Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ivory tower (2)

many companies have those research departments. Those propellerheads who feed revolutionary ideas to rest of the organization, willing or not.

It's fascinating how different types of people work in these different units, research, r&d and production. Production guys are conservative nitpickers who don't like anything new or changing (a small exaggeration if you may). And r&d guys, depending on the situation and person, either calculative project managers or techno-oriented geeks.

Research people are different, too.Some child-minded, one-track-minds with awesome concentration on details. Some others are dreamers with difficulties to end anything.

Question remains whether we should relieve the tension between these different parties? Like earthing a bit the propellerheads and loosening up in the production. Actually no, I think. Part of the strength of the researchers is that they don't know too much about the evil everyday world, they should be left in their ivory tower. Research is intricate business where you travel basically based on faith. If the faith trembles your creativity starts coughing. That is of course if we are going to create something totally new, not just more me-too.

I could be wrong but this is the view I've got from working on both sides. BTW: it is interesting and educating to change for example from research to production and observe how slowly your thinking actually adopts the new mindset required by the new job. These changes are valuable not only for expanded knowledge and diversification but they also make you aware of your own static mindsets and prejudice.

First published 2007:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Take the 'A' train (2)

when a train approaches a station, almost always half of the people standing a
on the platform starts walking to the same direction as the coming train is moving. Why is that?

---- -
first published 2008:

Monday, March 5, 2012

Stop for internet

especially when mobile phones were a new thing, it was found amusing that people felt an urge to walk around aimlessly while talking on a phone.

It doesn't bother me but what instead bothers is that I have to stop walking when wishing to enter internet. Although it is possible to use internet on my phone while walking, it requires concentration and sometimes is not wise for example if there is a lot of traffic or slippery road.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Not alphabetical order...

What significance has alphabetical order in your daily activities? It came to me that I could nowadays do pretty well although I hadn't learnt alphabetical order in the school. Again one another skill doomed to oblivion like the ability to do sums without a calculator or remember person's phone number.

Where I used to need that was in many occasions related to searching information. Went to a library, locating right book required mastering alphabetical order. And when the book was found, using the index required that as well. Now that I use google instead, where do I still need alphabets?

When I really think this through, I still use alphabetical order in some occasions.
- many times parking lots have guide letters designating the are in which you parked your car.
- at the airports terminals have letters (I'm not sure, does their order help you in any way)
- in Washington DC you have streets named "E", "F",... and located conveniently in alphabetical order

Why are these all related to place and location? Could it be that it is the one realm where information technology has not yet really left it's mark? Waiting for GIS, internet of things and augmented reality to kick in.

- - - - -
Quote from a movie: High fidelity

Dick: It guess it looks as if you're reorganizing your records. What is this though? Chronological?
Rob: No...
Dick: Not alphabetical...
Rob: Nope.
Dick: What?
Rob: Autobiographical.
Dick: No fuckin' way.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Erp (2)

based on this story (in Finnish) about ERP(enterprise resource planning) going personal:

a system taking care of person's dull everyday formalities like bills, receipts, bureaucracy. not bad.
your own personal secretary who knows your calendar and whom you can put the do the errands like book a dentist etc.
Isn't this the normal direction of evolution, to get rid of dull routine? Sometimes it works, like you buy your bread and cheese ready sliced. Addition is done by computers, potatoes grown by someone else. But you have to recycle bottles and sort the garbage, type your own documents.

I.e. some tasks you can loose and some you don't. You also get new tasks. It's easier to acquire knowledge via web but then on the other hand, somebody feel compelled to write wikipedia.

Distantly, this relates to a book I read( was it Utterback can't remember). There was an example of cereal-growing in America, how it got more effective during centuries. At a given time the crop increased threefold. But at the same time, the energy needed got tenfold. Efficiency getting worse was the price for more centralized production serving a changed society structure.

- - - -
first published 2007

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Instant payback (2)

could it be possible, for people to reward fellow citizens when they do something unselfish. Like clean up garbage from the streets or help an elderly lady across a street. If only people witnessing this could instantly reward this person by making a small donation to the persons account, paypal-style and anonymously.
-- - - - - -
first published

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bradley - the vehicle (2)

movie "Pentagon wars" contains a priceless description of a r&d project going haywire by ever-changing and contradictory requirements.
very educational and oh-so familiar.

