Beat The System

As any social organisation evolves the tendency is to build systems that will further aid development and progress. The social organisation may be anything ranging from a country, a religion, a city, a company, a small project or even the internet. The systems, traditional processes, machines and automation works on repeatable activities making them more reliable, acceptable and predictable. In some cases the systems are enforced using policies, rules and restrictions and in other cases it is just recommended using values, guidelines or rituals.

On the other hand, building systems also creates a counter-tendency to “beat the system”. This is...

Wabi Sabi

The Japanese world view of wabi-sabi is quite powerful. It allows us to accept imperfections, even better, to be open about imperfections. Whether it be sin, mortality or suffering imperfection is part of this world. Hardly anything man-made is perfect. Interestingly enough, I was browsing through the internet for some good chef’s knives for my wife. I found Japanese knives to be highly rated, but not as attractive as the German ones. May be my naivety, but what struck me immediately is the form and aesthetics that follows function.

I look at my creations, the stuff that I build at my...

Two Birds in the Hand...

Rarely I record thoughts or feelings that may change over time. I hardly write about a product or company. But this time, I feel compelled to write about Google and the way the Google way of getting things wrong. I just finished reading an article on The Atlantic confirmed my thoughts.

I use most of Google’s services pretty well, and my all-time favorite is Google Reader. I still wonder why there is no serious competition to Google Reader. Especially the way Google Reader clients are built on many platforms. But with Google+,...

The Coldest Hour

I have got a new weather app. It is so well-designed that I do not mind checking it daily. One of the features I like is the hourly track of temperature for 36 hours. After getting used to it for a while, I started noticing the daily patterns in temperature.

One of the interesting observations is that the coldest hour comes around 4:00 and 5:00 in the morning. Just before the sun rises. When the night has lost all it’s hope about the day. And then the sun slowly rises, and the cold disappears. The dew slowly melts away and...

Walk Through

I always fancied the world of architecture. No, not the software architecture, the real one. While I admire the work of architects, my training as a civil engineer prompts me to look critically into the possibilities and feasibilities of architectural creations.

At the end of my engineering course, I took up an assignment to architect a house, under the guidance of a professor. I derived many valuable lessons from that experience, and one of those lessons is walking through the plans. My guide taught me to mentally walk-through the house after the plan is drafted. I was asked to take...

The Project Fuel

At times, I think of managing a project as driving a car. The size of the project is the distance to cover, time is time, and effort is the fuel in the tank. The faster we do the work - the faster the fuel burns - the faster we reach the destination. Of course, provided we are traveling in the right direction.

The interesting aspect is that there is usually an optimum speed for driving. If we deviate from that we end up burning more fuel than required.

Sometimes we are forced to drive faster to reach the destination quickly....

Mathematical Models

We live with mathematical models all around us, whether we realize it or not. We apply them at work as if those are deterministic formulae. One such approach is the application of normal distribution which is a common choice for modeling large number of independent or random variables.

Models based on normal distribution is almost considered like a universal truth and we apply it even when the variables are not really random; or even the sample size is clearly small. It may be complexities of work products, productivity figures, appraisal ratings - taken at micro level.

Luckily, I see another...

Yes Sounding No

“Yes! I will do. But…”

For those who prefer closed-ended questions, the second part of the answer causes problems. Certain questions are expected to be answered yes or no. Not yes and no.

That’s not how the majority of population in this world thinks. The answer can be yes and no. And it is not a conditional yes. Even after we include all the conditions to the question, it is possible to get an answer which is neither yes nor no. And that is usually a no, which sounds like yes. It is contradictory. Well, almost contradictory!

In linguistics the yes/no...

Err on the Safer Side

Many years back, I was given an assignment to estimate a project. I put my best efforts to ensure that the estimates are as accurate as possible. Then I consulted with the manager, who was a veteran in the industry, well into his 60s.

He reviewed the estimates quickly and asked “Geordee, have you erred on the safer side?”

I said, “No!”

“Well. Go and change the estimates. Err on the safer side.”

I wasn’t very happy with that then.

Recently a colleague described an incident. The client asked him to increase the estimates, just to ensure that quality is...

Layered Knowledge

The world’s knowledge is layered.

There are industries that make metal, industries that make airplanes using that metal, and industries that operate airplanes. The travellers on these airplanes are in turn doing something else - producing and servicing various things across the world. There are people who build operating systems, people who build software tools, people who make applications using those tools and people who use applications and run businesses.

There is hardly anyone who knows all the layers in a single supply-chain stack very well. But it may be a good idea to look into those adjacent layers to...