Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Why I love and hate my iPad

I have owned an iPad for a little over two weeks now. I both love and hate (but mostly love) my iPad.

Before I tell you why, let's start with a little bit of background. I was a faithful IBM ThinkPad user for years, before switching to a MacBook about three years ago. I mostly stuck with familiar software at first (Firefox, Mozilla, MS Office), but I have been slowly migrating to some Mac apps (Mail, iWork, iCal). I don't own a mobile phone. Yes, you read that right. I don't own a mobile phone. I've been looking for a smart phone without the phone capabilities for a while. I wanted the apps, but I don't actually talk to people on the phone. My biggest stumbling block was the connectivity fees. I just couldn't justify paying $60-100 per month for something that I considered a non-essential toy.

For me, the iPad hits the sweet spot between mobility and functionality. I love not being tied to my computer all the time. I can quickly scan my twitter feeds or email easily. The best way to think about it is as a media consumption device. I can use the iPad for everything except writing papers. (If I got an external keyboard, I could even do that.) I'm looking forward to getting Keynote and giving presentations using the iPad.

I love the portability. At 1.5 lbs, it weighs a lot less than my laptop. I can check my news feeds, while I eat my oatmeal at the kitchen table.

I love having access to data out in the world. I've been out shopping and was able to check prices and look up an author while in a bookstore.

I love Enjoy Sudoku. It's the best sudoku game on any platform, bar none. In text of the tutorials are not as good as Sudoku Wiki, but there are example and practice games to help make up for it.

Now, for the things I hate.

I hate the eye strain. I used the iPad extensively for the first three days and had terrible headaches until I put two and two together. The iPad is completely unsuitable for extended reading. I tried reading PDFs, but my eyes got very tired. It was a combination of brightness and font size. In order to get the contrast high, I had to turn up the brightness a lot. I have since dialed back the brightness and this seems to help. On my desktop computer, I use large fonts. Many of the apps that I use don't let me increase the font size, e.g. Mobile Safari and G-Whiz. Although it is possible to zoom in, this feature is not available in every app. In Mobile Safari, I can enlarge the page, but then I have to scroll a lot to see everything. It would be nice if it could flow the text.

I hate the ergonomics. Look down and typing on the screen just doesn't work. My neck hurts and I make a lot of typing mistakes. The touch screen keyboard shows slightly different things depending on the context. For example, in Safari the keyboard has a ".com" button. In the Twitter apps, there should be a "#" and "@" buttons on the same screen as the qwerty keyboard. Normally, these symbols are buried in the the numbers and symbols screens, but # and @ are used some much in tweets that they really should be promoted.

I hate the social intrusion. When I had only the laptop, I enforced a social discipline of being "present." When I'm with the kids, I'm with the kids. When I'm in my home office, I'm working. With the iPad, I'm with the kids, but I'm not all there. It's much harder for them to get my attention, because I'm entranced by something that I'm reading. I have become one of those Crackberry users.

In summary, I love my iPad. I wish there was a camera. A 7" iPad sounds neat. I am now interested in getting a Kindle or other eReader for more extensive reading.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

@TwitChange : who would you bid on?

Welcome To TwitChange is a celebrity auction where the prizes are all Twitter-related. All the proceeds are going to support a home and school for special needs children in Haiti. You can choose to have your favorite celebrity re-tweet one of your message, mention your @-handle in a tweet, or follow you for 90 days.

Being so clueless about popular culture, I don't recognized most of the names of the list. But a few that caught my eye are Stephen Fry, Demi Moore, Nichelle Nichols, Alex Wong from So You Think You Can Dance. More celebrities are being added every constantly. (Or more. Six new ones appeared as I was writing this post, including Neil Gaiman.)

So, if I could bid on anyone in the world, who would I choose? And which prize?

I have a couple of ideas.

Option 1. Choose a Republican pundit and have him/her re-tweet a message that is suitably liberal. Maybe Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin?

Option 2. Choose somebody intellectually interesting, somebody who has given a TED talk, and have him/her follow you for a 90 days. Maybe Liz Coleman or Hans Rosling.

Who would you choose?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Why risk management is an oxymoron

Yesterday, I tweeted the following.

#aosocal Change control and risk management are oxymorons. @ainzo @agilistapm

And this sparked a series of exchanges (my first Twitter debate!).

iesavage @ainzo @agilistapm @benevolentprof @dianaofportland Curious… How is "risk management" oxymoronic?

benevolentprof @iesavage: @ainzo @agilistapm @benevolentprof @dianaofportland Real risk, unknown unknowns, can't be managed.

iesavage @benevolentprof @ainzo @agilistapm @dianaofportland Ah - those risks. One must manage other risks (eg illness, attrition), tho.

iesavage @benevolentprof @ainzo @agilistapm @dianaofportland ...and one can make allowances for the unk/unks. Or just plan for % failures.

benevolentprof @iesavage @ainzo @agilistapm @dianaofportland Illness and attrition aren't risks. They are a predictable part of life- and can be managed.

iesavage @ainzo @agilistapm @dianaofportland @benevolentprof JFYI: My company treats attrition as a risk & mitigates.

