Monthly Archives: May 2007

Caves of Mars: Future Home, Zoo, or End of Manned Space Exploration?

I believe in the near future we are going to find that there is life outside our planet.

And I think that discovery, far from being a boost to manned space exploration; will be its death knell, at least for a long, long time.

Sunset on mars
Sunset on Mars — could it also be sunset on manned space exploration?

Continue reading

Share
If you've read this far and you're interested in Agile, you should take my No-frills Agile Tune-up Email Course, and follow me on Twitter.

Shuttering in the Surf

Sunrise at the beach
The beach was lots of busy fun for the kids, but there were some quiet moments too

We’ve been at Myrtle Beach for the last week or so, having a blast.

Myrtle Beach has been called the “Redneck Riviera” because of it’s blue-collar, kitschy nature. Myrtle grew up mostly unregulated in the south, and the town is a collection of tourist traps and oddball attractions. It’s not a “quiet vacation” like you would think about when you think of the beach, but it is a busy, fun-filled trip for families. The kids had something to do every day that they liked.

The old man (me), likes to be creative, so I spent my time reading, writing on the blog, taking pictures, and prototyping some web applications. Nothing like that old geek fun of prototyping web applications to make a vacation worthwhile! It gets me excited just thinking about it. I might even get crazy and do some flash animation before it is all over.

For those of you looking forward to your beach vacation this year, here are some of the photographic highlights of this year’s trip for us. I hope it gets you in the mood!

Continue reading

Share
If you've read this far and you're interested in Agile, you should take my No-frills Agile Tune-up Email Course, and follow me on Twitter.

Did Walt Disney Cause Global Warming?

“The planet has a fever,” the politician began, “If your baby has a fever, you go to the doctor. If the doctor says you need to intervene here, you don’t say, ‘Well, I read a science fiction novel that told me it’s not a problem.’ If the crib’s on fire, you don’t speculate that the baby is flame retardant. You take action.”

Al Gore was trying to make a point about the seriousness of GW and our illogical response (in his mind) to the situation. His words carried a deeper meaning for many, however, as some seem to think the planet is a real, live sentient being. There’s a line between using a metaphor constructively and thinking in overly simplistic terms. Gore didn’t mean to cross it, but without meaning to, old Al crossed into the world of self-righteous fantasy that Walt Disney helped create.

Walt Disney and his creation Mickey Mouse, which launched a new art form and cultural change on the world
Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse, which starred in the first sound and animated feature in 1928.
Disney went on to receive over 950 honors, including 48 Academy Awards and 7 Emmys

Continue reading

Share
If you've read this far and you're interested in Agile, you should take my No-frills Agile Tune-up Email Course, and follow me on Twitter.

New Jeep Looks Strangely Familiar

New Jeep Wrangler JT Concept Vehicle looks a lot like old Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler
This is a sharp-looking idea for a new Jeep model! I know, because I already have one

I’m reading in the AutoBlog today about this cool new Jeep Wranger JT idea. It looks hot, and even though I’m not much on buying new cars (they seem like a waste of good money to me), I might would make an exception in this case. (I’ve blogged about my Jeep several times)

New Jeep Wrangler JT Concept Vehicle looks a lot like old Jeep CJ-8 Scrambler
For the time-being, I’ll stick to my “classic” model.
Share
If you've read this far and you're interested in Agile, you should take my No-frills Agile Tune-up Email Course, and follow me on Twitter.

Welcome Plutonians!

I haven’t looked at my blog stats in some time, but today I loaded up the pages and started poking around.

Boy, was I surprised!

I’m getting a killer amount of traffic for my story, Pluto Fighting for it’s life. The strange thing is that there is nothing special about it — it’s just a story from last year about how Pluto got demoted from a planet. There are some pictures of Pluto and Charon, and a picture of Disney’s Pluto, which was mentioned in the news story (fair use, Disney)

After looking around some more, I found out that most visitors were coming in after doing an image search for Pluto, and it wasn’t the planet — google has me highly listed on their search page. Seems if you go to Google, type “pluto” then search for images, my site comes up on the first page.

This means about 3 thousand visits a month, at the current rate. I don’t mind the visitors, but it seems kind of strange that I’m writing a personal diary and stuff about technology and management and a huge hunk of folks are coming to see a Disney cartoon image. I’m tempted to pull it, and I’m tempted to try to make a few bucks from it with some kind of advertising, but as it is, it’s just one of those strange blog anomalies.

