Monday, February 27, 2006

6 weeks to go

Did I just say that? Only six weeks left till our family is 50% bigger. I think I am getting nervous. It will be fine. Room is coming along. Get to put it hiatus as Michelle's family will be visiting and we will use that room for sleeping. But we have a form of baby sleeping device that is not a crib. That will do for a while, but we will be on the lookout for all sorts of stuff. I am thinking that shortly we will make a list of all the stuff we have yet to pick up. It is not part of my nature to make lists, but I have this feeling that this is bigger than my normal fly by the seat of my pants events.

Work is good. Football is sadly lacking (although I have been following the Combine in Indianapolis like a hawk). I would be nice to see more off season coverage. My gaming is limited to football on the xbox and my reading is:

Domain-Driven Design: Tackling Complexity in the Heart of Software
A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)

Ahh the good life.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Another 3 reviews

Finished 3 books in the last couple of weeks and I am pretty sure that I have not blogged about them. I will start with the business one and move on to the other ones. It may sound like I am spending a large amount of time reading, but I have to say that riding the train is definitely a plus to my reading.

The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It

E-Myth Revisited actually takes place in the E-Myth series prior to E-Myth Mastery. This one again uses the example of Sarah and her business of all about pies. Much of my initial reaction to this book was largely negative compared to the E-Myth Mastery, but after getting through with it, there was a large amount of good information. My major gripe with it was that it seemed as if Michael Gerber was pushing the idea of the Franchise Prototype on to the reader as the only way for one to truly be successful in a business, but later on that message seems to soften. The end of the book focuses on the right things of a franchise, which involves creating a business system that makes the business run without YOU, which leads to much less stressful business. In the end though, I would not buy both books, but instead just buy E-Myth Mastery as it seems to set up a much better framework for a business and how to focus one's energies.

Prince of the Blood, 15th Anniversary Edition

I have been a big Raymond Fiest fan, but I started a little backwards with the Serpent War Saga. I have since gone back through his other books all set within the same basic universe. Mr. Fiest has a wonderful ability to create rich characters and a intriguing environment and this book is no exception. The story tells of the two sons of the Prince of Krondor and their "punishment" and coming of age. Although this book is not as good as some of his other works, it is a worth while read. There is always a sense of fun and adventure is these books and this is another of the series. However, as you read more and more of his books, you start noticing the reoccuring emergence of character traits, but in the end it is just a great fantasy "spaghetti western".

The Man Who Sold The Moon

The Man Who Sold the Moon is a series of short stories by the great sci-fi master R.A.H. The short stories in this book were written early in Heinlein's career and cover the later half of the 20th century and how he predicted the future based on the occurrences of World War 2. The primary story is based on a character who's goal in life is to first visit the moon (being the first human) and then setting up a colony on the moon. Harriman (the character) uses is past business successes and his business savvy to convince his friends, his company, and complete nations of children to help back his venture, which is of the goal to fulfill a childhood fantasy instead of make money. The rest of the stories tell of the engineers who make that path possible via their inventions and work and it sets up a beautiful backdrop. The painful part of reading this was Heinlein's attention to detail around concerning everything but the inventions and many of his shady business practices and national politics seem to be more far-fetched than the inventions themselves. But in the end, I did enjoy it, but for all I would recommend that one sticks with Stranger in a Strange Land and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress as they are much better stories.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Talent Identification

So in my last post, I discussed some of the problems that face Human Resource employees and some ideas on what they could do to impact the company that they are working for. This time I want to talk a little bit about trying to identify talent. Some employers will base everything on a resume, a phone screen, a interview, or a test. But can those properly identify top talent. Probably the best one will be an interview, but I have heard from some that a talented individual might perform poorly under the pressure of an intense grilling. They are still talented at ideation, learning, or focus, but communication or pressure situations arent their cup of tea.

It leads into the problem that many people have with standardized testing. Should someone not get a chance because their SAT was 890, resume didn't have enough experience or the right name of school, or can't tell you how to program the perfect hashing function on the phone, not get a chance at working? See the problem in all cases is that the pressure is too much for the candidate or person being tested and that isn't something you can remove. And if I am someone who is trying identify someone for a role in a job or as a student at my prestigous university, I need a means to measure the thousands of potential candidates.

