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16/11/2014

Karma and Wealth

Category  
Karma has gotten some attention lately, while I muse it for some time. The common short explanation is "What goes around comes around" or in other words: "Every action (or inaction) you take has consequences, you ultimately will be confronted with". We are reminded by various spiritual traditions , that nothing good can come from a bad deed and that good deeds will yield (in mysterious ways, somewhen) good results.
This is where the trouble starts. Our and the mystic perceptions what is "good" and what is "bad" differ greatly. Pop literature links wealth, affluence and influence to "good Karma". Someone poor or suffering easily gets dismissed as "(s)he has bad Karma".
I think that misses the point completely.
Taking a step back: Buddhist (and others in similar ways) believe we are trapped in a cycle of Samsara that leads us through many lifetimes. Ending Samsara and suffering is the goal of enlightenment (I'm simplifying here). The main force holding us in Samsara is Maya: the illusion of existence. Now adding nice things to our life binds us deeper to Maya, making liberation more remote, so I doubt that this is a good thing per se. And happiness somehow works differently anyway.
If luxury would be the answer, the road to enlightenment would lead through the god realm, which Buddhists believe is a detour. Some scholars argue that our western civilization is god realm like (I'll add a link when I rediscover it) and there's leisure displaying compassion and joyful effort.
Looking at it from a different angle might explain it better: The currency of Karma is compassion. Compassion for all living beings. That includes yourself, so no point moving under the bridge since "it isn't real". Looking after yourself is a requirement, so you can sustainable look after others. IMHO Good Karma is what makes it easier to be compassionate. Your good deeds will make it easier for you in the future to make good deeds. Any ulterior motive might disqualify your actions as good deeds. So if you think improvements in your financial situation are the result of good Karma, you mix cause and effect (which anyway only exist interdependent). An improvement in your personal situation isn't the reward, but the enablement for greater compassion - and it makes you happy for a while, happy people are contagious.
This also reconciles Karma and free will: Contrary to the common perception "It was Karma, that this happened" you end up with "Life offered a situation, I made a decision, now I'm presented with the consequences". Of course all consequences turn into offerings of situations. I think it is a folly to conclude: hardship is automatically an indication of bad Karma (it might).
The best analogy: there is a weight of 100kg you are supposed to lift (quite a hardship for most of us)! So what's the conclusion? Bad Karma? Nope: if you have trained hard, that might be the final test and reward that you mastered your training and you will lift it. Same with life: a difficult situation could be anything: a result of a bad deed or an invitation to show your skilfulness: maintain compassion no matter what.
In the words of beloved teacher: "Life dealt you cards, you make your Karma how you play them"

12/02/2012

Hierarchies, relations and tags - thoughts on thought processes

Category
After the German leg of my 2012 LCTY tour I spent Saturday afternoon with my old friend Siegfried Stadler CEO of HyperSkill in Munich, Germany. We share the curiosity about "what makes humans tick" and had a good chat on perception and communication patterns.
Perception forms reality and when the perception patterns of people don't match, they have a hard time understanding each other. Two prominent patterns I would call Darwin and Newton (note: that's the name I gave them, not a commonly accepted classification). The Newton pattern is the simple "cause - effect" pattern (like the apple hitting Isaac on his head) while the Darwin pattern is a hierarchical structure of one's perception. The differences can be very subtle but create quite warped conversations. Let's look at the example of a project:
Linear thinking - the Newton pattern
For a linear thinker a project is a sequence of steps that follow on equal footing each other. The project phase is just an attribute of an individual step and doesn't require a separate consideration. Attention is on detail and continuous flow of steps. Everything is organised in sequences of start and end, cause and effect.
Hierarchical thinking - the Darwin pattern
For a hierarchical thinker a project contains a series of phases that are assembled from a series of steps. The steps are just properties of a phase and need to be vetted in relation to their phase. Attention is on the overall composition of the individual parts. Everything is structured in qualified relations like "is part of", "has details".
Both patterns are valuable and valid. However when they are only implicit they can lead to confusion in collaboration and things get really complicated especially when you insist on your pattern to be "the one and only". Giving them a name allows to communicate about them (that's what some communicators call meta communication - talk about how to talk). So you can ask: "Are we talking Newton or Darwin here"? So what's your primary pattern? Talk about the big picture ore jump into the nitty gritty? Of course there is a third pattern: Talking about the big picture without a clue - usually to be found during popular games in large conventions.
Each of the pattern leads to different preferences for tools and techniques. Linear thinking favours list and tags, while hierarchical thinking favours mindmaps and taxonomies. I'm gravitating towards hierarchies, but find them difficult to agree on (there is debate even for the hierarchy of species) once a group that needs to use them gets larger.
An interesting observation in the use of relations by linear thinkers (which first were simple "tags") is the appearance of qualification (hierarchy can be seen as one form of qualification of a relation). Early on Facebook only had one relation: friend. Now there is "follows" and "is followed" which is already some kind of hierarchy, besides the family relation category (son of, father of). The question might be: when to use what?
So what are you, a Darwin or a Newton?

