I am a Fixer. An Optimizer.

Last Friday I posted the Peter Drucker quote:

"There is nothing quite so useless, as doing with great efficiency, something that should not be done at all."

I was trying to look up the exact wording for this quote (there seem to be several versions of it, he either said it multiple ways, or has been misquoted, – I liked the version I posted best). In the process I found several other quotes that resonated with me, and deemed the results to be worthy of their own post.

If I have to do a task once, I can usually just leave it at that. But if it's something that I find interesting, or I have to do it multiple times, I begin looking for inefficiencies – and ways to eliminate them. It seems logical, and it amazes me that this isn't a trait embodied by more people.

It's incredibly satisfying to eliminate busy-work or to speed up a process significantly, but that can't compare to the feeling of accomplishment when an optimization involves changing something upstream and eliminating the process entirely.

When you have a habit of "fixing" or "making things better" you run into some odd resistance though. People are oddly set in their ways, they become attached to processes and actions. It's far too common for a "this will cut your time required to do this in half" to be met with hostility. It seems that, for the most part, people care less about how to do things better than they do about "this is how we've always done it".

The attachment to process is bizarre. To me, most things can be treated like programming functions/methods/API calls: you give a system input, it does something, it gives you output. The input and output are all that really matter, if you have code that takes 1 second to "do something" and code that takes 10 seconds and both give the correct answer, you go with the most efficient algorithm (in most cases). Done. … but even in that example you could run into resistance from programmer/s that are emotionally tied to the less efficient code.

I would encourage anyone reading this to look at your daily processes, assume they are stupidly inefficient, and look for ways to improve them. We all become attached to actions that we repeat regularly, and it's hard to see things for what they are.

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Self inflicted wounds

You know what's stupid? Biting your tongue so hard in your sleep that you wake yourself up.

Do you know what's even stupider? Doing it several times in the last month.

Ow! This is not something I want to see develop into a habit.

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McCain Wants to Slow Down YOUR Internet

Lately you may have heard the term "net neutrality" being used by various news sources… but what is net neutrality?

From wikipedia:

Network neutrality (also net neutrality, Internet neutrality) is a principle proposed for user access networks participating in the Internet that advocates no restrictions on content, sites, or platforms, on the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and on the modes of communication allowed, as well as communication that is not unreasonably degraded by other traffic.

The principle states that if a given user pays for a certain level of Internet access, and another user pays for a given level of access, that the two users should be able to connect to each other at the subscribed level of access.

Basically, you pay to access the internet, and you get what you pay for.

But the big ISPs don't like that, because they don't think they're getting enough money. What they want to do now is ALSO charge the websites that provide content to you (Google, YouTube, Flickr, Yahoo, etc), and whoever pays the most, gets to send their information to you the fastest. The thing is, these companies already pay bandwidth costs to be able to provide you with the information you seek, and your ISP already charges you to access the information. The Internet Service Providers want to DOUBLE-DIP, and want to be able to say "you didn't pay us off enough, we're going to slow your data down."

Every good explanation needs a car analogy, so here goes:

Let's imagine that a bunch of private companies own all the roads around you (even though most of them were built primarily with funding from your taxes). You pay the companies that own the road to be able to drive on them for a month. Now you buy a car to be able to drive on those roads. You buy a Hyundai.
Once you get on the road, you notice that the Speed Limit signs are HUGE, because they list a different speed limit for each brand of car. Honda: 55mph; Toyota: 60mph; Hyundai: 25mph. WHAT?! The speed limit for your car is less than half that of the other brands… because Hyundai didn't pay off the company that owns that stretch of road.

It's ridiculous. And it completely breaks the internet we've all come to know. Obviously no one would be in favor of such a bat-shit insane idea – except the ISPs that would stand to make extra money for doing absolutely nothing new… and John McCain.

That's right, the "Maverick" himself, the guy who admitted he doesn't even know how to use a computer, has introduced a bill to allow service providers to not only gouge their customers to be able to access the internet, but then charge THE INTERNET itself to be able to deliver that content to us.

