Rant Archives

April 12, 2005

Hall of Mirrors

My first thoughts about blogging were that it is an exercise in narcissism and that only the mania for constant self-reflection and self-aggrandizement would be enough to keep a person publishing one. My reasons for thinking this were many. Take a look at some of the blogs which are out there. It is hard to count how many bloggers out there blog about blogging and by simple association blog about themselves in the process. The fact that such bloggers invent terms such as blogosphere and hold conferences and create incestuous links between themselves is reason enough to believe that this is a large component of the fascination with blogs.

But after thinking more and looking around I see some people are just as concerned with using a blog to post things which are interesting to them. Some post things which may be useful to others. In short, they just use a blog as a container for some information.

It strikes me that to them, the blog is like a book. The form of publication is not what is important to them, but the fact that there are readers (even if it is only the person publishing it in the first place) is important. This sets them apart from the blog bloggers I described earlier who upgrade the journalist's vice of writing about journalism and send that writing at the speed of light into the teeth of their fan clubs.

So how does this get resolved in the case of this blog? If I write about blog bloggers do I become one myself? Or is it possible to take the role of the critic? Does a critic become a bad poet just because they criticize bad poetry? I'm hoping not. Still it may happen. But until then I'll be content throwing rocks in the hall of mirrors.

April 14, 2005

Project Management Aphorisms

What is it about "Project Management People" that causes them to express themselves in aphorisms? For an example check out this blog. Is there not enough truth that they feel compelled to make up some more? Is it that an aphorism reads well on a powerpoint slide? How can "Project Management" have more aphorisms than a more concrete science like physics?

I'm going to go out on a limb here and postulate: "The more aphorisms, the less knowledge"

Project mythologies and fuzzy thinking.

OK, one more rant before I stop for the day. mythologies and superstition seem to be rampant in the project management world both in terms of consumption and creation. And a lot of the PM blogs use big or marketing type words - primarily the ones with books to sell. I'm gonna have to think up something catchy to match up with things like "lean", "agile", "TOC" and the like. Either that or learn enough about them to write a boatload of nasty comments. I think I'll tackle TOC first...

April 23, 2005

PMP, did they spell that right?

The google ads on my site are all showing PMP certification courses and cheatsheets tonight. How embarassing. One of these days I'll get around to putting some details behind my objection to PMI's shameless fund-raising and consultant full-employment actions, but for now let me just say I don't get it. Why pay for something so meaningless? Am I alone in thinking that everyone with a PMP has been conned? Do they really think it means ANYTHING?

For anyone reading with a PMP certification. Sorry if I have insulted you personally. Feel free to leave a comment telling me why I am wrong. I'm flexible. If you can make a good case I might even change my mind

May 9, 2005

Project Users

Microsoft Project users are not always a happy bunch. It often seems like they come across it by accident:

microsoft project got no idea what the hell is that... only know i need to master it when boss is back... hiazz... dunno can find pirated copy of it anot... den can at least try abit at home mahz... this IA learn so many software... haha... should be of use bah... next time.. haha

Or, they know they have to use it, but it just isn't doing what they want:

I hate MS Project
For some reason, Microsoft Project thinks my project doesnt have a critical path….this is pissing me off.

Why does it make people post things like this?:

Microsoft Project is a PIECE OF SH-T.

That is all.

That is all. :-)

May 21, 2005

PMBOK Good - PMP Bad - PMI ???

I first came in contact with the Guide to the PMBOK nearly 10 years ago. It used to come free on a CD with every copy of Primavera and you could download it off the internet. At the time I thought, great, this is a very useful taxonomy of project management practices. I think it was instrumental in defining common terms which if used consistantly would allow people to discuss and think about project management without misunderstanding.

As PMI matured, the PMBOK got updated and went under more control. Rather than a free disk in every box of software or something anyone could download it became a document that came with a paid membership. You can access certain excerpts of it on-line after filling in some form and agreeing to terms and conditions (PMI site here) but the open attitude and ability to pass the disk around to whoever wanted it is gone.

