15.1.22

Skrue McDuck - Liv og levnet

Jeg ble nylig ferdig med å lese Skrue McDucks Liv og Levnet (tegnet og fortalt av Don Rosa, Egmont, 2016, 448 sider). Og det var en deilig opplevelse.

Først, fordi boken er faktisk en biografi av Skrue McDuck, og legger stor vekt på hvordan klarte han å akkumulere formuen sin. Ja, det stemmer: onkel Skrue ble født fattig, og er en self-made tusinlliardær. For å være mer presis, var Skrue arving av en gammel og hjemsøkt ruin av et slott, som rekke av hans forfedrene hadde eid og bodd på i Skottland, for over 200 år før Skrue ble født. Men ellers hadde han og alle andre rundt seg veldig dårlig råd.

Samtidig hadde Skrue McDuck en stor ambisjon og fikk oppmuntring av faren siden da han som barn tjente sin første mynt, ved å jobbe med skopussing. Og det var starten på et veldig intens og beintøff arbeidsliv for ham i mange tiår. Skrue fikk også mange lærepenger i løpet av årene. For lett var det ikke.

Gjennombruddet for Skrue, da han endelig begynte å tjene penger som til slutt gjorde ham rikk, kom ca. 20 år etter den første mynten. Og i form av gullgraving på Yukon. Der var nok en ny Skrue som jobbet hardt og alene i skjerpet sitt,  i tøff forholder, og allerede ganske påvirket av erfaringene som livet hadde bydd på.

Deretter kunne Skrue bale på med sine investeringer verden rundt, fram til at en dag kjøper han et området i Andeby og begynner å bygge bingen som vi alle kjenner til.

Bortsett fra å ha super detaljerte, inspirerende og vel fortalte historier, inneholder boken også fine introduksjoner før hvert kapittel, der Don Rosa beskriver elementene som han brukte av tidligere Skrues historier for å rekonstruere hans liv. Og her snakker man om mye presisjon og lidenskap!

Til sist, hadde boken en spesiell betydning for meg personlig. Og grunnen til det er at det var nok den første boken jeg leste sammen med dattera mi, som er 8 år gammel. Hvis boken var super spennende for meg som voksen, tror jeg nok at den gjorde enda større inntrykk på henne. Og jeg blir glad om hun også tar med seg litt av læring om hvor mye må man egentlig satse og ofre i livet, om én skal oppnå sine mål.

26.12.21

Pair programming

When I was a couple years in my career as a software engineer, not long after finishing university, I got into a work setup where doing pair programming was for the first time possible. I remember this was something I wanted to get doing, because I felt I had a lot to learn from more experienced software developers, by sitting and working together with some of them.

So, I grabbed every chance I had to do more of pair programming, and the results were incredible, in my subjective assessment. I remember spending many days working with a colleague that was not too many years more experienced than me at the time, but that had worked on larger software systems longer than I had.

In particular, I remember us spending many hours in “debug” mode, going through a particular piece of code and trying to understand and come up with some fixes. And I remember having literally headaches at the end of a working day, which was a sign of the many successive hours of highly concentrated intellectual activity.

While for me the main benefit was clearly getting insights on the practical methods used by a more experienced developer, and learning from it, my colleague also benefited a lot from my concentrated attention and at least some of my ideas on how to proceed with the tasks we had at hand.

And all that came recently to mind again, because of a book I am currently reading about programming, which made me reflect back on my personal experience with pair programming.

One of the chapters in the mentioned book brings a lot of hard evidences, mostly based on published articles and studies, that point out to the fact that pair programming, together with formal code inspections, are the most effective methods to, among other positive things, reduce code defects. The evidence shows that they are actually much more efficient at that than other more “popular” alternatives, such as unit tests, regression and integration tests.

And that does not come as a surprise, based not only on my earlier experiences with pair programming, but also personal experiences later on with code review sessions, and overall assessment over code quality in different contexts, as I moved to work on many different systems, companies, and software products. With different job titles and responsibility levels.

At the end of the day, much of the quality in a software system reflects down to how single individuals do their daily work tasks, and pair programming is just a great tool to achieve more of what many people seem to look elsewhere for.

