Fun Management

Hence into week out. Got to sleep in this morning. Almost an hour. And didn’t have to drip. Inside the thermal comfort zone. So hence to blogging before I have to spread seed for the dinosaur descendants and tree mammals.

I ran across an article [Link] on the matter of fun in the workplace. And I was appalled. This is evidently something that has emerged since I retired and it makes me happy that I am retired.

It is not that I am against fun in the workplace. I am. Aside from those slime mold mentation level bogs who are happy so long as they are occupied, and the occasional nasty bit of violence, the only source of happiness in the workplace is fun. But there are some caveats.

First of all, fun cannot be managed. It cannot even be encouraged. But it can be tolerated and even approved of. But it cannot be managed. Fun has to come from within the individual. It does not come in a container from the office supply store. And when I see an organization with a fun manager (or some such) or fun sessions, I see abysmal managerial failure. And a workplace that is not fun. And cannot be fun.

The difficulty can be simply explained. It’s a Meyers-Briggs things. What is fun to an ESFJ is not fun to an INTP. And if you try to engineer fun you will select for some temperaments and make others unhappy, miserable even. So you have to be smarter than that. You have to know enough to recognize the presence/unpresence of fun in individuals and decide whether that individual can or will have fun, and do what you can to not – NOT! – prevent it. It’s also a Joseph Heller thing, a Catch of some sort. Maybe not, technically, a Catch-22 but something related.

It’s also related to the reverse observe efffect. If you see the phenomena, it will go away. If you seek to make the workplace fun, it will not be. You have to give people the state space opportunity to have fun and not punish them for doing so. Unless they do damage to others – extros having fun by eviscerating intros is not really fun.

And you have to understand that a short term loss in productivity is more than recovered in the long term. Don’t starve the donkey so long as he can still work.

This is not easy for most managers. It takes finesse. And righteous self-confidence. Not asentient arrogance. So fun is going to be a rarity. Because the average manager is at best marginally competent and woefully incapable of anything more than rote supervision. But you can try. Just try the right way.

If the workers think you aren’t aware they are having fun, then you are doing it right.

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Bathroom Partition

Having bemoaned that we are still, in many ways, an occupied land, I can move on to natter [1] about other things. It being week out and more heated than previously in the week – or, so the weather beavers declaim, than tomorrow, I can happily start with a wonderful article [Link] entitled “Windows 8 Is a Desktop Disaster”. The title is sufficient.

Tile guis are the hallmark of the appliance [2] user. It fails the needs of tool [2] users.
 
Keep tile guis on appliances – slabs and cellular telephones and away from the tools – desk and lap boxes.

[1]  1. To find fault; to be peevish. [Prov. Eng. or Scot.] [1913 Webster]
[2]  An apparatus or device, usually powered electrically, used in homes to perform domestic functions. An appliance is often categorized as a major appliance or a minor appliance by its cost.
[3]  An instrument such as a hammer, saw, plane, file, and the like, used in the manual arts, to facilitate mechanical operations; any instrument used by a craftsman or laborer at his work; an implement; as, the tools of a joiner, smith, shoe-maker, etc.; also, a cutter, chisel, or other part of an instrument or machine that dresses work. [1913 Webster]

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RIP Samuel

No gym today. It’s a holy day. Labor Day, which is supposed to be a glorification of the working man – as opposed to the coupon clipper or the candidate for chief executive – and, of course, the union, now seriously enfeebled. On most holy days I am disgruntled that the gym is closed because IMHO it should be open. This is one of the few holy days that I don’t feel that way although I am conflicted. I can honestly admit that I don’t think the folks who work at gym work very hard and it seems as if they go to extreme lengths to seek holy days so they can be off, which leads me to entertain the alternate hypothesis that the gym is not a very good place to work.

From what I have observed about the management there, this is a much more plausible hypothesis. I doubt that the management does much more than be psychological cruel but I have scant doubts that they do practice that perversion. But then who wants to waste good management on a gym?

Still labor day is supposed to be the holiday of the common man. Back when I was a bairn it was religiously observed with a parade and festivities and picnics, a last holiday before the resumption of shule. Now, of course, the shule year is longer and the children are less educated (or trained, as the case may be.) And the start is marked by legal scheduling intended to channel funds into the coffers of greedy insiders who prey upon the honest citizens of the coastal region. And, as I mentioned yesterday, the populace – at least the part with spine and chutzpah – studiously find somewhere else, anywhere else, to vacation so as to remind the council of thieves that they are supposed to minimize their theft of the public.