I seem to recall political battles around the turn of the millenium as well regarding what would go in and what would stay out. I didn't pay enough attention to remember what happened so I won't cover that here, but I'm quite certain that the battles began. Next thing I know the PMBOK became a reference text for PMP certification and a cottage industry of PMP exam trainers sprung up. All of this has a cost. PMI membership has a cost. PMP certification has a cost. Training can cost a couple thousand dollars. And then there is continuing education...something provided by PMP approved consultants.

The organization that once encouraged free sharing of project management ideas and defining common terms so we can engage in productive discussion (see the discussion/argument about what Enterprise Project Management means at Brian's Blog) and debate seems to have turned into a commercial enterprise. A look at the meeting minutes from the last Board of Directors meeting (held in Singapore Feb'05) shows just two items: approval of a travel policy for directors and the following notes about PMP certification:

• PMI will remain the global leader in project and program management credentialing driven by market demand, stakeholder needs and advancement of the profession.
• PMI’s credentialing activities will give priority to cooperation over competition while ensuring that competitive activities are undertaken in a fair and ethical manner.
• PMI will maintain standardized credentialing practices globally and drive innovative solutions which address regional and local stakeholders’ needs.
• PMI will expand the levels and types of credentials and position them to meet the demands of the marketplace. PMI will explore new possibilities for innovative and defensible methods of assessment which are scalable and portable.
• PMI will develop and maintain a clear value proposition for all credentials.

If I use the technique of stripping out the adjectives (very useful when reading corporate speak) and do a little clean up the message reads: "Expand and dominate the market for Project management credentials". Is this to pay for travel to Singapore? How does this benefit the membership at large? Is credentialing the functional equivalent of the sale of Girl Scout Cookies - something to raise money so that PMI can do good deeds? If so, then where are the good deeds discussed?

Sorry PMI - you leave a bad impression when all you do is look for and talk about money.

June 17, 2005

I Come to You Beyond Belief

Looking at some of the more thoughtful articles here I'm finding a common theme, a sense of disbelief in some of the stories that are being told and ideas which are being sold. A recent commentor said it is easier to bring things down than build them up, so perhaps I'm just being lazy, but the way I see it many of the things which are being built up these days are being built on a foundation of clay - if not something less stable and substantial.

Indeed, they are built on a foundation of belief.

Now I don't have any problem with personal belief. There are many things I believe. And really I don't have too much of a problem with people using belief to sell trivial things like iPods and underwear. Belief is great for these things and is the driving force behind branding and other marketing concepts. It is not easy to sell soap without it.

My problem is when the use of belief as sufficient justification extends beyond the personal and starts to affect societies, whether that society is a political or corporate one makes no difference. The point is that other people are affected.

If the belief is in concordance with the truth, then belief is a positive force. When it overshadows the truth or prevents the truth from being recognized or when it is cynically promoted as BEING the truth (the usual term for this is propaganda) then it is not a positive force. When belief dictates policies or procedures without examination of the real facts or when it buries the facts there is no ethical choice but to try try and stomp all over it. Unfortunately, there are many who would rather ride on its powerful back or cling to its belly like a remora.

He was busy reading "My Pet Goat"

Isn't it a bit late to be investigating this?

Gov. Jeb Bush asked a prosecutor Friday to investigate why Terri Schiavo collapsed 15 years ago, calling into question how long it took her husband to call 911 after he found her.

Or are elections coming up again?

June 20, 2005

Not to be all negative

Seems like lately I never have a good word for anyone else on this blog. There are some things I do like and which I never criticize. Things like the moon:
and being underwater come to mind. Not to mention mid-summer.

June 21, 2005

More things I don't criticize

Wisteria Macrobotrys (though I do criticize Wisteria Sinensis for twining in the wrong direction and having a certain lack of grace).

Peet's coffee, particularly any of the Indonesian varieties - Sumatra, Sulawesi Kalosi...

My dog.

July 28, 2005

I'm uh... honored.

