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  • Chomphet Hike, Luang Prabang, Laos

    The Chomphet Hike is nice hike across the river from Luang Prabang, Laos. I used this wonderful map for the hike. My hike probably was about 8 km and I went in a circle around the whole hike on the map. The hike would be very difficult (next to impossible) to follow in several places if you didn’t have the map.

  • Ants and Traffic Jams

    There are tiny ants all over SE Asia that run amazingly fast. I can see why this is a big advantage. They cover lots of ground. When they find some yummy thing they get back home and tons of buddies follow them to the reward. It is amazing how fast they ram into each other.

    These ants are pretty amazing example of evolution. But you also can see how a pretty simple tweak of trying to lay out "lanes" for travel could help. The ones I watch don't seem to use lanes at all, so they are constantly bashing into ants going the other direction. Which they seem to cope with perfectly fine, but it has to slow them down and waste energy.

    Evolution is amazing but it does often also end up with designs that have bits you could intelligently tweak to seemingly great advantage.

  • What is a Lean Program, Deming Program?

    Lean has evolved away, IMO, from just being able to say anything Toyota does is by definition lean. Lean and Deming are more about a philosophy of managing - continual improvement, respect for people, etc. than prescriptions. So you can't really have a checklist and say that if your org can check off all these things they are lean or Deming.

    The fact that the management systems can't be reduced to a checklist is a necessary given the long lasting power they offer.

  • Circumhorizontal Arc (Fire Rainbow) in Hoi An, Vietnam

    I saw my first Circumhorizontal Arcs (Fire Rainbows) display in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. A couple days ago I experienced them again in Hoi An, Vietnam.

    A circumhorizontal arc (also known by the exciting name, fire rainbow) is an optical phenomenon – an ice-halo formed by plate-shaped ice crystals in high level cirrus clouds. If the cloud is at the right angle to the sun, the crystals will refract the sunlight just as when rainbow is created.

  • Building a System to Reduce Interruptions for Software Developers

    I feel strongly about the damage done by interruption to maker's focus. My appreciation for this damage to system performance was greatly enhanced as I became a software developer.

    In my work prior to software development I could see that interruptions were not ideal but they were not so damaging to my work and they do also have value. But work that requires extra focus, and software development sure did for me, the damage increasing greatly.

  • Visual Management and Mistake-Proofing for Prescription Pills

    Mistake proofing is often really mistake-making-more-difficult (for some reason this term of mine hasn’t caught on).

    But the idea is pretty simple: when you have processes that are important and at risk of failure, design processes with elements to make mistakes hard (and ideas such as mistake-proofing and visual management can help you guide your mind to ways to create better processes).

    The entire process needs to be considered...

  • Which PM Said “The last programme I wrote was a Sudoku solver in C++”?

    "The last programme I wrote was a Sudoku solver in C++ several years ago, so I’m out of date. My children are in IT, two of them – both graduated from MIT. One of them browsed a book and said, 'Here, read this'. It said 'Haskell – learn you a Haskell for great good', and one day that will be my retirement reading."

  • A College Degree Isn't an Acceptable Hiring Screen

    Our company had just hired a new HR person that started "showing their worth" with new rules such as the dictate that all hires must have a college degree.  Thankfully our team agreed to hiring him was wise and the CIO decided that dictate was nonsense and we hired the applicant.

  • My Early Experience as a Digital Nomad: Part One, Technology

    My first 3 destinations (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia) has had 10 Gb plus high speed data plans for about $10 (for a month). My 4th, Vietnam only offers 3 Gb for about $10 and Viettel blocks a personal hotspot, I thought only the USA was that lame). I think I will try another that offers 5Gb (I still need to find the price – a hotspot will let you tether your laptop for them).

  • The Value of Professional Conferences. Also Why Has There Been So Little Innovation?

    The idea that a conference should be a 2 or 3 day event in one location is what they have been. But is that the way to serve the purpose of conferences today (or 20 years ago?). What is the purpose? What should attendees get out of them? How can we make them more valuable to attendees? There are lots of things about encouraging networking and extending the reach of the conference for months.


    And while keynote speakers often have charisma and polished presentation styles I often found their content very lacking. I think conference organizers often err greatly on the side of slick presenters over presenters with content with much value. Now plenty of keynote speakers have both and they are wonderful...

  • Solar Energy Capacity by Country (graph 2009 - 2013)

    In the USA, even after growing 60% in 2008, 53% in 2009, 71% in 2010, 86% in 2011, 83% in 2012 and 64% in 2013 solar energy capacity only totaled 1% of USA total electrical capacity. In 2013 hydropower was 6.8%, wind was 5.3% and biomass was 1.3%. The increase in solar capacity should continue to grow rapidly and is starting to make significant contributions to the macroeconomic energy picture.

    When you look at total electricity generation solar only represented .5% (compared to 6.6% for hydropower 4.1% for wind and 1.5% for biomass).

  • Hacking Saved Apollo 13

    The hacking culture is much more about figuring out ways to make technology work for people than about criminals. We shouldn’t let a small sub-set of hackers defile the term.

    When the oxygen tank exploded, Commander Jim Lovell made the famous statement: “Houston, we’ve had a problem.” The engineers on the ground and astronauts had to devise solutions to several very difficult problems and execute them quickly in order to return the damaged spacecraft to earth.

  • Motivation and Delivering Solutions When You Work for Yourself

    When you work for a company you have clear expectations for performance. If you become your own boss, for example as a digital nomad, you operate in an system that doesn’t have the same structures to enforce you focus and deliver. In many ways this is exactly what people seeking the digital nomad life want, but it also can bring challenges...

  • Scientific Inquiry Leads to Using Fluoride for Healthy Teeth

    I love stories of how we learn for observing what is happening. We don’t always need to innovate by thinking up creative new ideas. If we are observant we can pick up anomalies and then examine the situation to find possible explanations and then experiment to see if those explanations prove true.

    When working this way we often are seeing correlation and then trying to figure out which part of the correlation is an actual cause. So in this dental example, a dentist noticed his patients had bad brown stains on their teeth than others populations did...

  • Mosaic Art at Wat Xieng Thong, Luang Prabang, Laos

    I really like the mosaic artwork on the walls of buildings at Wat Xieng Thong in Luang Prabang, Laos.

    Luang Prabang is full of interesting temples and is a great place to walk around. The old city has been designated a World Heritage Site by the UN and I highly enjoyed staying in Luang Prabang.