Roland Dürre
Wednesday January 9th, 2019

“Business Theatre“ (Entrepreneur’s Diary #128)

On this picture, the person in uniform does not look happy at all.

I spent 18 months serving the country (in the army) and in these 18 months, I learned to drink and chill. To be sure, I also learned how to survive in a sick system.

However, these 18 months also showed me how enterprises should not be yet how they mostly are (perhaps because enterprises often follow army patterns when it comes to their organisation).

They drafted me on April, 1st, 1970 and assigned me to the air force at Lagerlechfeld. After a stop at Landsberg, my army career as “Flyer Dürre” started in Ulm on April, 5th. I ended up in a battalion that had its small barracks area at the Lower Kuhberg not far from the Centre of Ulm. The barracks had been named after the war-hero Boelcke (see Militär in Ulm).  It was an old barracks venue, some people actually believed they could still see the (removed) swastika over the entrance.

The barracks I landed in after Landsberg belonged to the training regiment of the air force. The air force was one of the three weapons categories they had in the German Armed Forces: they also had the navy and the army.


 

The organization was quite simple:
The battalion (Bataillon) consisted of three companies and a few staff positions, for instance the medical group, the vehicle service group and the supply group. The battalion commander was only a major. That indicated that our battalion did not have much military significance.

Each company had three platoons. Each company had a company commander (usually a corporal) and the master sergeant, usually in the rank of sergeant major. He was the boss of the administration, including the typists’ office and he had the operative task of organizing order, which also consisted of drawing up the guard service list.

Each platoon had a platoon commander and three units. Usually, the platoon commanders were non-commissioned officers, once in a while an ensign was among them. Each unit had its unit commander who led ten learners for three months of basic training. The unit commanders were generally rank and file.

In summary, you can say that about a hundred recruits (about 3 x 3 x 11) were facing a small group of thirteen (9 + 3 + 1) coaches. Since, basically, recruits are difficult soldiers, the group had to stick together and was often a tight-knit community.

The business model was part of the compulsory service model and also very simple:

Whenever a new quarter year began (on the first of January, April, July and October), the German conscripts had to go under weapons in hordes – they were drafted. They were put into barracks distributed all over the country. Whenever a unit had problems with one of the recruits they had been assigned (regardless of the reason), then said recruit was sent to us in Ulm. That is how I, too, ended up in Ulm.

One of the problems was that the people who came a few days later were totally different from me. In July, most of the new recruits were successful high-school graduates who had been taken out of their units because of insubordinate behaviour or because they had other problems (such as drugs). At all other times, we always had many people with social disadvantages, often they had not finished any school education. Every three months, the mixture was totally new.

Our task at Ulm was to make proper soldiers of these problem cases. They were to be turned into air-force soldiers with simple tasks such as object protection (sentry) or in typing offices (today, you would probably call it back office).

During my first home visit in my parents’ sitting room.

Three of the recruits always had to be upgraded to become future commanders of each teaching regiment. I was selected because I was the only one in my regiment who had successfully graduated from high school (most of the others had not finished school at all). They needed someone who could actually teach (civics, military ranks and structures, learning to use a weapon). This is how, after no more than three months of basic training, I became unit commander with special tasks such as teaching the regimental recruits.

Our staff unit:
The staff units were responsible for the entire battalion.

  • Medical unit
    The medical unit consisted of two doctors and a few paramedics. Besides the general health care, they were responsible for giving out sick passes and, especially problematic, for giving someone the status of “unfit for service“. Many wanted this certificate, but the ratio allowed for each battalion was rather low. Besides, everyone who had been declared unfit by our doctors had to get a second opinion. And if one of the recruits actually managed to get both documents, he was the happiest person on earth or at least on the barracks.
  • Vehicle service group
    This unit consisted of the mechanics and the drivers who serviced our vehicles (regardless of being part of the air force, we had no airplanes). They also moved the vehicles. 
The fleet had a few lorries with which the recruits were driven to the manoeuver or to shooting practice, a few accompanying vehicles, a kitchen truck and a few limousines that were used by the driving service to take the officers where they needed to go. I think we also had a bus, but it mostly sat around. As far as I know, the entire drivers’ service of the German Armed Forces (including tanks) is now outsourced.
  • Supplies
    The supply department was responsible for everything the company needed: clothes, weapons, office hardware, toilet paper. After all, a hundred new soldiers had to get their uniforms every three months. Food, however, was only organized by the supply unit (planning, procurement). The cooking was done by civil servants, of which the German Armed Forces had plenty on top of their 500,000 soldiers.

And it all worked quite well. The teachers (Ausbilder) in the three companies mostly managed to keep all the recruits alive (regardless of recurring suicide attempts). They even made tame soldiers out of them in three months. As a general rule, we delivered the soldiers to their new companies, where they then patently served their time (usually fifteen or twelve months) as sentries or office service persons for German barracks.

We always were within the limit when it came to the number of recruits who were declared unfit. Once in a while, we even discovered a talent who later went to serve at the musical unit of the air force, and the same is true for some top players that we found for the company and battalion sports teams.

We also never starved. To be sure, the quality of the food that was served to the recruits was abominable, but we of the staff were luckier than that. That was definitely something the procurement units managed very well.

So what exactly was the task of the top management?
The company commanders had a fine life and were able to focus on the important things. They often changed (as I said, the battalion had a very good reputation). The only one who stayed long was the commander, the major. He waited for his retirement money.

