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Innovate Responsibly



A dual use for datacenters?


Jesse Robbins has an interesting post on O’Reilly Radar about how IBM is building a new datacenter in Zurich that will use its excess heat to warm a public swimming pool for local residents. He references an article on, which notes that “the Zurich data center will be completed later this year, and will generate 2,800 megawatts of excess heat each year.” According to Steve Sams of IBM, reclaiming the waste heat from the data center “will save about 130 tons of CO2 emissions.”


Moving toward Agile - 9 Steps to Success


A team that wants to move from traditional methodologies towards an Agile approach may want to gradually shift toward Agile instead of one day completely changing all practices. An immediate change to Agile may be risky, so a phased approach may help a team avoid the perils around adopting an unfamiliar methodology.

The most important motivation for moving toward Agile should be to gather frequent, if not continuous, customer feedback during development. This more frequent feedback requires a high standard of quality be always maintained during development of the product - making it usable throughout the development lifecycle.


Technology without support


Recently, an odd set of coincidences made me wonder if, as a society, we've gone over the line in technology dependence.

Item 1) A Quiznos sandwich store was getting ready to set up shop in the lobby of the OpenLogic building. Signs announcing its arrival met every entrant. A huge, heavily bolted Quiznos kiosk was stashed in the corner trying to look unobtrusive. Then, it just went away. Signs explained it was moved to another building in the office park. The reason (not explained on the sign)? They couldn't get a comm line for their credit card machine.

Item 2) I took my son to Red Robin a few weeks back. When we finished and asked for the check, we waited and waited. Eventually, our server came by to apologetically explain that their "system went down." We waited for at least 20 minutes after our meal was done. Back at the server's station, I could see a Windows logo coming up, then disappearing like a drowning sailor - no doubt it was bobbing repeatedly with a Ctl-Alt-Del dunking. Finally she came back with a hand-written ticket and credit-card charge slip. Their system never came up. By the time my charge showed up on my account it was for several dollars more than I had signed for. Just enough to not make it worth the bother to contest it, but just enough to feel like they stuck it to me.

Item 3) OpenLogic engineers often go to Heidi's Deli, but on more than one occasion, we've been turned away right at the start of the lunch rush because they couldn't take cards. They blew an entire 2 hr lunch window.

In all 3 cases, the business ground to an halt due to lack of basic, working technology and no support. In 2 cases, the businesses decided they couldn't even make a sandwich without a network connection. In all cases, there was no alternative process in place to conduct business.

Have we become so dependent upon business technology that the average street vendor in Bombay, armed with a cell phone and enough inventory to fit on a rickshaw, could out-hustle a successful national sandwich franchise?

Snoring during conference calls


People that work from home know that every once in a while there are some unique challenges like dogs barking or the door bell ringing.  Today I encountered a new one.  My dog started snoring during the conference call.  How exactly do you explain that one?

Morning Joe for Fido


So, I swing by a Starbucks on my way into the office this morning and pick myself up a latte.  Nothing out of the ordinary yet.  


Cheaper International Calls When Traveling


One of the hard parts of international travel is that it costs $1/minute to use most cell phones.  That makes staying in touch with those at home pretty expensive.  I use Skype to call home but for that I have to be on a computer, in a quiet place, and I have to initiate the call. 


Technical Communication and Web 2.0


I've been researching the opportunities 'Web 2.0' or 'semantic Web' provides for creating 'content', content having become the catch-all term for a company's documented efforts to communicate with customers/users. It includes what we used to think of as 'documentation' or 'technical communication,' as well as marketing and sales materials and help, all pictures and instructional materials etc. I'm interested in the burgeoning disciplines of organizing (Information Architecture) and managing that content on a company-wide basis (Content Management), as well as the specifics of the technologies and strategies for communication that have opened up as a result of emerging technologies. Over the next few months, as I research and think about this, I'm going to post a bit about what I'm learning. Interspersed in these ruminations will be my thoughts on another topic I've recently had the good fortune to get involved with in a serious way, usability.


Playing games is the new way of working


Do you play online virtual reality games?  Have you created an avatar in Second Life?  Did you know your next job interview might be on Second Life?  I have created an avatar but I don't play regularly and the thought of going on a job interview in a virtual reality world is a bit scary.  Well, maybe a bit terrifying.  Also, a bit sad.


Map your airplane travels ... for bragging rights


For those of you who travel too much ... I'd like to introduce you to FlightMemory - it allows you to track all your trips and tells you total hours in the air, top airport, shows you a map of all your flights, etc.  Now you can really show your friends and family how much of a time consuming pain travel is!  (BTW, my six year old has got it down.  After three long flights in one day he decided that flying gives him a headache.)
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