Ulterior Motive Lounge Episode 1: Friday Night in Ulterior Motive Lounge

Beginning a slightly twisted introduction to the Unified Modeling Language… (Click the image for a larger version.)

Episode 1

Inspired by these YouTube videos:

Also an old Warner Brothers cartoon I can’t find right now.

Further inspiration from Scott Adams, Jolly R. Blackburn, and Chris Muir for convincing me that limited art skills are no barrier to telling graphic stories.

Thanks to Bruce Willis for the porkpie hat.

Project metrics they never taught you in Project Manager training

Project management involves lots of metrics: data you gather, measure, and analyze to assess and predict the state of your project. But I find some of the most useful project metrics are often overlooked. Here are a few to add to your toolbox.

WSR (Work-to-Sleep Ratio)

This is a measure of how likely your team members are to make mistakes at crucial moments. If their WSR for the week is 1 or less, they’re probably bored. 1.25 or even 1.5 are signs of a team moving at a good pace. Higher than that, though, can be a problem. 2 is about the limit for a typical team member, and they probably can’t keep that up. Rare individuals can maintain a WSR of 3 for a time.
At one point last year, my WSR was 7.5. That’s just not good.

DODO (Days On per Day Off)

Often correlates with the WSR, and serves as another measure for the likelihood of mistakes. 2.5 is a normal work week; but honestly, how many of you work normal work weeks? 6 is a common work week for projects in a crunch. A monthly average of 13 or more is a sign that your team members may soon be tied up in family counseling or divorce court.

HBT (Handbasket Temperature)

“It’s getting kinda warm in this handbasket. I wonder where we’re going in it?” Although this can be hard to measure, your team members probably have opinions on what the HBT is. If they all think it’s getting hot, maybe you need to ask where your project’s going.

GALB (Going-Away-Lunch Budget)

Every team has transitions. That’s normal. But watch your budget for going-away lunches. If it starts to grow, that’s because the rats are deserting the sinking shipthe team members find other opportunities more appealing.

Related to this is GAAB: the Going-Away-Alcohol Budget. If your team has some drinks at the going-away lunch, that could simply be because it gives them an excuse to drink during the day. But if the bar bill starts to exceed the food bill, it’s probably because the ones who haven’t found escape hatchesnew opportunities yet are drowning their sorrowscelebrating the good fortune of their former coworkers.

Dilbert Barometer

Credit for this one goes to Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert. (Well, OK, he’ll take cash or check, too.)

As Mr. Adams explained in an email I lost sometime last century, the Dilbert Barometer is a rather non-linear scale, where both extremes are bad.

If the programmers are papering their cubicles with old Dilbert strips, that’s a sign that they’re troubled. Even worse is when they don’t just put up any old strips, only selected strips that happen to reflect what’s going on in your organization. That means they’re making judgments and a statement about the pointy-haired bosses at your company. (At one time, three walls of my cubicle at one job were Dilbert strips from top to bottom.)

But if there are no Dilbert strips anywhere, that means your organization is a rigid, humorless police state. All the people with talent and ambition (and humor) will leave. All that will be left will be those who have Abandoned All Hope. And since hope is the primary energy source for many projects, that’s not a good thing.

A healthy Dilbert Barometer measures somewhere from one to ten Dilbert strips per team member. (Mr. Adams would be glad to sell them to you.) It’s also healthy if the team members have scratched out the names in the strips and written in the names of their coworkers. That shows your team knows how to laugh. And that leads us to…

The Laugh Meter

Productive, successful teams are happy. They form a bond of shared experiences. They take time out to share ideas. They laugh.

Worried, stressed teams are unhappy. Their humor ranges from grim to none. They only talk about work, and mostly about problems. If you don’t hear a few good laughs in a typical work day, your people have lost the energy they’ll need to get through the project.

On the other hand, if your people giggle uncontrollably with little or no provocation, check their WSR. When it gets up to 3 or so, uncontrollable fits of laughter are a common symptom.

The 21st Century Cocktail Napkin presentation is now available on-line!

The 21st Century Cocktail Napkin is a talk I presented to the Ann Arbor .NET Developers group on June 14. It’s an example of a smart cocktail napkin application built using the Tablet PC API. In a a smart cocktail napkin application, you draw shapes as part of some design you’ll share with other readers; but as you draw, the Tablet PC also recognizes and understands what you draw, and creates information behind the drawing.

Now, thanks to Camtasia Studio, I have a recording of this presentation. And thanks to YouTube, I can now present it to you on-line:

The Ink in 60 Seconds presentation is now available on-line!

Ink in 60 Seconds! is a talk I have presented to a number of user groups (some courtesy of INETA). It consists of a number of small little demos of Tablet PC programming, most written in 60 seconds or less.

Now, thanks to Camtasia Studio, I have a recording of this presentation from the Ann Arbor .NET Developers group on June 14, 2006. And thanks to YouTube, I can now present it to you on-line here. And you can also download a ZIP file of the slides and a cleaned-up version of the sample code.

One part of the video may need explanation. Part of the fun of this talk is the deadline: can I write that code in 60 seconds? And if not, I expect the audience to heckle and laugh. But just in case they need encouragement, I wrote a little tool called Egg Timer. When I launch it, it starts a 60-second clock; and if I don’t stop it before the clock elapses, it will heckle me. So if you hear a strange computer voice at spots in the video, it means I ran out of time.

And for those who are curious: yes, my car is much better now.

Look for more recorded presentations soon!

Here’s an attempt to embed the video in this post: