Category: Uncategorized

The REAL Battle Of Mobile Bay

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia… Enjoy ;-)
Battle of Mobile Bay
Part of the American Civil War
Bataille de la baie de Mobile par Louis Prang (1824-1909).jpg
Battle of Mobile Bay, by Louis Prang.
Date August 2, 1864–August 23, 1864
Location Mobile Bay, Alabama
Result Union victory
United States United States (Union) Confederate States of America CSA (Confederacy)
Commanders and leaders
David Farragut (Navy)
United States Gordon Granger (Army)
Confederate States of America Franklin Buchanan (Navy)
Confederate States of America Richard L. Page (Army)
12 wooden ships
2 gunboats
4 ironclad monitors
5,500 men
3 gunboats
1 ironclad
1,500 men
1,000 Samsung Galaxy Note 7‘s
Casualties and losses
151 killed
177 wounded
1 ironclad sunk
13 killed
22 wounded
1,587 captured
1 gunboat captured
1 gunboat destroyed
1 ironclad captured


The Battle of Mobile Bay of August 5, 1864 was an engagement of the American Civil War in which a Federal fleet commanded by Rear Admiral David G. Farragut, assisted by a contingent of soldiers, attacked a smaller Confederate fleet led by Admiral Franklin Buchanan and three forts that guarded the entrance to Mobile Bay that was a central Confederate storage area for their mobile phones which were essential for communication amongst the Confederate forces.

The battle was marked by Farragut’s seemingly rash but successful run through a minefield that had just claimed one of his Stainless Steel, Single Block monitors, built with the help of the British genius Sir Jonathan Ive, enabling his fleet to get beyond the range of the shore-based guns. This was followed by a reduction of the Confederate fleet to a single vessel, ironclad CSS Tennessee.

css tennessee engages the unionTennessee did not then retire, but engaged the entire Northern fleet. Tennessees armor enabled her to inflict more injury than she received, but she could not overcome the imbalance in numbers and the Samsung Galaxy Note 7‘s which were being lobbed on to her deck. She was eventually reduced to a motionless hulk and surrendered, ending the battle. With no Navy to support them, the three forts also surrendered within days. Complete control of lower Mobile Bay thus passed to the Union forces.

Mobile had been the last important port on the Gulf of Mexico east of the Mississippi River remaining in Confederate possession with a supply of Mobile Phones – mainly Apple, with some of the more recently introduced Google Pixel phones, so its closure was the final step in completing the blockade in that region and severely reducing the Confederates capability to communicate.

This Union victory, together with the capture of Atlanta, was extensively covered by Union newspapers and was a significant boost for Abraham Lincoln’s bid for re-election three months after the battle.

Tennessee being bombarded by Samsung Galaxy Note 7‘s

This lead to one of Lincoln’s most memorable quotes:

“I Destroy my Enemies when I make them Friends, and give them a Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Abraham Lincoln Galaxy Note 7

Abraham Lincoln posing with a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 which he fondly remembered as “The Union Buster” after the Battle Of Mobile Bay.


Back in Australia


WOW! I just realised that it’s been a year since I did a blog post. I knew it had been a while, but I figured around 6 months max… Well, I suppose I needed it, and the good news is that I’M BACK!

I’m not going to go in to what has transpired over the past year since an agile adoption, as it’s quite involved and will come out in some successive posts, but will focus on where I am now and what my Posting Plans are.

Near the end of last year we started planning a return to Australia after almost a decade in the UK – what a BLAST! So many lovely experiences, people, places and new friends :-) Eventually though, it was time to return to Australia as it really is my home and although I may have a few gripes about it, Australia really is an amazing place and as the old cliche goes: I now really appreciate how lucky I am to live in this country after being away so long. That shot above is from my local beach which is 3 mins drive, and I can get in to the city (in the distance) in around 1/2h with a walk and public transport – that’s a pretty good lifestyle.

So what’s in the pipe? A much more varied mix than when I started out doing just “software stuff”:

  • Reflections on life in the UK and Europe
  • Observations on life in Australia now I’m back
  • Reviews of gadgets
  • Travelogues as I explore my own country – now I’ve probably seen more of Europe than I have of Australia, so it’s time to correct that
  • Process  – yes, I’m still on the agile path
  • Architecture – looks like that will be my primary area of work still
  • Software – which I’m gradually getting back in to, with the current focus being Clojure
  • Probably the odd bit of music or photography to round things out
  • Anything else anyone would like me to write about…


