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June 7, 2007

Heard at Starbucks just outside Seattle

Loyal readers know I'm a Peet's coffee fan but sometimes there is no choice.
Here is what I heard the other day:

"This is a very sad day today, we are giving up starbucks"
"Don't you like us anymore?"
"No we do, that is why we came in today. We are giving it up because we want to save money."
"I was just talking about you yesterday. I was telling my friend I call you my posse."
"It will last for about three weeks. We've tried before."

June 4, 2007

Build Your Own Diesel Motorcycle

Diesel Motorcycle

A couple of weeks back at the Maker Faire in San Mateo I ran across this home-build diesel motorcycle. It integrates a BMW automotive diesel engine (BMW 320D - 1995cc 4 cylinder turbo diesel rated at163 hp 251 ftlbs torque) and suspension from a BMW (paralever front end, etc.) It was built for an attempt at the diesel motorcycle land speed record later this year. The current record is somewhere around 105MPH. It would surprise me if it didn't smash that record, but who knows? I think I would have gone for a VW TDI motor instead - being lighter and likely smaller, but I guess it does make some sense to go all BMW especially if you are looking for sponsors.

You probably can't make it out unless you look at the bigger photo (click for big diesel motorcycle) but it is powered by biodiesel.

More about the motorcycle and its creators here:

June 1, 2007

Green Building

I've added another site here which focuses on Green Building resources and techologies. There is not much there yet, but I expect it to grow considerably over the coming year.

Top Ten Mistakes Made by a New PMO Manager

It being Friday, it seems a good time to add to the store of project management humor. The following is from William Duncan:

Top Ten Mistakes Made by a New PMO Manager (with tongue mostly in cheek):

  • 10. Selling his/her house to be closer to the new job.
  • 9. Buying stock in her/his new employer's company to demonstrate commitment.
  • 8. Failing to understand that PMO stands for "Project Managers are Opposed."
  • 7. Believing what was said about senior management commitment during the interview process.
  • 6. Believing what was said about the skills of the PMO staff during the interview process.
  • 5. Thinking: "how hard can it be to get this organization to support something that is clearly in its best interests."
  • 4. Thinking: "how hard can it be to get the project managers to support something that is clearly in their best interests."
  • 3. Planning to hire an outside organization to develop all new procedures.
  • 2. Deciding that better project management training is all that's really needed.

And the Number One mistake ...

  • 1. Taking the job.

Source: Posted by William Duncan, the Newgrange Mailing List.

May 25, 2007


From the world of Finance comes the news that Bull-Dog Sauce Co. is a take-over target (see quote below). It is not a surprise to me. It is not management though which is the problem. It is the products themselves. A look at the label of Bull-dog tonkatsu sauce shows that it is composed of high-fructose corn syrup.


The rival brand Kagome lists:


(tomato, carrot, onion, apple, lemon, garlic)


Is it any wonder?

In general, companies with a specific profile are an easy target for corporate M&As: Their stock is priced relatively low in spite of their technical capabilities; they employ overly optimistic corporate strategies; they do not make effective use of their assets; or they have much retained earnings.

An example in this mold is Bull-Dog Sauce Co., the nation's leading sauce maker, which has become the target of a takeover bid by U.S. investment fund, Steel Partners Japan Strategic Fund. To avoid such a situation, management should properly tackle difficult tasks, such as implementing management reforms, improving corporate value, increasing the aggregate market value of shares and preparing measures against buyout attempts. Source: The Daily Yomiuri


Image borrowed from Alice's Tonkatsu blog entry

May 11, 2007

Travels in the Western Region - Bad Day at Biomat

Part I, In Which We Introduce the Main Characters and Serve Them With a Crushing Defeat.

Blaze Novacaine took a long draw on his cup of chai and stared off into the distance. He blew a cloud of hot steam into the cold morning air. "Can it do it?" he asked.

"Hell if I know" said Jeff Plank as he poked at the coals of last night's campfire trying to rekindle them, "but there is only one way to find out". Blaze glanced at Jeff out of the corner of his eye. The twinkle in his eye hiding the trepidation and fear and even ennui that lurked within his elongated skull cavity, "Let's ride!".

Blaze and Jeff swung a leg over their laptops and the machines roared to life after a long night's hibernation. Several hours later they arrived at the oddly named town of Biomat. "What kind of name is this?" Blaze scoffed, "Where I come from the towns are all named after wines or celebrities". Jeff shook his head, laughed and spit in the dust. "The name Biomat was carefully chosen to convey a dynamic and profitable image to potential shareholders and venture capitalists" he drawled. "The 'bio' part is latin for self, just like in biography, the 'mat' is derived from the olde English word 'laundromat'. The etymology is unclear, but I think it refers to hard plastic chairs or perhaps soap dispensers, so together it means something like 'self-soaping' or maybe 'I sit alone on a white plastic chair and I have no more coins'. It used to be a clean place to live, but now it needs delousing.". Blaze nodded twice, then three times. He kept nodding. Then he woke up. "That is why we are here" he said as they signed in at the front desk.

