Learning from Germanwings

On the 24th of March, the pilot of Germanwings flight 4U9525 into a field, killing everyone on board, including himself. This is a human tragedy — beyond what many of us will experience in our lifetimes. But it’s also an important object lesson to those of us who live in the world of engineering. Think…

Talk to the Dummy

You’ve hit brain freeze. It seemed like such a great idea at the time, but now that it’s 2am, the application is down, and you can’t find the problem, maybe it wasn’t after all. Or maybe it’s 4pm, and you’re sitting at your desk trying to figure out how to resolve a problem, or build…

The Problem with Peanuts

I was hungry. Perhaps that’s a good excuse, or perhaps not. Either way, I sat down after ordering, took a peanut, broke the nuts out of the shell, and ate them. After eating the peanut, I felt less hungry. So I picked up another one and ate it, as well. Soon enough, long before I…

Act!

Part 1: Getting Inside the Loop Part 2: Orientation Part 3: Decide! Once you’ve observed, oriented, and decided, it’s time to act. This might seem like a minor concept, but it’s actually really, really hard to act in a lot of situations. There are two elements here — the first is our willing suspension of…

Decide!

Last week we talked about orienteering — using models and information to orient ourselves to what’s going on in the network. This is part of the OODA loop, which we talked about two weeks ago. This week, let’s look at the next step — decide. In fact: Decide! Now! How many hours have you spent…

Orientation

Quick — can you OODA? Last week we talked about the general idea behind the OODA loop; this week we’ll cover one more step; next week we’ll cover the last two steps, and then, in the last post, we’ll review and wrap up. Orient is the second step: once you’ve made a set of observations,…

Getting Inside the Loop

Metadata doesn’t just apply to data science or protocols — it applies to engineering life. Think about the concept of epistemology — the study of how we know what we know — or the concept of hermeneutics — the study of how we understand communication — and you can quickly see that stepping outside what…

A Neutral ‘Net?

This week I’m going to step off the beaten path for a moment and talk about ‘net neutrality. It appears we are about to enter a new phase in the life of the Internet — at least in the United States — as the FCC is out and about implying we should expect a ruling…

Friends May Come and Go…

We overuse the word “friend” in our world—especially the technical world. We tend to call anyone we’ve ever met a friend. In this environment, friends come and go almost constantly, flowing through our lives like the leaves in a brisk fall wind. The depth to which Facebook and LinkedIn dive into our personal relationships—reminding us…

But Does it Work?

When I was in the USAF, a long, long, time ago, there was a guy in my shop — Armand — who, no matter what we did around the shop, would ask, “but does it work?” For instance, when I was working on redoing the tool cabinet, with nice painted slots for each tool, he…