permalink.gif 2004-02-15

permalink.gif Workers of all countries, unite!

Sun Feb 15 20:33:41 GMT 2004  Permalink 

Found on perspective the Soviet Music site. Fabulous.

permalink.gif Adapt faster

Sun Feb 15 20:22:57 GMT 2004  Permalink 

Watching a programme about the Falklands War. Task force commander, Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse put his job this way:

This war is not going to be like the last. My job is to adapt faster than the opposition.

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permalink.gif DIY blogging stats

Sun Feb 15 17:46:31 GMT 2004  Permalink 

In case any other Radio users would like to do what I've just done I've uploaded the script necessary. Import this into Radio and run it. It will create two files in your gems folder called posting-history.csv, and, summary-posting-history.csv, respectively. These can be imported into Excel, sorted and used however you fancy.

permalink.gif Blogging summary

Sun Feb 15 17:34:44 GMT 2004  Permalink 

I just took a look at my All Posts page for this blog and was a little taken aback at just how much content I have amassed since I started. 1,300 posts doesn't sound very much until you start reading the titles. I got interested in my posting habits and got some data out of Radio to make these graphs:

<%softShadow( "images/posting-history.jpg", width:664, height:419 )%>There is quite a lot of daily fluctuation. I guess that's only to be expected.

<%softShadow( "images/summary-posting-history.jpg", width:664, height:419 )%>Somewhat less on a monthly basis although you can see that the trend is downwards as I have gotten busier with work.

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permalink.gif It was the best of practices, it was the worst of practices

Sun Feb 15 16:58:11 GMT 2004  Permalink 

About a year ago I heard Dave Snowden speak. Something he came up with then which I have reflected upon a number of times since was that he thought Best Practice systems were a waste of time. It was much better, he said, to build Worst Practice databases. Now I don't know Dave well enough to guage whether he was being flippant but I've pondered it and I definitely see something. Here is my attempt to understand what I think:

Best practice systems are an attempt to capture what works and replicate it. That's a noble aim. Worst practice systems, on the other hand, are a way of capturing what didn't work. How different are they? At a glance one appears to be the inverse of the other, but as I thought about it I began to see them in a subtly different light:

  • Best practice is about transferring skills.
  • Worst practice is about informing judgements.
Obviously if you can transfer useful skills this is a good thing but there are some pitfalls along the way and, at the heart of it is maybe an assumption which quite often doesn't hold true: that things don't change. An analysis of Worst practice, on the other hand, acts very much more like an After Action Review in provoking thinking.

Having said that best practice can be valuable there are some problems to overcome in acquiring it. For a start, best practice may be very hard to agree on. Which parts of an activity contributed to it being best? And, having identified this, it then has to be rendered into terms meaningful to others. When you consider that practice often has a high emphasis on doing/skill it is clear that tranferring best practice is either on, or over the border, of transfering of tacit knowledge.

Best practice is expensive!

For a practice to be transferable all these challenges must be met otherwise no benefit will be accrued. By constrast (and I'm making a bit of a leap here) worst practice is probably easier to identify and codify. We're so much more used to honing in on problems. Also we can useful work with clues and vagueness in a way that best practice doesn't suggest.

Unfortunately there is an even bigger problem. Best practice tells you what worked in the past. It doesn't tell you anything about what will work in the future. Accepting best practice is accepting a predictive model which assumes that today will be very like yesterday. In the face of discontinuous change best practice may, in fact, be a trap for the unwary.

This seems to me to go to the heart of what Snowden's work has been about to this point. The idea that we (as people and organizations) exist in different domains of order and unorder and that what is an appropriate response in one domain may not serve in another. Understanding what domain you are in and knowing how to act appropriately is key. Hence in times of change and uncertaintly best practice is not your friend.

So where does best practice fit in..?

I think that best practice will remain a valuable management tool for use in "peace time." I also think there will always be a role for understanding those practices which are based upon sound principles. Otherwise get building that worst practices database today!

permalink.gif Catching up on AOP

Sun Feb 15 12:17:37 GMT 2004  Permalink 

Last tweak of AOP performance. With a last session of performance tweaking, and with help from the CGLIB people, our framework can now perform 17 million AOP method calls per second. CGLIB was updated to not create any Object[] array for zero-argument method calls, and along with caching of Invocation objects (per thread, in a threadlocal) calls can now be made without creating ANY objects as a side-effect. There is also no synchronization in the method invocation code, so there's no performance degradation when multiple threads are working simultaneously. Very nice.

This means that it is possible to implement dynamic AOP in a rather performant way. I was worried that all of that framework stuff would make it crawl, but 17 million calls per second is actually quite decent, at least for a large portion of applications. [Random thoughts]

After a really long hiatus I have been picking up on Aspects again. I came across some stuff written by Rickard which really tweaked my curiousity. I last looked at AOD about 3-4 years ago when AspectJ was pretty new, now it's part of the Eclipse project and aspects seem to have become a credible solution to some real OOD problems. That's cool, they always appealed to me. I like the look of Dynaop myself.

permalink.gif Dialogue is so important

Sun Feb 15 12:03:41 GMT 2004  Permalink 

I just caught the end of an episode of Captain Scarlett. Colonel White is reading Scarlett the riot act about something gagging him and putting him in a broom cupboard or some such. He sums up with:

"I hearby sentence you to death. However since you're indestructible there'd be little point putting you in front of a firing squad. Dismissed."
Would that writers today were half as talented.

permalink.gif Learning the fundamentals

Sun Feb 15 00:11:12 GMT 2004  Permalink 

Does anyone have a recommendation for where I can get a copy of Murray Rothbards: Man, Economy, and State in London? Ordering it from at $35.00+shipping isn't attractive.