Presentation: Rapidly Deliver the Software That Matters

Check out this recording of a recent talk of mine. Here’s the abstract:

Many Government organizations are getting better at software development, deployment and management by using techniques like DevOps, agile development, and product management. Cloud native technologies are making organizations’ software supply chains more efficient and reliable. Our substantial experience with open-source technology and continuous deployment approaches, offers a powerful accelerator for contact tracing and integrated citizen response solutions. Improvement is fragile, and scaling up in large organizations is difficult. This talk will discuss bottlenecks, challenges, and how Government agencies and organizations are succeeding.

There’s even a transcript!

AI is machine learning, and you need ever updated data sets to match reality

The hope is that all this data-related faff will be a one-off, and that, once trained, a machine-learning model will repay the effort over millions of automated decisions.

There is no AI, just computers that can try to get it right over and over, but quickly. Little wonder: that’s what humans do, just much slower. And humans architect and write that code. All we know how to do is bang our head against the wall until the wall bends to our will.

Also in the package:

Firms in other industries woud love that kind of efficiency. Yet the magic is proving elusive. A survey carried out by Boston Consulting Group and mit polled almost 2,500 bosses and found that seven out of ten said their ai projects had generated little impact so far. Two-fifths of those with “significant investments” in ai had yet to report any benefits at all.

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Perhaps as a result, bosses seem to be cooling on the idea more generally. Another survey, this one by pwc, found that the number of bosses planning to deploy ai across their firms was 4% in 2020, down from 20% the year before. The number saying they had already implemented ai in “multiple areas” fell from 27% to 18%. Euan Cameron at pwc says that rushed trials may have been abandoned or rethought, and that the “irrational exuberance” that has dominated boardrooms for the past few years is fading.

Original source: For AI, data are harder to come by than you think

McMindfulness, the downsides of mindfulness

In claiming to offer a multipurpose, multi-user remedy for all occasions, mindfulness oversimplifies the difficult business of understanding oneself.

That is:

With the no-self doctrine, we relinquish not only more familiar understandings of the self, but also the idea that mental phenomena such as thoughts and feelings are our own. In doing so, we make it harder to understand why we think and feel the way we do, and to tell a broader story about ourselves and our lives.

Also:

Yet I’d also become troubled by a cluster of feelings that I couldn’t quite identify. It was as if I could no longer make sense of my emotions and thoughts. Did I think the essay I’d just written was bad because the argument didn’t quite work, or was I simply anxious about the looming deadline? Why did I feel so inadequate? Was it imposter syndrome, depression or was I just not a good fit for this kind of research? I couldn’t tell whether I had particular thoughts and feelings simply because I was stressed and inclined to give in to melodramatic thoughts, or because there was a good reason to think and feel those things. Something about the mindfulness practice I’d cultivated, and the way it encouraged me to engage with my emotions, made me feel increasingly estranged from myself and my life.

And:

When eating the raisin, for example, the focus is on the process of consuming it, rather than reflecting on whether you like raisins or recalling the little red boxes of them you had in your school lunches, and so on.

That is:

Mindfulness has become something of a one-size-fits-all response for a host of modern ills – something ideologically innocent that fits easily into anyone’s life, regardless of background, beliefs or values.

Original source: Mindfulness is loaded with (troubling) metaphysical assumptions

VMware Tanzu cases from APJ, COVID edition

a leading Korean financial institution needed to build a mobile application that would allow residents to check on the availability of PPE across the country. This application involved creating a UX and an API that would show the PPE inventory. By deploying its software on VMware Tanzu Application Service, it took our client just two weeks to build the app, from concept to production.

Original source: Continuing to Enable New Customer Experiences in Today's COVID-19 Climate

An online event doesn’t push people to meet

A physical event is a bundle of different kinds of interaction, but it’s also a bundle of people at a certain place at a certain date – as soon as you take these things online, that bundle has no meaning.

Conferences are good excuses to meet with people that you would t spend the effort to meet with otherwise. They also collect leads as people come by your booth. They provide a deadline to target for talks, and a chance for people to speak getting a notch on their belt.

Online conferences are just webinars at best. This is terrible if it's boring content (mostly, ROI vendor pitch heavy. But if the content is good, the webinar will be good.

In person conferences have plenty of bad content. Most of it is bad and a waste of time. But, the benefits of meeting with people even out that balance. There's another benefit for most people as well. Going to conferences is a type of vacation, an award even!

To argue against some of this, James Turrell has said that part of the value of Roden Crater’s remoteness is that you have to really care to go there. Getting a plane and a hotel and a ticket, and taking days of time, has some of the same effect for a conference – it gives a selection filter for people who care. There is value in aggregating people around a professional interest graph, and in doing that in a focused way, perhaps even around a particular time. (There are also, of course, exclusionary effects to this.)

Original source: Solving online events, Benedict Evans

Managers have to show people they’re changing to the new culture too

When the weather is nice, Barksdale-Perry also encourages her team to go outside, go for a run, do yoga on their decks, or really any activity that makes the most sense for them. In doing so, she added that it’s important for managers to lead by example.