My point is the current means all have the same drawback, then the best way to discover talent is the quickest, most consistent method. My recommendation to a team is to create a test that will help reduce the thousands by removing ones that you would not hire anyway. Use and abuse the standardized testing before you start using your currently employed resources.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Mismanagement of Human Resources

Rant source: Why we hate HR?

One of my favorite quote that a friend of mine uses is: "People aren't your company's most important resource, the right people are" as taken from Good to Great by Jim Collins. This puts the right focus in front of any HR person who wants to be more involved in the strategic decisions of a company. In fact, nothing will impact your knowledge centric company more than acquiring talented, driven individuals to work in your company and then keep them there.

At some point, I have noticed that Human Resources continues to add processes to measure their people from year to year on their performance. This process adds a overhead to every single employee in your organization. Now, I am not saying that we should not measure the effectiveness of people or of the HR department, as continual measurement and measurement improvement is the only way to optimize performance. However, why is it the job of a Human Resource department or representative to determine a process to measure the individual contributor? There seems to be this universal need to list your weaknesses and strengths. The strengths are there for feel good factor while the weaknesses are a thing to used as a driving whip in the backs of the employees. Another standard question concerns the accomplishment of goals that were set out at the beginning of the year. Specific task oriented items that can be accomplished by a certain time limiter with little wiggle room is a poor way to measure an employee that has the ability to take initiative and put thought into finding the things that will make the most impact and work on those.

First off Human Resources does have a part to play in the Performance Review process, just not the creation, but instead the documentation. To begin, the goals set forth should be derived from the goals of leadership. This belief was instilled in my by Jay, and has been reinforced by the operation of the team he ran. If the company goal is to creat $7 billion in free cash flow or increase diluted eps by $.20, these things can be translated down to individuals, but can only be done some one org layer (or layer to the corporate onion) at a time. The leadership team involving the C class executives are responsible for splitting that goal up among their individuals orgs as some teams are not created equally. A VP of PR can't contribute much in the way of dollars to free cash floor, but could do more with less by creating value in interviews and product demos that cost nothing to the corporation but generate media buzz. A VP of IT, can contribute to efficiency that are needed by other orgs. All parts and pieces must contribute to the end goal, but not all contributions need be equal, but all must be related to the overall all goal and those pieces of the goal must relate to the company's vision and mission statement.

Within a given org, the departments can now look at those high level goals (that are now closer to their company view) and break those down into goals that are to be worked on. Our group will contribute $50 million in buzz worthy demos. Our group will contribute $50 million to Apparel revenue. At no point do you want to limit the individual to where they are just working on set goals and afraid to go blaze new trails.

The next step is reaffirmation of the goal at each quarterly analyst call. The goals of each org and person should still reflect the goals of company at all times of the year. The process by which it should be done is subjective, but one that is engaging to the members who actually have to contibute and accomplish the goals is probably the best case as there is now more ownership of the companies performance.

The final step in performance is meeting the goals which should be again measured at the top and trickled down. If the company met goals, then great. Next is to allocated kudos (whatever those may be) to the departments based on their relationship to the goal and this flows down through the org. The amount of kudos in the pool is defined by the scale of eps or free cash flow or whatever.

So where does that leave HR? What do they do again? It is easier to look at their functions in terms of architecture. There are main functions that need to be accomplished to aid the company and then some underlying services that all functions need to use to accomplish their goals. The only function of HR is Talent Management (aquisition, retainment, removal, classification). This means that we need a way to hire individual (how does a manager set up the requisition? how is that req communicated to the job seeking public? etc.), a way to identify individuals that can contribute (standardized tests of personality, IQ, functional knowledge?), a way to create incentives for people to join (dogs at work, 401(k) matching, medical insurance, etc). This is just a drop in the bucket, but the core is creating an environment that allows for the company to accomplish its goals. When those goals are inhibited due to talent, that is a failing in HR.