My blog got some mail today:

As a producer for the "Forbes Radio" channel on American Airlines, I am
personally extending an invitation for Zo-D to appear on an upcoming
in-flight radio broadcast airing worldwide January 2006. This is a sponsored
program, which reaches over 4.2 million potential listeners.

This unique radio program will be spotlighting the most innovative
organizations and their forward thinking leaders who present strategies and
solutions to help global businesses increase market share, improve
efficiencies and maximize relationships with their customers, employees and
extended enterprise partners.

Some of our distinguished guests who contribute their unique and insightful
perspectives on these special business airlines shows include.

William Brock - former U.S. Senator and U.S. Secretary of Labor
Former Ambassador - Clayton Yeutter
Marshall V. Miller - Miller & Company
Craig M. Pool - Foreign Trade Zone Corporation
Donna Sharp - World Trade Institute of Pace University
And some of America's finest corporations:
Intel, The Broad Foundation, WellPoint Health Networks, Microsoft, Red Hat,
BP America, Cendant, Abbott Labs, BMC Software, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young,
Hilton Hotels Corp, American Medical Association, Deloitte and Touche USA,
FedEx Corp, General Motors, Kmart, Sun Microsystems, Sallie Mae, Starwood
Hotels, Storage Tek, USA Today and many others.

Your spokesperson is invited to join our program and communicate Zo-D's
expertise, and vision to our captive audience of 4.2 million executive
travelers per month. Our listeners include business leaders,
vice-presidents, institutional and individual high-net investors who fly
regularly on American Airlines.

Our production team of creative writers and engineers will produce an
informative and dynamic three-minute interview capturing the exact message
you want to convey. Your interview will then broadcast worldwide on 29,000
flights for the entire month of January 2006.

Here is a review of what the package includes:

1. Production of a 3-minute interview to air on 29,000 audio-equipped
American Airlines flights
2. Listing in American's AAttractions In-flight Entertainment Guide. Total
circulation of 342,000
3. Rebroadcast of interview on with hotlink to your Web
4. Digital audio file of interview for integrated promotional purposes
5. "As heard on American Airlines" logo for airing of interview on your Web
6. All turnkey production including scripting of questions, recording,
editing, mastering and delivery

To hear what's currently airing on Forbes Radio:

You have time to prepare/schedule for the interview, as our recording
deadline is October 5th, 2005. However, time is of the essence to take
advantage.. Our space is extremely limited and we need a commitment by
Tuesday, August 2nd, to submit our invitation list to the airlines for print
purposes.We are offering a 50% discount.Instead of the normal rate card of
$9,995, your discounted rate is only $4,995.

If each of my valued readers chip in a couple hundred dollars each I can take advantage of this wonderful opportunity!

July 29, 2005

Finally the truth! and just as quickly gone...

For those who always wondered how a computer works here is a sight that explains in plane english. Don't forget to tip the webmaster. Now about those busses Judy, it seems somehow you have gotten on a short one.

Sorry, but that link is dead now. Apparently someone out there thought it was dangerous:

Name: Address: XXXXXXXX Subject: Tripod Type of Abuse: Fraud Service: Report Abuse

I found that website that is giving 99% of wrong
informations about computers.

The person is even proposing to receive Paypal
donations for her information given.

For those reasons and because this site is
intentionaly sending false information, I am
asking you to have it shutdown ASAP.



From :
Sent : XX july 2005 XX:XX
Object : Re: Tripod: Fraud (KMM25269096V4XXXXXXXX)


Thank you for contacting the Lycos Network Abuse Department.

The account you have brought to the attention of the Lycos Network Abuse
Department was found to be in violation of our Terms and Conditions. As
a result, it has been removed from our servers. Thank you for reporting
it to us.

Please note that the creator of this page is in no way directly
associated with the Lycos Network or its web publishing products. We
exercise no editorial control over the content posted by or the actions
of our users. All users are expected to abide by our Terms and
Conditions, which can be found at the following URL:

I hope you find that our prompt response to this situation addresses
your concerns. If you have any questions or find more accounts that
require our attention please feel free to contact us again.



Lycos Network Abuse Specialist

Remind me to think twice before I engage in satire.

