Radio SiliCow Valley Moos, news and views from the Heartland...


Thursday, February 14, 2002

I don't believe in "causes"...

I don't believe in "agendas"...

I don't even believe in "plans"...

I DO believe in planning for the future, as it's foolish to act from the assumption that "there is no tomorrow"...  But I still don't think anyone has a crystal ball into the future. 

I don't see any contradiction.  Is there one...? 

Here's (what might be) a subtle distinction:

I make plans for the future, but just don't count on things happening according to those plans.  In fact, I plan for the fact that, almost invariably, things do not work out as I expect.

4:49:42 PM    

Monday, February 11, 2002

Robert Barksdale (Radio X Neophyte) posted some interesting thoughts and a link to an article "Top 5 Uses for XML".  This was posted to the Radio-Developers list (the Beta user's list), which I wandered into by a fluke.  I replied, in my usual contrarian fashion, but prior to reading the article.

I've gotten as far as point #1 in the article, and am already having trouble following the logic.  Not sure who's confused on this issue, me or the industry.  The author, Dan Wahlin, says "It's no secret that XML can be useful for data exchange between applications and companies, so this is a no-brainer for the #1 position."  In my experience, "no-brainer" usually signifies an idea that it's obviously good, or or one that people accept without thinking about it sufficiently.  Again, not sure how the industry is gonna flop, but IMV (in my view of the world) the idea of using XML for data transport should be scrutinized pretty closely.

I'm afraid XML, applied in the wrong circumstances, will be a kludge the industry is going to regret.  Having read this part of the article I see that Dan Wahlin compares XML data exchange with exchanging flat files...  I definitely see the advantages of XML, but abhor the idea that businesses are going to try to send business transactions as amorphous information.

Business transactions should be very carefully defined.  There are both legal and social contracts involved.  Leaving it up to the computer to sort these things out seems a little premature, IMV...  EDI is tough enough as it is, and the old saw applies:  "To err is human..  But to really foul things up, it takes a computer..."

I reposted the correspondence between Robert and I (with his permission) and the initial reply to the Radio-developer's list...  Wish I had time to continue writing about that, but I have other windmills to tilt with...;-)

2:47:15 PM    

Saturday, February 09, 2002

Here's the story I said I'd post way back on 1/31/02.  "Letter to Mr. Gerstner, Sept. 6, 2000".

6:23:19 PM    

Wish I didn't have to sleep.  I'd like to try blogging, but it's always towards the middle of my list of priorities, and I struggle to tend to even the top handful of priorities.


I wanted to blog about a sleep disorder I have, which is Sleep Apnea.  Wanted to add a brief comment to MegNut's blog, and a link  to here, about how I found out the secret of the nap the hard way:  I can't survive without them.  When I relax while sleeping, my throat and nasal passaages relax too much, and they collapse.  I suffocate, briefly.  The body sends a jolt of adrenalin (or something) and, although I don't wake up, I have a "micro-awakening" to cause the body to open up my breathing passages.  Then I drift back to what, in my case, passes for sleep.

Too tired to discuss (lack of) treatment options...  Briefly, the Doc told me if I didn't get it squared away with a mechanical device called a CPAP, he'd hafta recommend a trache.. a tube in my lower throat I can open up when I'm sleeping.  He said, frankly, my Sleep Apnea was so severe he didn't think a trache would help a lot, but that's what he would hafta recommend.  I haven't been back since, although I did call up once to try to get an appointment to see him.  Answering service didn't relay the message, or something, and I haven't been eager enough to follow back up with him...


It's theoretically possible I'm in remission, but not likely.  The last 6 months I apparently have been sleeping so lightly that occasionally my breathing passages relax before I fall asleep.  I'm in that sorta half-awake/half-asleep state, and it sure feels like I'm suffocating, at times...  I could be dreaming, because that's one of the symptoms of Sleep Apnea.. you start dreaming before you fall asleep...  But it sure doesn't feel like I'm dreaming, so I take it that it's actually happening that way. 

And I'll tell ya: I don't much cotton to the feeling of being suffocated...  Happens rarely, but there's been a few times when I really didn't even want to try to go to sleep, because of that...  Prefer it to happen when I'm "asleep" so I'm not aware of any of it... 

All this is pretty weird, I know, but believe it or not the Sleep Apnea does appear to have some advantages...  As long as you don't fall asleep while your driving, or something like that...:-(


I post this knowing I give people an easy out:  If they want to say my ideas are just a bunch of dreams, they can now make a pretty good, scientific, case for saying that...  I don't put too much faith in my own ideas, for a number of reasons, so that's why I prefer to test all ideas against actual experience...

1:52:48 AM    

Saturday, February 02, 2002

If seen the comment that a fundamental part of the communication process is the reponse.

This is true, in part.

The response is so intimately involved in the process that it's often misinterpreted as being the goal of communication.  The goal is in getting the response.

However, you don't achieve true transparency, of the kind Doc Searls wrote about, unless you communicate without having a desired response in mind.  That's because as soon as you have the desired response in your mind, your communication becomes flawed.

That's a tough one for most to believe, but I believe that to be the facts anyway.