10.11.21

3-D Seismic Interpretation

3-D Seismic Interpretation (M. Bacon, R. Simm and T. Redshaw, Cambrige University Press, 2007, 225 pages) is a book that has long stayed on my bookshelf. Now I have finally finished reading through it, and it was very useful. 

Firstly, because I started this year working with Seismic Interpretation again, and this book gives a good overview over the main techniques and processing that seismic data undergoes. From the data collection, on land or shore, to the pre-processing steps, up to the structural and geological interpretation of it.

Secondly, because it puts a lot of emphasis on visualization of seismic data, in modern 3D software environments. The book goes through some key aspects of how seismic interpretation has evolved from paper and pencil to modern 3D scenes, and the consequences it had for horizon and fault picking, for example.

Thirdly, the language and the level of details was quite right for someone, like me, that is not an expert in the field, but still wants to understand the main principles behind different steps on the seismic interpretation workflow.

If this sounds interesting to you too, you won’t regret giving this book a try.

25.2.21

Latterbomber

For en uke siden, ble jeg ferdig med å lese Latterbomber – Vitser for barn. Dette har sikkert vært den morsomste bokopplevelsen jeg har hatt i hele mitt liv.

Alt startet når kona mi fant boken på et boksalg, og tenkte det kunne vært fint for oss å lese sammen med barna. Så da startet jeg å bruke boken på leggingstid, med å bladde gjennom og lese et par vitser jeg synes var morsomt for dem. Det ble fort populært! Noen dag senere, så bestemte jeg meg for  å lese alle vitsene fra starten av, og det har bydd på ganske mange morsomme kvelder, da de skulle høre 2 sider med vitser før søvn.

Og det var ikke bare noen få ganger som hendt at en av oss har fått latterkrampe på grunn av denne boken 😊

I tillegg, så startet vi en tradisjon av å spørre på frokostbordet hvilke vitser som husket vi fra dagen før. Og det var også en bra måte å øve på minne, samtidig som vi gjenopplevde en del latter.

Det som også er interessant er at jeg før hadde tenkt mange ganger på vitser som en måte å være morsom på. Jeg vet at barna typisk synes at jeg er en morsom kar. Jeg har alltid likt å leke med barn. Mens, blant voksne, kan jeg lett le, men veldig sjeldent klarer jeg å få noen andre til å le (jeg tror at jeg blir fort for seriøs i voksens verden). Derfor hadde jeg tenkt at å ha en del vitser klar i hodet kunne vært en fin måte å få andre til å le, når situasjonen for det oppsto.

Men, dessverre, har jeg lest mest av boken nå i pandemien, og da har jeg ikke klart å dele mange vitser med kollegaer og venner ennå, i disse tider med få sosial interaksjoner. Men jeg gleder meg å kunne prøve på det når vi begynner å treffe andre oftere i framtiden igjen!

21.7.20

Bad investment


       There is only one kind of people that 
       make bad investments. 
       Those that dare to invest in something 
       at all.


F.I.S.

29.6.20

Multivariate Data Analysis


I just finished reading the book Multivariate Data Analysis (Kim H. Esbensen & Brad Swarbrick, Frank Westad, 6th edition, 2018, 462 pages), and it was a very interesting reading journey! I have personally being working with MVA in the last 3+ years, on the software side of it, and I have been picking up most of the theory that the book discusses in great detail. But, it is a specially good exercise to study these things in a book, instead of reading bits and pieces in a multitude of article and reference materials.

Actually, being an engineer myself, I have spent the last 15 years working with a wide range of scientific and technical problems, first as a Software Engineer, and then as a Product Manager and moving closer and closer to final client’s management, solution architecting and onboarding. But my sources of information and knowledge, on a daily basis, are typically material found or the internet or produced internally, in articles and other technical documentation – some of which I also write myself. And, my spare time reading goes typically to business-related and other topics of personal interest. So, getting back to reading a technical book was very exciting to me this time, after several years.

