technosurfer.net

Musings on personal and enterprise technology (of potential interest to professional technoids and others)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Future States blog: Swimming analogy to understand risks of overconfidence

Heard Malcolm Gladwell's outstanding presentation today (at The Art of Management conference), re: the overconfidence of experts that led to the 2008 financial crisis, as compared to the mistakes of General Joseph Hooker's overconfidence in the Civil War Battle of Chancellorsville . I was reminded of an outstanding "Swim Season" Future States blog post by Demian Entrekin in his Future States blog. Both Gladwell and Entrekin suggest the very real risks of overconfidence, even by those considered experts in their fields. Here is part of Entrekin's IMHO brilliant swimming analogy (full post at http://it.toolbox.com/blogs/ppmtoday/swim-season-37499):

"Imagine two swimmers.

Both swimmers are trying to get from one island to another.

On the other island there is a clear destination...

Both swimmers jump into the water at the same time.

The first swimmer puts his head down and begins to swim...

The plan is to waste no time.

The plan is to keep swimming until the destination has been achieved...

The second swimmer has a different plan.

The second swimmer will take 100 strokes and then stop.

When the second swimmer stops, he will wait until he sees the destination...

The second swimmer notices that the target has moved.

The first swimmer keeps going hard and strong.

The second swimmer stops again and notices a current has taken him off course.

He makes a small adjustment and continues swimming.

The first swimmer begins to tire.

The second swimmer continues to stop and make adjustments...

The first swimmer finally decides he must stop and take his bearing.

The second swimmer sees the shore.

The first swimmer sees the two islands in the distance.

The second swimmer feels tired but also sees the end.

The first swimmer begins to swim back against the current, a sense of panic setting in.

The second swimmer reaches the shore.

The first swimmer now wonders which island is the destination."

Thursday, June 17, 2010

5 things you can do with attachments in Gmail - Official Gmail Blog

Nice article explaining 5 attachment-related gmail features, including my favorite: "Never forget an attachment again":











However, I continue to be amazed that google, The King Of Search, have not enabled searching your gmail to find the matching content in your messages' attached PDF's (yahoo has).

Sunday, February 7, 2010

First Look at the iPad for eLearning - Interactyx


Excellent review, thanks to Patrick for this excellent Interactyx blog post, clarifying some of the criteria to consider when evaluating Kindle vs. iPad:

First Look at the iPad for eLearning - Interactyx: "...It appears Apple has struck a significant blow to Amazon's Kindle with an aggressive pricing structure that matches that of the Kindle DX, yet with a full colour screen and functionality that significantly exceeds that of an e-reader. I also expect Amazon to respond shortly with new pricing structures and a color version. A little competition is always good.

The ipad's reasonably large, vibrant display certainly are a step up from smartphones for visual content, and for me personally, a step up from a Kindle as well... if remote viewing and reviewing of (non-Flash) content is the key it certainly looks like a capable tool in that respect..."

Monday, November 30, 2009

Google Patent for Data Center Cooling Innovations - Data Center Knowledge

A diagram of an 'air wand' indicating the location of cooling vents in wand, a key feature of a patent application by Google data center engineers:






It's nice to see that Google is dedicating not only significant engineering but also legal resources, towards patenting innovative data center cooling techniques. Hopefully, this will lead to an affordable, reusable solution that can help organizations similarly optimize their cooling. As has been documented, cooling typically contributes to up to 50% of a data center's total energy costs (e.g. see for example The Greening of IT: How Companies Can Make a Difference for the Environment by John Lamb, p. 136), so of course cooling innovations can be quite significant towards reducing both carbon footprint and operating costs..

"Google Patent Reveals Data Center Innovations
November 30th, 2009 : Rich Miller

Google has revealed some of the secret technology inside its mighty data centers, but its engineers are busy cooking up new secrets.

An example: Google is seeking to patent an advanced data center cooling system that provides precision cooling inside racks of servers, automatically adjusting to temperature changes while dramatically reducing the energy required to run chillers.

The cooling design, which could help Google slash the power bill for its servers, reinforces Google’s focus on its data centers as a competitive advantage in its battle with Microsoft and other rivals for leadership in cloud computing. The company has customized much of the operation of its data centers, which serve as the engines powering its massive Internet business. Google builds its own servers and networking switches, and now appears to be customizing the racks that hold them.

Precision Cooling via ‘Air Wands’

The innovative rack cooling design features an adjustable piping system, including “air wands” that provide small amounts of cold air to components within a server tray. The chilled air enters the top of a rack through two vertical standpipes, which branch off into air wands – long, thin pipes lined with vents that release cold air.

