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Prashant on Technology, Project Management, Software Development, and like all other blogs - Stuff

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

You think your system is complex to integrate and test?

Engineering complexity is something that companies often take for granted, and it will always have disastrous results. A recent article notes further issues that Airbus is having with developing the first production runs of the super jumbo A380.

The project is already over twelve months late, and I'm sure in years to come the stories will spawn many books and case studies. The latest problem caught my eye because they now seem to be having issues with integrating the testing and their configuration management system. This is not uncommon on most projects, but the consequences of overcoming these problems is proportional to the project's complexity, which in this case is huge, literally.

I don't want to get too cynical, but I'm sure the project managers advised management that there were considerable risks on this project. Yet from day one, orders were placed and deadlines set for one of the more complex engineering projects in recent times. Therefore at some level, the level of risk on the project was acceptable to Airbus. However Airbus' customers are now readying their legal teams, and already some of them have one generous concessions, including almost giving away smaller planes to thwart any legal action.

With the benefit of hindsight, I wonder if Airbus would have made the same decisions? Airbus have now announced to Emirates, who have 45 A380s on order, that there will be a further 10 month delay. I really hope for the company's sake that they are basing this revised estimate not only on time required to overcome today's issues, but a buffer for any future problems.

Categories: :PjM:

Monday, September 04, 2006

Take the money and run...

Almost every week on BBC's excellent series "Dragon's Den", a would be entrepreneur turns down an investment on the grounds that the investor is asking for too large a stake in the new venture.

When will these inventors learn to take the money and run! I think they're failing to see the bigger picture.

They have decided to raise equity through investors for many reasons, the main one being a bank loan is either not obtainable / refused, or it is seen by them as too risky. In other words, even if their proposed business fails, they still have to repay the loan.

Hence they court investors for their cash. Their hard earned cash. All the "dragons" are experienced business people, and understand this equation. They risk losing all of their initial investment. Hence in return, they want a greater return.

Which means a greater equity stake. It is that simple. The inventors are simply not in a position to negotiate, even though they always try. They have no bargaining power, and in my opinion, no walk away position.

Except that many of them do just that, walk away! Why? They need to understand the difference between 15% and 40% is the price you have to pay if you want to reduce your risk. My advice: If you're ever in a position where successful business people are interested in investing in your idea, don't turn them down unless you have a viable walk-away position. (useful advice for any negotiation)

Because not only do you walk away empty handed, but in most cases you have lost the uniqueness of your idea. Not just with a national (and possibly international) television audience, but also with successful entrepreneurs who are likely to take your idea, and their money and run with it.

Until then, I look forward to Peter Jones' look of disbelief when yet another investor chooses poorly...

Categories: :Business: :Rants:

Saturday, August 19, 2006

My Getting Things Done mind map


I've created a mind map to visualise the Getting Things Done methodology. I designed it whilst going through the process with my wife a year ago, and it really helped her understand it.

For the moment I've published it "as-is" and might be a bit hard to follow, so follow the major nodes:
GTD can be principally broken down into:
  • Lists
  • Folders
It is supported by reviews:
  • Weekly Review
  • (Daily Review)
Let me know what you think.

Categories: :Productivity: :Downloads:

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Buteyko - panacea or placebo?

Reading this article aroused my interest in Buteyko. Does it really work? It is a technique for relieving the symptoms of asthma and rhinitis, thereby reducing patients' dependency on drugs such as inhalers.

What got my attention was that my wife who suffers from asthma and allergic rhinitis has all the symptoms mentioned, and so I'm quite keen for her to try it.

The theory behind it is "the reason we have asthma and allergic rhinitis is because we habitually breathe through our mouths. What this means is that we are allowing two to three times more air into the body than if we were breathing through the body's natural filter system, the nose."

So, like with all such things, is it scientifically proven? The research at the moment suggests not, which would explain why we hadn't heard about it before. Doctors are always going to be reluctant even mentioning anything which has not yet been proven to work (Which is fair enough).

But for as long as my wife is dependant on drugs to keep her asthma under control, and as long as she continues to suffer from rhinitis every morning - it is really worth giving Buteyko a try...

Categories - :Health:

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Going on Safari

I have been using a subscription based online library for some time now, and thought I'd share my experiences. In short, I've found Sams Publishing's Safari service fantastic.

The way it works is that depending on your membership level, you get a bookshelf with "slots". On my membership I have ten slots to add books to, and once I have they stay there for a month. Whilst on my bookshelf, I can view the books in their entirety.

I'll admit that what attracted me initially to the service was cost. I've noticed that since the dot com bust, technical books have been getting quite expensive. Moreover, often I don't want to own the book forever, but just want to have a quick read. Or sometimes a quick browse.

So why is this better than doing a google on the topic of interest? The quality of the information is generally better because what you are reading is a professional, published work. Additionally, if you end up liking the book enough to want a hardcopy, they give you a discount.

Over time I've found it so useful, I think I would easily pay more for the service (Don't tell them that). Also, their library has grown over time, and included works from their sister (publishing) companies.

Do a search and try it out...

Categories: :Internet: :Information: