This feels so familiar

This XKCD comic illustrates something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. There are just too many instant messaging protocols / services.

I’ve got contacts in different settings who all use different instant messaging apps. In most cases, I try to stick with SMS and e-mail.

The problem is with services like Facebook, which gives the impression that everybody are “online”. I don’t have the Messenger app on my phone, and it may take a while before I’m around FB to reply. Some contacts assume I’m always on their “hip” IM of choice, and confusion ensue.

A new player has entered the game

I’ve written earlier that my choice of OS is the one I dislike the least of the three major ones. However, I’ve recently discovered a new player in the game.

Elementary OS is not a new OS. To me, it looks like a Linux flavor, based on Debian GNU/Linux. What makes it different from other distributions, is their approach to keeping stuff simple. What I dislike most about the major Linux distributions, is their flat leadership style which leads to every feature in the world beeing implemented (Emacs). Secondly, I really miss a user friendly interface.

Elementary OS, is currently hosting a crowdfunding campaign. This is the first Linux distro I consider donating to.

How to improve productivity @ work

I’ve recently been thinking about how different users utilise a multiple monitor setup at home or in the office. A mulitiple monitor setup will, in many cases, help improve productivity, by making you spend less time in context switching when looking up information. However, it seems some users struggle with distractions. [nytimes]

Developers seem to unite on documentation on a secondary screen and code on primary. I can recommend looking at some Stackexchange threads on this.  Here’s two threads on how to utilise a multiple screen setup: Thread 1 and Thread 2.

Personally, I can’t manage without lots of screen “real estate” while working. For less important stuff, a 15″ laptop screen will do (hey, I sometime use my phone). What I have not tried is one huge screen instead of 2×24″. Some vendors produce large super-wide curved screens. Might give it a try sometime. Just make sure not to have lots of distractions (non-necessary webpages, apps, etc) to avoid falling in the pits described in the nytimes article.

Ps. I would also recommend reading up on how you sit in front of your desktop and how you place those monitors. It’s not easy to work when your back and neck hurts.

War of the Operating Systems

What operating system should I choose?

Have you asked yourself the same question? This is how I look at the three big providers: Windows, Linux (all distros seen as flavours of one), and lastly macOS.

Disclaimer: I have used OS X as my primary OS at home from 10.3 Panther, and I am at El Capitan as of now. At work, I’ve mostly used different versions of Windows, from XP to W10.

What I look for in a OS:

I want it to take advantage of all the hardware in my computer. Bluetooth, Wireless connections, peripherals all need to work. I don’t want to hack for an hour to make my new printer or sound-card to work.

I value personal freedom to choose what vendor I would like for a service. Apple & Microsofts integration of their respective “clouds” make it harder for me to chose a rivalling product. Its also a plus if the big names are present (Adobe for instance).

The OS should be light weight. It is there to facilitate the other applications, not to spend the resources for it self. In my opinion, all the major OS fails in this regards, as they all come with a bunch of not necessary applications.

It seems to me, that Microsoft and Apple ran out of good ideas, and try to expand the operating system into two “new” arenas: tighter cloud-integration and AI. This is not necessarily helping to keep the OS light weight (although you could argue that Apples automatic move unused files away from your computer is.. in a way).

First off: Cloud-stuff is not my cup of tea. I like to keep track of where I put my own stuff. Not having it automatically moved away. What if i need the file, and are on a off-line flight? The tight integration of cloud services in all applications should be a opt-out in my opinion. I’m also not a fan of pay-per-month deals in regards to where I put my important files.

Secondly, why are they so focused on artificial intelligence, aka Cortana / Siri? Why should I want to say “Open in Safari” instead of just pressing a reddit bookmark?


Well, where do I start?. Apple has renamed the good old Mac OS X -> macOS Sierra. With this new release, we’ve seen a tighter integration between whats on your computer, and what’s in your iCloud. Apple believes it is more user friendly, but it makes it harder for me to choose a different provider or even host my stuff on my own NAS.

Apple makes it harder and harder to run unsigned applications found on the net. At some point I fear that all applications must be installed from the App store.

The new features for macOS was so little impressive that I consider switching away from the Apple eco-system.


Microsoft has made a solid product in Windows 10.  However Windows has some huge shortcomings in my opinion. Yes, PowerShell and Ubuntu Bash among the rest of the improvements in W10 are huge improvements. But still, the start-menu, and tablet stuff has nothing to do on a desktop computer. Also, don’t forget we still have the remnants of “registry-hell”, “dll-hell”, and old GUI elements (I’m looking at you, control panel). This will probably be sorted out in the future. You don’t have to be a wizard to predict that Windows will be a solid competitor for Apples macOS in the coming years.

