* Posts by Lee Humphries

19 posts • joined 12 Feb 2007

Turk unwraps doner kebab robot

Lee Humphries

Ahmet is so not the first

This was broadcast on Aussie TV last year:


Or you can do a search for "australia new inventors kebab" and end up at the appropriately named page:


mmm... Inventions by Cat Food. - now we were talking about Kebabs weren't we?

Reg competition: Cisco goes isup

Lee Humphries
Jobs Horns

Getting ready for the new company name

It's all part of a plot to obscure Cisco's imminent name change.

Unfortunately the new name had already been registered before it was discovered that market testing revealed some unfortunate associations in the minds of "average" Cisco customers.

By removing all of the lower case t's and then restoring them with the change of name, it has been hoped that no one will really notice pustulent "Cistco" being squeezed out into the global marketplace.

Now if only there was a biohazard icon - so I've gone with the next closest thing.

NASA, USAF in $30m hypersonic boffinry push

Lee Humphries

Hypersonics for $2million

Why they seem to keep ignoring these guys is beyond me. Maybe its the fact it wasn't made in the US, didn't cost enough, or that they're trying to use off the shelf componentry. Anyway, they still beat NASA to a working scramjet.



BPM unravelled - a live, interactive event

Lee Humphries

Time Zone Please - and here's my questions.

Guessing that it's GMT then I don't think I want to be up at 2am to listen in.

So I'd appreciate it if I could download the whole thing later. And I actually do mean download. I'm at the end of a link with very high latency, even audio streaming has problems here.

Anyway here's some questions:

What do these guys think of YAWL, and specifically newYAWL? Such a terrible name, but anyway.

Have they found any particular SOA implementations that seem to do better than others at supporting BPM?

ReST vs. Web Services or both as part of the underlying architecture?

Are there any classes of Business Process that are proving hard to model in terms of their real world operation?

Which types of businesses are really getting into BPM in a big way?

Does Microsoft already own the BPM space?

Lee Humphries

BPM, SOA, too many TLAs...

I've done BPM using Word for Insurance companies using a template I designed myself - 500 pages worth of modeling, and it all worked. I've also used BizTalk a lot (but not since 2002 admittedly) and quite frankly back then it sucked so badly that I ended up circumventing just about everything it offered - it showed such a stunningly poor understanding of how to use XML. I have heard it's a lot better now, but let's just say that I'm more than a little tainted by the whole experience.

In the end I believe it's about being able to put the pieces together in the right order and add to that a solution for every possible problem - the only answer I've come across is YAWL. When originally coming up with the concept they examined every BPM 'language' and then developed YAWL as the superset of all of them. Regardless of the size of these vendors their tools still just have too many gaps in comparison.

Microsoft Silverlight: 10 reasons to love it, 10 reasons to hate it

Lee Humphries

Flash Sucks

hate it hate it hate it - and I play lots of Flash games. But seriously, Flash is so often done badly, it's bloated and old and needs some serious re-engineering. SVG was looking good as an alternative and I did a lot of work with it, but it's plain that it is going the way of the dinosaur.

Frankly I'm not a fan of Macroslop and most of their 'wrokmanship', especially their OSes and Office (orifice), but I do like .Net in general and Silverlight in particular - it was pretty damned easy for me to move SVG stuff to XAML and to drive it from some of my other XML sources. As long as Moonlight can be kept up to scratch I'll be more than happy. And yes I've already tried sticking XAML in front of the general public - they just don't care Flash (i.e. drop your trousers), XAML, whatever - if they can get it to work the difference is meaningless to them.

Get my coat icon - because it's the closest thing to Flashing.

Spam DDoS assault cuts off south Pacific state

Lee Humphries
Paris Hilton


I suspect that the Marshalls are running off a satellite connection which would make the problem really difficult to deal with. With a one second turn around on your first IP hop out of the country you can't have short timeouts on anything.

