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Monthly Archives: April 2012

At least once every few weeks or so someone trots out a certain old saw that helps keep me Always Grumpy. “You can’t measure what you can’t manage,” they’ll say. I ran into it most recently just this past week, in a presentation on computer systems measurement. To be fair to the presenter, in that context it was exactly appropriate: he was talking about computer systems management, for which the measure of success depends largely on computer performance measurement.

But I hate this adage with all my heart! Many bosses and bureaucrats in all walks of government, industry and academia use it in all sorts of inappropriate ways. They use it to proliferate processes and drive busywork to collect useless numbers; they hide wrong-headed and often preconceived decisions behind statistics that are often only tangentially relevant at best; and worst, they sacrifice good management practices on the altars of mediocrity and/or self-interest.

Up until a few months ago, I used to curse W. Edwards Deming whenever I heard this phrase misused Read More »

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The picture-in-my-blog-post thing seems to be becoming a bit of a theme. I’ll just ride with it for now…

One thing that keeps me Always Grumpy is being kept in the dark. We spend so much of our times there that it’s no wonder everyone knows what I mean when I say I’m kept like a mushroom! And it’s no surprise that other people feel the same way as I do about it.

But I learned something new last week.

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In spite of being Always Grumpy, I’m sometimes very lucky. In the cube farm where I work, I have the great good fortune to have wonderful neighbours, and it makes me Frequently Happy. My aisle-mates and I share humour both dark and light, swap happy stories about our family lives or commiserate as needed. And sometimes we just throw things at one another. Right in front of me sits another person who’s just about as geeky as me, poor thing. I’ll call my neighbour Simon, though that might be a fake name and even sex.

On the four-foot fabric panel wall that separates Simon’s back from my throwing arm rests a variety of toys. These are the kinds of things that accumulate in techie cube farms: stress balls, small wind-up toys, stuffed vendor mascots with screen-wipe behinds and so on. As Simon and I discuss the events of the day and week, we often play with these toys. Today we came up with a solution for Google’s inability to catch Apple in the race for mind- and market-share in the consumer electronics ecosystem market, especially when it comes to tablets and even now that it’s swallowed Motorola’s mobile devices unit. Happenstance, rather than necessity, was the mother of this invention.

So here it is! Read More »

Oh my goodness, if there’s anything that makes me Always Grumpy, it’s kludgey technology. I get that even the most sophisticated machines have limits, and I know they only do what they’re told. But honestly, sometimes I just can’t stand my own electronics! The love/hate relationship reminds me of a poem I used to write on the board of a terminal room I staffed back in the dark ages before PCs: “I really hate this dumb machine; I really want to sell it. It doesn’t do what I want it to, but only what I tell it.” I put that up to remind people that computer problems are most often between the chair and the keyboard… but not always!

I’ve been trying to use Bluetooth headset technology for years, and it’s making me nuts. Read More »

As a little boy I grew up in a city with a mighty and dominant hockey team. Not only did our team play in the (then much smaller) NHL, but they often won the highly-coveted Stanley Cup. And to top it off, they were profitable, so we never wondered from year to year if our team would stay in town.

Ah, those were the days! My uncle had a share in a pair of tickets in the nose-bleed seats; since my aunt and their daughters didn’t want to go with him all the time, sometimes he’d take a niece or nephew instead. It was so exciting! Our team was always competitive, almost always in the play-offs and often in the finals. Now, sadly, our team rarely even makes it into the second season that the play-offs have become in the enormously-grown NHL. It’s one of those things I’m Always Grumpy about. Read More »

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