I know that this is just the tip of the iceberg, as each part of HR's mission needs to be explored out, mapped, measured, and enacted but it is time for dinner. HR principles today seem to be driven out of the old America, when employees were of little skill and could be replaced easily. These were environments of system driven results as opposed to many industries rely on people driven results. Maybe product engineering and software development companies will find systems to remove the need for talent, but until then HR has a strategic place in the corporation regardless if they feel it or not.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Pushing more product!

Ok. So if you have noticed, when I create links to books, movies, etc. that I am reading and reviewing, the link goes to Amazon. The deal is that get a small fraction of a cut help fund my main site of Modilabs which hosts my pictures and my encyclopedia of me. So without further ado, I will push more product on you.

I have not completed this comic book, but if you are a fan of Penny Arcade and more specifically the blog posts that go with the comic, then you will enjoy this. Basically this pulls from the 1999-2000 of the website and puts little insights behind what was going on with our hosts, the owners and creators. Lots of fun.

As going through the recent comics, I found one that I would love to have as a poster in my office (if I knew that my child will not see it). That would be the middle frame of this comic. Without the witty words. Just the simplicity of glowing pants. What a rockin' poster.

Also more product to push and places to push you to, I signed up for a pro account of flickr. The UI is simple, the features are rich, and the price is not bank breaking. For a link to my pictures, you can look all over my site and find a few or just click here. Also a friend of mine is taking up the nasty habit of vblog, video blogging, vibe-logging. I have found his videos enjoyable and a neat look at the various technologies he tries out using green screening and using various software. For note, the hosting for his news casts is through vimeo.

New look and feel

I finally got tired of using the look and feel that I could download off of blogspot and made my own. I had done some modifications to the template that I originally started in, but grew weary of it over time. Looked like everyone blog on the planet. There are a couple of glitches in this new skin that I am going to have to fix in time, but it took me an entire Saturday creating my sparse images and aligning everything just so. At some later point, I am going to start adding in some java script to all you to minimize and hid menu items. Also, at some point take a gander down the page.

If you have suggestions or complaints, leave me a comment.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Gaming and my test.

It may be because it is battlefield, but the number of profanity is low (because you can't hear someone else when they are dead). Cause I know that I was spewing them out like crazy. Mostly at my inability to get ACCOMPLISHMENTS.

As a note:
  • With Projector: 42 Points per hour
  • With Low Def CRT: 98 Points per hour

Simply infuriating. All I can gather is that with the CRT the contrast ratio helps with spotting enemy troops. When I switched to my gorgeous projector doing high def, the contrast ratio is so low that it feels very washed out. The funny thing is when I checked the specs online recently of my projector it said 1800:1 contrast ratio. But that doesn't seem right since my LCD monitor is worse and sees to be easier to see things. Hmmmm. Plus the projector is further from the wall than in the old house. Sigh.

Gamers and their verbal diarrhea

Seems that gamers have quite the potty mouth. I must say that I am guilty as charged but soemtimes it is a little 12 year spouting off using terms I don't even consider using regardless of their winning or losing.

One gamer went so far as to track the use of profanity over a 30 hour period. I think this is a neat idea. But for the most part I tend to only play with those in my clan as dealing with the younger generation can be a bit of a burden. However when I was reading through the comments on the first link, I found a link to the Seasoned Gamers clan which expects a certain level of maturity in their gamers (how much I am not really sure.

So it seems there is a place where you can find friends that aren't young and stupid.

xbox gamertag: reverend0

Monday, February 13, 2006

Reviews Galore!!!

It is time for my review extravaganza!!!

Best in Show (4.5 out of 5 stars)

Watched this over the weekend and was impressed by again the talents of Christopher Guest and many of the folks that he works with in creating this mockumentary in the style of Spinal Tap and Mighty Wind. If you have seen any of these movies before, you will know that premise is to take the emotions and personalities of these vaunted professions and experiences and explode them expodentially. Best in Show follows 4 sets of dog owners through the trials and stresses that lead up to a major competition which involves nothing more than having a well trained, finely groomed dog. The actors do a wonderful job creating these over the top personas and giving them those human touches that sometimes you are moved by the lengths they go to, but many times horrified at their take on many things.