At the heart of the debate is what is properly constituted as risk. iesavage is using the standard definition of anything that is a source of danger or a hazard. According to conventional "risk management," one must try to identify what these are and identify ways to mitigate their negative effects. It's standard practice to consider illness and attrition, so it's good and appropriate for iesavage to be dealing with them in risk management. However, my comment has more to do with what risk really is, rather than what is good risk management.

In my mind, events that can be expected to happen should not be properly be constituted as risk. Illness and accidents happen. You'd be a Pollyanna if you thought they didn't. Real risk are the ones you cannot possibly plan for.

Philip Armour wrote a book "The Laws of Software Process." (Thanks to @cdknutson for introducing it to me.) In the book, Armour introduces his Levels of Ignorance. I have found this to be an invaluable tool to explain solving information problems (such as software development and doing research).

Zeroth Order Ignorance (0OI): Lack of ignorance.
I have Zeroth Order Ignorance (0OI) when I know something and can demonstrate my lack of ignorance in some tangible form. Examples of 0OI is the answer to a trivia question and the ability to sail, which can be demonstrated when provided with a sailboat and a body of water.

First Order Ignorance (1OI): Lack of knowledge.
I have First Order Ignorance (1OI) when I do not know something and I can readily identify that fact. 1OI is basic ignorance or lack of knowledge. For example, I don't know how to speak Russian, but I know how I could learn. Expressed in another way, if you can Google for the answer, you have 1OI.

Second Order Ignorance (2OI): Lack of awareness
I have Second Order Ignorance (2OI) when I do not know that I do not know something. That is to say, not only am I ignorant of something (I have 1OI), I am unaware of what it is I am ignorant about. I do not know enough to know what it is that I do not know. I can't provide a good example of 2OI for me, because if I could name it, I would have awareness. I could provide an example of 2OI for me in the past or possibly for you right now.

Third Order Ignorance (3OI): Lack of Process.
I have Third Order Ignorance (3OI) when I do not know of a suitably efficient way to find out that I do not know that I do not know something, which is lack of a suitable knowledge-gathering process. This presents me with a major problem: If I have 3OI, I do not know of a way to find out that there are things that I do not know that I do not know. Therefore, I cannot change those things that I do not know that I do not know into either things that I know, or at least things that I know that I do not know, as a step toward converting the things that I know that I do not know into things that I know. Examples of 3OI are many design or research problems. Methods for doing software design or research are really just activities to fill the time while you overcome 2OI.

Fourth Order Ignorance (4OI): Meta ignorance.
I have Fourth Order Ignorance (4OI) when I do not know about the Five Orders of Ignorance. I do not have this kind of ignorance, and now neither do you. Knowledge is highly and intrinsically recursive-- to know about anything, you must first know about other things which define what you know.

Applying the levels of ignorance to risk, I would assert that risk can only be properly applied to 2OI and 3OI. 0OI and 1OI are not risks, they are known and can even be predictable. Consequently, risk management is an oxymoron, because it's not possible to manage what you don't know.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Blessing of the Qur'an at my church on Sunday

All over the news is the story of the church (Dove World Outreach Center) in Gainsville, Florida that is planning on burning copies of the Qur'an as some kind of senseless demonstration. Lots of people have spoken out against it and they still plan to go ahead.

I don't know what point they're trying to make, but the act is wrong, un-Christian, and intolerant.

My church just issued the following press release. We're going to be blessing the Qur'an on Sunday.


Irvine Christian Congregation Plans Blessing of the Qur’an (Koran) on September 12

Irvine United Congregational Church will invite members and friends to pray over or otherwise honor the Qur’an during regular worship services on September 12. The activity is set for the Sunday immediately following the anniversary of the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, and on the day after a small fundamentalist church in Florida planned to burn the Muslim holy book,

Said Senior Minister, the Rev. Dr. Paul Tellström,
“In our progressive Christian view, Muslims are simply walking a different path than us up the same mountain in order to build a right relationship with God. The practices and the holy scripture of Islam are therefore worthy of honor. Furthermore, our congregation desires to stand with Muslim brothers and sisters who find themselves and their faith assaulted and disparaged. In this we fulfill our Just Peace stance within our denomination, the United Church of Christ.
See http://www.ucc.org/justice/peacemaking/a-just-peace-church-1.html

For many years, the Irvine congregation hosted both a synagogue and a mosque in its facilities.
Worship services are at 8:45 and 10:45 a.m. on Sundays, in the church facilities at 4915 Alton Parkway, Irvine.

I'm so proud to be part of IUCC.