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.

31.7.17

Forget about technical debt, it is the portfolio debt that may kill your company


If you have been in the software development industry for a while, like me, you probably heard a lot about the term “technical debt”. When that is mentioned, people refer to all those details on the code side that were not done or tested properly – which may cause problems that will cost way more to be solved later than if they had been avoided earlier.

What we typically do not talk about, though, and which I mean can have even bigger impact on the life of developers and companies alike, is something that we could call “portfolio debt”, for the lack of a better term.

What I am talking about is all those things that make (business) people in a software company decide to go ahead with requests that should not have been accepted in the first place. It includes all the lack of ground work on requirements (therefore “portfolio debt”), which result in developers spending lots of time doing things that smells like nobody is going to ever use them – or at least not use it in the way features are being done.

Do you feel my pain?

My feeling is that this is the single main source of waste of resources in our branch. Waste that not only costs companies a good deal of opportunities and revenue but that, in more severe cases, can make the whole thing go bankrupt. Even when a company is seating on a position that could otherwise be very profitable.

There are several reasons, I think, for why this happens. To name a few
  1. Calling things the wrong name – or all sorts of mental biases. Saying, for example, that this request comes from “Company A” instead of saying that it was mentioned in a meeting by “Mr. Smith, who happens to work at the department X of Company A” – that alone can make people treat a request differently, as if it deserved more credit and, in consequence, making it hard to challenge its content.
  2.  Too shy to show lack of technical understanding – nobody knows everything. A portfolio or product manager typically makes the bridge between business needs and the technical side. If he or she do not understand the technical aspects involved in a certain request, the assessment of cost/benefit in implementing it is compromised. In environments where there is no space to ask “silly” questions, however, one can go along forcing wrong views on a requirement, even despite eventual protests from developers.
  3.  Big companies, big egos – related to the previous case, but more into all those portfolio people that want to build their careers, and quickly jump up to the next position – so that winning an argument in a meeting means more, in the internal political grand scheme of things, than actually aborting a request whose returns are questionable.
  4.  Small companies, big dreams – in search of being the “next big thing”, portfolio personal in some small companies make bold assumptions about how the world is or will be soon, and get hooked on requirements that has very little to do with the current or potential revenue streams right here, right now.
These are just some examples, but there are many other reasons why requests get into the backlog, when they should simply have been rejected – or, at least, better negotiated/understood. Not doing so may not cost anyone’s salary at the end of the month, but certainly affects the sustainability of the company – and everyone’s salaries – on the longer term.

2.3.17

Veien til førerkortet


I denne uka fikk jeg ferdig lest Veien til førerkortet – Lærebok, klasse B (ATL, 2017, 281 sider). Og, ja, det betyr at jeg er faktisk på vei til å ta førerkort for å endelig kunne kjøre bil i Norge. Hurra!
 
Hvorfor kunne jeg ikke kjøre her, selv om jeg har hatt førerkort i Brasil for lengre enn ti år? Ja, nettopp. Og det er fordi da jeg kom fra Brasil, hadde jeg maks 6 uker for å søke til å bytte førerkort. Men det visste jeg ikke, og det var heller ikke en prioritet i midten av så mange ting å oppdage da jeg ankom i 2011.

I tillegg, offentlig transport i Oslo, og utenfor byen, er så god at jeg tenkte ikke så mye på førerkort, til jeg ble tobarnspappa og begynte å merke at kanskje det var på tide å skaffe seg en bil, for å gjøre barnehagen turer og hverdagen enklere.

Og det bringer oss tilbake til boken Veien til førerkortet, som var den som måtte leses for å lære seg hvordan trafikk fungerer i Norge. Og jeg må si at boken var veldig interessant, innholdsrik og veldig godt designet – med tanke på bilder, bruk av farger, etc.

Boken, i tillegg til www.teoritentamen.no side, var det nok for å hjelpe meg å bestå Teoriprøve på først forsøk. Så jeg kan bare bli fornøyd med den, og jeg får håpe at resten av veien til førerkortet fortsetter så bra som det har vært til nå!