June 2003

The Bigger The Budget, The Dumber the Film

I caught I Know What You Did Last Summer on V8 this evening. This film was spoofed very successfully by Back Woods a couple of years ago.

Its interesting to compare the two films - while IKWYDLS is hip, the filmmakers show complete contempt for the intelligence of the audience by coming up with a plot that would be an insult to the average Scooby Doo episode. Back Woods on the other hand deliberately sets out to insult the intelligence of the audience, but the filmmakers do assume that the audience knows what they are referring to - as such, its a much more intelligent film.

Given the choice, Ill stick with the cheap films.

This Years Must See Film!

Comical AliComical Ali

The uncensored utterances of the legend of the modern media age - The Iraqi Information Minister - Mohammed Saeed Al-Sahaf.

Order it today!

From the Ill Believe it When I See It files

PM orders ministers to make the case for joining euro

Tony Blair will kickstart a campaign today to persuade the public to support joining the euro when he orders his ministers to make the case for membership.

New Labour: Dutch Style

Last year, the PvdA (Labour) led coalition was slaughtered at the polls to be replaced by the short lived CDA (Conservative) led coalition. We now have another CDA led coalition, but this time without the involvement of Pim Fortuyns LPF.

According to Expatica, PvdA leader Wouter Bos wants to dissolve the party and found a new one Pvda Nieuw, perhaps?

More surprisingly, Bos has admitted to being in favour of a two-party political system.

Having lived under the UKs two party system for 30 years, I have to say that I think this is a mistake. The huge advantage of a multi-party system is that coalition negotiations happen in public and under the scrutiny of the media, rather than in private and out of the public eye as is the case in the UK.

Dangerous Panaceas

According to todays Independent, the UK government has launched a �50m genetics initiative.

While I am in favour of more research and can see the benefits of both pharmacogenetics (tailoring drugs to an individuals genetic profile) and gene therapy, this bit concerns me

The Government is already funding, through the Medical Research Council, a research project where 500,000 people will be genetically screened to tease out the role of genes and the environment in the triggering of diseases. The UK Biobank project could be the forerunner of a national DNA databank where every newborn childs DNA is stored for the future use in pharmacogenetics. The White Paper says that the Human Genetics Commission has been asked to report on this screening proposal by the end of next year.

Every newborn child? This sounds a lot like gathering information for the sake of having it. Personal information - including medical and genetic information - should only be stored if there is a reason, such as actually having a disease or having agreed to take part in tests. Large scale gathering of personal information such as this is both intrusive and very open to abuse.

Why do politicians need unelected advisors?

So that they have someone to blame.

Wonders will never cease

A mere six months after its inception, the project manager for The Poseidon Adventure has thought to arrange a regular meeting to go over issues, risks and timings.

Maybe my constant complaining is having an effect.

Divine Intervention

Ive just heard that Divine Intervention is now available on UK DVD.

Whatever your politics, Divine Intervention is a film that is both thoughtful and funny and one that recognises not only the anger and frustrations of the Israeli Arabs, but also their impotence.

And I reviewed it back in February.

Project Management: Some Observations

I am currently involved in a couple of projects at work - I shall refer to them as the Poseidon Adventure and the Towering Inferno - which arent going as well as they could be. The following observations dont constitute any particular project management theory, simply a statement of why these projects (and others like them) go wrong.

The Blindly Optimistic Leading the Blind
This is where the project manager speaks to the business users about requirements, timelines and costs and then goes ahead and agrees to whatever has been requested. Its not until everything has been signed off and work starts to be assigned that it becomes apparent that the agreed timelines simply cannot be kept if the project is to remain within its budget.

Everythings Going to be Alright
This is especially apparent in the Poseidon Adventure project. The, admittedly understandable, desire on the part of the project manager for everything to go smoothly means that when a problem is encountered she tends to rush towards whatever looks like it might be a solution. This leads to ideas not being properly explored before being implemented. Allowing the techies to talk through the pros and cons of various possibilities without trying to push for an immediate answer would save a lot of time and money in the longer run.

Keep Everyone Happy
This observation relates to yet another project. There are times when hardware and software needs to be upgraded - during these times IT systems will be unavailable. A bit of firmness and a lot of consistency on the part of the project management team would help the business users to understand that if they want an faster and more functional system, they will have to face a delay sooner or later while the old system is transferred to the new.

Internal Resources Are Free
This is probably my biggest bugbear as it is the one that most directly affects me. Contractors and external vendors have to be paid for from the project managers budget. Permanent employees dont. As such, whenever things start to hit a wall, it is the permies that get the additional workload and come under pressure to save the project managers hide.

Asking the Wrong Person is Better Than Asking No-one
Im an AS/400 programmer. FTP is simply a tool as far as Im concerned. Asking me about networking issues wastes both my time and yours. If the person who can answer your question is on holiday, you are just going to have to wait for him.

When in Doubt, Escalate
If I didnt have time to reply to your email yesterday, sending it to me again and ccing the world wont free up any more of my time.

If You Have Nothing to Say, Say it Loudly
This is similar to the one above, but Im going to mention it again because it really annoys me when I get an email describing a problem and this is followed by half a dozen replies which add no value but which do cc whoever pays the relevant emailers salary. Me Too emails are spam and as soon as I can figure out an Outlook rule to automatically delete them, I shall be doing so.

In short, as projects become larger and more complex, communication becomes increasingly important. But this communication has to be effective. CCing everyone on every mail you send is every bit as bad as not telling people that you are going to need their time until its too late.

And corporate politicking does not constitute effective communications.

From the Pointless Posturing Files

Archbishop breaks silence to back choice of gay canon

The Church of England is getting all wound up over whether or not to appoint a gay bishop and, after much screaming and shouting, the Archbishop of Canterbury has come out in favour sort of.

But the real question is why does anyone care?

The Church of England is a useless irrelevance which gains attention solely on the strength of its status as the UKs state religion. It should be disestablished - and quickly - and allowed to follow other obsolete philosophies into oblivion.