“They are looking to you—and so when I tell people ‘get up and go outside,’ I plan to do the same thing for an hour and I tell them ‘hey, I’m going for a run this morning, you know, you should go out and get up and do it as well.”

Here, we see a daily tactic in place. When culture change is going on, you want people to do new things, follow new norms. Otherwise, you’re not really transforming.

Managers have to not only tell employees that they should – they have permission to – follow new practices and norms. The managers have to do them as well. Either we hang together, or we hang apart.

Original source: Federal Managers Should Model Self-Care for Their Employees

The state of Chef

Chef was cash-flow positive in the first quarter and is on track to achieve its first full year of profitability since it was founded in 2008

And:

The privately held company doesn’t disclose detailed financial results, but said its first quarter was its strongest to date, including more than 100% growth in incremental recurring revenue. Chef has nearly 300 employees and is continuing to hire even as its operations have gone fully remote in recent months.

Original source: Chef hits key financial milestone as digital boom fuels demand for software automation

Americans don’t like sharing data with their government

He explains how it works. “A list of Bluetooth interactions are kept, encrypted and stored on a server, with no way to tie them back to a specific phone,” Applbaum said. “This scenario allows for an infected person to opt-in only after they learn of their infection. Then, a private key is sent to a server that triggers an alert to all of the phones of those whose Bluetooth signals crossed paths with the infected. They are informed that they need to quarantine—but are not provided any specifics.”

A country like the United States would be a perfect location for a contact tracing app because almost everyone carries a smartphone. The problem would be convincing enough people that such an app would be safe to use and not an invasion of privacy. And Applbaum knows that government would never be able to demand the public use the tool.

“On a policy level, it’s hard to imagine a government mandate to install a contact tracing application, though with enough education and instruction people can learn that it’s not that dangerous. And with a critical mass of adopters, everyone will be protected,” he said. “If people were open to downloading the application, and opted in to sharing data with epidemiologists, this would be simple. Of course, the emotional element of human behavior is tough to predict.”

What a pickle.

Original source: Technology for the Next Phase of Pandemic

Remote working predictions, VMware ed.

Pre-pandemic, Gelsinger said about 20% of VMware’s staff worked remotely. Even after companies return to the “new normal,” Gelsinger said he expects more than 50% of VMware employees will work remotely more than half of the time. “It’s going to be one of those game changing kind of things,” he said. “I’m going to have more access to talent, less carbon footprint. So we believe that we’re going to see a step function, increase in the amount of distributed workforce for the world. Period. Also, education. Also, telemedicine. Every one of these categories, you’re going to say it’s just better this way.”

Original source: VMware’s Gelsinger: Tech Is Better Than GDP, Software and Cloud Even Stronger

Dutch birthday calendars

There is debate over whether or not a deceased person should be crossed off after they have departed this world. An older Dutch person, who did not want to be named for this story, was opposed to the practice: ‘It’s depressing to go to the toilet and be reminded that all of your friends are dead.’

Read more at DutchNews.nl:

Original source: Gefeliciteerd! Why do the Dutch have calendars in their loos? m

That “old Disney technique”

This time, his kids say “shit” a lot, and it is a measure of Spielberg's insight that the word draws only a PG rating for the movie; Spielberg no doubt argues that most kids talk like that half the time, and he is right. His technique is to take his thirteen-and fourteen-year-olds and let them act a little older than their age. It's more refreshing than the old Disney technique, which was to take characters of all ages and have them behave as if they were twelve.

Original source: The Goonies movie review & film summary (1985) | Roger Ebert

Managers and agile teams often perceive agility differently

Wherever the Taylorist approach thrives, the perception gaps between senior executives and team members are large. Senior executives describe the company’s agile initiatives as successful and satisfying. Team members, who are closer to the action, describe them as disappointing and frustrating, not much different from traditional task forces.

People always think they’re doing a good job, esp. when they’re not doing the job.

Original source: Doing Agile Right: Transformation Without Chaos

VMware numbers

VMware bought Pivotal last year for $2.7 billion, and it acquired Heptio for $550 million in late 2018. At
VMworld 2019 event, the vendor unveiled its overarching Kubernetes portfolio called Tanzu, which included both acquisitions plus Bitnami, which it bought for an undisclosed amount last May. And earlier this year, VMware embedded Kubernetes natively into vSphere, which allows developers and IT teams to use a single platform to manage both legacy workloads built on virtual machines (VMs) and newer, containerized apps.

Wavefront, meanwhile, is VMware’s cloud-native monitoring platform with microservices capabilities that it acquired in 2017.

While its Modern Applications unit is another one where VMware doesn’t break out specific revenue numbers, Gelsinger echoed Rowe’s statement about that part of the business beating Q1 expectations. He said he expects its Kubernetes portfolio to be “the most critical product area for us over the next couple of years.”

“The whole Tanzu business area performed well in Q1 overall ahead of our expectations,” he said. “We’ve seen it starting to come into our big deals as well. Five of our top 10 deals this quarter included Tanzu.”

Where I work.

Original source: VMware Posts Q1 Beat, Reports Triple-Digit VMC on AWS Growth – SDxCentral