Skramjet – Cognitive Bias

Most people are probably familiar with Cognitive Biases, the things that can wreak havoc on people, relationships, teams, organisations – really anything where people are involved. If you’re not, you may want to read Cognitive Science: An Introduction/Biases and Reasoning Heuristics. To summarise and refresh your memory, here’s the list from that article*:

  • Framing: Viewing a need in the real world as a “problem” you can work on solving Mistaking your view of the problem for the real need.
  • Anchoring & Adjustment: Assuming a starting point and thinking about adjustments from there
  • Status Quo: “Business as Usual”, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”
  • Sunk Cost: Treating the resources already spent on one alternative as an estimate of the resources you’ll have to spend all over again to start a new one
  • Confirmation: If you’re leaning towards an action, see if you can prove it’s a good one
  • Cognitive Overconfidence: Decisiveness & Refuseal to be haunted by doubt
  • Prudent Estimation: “Conservative Estimates”
  • Risk Aversion: “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. Avoid probability of ruin
  • Selective Perception: Knowing what you’re looking for
  • Recallability (’’availability’’): If an idea doesn’t fit in with the obvious data, it’s surely suspect
  • Guessing at Patterns: Quickly spotting the trend or the big picture
  • Representativeness: “If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck”
  • Most likely Scenario: Avoids wasting time on possibilities that probably won’t happen
  • Optimism: Go for the gold!
  • Pessimism: Avoid unpleasant surprises

It’s pretty easy to see how we all, personally and organisationally can fall in to these traps at varying degrees and frequency. I’d add one more, which I think is often a risk on software:

  • Least likely Scenario: Obsesses over a scenario which is highly unlikely and probably won’t matter anyway

which is a tricky one. Part of our job is to explore the realm of exceptions in IT as anyone can design a system that works for “the happy path”. The real skill is designing a system that is “robust” and can withstand unusual paths. This is not the same as exploring every scenario, no matter how unlikely. A robust system should be able to handle error paths that no-one has even considered. To me, that’s where real Architecture and Design come in, but that’s a whole other post.

Back to the Skramjet context, I think it’s obvious that you need to be aware of (and hopefully correct) your own cognitive biases, but I’d add that the team also needs to be aware of it’s and the organisations cognitive biases. As people, with sufficient motivation we can change quite quickly, for organisations this is more difficult because of the “momentum” and the “Status Quo” bias that seems to exist in most organisations, even more “progressive” ones. This is not an easy path and to tread and to do this we need some heroes, so dust off your cape for the next post ;-)

* with a bit og googling you can find even more comprehensive list! Personally, I think these are enough for most activities

Don’t Spy on Us!

2 Crypto KeysIt’s the end of the day here, and what a day it’s been with 3 causes, 2 manifestos and so many hashtags I lost count! ;-) Organised chaos springs to mind… But it’s been worth it. I’ve done my best to spread the word and went to my first CryptoParty (and Unconference :) at English PEN, which I just thought I’d briefly recap. The function was at their offices in London which were probably a bit small for the event even though there was a small lecture theatre space included.

EncryptionLuckily as the numbers were limited it wasn’t too crowded,  just very comfy. The mix was interesting – a few business people, some good hackers, information & freedom people, quite a few IT people (like me :) and just many who were interested and wanted to find out more. There was certainly a wide range of topics covered (in no particular order):

  • Secure SMS
  • Smart Phone Security
  • Secure Storage
  • Encrypting Mail
  • Safe Web Browsing
  • Why Bother? I have nothing to hide…
  • A Secure OS – Qubes OS
  • How Google and Facebook make money from you
  • PGP
  • Politics
  • TruCrypt (the software Snowden et al use)

nsa Utah Data Centre

In all, I’d say a Total Success! I was able to chat with many people and my wife was educated on many issues, some of which I’d talked about. The great thing was that it wasn’t just me blabbering on and there were some interesting freedom and rights perspectives that were also given.

Big Brother Is NOT Watching YouFor me, it was great to meet others of like mind, that simply want to be able to express themselves freely and without fear of any consequences now and in the future.

One of the key messages was that privacy should be the default (ah – remember the good ‘ol days ;) and that we should politically move towards this.

In the mean time however, we need to implement “stop gap measures” that increase peoples privacy by encrypted communication, storage and working. This has given me some focus for my contribution.

I’d planned on leaving Google this year anyway and blog about it. I can now see that I actually have a greater need to reclaim my privacy, and I’ll be blogging about that also. I can’t wait to see what happens on next years The Day We Fight Back, Necessary and Proportionate, to Stop The NSA, and Stop Spying on US! Or as I’d like to call it – Information Freedom Day :-)

Mathematica – coming to an iPad near you in Wolfram Calculator!