Microsoft has shown that it can change, with its open source initiative. However, the over-the-top-aggressive information gathering in Windows 10 is not helping me trust the “bad guys”.


I’ve used different GNU/Linux distributions from time to time. At some point ( > 10 years ago), it was my primary OS. After package-managers arrived, installation was a breeze. When you on Windows had to figure out all libraries and software you needed to set up a development environment, it was just to run “yum install apache-tomcat” or whatever you needed. The package manager would figure it all out for you. Before this, we had the “dependency-hell”, where you would have to manually figure out all dependent software and libraries on your own, and download it separately.

My main concern with GNU/Linux today is two things: GUI and Software. I have a hard time complaining about this, because I know a lot of talented developers have worked for free to make free open software.

KDE 2016 Gui

Let me elaborate on GUI first. Of the main desktop environments Gnome and KDE, both have made huge improvements over the years. Both are relatively easy to customise to your needs. However, they use quite a bit of screen real estate. Especially many of the “apps” that are included. The applications are not as easy to use as their Windows and macOS counterparts. Some applications suffer from “feature-sickness”, and are therefore just ugly. Look at Amarok for instance.

Having Steam on Linux would be amazing back in the day when I did som minor gaming. Nowadays, I want to edit and sort my photos, maybe do some sound mixing, and a bit of software development. Yes Linux does these things, but sadly, both Windows and macOS still does these things better.

In the mid and late 90s, you could not be sure if your external units worked with an Apple computer. This is sadly still an issue on Linux to a certain extent.

To sum it up

I guess I’ll still stay on the Apple bandwagon and drink as much cool-aid to pay Apple-tax for my computers. Not because I’m as enthusiastic of the OS as I have been, but because there is no significantly better alternative.

Abstract data warehousing and Rolls Royces

When should you use data abstraction in your data warehouse?
(Short answer: when it is profitable for your company)

Cisco has a nice introduction on the best practice of using data abstraction in your Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW). They argue that the best practice is to transform your data from its original form, into what your business needs are.

From an IT perspective, we often jump on the “Rolls Royce” solution, rather then figuring out what the customer actually needs. We often make pretty and nice looking solutions in scenarios where we might do as well with a quick solution that does the job.

From a business perspective, it is crucial that your deliverables are cost effective and have a short time to market. In other words: the IT solution must make more money then it costs. All in all, do a profitability study / have a positive business case.

Why is this important? Because building a data warehouse is expensive. Building a «Rolls Royce» solution, might be more then you will get funding for. Keep in mind that between 70% and 80% of corporate BI projects fail, according to Gartner. Don’t be too ambitious.

I don’t believe EDW projects are much different. But, of course, there are more reasons a warehouse project fail.

Make sure your BI or EDW project is profitable for your business. Then figure out if you can afford the cost of having a best practice abstract / standardised data warehouse. Don’t implement an expensive solution just because everybody else does it. Look at how this affects time to market for your EDW. How will it affect the time it takes to integrate new data or a new source? (Also, be careful about running large IT projects).

This being said, at some point, most mature EDW initiatives will implement a data abstraction layer into their warehouse.

By the way: i believe the “Rolls Royce” solution is often chosen by IT because it is what most are taught at colleges and universities. Maybe we should introduce a topic «cost effective solutions»?

How to work in an open environment

The last 30 years or so have given a remarkable change in the frames around how we work in an office environments. From closed cell offices via cubicles into an open environment. From name tags on the doors into «free seating».

The response have been mixed. Some employees have sincere and well founded concerns about office noise and how this affects work. Most concerns are related to tasks where you need to be focused, without getting interrupted.

There is no doubt office noise will distract you from your work. The question is whether this is a good thing or not. According to Cisco and many other companies, this distraction leads to more collaboration, new and better ideas.

The thought is to move from a scenario where you are dependent on a few «gurus» who know everything, and all progress relies one these «gurus». In this scenario, tasks are waiting for the guru to get around to solve them. In the corporate culture with an open floor plan, more employees are able to pick a high priority task and solve it. If you are stuck on an issue, or know the solution to a challenge a coworker has, there are less barriers to work together.

The individual employee might work a bit slower, but the synergy effect of working together makes it a better working methodology then the «guru-knows-it-all». For the company – at least.

As usual, this is a trend led by the guys in Silicon Valley. Working agile, encouraging collaboration and informal work environments.

An open floor plan, “free seating“, clean desk, a paperless workflow and a agile work methodology are often interrelated. To gain the most benefit from the above, you need to embrace the new paradigm. You will need the proper utilities available. Software to assist and coordinate agile workflows. A framework for documentation, «how-to’s», and easy access to the information. Applications that lets you notes on all your devices. Take note on a phone, iPad, laptop, and it will be available on your workstation both at work and at the home office.

