Sunday, March 29, 2015

Netflix Streaming in Canada. Strengths and suggestions for improvement streaming is affordable at $9CAD/month for unlimited streaming.
The quality is fine, and watching it on the Wii makes it really easy.  Watching on the Apple TV offers better quality (I'd recommend Apple TV).

Room for Improvement.
*1. Allow a shopping cart / list of movies to watch so folks can make note of movies they'd like to watch another time and "set them aside".
*2. allow  a "cancel" option on the "skip ahead screen" for those cases where I click on something and can't get back to the point in the movie I was at.
3. (allow categories of my own creation) instead of the auto-magically created ones. (films with a strong female lead...) Films like the Princess Bride...
*4. allow profiles within an account so that when my kids watch Barney and Dora the Explorer, Netflix doesn't start suggesting  "Greg's picks" like "the wiggles" or "wonder pets".  I want plots with a twist, compelling character development and innovative story telling...  Having more than one person in my family essentially wastes  the intelligent recommendation engine Netflix has developed.
Thanks Netflix
5. It isn't clear if Netflix shows me the entire collection, or if I'm seeing a "favourites list".  It should be more obvious...??
*6. Put a volume control on the netflix interface for Wii.   People already have the wii-mote in their hands, don't make them search for another remote.
7. I don't want to see the same show/movie listed in every list you show me.  It creates the impression you only have 100 movies.  (apply a "don't re-use" rule in suggestions).

Netflix Advantages..
1. It really is "instant"  I only have to wait a couple seconds for any of the movies or shows to start.
2. Netflix usually remembers where i left off with a movie so I can resume.
3. the movies are pausable, so it behaves like a PVR, I can go back to catch quiet dialogue or epic finales.
4. The value is really good.  For the price of 2 movie rentals a month I can watch limitless TV shows and movies from Netflix catalogue.  Given the price of gas and the tyranny of "late fees" the value is exceptional.

How Businesses can make Carpooling work for them.

How does it work?

Fewer parking spaces to construct.
Less congestion in the parking lot and on the roads.
Employees have more transportation options.
Better air quality.

Employees are better rested when they arrive at work.  Since half of them didn't actually drive.  In the cases of HOV lanes there may even be reduced travel time. (lower stress)
Employees can discuss work with colleagues outside business hours becoming better informed, resolving misunderstandings.
Employees have better connections.
Having already socialized on the way in, carpoolers may be more likely to "hit the ground running".

Carpooling is a great opportunity.  What can you do to encourage carpooling and make it easy for your employees to use this great option?

Monday, December 30, 2013

My top 3 "reading list" for eating healthy and being healthy in 2014

OK, first things first. These aren't NEW books, but I don't think we need NEW I think we need GOOD.  This is my road tested top 3 list from the last year, so if these worked in 2013 they will work in 2014. I'm linking to Amazon since I find my experience with ordering books from them to be superior.

Simplest Advice Award is to "Drop the refined sugar."

Watch this video.  Nope it isn't cats people pull up your comfy chair and settle down for a smart hour long intellectual presentation that will cause you to re-think sugar.Sugar the Bitter Truth: Kind of makes me thankful for endocrinologists with an axe to grind.

There is even a book about the video if you insist on watching it in paperback (Mom and Dad I'm talking to you). The Real Truth About Sugar-- Dr. Robert Lustig's Video Lecture "Sugar: The Bitter Truth"

Most Audacious Title award goes to: Never Be Sick Again by Raymond Francis.  

Yeah the title was a real turn-off for me as well, but the biochemistry and advice seems to make good sense.  If you are easily turned off by writing style you may need to push through a bit of "I can't believe everybody else is wrong."  But I'll tell you, the content is well worth the read. Kudos on content, the title didn't help with credibility.  The jacket sums it up well; "There is only One Disease: Malfunctioning cells. All cell malfunction can be reduced to Two Causes: Deficiency and Toxicity.
By addressing the Two Causes through the Six Pathways (Nutrition, Toxin, Psychological, Physical, Genetic, Medical) almost all disease can be prevented or reversed."
Never Be Sick Again: Health Is a Choice, Learn How to Choose It

Longest Read award goes to: Eat Drink and be Merry 

by Walter C. Willett, M.D., with Patrick J. Skerrett
Walter. Willett, , is chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health and a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.  You can learn more here:  
Grounded in science and closely associated with the research of the Harvard Medical School, this book is a good thorough read for understanding health and nutrition.

Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating

To your Health!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Centralized vs Decentralized work and the impact on Quality

"Centralized vs Decentralized"
These two terms explicitly describe "where" an activity takes place.