Such reminders need be frequent inasmuch as the thieves in Muntgum have short memories for matters ethical and moral. Sadly, such are more difficult to administer to the national thieves in Washtun. Who apparently have even shorter memories.

Speaking of such, I ran across a rather nice discussion [Link] in Lifehacker of how modern humans (except those out of Africa in the last 15 KY or so) have a mixture of sapiens, neandertal, and denisovian DNA. As I recall from my discussions with animal breeders the two models are basically paradigms of inbreeding and outbreeding.

The humorous part, of course, is that we are all mutts, except for those pure breds who came lately from Africa and have not corrupted their DNA, and that there is probably no way to verify either model conclusively. The former is humorous because of its social component. Only those who have traditionally been looked down upon in Amerika are not byblows. Sadly, this will likely have no impact on the nonsense of racism. Race has long been bankrupted by the scientific community but it is dear to the heart of the Yankee government as a means of controlling the populace. And, of course, there are a few folks who want to wrap themselves in that banner since patriotism is orthogonal to their wants and desires. Somehow, in a way satisfying and simplifying, racism has become like advertising in that one knows when it is emitted, spoken or visually, that it is a lie.

I am reminded of the old saw that first liar cannot win. Sadly, when the lie is congruent with government control policy, first liar can get money and have labor day all the time.

I was also rather taken by this cartoon [Link]

I am rather a fan of James Burke, although I do not always agree with him. Which is inherent to the nature of humans it seems. I was thinking of his book The Axemaker’s Gift and its conclusion that the only way we can survive is to get rid of all the axemakers. I have always considered that impossible because all humans have the axemaker DNA but it has to be excited to come to the fore. So the only way to save the species is to extinguish the species. Shades of Lt. Calley.

I also enjoyed the relevance to the whole bogusness of race as well.

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The Hidden Obvious

Saturn’s day and fully into week out. And the tabs have multiplied rabbitish this week. And too little patience and cognitive umph to treat more than a few.

I had a fun thing this week. Had bought two refurbed HP deskboxes with nice hardware and the home version of Winders VII to serve two purposes. One was to serve as the back up for FD SCP’s current deskbox when it discorporates. She has a short span of abidance of no deskbox. The other I purchased to replace the box I am using at the moment which is a bit over whelmed by Ubuntu 12.04. I wanted a box with Winders on it for the few – four – apps that I use under Winders.

Anyway, long story made short I got things working on the Winders side and had shrunk it down as much as I could, which was still over half a terabyte – talk about memory obese! – and the KUBUNTU installer fritzed and wiped the hard drive. And since it was a refurb box no backup disk was available. So my outlook on OS and boxes has been quite negative since.

Which brings to the first article [Link] entitled “Apple may have killed the Linux desktop, but the web is where the battle is”. I grabbed this article not because of its content, which is not bad in refuting the thesis, but because I considered the title to be hilarious. Simply put, the Linux desktop is not discorporate. If anything it is healthier than either Winders or Apple OS. The measure of this can be considered to be either the GUI itself or the the OS, and the measure is the degeneracy. Let us start with Winders. In terms of GUI, Winders has a degeneracy of two: the Winders VII aero GUI and the Winders Ate “Modern” gui. In terms of OS, I am unsure of how many versions of Winders VII there are but it is about two and the number of Winders Ate is two. So regardless of metric, Winders has a degeneracy of two.

Apple on the other hand has a GUI degeneracy of one and an OS degeneracy of about two, so it is not much different from Winders. Linux on the other hand has a GUI degeneracy of order ten, and an OS degeneracy of order twenty-five. I can’t list all the variants of GUI but they include unity, gnome, XFCE, LXDE, KDE, clones of gnone II, ….. So in terms of these metrics we have two autocratic/communist tyranny OS and one democratic OS. No wonder the latter is called “FREE”!

So not only has Apple not killed off the Linux desktop, it has done a great service. The premise is that at least some of the folks who use Apple OS would have gone with Linux. The unasked question is whether the Linux community would benefit from them? I suspect the answer is the same as the one about whether the Linux community would benefit from the average Winders user? One of the strengths of the Linux community is that its members can do stuff. They are not bogs nor slaves, except maybe wage slaves of Canonical and such totalitarian organizations masquerading as FREE. So despite what Canonical seems to be trying to do with unity to turn Ubuntu into an appliance, those who want to bash thing [yes, I know it is a horrible pun!] are not tempted to dilute the mental gene pool.

