Acting on a good idea

Acting on a good idea is better than just having a good idea.

Acting on a good idea is better than just having a good idea.

Earlier I mused on suits, haircuts and good ideas and opted to support “what’s between the ears”, those brains, smarts and ability to execute.

A day or so later my family were eating Chinese takeout when we got to the ritual of reading those little slips of paper you find wedged in fortune cookies. My son’s read:

Acting on a good idea is better than just having a good idea.

And of course I grabbed it for this blog post.
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When “Free” upsets your model

Free Beer Here (tomorrow)

Free Beer Here (tomorrow)
( by Tom Morris, from wikipedia )

When something is free (free as in beer, not free as in speech1), how many of us are tempted to over-consume? What if we’re separated from the true cost of something by policy or tradition? Do we find ourselves over-consuming something that is perceived as “free”?

At a previous employer some years ago, we found ourselves having to combat physical server sprawl, that data-center condition in which new servers proliferate faster than old ones are being eliminated. Several factors were at work in this case Continue reading

  1. See Gratis versus libre and Richard Stallman‘s many thoughts on this.
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It’s not the haircut, but what’s between the ears

I was at a tech Meetup, talking with an Android developer about how he writes code to handle background processes on that platform when he stopped abruptly and asked me about my work experience. I briefly explained my history in Unix ops, etc. (since that’s what seemed relevant) and he replied:

Oh, so you do understand; it was your suit that confused me.

Apparently we’d ducked down into a space so geeky he didn’t expect someone in a suit to really understand it.

I’d been profiled based on how I was dressed.

And I couldn’t really blame him. Continue reading

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A Different Diversity

lots of M&M candies

Superficial diversity

Diversity in the workplace isn’t just about people, backgrounds, ideas and knowledge. Nor is it also just about inclusion.

Let’s talk about server operating systems (OS).

We all know that having multiple server operating systems (Windows, Solaris, RedHat, AIX, SCO, Ubuntu, HP-UX, etc.) in your organization is horribly inefficient: you need an army of talent to deploy, support, update and manage all these different OSs in your enterprise. With a single operating system, the organization is able to save on licensing costs, implement a single deployment process, reduce support and administration headcount and utilize a limited toolset to patch, maintain and upgrade that single operating system.

And yet, having only a single OS can be risky.
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A case for condensing fix/test cycles

Black Box Model

Black Box Model

A while back I posted on the strategy of changing only one variable at a time when working to resolve an incident and determine root cause.

I’m amazed at how much discipline it takes to implement this simple strategy. If you’re truly interested in determining the sole root cause, this is the best way to go. But, as as Mike Plant so correctly pointed out, it’s not the fastest method for debugging.

Speed sometimes needs to be sacrificed.

Here’s a non-programming example:

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Top Posts and Commenters for April 2011

201104  - Wordle-dot-net

Word Cloud provided by

In case you missed one or more of these, here are this blog’s top ten posts based on traffic during the month of April 2011.

Much to my surprise, the Emacs versus vi post remains on the top. The longest “Average time on page” post was Virtual Lunches? Perhaps readers were “lingering at the table”!

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Virtual Lunches?

Picnic table sign (D5-5a)

Let's have lunch

Joel Spolsky takes on an important topic in his post today on lunches and I share with him a firm belief in the value of intentionally sharing a meal. It can be an important tool in your work-life balancing act. It can help you transition to leading a team from being a team member.

And it is particularly valuable in sharing ideas and growing trust. Building a team-friendly environment is an intentional act and “lingering at the table” can be a vital part of that.

What about virtual?

But what about your virtual team? Continue reading

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Connect in some way

Carabiners Connecting


I’d already been heavily involved in Unix/Linux for nearly twenty years by the time I found myself assigned as the leader/manager of the Windows Engineering team.

Even some of my closest colleagues scoffed when they heard the news. How could I ever be successful without deep Windows knowledge? How could I ever gain their trust after promoting Unix/Linux solutions for so long? The previous manager didn’t have much technical Windows knowledge either and the prevailing theory was that they needed a Windows giant who could rally them around being hardcore Windows Engineers again, not some guy from Unix Operations.
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Work-life balance

rough teeter totter image

Moving into balance requires effort

Work-life balance may not always be completely obtainable. But it will never start to tip the way you want unless you take charge of making some changes yourself.

The graphic I chose for today shows a teeter totter wobbling in just one axis but the truth is that work-life balance has a multitude (of axes), just like life.

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Top Posts and Commenters for March 2011

Word Cloud provided by

Word Cloud provided by

In case you missed one or more of these, here are this blog’s top ten posts based on traffic during the month of March 2011.

I didn’t blog as much in March as I did in February, but I was surprised at how the word cloud changed in one month.

I have a slate of posts lined up for April, so keep an eye out for them! Continue reading

Posted in Other Thoughts | 4 Comments