I think the part that completely sold me on the movie was in end of the movie where the handlers are walking their dogs for the grand champion and Eugene Levy's character is walking their dog never having done this before. And you noticed that his two left feet lead him perfectly around the parade ground with his dog. Superb

Doom (Unrated Widescreen Edition) (.5 out of 5 stars)

This film disappointed me on so many levels. I felt obligated to see it as I have been a fan of id games and played their games since the days of Wolf3d. I knew going into this movie that they had changed the premise of the movie to be mutants as opposed to demons as done in the games. I had heard that this was done by the studios to appease the christian groups. But WTF? You'd think bashing demons would be totally up the Christian rights alley... of course that is hearsay.

Either way this popcorn flick was trash. From the get go you are faced with scientists running down a dark hallway from something frightening and the head scientist calling to earth for help. Following this you have an l33t group of special forces that come in raining bullets and getting their butts trounced. I think special in this case refers to their lack of teamwork and gross mistakes in going into an unknown and hostile situation. Without spoiling this one, I would easily call this one Resident Evil 3: Welcome to Mars.

E-Myth Mastery : The Seven Essential Disciplines for Building a World Class Company (4 out of 5 stars)

First off, I must say thanks to Jay for convincing me to read this book. E Myth Mastery takes a look at what it takes to be an entrepeneur. It goes through the driving need to be creative and how often that need to create gets changed into not wanting to work for the man and suddenly the creativity is stagnated or you perhaps go out of business.

At some point you have to look at your passions and the things that drive you and make the decision to be the technician and work in your craft or find the passion in creating a successful business around your craft and teach others of your craft and passion and make that business truly world class. As it goes though by telling the tale of a woman named Sarah with her pie selling business walking through the steps with her consultant, the author of the book, you are told of the 7 essential masteries to create a world class business out of your business. These 7 skills focus on different leadership skills such as financial, lead generation, and marketing and it is often mentioned that these skills must all be practiced because if you let one aspect of your business get away from you, then it can cause your business to not be as successful as it could have been.

Also in reading this, it can be helpful to those that are not out to create their own business. These skills and funnelling of passion can help you lead an organization towards "world class" where world class is the best of it's kind. Understanding that as a team working on projects and creating customer solutions, you need to know what you are working towards with the allocated money and how you are going to create loyal customers.

I recommend this book to those that want something more out of their business or are looking for a way to channel your passions into creating great things.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Mounting Frustration

I guess my projector and xbox are just irritating me. My xbox locks up all the time and seems to have trouble frequently. My projector has always had a low contrast ratio, but it is now starting to get on my nerves. The solution: deal with it. Right now everything is in new parent mode, so the only purchases are vital purchases till we get through this, unless there is some killer deal (ala the robo-vac that we got for a song).

I think the first panic attack happened when we were watching the birthing videos and I started counting back and we have less than double digit weeks left till our baby arrives. Holy smokes! Michelle is doing a great job painting up her stencils of frogs and leaves and butterflies. To see her progress, check the link to her blog on the menu to the right.

I think I did the final thing today to signify my move to Washington state. I changed the plates on my truck and my wife's car. Although we gotten the plates a while ago, the weather has not been conducive to putting the plates on as it has been <gasp /> raining. However in putting on the plates, I came to the realization that radiators are sharp and attaching the mounting brackets has left my knuckles a bloody mess. But it is done!

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

He said, she said

Lions hire Martz as offensive coordinator

The Lions have a new coach in Marinelli, a defensive coordinator in Henderson of the Jets and now signed Martz of the Rams as their offensive coordinator. However it seems that the Martz hiring did not go off without a hitch. Seems someone was lying or leaked information or some form of falsification over the last nine days that led up to this. I don't feel like taking a side in who did what, but it will be nice to have one of the most brilliant offensive minds leading a team such as the Lions.

Marinelli late last week mentioned that Detroit was going to be moving to a run first offense while Martz is typically known for his pass heavy offenses, this leads me to be very curious to see how it turns out. Either way, this leads me to question the players currently in the program.