Incidentally, the thesis of the article is that Apple may rule the desktop (not conceded) but Linux is whomping on the server side. My consideration is that we learned back in the early days of WFWG that the server version worked better than the desktop version as a desktop OS.

The second article [Link] is entitled “The Results Are in: Scientists Are Workaholics”. Again, it is the title that is the attractant, not the content. Although the content is of value it only confirms what all bogs know: if you enjoy what you are doing as work, then work becomes play as well. In fact, if you don’t like what you get paid to do, then you do real work during play time. That’s how Albert came up with Relativity and Isaac came up with mechanics. It’s called rabbinical science.

The difficulty is that because STEMS are working all the time (even asleep,) unless they hate their jobs, they are thinking STEM all the time and that makes it hard to communicate with bogs. SO the bogs tend to get their feelings hurt because they don;t understand what is being said and they go off and sulk and maybe get violent. One more of the burdens of being a species with bogs.

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Lane Blocked

Yesterday was a joyous day of drudge in Nawth Alibam’s Shining City on the Hill. It started with me rushing about rather madly to get time critical things done culminating with me arriving at the dentist’s office unlate. Then I got to endure the Listerine experience of tooth cleaning, which is an euphemism for taking the same tools that archaeologists and paleontologists use to unearth fossils and artifacts from the body of Tellus and using them to remove all the gibble that has accumulated on my teeth since the previous iteration three months ago. The discomfort is multidimensional and never really crosses the boundary into actual pain but there are times when I should express myself except for my mouth being encumbered with at least two hands, two tubes, and an instrument of intense discomfort.

The individual involved is a superbly competent technician and human of wonderful temperament. Her greatest fault is abiding me. On the positive side however, I have not, to my knowledge, ever bitten her. And the mundane medicalist bits – the absence of cancer and the proper shortness of distance between bone and gum edge were substantiated, much to my relief. When I was a kid I dreaded to be told that I had cavities because of the filling process. I should have been happy with that little if I had been told of the joys of gum treatments.

After that, I wobbled my way out to my motorcar. The dental treatment chair is the world’s most expensive furniture lacking ANY lumbar support and after the better part of an hour with my legs clenched against pain and bladder, it takes a bit for the cramps and wobbles to work out. And off to the organic supermarket for all sorts of goodies. Also the intense joy of driving across Nawth Alibam’s Shining City of the Hill – in the words of Andy Griffith – “withing getting knocked down, or stepping in something” at least in motoring terms.

Needless to say after such an excursion little was done yesterday afternoon so I ended up with several emails asking me to do something expeditiously. Disappointments issued like ration packs. And this morning I finally got to read an article on the desktop by a fellow named David Lane. [Link] Mr. Lane writes that he predicted a couple of years ago that the desktop would be the cell phone. I find the statement unpleasant and even odious. For several reasons.

First of all, I have a desktop. It is located on top of my desk, which is a piece of furniture. My cellular telephone is not a piece of furniture. I am not sure what it is, but it is not furniture. Mostly it is an appliance that masquerades as a tool. Sadly, many bogs, and a few geeks, apparently including Mr, Lane, think a cellular telephone is a tool.

I have several desktop computers. I do not really like the name but I put up with it. It is a box with electro-mechanical widgets inside. That I like better. Hence deskbox. A monitor is connected to the deskbox via a video card, the former an electro-optical widget and the latter an electro-mechanical widget. The OS, via the widgets, displays a thing called a desktop on the monitor. It is not a desktop. It looks like no desktop that I have ever used but the computer oligarchs at MegaHard dubbed it a desktop and it has become part of the language. I suspect this image on the monitor is what Mr. Lane is describing.

My deskbox is also a container of tools and some appliance thingies. They include things like browsers and LaTeX editors and symbolic algebra engines and compilers and …. I use these things on the desktop on the monitor to do what I need to do. I do not know how I would use them effectively on my cellular telephone. The screen is too small and my monitor is too large for me to carry about, even if I wore BDU trousers with balloon pockets. The cellular telephone screen is also too small for my old eyes to read well, and it does not do all the fonts I need for maths and such. And its keyboard is a mental torture.

