Speed, Quality, Cheap. Pick any Two.

The Hon. Peter Garrett, member of Midnight Oil and member for Kingsford-Smith is presently under-the-gun over the management of the Energy Efficient Homes Package.

It seems out of the old adage: speed, quality, cheap: pick any two that the department chose just speed.

From ABC1’s Q & A last night, members of both sides of the house marked Peter Garrett as an honourable and a decent man. His experience leading environmental lobby groups, and leading a successful band shows he can manage people. But Management in a Ministerial sense is way more complex.

Evidently, his department commissioned a legal risk assessment of the program in February 2009. This document was not seen by Mr. Garrett until early this year.

My speculation is:

  • Mr. Rudd & Mr. Swan design a large program to inject money into the economy in light of the Global Financial Crisis. Getting this cash into the economy quickly is paramount.
  • Based on a program created by the previous Government, it was seen as an easy mechanism to gain green credentials and inject fiscal stimulus.
  • Someone in the Department engages an external party to detail any risks. In large projects, there are always risks. Mitigating risk is a part of sound project management. Not all problems can be solved nor foreseen: but those that are foreseen must be managed.
  • Remember: timing is everything. Speed, speed, speed. The Department cannot wait months to create a viable infrastructure to manage all the risks, and as political pressure is on to spread the money out: nothing gets in the way of speed.
  • Conversations between Ministers is all positive and about the velocity of the program;
  • the Department keeps their risk assessment information to lower levels, in an effort to protect their Minister, the program and potentially their job.
  • The Minister doesn’t want to hear or see bad news: even worse, pass this up the chain to the notorious micro manager Rudd.

The causes for this breakdown potentially are:

  • An environment where negatives and risks are seen as bad PR. Bad messaging for the nightly news
  • An environment where speed is critical. Now, now now rather than considered policy execution
  • An environment where people fear raising bad news

Just “firing” the Minister is not going to solve the problem. Although Mr Rudd will probably reach a point where he jettisons Mr Garrett. That will be sad.

It is not the Apple Tablet, it is the Store

The recent escalation of rumours surrounding the so-called Apple Tablet / Slate / Big iPhone / xxx (where xxx is a super cool Apple-ish name) seem to focus on the hardware. The gadgetry. The hardware specs.

I am a little over gadgetry. Every week there is a new phone, device or somesuch that junks the old technology. Surely this is neither ethical nor sustainable?

But that is not where the innovation, nor the future lies for Apple. Recent Apple acquisitions, investments and successes leads me to conclude that Apple and Google are about to square off. Not in search. Search is rather boring and a commodity.

In the forthcoming weeks, ignore the hardware. Hardware is dime-a-dozen, and many vendors are going to release slate like gadgetry in a similar form factor. Rather, watch what Apple does with their iTunes / App store. Presently this system provides music, tv, movies and with the advent of the iPhone – Apps.

The next department for the store are newspapers, magazines and books. Either sold as subscription, or with embedded advertising. Just wait.

The revenue model will appeal to the traditional mainstream media – so expect a continuing avalanche of obsequious and self-serving coverage. Not of the store – but rather the hardware. Embedded within these stories will be the expectation of a holy grail. The holy grail of the future of print media, without paper.

Somehow, I doubt it.

Facial Update

Nick at Shibuya, Japan

It has been a long 3-4 weeks.

From Doctor’s visits and other experts, this is most likely merely a viral infection in the facial nerves. You can only take anti-virals within the first 36-72 hours – a time long, long ago. So its has been “just live with it”. Research has shown me that re-occurance of the opposing side is possible. However, it is quite disconcerting thinking that your face is going to ‘flutter’ or ‘twinge’ with nervous abandon.

Today was a major breakthrough. Presenting Windows 7 and Office 2010 to IT Teachers at Western Sydney TAFE. 3 hours of non-stop talking, and only a couple of facial contortions. As long as I don’t smile, eat or look up – all is well. Things are on the improve.

