Trust, transparency and Toyota

A recent article in The Economist [1] ascribed some of the economic and social success of the Nordic countries to a high level of trust. In the period of large-scale emigration of Swedes to America, they came to be known as “dumb Swedes” in the new country because their high level of trust in people. Today the descendants of these dumb Swedes still have higher that average trust in their fellow citizens Continue Reading

What’s science?

A PhD course I took way back was about defining what science was. We read about Popper, Kuhn, Feyerabend, Lakatos and others. My lasting impression from the course was that “science” was pretty much defined as whatever the “scientific community” of a particular time defined as science. I use a rather more practical definition: Science is whatever helps us to predict the outcome of experiments or the natural unfolding of events. Science Continue Reading

Product, not project – part 2

Something caught my eye yesterday when I helped my son to get started with Code::Blocks, a light-weight integrated software development environment (IDE): in all IDEs that I’ve worked with lately (Eclipse, Visual Studio and Code::Blocks) the collection of source code and other files is collective called “project”. This may seem like an unimportant little observation but again I believe that using the right term is important for people’s mental models of what’s Continue Reading

Managing products

In an earlier post I wrote about the difference between a project and a product. This distinction may seem obvious for some but considering the number of times I’ve found myself discussing its implications I’ve come to the conclusion that it may not be all that obvious. Many traditional development process descriptions start with a requirements specification of some kind and then go on describing the creation of the rest of the Continue Reading

A drive for life

I just ordered my first SSD disk. The manufacturer claims an MTBF of 1 000 000 hours which translates to a whopping 114 years. Since I’ve already passed the big five-o it should last for as long as I live even if I keep the computer humming 24/7 (the only challenge is to avoid cluttering it full of stuff).

To boldly go where no man has gone before

A few years back I had the opportunity to listen to a presentation by the project manager for the second Mars rover missions launched in 2004, Prof. G. Scott Hubbard. It was an inspiring speech about an impressive engineering achievement; one of the rovers is still operational after more than eight years in an extreme environment. (Unfortunately I had to pinch myself from time to time to stay awake during the speech. Continue Reading

Cramming vs creativity

In an earlier post I reported on the downward trend in the Swedish PISA results [1] (PISA is a survey measuring student knowledge and skills) and contrasted these with the overall competitiveness and innovativeness of Sweden. In a recent issue of The Economist [2] the prime minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, is reported to recommend parents to let their children play instead of doing too much homework based on a fear Continue Reading

How can we save the elves?

Having read Sam Harris book Free Will I feel like returning just a little bit to that very topic. I wrote a few posts about it back in 2008, posts that go along the same lines as Mr. Harris. Seems like I wasn’t alone holding those particular views but as I mentioned earlier, he beat me to the publisher. The more I think about the question “do we have free will?” the Continue Reading

The return of the slow blogger – maybe

My last post here was from around three years ago. I have already admitted to being a slow blogger but three years is perhaps stretching even that epithet a bit. My fingers are itching to write about something more general than the video stuff and the quality management stuff that my other blogs are about. Facebook is mostly too superficial for the kind of writing that I’m thinking about. I can’t come Continue Reading

The difference between “document-based” and “model-based”

Many of the posts on this blog is about “model-based engineering”, particularly in the context of software and system development. Model-based is often compared to the “old” document-based way of doing things, i.e. when specifications and other descriptions come in the form of documents instead of models. So what is the difference between “document-based” and “model-based” engineering? Strictly speaking there doesn’t need to be any difference at all since models are always Continue Reading