Joey Harrington has been in a west coast offense up until this point and that has not gone well and I don't see a pass heavy offense really on his skills. If he is lucky, he is dropped by the Lions and picked up as a veteran back to Chad Pennington of the Jets. I feel this would be a best option for him, with a offensive system that is geared around his strengths (which to be honest, I am not really sure what they are any more).

Kevin Jones seems to have this crazy idea that he can lower his head and run people over like he did in college. Ummm sorry, even a big guy like Jerome Bettis learned 13 years ago, that you need to be a bit shifty or you will get ground to a pulp by the linebackers. He went out at least twice last year with concussions for lowering his head and popping a linebacker and a safety. If we are doing a lot of running, you may want to combine that impressive speed with a couple juke moves or a good stiff arm.

Artose Pinner is some guy that for some odd reason, I really enjoy watching and think they could be good with a fair shake. Good speed, low center of gravity, etc. I don't think he will be a superstar, but could be one of the workhorse backs that everyone depends on.

However on to other news for football. It seems that the bargaining agreement to extend the salary cap is going very poorly. I can understand why as the teams with the money rolling in don't wish to share that money with teams that are struggling. However, those teams will only get worse if they are unable to afford the talent they need to stay competitive and then you have less money the next year. The salary cap and the shared income agreement is by far the best thing they could have done for football in terms of the fans. It creates closer, more exciting games most of the time. It creates a spread of star players on all teams that give us fan favorites. It just makes the game a true battle. If we went back to the "old" ways, we would see the dynasties of old and scores similar to college games, while exciting for one team, it is eternally depressing for the losers and their fans.

Any given Sunday! Well, in 7 months.

When non-fiction writers go bad

I guess that some people's lives are just not interesting enough to sell, so some author's have taken to manufacturing a life or embellishing. It seems to immoral to pass this off as non-fiction but it seems to be more prevalent than anticipated.

Popular male writer 'unmasked as woman'

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

43 things minus 40


Friggin' blog spammers. I just spent 15 minutes deleting 45 comments going back to the posts at the beginning of the blog. Bastards and the state cleaning home blog. I hate them. Stinkin hobbitssess.

So as a new thing, I turned on the silly type in the word thing. Will see if it works or if I will have to implement my own security by moderating. I hope not.


This will be my last superbowl related post. Many things are hard to see in a game and many things are very questionable, but the bias against the Seahawks were real. Which makes it hard to believe that the NFL stands by their refs calls. Every knows that the refs are human and falliable, but to be only lean your calls one way is a little ridiculous. You would almost think they had money riding on the game.

Also, a thank you to Mike A, a commentor/tormentor, on the previous blog entry for pointing me to articles that were totally biased toward the Seahawks. I stand by some of the refs calls, but not all of them. Worst superbowl with any teams I gave a rip about.


The writing of the article in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Craigslist: Destroying America's Community Watchdogs, is complete and utter CRAP. What a load of self righteous literary diarrhea. First off, Craigslist is a community minded site. There are places for posting comments and notifying of meetings and helping people in a barter and selling community. But the line that really gets me:

And he puts nothing back into the community: He doesn't, for example, hire reporters or serve as a community watchdog.

Like I trust some reporter that cares about sensationalism to be a watchdog. And if the newspaper's go out of business, who cares. Archaic art that is not relevant in the here and now society. I fully expect to see more specialized publications (electronic or otherwise) to handle things like movies and entertainment and local plays etc. But blogs are the new publication and will find their own means of acquiring and income...


Sunday, February 05, 2006

Superbowl Champions: Not my Lions

I don't think that this is a great game. I thought the officiating was attrocious. The calls went against the Seahawks the majority of the time. However, the Seahawks primary failure was with something have had trouble with in the past, receivers inability to catch the ball.

If I were to pick a Seattle MVP, it would definitely be Herndon. Since typically you pick from the winners, it would definitely be Hines Ward. He made many amazing catches that saved Pittsburgh's goose many times.

