I always have time for The Onion – especially when it comes up with articles like this:

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It’s been a while, but this is sort of the mood I’ve been in.

You can view the final panel here.

I haven’t blogged in a very long time – what does it take to get me back onto the WordPress? How about this:

How about Olympic mascots that a) look like one eyed-trouser snakes, and b) surely offend the Cyclops community worldwide?
The designers must have been sniggering to themselves when they gave the pitch:
Seb Coe: “So what have you got for us then?”
Designers “Well, we’ve got these things that look like animated love truncheons”
Seb Coe: “Interesting! So there’s a law and order angle, keeping people safe, yeah?”
Designers: “Not really, they just look like badly drawn cocks – look they’ve even got little japs eyes”
Seb Coe: “Ah an international flavour – I love it, here’s an obscene amount of money. Can you do battery operated toys?”
Designers: đŸ™‚

I mean FFS!

Anyone who doubted the power of the Internet to bring together communities of like minded oddness just drop by at the Star Wars: Uncut site. These enterprising lunatics are trying to remake Star Wars 15 seconds at a time, by asking for contributors to shoot their own snippets in any way they seem fit, then stitching it back together.

Visit the site here

Star Wars Uncut “The Escape” from Casey Pugh on Vimeo.

Truly a work of art – surely this is the sort of class that Tim Berners-Lee had in mind when he started to cobble this world wide web thing together…

I’m pleased to say we’re now taking registrations for our Agile Workshop in conjunction with Advantage West Midlands on 27th May 2010 at Aston Science Park in Birmingham. It promises to be a really interesting event – whether you’re completely new to agile and lean thinking or have tried to adopt some of the agile practices before, we’ve got a range of speakers and industry experts on hand to guide you through the process of adopting this clearly better practice in software development.

Click here for details:

A brief interlude to celebrate Newcastle’s return to the top flight of English football – where we belong. I can even laugh about football now after a year in mourning. I surprised myself with how disinterested I became in the Premiership in the past season – thought I would have at least followed who was going to come down and replace us, but I really didn’t have any interest biscuits at all…

Still, we’re back and thanks to Richie for this link:

Back of the Net

I met an interesting chap last week who is trying to run a fully distributed agile project, with development teams and business owners scattered across the UK, and a bit of sub-continent off-shoring thrown in for good measure. The conversation turned to scaling problems in general, and I wondered if there are some common issues that may have common solutions, such as:

– trying to scale by doing the same things with more people

– trying to scale by doing the same things in different places

– trying to scale by doing different things with the same people

So at the same time I’m wondering about  Stephen Wolfram’s work on computational systems and complexity, and wondering if there is a defined limit on scale that makes these problems complex. Let’s look at a quick example.

Suppose we run a project with ten people following a simple process defined as ABCDEFGHIJ. We like the output, so we scale the number of people to 100 and ask them to follow the same simple process. At what point does the first error creep in, changing the process slightly, subtly to ABCDEFGHiJ or ABCDEFHGIJ? When does the pressure from the additional ninety people suggest that you can change that process, because the first three letters are always the same – let’s just use xDEFGHIJ instead…

What would happen if we decide to outsource the repeating part of the process, which we’ve managed to shrink down to just x = ABC anyway. It must be cheaper to get this x from elsewhere – maybe a specialist x production company, who can produce x’s and X’s in a range of shapes and sizes. So now we’re getting a range of outputs that look like:

xDEFGHIJ / XDEFGHIJ / x DEFGHiJ

and the divergance continues.

The original ten people are now not involved in the first three steps of the process, and the volume of additional team members is starting to introduce random errors just through the scale of the new team.

Is there not a better approach to scaling that keeps everything at the level of scale that you know works, then repeating that structure rather than trying to increase the size or distribution or complexity of the underlying process?

Put another way, is 10 x 10 better than 100?

The UK was a no fly zone today as the clouds of dust from a volcanic eruption under a glacier in Iceland spewed a gazillion tonnes of stuff into the upper atmosphere. For those who thought this was a consipracy theory, here’s the pictures:

Iceland’s disruptive volcano – The Big Picture – Boston.com

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Apologies – I started my new regime of blogging every day and then promptly went on the company outing to Bruges, so no posts for the past week. Normal service is now resumed.

Bruges itself was excellent – a real chocolate box town – and great to spend some time with the work family. We came back quite energised and are busy putting together the presentation for our Agile West Midlands Workshop on the 27th May. More details of that event to follow.

Even with my usually skeptical head on, and this being April Fool’s Day, I couldn’t help thinking there was more than a grain of sinister truth in this one. The reason for my suspicions? Technically it was posted on 31st March, so if it is an April Fool’s gag it’s out of synch. More importantly, if I was Google and had a few spare billions in cash sat in the bank, I might be tempted to do some research into nuclear technologies….

…or sharks with frikkin laser beams attached to their heads…

…or dogs that fire killer bees out their mouths when they bark…

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