11/10/2011

1000

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On 1st January 2003 I converted my static mindmap homepage into a blog and published my first entry titled Predictions for 2003. I came a long way since then. This posts marks my 1000th entry here. Some entries, predating Twitter, are close to Twitter's 140 characters limit, so I could add my 4723 tweets to the list . The 1000 entries have attracted 1577 comments, with the first comment going to Singapore resident Ramasamy. The crown for most comments goes to Nathan Freeman of Lotus 911 fame with 31 comments. The post that attracted the most comments was Web Agents XPages style with 25 unique comments.
It also is one of the most popular posts together with Building a high performance Domino Server, Notes / Domino upgrade cheat sheet and Communicating with IBMers and Lotus professionals using Sametime.
I'm grateful for the ideas provided by all the sessions with customers, partners, colleagues, friends and brothers-in-arms. Without being challenged with (sometimes not so) new questions every day this blog would not have been possible. Today I can use it in many sessions as reference. During an upgrade I carelessly lost a few blog entries. Luckily the Internet never forgets and I was able to recover them. What is behind this blog:
  • The blog runs on Lotus Domino on a Ubuntu server using the Blogsphere Template V3 created by the awesome Declan Lynch
  • The skin is a modification of Dan Archibald "Orange Keys" design (can't remember where I got it from)
  • Search is provided by a custom Google search
  • Initially I used Julian's code hosted by Joe Litton to highlight LotusScript. Later I switched to Quick Highlighter since it supports all the languages I usually use including XML and XSLT
  • Screen shots are created with Shutter including the boxes, arrows, blurred text, numbers and occasional 3d rotation
  • Besides the Notes client I use Scribe Fire to create blog posts. This is very convenient when researching topics in the web
  • Some of the graphics were created using InkScape and DIA, but since I'm not much of an artist, I settled for SmartDraw that provided to be invaluable for the type of illustrations I want to create
  • The MindMaps are drawn using Tony Buzan's iMindMap mainly for the beautiful branches it allows to draw
  • The screen mockups are build with the awesom Balsamiq Mockups by our Italian friend Peldi
  • Graphic fine tuning (croping, resizing, filters) is done using GIMP
  • I started using Prezi for some more dynamic presentations / posts
Thank you for your readership!

15/08/2011

Capabilities and Perception

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When I ask around how people perceive my capabilities I often get back "You are the NotesSensei, the know-it-all XPages expert close to the equator" (or something similar). While it certainly boosts my ego to be recognised as an expert in one field, it awfully feels like a case of one of the blind men describing an elephant (with my current weight I surly qualify as one). It is a dilemma that plagues me for quite a while.
In a recent internal discussion with a manager I've been told: "Your technical credentials are impressive, so you must lack on the business side". What an interesting conclusion. I ran my own business, started of way below zero funds and survived, I moved to another continent, rebuild my business with no contacts when I came here and survived. I survived law suites, fraudulent business partners and quite a number of organisations that looked down on my business ("Will you be still around next year?" - Yes I was and they were gone). But being technically sound I was put into the "must lack in business" drawer. I wonder what a typical manager's survival rate would be, if stripped of all minions that do the actual work.
A lot of times people act surprised when they learn that I didn't study computer science but studied economics during national service and thereafter attended law school (later in Franfurt), where I dropped out the year my father died (and settled with his debt I started my first company). I learned negotiating the hard way then.
Constant learning was always something I enjoyed, so naturally I soaked up the then nascent field of eLearning. While running the first company, where we build PCs from components as well as our very own hardware, I honed my interpersonal skills by becoming a GPK certified "Counsellor for personcentric development" (Read about Carl Rogers to get an idea what personcentric means).
Yes, there was a lot of technology along the path. I administered a IBM System /36 and helped law firms and a large Credit Management Company to manage their software (working with some political talent there). There I wrote COBOL and dBASE/Foxpro applications that seamlessly transferred data between PC and the IBM system. I advised software companies that served the legal market.
I wrote a mini ERP for a precision engineering and manufacturing company, while providing network support for a large chemical company (so I know networks from PC-LAN, Novell, LAN-Manager to SNA).
Airlines (that was cool, got a private tour visiting a Concorde, unfortunately grounded only), advertisement agencies and retailers were in my customer list (I know a lot about variation management in office furniture, made me a USM Haller fan). I wrote (in VB) the advertisement positioning module for a private TV station.
I worked as a "holiday rep" in Aldiana providing PC training in the early days (the machines had 2 Floppy drives only), taught me a lot about people and picking orders and how to break down complex topics into digestible units. My biggest public recognitions don't carry my name, but have my impact written all over them: I designed eGovernment software (C++, J2EE, XForms, webDAV, Oracle) that won a German price and eLearning software (in VB.NET) that won an APICTA award. I build social software when it wasn't called that for knowledge sharing and I never shy away from implementing change (which falls firmly into the soft skills dimension).
So there is more to me than "The Notes expert". While I carefully crafted the visibility of this expertise, I haven't shown much of the other areas since it opens the opposite trap: "With that broad knowledge he can't be a deep expert" (despite all HR mumblings about T-shape skill development). What should I do? Stay tuned.