Sounds to me like someone doing a test run.

Paris - Because the signals will be going through a lot of air before they get anywhere.

NASA pondering electro-hypersonic jet boosters

Lee Humphries

Just too easy

If you want to make your own plasma the simple answer is fire two 5000w microwave emitters at each other (roughly), the atmosphere at the point(s) in space where they are in phase will be reduced to plasma - actually it forms into plasma balls, but who's counting. Normally these man made lightening balls will seek out something earthed and/or metallic, but a few good magnets/electromagnetic fields should keep them in check - plus moving forward very quickly.

Actually another option if you're moving forward very fast is to push something sacrificial into the shock front (or whatever the term is) with the aim that the heat generated will convert it to a plasma stream. Think along the lines of a MIG welder.

Now what I really want to see is someone do a proper pulse detonation engine (that I can make in my backyard) not just a run of the mill pulsejet. Personally I think scramjets are overrated.

787 unsafe, claims former Boeing engineer

Lee Humphries

History repeats

It looks like Boing (sic) are having their own "A380 Moment" - which are the kinds of moments that last several months to a few years.

Petrol latte for Kiwis in dairy biofuel push

Lee Humphries

More power

"It's fairly hard to say, as NZ Prime Minister Clark does, that this is a case of New Zealand "leading the way in reducing greenhouse gas emissions", the more so as the whey distilleries use quite a lot of hot steam, presumably generated by burning fossil fuel as in other biofuel plants worldwide."

NZ gets most of its power from hydro, some thermal, a very small amount from wind (not a reference to flatulent bovines and ovines), and the remainder from fossil fuels and a few other odds and sods - so not much of a great addition to greenhouse gas emissions.

Just a thought - If we burn old politicians for power would that be a bio-fossil fuel?

Qantas spunks AU$100m on 'pterodactyl'

Lee Humphries

Should go down well in the outback

The new one looks like the roo's body has vanished, replaced by a giant tail - which they don't have anymore thanks to Airbus.

All my aboriginal mates reckon the best part of a roo is the tail. So they'll probably be wondering where in Aus you can get one of these - maybe Longreach?

When did they do the first change? Was that after their first and only fatal air accident back in the 50s?

OLPC czar shames Intel into board seat

Lee Humphries

And still they don't get it

And have either of these two camps thought about who is going to pay for the connectivity?

Let's describe the scene, you're a child in a remote village and you've just received a wind-up laptop. Great, no worries about power - now what are you going to connect it to to learn about the outside world? There's no network for 3 days travel in any direction and getting a satellite connection to your village will require a generator and a monthly subscription fee that's not much short of the annual income of the entire village.

There's this pathetic assumption of the general availablity of internet connectivity. Some of these guys have noble ideas but they need to be dropped in some of these remote places, without power, without a reticulated water supply and sewerage system, without their money, without any connectivity to the outside world apart from dodgy radio or hopping on a boat or walking for 3 days and see how practical their ideas are.

Sucky software? So add a virgin

Lee Humphries

(Ab)user interfaces

This is weird I had started writing a book with almost the same title around 8 years ago and of course never got past the first couple of chapters.

But when it comes to user interfaces the simple answer is that "if you try to please all of the people, all of the time - someone is not going to like it". We've all come across people who think they're experts at UI design but have no idea about what's really important to the user (I mean you Stewart).

One of the simplest things I've seen that makes software sucky is the presentation of data in the UI being largely the same as what is stored in the database (or other repository). What's on the database is not necessarily fit for end user consumption, it simply may not be meaningful for them (without a LOT of training). Whereas a well designed UI will give the information meaning and context, but it may look nothing like how it's stored on the database.

The other that really gets me is software that requires a veritable priesthood to run it because it can't look after itself. I write my software to cope with all the crap that comes at it, including some poor sod of a maintenance programmer making changes to my code long after I've gone. I hate software that should be able to cope with the usual sorts of issues that get thrown at it but doesn't. This is simply a failure to focus on what's really important and deliver that first and foremost.