11:34:48 PM

test link


10:49:59 PM    

Friday, February 01, 2002

I think Dave Winer's "A note to C developers" is one of the better pieces he's written, with one "fatal flaw".  I s'pose I like it because he's made a lot of same observations I've also had.  Perhaps the mistake was intentional?  Perhaps, it was written in the same manner that Zen artists would create "the perfect art", and put in an intentional mistake to show that nothing, in life, is perfect...

I, too, have long decried the priesthood of programmers.  Worked alongside of many people, both programmers and others, who wanted to act like gods...  This is prevalent among programmers, in the past, because so few could learn to do it.  Those who knew very little got great-paying jobs.. those who were mediocre got great career-ladders.

It's a problem that's endemic to the industry.  It's why 3 out of 4 IT projects crash and burn, and also explains why much of what comes out of the IT industry makes no sense whatsoever.

I never liked this attitutude that many people have:  they know something about computers, so they think they know about all there is to know...  Because I never had much self-confidence until just lately, and kept finding that those with the most swagger got listened to, whether they knew what they were talking about or not... 

Then I inadvertantly ended up running the department of a $200M company, and I had to interview a lot of folks with this attitude, and had to hire a few of them.

I, personally, think C stinks as a programming language for business applications, and Java is just more of the same...  I'm in an extremely small minority, however.  I actually think Dave was referring to the difference between a procedural language and a scripting language, but I don't see those differences as being as significant as he does...


The "fatal flaw" I referred to above was in the last paragraph...  Dave falls into the same trap I've seen a lot of folks fall into.  There IS such a thing as enlightenment.  Talking about "a path to enlightenment" (even in lower case) in this context demeans the word...

People bandy the word enlightenment pretty much the same way they use the word genious.  Someone gets a few brainstorms, and they're a "genious".  Someone gets a few insights, and they're "on the path to enlightenment", and therefore can tell when others are on that path...

Unfortunately, their aren't that many that qualify, in the true sense of the words...  If there were that many geniouses and enlightened people, would the world be in the shape it's in...?

1:19:35 PM    

Since only a couple people read my blog yesterday, I'm not gonna be in any rush to post my letters to IBM.  Probably wanna do that on a Manila site anyway...
9:21:12 AM    

Thursday, January 31, 2002

My brief experience with Mr. Gerstner

A year-and-a-half ago, I'd never heard of Mr. Gerstner, Mr. Palmisano, or Mr. Zeitler.  I, like many fools, thought that if the heads of IBM knew what they were doing, they'd be shipping the 38/400/iSeries platform like Aunt Jemima flips pancakes...  And since they don't, I figured they must just be plain fools.

Funny things have happened, from there to here...  By a long series of "flukes of nature", I wrote Mr. Gerstner a letter, which I'll post shortly.  To make a long story short:  in the process of writing that letter, I read IBM Redux by Doug Garr. 

I found out three things, mainly:  I really liked Gerstner; Gerstner is one of the few heavy-hitters that uses his gut instincts to make decisions; and it was I, who was the fool.


After I wrote the first series of three letters, I found out a lot more about Gerstner...

Now, I run a Mom-and-Pop contract coding biz (just me and The Wife), and I've bought just one $25,000 400 from IBM.  Nobody had ever heard of me, and I hadn't even heard of myself, at that time...;-)  I represented no group of people and could probably count, on a hand or two, the number of times I'd ever met anyone from even the local branch of IBM, in the 20 years I've worked on their computers.  (Outside of the occasional visit from the IBM CE to work on a machine.)

So, if you fully understand the preceding paragraph, you understand my utter and complete astonishment that Gerstner (by all indications) not only read my letters.. but took them seriously.. and responded to them in the best way possible...!

I'd read, in IBM Redux, that in Gerstner's eyes anyway, the customer is still # 1...  And then he went and proved it to me by his actions.  He responded to a single, totally inconsequential, customer.

I still can't get over it...  Now, this happened back in September of 2000, so I'm long over having my ego puffed up by Gerstner responding to little-ole-me...  This is a statement about Gerstner, not me.

Gerstner has honor... 

Seen the topic blogged about some...  A few people know what that means, but fewer still have it.  Gerstner honored me, by responding to my letters, and it sure wasn't because he was looking for me to write this piece.  He just did it because that's the way he his...

That's what honor is about...  Just doing the things that are called for.. and not because of the expected exchange value.

So obviously, I'm writing this "not to bury Caesar, but to praise him".  And I have complete faith that Mr. Palmisano is cut from the same cloth.


(Still.. I think IBM doesn't always know what they're doing, with regard to the iSeries, though...;~)

10:29:58 AM    

The Changing of the Guard.

As expected, Mr. Gerstner announced he will step down as CEO, when his contract is up on March 1, 2002.  Adam Curry posted a great link on 1/29:  Mr. Gerstner's email to all the IBMers.

I once had an outside shot at meeting Mr. Gerstner, but I got nerves and blew it...  (Probably for the best, as my nerves would have made me look like a bigger fool than I actually was...!)  I don't look back at things with regret, but it looks pretty likely that it might have been a one-time opportunity.

But, although I never met the man, I got to know something about him personally, by writing him...  This is a little story about my brief experience with LVG, jr...

9:27:14 AM    

Monday, January 28, 2002

A picture named sunBG.jpgA picture named skyBG.jpg
1:32:25 AM    

A picture named sidewayswink2.gif
1:26:46 AM    

Here are some test images...
12:24:03 AM    

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