The tables were arranged in the shape of a giant horseshoe. Blaze and Jeff tethered their machines to the cables and hit Fn+F7. Nothing happened. "You're shooting blanks" whispered Jeff in Blaze's ear. Beads of perspiration began to show on Blaze's forehead, "This worked last night. Help me out!" he shouted in a whisper out of the corner of his mouth. Jeff began typing furiously to draw attention away from the screen. "Value Proposition!" he shouted. He began turning his screen towards the others still clicking his mouse with his other hand. "Every project successful!", "You can ride..."

"Enough! This is a Fortune 500 town!" barked Big Dig, cutting Plank's last attempt at distraction in half. "And you…" he paused for effect, letting a slow trickle of steam from his ears, "You... are too slow on the redraw". He walked out of the room. Jeff tried to console a now weeping Blaze "Oh yeah. Biomat, I looked it up. It means sitting alone, devastated under fluorescent lights', at least that is what Google says." They untethered their laptops in silence and rode out of town.

To be continued…

(disclaimer: The above is a work of fiction intended for humorous effect only. Any other interpretation is prohibited. Violators will be persecuted to the full extent of the law.)

April 19, 2007

The Stranger's Path

J. B. Jackson wrote about the "Stranger's Path", the path that a newcomer to a town would take. In his age it was defined by the bus stations and train stations and the path that strangers would take from there to the town or city. In a more modern age it is the airport and the starbucks and the rental car aisle etc...

But it is my contention, that path has become so generic that it has no meaning to people any more. It conveys little about the place you have arrived. There is little to distinguish one city from another.

So what can you do in a new town? Walk... drive... stop along the way... take some time to see what is there down the block, and the block beyond and the block beyond that. These are are the things you can see if you take a minute to get out of the car or take a short walk.

Click on the photos for access to a larger version.

snoqualmie- alls-2Snoqualmie Falls-2

snoqualmie-fallsSnoqualmie Falls

520 Floating Bridge520 Floating Bridge

Seattle DocksSeattle Docks

March 28, 2007



Yesterday morning I was cleaning off my hard drive. I picked out a folder which I thought had nothing of interest in it. I hit delete with prejudice. Last night I wondered what happened to my photos of Seattle...

I guess the bright side is that I'll be there again sometime.

It brings to mind a conversation I had a couple weeks ago with someone who has their entire email history stored somewhere somehow. I was making the point that although I share the tendency to pack that information away in case I need it someday, there really is very little of it that I will ever look at again. Email really does have a very short shelf life and the endless stream of new email allows no time to linger longingly on meeting minutes from 1997.

I learned to keep all those things from being in an environment where litigation was likely and email and faxes and contracts had some evidential value. You can't just hit the delete key and hope it all goes away. Some of it I kept because it was new to me and I thought I might refer back to it at some future time or perhaps I put a lot of time and effort into it, or perhaps I was just lazy, or over cautious. Much of my mail nowadays is interesting but ephemeral.

Still it gives me some psychic pain to delete something interesting and potentially useful that lands in my mail box. One thing which eases this pain is knowing that someone else out there was the source of that information and as long as I know that person I have a link back to the information. Or in some cases the information is stored out in the cloud. Usenet posts have a lifetime longer than the average computer. lets me look back and see what used to be.

So far, I've just been talking about the cost of deleting things, I haven't talked about the benefits. There is some cost benefit. Hard disk space gets cheaper every second, but is still not yet free. Searching and finding space needles in the evermounting haystack has a time and computing cost. As things get better this cost approaches 0 but never quite gets there. You save almost nothing in cost by keeping everything

So where IS the benefit of hitting the delete key found?

The value is found in looking forward rather than backward. I don't know how to measure it, but I think the value is immense.

So here are my packrat rules for information storage:

  • Keep the keys - links to important places people etc.
  • Put the good work on a shelf somewhere you can find it again. A central library is a good idea here.
  • Print out contracts.
  • Put raw material that you need for a temporary endeavor in a separate well-named folder so you can find it and dispose of it when you have created something useful out of it.
  • Forward the rest to a friend who keeps everything
  • Hit the delete key with impunity.

I can't say that I actually do all of this, but I am trying.

For related information on the perils of living in the present look here: Attention Interface

March 27, 2007

Sunday Dinner


This is what I put together for dinner a couple of days ago. In the front you see some maguro (tuna), then some kaiware (daikon/radish sprouts) then shiny blue-silver saba (mackerel). The rice is a departure from typical as it is brown rice with plum vinegar. Not shown is my favorite hamachi (yellowtail). Just use a sharp knife and a good pair of tweezers to pull bones from the saba and you are all set.

