April 2011 Archives

Having slagged off computers in a previous post, I am glad to report that I have recently come across an intelligent implementation of computing.

I have been using the Spotify service for some time now - if you don't know it, it gives you legal access via the internet to millions of songs. You don't download the songs, you simply select what you want to listen to and stream it. We use it a lot in the bands I play in when rehearsing, so that we can listen to songs and remind ourselves how they go!!

Problem is that you tend to run it from your PC and then play it through the crap speakers you have attached. Hey presto, check this out, a hi-fi receiver that you connect to the Internet and lets you stream Spotify, last.fm etc with proper quality.

Obvious when you think about it, so why has it taken so long for someone to come up with the idea? In tomorrow's world you won't own albums - you will just stream what you need when you need it.

I personally would also be turned on by a version that ran on my cable TV and let me select whatever album I wanted - I can then connect the TV output to the hi-fi, which is sitting next to it. They do it with movies / TV programs etc. - have I missed the music service?

I have also bought a couple of Kindles for me and her indoors, and I must say that we are very impressed. 

OK, I realise that all of this makes it difficult for the book and CD retailers, but what they have to do is recognise that the world is moving on and change their business model to exploit the new world of ubiquitous digitisation. Negroponte predicted all this in his book years ago - what a clever man.

Miracles do happen

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I was helping out a friend with their TV system, and as a part of that we had to ring up the help desk. I am not a great fan of help desks normally, as the ones where I live are typically situated in another country and manned by people who don't understand a word I'm saying. Furthermore they are given a script to run through, which has obviously been written by someone who graduated from the Marquis de Sade school of customer diplomacy. 

I was amazed to talk to someone in my own native language, who could explain exactly what the problem was and how to fix it - UNBELIEVABLE! And when I told him that he was the most useful person I had spoken to in years (I may even have said the ONLY useful person) he thanked me profusely. 

Now that was a service desk, not a help desk.
Look at this, you wait ages for a blog entry to come from me, and then two come at once - just like London buses!

We were at some friends' house last night for dinner and the conversation came round to why do we need computers? Bit like Monty Python, what have they ever done for us? And a bit like Monty Python, I listed a series of things that computers enable, which make our lives easier.

However, where the conversation was really going is that computers are often used for things, where frankly we would be a lot better off without them, e.g.

  • Games consoles - sorry, should be banned. Kids sitting in their bedrooms playing computer games is a dreadful idea - get out in the fresh you fat lazy gits. (By the way, I would like to start a T-shirt company with "YRU So Fat?" written on the shirts - any backers?)
  • Similarly any sport on a games console is a bad idea - go outside and kick/hit a ball.
  • Twitter is to me a total waste of space. I have absolutely no interest in the lives of celebrities. They are no more important than I am and I do not wish to know about their every bowel movement.
  • Facebook ditto. What's wrong with conversation?
  • Mobile phones and other electronic devices should be surgically removed from children at least one day a week so that they learn how to function without them and master the art of social interaction. 
  • Spelling and punctuation should be mandatory subjects; no-one seems to be able to spell or punctuate today and when they rely on spell-check, they still get it wrong.
On a more serious note, just because something can be done by computers doesn't mean it must be. There may be a far more sensible and cost-effective way of doing it. 

Sorry for lack of blogging in recent months, but the birth of our first granddaughter changed all our priorities! Wonderful to have a cuddle and then hand back the problem - wish computer systems were like that!

Anyway, what has been happening here in the UK in recent times? We had an election, and for those of you who don't follow UK politics, here is a quick recap. The country was run for 14-odd years by a bunch of incompetent idiots, who drove us to the edge of bankruptcy by spending lots of money we didn't have - that's Labour. The other major party is called the Conservatives, who at least appeared to understand the problem, and promised to do something about it by cutting back on stupid spending. The third party - Liberal Democrats - had absolutely no chance of winning and I'm not quite sure what they stand for except a change to our voting system whereby they would win more seats.  

We then mad a stupid mistake and asked the public to choose. The public, unfortunately, were too thick to understand how bad the problem was and couldn't make up their minds who to vote for. So now we have a Coalition between Conservative and Lib Dem, which of course means that everyone complains that they didn't get the party they voted for and the government is not doing what they promised.

Several observations:

They did get what they voted for - they were just too stupid to realise that the result was obvious unless they voted intelligently.

We still waste money on stupid things.

We are about to have a referendum on this Alternative Voting malarkey - what a total waste of time and money - but that was the price of the Coalition.

Some conclusions.

Never ask the general public if you want a sensible result.

Don't complain when you get what you asked for.

No government ever delivers what they promise, but I wish they would stop worrying about votes and fix the country.

Some parallels in computing:

If you want something done properly, lay down the rules (ITIL, CobIT etc) and make people stick to them. If we'd controlled the banks and the government in this country we wouldn't be in this mess now.

Fit for purpose, fit for use.

When ITIL v3 came out, so did some industry terms that really made sense and needed to be fully understood and taken on-board. "fit for purpose and fit for use" is one of those terms.

So often people just focus all their energy and attention on the "fit for use" element and ignore, at their peril, the fit for purpose factor. Let me give you some simple example to highlight the point.

Over the past few weeks I've been involved in the planning (and expense) of refurbishing a house I purchase as a "buy to let" investment and some of the team have focussed too much on the fit for use factor and ignore the fit for purpose.  Downstairs the house already had a cloakroom with a small wash-hand basin and lavatory. The room was large enough to allow me to add a shower cubicle in and change the "purpose" of the room from a guest facility to a tenant shower room facility. The builders changed the existing Loo and basin to new ones, but the basin was tiny, just about large enough to get one hand in to wash! So it was "fit for use", one could wash your hand in it, but it was not fit for the new purpose of a shower-room. It was too small for someone to wash their face in, or to be used for a man shaving etc, it was not fit for purpose and so I got it changed to one 3 times the size. Now it was fit for use and purpose. Something the designers should have got right from the initial briefing.

The second example is the opposite. My car. Now I've had the car for 5 years and when I purchased it I was still with BMC and travelling the world, so it was a car for fun, not for trying to collect and move furniture around from one house to another! It was fit for use and purpose at the time. It took me from A to B, it had 4 doors and a boot (trunk) it was large (16 feet long) and wide. So, on paper it was ideal for using. However it was designed as a four door coupe and had very sloping roof and narrow doors and windows, making it impossible to get solid things into, only flexible people! It is no longer fit for the purpose I now require.

Things do change and over time what was right for one period in time is not longer right for the existing environment and tasks at hand. This is so true in the Service Management world too. Too many organisations keep trying to "shoe-horn" existing software, applications, servers, desktops, laptops and even processes into doing things they are not made for. They take the view that it was fit for use and initially fit for purpose, therefore they believe it must still be still for purpose, yet our purpose changes over time. We need to constantly review our Asset base and ensure we use them, at the right time, in the right place, for the right tasks and the right usage. This is utility. Something that can be fully utilised, unlike my nice car! Don't complain to Service Management if you're using assets Fit for one element and not the other, review and get the Utility right.

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This page is an archive of entries from April 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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