08/05/2011

What we need here is a bigger hammer!

Category  
I'm rereading Peter M. Senge's book The Fifth Discipline. It is dedicated to the learning organisation and advocates (besides other virtues) System Thinking spearheaded by the System Dynamics Group at the MIT. The Laws of the Fifth Discipline (in chapter 4) highlight many of the structural issues we face in business and society at large.
In business that is obsessed with "quick fixes" (at least in this part of the world) there are valuable insights to be gained seing the world as a system with feedback loops. Two aspects are worth highlighting: "compensating feedback" and "cause and effect disconnection" (I'll probably cover other aspects in later posts). Every system has an inbuild inertia. This will lead to compensating feedback to any action taken that is only addressing symptoms rather than causes. Compensating feedback will void any actions taken so the the status quo is preserved.
The laws of the 5th discipline
One of my favourite examples: A retailer has a problem with customer loyalty. The consultant (who's name and company shall not be named) suggested to implement a customer loyalty program. Clear cut: the problem is loyalty, so a loyalty program will fix it. The loyalty program did cost a lot of money, gained a lot of members, took all the attention of marketing and managers but failed to stem the loss of customers after a short while (things get better before they get worse). The root cause, who nobody wanted to touch, because it was difficult to fix however was: slipping quality of products and services. So instead of beating a dead horse, looking for the system at work will be more efficient and sustainable.
When you decide to achieve true mastery of a subject, you will experience a 10,000 hour delay until you get there. And that is just one skill for one person. There is a, typically larger than expected, delay between action and result. In a time of the constant strive for instant gratification managers often neglect and ignore the real result of their actions. More often than not executives have moved on before the impact of their actions can be felt.
A typical example: A new CEO orders a radical cost-cutting program. It includes freezing of IT investment, outsourcing of back office functions and a massive lay-off of employees. In the short term things look really good. Revenue per employee is up (the staff now working for the outsourcers doesn't count in the balance sheet) and profits return for the moment. However morale is down, so most of the employees are scared to the bone to stick their head out. The internal improvement program all but dies. Capable employees jump ship (getting replaced by cheap but less productive newbies). In social circles the opinion is formed: Acme Inc is not a place where you want to work, so talented entries into the workforce don't apply. Of course our "Le Costcutter" CEO moves on after 2 years, his job "saving the company" has been achieved after all. Five years later the company is history. Everybody concludes that this is due to the constant reinvention of business.
Another example: You join the gym. You train hard, but you don't see any results after a month, so you give up. Knowing about the delay you would have carried on for 3 month you be in awe about the personal transformation your started (get good advise on food and training to make it work).
Of course this is just a brief summary. Go Read the book yourself!

04/02/2008

Climate Change and the rule of reason

Category
Interesting chain of arguments. I don't buy that batteling the global climate change will lead to depression, rather the opposite: I see advances in technology and accellerated growth in developed nations since less resources are needed to achive something. Have a look and see if you can find a flaw.