Totally buggered, however. Stuffed. Whilst I once presented for 8 hours, at least twice, when on a trip to India in 2001 – and been at countless tradeshows of 14+ hours of standing around and spruiking – 3 hours is still a long time to be “on”

So its onwards. Good to have a normal face back.

Why the Quietness?

It is rather strange for me to be quiet. Especially online and on this blog specifically.

Twitter is partly to blame: it is where my creative mind finds an outlet.

Another is a little more sinister. And I use the word sinister also meaning left-hand-side

In April 2007 I talked on my experience of Bell’s Palsy.

Over the last month, the left-hand side of my face didn’t go numb nor fall, but there has been an intense ache.

Now the right hand side of my face is showing some weirdness. A nervous twitching when I yawn, eat, talk, look up or smile. This twitching lasts for 1-2 seconds and is noticeable, and changes my speech pattern. It is quite disconcerting giving presentations and having your face go crazy. I am quite self-conscious about the visual effect.

From reports from other Bell’s sufferers, this is a potential issue. Doctors report that this is a function of the muscles and nerves of the face rebalancing the weakness on one side.

So, its working online and from home with a few outward bound events.

And rest.

So, if you don’t see my “in the flesh” or being prolific online. There is my reason.

What does Transparency mean to me?

I mulled long and hard over the content of this post over on techedbackstage.net. A discussion with a few people, and reading to through with Jorke cleared my mind a little.

Should I reveal we had a medium size hiccup in the first day of netbook handout at TechEd? C’mon, corporations don’t make errors. Well, they sorta do – but never admit it. Problems are couched in corporate speak. All is well. Look over here.

My personal concept of transparency and honesty is telling it like it is. Whilst I don’t state the actual number of machines needing re-imaging: we have yet to get more data tomorrow to be more factual: telling the story as it is, warts and all, is critical. It’s closer to home here as I am responsible for the Netbooks. In retrospect, I feel I should have thought of the human factors when in production-line mode. Also, increasing the Q&A rate considering the tightness of the handout: I should have thought of that, too.

I’d like to put a big thanks out to Jorke who implemented techedbackstage.net. We really hope that you guys in IT get something out of this transparency.

Sometimes it’s painful to admit your mistakes and say sorry. Thankfully, I work in an organisation that respects the need for this level of honesty. And a great team of people who are pulling to make it right for customers.

The long search for the perfect WPF Twitter Client. Over.

Twitter; Facebook and friends is the place where I spend most of my day. For work and play.

Separating work and play is difficult in single-column twitter clients. Enter mutliple columns, filtering as base requirements for my perfect twitter client.

Stuck in closed-source TweetDeck; or moving through a myriad of AIR based applications. Subjecting myself to unknown security issues, slow performance – and no ability to contribute – has frustrated me no end.

Then @aeoth create MahTweets. It’s MS-PL. It’s extensible (via MEF). It has IronRuby for scriptable extensibility.

It is awesome.

Use it. Contribute. Let’s make the world’s best WPF Twitter Client.

Sanity Prevails

The FOSS community has been concerned about the difficulties, pros and cons of including Mono-built applications as a part of standard Linux builds. Both Pro and Con.

Most recently, the Ubuntu Technical Board posted to their Ubuntu Developer Announce mailing list their extermely pragmatic position on Mono applications.

Today Microsoft extended the Community Promise to the two underlying ECMA (and subsequent ISO) standards that cover the CLI and C#. These promises had already covered other EMCA standards such as OpenXML, so it was quite logical that the CLI and C# would follow. Well, in a sane universe anyway.

As the Mono project (and Moonlight) are based on these standards, the Community Promise would logically extend to these environments.

Hopefully now we can all just build cool software, not argue about licenses, patents and other distractions. Now let’s fix Outlook’s HTML rendering!. 🙂

(Thanks to John BouAntoun for the original link, Peter Galli for the original blog post, and Microsoft for doing the right thing.)