Archive for January, 2007

Continuously mowing better at Toyota

Toyota turned into a lawn mower 

In a fine article on “The Toyota way”, Howard Artrip, a Toyota manager in the assembly area examplifies his habit of constant improvement:

“When I’m mowing the grass, I’m thinking about the best way to do it. I’m trying different turns to see if I can do it faster.”

This constant drive to do things better and smarter is what distinguishes the best workers at the best companies.

Constant improvement is what happens when being on level 5 of CMMI.  Reaching level 5 means you must pass levels 2, 3 and 4. For all of these levels CMMI sets specific goals, and that seems to differ from the Toyota way.

As John Shook (“a widely regarded consultant on how to use Toyota’s ideas at other companies”) states in the article, “… Managers keep trying to make their management objectives. They’re moving forward, they’re improving, and they’re looking for a plateau. As long as you’re looking for that plateau,it seems like a constant struggle. It’s difficult. If you’re looking for a plateau, you’re going to be frustrated. There is no ‘solution.'”

“Once you realize that it’s the process itself–that you’re not seeking a plateau–you can relax. Doing the task and doing the task better become one and the same thing,” Shook says. “This is what it means to come to work.”


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Hugging a Lion …

Lion Hug


A nice video of a great big Lion hugging a woman .

Julia Torres, who runs the Villa Lorena animal shelter in Cali, fed and nursed Jupiter the African lion back to health years ago after it was found abused and emaciated in a traveling circus.

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Blog-tagged – truth or dare for bloggers

There is a game of Blog-tagging going on, which works like a kind of chain-letter.

The idea is that the person (owning a blog) that gets tagged, shares five little-known facts about him or herself and tagges five other persons (owners of blogs).

I got tagged by former collegues Raimond Brookman, who shared five secrets of which I new three (he’s tall, plays squash and loves meat) and Jeroen Leenarts (of which I knew about the Apple, but was surprised about the alcohol).

So here are my five little known facts:

1. At the age of 18, I was homeless for two months in Utrecht, Netherlands. In that period I slept in a shopping centre and in the weekends worked in a bar that opened at 01:00 and close at 06:00. 

2. One of the jobs I had before entering Computer Science was wedding photographer.

3. I ordered a new car, a Ford S-Max.

4. I’m married with Betty, have three daughters (Lieke 16,Ellen 14, Manon 12) and a dog (Sieta)

5. Harry is my usual name, but my original name is Harm, and I’m having my aniversary on Christmas Day.

I would like to blog-tag the following bloggers:

1. Scott Sehlhorst 

2. Marcus Ting-A-Kee

3. Micahel Hunter (The Braidy Tester)

4. Stephan Okhuijsen

5. Dilbert

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Security in Use Cases

Many efforts are being made to integrate security into software and software development. I lately read several interesting posts about the subject, two of them from Gunnar Peterson

Gunnar Peterson

In an IEEE Security & Privacy Journal he co-wrote an article on Misuse Cases with John Steven on Defining Misuse in the Development Process.

Here’s in short what is the core idea:

Use Cases vs Misuse Cases

I remembered having seen the idea before, as Richard Claassens, a former collegue and Architect at InfoSupport showed some examples that came from the original ideas behind Misuse Cases came from Guttorm Sindre and Andreas Opdahl.

Here’s a nice example:

Misuse Case diagram

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Early overtime == later project completion

Crossing the desertJohanna Rothman wrote about avoiding the “Crossing the desert syndrome” some years ago.

“A project team focuses on an interim milestone, works like the devil to meet that milestone. They meet the milestone, look up, and realize they’re not at the end of the project–they still have to finish the darn thing. They’re living the Crossing the Desert syndrome”

Recently she gave advice on how to recover from the syndrome.

At Tyner Blain, Scott gives advice on how to prevent from hitting the syndrome: 

  • Improved estimation of tasks
  • Realistic effort allocation
  • Writing verifiable requirements
  • Managing smaller work chunks
  • Feedback into the estimation cycle
  • Better communication of release content

As I read his advice I thought: “yes I agree that’s good advice, but somehow good advice is seldomly followed”.

 BTW: Patrick van Lee, a relative from my wife,  rides the Dakar race on an Aprilia motorbike

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Outsourcing: from assembly line to extended team


Recently I became interested in outsourcing. Partly because we addressed the subject in reaching CMMI level 2, partly because I recently read the book “The World is Flat” in which “Thomas L. Friedman believes the world is flat in the sense that the competitive playing fields between industrial and emerging market countries are leveling. Friedman recounts many examples in which companies in India and China are becoming part of large global complex supply chains that extend across oceans …” (from Wikipedia).

In Managing outsourced teams. Balancing innovation with predictability. two different approaches to create a remote engineering organization:

  • Assembly line (requirements are sent overseas to be built there as specified; prerequisite is that the requirements are really good and stable)
  • Extended team (requirements are sent overseas and interpreted, a design or prototype will be created overseas and approved by the main office, emphasizing on collaboration).

Based on their experience the authors suggest that the best way to go about this problem is to start on the Assembly line “mode” and to transition to the “Extended team” mode as soon as you feel comfortable to do so.

hidden costsI think that’s a sound suggestion! Beware that on both approaches, there are lots of hidden costs when outsourcing.  

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Visual Studio 2005: See the difference

Microsoft took some effort to promote Visual Studio 2005.

Take a look at the 400+ differences, like:

144 Better ASP.NET Source Code Editing – Edit faster, eat better

195 Bug list – Automated debugging. Keeps code tidy. (one of Erno‘s favourites)

212 Operator overloading – Goodbuy struggle, Hello joy

The even made a game about spotting the differences

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