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Thermocline of Truth

Rob Millar provides us with an excellent explanation of why the Royal Mail let the prosecution of so many postmasters happen when the organisation couldn’t believe1 that their new IT system was screwing up so badly:

[Generally speaking,…], those at the bottom of an organisation have a fairly accurate view of what’s going on. They’re close to the detail; they know whether their area of the project is on-track, and can infer from that the state of the wider project.

Those at the top, though, have no such first-hand knowledge. They rely on the bubbling-up of information from below, in the form of dashboards and status reports. But, […] those status reports tend to produce a comically optimistic view of the state of the project. Individual contributors presented a rosy picture of what they were working on to their line managers; middle managers gave good news to their bosses; and senior managers, keen to stay on the promotion track and perhaps hopeful that other parts of the project would fail before theirs, massage the truth yet again.

A couple of decades from now, is the phrase "the thermocline of truth" destined to be part of the received wisdom about how big organisations do major IT projects?

[Via Memex 1.1]


  1. You’d like to think that the middle managers and their superiors would be asked some hard questions about whether they were worth their salaries if they didn’t (officially) notice a problem on this scale. 
, 31 July 2021. Category: Uncategorized. Tagged: .

Missions season 2

Season 2 of BBC4’s French speculative fiction series Missions has popped up on iPlayer.

I wish it hadn’t been so long since the first season aired (May 2018), because while I had a vague recollection of the show’s big plot points I’d almost entirely forgotten much about the characters and their relationships, which meant that I spent the first couple of episodes of the second season trying to remember which characters had done what back in 2018.1 After a couple of episodes I’d got my head round what was going on, and I was glad I hadn’t gone to the trouble of a full rewatch.

Basically, the story in season two is directly connected to what went on in season one, but it’s very clear that humans are, at best, pawns in a vastly bigger story that is nowhere near being explored by the close of season two. Based on what we’ve seen so far, I have little confidence that season three will suddenly turn this into an interesting story so I think I’m done with Missions.


  1. Granted, iPlayer still has season 1 available, but I wasn’t inclined to do homework for the new season by rewatching the previous season. It wasn’t that impressive a show, or one I was all that certain that I’d follow through on once the plot started rolling out. 

Rescue at sea

Part of me thinks it’s a shame that the RNLI didn’t increase the default preset donation figure on their web site’s donation page from £20 to £50, because they could have really cashed in after Nigel Farage’s comments this week as people reacted by rushing to the RNLI web site and looked for the quickest, easiest way possible to throw some money in the organisation’s direction.

The RNLI are one of those charities that conservatives and centrists and left-wingers alike used to approve of, groups of private citizens voluntarily taking responsibility for part of an activity that one night imagine an island nation would definitely need, yet which governments don’t provide on the scale required. A shame the need to stoke a culture war has pushed right-wingers in this bizarre direction, where rescuing human beings from the risk of drowning at sea is deemed to be a political act rather than a humanitarian gesture.

Here’s hoping the RNLI see a huge surge in fundraising this year.

[Via RT by Neil Gaiman]

Too much?

Optimist / Pessimist Glasses.

Heh.

[Via swissmiss]

, 28 July 2021. Category: Uncategorized. Tagged: .

In Pain

With hindsight, it’s so obvious

Nowadays they’re screaming just as hard (even louder, if anything), but by default we’ve muted that sound. Clever us.

[Via RT by @BenHammersley]

, 26 July 2021. Category: Uncategorized. Tagged: , .

The Road From Serfdom?

Steady on now, chaps…

What has the world come to when the whims of noblemen no longer control the lives of the masses?

We live in interesting times, to be sure.

[Via MetaFilter]

, 19 July 2021. Category: Uncategorized. Tagged: .

So Wrong on so many levels

The article title says it all. How to Install Windows 3.1 on an iPad:

Recently, we noticed FastCompany editor (and friend of How-To Geek) Harry McCracken on Twitter experimenting with running Windows 3.1 on an iPad. With his blessing, we’re about to explain how he pulled off this amazing feat.

That poor, poor iPad. What did it ever do to deserve that?

[Via Six Colors]

, 13 July 2021. Category: Uncategorized. Tagged: .

Foundational

At last, we have a new teaser for the Apple TV+ take on Asimov’s Foundation trilogy:

Given that it’s a ten-part series that we still know very little about, it’s difficult to form a coherent opinion on what turns out to be a series of very brief, context-free clips from what will presumably be an epic, expensive show.

It’ll give all us geeks something to talk about this Autumn, that’s for sure.

Get Happy

Note to self: invest in a box of face masks featuring the sort of happy, smiley face modern employers like to see.

Canon Information Technology actually announced its “smile recognition” cameras last year as part of a suite of workplace management tools, but the technology doesn’t seem to have gotten much attention. Indeed, the fact it passed under the radar is a good illustration of just how common surveillance tools like this are becoming — and not just in China.

Although readers in the West sometimes have a tendency to dismiss the sort of surveillance described by the FT as a foreign phenomena, countries like the US and UK are just as culpable. […]

Such modern-day Taylorism is not restricted to blue collar jobs, either: many modern software suites like Microsoft 365 come with built-in surveillance tools. And with more people working from home because of the pandemic, more companies are deploying these features for fear of losing control over their workers. (Or, for a slightly more cynical read: they’ve always wanted to use these tools and the pandemic provides a handy pretext.)

One day Excel is going to demand that I flash it a smile that convinces it that I’m genuinely, unquestioningly happy before it agrees to do me the favour of recalculating the figures I’m pointing it to,1 at which point my time on this Earth will be done.

[Via Sentiers]


  1. To think, we used to imagine that the machines would win by pointing a ray gun at us and threatening us with extermination. Those were the days. 

Emotional about Windows

Rumour has it that Windows 11 is much more than a new theme slapped onto Windows 10:

Microsoft Chief Product Officer Panos Panay ties the new look to eyebrow-raising statements about emotion: “We understand the responsibility of [functionality and practicality] more than ever before, but it must also be personal—and maybe most importantly, it must feel emotional.”

As I type this, my work laptop is generating and saving off several thousand Excel files (courtesy of some VBA code I wrote the original version of several years ago) to my laptop’s local SSD, prior to my using File Explorer to copy those eight thousand-odd newly-created spreadsheets into a folder on a networked drive on our intranet where internal users will be able to see the spreadsheets come Monday morning.1

Trust me, Panos, Windows 10 is already generating plenty of emotions in this user as I navigate my way through all the nooks and crannies of the Windows user experience that I need to in order to get this done.

[Via The Tao of Mac]


  1. There are reasons why I don’t have Excel create those files directly to their eventual location on the network, mostly having to do with how much slower the process is if I get Excel to save files to the networked location as it works its’ way down the list I’ve given it. Copying the spreadsheets over in a single batch at the end of the process is a net win, even if it takes around half an hour after I drag-and-drop the files over to the correct folder’s icon on the network drive for Windows File Explorer to pop up a dialog telling me it’s started the file copying process. 
, 26 June 2021. Category: Uncategorized. Tagged: .
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