Sunday, March 15, 2009

Cheap Desk – Expensive Chair

I think Joel was the first I heard this sage advice from – you can live with a cheap desk, but you need an expensive chair.

Yes, I too want that really impressive desk in the corner office. But day-in and day-out what I need is a really expensive (read well designed) desk chair. What is the cost ratio of desk to chair? Where is the sweet spot? I’d really like to find this data and see a plot.

So let’s talk about the desk/chair issue, wants versus needs. I need a desk that meets my needs. At SolutionsIQ we have arrived at a desk that allows us to pair program (it is wide enough), to arrange and rearrange in minimum of time (about 2 hours max for a team of 7 – 12 people), to move a container (the desk) not items to a new container (personal items to a new cubicle), all for around $800 – $1000 per desk. It has met the needs of hundreds of developers for years now in the development bays of our office. They are not perfect (no built-in personal sound system) but they are very functional!

How about the chairs? Well they are sufficient – not the Aeron chair, I’m going to estimate the cost at $200. Sure they have up/down adjustments, some back tilt, etc. But I have to sit in those things for 6 to 10 hours a day. The longer I sit there the lower my energy levels drain, because the human body was not designed to sit, although we have adapted quite well thank you.

That’s a 5:1 ratio for desk to chair. Is that following the advice given?

At home we have a $300 TV set (hard to call it an entertainment system) and a $700 couch, where we spend a great portion of the rest of the day. A 3:7 ratio. OK, yes we have a really cheap TV, but it appears we are putting our money where our butt rest! My wife and I are discussing upgrades – to the couch not the TV! Yes, we want a flat screen/big screen but my back hurts more.

Last week James Shore talked at SolutionsIQ about the four qualities that differentiated a great team from a good team, and in the discussion of team space he gave the example of his office space. He changed it from the traditional furniture spread out around the premiter of the room to a space that was more efficient but looked kinda funny, furniture grouped into the center of the room. It was an enjoyable talk/group discussion.

Speaking about smart chairs – did you see the video of a robotic chair (from Cornell) that when it falls apart can put its self back together again?

My father builds furniture and I have a desk chair that he made, jointly designed by us in the Sam Maloof style. So I know a bit about chairs, some of it passed down the family line, some from experience.

See Also:

How the Universally Hated Cubicle came to Be by Joseph Stromberg


Linked Data – the re-invented Web

What’s the guy that invented the Web up to theses days? No, not Al Gore, he’s saving the world one climate at a time (Repower America). I’m referring to Tim.

It has only been 20 years ago that Tim Berners-Lee had this crazy idea of hyper linked documents that became a paper, then an implementation, and grew into a movement. A movement that you are involved with as you read this page. He now has another crazy idea about the underlying data of all these documents on the web. Watch his TED video where he explains Linked Data, join the movement at the grass roots level. How can we create linked data? If you think you can not because it is our clients data, not ours; then I’d ask you to re-think that, and change your paradigm. That’s what happened 20 years ago.

Here's Tim's 2010 TED talk, where he shows how quickly the community built the map for Port Au Prince after the Haiti earthquake.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Do You Put “CSM” After Your Name?

I’ve noticed a new trend—people have been gaining titles. When I was younger, only doctors had initials (like MD) after their names. I always figured that was because society held doctors, and sometime priests (OFM) in such high regard that we wanted to point out their higher learning. I hope it was to encourage others to apply themselves in school and become doctors also. Could it have been boastful?
The Wikipedia describes these “post-nominal initials”:
Post-nominal letters, also called post-nominal initials, are letters placed after the name of a person to indicate that the individual holds a position, educational degree, accreditation, office, or honor. An individual may use several different sets of post-nominal letters. The order in which these are listed after a name is based on the order of precedence and category of the order.
That’s good enough for me.
So I ask you: is the use of CSM or CSP an appropriate use of post-nominal initials?
If your not an agilista, you may wonder what CSM stands for. It’s okay, my mother had to ask, too. They stand for Certified Scrum Master; CSP means Certified Scrum Practitioner.
So, is a Certified Scrum Master or Practitioner anything like a doctor? Well, they are no time-lords, I can tell you that. Does it take years of study in the art of Scrum to be a Master? Were there boards of certification? Sure sounds like there were. How long did you study for your Scrum boards, and did you throw-up before the orals?
That reminds me of a funny story. I was about eight years old when my uncle finished his medical residency. At a big family gathering, someone asked how many years he had been in school. Well, there were the eight in elementary plus four in high school like most of us, four more of college to get a bachelor’s degree, then four years in medical school. Then came another two years for surgery and two more as a resident. Being only a few years into school myself and knowing it was only twelve years and then four years of college, I said, “Heck, he must be really dumb!”
Now that I’m older, I can understand why, after all those years he invested studying to be a doctor, my uncle uses those initials after his name. But are our societal standards slipping, or are we being a bit boastful putting CSM after our names? Really, a two-day course with no real test and you are going to claim some credential? I’ve personally declined to boast of that particular achievement, but ask me about telemark skiing; after all if it were easy, they would have called it snowboarding!
David Koontz, TELE