Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Oz attempt at Kiwi humour, eh?

At the risk of offending my Kiwi (i.e. New Zealand) friends, here is a great ad that channel 7 presented after the Wallabies vs Springboks rugby game:

Even knowing it was a stunt ad, it still put the old fire in the belly that Bledisloe Cup matches need.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Friday, July 18, 2008

Everybody's frozen!

I love the effect this style of street theatre has on people:

Retrieved from garthk's tumblr archive.

It's the water

There is something elementally satisfying about my current commute, and this morning I realised what it is. It isn't the beautiful houses (Mosman) or views (Spit Bridge/Harbour Bridge) we go past; it isn't the crowded buses or traffic jams either. It's the water.

No, I'm not guzzling some funky, intelligent, over-hyped, green-hating plastic bottled über-water, but rather looking out over the harbour, Sydney's great appendix of the Pacific Ocean.

taken by goosmurf

It's not the beaches that move me. Nor am I fascinated by the breaking waves. In fact that is just the sloppy, noisome edge of the real deal ... the Sea - mistress of ship Captains and mighty in her play and rage alike.

Playing in the surf is fun (I thoroughly recommend it) but it's rather like running to work - a more primitive existence, where we rely upon our body's strength to sustain us - and frankly as the world's ultimate tool makers it behoves us to take a more mature approach to something as dangerous and amazing as the Sea.

Like many things in life, it's my Dad's fault. As an aside I'm sure my son will have many things to lay at my feet too ... if you're just getting to grips with your own parents' imperfections then I suggest you look at something like the Search for Life course from Careforce Lifekeys.

But I digress. The reason it's my Dad's fault is that he exposed me at an impressionable age to the Sea via his yacht Dreamtime. I was around 13 when I first held the wheel of a large boat (41'6") and it was thrilling. In the rest of my teens I spent many a weekend racing with my Dad and his crew and thoroughly enjoyed most of it (except for the end of the day when we cleaned up).

I find that the Sea is the place where I feel most spiritual and closest to appreciating the sheer grandeur of my heavenly father's creation (I was going to say handiwork, but he spoke it into being ... hey! Maybe Bill Gates is right about the future of speech recognition after all?).

Thursday, July 10, 2008

bCisive gets the Minto Pyramid Principles

One of my favourite Australian software tools is bCisive by Melbourne company Austhink, led by Dr Tim Van Gelder.

They have recently announced that they have “entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to collaboratively produce a Minto software product based on the Minto Pyramid Principle® and Austhink’s bCisive product”. This is great news as it joins the easiest argument mapping tool (I know, I've tried lots of them, including Standpedia, which looks like it died at the end of 2007) with one of the pioneers of informal argument mapping in the business world.

I first came across Barbara Minto years ago when my Dad loaned me her Pyramid Principle book. I lost that first copy, but replaced it and got my own as well. It really should be mandatory reading for anyone who ever has to write a proposal or training document.

Below is a screenshot of a product strategy bMap (bCisive argument map) I prepared for our TrainingManager.NET product:

Product Strategy bMap

The user interface does a great job of getting out of your way, but being accessible when you need it. The two orange buttons at the bottom of the window open panels that help you create and report on the bMap you have created. The zoom slider control makes it dead easy to change perspective and the graphical navigation tools are well thought out and consistent with programs that solve similar problems.

Having just gotten used to Office 2007 I find the user interface style of bCisive to make a lot of sense to me, and it is quite easy to use. This does for argument maps what PowerPoint did for slide preparation - it takes it from the domain of experts (or highly motivated amateurs) and puts it in the hands of everyday business users.

If you want to give it a try, bCisive allow you to use a trial version for 30 days.

Friday, July 04, 2008

LinkedIn's architecture

Via Oren Hurvitz's blog comes an interesting summary of two presentations that LinkedIn's engineers gave at the JavaOne 2008 conference. I've embedded the presentations below. The first goes into their architecture:

The second one deals more with their use of Java and agile practices:

It's great seeing details like this as it helps bring the rest of the industry up to date with how the largest websites in the world are actually handling the problems of performance and scalability. These are great for Microsofties to read too as the lessons learned apply just as well to .NET projects as Java ones.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Modern heraldic eye candy

From the fertile marketing minds at Toyota comes Scion Speak, a website promoting the Scion brand. The site is fairly simply and flash heavy, the main aim of it is to give Scion enthusiasts (or anyone really) a way of creating an eye-catching heraldic symbol with modern iconography, such as the one I did below:

Falkayn Scion Crest

It's great fun, and likely to lead to a lot of buzz amongst the right people. From a technical standpoint it's a little weird that they chose to output the results in JPEG format (GIF would have been far smaller for this sort of image).

In mine I used the circuit board wings to represent my background in computers, the phoenix represents Falkayn, the glasses are for Angus and the burger is for my last name ... of course!