the evenings out here - Thoughts, rants and musings about absolutely everything except photography. Or cats.


in General , Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Well, I can now announce to the world (or at least the 3 people who read this stuff) what my new job is. Since Monday I am the "Concept Development Manager" at Imaginventure, in Lugano, Switzerland. And I'm busy. Imaginventure_buste C65-1.jpg Imaginventure is "an integrated full-service business integrator". We select and transform ideas for online services into successful businesses. Unlike other companies working in this area, Y Combinator for example, we build up concepts internally, rather than provide seed funding for new startups. However, we have other mechanisms for partnering to bring new ideas in house. The area we are working in is, loosely, consumer mobile web, and we are particularly interested in areas such as community-enhanced gaming and location based services. I would certainly be interested to hear from people involved in building business in these areas. I can be contacted at work at dmantripp AT imaginventure DOT com.

When usability goes bad

in General , Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Well I thought this was quite funny in a subtle sort of way.... basically a metaphor for the perils of not being aware of usability issues in product design. My co-workers didn't get it. Cultural issues I guess...

MovableType Trackback Spam

in General , Sunday, October 23, 2005

In the last couple of days, a new deluge of trackback spams has flooded my site. Whilst the MovableType MT-Blacklist plug-in allows me to filter them out, I'm still getting an alert email for each spam, which is almost as bad as the spam itself. Since in any case the actual value of trackbacks is very limited, outside of the self-congratulary Californian blogging community, and I've never received a single one, I decided to disable them globally. It is perhaps indicative of the above community's mentality, which MovavbleType is such a part of, that the interface has no global switch to disable trackbacks - how could one ever want to completely turn off this "oooh, look, someone's talking about clever me" feature. Even Jay Allen's "Hacking Movable Type", which contains all sorts of esoteric (and often largely pointless) stuff, doesn't give a hint. However, a quick look at the MT database reveals what seems to be a SQL solution (globally for an installation - all blogs. For individual blogs, you have to add a blog_id WHERE clause): UPDATE mt_entry SET entry_allow_pings = 0 WHERE entry_allow_pings = 1; Then, probably, rebuild each blog. And you're done.

Recursive Attention Deficit

in General , Thursday, June 30, 2005

Sitting at my desk in the office, I am doing at least 3 or 4 different things at the same time. I'm writing a requirements specification document, in my typical "burst mode" (see later). I'm reading a book on web application design (Making the web work, by Bob Baxley - rather good, despite some poor editing). I'm writing this and trying to fish the word "recursive" from my brain. I'm listen to a very old Supertramp album on my iPod and making various associations. And I'm fighting with a really godawful, utterly braindead SAP application clearly created by a total moron with zero pride in his/her work to log my hours against projects (a work of complete fiction in any case). I'm thinking about web application design, a specific complex project problem, an ancient rockband, and, believe it or not, switching process in polar ice stream flow. And yet I am totally active and alert to each of these tasks, which are all feeding into each other. Of course, strictly speaking, several of them are certainly not what I'm paid to do. But this is how I function...take it or leave it. Not really attention deficit as such, more serial multitasking. But I wonder if this is really a bit extreme. I'm sure there are times when a bit of focus would have helped me considerably. Whilst I think I have the ability to grasp a new concept faster than most people, on the other hand there are many times where I've settled for too superficial an understanding. Burst Mode: This is my natural way of working. It has driven various managers crazy over the years. It goes like this: I write a paragraph very quickly, usually with at least one new idea in it - I then switch to something else, come back in 15 minutes, and so forth. It can look like I'm doing nothing at one moment, then being ultra productive the next. I am pretty certain that integrated over whatever period, I am just as effective, or maybe more so, than people blessed with the ability to work linearly. But I'm also concerned that it has some drawbacks...

Sh*t Creek

in General , Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Why is it that the larger corporate groups become, the less collective intelligence they show ? You can assemble 10 very clever individuals, and they'll produce some great work?or even 5 (hi there Pier, Carlos, Ralf, Roberto & Fulgi). Take 100 and you're already running into problems ? everything takes 5 times longer, and quality falls off. After that it gets exponentially worse. When you get into 1000s, all vestigial common sense is long gone, and mediocrity, camouflaged by grandiose Mission Statements and Core Values takes over. People who in a smaller group would produce excellent work no longer take any pride in what they actually produce, and motivation comes only from winning turf wars ("you can't plug in that Ethernet cable, you have to ask me, I'm IT, and you'll have to wait 5 weeks") and climbing the corporate ladder. It isn't just frustrating, it is more like a terrifyingly soulless purgatory (yeah, yeah, I know, by definition you can't have a soul-less purgatory :-) ), churning out huge, expensive, hopeless products that are doomed before they start. As for imagination and creative thought, well, see below? decisionprocess.gif Does this only apply to the IT industry ? Certainly it seems to be the worst affected.
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