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Showing posts from August, 2018

Boxing Clever

Meticulous research, tireless reiteration of core concepts, and passion for the topic. You didn't ask, but if you had done that'd be what I'd say about the writing of Matthew Syed based on You Are Awesome — reviewed here a few months back — and now also Black Box Thinking . The basic thesis of the latter is captured nicely in a blog post of his from last year : Black Box Thinking can be summarised in one, deceptively simple sentence: learning from mistakes. This is the methodology of science, which has changed the world precisely because it is constantly updating its theories in the light of their failures. In a complex world, failure is inevitable. The question is: do we learn, or do we conceal and self-justify? Who wouldn't want to learn from their mistakes, you might ask? Lots of us, it turns out. The aviation industry tends to come out well in Syed's analysis. Accidents, mishaps, and near-misses are reviewed for ways in which future flights might be le

Tufte: Visual Explanations

Last year I read a bunch of Edward Tufte books: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Envisioning Information, Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative, Beautiful Evidence, and The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint. I found them compelling and ended up writing  You've Got To See This  for the Gurock Blog.  In the intervening year I've found ways to incorporate aspects of what I learned into my work: I've tried hard to remove the junk from my figures and charts; I've noted that when we're talking about how to talk about our data, something like  small multiples  can help us to visualise more of it more easily; I've encouraged members of my team to think about the difference between exploring data in a tool such as Excel, and presenting data in a chart produced by Excel. After that experience, I thought it might be interesting to review the notes I took as I went through the books (which I did, and it was). Then I thought it

Tufte: The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint

Last year I read a bunch of Edward Tufte books: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Envisioning Information, Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative, Beautiful Evidence, and The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint. I found them compelling and ended up writing  You've Got To See This  for the Gurock Blog.  In the intervening year I've found ways to incorporate aspects of what I learned into my work: I've tried hard to remove the junk from my figures and charts; I've noted that when we're talking about how to talk about our data, something like  small multiples  can help us to visualise more of it more easily; I've encouraged members of my team to think about the difference between exploring data in a tool such as Excel, and presenting data in a chart produced by Excel. After that experience, I thought it might be interesting to review the notes I took as I went through the books (which I did, and it was). Then I thought it mig

Tufte: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

Last year I read a bunch of Edward Tufte books: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Envisioning Information, Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative, Beautiful Evidence, and The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint. I found them compelling and ended up writing  You've Got To See This  for the Gurock Blog.  In the intervening year I've found ways to incorporate aspects of what I learned into my work: I've tried hard to remove the junk from my figures and charts; I've noted that when we're talking about how to talk about our data, something like  small multiples  can help us to visualise more of it more easily; I've encouraged members of my team to think about the difference between exploring data in a tool such as Excel, and presenting data in a chart produced by Excel. After that experience, I thought it might be interesting to review the notes I took as I went through the books (which I did, and it was). Then I thought it mi

Tufte: Envisioning Information

Last year I read a bunch of Edward Tufte books: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Envisioning Information, Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative, Beautiful Evidence, and The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint. I found them compelling and ended up writing  You've Got To See This  for the Gurock Blog.  In the intervening year I've found ways to incorporate aspects of what I learned into my work: I've tried hard to remove the junk from my figures and charts; I've noted that when we're talking about how to talk about our data, something like  small multiples  can help us to visualise more of it more easily; I've encouraged members of my team to think about the difference between exploring data in a tool such as Excel, and presenting data in a chart produced by Excel. After that experience, I thought it might be interesting to review the notes I took as I went through the books (which I did, and it was). Then I thought it

Tufte: Beautiful Evidence

Last year I read a bunch of Edward Tufte books: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Envisioning Information, Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative, Beautiful Evidence, and The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint. I found them compelling and ended up writing You've Got To See This for the Gurock Blog.  In the intervening year I've found ways to incorporate aspects of what I learned into my work: I've tried hard to remove the junk from my figures and charts; I've noted that when we're talking about how to talk about our data, something like small multiples can help us to visualise more of it more easily; I've encouraged members of my team to think about the difference between exploring data in a tool such as Excel, and presenting data in a chart produced by Excel. After that experience, I thought it might be interesting to review the notes I took as I went through the books (which I did, and it was). Then I thought it mi

The Warlock of Testing Mountain

Commiserating once again with a colleague about the frustrations of testing a complex (computer) system within a complex (human) system I said that it reminded me of the Fighting Fantasy books I used to  play as a boy. In them, non-linear storylines are generated by choosing, or rolling dice to determine, how the story proceeds. Characters are typically  engaged in some kind of quest, such as collecting gems, and  have some attributes, such as strength, which are affected by interactions during the game.  As a little bit of amusement for myself I tweeted a few words that reflected something of the situation I found myself in at that moment. Then now and again over the next couple of weeks I extended it (fictitiously!) as if I was playing out a book. I've compiled the whole thread here.  62. You upgrade and rerun the test. Presently your client is wedged. Server logs have stopped and 'df -h' shows disk at 100%. You can start another lengthy and frustrating diagnosis

RIP Jerry

Jerry Weinberg died yesterday . I never met him, except virtually by video and email, but I can't think of anyone outside of my immediate family who has influenced who and how I am as much as he did. I forget when I came across him, but the first post on Hiccupps that references his work is back in February 2012, just a couple of months after I started blogging.  Since then I've tagged around 30 posts with his name , moving from testing (my gateway drug) through problem solving, software development, systems thinking, management, and interpersonal relationships. Every single day I use tools that I took from his workbench, tools like these: the rule of three the definition of a problem congruency the definition of quality caution around feedback I can't begin to put into words the feelings I had when he was extremely generous with his expressions of enjoyment for my essay, Your Testing is a Joke , and how overjoyed I was that my words had sparked something