So in any of several usages of the term desktop I find that I, personally, disagree with Mr. Lane. He has been, however, gracious enough to leave me an out so that I may continue to appreciate his wit and writing. I quote:

“I argue that in a typical enterprise environment, the 80/20 rule applies when you look at application use and processing power. 80% of the people are using only 20% of the computing power in their machines. If you have any experience in large enterprises you are snorting because it is unlikely they are even using 20%, but let’s use this for illustration. The majority of worker bees are doing simple tasks. They are writing documents, whether in a word processor or in email, they are preparing or delivering presentations, which really is only specialized word processing. They are surfing the web, administering systems, working or submitting tickets, or reading. None of these tasks is particularly computationally taxing.

The other 20% are doing tasks that are computationally taxing. Advanced data analytics, audio/video/graphical composition, CAD/CAM, data or event modeling, even some local compilation to ensure builds will work. These people have need for some serious horsepower.”

I am not sure what a “typical enterprise environment” is but I suspect it is not a Yankee government R&D center with 0.8 STEMS and 0.2 admins. So in that regard Mr. Lane’s ratio is reversed in the workplace I frequented for 32+ years. This does not matter. The ratio of states is not immediately relevant except to complicate Mr. Lane’s pontifications. What does matter is that the workplace is a mixed state.

And the conclusion that follows from it is that the enterprise bogs, the ones who are wasting CPU cycles playing Solitaire or whatever wasting of the organizational substance it is that they are doing, can indeed get by with a lesser device. And if we can make their cellular telephone that device then we can get them out of sight and maybe out of building. So they aren’t detracting from those who do real work. On deskboxes.

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Multi-Drooling

Lovely day here in Greater Metropolitan Arab. ForecastFox tells me it is 24 degF here which is pretty congruent with my own aft stoa thermometer reporting 25 degF to me. Gym was slightly less crowded than usual this morning and happily morose inasmuch as the cable service to the large wall mounted audio-optical displays was fraked by the weather. So aside from a few weight bouncers hogging the indoor walking track when I was trying to do my cool-down laps, life at gym this morning was good.

One of the podcasts I listened to today was a Future Tense episode about the price we pay for electronics. [Link] The piece was mostly a bit of puff for some longer piece that I may now download the podcast of, but what was riveting of attention span was a new azimuth on something I already knew about.

One of the human traits of the marvel of modern electronics is multi-tasking, a case of humans attempting to imitate computers. Apparently this is a bigger deal with GEN Y bogs and corporate executives than with most of humanity but it is a big enough deal to have crept into what I perceive as the general consciousness, which tends to include Greater Metropolitan Arab about 0.5 of the time. No one ever said we weren’t elitist here but then the Jews in the ghetto in Poland had that outlook as well, especially just before the massacres.

One of the things that has been found about multi-tasking in humans is that is wasteful. We do it very poorly, parallel execution takes more time than strict serial execution, and the quality of what we do is greatly diminished. Also, and perhaps most critically, analytical capacities are abysmally reduced, erased in many cases. Multi-tasking is a synonym for ineptness, incompetence, and irrationality.

Nothing new there, nor that humans continue to do it just because humans always do rather stupid things. And usually don’t get killed doing them until after they have reproduced.

But what was new to me was putting all this into the context of being an Old Retired Flatulence. Being an ORF brings new fervor to the paradox of ‘if one drools only while asleep does being an ORF violate this postulate or are ORFs only apparently awake?’ Most properly posed, if an individual multi-tasks persistently through mature existence what does this mean when they become senior?

The rather chilling indication here is that when mental faculties begin to erode in seniors who have been diligent multi-taskers they will erode rapidly and catastrophically. One minute present, the next pond scum.

Of course this may be good. No lingering. No nasty body consuming itself. Just asentience and aintelligence.

MultiTool

As a younger man I was a devotee of the action television program “McGyver”. One of the thematic cornerstones of this program was that the protagonist would haul out his Swiss Army knife, one of the simpler ones, and perform some necessary task to accomplish a technological nexus. This was one of the less believable metaphors of the program, albeit relatively easily suspended, because of my fundamental mistrust of multiple purpose tools.

Back when Ubuntu 9.10 emerged earlier I first tried to install it on my Itty Bitty Lap Top (netbook for the bogs) and it malfunctioned mid way through leaving me with a piece of fragile matter but no longer a tool. Reinstalling Ubuntu 9.04 was a relative snap with none of the machinations I had to go through originally with adding Ubuntu and by now I was more than willing to dispense with the wasted space on the hard drive that was SLED. Admittedly I did lose a bit off the box but nothing of abiding value.