My 5 cents at least.

Business Storytelling

I found an interesting and educational article, which describes how to do storytelling the right way. Storytelling is a means to market, or introduce yourself as a business to potential partners or customers. By telling stories the right way, you involve the listener in a dimension they can relate to. Combined with images and video to deliver your story, it may be a powerful combination.

Storytelling is widely used when crowdfunding a project, but are also widely used, when Apple, Microsoft and other large companies run ad-campains.


Back in the day, we had “protocols” for what you were about to send over the net. A lot went P2P, a lot went to BBS, a lot went to IRC.
Then came the web, with its own use area. Namely, web pages for distribution of information, «homepages» and the likes.
After the web took off, and we got web-apps, absolutely everything should be accessed from your browser. Web 2.0.

In a way, you could say that we’re heading back to distributed services again.
The number of apps on smartphones have increased exponentially. More and more of the communication is happening in dedicated channels.
More and more of our content is being consumed on pads and phones, and in a less degree on traditional PCs. With the introduction of smart watches, I wonder how we will use our watches in two years.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the same degree of standardisation as before.
It is interesting to follow the progress. I note that we can see an expanded degree of commersialization of services, most of wich is ad-funded.
In many cases, you end up being the product by using ad-funded services, even if that isn’t necessarily always the case.

Relevant: Snapchat embeds news-sources. They also try out mobile payments. Will apps challenge traditional lines of business?

Should companies depreciate email?

Todays post is about electronic mail. It occurred to me, that I might be writing to the generation 40+. Everyone from 13-30s think they have it all figured out, especially in regards to computers.

Lots of companies depreciate the use of email. An argument I’ve heard often is: «But, the young generation today doesn’t use email, they use the hippest social media tool around!». Another argument is: «our employees spend too much time reading, sorting and answering mail».

Well, I like email. For me it is all about using the right tool for the job. I won’t use email for collaborating on a document, we have file repositories for that. I wouldn’t use it for marketing, as we have social media for this. On the other hand, email is a very versatile tool. It is widespread, and although it has its flaws, email is used by everyone and every company.

We do spend a lot of time organizing and answering e-mails. In my opinion it is because it has become a part of how we communicate at work. Email will not die for a very long time. The key is knowing when to send a mail, and when not to. Read through your email before you send it (link in norwegian). Lastly, use automated email sorting rules, and sort your inbox. In my opinion, the inbox should have less then 20 emails. The rest is sorted into folders.

I might be old and dull in the sense that I often prefer email communication. I do have my own blog, and I even use IRC from time to time. Yes, IRC, you know the old chat protocol one could use, which didn’t involve in sending all your personal information to third party advertisers.

Note, I do use social sites when I’m off work. Mostly, to keep up with companies I like. For example, I follow Tim Wendelboe (coffee roaster), and lots of artists, so I get the news on what’s up. By the way, Guy Kawasaki has written a book (excerpt in link) for reaching those hip-young-curling-generation, and not to seem clueless on social sites.

Visionary leading

So, you have some sort of responsibility. It may be work related, voluntary or maybe you plan on taking more responsibility in your own life.

How do you make sure that you have momentum, and a direction according to where you want to go?

Lets consider this: You lead a team of motivated people. You want to make sure the team is getting somewhere.

Get a vision
So what do you do? You need a vision, a higher goal. Point of having a vision, is to say “this is the direction we are heading».

Examples of vision for a team might be: «We are going to be the leading sales team for this company in this specific area». For a personal vision «I am going to become a distinguished doctor».

There is a whole lot to say about this point alone, and theres a lot of articles on the web about how to form a vision, my advise is thus, to start with a dream and build a vision.

Since a higher goal often is quite abstract, you want to break your vision into parts. I call them targets.

Set measurable targets
So, break your vision into measurable targets. You want to measure the momentum and direction of your team. Are we delivering accordingly to our vision?

If you would like to use a business term, it will be similar to a «Key Performance Indicator».

Some measurable targets for your sales team may be «the amount of sales this period versus last period» and «the increase in sales relative to the other top performing sales teams»

Set actions
Actions are where we lose the abstract ideas and get concrete. Specify what you need to do to be able to get to those targets. This is where you brainstorm and get input from other sources. Make sure to get input from people who have come further than you.

My point for today
If you fail at setting a vision or a course, you are probably heading for a mediocre result. It will be harder to know how to measure success. In my opinion this applies especially when you are leading a team, a department, or the likes, but these things are also of worth in what you want to achieve in your personal life.