October 27, 2005


Like any good blogger I read my access logs to see who has been reading. Lately I've been indexed by an Accoona robot. Accona claims to take its name from a song in Disney's Lion King - "hakuna matata". This is a bit hard to believe, but true. Anyway, they claim to be a search engine focused on US and China and are apparently capable of some staggering leaps of logic. The most humorous of these is extrapolation from what looks like a very small data set to the characteristics of an entire nation of over a billion people. Let's see how this is done. For reference, this information is taken from their white paper written by Ira Machefsky and John Fernandez which you can find here

The first thing they do is list the top 25 search terms on their Chinese site. Here they are:

Spring Festival 19%
Tsunami 12%
Car 8%
China 6%
Chinese IM software 4%
CEPA (HK business pact) 3%
Plastic flower pot manufacturer 3%
Copper 3%
Mifare MF rc-531 (wireless chip) 3%
Textile printing ink 3%
Car Audio 3%
Education 3%
AL Corp Musical Instruments 3%
Accoona 3%
Chinese railways 3%
Thermo 2%
Mongolian Software(Chinese WP software) 2%
Shanghai 2%
Elderly in China 2%
Insurance 2%
Emigration 2%
India 2%
Mosaics 2%
Lantern festival 2%
Laptop mother board 2%

From this amazing data they draw some incredible conclusions:

Fully 7 of the top 25 search terms have to do not just with business but specifically with manufacturing: “CEPA” (3%), a recently passed Hong Kong business pact, “plastic flower pot manufacturer” (3%), “copper” (3%), “Mifare MF rc-531” (3%) a wireless chip spec, “textile printing ink” (3%), “thermo” (2%), “laptop motherboard” (2%). Expanding to include general business terms finds two more search terms: “insurance” (2%) and, significantly, “education” (3%)

They go on and list the top 25 searches on their US server and get some results focused on hair care and what appears to be a single hit for "Game Cheats". Comparing the two they conclude:
There is a fascinating disparity between the Top 25 searches on Accoona’s U.S. and Chinese sites. The category profiles for the two sites are the inverse of each other. Chinese searchers are focused on manufacturing and education while U.S. searchers are focused on entertainment, celebrities and games (and looking for ways to cheat at those games). One significant consequence of this finding is that there is considerable opportunity for manufacturing and business-focused search in China, an area that Accoona has pioneered.

If you are not laughing yet, let me tell you why I am. There are two reasons. The first is "plastic flower pot manufacturer". Apparently Chinese people care more about plastic flower pots than they do about the elderly, insurance and emigration, not to mention the entire country of India which shares a border with them and reputedly has nuclear weapons. Plastic flower pots are more popular than steel or heavy industry. Al Corp Musical instruments are more popular than Steinway. The Milfare rc531 is more popular than Chairman Mao.

The second cause for amusement is that all the results (which are stated in percentages - I find it hard to believe that their sample size was much more than a hundred or so) point to the success of Accoona's business model.

Is it too cruel to take the next step and claim that absurd "research" implies an absurd business? I don't know. It might just be self-serving propaganda. Ira Machefsky and John Fernandez are you out there? What were you thinking? Are you laughing too?

December 6, 2005

Management Theory by Google

For some reason Google has decided that the best image of management theories is my picture of abalone and sea urchins:


Now, given enough time I could construct an appropriate analogy featuring things such as diving deep in cold water, holding your breath and prying the poor creatures off of their comfortable rocks with a thick steel bar, not to mention chopping them up and eating them, but the fact that google can already make the connection between those activities and Management theories is just amazing.

January 23, 2006

Self Image and Economic Propaganda

Some people will go to great lengths to justify their lifestyle. An example is Michael S. Rosenwald who writes for the Washington Post. In his recent article "Why America Has to Be Fat" he writes:

"Being fat makes me a lot of things -- a top contender for type II diabetes, for instance, or a heart attack, or stroke, maybe even a replacement knee or hip...But in many ways, my being fat also makes me pretty good for the economy. ... An efficient economy produces sluggish, inefficient bodies."

