12 August 2019
12 August 2019

Hiding What You Shouldn’t See

Back when I was working on a master’s degree, one of our professors told us a story about a colleague who learned how to navigate the Unix system. She was so thrilled about learning this new skill that, in her exuberance, she stumbled upon some hidden human resource files containing confidential information. Eventually, an administrator … Read more
23 July 2019
23 July 2019

Measuring the Right Things

In my previous career many years ago, I worked at a hospital along with about ten other pharmacists. The department manager came up with one primary metric for evaluating pharmacists: the average time taken to fill each drug order. While this system did produce a metric, it was the wrong one. The worst pharmacist in … Read more
12 June 2019
12 June 2019

Building a Great Technical Team

The process of putting together a team of technical people once was largely centered around getting a group of similarly minded people. How people worked was valued more than how well they could accomplish their job. Finding people who could work together smoothly was a big focus when picking new team members, and was a … Read more
28 May 2019
28 May 2019

Innovation: A Double-edged Sword

We humans have been the most successful animals on earth. We’ve accomplished this by changing the environment to suit our needs instead of always adapting ourselves to fit the environment. We use tools, we invent, and we solve problems. Of course, many other species use crude tools, but none have done anything like inventing computers, … Read more
30 April 2019
30 April 2019

What is Automation?

Today I got a bit closer to a meaningful definition of automation as it applies to the software development process. I’ve been turning this concept over in my head for a while, which is partly related to the dreaded question of licensing. Why should licensing an automation product be related to the number of users? … Read more
17 April 2019
17 April 2019

The Future of Medicine

If you are a Star Trek fan, you’ve seen the future of medicine, or at least how the writers imagine it will be. Painless, needleless injections are given by hypospray devices, right through clothing with no chance of cross-contamination. The medical tricorder provides an accurate diagnosis in seconds. Broken bones, illnesses, and injuries are quickly … Read more
12 March 2019
12 March 2019

Why You Shouldn’t Hardcode the Current Database Name in Your Views, Functions, and Stored Procedures

“There are only two hard things in Computer Science: cache invalidation and naming things”Phil Karlton I’m terrible at naming things. I recently wrote some quick code to reproduce a design problem and demonstrate several options for solutions, and later realized that I’d named my objects dbo.Foo, dbo.FooFoo, and dbo.Wat. But I feel strongly about a … Read more
04 March 2019
04 March 2019

Celebrating Women in Tech

NASA recently named a facility in honour of Katherine Johnson, the mathematician who performed the calculations for space flights in the 50s and 60s. She was one of the “human computers” whose stories were made famous by the movie Hidden Figures just a few years ago. Until that movie was released, the contributions of these … Read more
08 January 2019
08 January 2019

The Case for Value-Based Delivery

In the past, I was very proud that I’d meticulously defended my projects against scope creep, but I was missing the point. The real reason organizations should undertake projects is to achieve value. What should be the priority, then, defending against scope creep or value-based delivery? The agile movement fundamentally understands this. Its core principles … Read more
20 December 2018
20 December 2018

The Single Version of the Truth

If only there were a ‘single version of the truth’ in data and data analytics. Unfortunately, data and everything that derives from it is subjective: it cannot be disentangled from our cultural biases. We can only find the version of the truth that fits the evidence and our cognitive map of the world we live … Read more
12 December 2018
12 December 2018

Where’s the Bottleneck?

Delta Airlines recently announced that they have implemented the first fully biometric terminal in the US, at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport F Terminal with plans for Detroit late 2019. This means that, instead of scanning boarding passes and looking at passports for international flights at the checkpoints, the airline can just scan each passenger’s face … Read more
28 November 2018
28 November 2018

Common Sense Data Science

Data science is so hip today that everyone is doing it. Everyone is showing off their ‘data science muscles’ by how much data they can lift and in what amazing ways the lifting is done. However, only some are showing that they can work in a smart way, and even fewer are showing common sense. … Read more