03/10/2007

Greed 3.0 -- 2007 Edition

Category
I've blogged about corporate greed before. Slashdot points to an article on arstechnica.com. It reports that Jennifer Pariser, the head of litigation for Sony BMG has a little unique view on copyright. In total denial of fair-use she states, that the CD licencing terms actually only allow to listen to the music from the CD. Transferring the music onto a PC or portable device would be " stealing". I'm quite surprised, that a high profile litigation lawyer doesn't get her facts together. Using copyrighted material without an appropriate licence is a copyright violation. That would be first and foremost a civil claim. It only recently has been added to the penal code (recently in legal dimensions, which goes back a few thousand years). Theft is the physical removal of assets. If you steal something it is gone from where it was. If you copy a CD its content is still where it was. So this is completely different.
Secondly copyright is bound to the use of copyrighted material (I don't like the term intellectual property since that is also smoke and mirrors mixing copyright, trademarks and patents), and not necessarily to the physical form. When I buy a CD I buy the right to listen to the music for my personal pleasure. That is what I do on my mobile player. Of course I need to make sure, that this right to listen is executed only from one source at a time. Since a licence contract could state different usage patterns (e.g. a broader licence to use music for events) there are legal limits to how much you can tighten the rights.
Enter fair use. Of course right owners would rather limit how you can exercise the right you paid for to make more money from you. However restrictive licensing terms stifle creativity and innovation. The whole DJ based music category, where DJ resampled and remixed music playing in clubs would have be killed before taking off applying today's copyright viewpoints of the music industry. Also there are strong indicators in other businesses, that fair use is actually beneficial for a country at large.
So the music industry might start to ask themselves if eventually other factors than people buying music on CD and listening on an MP3 player contribute to their decline. Some hints: treating your customers as criminals, installing illegal software (rootkits anyone), a decline in talented musicians, tighter personal budgets, fierce competition on discretionary spending: if I have my 3 latte/week I won't buy that CD or it is the WII game vs. a new movie DVD etc.
Anyway a quote attributed to Ghandi says it all: "The world has enough for everybody's need but not enough for everybody's greed".
So Sony stays OFF the buying list (I know it is SonyBMG, but they run the same ignorance).

26/08/2007

Evidence

Category
One of my favorite business authors are Jeffrey Pfeffer and Robert I Sutton. They teach at Stanford and Harvard and create woderfull business books. Sutton even overstepped Harvard's fine taste and created a book titled " The No Asshole Rule" (Highly recommended read).
In their book " Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths And Total Nonsense" Pfeffer and Sutton advocate evidence-based management. This deeply resonated with me, probably because my childhood playground was a law firm and evidence daily business there.
In a nutshell: solid evidence should replace "conventional wisdom", "usual practices", "management hypes" and other nonsense. They suggest four easy sounding questions to be asked before implementing a business idea or practice (on page 22):
  1. What assumptions does the idea or practice make about people and organizations? What would have to be true about people and organizations for the idea or practice to be effective?
  2. Which of these assumptions seem reasonable and correct to you and your colleagues? Which seem wrong or suspect?
  3. Could this idea or practice still succeed if the assumptions turned out to be wrong?
  4. How might you and your colleagues quickly and inexpensively gather some data to test the reasonableness of the underlying assumptions?
  5. What other ideas or management practices can you think of that would address the same problem or issue and be more consisten with what you believe to be true about people and organizations?

The questions should be answered using solid facts, clear evidence. This made me think about evidence and what I know about it. There are several levels of evidence which I will shed a light on. I won't talk about witnesses, because they give evidence but they are not evidence per se:

Anecdotical  evidence
How to get a conversation going? Tell a story. We all love a good story, be it love, drama or horror. Stories are easy to obtain and are an excellent means to bring a point across. Well told they can change the perception of a topic. However anecdotes have a dark cousin, the " Urban myth". We hear horror stories every day "Using xyz will lead to abc, so better...." and eventually we even tell them. The biggest issue with anecdotical evidence: it is not repeatable. What worked for the fish sellers in San Francisco might not work in your environment. To no surprise anecdotical evidence is not  court admissible.

Statistical evidence
Running the numbers provides you with evidence that is rock solid and the undisputable bedrock of your management practice? Well some beg to differ. While numbers don't lie you might be seduced to look at the wrong number pairs or jump to wrong conclusions. E.g. (this is an anecdotical evidence bringing my point across): it is 45% more likely that a woman who uses red color for her fingernails is committing murder of her husband. So banning red nail polish will lower the crime rate?  Typical "sins" in statistic:
  • Using (only) analysis that supports a point that had been determined beforehand.
  • Overlooking the effect of time: Marketing money spend today will yield revenue only month down the road.
  • Seeing connections where there isn't: The number of storks and birth in northern Germany is pretty constant.. so who is bringing the babies?
  • Overlooking other factors: market saturation, competition, change in preferences (fashion anyone)
  • Linear extrapolation: I start my business with 2 people, after 4 month I hire two more, then 8 month later another 4. So I look at the numbers and say: oh my staff growth is 500% per year. So in less than 7 years I will be bigger than Microsoft and a few years later bigger than IBM. The 10% annual growth projection is not as drastic, but the numbers add up quickly too. You need some lessons in the law of diminishing returns to avoid that.
Since economics has so many factors to consider statistical evidence is a crude but readily available instrument to measure an idea or your results. The only thing to be careful about: You will get what you measure!