I find it a bit odd that he is claiming both that his being fat is both good for the economy and at the same time is produced by the economy. A virtuous circle if ever there was one. This clever piece of rationalization relies on some "science" from Tomas J. Philipson who studies obesity at Univ. of Chicago and who states:

"The obesity problem is really a side effect of things that are good for the economy. But we would rather take improvements in technology and agriculture than go back to the way we lived in the 1950s when everyone was thin. Nobody wants to sweat at work for 10 hours a day and be poor. Yes, you're obese, but you have a life that is much more comfortable."

To begin with, the correspondence between being poor and thin bears some investigation. In fact it contradicts evidence which shows that poorer people in the US are not necessarily thinner, and this is due to their diets which are heavy with fats and carbohydrates. Indeed "fat" food is cheap food and a strong economy and wealthy citizens allow the choice of healthier (and sometimes more expensive) foods rather than the reverse.

It seems odd to me that what might be reasonably considered a drain on the economy (currently $124.7 billion for medical treatments related to obesity) is being extolled as a virtue. In a world where writers like this have no notion of cause and effect and are incapable of what seem to me to be the basics of logical thinking I despair about the future. One wonders if the next article will be one extolling the glorious economic value of cancer to our medical industries.

February 1, 2006


This showed up in my referrer log today. I thought the URL for yesterday's post was rather long, but this one takes the cake.

February 6, 2006

Audiobooks frustration

I hardly have enough time to read many things I've been wanting to read so I checked out a couple of audio books from the library. To put it briefly, they are excruciating. Sure, you may be stuck in your car and there isn't a whole lot else to do, but if the two I've suffered through are any example I have to say that they are not a pleasure.

There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that listening is much slower than reading. The spoken word is more concise than the written word. Because writers are blessed with readers who can read faster than most people can talk, writers can create substantial and convoluted sentences. They can waste words. They can write so you need to read it twice. And of course, as with any blessing it is blasphemy to waste it so they do these things. In the case of the books I've heard so far it I'd estimate that listening to the book is longer than it would take me to read it by at least a factor of two. I read fairly quickly so it is not inconceivable that I could finish these books in 1/5th the time. Shifting to this slow speed is like swimming in molasses. Every stroke is laborious and you just hope it will end soon.

The second is that the writers are not writing their work for it to be read aloud. I think they should. It would make their work more lyrical. Of course writing with some sort of rhythm or lyricism is difficult and maybe out of place in technical topics, but that is no excuse. Nothing highlights an awkward sentence better than having some slow-reading grave-voiced actor mouth it in a near monotone. Nothing is more devoid of rhythm than an enunciated bullet list. Of course some fault may lie with the readers. So far none of them seem to own the words coming out of their mouths.

Two is too small a sample for me to give up so I'll continue listening, and waiting, and hoping that maybe the next one will be better.

February 21, 2006

Seth suffering from short attention span

Seth Godin seems to be forgetting the past. He claims that dissatisfaction  is  "a trend that is accelerating through every market and community on Earth." in his recent post:

Seth's Blog: The culture of dissatisfaction

Sorry Seth, I'm not believing that the good old days were any better than now in this regard. The culture for as long as I've been alive (and apparently even before then) has been dissatisfied. How about some signposts you ask?

  • "I can't get no..." - The Rolling Stones
  • "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take anymore" - Network
  • "Who's afraid of Virginia Wolfe" - Edward Albee
  • Little things like tearing down the Berlin Wall, throwing tea in miscellaneous harbors and the effective use of the guittotine in the French Revolution.

Given this sort of precedence and innumerable 1950's/1960's marketing critiques in vintage Mad Magazine I find it hard to believe that dissatisfaction is an "accelerating" trend. Or that Las Vegas is the most visible sign of it. Further, I'm not so certain that "marketing" is powerful enough to create such a culture. Certainly it can contribute, but dissatisfaction is not something you can create with billboards. And finally, Seth, if it is truly a "fact that we're unhappy all the time", take a break and take a few deep breaths. You have a lot to be thankful for.

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