I think sometimes teams might implicitly choose to use these two terms as euphemisms for "performed in a standardized manner by experts" versus "performed with high variability by a crowd".
Such an implicit meaning is not necessarily fair because there are both pros and cons to each approach.

Expert processing is expensive with limited availability but more likely to be consistent.  
Crowd processing is harder to control (activity and outcome) but ultimately quite cost efficient if it works.

I know sometimes our team is  troubled by the “variability” in distributed activity. (e.g. Do project owners get their software listed in the software list, do change owners complete risk scores etc.)
And I know sometimes we are tempted to switch models and “centralize” to address these issues.  But time and money are short for our Quality Improvement team and centralization and the transformation to centralization is expensive.

While that may be an appropriate solution, it isn’t necessarily arrived at after a careful assessment of all of the alternatives.
For example, there are ways to leverage the “bandwidth” of the crowd without necessarily sacrificing quality of results.  i.e. While not controlling activity we may find appropriate means to positively affect outcome, whether through support or appropriate feedback loops, or gates etc.

It makes me think that I want to invest in my own learning about how to influence the outcomes, rather than necessarily taking over the work involved in the activity…

Here is an interesting excerpt on 3 kinds of “crowd wisdom” found in “disorganized decisions”

Types of crowd wisdom[edit]

Surowiecki breaks down the advantages he sees in disorganized decisions into three main types, which he classifies as
·         Cognition
Thinking and information Processing
Market judgment, which he argues can be much faster, more reliable, and less subject to political forces than the deliberations of experts or expert committees.
·         Coordination
Coordination of behavior includes optimizing the utilization of a popular bar and not colliding in moving traffic flows. The book is replete with examples from experimental economics, but this section relies more on naturally occurring experiments such as pedestrians optimizing the pavement flow or the extent of crowding in popular restaurants. He examines how common understanding within a culture allows remarkably accurate judgments about specific reactions of other members of the culture.
·         Cooperation
How groups of people can form networks of trust without a central system controlling their behavior or directly enforcing their compliance. This section is especially pro free market.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Building a IT Service Catalog in 5 easy steps

This is a bit of a brain-dump of how to build the list.  The "5 easy steps" is a sarcastic protest against formula blog writing and the stupefying titles chosen for those posts. (thanks for tolerating my protest)

Begin a list.  Use excel, it does everything you need.
Write down all the services you know about, and then expect to stumble across many more services you haven't listed.  The list gets built iteratively which lets you avoid anxiety about it being incomplete.

For each service listed in define WHAT the service is.  Normally this involves a noun like "Network services".  Describe what the service provides in terms the requestors will understand.
List the verbs that apply to the service.  These are the common changes;
"Server - Backup", "Server - Restore", "Network - VLAN creation" etc.

Under each service, list what changes can be requested.  If the changes are valid but not request-able  mark those as "internal or technical" services.

I'm going to be vague on purpose and drift from "service to change".  If you have a tiny IT shop where BOB does everything this won't make sense, but if you support 30,000 users like we do where I work, then this will fit OK.

List who designs the service. There should be a group / department, and an actual person's name.  The name is the person you talk to if you need to ask that the service be modified to operate differently.

List who delivers the service changes.  Sometimes its the designer, often a group of IT foot soldiers who follow orders.  There should be a group / department, and an actual person's name.  The person named here is the one who gets complaints about how the service is delivered.

List what pre-requisites are necessary in order to request the change.
- Perhaps there are security approvals, or budget approvals required BEFORE requesting service.
- Don't get in the habit of holding requests for service in a holding pattern while the customer disappears to get pre-requisites.

List the minimum data set that the service delivery team requires in order to successfully deliver service.
- By way of example, in our organization, for Software, we need to know; Vendor, Title, Version/edition, PCname/device, cost centre number, requestor's department.

List the expected turnaround.  If your customer knows the service is normally delivered in 10 business days, this helps set the tone so they don't start "escalating" the next day.

Link to "Standard operating procedures" that have been developed to support consistent delivery of the changes related to the service.
Link to policies your requestors will need to follow / agree to; (electronic use policies/ password policies etc.)
Link to user documentation.
List "How to access the service" beginning with "Call the service desk at 604-555-1212".
Link to any request forms you have in place to support the service and related changes.
List eligibility information if you know it;  e.g. the marking software is available to instructors and teaching assistants but not students...

Enjoy!  I hope this helps.  If you want me to post a template that might be helpful, leave me a comment below.