Confidence is a preference of the habitual voyeur of what is known as…

Recently, I’ve started asking for people’s confidence levels (from0% to 100%) of project-related events happening. And although in itsearly stages, I’ve been disappointed by the results thus far,confidence generally being way higher than the reality.

RichardFeynman beautifully exposed the flawed methodology behind riskassessment at Nasa in his role on the commission to investigate the1986 Challenger disaster. Nasa failed to realise (admit?) that if there arelots of uncorrelated bits of the Shuttle each with a near 100%probability of surviving the mission, each of which is critical toavoid disaster, then the probability of the Shuttle returning safelyto Earth can fall unacceptably short of 100%.

The realisation of risks in projects I manage has a lesser impact. But an impact nonetheless. So I intend to keep alog of all the confidence estimates I receive (column B), together with theperson whose confidence is being shared (column A) and the binary outcome of theevent in which they have confidence (column C, 1 meaning the predicted event happened, 0 meaning it didn’t). I figure that if people’sconfidence levels are true reflections of reality, then the sum of column B will equal the sum of column C. And sumifs based on people’s names will identify the optimists, realists and pessimists.

=SUMIF(A:A,"John Smith",B:B)/SUMIF(A:A,"John Smith",C:C) will give me an optimism quotient for John. I can then divide any confidence percentage I receive from him by the quotient to get a more realistic view of whether the event will happen.

3G coldspot: an update

I’ve mentioned before the existence of a 3G coldspot around Vauxhall. Here’s an update, with further data now available.

The coldspotbegins midway across Vauxhall Bridge. By midway, I mean midway.Literally. The rising half of the bridge brings with it a successfulinterface with the internet. As soon as the bus tips to descend downthe gentle slope of the western half of the bridge, the connection disappears. Entirely. I knowexactly when my last Google Reader article download can be made, and Ihave to choose it carefully, to maximise my coldspot reading pleasure. The coldspot continues up the full lengthof Millbank and St. Margaret Street, round the perimeter of ParliamentSquare, ending at the turn on to Parliament Street, at which point, the 3G warmth returns. Bloody annoying,I tell you. And here is the 3G coldspot map.

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Following Icann’s decision to allow a free-for-all of TLDs, my plan is to register http://intranet and make my millions through advertising aimed at users looking for their colleagues. Don’t tell anyone though; it’ll be our little secret.

Question time

My friend Rob is stepping into the world of psychology. It’s a bold move that he took a couple of years ago, leaving behind the world of management consulting in favour of mental stuff (stuff about the mind, that is), having spent the intervening years learning stuff at university.

Anyway, my friend Rob would like your help, and I too would like it if you would help him. It’s a survey. It’s for his dissertation. And your reward for 20 minutes’ effort is knowing that you’ve helped him. What more could you ask for?

Please click on this link to take the survey. I thank you, as indeed will Rob.

Westwood in da field

The controversy should not be over Jay-Z headlining Glastonbury. The controversy should be over the fact that Westwood is there to represent him from a reporting perspective.


Not sure why, but the strapline for the ’80s TV advert for Weetabix has entered my head recently and not found its way out. I’m quite enjoying it.

If you know what’s good for you, you do, OK! Weetabix!

What’s on the menu?

Thinking about it, the Ribbons in Excel 2007 are not that revolutionary. They’re horizontal, visual representations of what were the dropdowns that appeared from the menu bars; re-organised allegedly to be more logically grouped. For some reason, I felt that they were marketed as something more than that in the run-up to the launch of Vista and Office 2007.

It’s the re-organisation that troubles me, possibly because the grouping is still not fully logical, possibly because it’s different from the File | Edit | View | Insert | Format | Tools | Data | Window grouping of its predecessor. I read a very short article on Daily Dose of Excel recently that said nothing more than if you can’t find what you’re looking for in Excel 2007, you’ll find it on the Insert menu.

Apologies: I’m rambling, but I’m allowed given the title of the blog. (I’ve never really considered after naming the blog whether it lives up to its name. Another segue.) Basically, I still don’t quite know where to look for stuff in Excel 2007. My preconceptions are obviously still there, formed by 20 years in Lotus 1–2–3 and pre-2007 versions of Excel. But when I can’t immediately find something now, I try to ask myself “where would it logically be” and often fail to come up trumps. The Home menu doesn’t seem right to me, combining lots of formatting stuff with content movement (Copy/Cut, Paste and its various offspring, insertion and deletion of columns and rows), and sorting and filtering.

To me, it would make more sense to have a Format menu item and an Operate item, the latter to cover the likes of insertion and deletion, clearing, filling, finding, selecting. (Shit! I’ve just realised that almost nothing in the Edit sub-menu within Home has anything to do with editing. Sort, Filter, Find, Select, Sum, Fill have nothing to do with editing!) All of your filtering and sorting should be firmly in the Data menu item.

And why the fuck PivotTable/PivotChart button is under the Insert menu and not the Data menu beggars belief. (If everything inserted goes in the Insert menu, then why don’t Insert Function and Insert Row/Column join the party?)

I like the concept. However I believe there was a set of workshops held by Microsoft (some of the most important workshops in Excel’s history) in which Post-Its containing all of Excel’s functions were arranged into areas on a whiteboard. But the wrong people turned up. (I didn’t get an invite.) So the result is OK, but it’s not quite right.

As an aside, I’m wondering whether things should ever appear in more than one location. Or should everything have one and only one home?

BTW, I’ve held off on writing such a post until a month after starting to use Office 2007, to allow my opinion to mature.

Pocket rationalisation programme

The contents of my pockets are reaching mammoth proportions, and that’s not me boasting!

As I posted some time ago, summer exacerbates the issue surrounding pocket contents, as there are more things to carry with you (sunglasses) with fewer pockets across which to distribute the contents (owing to the lack of coats and the like). Of late, my pockets are asked (at various parts of the day) to support some or all of: iPod, wallet, BlackBerry, phone (a chunky MDA Vario 3), keys, loose change, sunglasses.

Having done a benefits analysis, a pocket rationalisation programme has been commissioned which aims to significantly reduce the volume of artefacts that will be supported by my pockets. The programme will include a stream to assess the number of necessary objects, one to understand the most appropriate transportation device for the objects (pocket or other), and one to assess the volume of each—there is thought to be scope for reducing the volume of both the wallet and sunglasses case. There will be an underlying change management piece aimed at instilling new ways of working in myself to avoid future Costanza-esque wallet proportions.

Our kitchenware delivery system

My daughter rarely sees the dishwasher being loaded, as most of this activity is conducted after she’s fast asleep. So she only ever sees it being emptied, something I often do with her ‘help’ at 6.30am while her breakfast is warming. Given that she only ever sees clean dishes being taken out of the machine and loaded into the relevant cupboards, maybe she thinks it’s a kitchenware delivery machine, new crockery and cutlery being delivered to the house every morning. How cool would that be?

My gain is your gain

About a week ago, I unsubscribed from the digg feed in Google Reader. The move has added immeasurable value to my life, saving me from navigating through pages and pages of tat in search of that mediocre gem of a story on my morning bus journey to work. I can instead spend the very time saved writing similarly tatty posts to contribute to the wealth of information and drivel that is the internet. Everyone’s a winner.

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