Saturday, 26 May 2012

Thought leadership!

Twitter update.

Just started to collate information on Twitter - which is a bit of a nightmare given the volume of traffic from the 80 people and organisation I follow.

However I have discovered the beauty of 'Lists' - you can essentially allocate certain people/organisations to a List or a number of Lists that you yourself can define. So I have set up 4 Lists which I am calling my Twitter Libraries, at the moment I have the following,

  • Science Library
  • Computing Library
  • Management Library
  • Coffee Library

Which seem to be a good grouping of my areas of interest. These are proving to be very effective at filtering the dross and not losing a post in all of the traffic. So well done Twitter!

I am also using #arctki to record all of my tweets related to technical knowledge and innovation which again is a great way of tracking and sharing information.

Everyone has visibility of the Libraries and #arctki - not sure if anyone is checking them on a regular basis but a store of information is building up.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Data abstraction.

Back to the coding.....

We have decided not to go for the big-bang approach to rewriting the QRA codes but instead pull out the key functionality from each re-structure these elements and convert them into object modules so that we can later reassemble with each of these modules fully tested. This also helps in understanding how the current version operates as we need to continue using these codes in the interim period before the new version has been assembled.

Roy is again buried in the code and in the process of extracting the fire and explosion escalation elements of one of the codes. The first step being to put the data structures into better order. Quote;

The QRA relies on an extensive data set held within MS Excel. The code accesses the data by explicit sheet and cell references using a combination of global variables and conditional logic. This makes the code very difficult to follow and tightly couples the code to the specific spreadsheet layout, hence it could not be directly ported to a differently structured spreadsheet (or other data source)

The model also relies heavily on conditional logic to perform its calculations given that there are many factors that have to be considered and evaluated. This has resulted in a large number of chained conditionals statements together with extensive nesting of the conditionals. As with the data issue, this makes the code extremely difficult to follow and test. Modifying the model with the existing escalation implementation would be impractical.

The plan is therefore to create a data abstraction layer to decouple the code from the spreasheets as illustrated below.

Lets see how we get on from here ......

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Social media side show or main event .....

Things are starting to ramp up regarding the use of Twitter and LinkedIn within the company. I think the trick for me will be to make sure that the content is kept appropriate and useful to the community. There are probably a thousand reasons why we shouldn't be using these media for company 'knowledge' sharing - privacy, IPR etc. In fact I think there will be some corporate guidelines issued 'advising' staff on how to 'use' this material - kind of defeats the object of it all but lets see where we get to.

One of the issues I am feeling my way around is how do I generate sharing of best practice related to software development - yes in spreadsheets too! I had a discussion only yesterday with someone who should know better on the liabilities of just bashing out 'calculations' on projects because quote "that's what we do" - "it will only take you a couple of days" - holy smoke - read earlier entries on this one!

There is going to have to be a major culture change to make sure we get on top of this. Fortunately senior management appreciate the risk - would you just go out grab a few bricks and build a bridge. You know what a bridge looks like and you can lift bricks but does that mean you are qualified to design a bridge?

The journey takes a few twists and turns....

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Twitter v LinkedIn updates.....

After an extensive research projects lasting 2 weeks I'm still searching for Fortran tweets with a technical bias - lot of chatter going on but not much content found so far. Which is not the same for other computer related info where the problem is filtering what does come through.

LinkedIn on the other hand, as mentioned in previous messages, does have an active Fortran forum with excellent technical (maybe too technical) traffic. The issue with LinkedIn is how you capture and store the information in a searchable manner.

So these two packages seem to work at the two ends of the extreme - Twitter has a rapid and fleeting flow of current ideas and info, not all necessarily appropriate or relevant, while LinkedIn acts as almost a living encyclopaedia, but feels a bit clumsy and slow.

The two together therefore provide a very powerful way of researching  topics. Twitter helps in quickly getting up the learning curve on a subject, and a way of filtering and ordering the current thinking and flow of data and ideas. Then if you get stuck or require a more in-depth analysis LinkedIn provides the infrastructure for more learned discussions. Currently I am in the process of doing just this with a couple of management topics to aid dissemination of knowledge through our organisation on 'innovation'.

This approach has certainly helped me so far more to report in future messages.......