- - - - -
first published 2007

Monday, February 27, 2012

Remote eyes (2)

in harrypotter, there is an invention by innovative Weasley brothers, called extendable ears. On the same lines, how about extendable eyes, or maybe remote eyes would be a better term. There come situations where you would like to know or actually see, how many people there on the town square, how much the product costs in another store, or whether there is an empty parking slot just around the corner.

At that instant you could summon people who see what you would like to see, via cameraphone etc.
What you need is a mobile app where you could order a location based photo, live. Photo is taken by a passer-by, not familiar to you. Of course there is the question of payment. Someone could do it for free, some other would require some kind of reward.

- - - -
first published 2007 (still I'm not aware of a service of this kind)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Updating prices (2)

when it seems 95% of my alleged readers are non-Finns, I think I translate some of my older ramblings written in Finnish only. I'll start from 2007.
- - - - -
wasn't it nice when visiting a shop just before closing time, no trace of the rush and frenzy. what brought to mind, wouldn't it be possible for shops to alter their pricing according to time of the day? That could even out the traffic a bit, if all prices were a couple of percent higher during rush hour.

- -- -
first published:

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Second hand

Flea markets rule. Not for buying but selling (in my mind). I have found my niche in those. They combine my greed for money and urge to organize home in 5S-spirit. The rationale is - if you haven't needed something for 2 years what's the probability you need it at all and what is the cost the storage space it take? Of course memorabilia items are not counted. To my mind it's wiser to sell the stuff with minimum loss and then buy them back later IF needed (probably not). Also I noticed that most of the stuff we sell is not the quality stuff, but the low end which we have replaced with something more valuable or of high quality. You shouldn't save in the wrong place.
Again the old saying, poor can't afford to buy cheap.
Flea markets are also delightful places to meet colorful people. Haggling is not my trade, actually i'm awful in it, giving in all the faults in the sellable items. But I'm learning to set my words and products right. And it's delightful to notice that some item finds a new home and that receiver actually joys to have it.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Inertia in traffic

In Helsinki there happened  a regrettable incident a couple days ago, an elderly lady was killed in a traffic accident, was hit by a lorry on a pedestrian crossing. This got me thinking, because I know the place and there's an excellent visibility and the speed limit is 40km/h. Of course now it's winter but still the weather condition was  at the time "a normal winter  weather". That of course causes major problems for many Finns, don't know is it the global warming or what makes makes them so unprepared for this meteorological phenomenon happening every year, rather predictably.
Not knowing the actual facts of the accident I made a wild guess what happened. This guess was based on my own observations and experience as a driver and pedestrian.
Car drivers are big fans of inertia. They assume that everything continues as it has happened so far.*) Pedestrian continues crossing the street at a constant speed, so there is no need for me to lower my speed since our trajectories don't cross. She can get out of the way before I hit the crossing.

But then something unexpected happens, elderly lady slips and falls down. Now what? A black swan, in local scale..

For many non-Finns this whole episode sounds unbelievable, we have a lot to learn. Still, things could be worse.

*)how else can you explain 10m safety distance to the car in front of you when driving 80km/h? In my safety distance slot, there are 1-2 cars with "better than average" drivers on the adjoining lane.

- - -
playing: Gheorghe Zamfir - The Lonely Shepherd

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Iconic or ironic

Have you noticed how icons used in mobile phones use ancient metaphors? Why of why does the email icon has an envelope on it? What has it to do with electronic emails? Are we actually so attached to the past that we have to remind us that writing emails actually resembles a lot to writing good ol' letters and thus is not so frightening? Also the idea that functions in an operating system are started using icons is a bit old,eh?

Have to mention a couple of other oddities:
-answer-button: the handset of a phone used maybe in the 1950's
-settings: it has GEARS on it? What are the mobile phones, swiss clocks?
-folders (in an file explorer): manila folders which were used before we started handling information electronically
-youtube (on an iphone): this is my absolute favorite. On a youtube icon in iphone there's a tv (what has television to do with youtube). And best of all, the tv looks like something from a I love lucy. Lame.