Sunday, 31 July 2011

Somebody threw away a perfectly good rebel

Ever feel down in the dumps? Literally?

I have to wonder how all that waste got there in the first place. Think about how much material could have gone into constructing the Death Star and then just consider  how much it would cost to send that material into space. How could you afford to throw all this stuff away if it can be recycled? Surely the galaxy far far away has a need to conserve materials for the war effort against the rebel scum? 

Obviously Grand Moff Tarkin is not concerned about the environment... After all, he did blow up an entire planet.

But waste is not confined to the Imperials. While most large organisations are making a conscious effort to reduce waste for both environmental and profitability motives, the message does not get through to everyone. Ever go to a meeting and get handed an agenda only to see that same agenda displayed on a projector screen throughout the meeting? What about having someone hand you an email they printed out with some comments on it? It still happens...

I'm not saying that paper no longer has a place. The current hype surrounding e-books may have you thinking that books are going the way of the scroll. We were reliably informed that offices were going paperless too... Making the best use of information regardless of the format is the goal. That means not printing material that is born digital unless you really need to and not digitising print material unless you can clearly gain something from the effort.

Fortunately the waste disposal has a door (why?) and our heroes are about to make their way out. Meanwhile Obi Wan has a business meeting with Darth Vader. 

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Norwegian tragedy
While this is a fairly light-hearted blog. we are saddened by recent events and wish those affected our sympathies. There is not much information on how we can help but the Norwegian Red Cross is a good place to start.

The Getaway

Okay, this time the actual scene from last week will be played in its entirety. No parodies... Promise.

So picking up where we left off... Searching...

Just how easy was it for Han to find the cell block containing our princess? A little too easy if you ask me. Now I can't see a screen showing the names of each cell inhabitant, can you? So just how did he do it so quickly? No doubt, we are witnessing some Hollywood magic here. Or perhaps it was just a really badly designed information system.

If I was to design a prisoner management system it would not use names at the sharp end. I would separate the name and location of captives so nobody had all the details at once. The prisoner gets a number and that is how the guards refer to them. The guards also know where the prisoner is kept  The administrators know the name and number but cannot access details on the location. Each group knows enough to manage the prisoner and no more. This is something that can be handy for managing confidential information but there are design limitations.

Speaking of which, don't get me started on the design of Death Stars, especially the garbage disposal being accessible from the cell area... Obviously, the designer had never watched an escape movie.

We will talk more about garbage and recycling next time.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Aren't you a little short for a Stormtrooper?

When everything looks alike the exceptions stand out don't they? Especially with clones. Apparently Luke fails to meet the minimum height criteria and this is the first thing Princess Leia latches onto... Seriously?

It's different with documents. What distinguishes my current project spreadsheet from all the other project spreadsheets I ever created? What about when they are sitting in the document repository with thousands of other spreadsheets. It's not as obvious as a badly fitting Stormtrooper outfit but just like Leia, knowing the differences to look out for is important.Unless it is a duplicate, each document has it's own unique identity composed of metadata. In fact even dupes will have different creation dates. This metadata can be used to filter a search so that it is quite precise.

It all sounds very scientific but typically you know 3 things about what you are looking for that when combined properly, make finding it much easier. These may be the creation date, which does not need to be exact, part of the title (assuming you gave it a decent name of course), the author or the document format as in word excel etc. Only a small selection of documents will share these combined characteristics.

So next time you google, try the advanced search and see if you can get the precise results without the noise. While you're at it, you may want to look up escape plans and handy advice for removing tracking devices from spacecraft...  

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Hiding in plain sight

Think about the last time you lost something, only to find it exactly where you left it but not where it belonged. Frustrating isn't it? Not to mention the family and friends you annoy while looking for it...

You may also probably recall the last time you hid something from someone. A present or other surprise party perhaps?  I'm certain there was a moment of fear when you were nearly discovered.

Concealment is a recurring theme in the Star Wars Saga. Luke is hidden from his father on Tatooine, along with Obi Wan Kenobi. The plans for the Death Star are hidden in R2-D2 and then we come to this week's scene when the Millennium Falcon is dragged aboard the Death Star with it's crew concealed, Trojan Horse style...

Losing track of or deliberately hiding business records has serious consequences. It is a pre-requisite for corruption or fraud. It can be costly when evidence cannot be presented in court, regardless of how that situation came to be.

You can't lose a fish in bathtub but if there are a thousand fingerlings in that bathtub, it gets more challenging to keep track of individuals. So long as they are in the bucket it is a lot more likely they won't go missing.

Compared to fingerlings, documents have unique characteristics that can be more readily searched. In a well set up records system, they are much more easily managed.  

Luke, Han and old Ben are about to cause some trouble. Don't let missing records do that to you!

Great escape time...

Sunday, 3 July 2011

It's all about backup

Spoiler Alert- If you have never watched Star Wars, Alderaan is about to have a very bad day.

A hard drive dies... There go your photos, videos or your thesis. A terrible thing. Now multiply that, not by one hundred, nor a thousand, not ten or a hundred thousand but by millions. That what the data loss for a planet looks like. In the greater scheme of things it's nothing compared to the loss of life.

This is an extreme event and perhaps we may question the point of saving anything if no one is left to use it later. I would answer yes because if there is the slightest chance that someone survives, that stored knowledge is part of their birthright.

So what happens next? Wait, that's not a moon...