Bible," said Socha, CEO of California-based One2Believe. "When I was growing up, I was always GI Joe. I was never the bad guy. Now, I think some kids are playing the bad guy. We're trying to bring wholesomeness back."

I am sure his intentions are really good but I am not sure the best way to position it is through stereotypes. Girls like dolls in G-string whereas boys like "spawns of satan".... heh! man wish the boys and girl in Austin were that simple to understand ;-)

I am actually very much for him offering more choice to kids. I just unfortunately get the stench of piety and close-mindedness from that tag line (talk about not stereotyping people *grin*)