Thursday, August 5, 2010 now public!

To be more specific...: is now in public beta. Don't worry about the "beta" thingy -- it's public, which means everybody can read and write there. Great place to ask all of your ubuntu questions -- give it a try!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ubuntu's worth a new stack exchange site!

...and one has been duly proposed, see it here.

If you use any of the other stack exchange sites (stackoverflow for programming, superuser for general computing questions, serverfault for system administration, etc), and use ubuntu, you'll appreciate the "cross-section" of arguments, where ubuntu-specific questions can be asked without agonizing on whether one is really programming, system administration, or "general";-).

If you don't already use stack exchange sites, why not?!-) Get with the program...!-)

Anyway, you can sign up for the ubuntu site whether you're a seasoned stack exchange user, or a raw newbie -- and, if you are interested in ubuntu, it's well worth doing do, IMHO.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Sunday, February 14, 2010

In a PIGS' I

"The PIGS" is a funny term that's been used for at least a decade to refer to the Mediterranean countries in the EU -- Portugal, Italy, Greece, Spain -- often with a less-than-positive "spin". Late last year I spotted a change in popular usage -- the "I" often switched to stand for Ireland instead of Italy (thus losing the peculiar Mediterranean connotation and going directly for the meaning of "Euro-economies in trouble") -- occasionally you now see PIIGS (so that both I-countries can be there, but losing the funny-acronym play of course), but when having to choose (to keep the single-I'd PIGS) I see why one might pick Ireland over Italy (it's not as if Italy's doing well, mind you, but with nominal GDP 2009 vs 2008 Y/Y per IMF data at -9.7%, vs -10.2% for Portugal and Spain and -15.3% for Ireland, you can kinda see the logic here -- BTW, Greece's theoretical -4.2% looks pretty dubious... as the NYT recently wrote, "there are lies, damned lies and Greek statistics";-). I can only find old data on pork consumption per capita by country, but it looks like, at least 10 years ago, Spain was the highest in the group (64 kg -- way higher than EU average), then Ireland (40.5), Italy (36.3), Portugal (31.1), Greece (22.5)... so maybe this criterion isn't exactly the most useful for the PIGS-classification debate...;-)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Review of GEEK CLOCK


While everyone else was watching the clock, you were paying attention during math class, storing away square roots and factorials for a day where you could prove your mathematical prowess. Well, my geeky friend, that day has come. Pictured before you is a clock, where all the numerals have been rep...

Cool way to show off math geekiness!

Alex Palo Alto, CA 7/18/2009


4 5

Gift: Yes

Pros: Attractive Design, Striking original

Best Uses: Living room, Decoration, Kitchen

Describe Yourself: Budget Shopper

Primary use: Personal

I've hanged it up in the living room and just love the way friends and acquaintances do a double take the first time they see it (even if they are serious math geeks themselves). I'm seriously thinking of taking it to the office (or maybe buy another one to keep there -- this one was technically a gift to my wife, an even geekier geek than myself, so I guess I can't just take it to the office;-).


Monday, February 2, 2009


Originally uploaded by dratz
The web is full of cute and/or funny pictures, but once in a while, one really stands out...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Software development is not yellow

Best blog post I've read in a long time (and I read a lot!): Chris Dillow's Experts and the Demand for Certainty.

It's a sharp, spot-on, well-reasoned, well-written analysis, and -- it finally explains to me why I've always gotten so much push-back when, as an expert in my field (software development, and the management thereof), I offer "customers" my forecasts in the right form.

By "customers", here, I mean stakeholders of any stripe, including most product managers, top managers, etc -- even other developers, when they look up to me as a manager, mentor, or "senior advisor" figure rather than sensibly interacting with me as a peer!

And, the right form of forecast is always going to be expressed something like "X plus or minus Y" (or equivalently "between Z and T", where Z=X-Y and T=X+Y), accurately and explicitly expressing the margin of error that always accompanies any prediction (you can take the "with 95% probability" proviso as implied in any such quantitative expression).

Here's why I invariably get vehement push-back against expressing forecasts in the only sensible ways: the "customers" don't want from me, the expert, my knowledge; rather, what they want is certainty -- fake, bogus, fraudulent certainty is so much better than the messy, error-margin-involving business that's inevitable when you reach towards knowledge of reality:-(.

Now, this important realization doesn't teach me how to force stakeholders to face reality, but it does help me frame and understand their mindset, and thus helps me predict (with some margin of error, to be sure;-) how well or badly various communication strategies will work...