Sun's new supercomputer and switch are bigger than yours

Lee Humphries

Banana Split

Making a banana split with a Magnum and a Plantain won't taste too flash. Especially as most varieties of Plantains are used to make savoury dishes.

Proper "Lady Fingers" (from Samoa preferably) are better (although too small for a banana split), and if you really want them hot they'll cook through a lot faster on the blades than the plantains.

Maybe we should start a supercomputer cooking segment? This sun gear has more than enough storage for a few recipes.

Hi hon, I'm on d plane

Lee Humphries

Roam, roam on the plane

Apart from a few anecdotal stories about cell/mobile phones interfering with an aircraft's avionics (e.g. mobile phones being 'blamed' by investigators of 'incidents') I've never heard any definitive proof of this.

More significantly why should several hundred cattle and an airline, which has spent many 10s/100s million of dollars on a piece of tin, put faith in said piece of tin when it can be taken down by a single obsessive compulsive teenager who can't not talk to her friends for half an hour. It *never* made sense.

An alternative explanation, also anecdotal but fits with this story, is that passing by so many cell sites so quickly means that the billing of your call can't keep up as you hop from cell to cell too fast. That airline profit engine Qantas, the one that introduced fuel surcharges so it could gouge it's frequent flyers to pay almost full price for their 'free flights', is never one to turn up a chance to screw over it's customers (sorry cattle) with 'international' roaming charges while they're flying over their own country.

Wales, O'Reilly censorship charter porked by blogosphere

Lee Humphries

Ahhh Death Threats

Without genuine freedom of speech democracy fails. However, I don't think death threats necessarily fit within what could reasonably be called "genuine freedom of speech".

How about we get politicians to make death threats in public against all trolls in the 'house' under parliamentary privilege (or the equivalant in your juisdiction), although I still don't think that would qualify as democracy in action somehow.

Anyway, just a little trolling...

HP claims latest printer a record-breaker

Lee Humphries

Higher speed printing

Completely wrong category of printer, but it's always good seeing printing speeds stated in meters per second:

http://www.manroland.com/PROD/prod1_01_03.htm water based inks too. Apparently if these things jam a great section of the roll is pretty much instantly incinerated by the driers (or maybe that's a different model)

Some of the old bank statement printers (80s) required the continuous feed paper to be put on a special conveyor belt that accelerated the whole box at the printer before it started up so that it wouldn't simply rip off the first sheet. As they printed a great ribbon of paper was spewed out that required some poor lackies to carefully burst it and pack it into envelopes.

Google Earth raises hell with Mount Hitler name slip

Lee Humphries

How about misnaming whole countries?

Google Earth still insists on calling the Solomon Islands "Soloman Islands".

Non-Humans need not apply: choosing your Agile dream team

Lee Humphries

Get candidates to read code

I've interviewed a lot of people for various positions, and obviously been through more than a few interviews myself. Looking back on all of these interviews and the companies and projects involved I found the following:

The CV is the candidate's introduction - It's relevance is to show the breadth and depth of their knowledge and experience and also whether they can write properly in an organised way. It gets them the interview, nothing more.

If the organisation puts an excessive emphasis on the need for previous specific experience, and it's not for a particular project, run for the nearest exit regardless of whether you're the interviewer or interviewee. It means that organisation is either already living in the past or doesn't have a clue - either way the role and the organisation is doomed to stagnation or failure.

The interview is to tell you whether the candidate can fit with your team and oganisation. Use the candidate's references to check your intuition after the interview is over.

Get your candidates to read some code, in some language not related to anything on their CV. Get them to tell you what they think it does and whether it has any bugs. Give them access to the web for this. If they can't pull together a reasonable answer in half an hour, then they're only good for positions that require a lot of hand-holding and supervision.


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