Now the real question, do I think Seattle would have won with more even handed officiating. There are some many variables in makes it so difficult. Would the Seahawks have built a tremendous momentum with the first touchdown that was taken from them? Yes it was pushing off, but that is a call that normally would not be called in a game. What about the Big Ben's touchdown? He made it in. Sorry, but when I looked at the footage, you can't see the ball, but if you watch a different angle you can clearly see the ball in his hand extending to his elbow; so when you go back to the original clip you can see his hand crosses the plain.

Biggest disappointment is Jeramy Stevens. Not an easy game, and I feel bad for him, but not getting 3 pivotal catches or getting out of bounds.

Good try Seattle. Great job Pittsburgh.

Review: I Robot

We watched I Robot starring Will Smith last night via Netflix (a rarity since I love to sit on the movies). I really enjoyed it, however I have not read any Asimov books so I can't compare it to the movie. But it was action packed and filled with many of those charismatic moments from Will Smith that adds humor and a likeable character. However the robot, Sonny, definitely adds a lot of fun to the movie. Whoever did the voice acting for Sonny did a great job.

There were a few parts to the movie that left me feeling that it was this quick flip of emotion that just didn't seem to smooth. One that I can remember that felt hurried was after the driving action sequence where after the fight on the ground, the detective shows up and Will get's angry and boom scene over. I mean as the viewer you are on such a emotional high, then suddenly there is the awkward detective scene. Not good.

Overall, I recommend checking this out.

I, Robot (Widescreen Edition)

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Pretentious, but a seed for innovation

Review based on:The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture

John Battelle's history of the search has an aloof style that can put off many of the readers. However as a message for the readers, instead of focusing on the books many "look how smart I am" moments, really take a look at some of the ideas of how things could change as information becomes findable.

This is not a book that I would recommend to nuts and bolts geek involved in the computer industry. This is a book that I would recommend to someone who wants to take a non-computer industry and incorporate new ideas for knowledge management and knowledge as part of a product. I look at the place where I used to work and this book would help in two ways: Knowledge Management and consumer data driven product design. We can now provide consumers with data for them to use products more effectively and be able to communicate with them in new ways.

I would use this book as a springboard for innovation to help generate new ideas. But beyond that, don't look for some brilliant insight to an age old problem.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


As linked through Booch, I found this article on Frameworks and how silly they have become.

If I had a hammer

Let me know if I am wrong, but sometimes it is just better to just build the software. Many frameworks are too generic for use and just inhibit actually working on the product. To go with the analysis and to go with my actual tool purchasing habits, I would rather have a large pile of tools that I have spent my resources on so that I can get stuff done quicker. Hence my distrust of tiki :)

Take a read on the article. Very enjoyable.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


I figured I would use this as a big hodge podge of stuff. So first things first:

Aaron's Superbowl Pick: Pittsburgh

This has no bearing on my just wanting to shaft the Seahawks or to say Bettis' final game will have bearing on things. I like the Steelers, plain and simple. I admire the way they play ball. I have watched them longer. The Seahawks were always located in the corner of the country and I never watched them. The way they run the team has fluctuated a lot too. But most teams do. In the end this game will be a total flip of the coin. You have two quarterbacks that are on fire with a good suite of receivers and with a power run game. On defense, you have two blitzing defenses with different areas of strengths but both have a solid tough front line. These teams are evenly matched.

Seahawk advantages: Hasslebeck is a tried and true quarterback that has plenty of seasoning and skills. Shaun Alexander is deservedly the MVP.

Steeler advantage: Better receivers. More dynamic D.

Tough call.

Onto other stuff. I recently finished Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A Heinlein. What a heck of a story?! But beyond that it paints the picture of the creation of a new government that is for the people through a revolution. He writes about some fairly interesting ideas about running a government that particularly strikes me as wonderful. No taxes. Fund through donations. Two houses of government where first house needs 2/3 to vote in a law and the second house needs 1/3 to vote down a law. It talks about proper security in a cell based revolutionary movement that protects the majority in the case of spies or torture. I am definitely glad that I read it. There are some out dated ideas of women and Heinlein's usual viewpoint through their eyes...

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