Forensic evidence
The favorite for all CSI and crime story fans. Using high tech equipment and the latest science you find out who's fiber that was and where and when the bullet was fired. Forensic evidence is typically directed backwards, explaining "what did happen" rather then "what will happen if...". In business this is useful as raw material for new theories or to nail down the bad guys ( Enron anyone).

Scientific evidence
The cousin of forensic evidence. They share a lot of the methodology but are quite different. At the core of scientific evidence lies a thesis or model with an important property: it needs to be able to be falsified. Science is always on the outlook to prove their own models wrong. If the models stand these tests, then they become accepted knowledge. Of course only until the model is superseded by a better one. Einstein's relativity theory superseded Newton's view of the world without the need to call Newton names or un-scientific. The hallmark of scientific evidence is the statement "to our best knowledge". This is also a clear differentiator to believe: if you believe that the world is 5000 years old, be my guest. Such a believe is 100% unscientific, since it lacks the readiness to let go once better insights are available. Or on other words: if it can't be falsified it is not scientific (and doesn't belong in science classes).
Other than forensic evidence scientific evidence can look forward: "If you mix Oxygen and Hydrogen in any combination between 5% and 95% it is highly explosive and will show an rapid exothermic reaction (a.k.a. explosion) that will create water". In business scientific evidence is expensive to obtain since it is nearly impossible to recreate the same laboratory experience. So most scientific methods in business take quite a dose of statistics.

Spiritual evidence
Looking around one might get the impression, that Spiritual evidence and Scientific evidence are each others nemesis. However Einstein is attributed with the quote: " Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind." and I think he is right. (Very dangerous territory I'm walking in...). Spiritual evidence is the result of a personal mystic experience that lends one an insight into your own and the world being. While it is commonly related to religion and religious groups I firmly believe such evidence is deeply personal and non-transferable. Your spiritual group or your teacher can facilitate an experience or help one to cope with it, but it is your very own personal evidence. Spiritual evidence can be you guide to keep your business on track in its moral and ethic dimensions (if you trust that evidence).

06/07/2007

Pay (with) Attention!

Category
Interaction with each other comes at a price. The currency we settle the cost of that interaction is attention. The saying is "Pay attention", not "lend" or "give" or "show" attention. Seeing attention as a currency it starts to explain a lot of pattern in interaction:
  • If you force my attention you are an extortionist. Nobody likes to get blackmailed. So if you "steal" my currency I try to give as little as possible, if not nothing. I also will try to take back what was extorted. A vicious cycle begins
  • If I find something worthwhile, I don't mind paying. I see that as a good investment. This is why we feel good paying attention to people who are interesting, engaging and inspiring
  • If I'm paid a lot of attention I feel (emotionally) well heeled. Just imagine 10000 people paying full attention to you. This gets addictive. This is why musicians and actors never will stop, it simply feels too good. This is also a reason why lovers feel so good: they pay full attention to each other escalating the good feeling
  • If we interact and you don't pay full attention I will feel short changed. So I might start to reciprocate and hold back myself
  • If I hedge my bets and spread my attention investment (a.k.a. permanent partial attention) I might avoid total loss, but for sure I also won't get the full story, because I'm never fully here or there (How many meetings suffer from that)
  • If I want to influence someone and get a certain result I will make a deposit or pay forward with my attention.
Partial and forced attention are an epidemic. I think it is worth to fight this disease. The best remedy is to pay forward attention: whenever you interact with someone, pay full attention regardless of your expectation in return. One secret of attention: if you pay it because you want, it will replenish you with energy. If it is extorted is will drain all participant. Want to try in your next meeting: buy a palm size bean bag. Whoever holds the bag gets full attention in a meeting (no email/im/sms please) and can speak. The bag is handed over once (s)he is finished. In energy starved environments you might want to limit the time how long one person can hold on to the bag and/or have rules how to pass on the bag (e.g. in circles).

30/09/2006

Singapore and the US get closer (again)

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In 1963 Singapore inherited the Internal Security Act (ISA) from Malaysia which had inherited this legislation from British rule. Under the ISA (Chapter II Section 8 - 1.) any Singaporean can be detained at will by the government. Singapore has been slammed for this piece of legislation repeatedly (e.g. 2004, 2005, 2006). Nevertheless the US seems to have taken a clue from us when you follow the current legislative initiative. While our ISA at least requires a renewal of a detention order every two years and features a review board, the Military Commissions Act does away with these minimal checks and balances and even revokes 900 years of legal history voiding the " habeas corpus" practise. What is happening to the land of the free and the home of the brave?

