Tech Industry

Computers, smartphones, the internet, gadgets, online services . . . these are posts about consumer technology and the trends in the astonishingly rapidly advancing tech that surrounds us all.

War in Arduino World

  • Posted on: 20 March 2015
  • By: Jay Oyster

I just happened to be on Google+ today when a posting came across the wire about Massimo Banzi's recent blog post on the Arduino blog. Massimo Banzi is, as most people know, one of the five founders of the Arduino open-source hardware movement. I first learned about the Arduino board by listening to a FLOSS Weekly episode in which he was interviewed. I truly believe he really is a  believer in open source and the democratization of technology. So it's sad to hear that the core of the Arduino world is in the midst of a civil war. It seems that one of the other five founding members, Gianluca Martino, has gone and run off with a key Arduino trademark and started claiming the name through his company.

Although sad, it doesn't strike me as very surprising. Any time humans attempt to create a truly altruistic community, there are times when some of the baser instincts of human nature show up and start mucking things up. Now, reading his blog post, and a longer article on Make that details the history of the conflict, my immediate reaction was, "Well, that's clear. It's obvious who's in the wrong." I was hopeful that it would be cleared up quickly. But reading the comments under the Make article, which was posted over 24 hours ago, I should have known better. Some, possibly trolls for the other side, immediately skewered the article and Mr. Banzi as one-sided and unfair. Possibly. I agree that it is important to hear the other side of the argument. 

The Fundamental Rule About How Organizations Work

  • Posted on: 28 February 2014
  • By: Jay Oyster

You know how modern organizations function? It's really simple. They spend huge amounts of time, usually wasted in meetings, and money, usually wasted on tools that nobody bothers to learn how to operate, setting up hugely complicated policies, processes, procedures, forms, methodologies, requirements, and guidelines.

And then everyone in the organization spends what little time they don't spend in meetings making sure that their people and their projects don't have to follow the rules.

Why Six Sigma? Why PMP?

  • Posted on: 28 February 2014
  • By: Jay Oyster

I've worked in and around various IT and technology related and technology using industries for many years. I've seen them all slowly go more and more formal in how they want to handle product creation, operations, HR,  . . . pretty much everything.  Since in many cases, the formal method works much less well than a less informal method, especially for small companies and places that want to encourage creativity, I often wonder WHY they've all decided to go this route.

I've finally come to the conclusion that for most people, they don't know why. They're just following the flow.  But the flow; where has that come from?

Business Analysis - I'm 'In It' now

  • Posted on: 28 February 2014
  • By: Jay Oyster

I haven't posted much lately about my secular life. That's because my job as a Business Analyst (BA) at WellStar Health Systems has been getting more and more intensive.

This prompts me to start trying to capture my thoughts about what it means to be a business analyst nowadays. This is not an old profession. It's sort of a result of the move by IT and other organizations to go formal and certifications-based on how they do 'projects'.  Various organizations have attempted to set up Project Management Offices (PMOs) and to hire Project Managers (PMs) with formal training (usually (Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the PMI institute).)  But they've realized that there are gaps in the machine. The business analyst role was created largely to attempt to fill one of the big gaps. And as you might be getting an understanding from this intro text, much of the work of BAs seems to involve understanding an endless array of TLA's (Three Letter Acronyms.)  TLAs are the words of the priesthood. In any profession, these acronyms are the way that the high practitioners obscure and confuse everyone else about what it is that they are really doing. And BAs are supposed to step in and interpret the words of the high priests to everyone else. Well, that's part of it.

International Institute of Business AnalysisI'm going to comment on the BA profession from an 'outside the walled garden' perspective. I have not yet sought nor achieved a business analyst certification, although I've had some training in the theories, and have little doubt I can pass the test if I need to. In the BA world, the certification is mostly one of the certs offered by the IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysis), such as the CBAP (Certified Business Analyst Professional).   See what I mean about TLA's?  I am a member of the IIBA. I joined last year when my employer offered to pay the annual $150 membership fee. I've even gone to a couple of meetings. It was nice to meet other weirdo's like me.

Certification for a BA has been fairly straight-forward up until now, which is why the PMI decided to step in recently and create their *own* cert for BA's. Why keep things simple? It doesn't serve their purposes.  I'm going to try to write up my thoughts about this move by the PMI in a later blog entry. It's a big topic.