And the book starts out with a review over statistics, which also suits me personally very well! Statistics is a topic I have studied many times along my learning career. It fascinates me, but I feel that I always learn a bit more, every time I get back to it – probably because I never worked directly with statistics’ reasoning on my daily tasks in my career so far, or at least not that often. So, needless to say that it was great for me to go through this once more this time, especially with the added element of multivariate statistics.

As the book actually starts by saying, most of what happens around us is multivariate, given the complex of real life systems, instead of being univariate. Therefore the journey in this book is a super interesting one, from the foundations of multivariate statistics, to Theory of Sampling, to data preprocessing technics, to Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and other multivariate methods, to multivariate Calibration (meaning putting MVA models to work on real data collected for a process or product), to Design of Experiments and the thinking around creating a design space that is valid for a specific purpose, to advanced MVA methods and techniques.

To conclude, the last chapter presents a delightful overview over PAT (Process Analytical Technology) and QbD (Quality by Design) initiatives, with their history over the last recent decades, and different aspects of how to get it implemented in practice. So, in short, it was great experience reading and studying this book, and I definitely recommend it to anyone interested in process and how Statistical Process Control can be taken into production, using modern multivariate data modelling and calibration.

6.2.20

Thinking, Fast and Slow


I finally finished reading Thinking, Fast and Slow (Daniel Kahneman, 2011, 499 pages). I have then officially joined the club of the few millions of people that read it before me. Yes, this book is a major bestseller, and one can easily recognize why.

In the first place, this is science-based book. More than that, it is almost a summary of a great and successful scientific career that the author has had. And that means lots of quality.

On a very short note, the book goes about describing how we usually process information on our brains, from the quick and more intuitive answers or decision-making we do very fast, all the time, to the more demanding and heavy thinking processes, which we are typically too lazy to put in action. And then it comes the long list of direct, indirect, and fascinating consequences that this fact alone implies.

Of course, good science is all about good questions, inspired hypothesis, and the discipline to collect evidences and analyze them rigorously. And all that the author has done brilliantly his whole life. But, as it is the case with most produced scientific work, there is always margin for questioning and some level of criticism.

In this case, I also found myself questioning a couple topics. Like when the author completely disregards “stock picking” as something at all possible or credible, to which I would love to point out that his perspective on it seemed wrongly “framed” to me. Choosing stocks to invest on seems like a foolish undertaking, when the goal is put to be “beating the marked”, or using “skill” to consistently over-perform stock market indexes. But when seen as a way to acquire ownership over long-term wealth creating organizations, and here there is no recipe for what long-term precisely means, picking stocks has a huge significance, and some balance-sheet reading skills can ultimately mean utter financial and, unfortunately, political power.

Anyways, this and a few other minor topics that made me raise some eyebrows – most likely due to some fast thinking on my side – are nothing but a tribute to how good this book actually is. And good books are good at exactly that: guiding us to think in new ways, enlarging our understanding of ourselves and of how things actually work under the hood of some misleading appearances.

21.11.19

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion


A couple weeks ago I finally finished reading the revised edition of the book Influence, from Dr. Robert B. Cialdini (HarperCollins, 2007). In my opinion, this book is small treasure. I strongly recommend it.

The book starts by describing this effect of substitution, in which a small stimulus evoques a certain pattern of behavior in animals. Including us. And it goes on by describing some different ways in which we can end up acting in an “automatic” way, based on some conforming strategy that influences us.

Reciprocation, Commitments and Consistency, Social Proof, Liking, Authority and Scarcity. These are the main so-called “weapons of influence”, which makes a lot of sense when the author goes through them. And, the best part, is that every chapter with each one of these “weapons” finishes with a small guide on how to avoid being trapped into them.

Conforming strategies are very well spread. Their success is based on what could be called “bugs” in our human psych. As per other animals, small shortcuts which served us extremely well along the evolution of the species, opened also up for some simple manipulation. Especially now that we, as humans, have greatly enhanced our own reality with a multitude of physical goods and non-tangible structures of meaning.

This book is a reminder of some basic facts about us, as well as a manual to act more consciously against those who may want to explore some of our intrinsic mental weaknesses.