Roland Dürre
Thursday July 31st, 2008

Ethicks & Informatics

I gave a talk on Ethics and Informatics at the CeDoSIA Summer get together on July 31st 2008. It was introduced as follows:

In the 70-ies, some skeptics warned that wide-spread use of computers would make Orwell’s vision come true. Now we have reached the turning point from the auto-mobile to the i-mobile era. IT and computer science have become the dominant social influences. Our future will depend on whether the architects of the new era – the computer scientists – can practice ethical behavior

My talk continued as follows!

Let me start with words by Bertrand Russell, a British philosopher, mathematician and logician:

All growth in technology,

if it is to increase human happiness,

requires a corresponding increase in wisdom!

I first heard this beautiful quotation at a talk by Prof. Dr. Christoph Wamser of the Institute for Management and Technology at DGMF. I am pleased to repeat them. Bertrand Russell was one of our idols in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

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Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Tuesday July 29th, 2008

Planes for the Desert

Early in 2008 I cruised with dear friends in the MS Europa from CAIRNS Australia to MANILA Philippine. That was before I gave up flying. I flew with Quantas and Jetstar Airline to CAIRNS from Frankfurt via Singapore and Darwin for an amazing 750 EURO. It was “third class”, which was particularly clear with Jetstar. Back from Manila to Munich via Abu Dhabi cost an equally amazing 700 EURO with Etihad in business class!

I did not know Etihad, but my daughter Sabine, an expert (among other things) in matters of tourism told me that it was an airline similar to Emirates so I need not worry. My friends who booked a bit sooner only paid 650 EURO for business class. And business class was very luxurious, only the stewardesses were a bit like zombies. But I just wanted to lie down and try to sleep. I can well do without all the techno extras. I keep asking myself why long-distance flights don’t have bunks like on overnight trains. It would be cheaper and with a bit of thought could surely pack passengers in as well as with seats.

In July I read in the Süddeutsche-Zeitung, that Etihad on the first day of the Farnborough Air Show had ordered forty-five Boeing 777 and 787 machines (with options for another fifty), and wanted to buy ten A380, twenty A350-1000 and twenty-five A320 from Airbus. Etihad reported a loss for the year roughly equal to one day’s Abu Dhabi oil income. Abu Dhabi plans to invest some 200,000 million dollars in the next few years, “in order to become independent of oil”. I ask myself how the construction of an airline contributes towards independence from oil.

In July 2008 I also read the following press release:

“IEA-Director Tanaka does not believe in a real oil-price reduction. There may be a slight drop in the next two years due to increased production. But after that production will fall, and demand from development countries will increase.”

This prediction seems to me very realistic. Luckily Abu Dhabi has enough desert to park the planes that can then hardly be used. Perhaps there will be enough room for the US-army tanker planes that will presumably come from Boeing as a result of the second round of tendering.

RMD

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Edwin Ederle
Sunday July 27th, 2008

(Deutsch) Brauche ich Office?

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Time and again, Wolf Geldmacher (my friend of many years and partner from Switzerland – we co-founded InterFace Connection GmbH, the predecessor of InterFace AG) and I have wondered about the secret of successful enterprises. Last weekend, we had another opportunity to talk.

What are the requirements for and what can you do for an enterprise to develop successfully and securely? What is useful, necessary, or even sufficient to guarantee success? This is a really hard question!

On the other hand, maybe it is quite simple:

  • We observe the surrounding elements of an enterprise and take any changes seriously.
  • We use all our stake-holders’ knowledge, in particular that of our employees, clients and partners.
  • We follow the market dynamics.
  • We try to act prudently in all situations.
  • We always remain true to ourselves and our enterprise!

In other words:

We consider an enterprise an organism which wants to be left to develop by itself. As managers, we have a special responsibility, and thanks to our managerial freedom, we probably even have special means for nurturing the company’s development.

Consequently:

A successful enterprise should be a market driven venue where all people working therein can unfold their potential.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? And yet, it is a daily challenge!

RMD

Roland Dürre
Wednesday July 23rd, 2008

(Deutsch) Internet Autobiographie RMD :-)

Edwin Ederle
Monday July 21st, 2008

Prototypes beat concepts

Prototypes beat Concepts!

The “concepts” posting reminds me of a question that I have asked myself for quite some time: Why doesn’t the software industry believe in prototypes? A new car model is initially built in plasticine. Later hand-crafted prototypes costing millions are produced before serial production starts. I have seen wooden mock-ups of Airbus fuselage sections. But the software industry produces rough concepts, detailed concepts, data models, and. specifications. Then they spend months programming according to the specification sheets. It’s easy to outsource this task – even to India. I am not surprised that the outcome is often unusable.

It’s not necessary to go as far as suggested in the FSC posting, (allowing a complete unsuccessful attempt), although this sounds perfectly sensible and pretty tempting. I like the idea of building a prototype using tools (such as Excel and Access), that allow faster more economical programming. Of course this prototype will lack some important functionality (Multi-user capability, security, processing of mass-data, speed, …), but the wooden model of Airbus doesn’t fly either. The prototype can be used to develop, test and refine algorithms, user-interfaces, workflows, reports, etc. and the costs of making mistakes or having to redesign some part would be much less. Often when reading specification sheets the end user cannot imagine how the final product will “feel”.

The prototype can then serve as a “live” specification, but not as anything else. And this is the main criticism, which I hear quite often: “This is a pure throw-away product; its development costs are wasted money”! But if a 30.000 Euro throwaway prototype improves a 700.000 Euro software project by 10%, it has paid off economically.

E2E