I'm going to end this post here, because I fully intend to follow up on it sometime in the near future. (But without any more wordy car analogies)


Mtn Dew?

Mtn Dew (Mutton Dew?!)
Hey Pepsi, what gives? The Mountain Dew labeling has had some stylistic changes over the past few years, including the previous font choice (which I wasn't big on at first, but I'll admit that it grew on me) – but never has it changed its name. Mtn Dew? Mutton Dew? What is that?

"Mtn" reaks so much of an attempt by marketing to "be hip" and "in with the twitter crowd" (I imagine that's how people that have no clue speak), that it comes off as exactly the opposite. "Mtn" is the hip-equivalent of an 80-year old man trying to skateboard down a railing.. and like his actual hip, it's broken. Lame.

The pointy mountains in the design are kind of neat, but there are too many of them and they look too similar.. they look too repetitive, and uninspired. The entire re-design just looks lazy.

Why not just drop the whole "Mountain" and call it "Dew"? Or is this part of a larger plan to rename "Pepsi" to "Psi", because 3 lettered words are cool?

I guess it's time to go and get a Mutton Dew from the vending machine now. *sigh*

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Impressive Gas Leak

I fought long and hard with myself this morning over whether or not I should get out of bed and get my oil changed, and get the 15,000 mile service required to keep my warranty happy. At the last minute I decided it was either now, or I'd have to wait several weeks because of my work schedule. Grudgingly I got up, ate, showered, all that fun stuff, and then drove off.

The service itself was uneventful. It was finished, I gave them a million dollars, and then drove back towards work.

Getting nearer to the parking lot, I couldn't help but notice the police cars and fire engines ahead.. mostly because they were blocking the entire road off and would have been impossible to not notice. I parked my car, wondering how long it would be before I heard an explanation (one that I was sure would be ridiculous) as to what was going on.

I didn't need to wait. Before I even got out of my car I was overwhelmed by the smell of natural gas.

Thinking I should move my car – you know, to prevent it from exploding or something – I decided against turning the key and causing that initial ignition spark. So I got out and hoped for the best. Walking a bit, I saw a drilling machine with a drill bit maybe 10-16" in diameter next to a hole of equal size. The hole.. was SPEWING natural gas. I mean, it looked like steam shooting out of the ground, hissing the entire time.

This email was sent to everyone just after I got to work:

A crew working on Main Street caused a gas leak. The leak is located at the corner of Main and Whiton streets. There is do danger to campus and no need to evacuate any building. The odor is simply from the gas leak.

And this email showed up after I started writing this post:

Police services is asking that people avoid Lot 1 near the Center for the Arts. Police are keeping people from cars parked in Lot 1 at this time.
Also, the air conditioning and air exchange units in the CA are being shut down to limit the spread of the odor.

I think it's important to note that my car is in Lot 1.

Once again, thank you for being a fine example of competence Whitewater. (Wow, that much sarcasm actually hurt.)

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I Got A Sticker!

I think more people would turn out to vote if the commercials/ads/announcements mentioned that you get a little sticker when you're done. It sounds stupid, but then again – people are stupid.

Anyway, that's one more vote for my boy, Ron Paul.

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Coffee and Chocolate

It should have been a snow-day. I should still be in my nice warm bed.. enjoying.. yeah.

It's still blizzarding outside, and it's not supposed to let up for quite some time. Driving is ridiculous, and the city, once again, doesn't seem to have any idea what to do when it snows. I've never lived in a place where the solution was to plow the snow into the center of the road, or build an enormous pile that blocks almost an entire road and then leave it there for several days before loading it into dump trucks and getting it out of the way.

A "snow emergency" was declared today. What, exactly, does that mean? Basically, if you need to go downtown for something, you'd better park on the sidewalk or someone's yard, because if you're on the street you'll probably get towed – or – have a snowplow mercilessly redecorate the exterior of your car.

So I sit here. At work. Drinking coffee and eating 85% and 99% cocoa dark chocolate.

In my head, the roads play music.

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