What I’m learning, after two years of blogging, is that a history of bloggging is the most important thing you can have. Each article you write builds up a library of links on sites like Google where people can come and find your work. I thought when I started that blogging was an immediate gratification kind of activity — write a great story, and people will show up. What I’m finding is that blogging is much more akin to farming — you plant, water, weed, do the best you can, and slowly things blossom.

Over the years, I’ve given up on blogging as a commercial activity. Sure, I’m still thinking about trying some kind of ad program, just out of curiosity as to how it works more than anything else. But to me, I’ve found that I have to blog for myself, not anybody else. The more I go chasing what I think will get immediate ratings, the more I lose interest. And you can’t lose interest — blogging is for the long-haul.

However, I can’t help play around with topics and such. Perhaps I will do another story this week with some kind of popular slant. I guess I’m just too much of a wonk. I wonder if the Pluto article process can be repeated? Welcome Plutons! Hope you like technology.

Share
If you've read this far and you're interested in Agile, you should take my No-frills Agile Tune-up Email Course, and follow me on Twitter.

Beach book list

Beach time is here again, and this year I have an aggressive reading list. Here’s the plan, Stan.

  • Don’t Make me Think – by Steve Krug. A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
  • The Strategy Handbook – by Michael E. Raynor. Why committing to success leads to failure [and what to do about it]
  • About Face – by Alan Cooper and Robert Reimann. The essentials of interaction design. (This one I have been meaning to read for years but never got around to it.)
  • Marketing that Works – by Leonard M. Lodish, Howard L. Morgan, and Shellye Archambeau. How entreprenuerial marketing can add sustainable value to any sized company.
  • Selling Blue Elephants – by Howard Moskowitz and Alex Gofman. How to make great products that people want before they even know they want them.

Looks like a great trip coming up!

Share
If you've read this far and you're interested in Agile, you should take my No-frills Agile Tune-up Email Course, and follow me on Twitter.

Is Modeling Science?

In arriving at a scientific law there are three main stages: The first consists in observing the significant facts; the second in arriving at a hypothesis, which, if it is true, would account for these facts; the third is deducing from this hypothesis consequences which can be tested by observation. If the consequences are verified, the hypothesis is provisionally accepted as true, although it will usually require modification later on as a result of the discovery of further facts — Bertrand Russell, (1931, p. 57)

Models are everywhere nowadays. Googling “scientist model”, I come up with over 3 thousand news articles. In the last ten years, every field from biology to cosmology has gotten into modeling in a big way. But is it really science?

Screenshot from The Sims, a popular video game
Does playing the Sims make you a sociologist?

Continue reading

Share
If you've read this far and you're interested in Agile, you should take my No-frills Agile Tune-up Email Course, and follow me on Twitter.

Spring Cleaning

As you can see, it’s time for a new look on the blog!

This look for the blog is something I’ve been thinking about for some time. I’m glad I finally put all the pieces together.

I like it! If you have any observations or comments, I’d love to hear about them. Graphic design is always a tough thing for us nerds to do well, and I’m always looking for new ideas….

Share
If you've read this far and you're interested in Agile, you should take my No-frills Agile Tune-up Email Course, and follow me on Twitter.

Venture Capital: Over 30 Need Not Apply

Newsweek has a great story about a “boot camp” for start-ups. My favorite section?

Y Combinator’s model dovetails perfectly with the new start-up ethic in Silicon Valley. It’s dramatically cheaper to start a company now than it was in the dot-com boom, and possible to build a substantial operation before requiring venture capital or achieving that liquidity event. (To pay salaries and costs during that time, one can get “angel funding”—less money than a VC firm pays, but in exchange for less equity.) Software tools, which used to cost hundreds of thousands, are now largely free. A wide variety of tasks can be outsourced cheaply. Computers, servers, bandwidth and storage cost a fraction of what they did a decade ago. And there’s no need for a marketing budget when you’ve got Internet word of mouth.

As a result, when it comes to funding, “$500,000 is the new $5 million,” says tech investor Mike Maples. It’s several weeks into the program, and Maples is in a Palo Alto, Calif., coffeehouse for a meeting with the Weeblies. He sees a lot of people barely out of their teens. The old wisdom for investors in start-ups said you needed an experienced hand as a CEO. The Valley’s new wisdom: don’t fund anyone over 30. The average age of Y Combinator founders is 25.

I guess I could take a page from the IBM’ers on that the article below and start a political action committee. But I think I’ll just keep slogging along, and let the market sort the winners and losers out.

Share
If you've read this far and you're interested in Agile, you should take my No-frills Agile Tune-up Email Course, and follow me on Twitter.