It’s not often you stumble across something that people don’t already know about on the net, but I think I’ve done it! I was doing my n-monthly “Mathematica iPad” search (which I’ve been doing for years!) when I stumbled across the this Stack Exchange discussion: Mathematica and the iPod or iPad [closed] where a link to a very interesting video (above) is given

I almost didn’t watch it as I thought “just another overpriced Wolfram iPad product (e.g. US$50 for the Wolfram Alpha App???), but something made me keep watching and at 13:44 – BLAM!

Wolfram Calculator : Mathematica

So what’s the big deal?

Plot[Evaluate[D[func, respect]], {respect, -3, 1}.., PlotRange->Automatic]

is Mathematica Code!!! Or the “Wolfram Language” as Stephen Wolfram has so humbly named it ;-) That’s right – somewhere in the upcoming (they’re saying Q1, 2014) Wolfram Calculator is the Mathematica Kernel and Language. This is pretty significant in a number of ways:

  • It’s a great differentiator (no pun intended ;) for their calculator which will make it unique and beyond the reach of anyone else on the iPad within the foreseeable future – hopefully they’ll only charge US$50 or less though as any more and people probably won’t buy it.
  • It’s getting a subset (kernel/core) of Mathematica on to the iPad, which is an incremental step to the inevitable:
  • Prediction>>> Mathematica on iPad! Given the fact that Mathematica will be free with Raspberry Pi’s I’d be surprised if we don’t have Mathematica on iPad by the end of next year (2014) – hopefully it too will be reasonably priced, especially if you have existing Mathematica licenses

Lean Kanban UK – Day 2

These second day of the conference ended up being just as amazing as the first, building nicely on it. As I’m doing this on an iPad I can’t link to the other posts, but they’re just below

Models, Maps, Measures & Mysteries

A great intro to how someone used Kanban in their organisation, warts and all with both cards and JIRA! Most of the common models and measures were covered with some great bits of advice like setting the WIP limit low on areas where you shouldn’t be doing too much so you get early indication if your system is putting too much work in to them.

What is the value of Social Capital?

Looks at Knowledge work on the assumption that humans are _not_ rational, which is not the assumption of many approaches. In this new and realistic light it is shown that the main value is not so much even the people, but the _relationships_ between the people. Mentions a whole interesting area called Social Capital Theory which seems worthy look.

Shortest Possible Kanban Definition

Andy starts off with the conventional definitions, principles and methods in Kanban and strips them to the core, so you can even tweet them!

Change your viewpoint (lean flow paradigm):
See work as flow
Change your mindset (foundational principles):
Start from here and improve
Change your process continually (core practices):
Make work and policies visible; make validated improvements

Beyond Agile

This was the Big Ticket presentation of the conference from Jim Benson about his new book, of the same name. I think it was a great summary of where “The Leading Edge of the Post Agile (Lean/,Kanban?) Industry” is. It was certainly good enough to buy the book straight after ;-) For me, the takeaway quote was
“There is no recipie for success. There is a recipe for not likely failing”

Red Brick Cancer

What can I say? Hakan Foss, Lego – a winning combination. Hakan is a brilliant presenter and educator and for me personally, this was probably the best session for me personally as it consolidated so much of what I’d learnt during the conference.

Cycle Time Analytics

This would of been better in it’s (originally) earlier slot as it was a quite dense and demanding presentation on forecasting (estimation+probability) for work by an absolutely brilliant Aussie :), Troy who brings a rigorous, mathematical and evidence-based approach to what is so often a “black (box) art”.

There were some great drinks after the conference and I may do a quick entry on these a bit later… Overall, I must say that Lean Kanban UK was an amazing conference – perfect if you’re a newbie or early in your journey of these methodologies as it will provide a boost to your existing experience &| learning,

Cycle Time Analytics


  • Cycle time analytics
    • Models change nature of discussion
      • Based on numbers
    • Scrum / Kanban don’t go to Cone of Uncertainty
      • As uncertainty is reset at the end of each “sprint”
    • What about no historical data
      • Weibull distribution
      • Just use min & max cycle times
      • Has been within 7%
    • Book: How to measure anything
    • Book: The Principles of Product Development Flow
    • LeanKit has this in it
    • Using monte-Carlo simulation on measured cycle time and WIP
    • Create simple model to run simulations to perform forecast
      • Can give you a basis for diagnosis
    • Central limit theory
    • Book: The Flaw of Averages
    • Forecast
      • Estimate
        • Within a stated uncertainty
    • Estimate or #NoEstimate
      • 70% chance you need to forecast