05/04/2006

How elastic is the music demand?

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<rant>
Common market theory tells us, that price is a function of supply and demand. In case of digital goods the theory is flawed since one digital good (in the limits of bandwidth) is in unlimited supply. So the ability to price is bound to stimulation of demand. Or even better: if you can fix the demand you can play with the price at will (Just ask your next drug dealer about Junkies' insensitivity to the price of their next shot - they simply have to have it).
The music industry seems to believe, that their customers are junkies and need their daily shot. And weeding out (pun intended) any alternative supply guarantees pricing power. I can't imagine no other set of mind, seeing how the industry is treating their customers as criminals.
What could, and in my opinion will happen: slipping quality of music offerings paired with a growing number of people being p****d off by the industries attitude will send sales south leading to more panic in the industries execs' offices, leading to more customer harassment, leading to..,, you get the idea. In a country where copyright violation by file sharing carries the same sentence as man slaughter there is a serious lack of perspective or a serious warp in the perspective of the legal system.
Copyright first and foremost is a private protection right, dragging it into criminal law is bad (there are enough other provisions to punish for *profiting* from Copyright violations), as is DRM.
And I'll demonstrate that with my purse strings being closed for music purchases until it is resolved.
</rant>

20/01/2006

The Development Of Vitality

Category
No one can force you into transformation.
No force in the universe can change you
Without your personal consent.
No force, nothing.
So you have a lot of choices to make.
You have a lot of consent to grant.
You have a lot of fears that need to be relaxed.
You have a lot of suffering that needs to be disregarded.
You have a lot of anger,
A lot of hatred,
It is nothing but a burden to you.
It requires your dropping in,
Your willingness to let go,
To take a chance,
To trust.
These choices are all that stand between you
And the Rimpoche consciouness... ...
Consciousness to be in a precious place,
As wonderful as a dream.

Shantam Dheeraj (in Where does the World come from)

20/01/2006

Crossing the international date line

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Mental note to self: when you cross the international date line eastwards, you arrive one day earlier than you would expect. So I'll be in Orlando Friday night.

02/01/2006

New Years Resolutions

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I'm not a person of big plans, so I usually resent making New Years Resolutions. However it seems to me I could try to be "a man with a plan" for a change. So this is what I came up with:  
  • Shield my boys from the rigor of our education system by reaffirming the notion, that learning is fun and an adventure.  
  • Going on a Holiday (hadn't had one since I started TAO Consulting) with the family.  
  • A dance class with the best of my wifes (Don't tell her it is a surprise)  
  • Shedding some pounds and do more sport (getting below 88 kg)
  • Restart my Chinese lessons  
  • Get my PMP certification from PMI  
  • Learn a new language (Ruby and Fabric are the main contenders)  
  • Restart the Lotus User Community in Singapore  
  • Work on some exiting and well paid projects
  • Have at least one release each of my SourceForge projects

... and thousand things more.  

01/01/2006

Painless Pleasure

Category

Pleasure is the seed of pain;
Pain is the seed of pleasure.
Equanimity is the seed of peace,
of true painless pleasure.

Zen Saying  

09/12/2005

ConnectIT in Karchi Pakistan

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A new experience for a conference beginning: An Imam was chanting a Quran sura. What a charming twist: The energy in the confernce room changed, everybody calming down. Pakistan has a rapid growing ICT usage doubling their mobile phone users in less than a year. They are hungry and want to move. However catching up with the rest of the world is tricky, especially when your neightbor is an IT powerhouse like India. 

08/12/2005

Back to the 90ties

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Unexiting as usual I endured 9 hours of boring flight and a rush stopover at Dubai. This is such a pitty to rush trough Dubai's duty free, since it is one of the few places where you can pick up a new Ferrari or Rolls Royce when passing by (ok - my credit card doesn't have that kind of limit).
I'm staying at the Carlton in Karatchi and it feels like late 80ies or early ninties...
No Internet in the room, normal keys, digital aircon (on or off) and so much static on the phoneline that dialup wouldn't work.
Without GPRS I would be stranded. Digital Divide anyone?

04/12/2005

New Del.icio.us tag: NotesSensei

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I'm using del.icio.us for a while together with the Firefox plug-in. Recently some peers and I decided to give del.icio.us a spin as a website notification tool. Whenever a website is supposed to catch attention we flag it with the users nickname. My is NotesSensei. So if you want me to have a look at a specific page, just tag it in del.icio.us with the tag " NotesSensei".

18/11/2005

Your body is under attack --- by the food you eat.

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There is a very interesting article over at WeLikeItRaw. It points to research done in 1930, that finds cooked food lets our bodies defence system react as if it needs to fend off an attack increasing the all over stress level. My preliminary conclusion (of course 100% unscientific <g>): Unless we can offset that stress through an appropriate setting (nice dinner, lustful food, friends, good mood etc) better stick to raw food. So no more midnight pizza or candy bars when hacking away in the night. Rather stick to apples and carrot sticks.

16/10/2005

No longer are the students the professor's audience; students are the professor's apprentices.

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Over at mathforum.org there is an excellent article (or would one say testimony) by J.J. Uhl from the University of Illinois how technology changed his lecture style for the better. Titled " How technology influenced me to stop lecturing and start teaching" it is a must read. He reminds us of the learning sequence that makes things stick in our minds: " intuition-trial-error-speculation-conjecture-proof."

11/10/2005

German Ministers

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Including the chancellor (or is it chancelloresse?) 15 people will run Germany in the top tier of the federal government. Six of them, fronted by Dr. Merkel, our first woman at the helm, will be female, that is 40%. Rosa Luxembourg would be delighted.
Let us see if "Angie" will be the German edition of Ms Thatcher. My bet is, that we're in for some surprises.

18/09/2005

Germany's election

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Jamaica anyone?
Jamaica anyone?

12/09/2005

Tender business

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We are currently working to prepare some replies to government tenders. Looking at the way the tenders are structured I'm amazed how much -to put it mildly- room for improvement is left.
All tenders overlap in hardware requirements, infrastructure, middleware and identity management. Since it is very unlikely, that one party will win all of them, they will end up with incompatible, divergent solutions. The implementation timeframe also will make sure, that competing teams, once the tender is awarded, will be on the ground at the same time making each others life as miserable as they can.
It is quite amazing how the 'law of unintended consequences' has highjacked the tender process. While intended to get the best deal for the government, it actually locks out specialist and performers and leaves only very big contenders who, by nature of their size, have high overhead costs. The best team to define, assemble and run a portal will most likely have no interest in hardware sales. So they are out. 10% of the project value needs to be deposited upfront, so the smaller teams are out. The hardware guys won't understand implementation to make it sound.
At the end they get so so service and a lot of bureaucracy instead of performance.
Luckily I don't pay this taxes since it's overseas.

07/09/2005

The coffee experiment

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There are a lot of conflicting views on the health impact of coffe out there, so reading them only confused me. I'm a heavy coffee drinker, which makes me either very healthy or a member of a high risk group. To find out I decided to go cold turkey and not having coffee or caffein containing beverages for at least a month. It is my third day now and I feel that longing for the bitter taste. Other than that there seem to be no other effects - beside the puzzled faces of my favourite Barrista when I ordered tea instead of my usual latte. 

03/09/2005

Measure it!

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On my fathers bookshelf there used to be a book titled "Vermessenen Jahrhundert" The title is a play on words and can be translated "Daring century" as well as "(Mis)-measuring century".
I remember it since we had a discussion about justifying expenses and investments in time, money or people. You want to keep your job? Make its impact measurable. Of course there is the catch Heisenberg described so nicely: "It's not Nature itself we observe, but the mental model formed by our expectation".
It is fun to invent new measurements from time to time. 

30/08/2005

About storms and compassion

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In the current article on MSN about the Hurricane Katrina Ivor van Heerden, deputy director of the Louisiana State University Hurricane Center, said: "We’re talking about in essence having — in the continental United States — having a refugee camp of a million people".  Whatever you believe in, this is a good time to pray for the people affected. While there won't be the number of casualties as during the Tsunami in Asia, all who suffer deserve our compassion --- and a blood donation as Rocky suggest.
I wonder how long it will take until someone claims that New Orleans was the resurrected Sodom and that its destruction was higher will.  

14/07/2005

Retreat now!

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Logging off now, leaving the house. No phone, no email, no IM, no SMS, no talk.
Until Sunday!

Blessings to all!
stw  

27/05/2005

Paulo Coelho meets Hoki Miller

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 â€œIt wasn’t worth fighting for the inheritance, love was enough,” she finally says, understanding what we were feeling. Yes, seeing the complete absence of any bitterness or rancor, I understand that love was enough.

Read the full story at  " The Warrior of the Light"

10/05/2005

Big Business - WWJD

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Pointed conclusion in this month Fortune magazine:

"Christianity was born in the Middle East as a religion,
moved to Greece and became a philosophy,
journeyed to Rome and became a legal system,
spread through Europe as a culture
- and when it migrated to America, Christianity became big business."