What I did not get to do was reinstall all the pieces of software I needed to make use of the box, partly because of other demands and partly from inadequate memory. This was not worrisome since I knew I could install later when I realized the want.

Since I had uncertainty on time and connection on my immediately concluded boondoggle to the campus of the Black Warrior, I took the IBLT along in lieu of three times the volume and mass of a full up laptop. My uncertainties about connection and time proved to be accurate once I could collapse the wave function. The hotel I was using had a relatively whacked wireless network that required one to log on using a browser. The folks who put the system together made the usual brain dead assumption that everyone who would use it was a MegaHard serf and sure enough the system choked a couple of times with Linux alienation. Luckily the adaptations were within my limited IT capabilities since I knew that hotel staff are worse than bogs when it comes to matters computer, although I will give them points for being pleasant in expressing their ignorance and disinterest.

More accurate was my projections of time and so I was largely limited to evenings, in lieu of the intellectually banal wasteland that is American television, and mornings during the interval when the early riser mutation got me out of bed and when the late riser normals (?) actually were conscious.

Having bored with the usual snivelous complaints, I will get to the meat. I repeated found I needed something in the way of a client to do various things. And all I had to do in most cases was install that client from one of the standard repositories; in a few cases I had to add a repository. The delays had a small but not oppressive impact on work rhythm but that was all. Driving back yesterday it occurred, I think just past Trussville where FD SCP and I had stopped to ingest mass, how different this had been than if I was using MegaHard Windows. What repositories? Clients could be gotten online but only with detailed transactions, lengthy inefficient downloads (built into Windows) and problematic idiosyncratic installs. Definitely major speed bumps if not actual barricades.

Epiphany repeated. Wars are won by the forces you have at the right time and place, not hordes over yonder tomorrow. The same holds for computers.

Administrato Formicidae

Today concludes my exercise week, early because of tomorrow being a holy day. So I was a bit intrigued whether my efforts this morning would be typical of a Wednesday (hitting peak) or Thursday (past peak). Somewhat surprisingly it was a linear combination of the two but in a form I had not expected. Simply put, the first half of the period was Thursday-like while the second half was Wednesday-like.

The podcast for Wednesday is primarily an episode of the Canadian wireless program “Quirks and Quarks”, with a closing bridge of an episode of Yankee Public Radio’s “Future Tense”. The latter was largely a barrenness because the episode was entirely taken up with a pastiche of MegaHard research projects that were entirely self serving. Not so the Q&Q podcast.

The primary part of the podcast, at least the part that adhered to my consciousness, was an interview with a U Arizona professor about rock ants. [Link] What made this intriguing (ah ha! thought I was going to use the “i” word, didn’t you?) was that the good professor’s research had been concerned with quantifying the benefits of specialization.

It seems that rock ant workers come in two (maybe three) categories: those who are specialists and those who are generalists. The third possible category are those who do nothing although it was unclear in the podcast whether these are actually separate, a particular type of specialist, or an additional dimension rather than state of categorization. I was also taken by the apparent abysmal ignorance of the professor in terms of knowledge of management theory and practice since the management reference cited was Adam Smith, who is technically an economist but was talking about organization. Since much of what was described is almost pure Taylorism – time and motion mechanics – this absence of knowledge is somewhere between comic and tragic.

Enough academic bashing however. The results of the research indicate that no temporal efficiency was demonstrated by specialization. That is, the amount of time a specialist ant took to do a task was the same as the amount of time a generalist ant took to do the same task, normalized for the ant’s natural tempo. The latter corrects for some ants being fast and other slow.

Now it must be considered that ants have rather limited learning capacities so task efforts are pretty much application of instinctual programming to situations. Despite this, there seem to be some cunning insights possible here for human beings, in particular that for certain types of specialization that specialization has no benefit for efficiency but only for assuring some category of task is always performed.

Stated in other terms, some forms of specialization are beneficial only because of the necessity of the tasks performed, not by the specialization itself. That seems a polite (possibly politically correct?) way of saying that some tasks are so important that slavery is justified, mandated even.

Gives rather a whole new view of justicers, doesn’t it? In a society of rules, actions of those rules become so important as to demand a whole class of laborers, serfs, helots.

It is also interesting to note that if the ant colony were to be hierarchically managed then about half of the workers, given sufficiently large population, would be doing no “work” because  those ants would be managers (supervisors.) But that is apparently not the sort of thing that biologists learn.