Mike’s Dump

March 31, 2005

20 questions game against a computer

Filed under: Links — mikesdump @ 9:54 am

Pretty cool 20 questions game against a computer.



March 30, 2005

‘Robert, they can’t eat you!’ Rules for survival.

Filed under: Work — mikesdump @ 9:55 am

I really liked this article. How can you not with a title like that!

Here are the 16 rules I try to live by:

1. Get and stay out of your comfort zone. I
believe that not much happens of any significance when we’re in our
comfort zone. I hear people say, “But I’m concerned about security.” My
response to that is simple: “Security is for cadavers.”

2. Never give up. Almost nothing works the
first time it’s attempted. Just because what you’re doing does not seem
to be working, doesn’t mean it won’t work. It just means that it might
not work the way you’re doing it. If it was easy, everyone would be
doing it, and you wouldn’t have an opportunity.

3. When you’re ready to quit, you’re closer than you think.
There’s an old Chinese saying that I just love, and I believe it is so
true. It goes like this: “The temptation to quit will be greatest just
before you are about to succeed.”

4. With regard to whatever worries you, not only accept
the worst thing that could happen, but make it a point to quantify what
the worst thing could be.
Very seldom will the worst
consequence be anywhere near as bad as a cloud of “undefined
consequences.” My father would tell me early on, when I was struggling
and losing my shirt trying to get Parsons Technology going, “Well, Robert, if it doesn’t work, they can’t eat you.”

5. Focus on what you want to have happen. Remember that old saying, “As you think, so shall you be.”

6. Take things a day at a time. No matter how
difficult your situation is, you can get through it if you don’t look
too far into the future, and focus on the present moment. You can get
through anything one day at a time.

7. Always be moving forward. Never stop
investing. Never stop improving. Never stop doing something new. The
moment you stop improving your organization, it starts to die. Make it
your goal to be better each and every day, in some small way. Remember
the Japanese concept of Kaizen. Small daily improvements eventually
result in huge advantages.

8. Be quick to decide. Remember what the Union
Civil War general, Tecumseh Sherman said: “A good plan violently
executed today is far and away better than a perfect plan tomorrow.”

9. Measure everything of significance. I swear this is true. Anything that is measured and watched, improves.

10. Anything that is not managed will deteriorate.
If you want to uncover problems you don’t know about, take a few
moments and look closely at the areas you haven’t examined for a while.
I guarantee you problems will be there.

11. Pay attention to your competitors, but pay more attention to what you’re doing.
When you look at your competitors, remember that everything looks
perfect at a distance. Even the planet Earth, if you get far enough
into space, looks like a peaceful place.

12. Never let anybody push you around. In our
society, with our laws and even playing field, you have just as much
right to what you’re doing as anyone else, provided that what you’re
doing is legal.

13. Never expect life to be fair. Life isn’t
fair. You make your own breaks. You’ll be doing good if the only
meaning fair has to you, is something that you pay when you get on a
bus (i.e., fare).

14. Solve your own problems. You’ll find that
by coming up with your own solutions, you’ll develop a competitive
edge. Masura Ibuka, the co-founder of SONY, said it best: “You never
succeed in technology, business, or anything by following the others.”
There’s also an old Asian saying that I remind myself of frequently. It
goes like this: “A wise man keeps his own counsel.”

15. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Lighten
up. Often, at least half of what we accomplish is due to luck. None of
us are in control as much as we like to think we are.

16. There’s always a reason to smile. Find it.
After all, you’re really lucky just to be alive. Life is short. More
and more, I agree with my little brother. He always reminds me: “We’re
not here for a long time; we’re here for a good time.”

The full article is here.

The above rules for survival�are included with the permission of Bob Parsons (http://www.bobparsons.com).
Copyright 2005 by Bob Parsons. All rights reserved.

March 29, 2005

Meetings Agendas

Filed under: Work — mikesdump @ 9:57 am

Do you know what I hate? I hate getting meeting requests and the only thing in the request is “Product X Enhancements”.

What does that mean?

  • Being an attendee do I need to be prepared to share some possible enhancements?
  • Do I need to evaluate the technical feasibility of some new enhancements?
  • Is the meeting on the enhancements that we are already planning on working on?
  • Are we being told what new enhancements that need to be added and I just have to listen?
  • Are we talking about when we can start/deliver the enhancements?

This is just one example of a bad meeting request. I have gone to a
number of meetings that once I get there I receive all kinds of
documents that were written well in advance of the meeting but the
organizer never bothered to send them ahead of time. If they were sent
ahead of time I would be able to review the information and be better
prepared to participate in the meeting.

So what is the solution?
How would I know 🙂 But
maybe spend a little bit of time on the meeting request. If
audience participation is expected give the information up front
so people can be better prepared. If the meeting is more of a
brain storming exercise, state that. I’m sure there are all kinds of
formal guides on how to prepare a meeting agenda, which could help, but
I believe the main requirements are to state the purpose clearing and
the desired outcome.

I’m sure I’ve sent out my fair share of crappy meeting requests but
after the past couple of meetings I’ve gone too I’m going to make an
effort to change my requests.

You got to love it. Today I received another meeting request and with a
semi-vauge title (no other description). In the title it said it was
going to be related to projecting the cost for a potential project. I
sent an email back to find out if there is any more information that
the people on the list could use to prepare and what do you know…
there was.

March 28, 2005

Oh, Test everything _before_ you push to Production!

Filed under: Work — mikesdump @ 9:59 am

I did something really dumb the
other day. One of our technical support guys comes over and says “Mike,
you know that constraint you added to the table last year, I need you
to remove it”. I added a unique constraint to a column on one of our
tables because I spent a couple hours in this ummm, difficult to read
code (to be nice) to track down that the support guys had duplicated
a value in the table. There is now a business reason (was back then too
but we didn’t think of it) to allow duplication for different clients.
Instead of removing the constraint and run the risk of repeating past
mistakes I said, “let’s add a new column”. The column would be tied to
the client and the constraint would be put on the existing column along
with the new client column. Pretty low risk I thought.

So I sent an email to the team and support to see if anyone had any
issues with the approach. Nobody said a word. I had already made the
change on our development environment and did a smoke check on what I
was worried about (and thought could break). My mistake is probably
obvious now right? It is always the things that you don’t bother
testing that end up breaking.

Some of the SQL for our reports used a table that had a column
already with the name that we used in the new table. The SQL didn’t
reference which table the field should be polled from so BANG! Oh, did
I mention that I was off the day that it got pushed to production 🙂

Moral of the story, even when you know it won’t break test it!

March 26, 2005

First Blog Entry (attempt 3)

Filed under: Home — mikesdump @ 10:00 am

Well, my first blog entry was a little more painful than installing DNN 3.0.12 (which was really easy).

been using Firefox as my main browser for the past couple months and I
haven’t really had any issues with it. I’ve installed the plugin ‘View
in IE’ to quickly make the switch if needed. For some reason I was
unable to display the popup for the category selection. So, I switched
over to IE. I got the popup but it seems you have to specify/create a
sub-category to select anything. I lost my first couple of
posts because I didn’t specify a sub-category (at least I think that is
what happened)

I’m about to find out I guess…

Blog at WordPress.com.