Remember "In the Name of the Rose" where Franciscan monks struggled with the religious establishment of their time? They were told: "The question is not whether Jesus was poor, the question is: Should the Holy Mother Church be poor". Seems like history repeats itself.

Update:
The evangelical churches not only made it onto the Fortune website, they captured the Business Week headlines too, including a special mention of supersizing believe.

P.S:  If you are into acronyms you would not only like WWJD but also WWBD or JBB

07/05/2005

Just Me

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14/04/2005

You have a personal legend to fulfill, period.

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Found @ Warrior of the Light:

Respect for a man who at that moment is recalling a very important lesson: you have a personal legend to fulfill, period. It is of no matter if others support you, or criticize, ignore or tolerate you – you are doing that because that is your destiny on this earth, and the source of any joy.  

19/12/2004

In my nature

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Found this there, liked it, share it:

Two monks were washing their bowls in the river when they noticed a scorpion that was drowning. One monk immediately scooped it up and set it upon the bank. In the process he was stung. He went back to washing his bowl and again the scorpion fell in. The monk saved the scorpion and was again stung. The other monk asked him, "Friend, why do you continue to save the scorpion when you know it's nature is to sting?"

"Because," the monk replied, "to save it is my nature."

11/12/2004

Ich geh meine eigenen Wege.

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Triggered by a post on vowe.net I digged out lyrics from on of my favourite song writers: Heinz Rudolf Kunze. I like his older songs best. When I talk to people here, especially to young students, I hear a lot about qualifications and titles they want to achieve to make a stellar carrier preferably in the government or a MNC. How different that is from what is driving me:
" Ich geh meine eigenen Wege,
ein Ende ist nicht abzusehn.
Eigene Wege sind schwer zu beschreiben,
sie entstehen ja erst beim Gehn."
-- HRK Meine Eigenen Wege.

(for non German speaking readers):
"I go my own ways,
the end cannot be seen.
Own ways are difficult to describe,
they unfold only when you walk them." (sorry the Rhythm and rime got lost in translation).  

02/11/2004

Good Luck USA!

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USA
Today you exercise your basic right, you enjoy the freedom to vote. May you pick a leader that benefits all citizens. And remember it doesn't matter if you pray to Jahwe, the Lord or Allah. Your are praying to the same god, and this god may bless you!

Closing with the words of the Buddha: "You pick the level of your suffering yourself".

01/11/2004

Long gone, but not forgotten

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Maria Wissel

Maria Wissel. 10 September 1934 - 01 November 1977

11/07/2004

Guilt and Karma

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When you grow up in Bavaria, as I did, it is very likely, that you end up with a Roman Catholic view of the world, at least initially. You have strong ideas what is right and what is wrong and who is calling the shots when it comes to the question who and what belongs to the dark side. The holy mother church makes sure, that you never forget, that the lord of the dark is the fallen first angel, who was disobedient.
The strongest reminder is that feeling of guilt. According to Catholic believe we are born already guilty. Over the years growing up, you start internalizing the moral authority, that was first represented by parents, teachers, priests and elders, into a nagging voice in the back of your head. Guilt is so entrenched in our culture and society, that e.g. breaking a rule not just has consequences, but you are foremost 'guilty as charged'. You have to remorse your deeds, so you acknowledge you guilt. Guilt has been used over centuries as a premier tool to manipulated people for whatever reason.
Enter Buddhism and the idea of Karma.  The teaching is free of the concept of guilt (suspiciously the most authentic teachings of Jesus are free of the idea of guilt too). Karma simply says, that there are choices and consequences. You bear the consequence of your thoughts and deeds, you are the sole responsible person. Karma doesn't say anything about what has to or  will happen to you. Karma to me is the essence of free will: It is your choice to increase or reduce suffering for you and the world.
On the first look it seems intriguing: no more moral authority, do what you want, you can't be guilty anymore. And an outcry of the law-and-order lobby: the world will fall into pieces.
On the second look: it's a really tough call: be your own moral authority, be your own source. Deep inside you always will know if you added to the suffering of the world with your actions and thoughts. No more excuses, no system to blame, no circumstances to explain away your responsibility.
What blows my mind is to make peace with my tendency to still categorize things as right or wrong. The difference between the two concepts is subtle: right and wrong can be totally random and easily be manipulated and twisted. The increase in suffering as a result of your actions can be seen, heard, felt  and sensed, given you have cultivated your senses.  

12/05/2003

Quotes

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If God were to humiliate a human being, He would deny him knowlegde.

Imam Ali bin abi Taleb (6th century AD)

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