So I don't have a CBAP. I'll probably go get one in the next couple months, just because it's getting harder and harder to say you are a BA without having it. Not impossible, just harder. But, given that state, it means I'm working as professional BA but without all of the indoctrinational bullshit of the certification organization overlaid. So I want to try to capture my current perspective on what this job entails before it gets all mucked up by theory.  I have considered myself a business analyst for about three years now. In that time, I've worked for four different organizations, in a fairly broad spectrum of industries, each with a varying level of project management immaturity. And more importantly, I've gone through three separate job hunts as a BA in two different states. It's a rapidly evolving profession, and even most of the people who do it don't have a good grasp on what, exactly, it is. In the next few posts, I'm going to try to capture my thoughts on that topic.

2013 - The Good and the Bad

  • Posted on: 2 January 2014
  • By: Jay Oyster

2013 - a Year of ExtremesPersonally, 2013 wasn't that bad, particularly compared to the Hell that were 2011 and 2012. But from a more global and holistic perspective, 2013 was one heck of a rocky ride. Just in an effort to capture some of my thoughts about what just happened to us all, I thought I'd try to capture my view of what was particularly good and particularly sucky about the 13th year of this latest millennium. I think I'll talk about many of these things in more detail in other posts, so I'm just going to skim the topics.

Do you want the good or the bad first?



  • Posted on: 6 November 2013
  • By: Jay Oyster

Big DataWhile searching for a comparitive analysis between the features of the various versions of the desktop database application Microsoft Access, I was presented with an odd 13 minute long ad from Cisco on their new product supporting Big Data. Now, while I don't really understand what the product they were pitching actually WAS, I did key on one word in the presentation that I've heard more and more recently . . . 'Hadoop'. 

What the heck is hadoop, you might ask? I know that I certainly was asking that question. After doing some research, I found out that it's related to the concepts of big data, the habits of very large organizations to aggregate really BIG sets of data into really BIG databases. Back in the early 2000s, Google was dealing with the problem of trying to be able to mine the data they were getting from repeatedly indexing the entire Internet. 

Book review: Radical Abundance by K. Eric Drexler

  • Posted on: 8 July 2013
  • By: Jay Oyster

Radical Abundance, or How a Revolution in Nanotechnology will Change Civilization by K. Eric DrexlerReview of "Radical Abundance: How a Revolution in Nanotechnology will Change Civilization" by K. Eric Drexler. Reviewed on July 8th, 2013. 

Back in the 1980s, Eric Drexler coined the term and popularized the concept of what we now call 'nanotechnology'.  This book is a sort of 'So where are we now?' update on the state of the art and the concepts. I found the book alternatingly mind-blowing and tedious.  That's somewhat hard to do, yet that was my experience with Radical Abundance.

I think the reason for that reaction is that the author's intent in writing this books is somewhat schyzophrenic.  He wants to popularize his ideas, but he saw what happened to them back in the 90s and early 2000s, and is afraid that that will happen again. He sees in the history of this technology that it went wildly awry from his intentions, but for political reasons dealing with human nature rather than anything technical. He wants us to be excited, but not overly excited.  That latter part is where the tedium comes in. He attempts to undermine the 'gee-whiz' aspects of the ideas as much as he can, because he doesn't want accolytes. He wants thinking engineers to make it come true.  But this dual focus can cause him to be a bit repetitive and a bit of a worrywart.

For Wind Power, 2012 was a Good Year

  • Posted on: 5 April 2013
  • By: Jay Oyster

Wind Turbines at Holderness, Wikipedia, Creative CommonsI like to follow news about alternative energy. I have ever since I was a kid and the only people who installed windmills were farmers on the prairie to pump water to their cattle, and those weirdos in California. We've come a long way.  Last year was the first year in history in which of all of the new electrical generating capacity installed in the United States, more than half was wind turbines.  We, humanity, are finally learning, I guess.

The best place I've found to find info about wind generating capacity worldwide is what's now known as Wind Power Monthly. Although they've closed off most of their content now to only subscribers . . . a natural outgrowth of the fact that the industry itself is becoming more real as a business, they still provide some basic statistics to the unwashed masses. Being one of the most unwashed, I like to read their year-end reviews. This years', in particular, is outstanding.

More than 51GW of new electrical generating capacity was installed around the world in 2012.  To put that in real-world terms,  (at least terms that are real in my world)  that is enough new power generated annually by wind turbines to send a Delorean time machine on 42 trips through time.  Emmett Brown and I are ecstatic about this.

This is either cool . . . or ridiculous

  • Posted on: 30 November 2011
  • By: Jay Oyster

Lee Valley is selling a outside table lamp powered entirely by a TEG, a themoelectric generator.  So, the candle burns, heats up the TEG, which generates enough voltage to power 8 LED lights. The result is one tea light that generates as much light as 19 tea light candles.  Kind of shows how much energy is wasted by a candle, no?