The air wands can pivot to target cold air on specific components, or be swung to one side to allow equipment to be removed from the rack. Dampers on each standpipe can open and close to regulate the volume of air flowing into the pipe and air wands, while the vents on each individual air wand can be adjusted to point up or down, allowing for a highly configurable system..."

Full Article from
Data Center Knowledge: http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2009/11/30/google-patent-reveals-data-center-innovations/

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Well-done quality improvement is not punitive; it’s educational: Dr. Brent James, NYTimes 8Nov2009

Seems doctors may have some meaningful insights to share with IT executives and project managers, regarding effective management of a quality improvement initiative. A fascinating NYTimes article by David Leonhardt explains how Dr. Brent James is standardizing certain healthcare procedures, thereby significantly improving certain types of patient outcomes. Even straightforward checklists seem to help a lot. Leonhardt also provides the successful example of

"...the Pronovost checklist. As many as 28,000 people in this country die each year from infections that come from intravenous lines. Several years ago, Peter Pronovost, a Johns Hopkins physician, developed a simple list of five steps that intensive-care doctors should take before inserting an IV line, in order to prevent the introduction of bacteria. The checklist reduced the infection rate to essentially zero at 108 hospitals in Michigan where it was adopted. Pronovost published the results in The New England Journal of Medicine in 2006. But most intensive-care doctors are still not using the checklist. To insert an IV line, they continue to rely on their own judgment."

Also helpful and relevant for IT in my experience, is the statement by Dr. James that

"quality improvement is a process, not an event. In part it works by finding variation and drawing attention to it... And well-done quality improvement is not punitive; it’s educational."

Full article:
If Health Care Is Going to Change, Dr. Brent James's Ideas Will Change It - NYTimes.com

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Why didn't Amazon Wifi-enable Kindle?

Don't expect Kindle sales to rival the iPod Touch any time soon... As has been reported, Amazon did not enable Wifi capability for the latest Kindle.

The ongoing delay of Kindle availability in Canada therefore seems (if not logical) at least somewhat understandable. After all, the complexity of finalizing such a deal clearly depends on some sort of Amazon negotiations with 1 or more Canadian wireless carriers. As reported in the Financial Post:

Amazon's Kindle goes global -- but not to Canada, Matt Hartley, Financial Post, 2009-10-07

"Amazon.com Inc.'s popular Kindle digital book reader is now available to literary enthusiasts outside the United States, but Canadians hoping to get their hands on the device are still out of luck...

On Wednesday, the Seattle, Washington-based Internet retail titan announced it was trimming the price of the Kindle ebook reader from US$299 to US$259 while simultaneously introducing a version of the device designed to work in more than 100 countries and territories around the world.

The new international version of the Kindle costs US$279 and will begin shipping on Oct. 19 to countries such as Bolivia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Hungary and Japan...

Canadians, however, are still unable to purchase Kindle devices through Amazon or download Kindle content, such as digital books and newspaper subscriptions."

Additional observations re: Amazon Kindle vs. Sony's Reader in Canada [the latter is already available in Canada] via: Bonfire of the Banned ITs: Why you can’t get the Kindle in Canada, Omar El Akkad, Globe&Mail, 2009-08-08:

"...Part of the Kindle's popularity lies in the massive number of titles Amazon has leveraged to create the Kindle store. There are now more than 350,000 titles available at the store.

Other e-reader manufacturers are also getting in on the game. Sony, for example, has a product currently available in Canada. However, the Kindle's combination of name recognition and huge title support have given it most of the headlines – akin to the iPod and iTunes store for Apple in the world of online music. "

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

IBM/Lotus Enterprise Microblogging Debuts: What about Microsoft?

Is IBM onto something here, ahead of Microsoft? Indeed, Lotus-based organizations should see benefit from the secure enterprise microblogging as described below. Seems organizations based on Exchange would similarly benefit, if the upcoming Exchange 2010 release would include these "publish/subscribe dialogues" within the enterprise, similar to Twitter (but no indication of that from the Exchange 2010 Beta so far). Exchange's unified messaging since Exchange 2007 may be useful and have significant benefits, but IMHO not as simple and easy to use as a Twitter-like service could/should be, if integrated intelligently into the enterprise architecture. Here's further information courtesy of IBM Enterprise Microblogging Debuts - Technology For Change:

"Lotus Connections now boasts a Twitter-like service that lets employees establish and maintain publish/subscribe dialogues within their organizations.

At its Center for Social Software symposium being held this week in Cambridge, Mass., IBM announced the release of a microblogging and file-sharing facility bolstering the Lotus Connections suite of enterprise social networking tools. The Twitter-like service enables employees to establish and maintain publish/subscribe dialogues within their organizations.
Additional features added to Lotus Connections include support for iPhone and Nokia S60 mobile devices, including microbrowser access to Profiles, Activities and the Lotus Connections blogging tool..."