Personal PMP test takers

There is no better reminder that I've neglected my series on passing the PMP Certification Exam than a stream of readers searching for cheats, tips and now, "Personal PMP test takers". It can't be that hard can it?

A coach or a study group might be useful in creating the sense of obligation that some people need to get through the process, but hiring a personal PMP test taker takes away all that pressure. In fact, why not outsource all your work to someone who already has a PMP? The only trick to it is getting your company to pay for it.

I'm expecting to have to do some travel soon. Travel means killing time in the airport. Killing time in the airport means I'll probably write more. You'll know it when you see it. Any requests?

Related queries from today's log:
"Paying for a PMP cheater"
"paying people to take PMP exam for you"
"PMP's who will take exam for others for pay"
"How to cheat on PMP exam"

March 22, 2007

Trouble in Paradise

Ah, the troubles this thing causes. Notes insisting I remove things are always such a headache. I generally try hard to keep things anonymous and generic and non-controversial. I reveal no secrets except my own and even those I'm guarded with because as you know, nothing is secret on the internet.

In the interest of keeping secrets secret I'm not even going to tell you what I'm talking about. But I am going to tell you that even as bad as I feel getting email from angry people, there are more bright sides to it.

This week one of my readers from Texas came up and said hello. Last week a person I had just met who was sitting next to me at a meeting had my blog up on his screen. And the week before at an unnamed location an unnamed person said he reads my blog too. It is an odd feeling, one which makes you wonder what preformed impression they have based on the narrow stream of information that I pour out here. But the fact that they told me they read it does seem to indicate that they must at least find what I write useful or interesting.

March 20, 2007

Partial Sun


Spring is really here. I got rained on very heavily at lunch but by the time I got home the sun was out. Now there is a fierce wind. Changing of the seasons is not something to take lightly.

March 16, 2007

On the Other Side of the Mountain

The MVP summit is over. The past two days were spent in Room 2668 with the Project developer team. At this stage in the development cycle spirits are high and there are a number of good ideas floating around. Most importantly, the team seems to be reaching out to really try to understand their (current and future) user base. This is a marked change from what happened in Project 2007 where large portions of the design were already predetermined and the team charged straight ahead ignoring any and all distractions.

The amount of time spent with the teams is also an improvement over previous summits. There is still room for improvement, but Microsoft reversed the trend for MVP summits to be more and more about show and tell than they were about listening. This is enough to make me want to come back next year if I'm still invited.

Now I sit waiting at Seatac Gate N1 watching grey planes passing by the grey terminal on grey pavement, serviced by little grey vehicles under a grey sky. The splashes of yellow and blue paint on bollards and runways are a poor substitute for bright sun and blue sky. But I'll be on my way soon enough... soon enough.

March 14, 2007

The Lifeless Project Life Cycle

"Project Life Cycle" is a misnomer as far as I am concerned, but digging around the origins of that term brings up some interesting ideas. Why is it that "Life Cycle" was chosen? There are plenty of other things which are cyclical which do not bear the first name of "Life". Motorcycles, Bicycles, Kreb cycle, Stirling Cycle, Ring Cycle ... you can keep rolling on from here endlessly.

But Project Life Cycle is different from other cycles. It insists on LIFE. What is LIFE? Stripping out the concept of the individual, after all individual drones are alive in one sense of the word (even cubicle drones ... I think), Life on earth can be stripped down to birth, reproduction and eventually death. Does a project conform to that model?

If projects are actually a life form, what is their means of reproduction? This isn't to say that some projects don't create life. Many do. Every major project I've worked on has had it's own mini baby boom tied to some significant project event, but those are human lives, not the life of the project. Do project create new projects? Or are projects just a cycle of some sort which enable an organization to continue on with its life?

It seems a project may be a closer fit to the process of obtaining sustenance by hunting and gathering and in some case cooking and serving. In consumption they come to an end. Well - I leave out digestion and beyond. Ashes to ashes... Perhaps there is no exact analog in life for them.

The point that it raises is the bigger one, Not what is the correct term for a project cycle (I'm convincing myself that they do not have a LIFE cycle), but what is the way that an ORGANIZATION lives? Does it just experience birth and death or does it reproduce and how does it sustain life? What nourishes an organization? Is "maturity" in a biological sense something that an organization passes through? There has to be some insight in there somewhere.

March 13, 2007

This is the way that they worship their god


Stand before him and clothe thy body in red. Offer unto him thy technology, screens great and small glowing with the holy light. Polish thine head until it reflects verily like the convex back end of a stainless steel milk truck. And when thou has done so, chant the incantations at a sharepoint service. Invoke replication across a broad server farm. SELECT * from Authors. Tie the unholy scripture in broad ribbons woven with HIS icons. And when he has left the stage, endure penance as the lesser priests drone the unending chant, at least until 5:00.

Tomorrow will come and the mysteries of Microsoft Office Project 2007 and Microsoft Office Project Server 2007 (MOP and MOPS - sorry Brian) will be revealed.

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