We occasionally saw the decorated officers when big events were scheduled (solemn oaths, final manoeuvres, celebrations). Other than that, they were not much of a hindrance to us.
But the officers were also quite industrious and diligent. The company bosses and the battalion commander often had long meetings in the battalion mess. They worked late into the night. Once in a while, higher officers from the regiment and from higher up were also among the participants. Occasionally, even a general came, which always caused a disruption in the normal barracks procedures.

And our highest bosses were often on business trips. That was when they had to leave the barracks and the officer’s mess and travel to important Armed Forces or NATO meetings. In military life, international contacts are extremely important. And since they were leaders, they had to attend numerous courses, because, as we all know, leading is not at all easy. And when they wanted to relax, they sometimes flew. After all, the airplanes of the air force had to be moved around.

There are many questions our officers had to answer:

  • How can we make sure the world remains at peace?
    Again and again, they tried to find a good reason for the existence of the German Armed Forces (and, basically, to this day, they never found one).
  • What can we do to promote the reputation of the German Armed Forces?
    That was particularly difficult in our case. Among the teaching persons – especially if they were non-commissioned – we had quite a few tough fellows. Again and again, some of them made the local news because of misconduct. But mostly, they were only mentioned anonymously. However, since we were so important when it came to taming the recruits, we had nothing to fear. 
When the German Armed Forces had huge events, the community of Ulm also was very interested.
  • How can we create a feeling of corporate identity with other units?
    I remember a visit of the Bavarian Mountain Soldiers (Gebirgsjäger) from Mittenwald. It ended quite badly. What I mean is: “some of the equipment was lost, but luckily, with the exception of a few injuries, none of the soldiers became casualties.“
  • How can we become friendly with the other NATO states?
    To me, this seemed to be a particularly important task.
  • Once in a while, they had to approve our decisions.
    Mostly, they did that without reservations. However, it always took time, which caused emotional disputes among the parties concerned.
  • Special attention was given to the athletic activities in and beyond the air force.
    For instance, every company had a soccer team and a handball team. We specifically chose and kept recruits that were a precious gain to the teams. And whenever you have one of these athletic competitions, you have reason to celebrate.

I remember a soccer match against the US Army. At the time, no American was able to play soccer, so we won by 21:1. It was the highest win I ever actively witnessed in field soccer. In fact, it turned out that the biggest challenge was how to get them to score their one counter goal. Imagine all the things you do in the name of peace among nations and brothers in arms.


 

Why do I tell you these things? Because, with the German Armed Forces, I experienced a huge stage where big military theatre was playing. However, it was no more than what I would have expected from the German Armed Forces.

After my service time, when I continued studying and working at Siemens, I also experienced business theatre. It increased all the time and that really did surprise me.

These days, I am also perplexed when I see that many small enterprises are no longer there for the people (employees and customers). With all the business theatre, there is no time left for anything else.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
Only two pictures of me were taken during the entire time I served (April, 1, 1970 until September, 30, 1971). Both of them were taken during my first visit home; the first in front of the parents’ house and the second at the dinner table.

P.S.1
For more articles in my entrepreneur’s diary, click here: Drehscheibe!

Roland Dürre
Wednesday January 2nd, 2019

2019 – My Personal Jubilee: Fifty Years of IT

 


Today: why the locomotives lost their “E” and their “V”.

After having graduated from high school, I started studying mathematics and computer science at THM (Technische Hochschule München – today: TUM Technische Universität München) in 1969. Computer science was a totally new subject and this was the first year it was taught. You could only take it as a minor subject. Consequently, I take the year 1969 as the official start of my “informatics” career and that means I can celebrate fifty years of personal digitalization.

However, this was only the official start. Because I had concerned myself with computer science a lot earlier than that. And I do not mean the time when I learned to read and write, although the invention of the written language is doubtless also an informatics topic. The written word made it possible to save ideas, stories and other content “digitally”. Consequently, it is informatics.

What I mean when I am talking my first contact with informatics happened when I read a children’s book. It was probably one of the “Famous Five” stories by Enid Blyton. It was always about some villains who eventually were caught by a group of children/adolescents. And in one of the books the villains were smugglers who communicated with their team of smugglers on an island through Morse signals.

So Morse symbols (Morse-Zeichen) were the first code I learned when I was still very young. From the informatics aspect, the Morse code is something special, because it does not have a fixed word length. These days, whenever I give a presentation about codes, I often start with this so pragmatic Morse code.

Simple control panel for three tracks and a railway station lamp.

Playing with model railways (with my Märklin model), I also learned a lot. My father designed a control panel for my model railway. It had two plywood boards, four screws and nuts from the “Stabilo set“. It also had a distributor with three exits, four electrical outlets and one lever. This must have been before 1960.

With this control panel, you could, for instance, transfer electricity to one of the three (1, 2 and 3 in separate circles) tracks at a railway station. Simultaneously, you could switch on and off the light in the station (today, they do it with IOT). There was even a glitch we used as a feature: if the levers were not precisely arranged, you even had electricity for two tracks! Of course only for 1 and 2 or 2 and 3.

My father had designed this for me because he felt that the Märklin panels were too expensive. I also only had manually worked switch points, rather than electronic ones. Well, this limited my automation drive, but nevertheless, you could do work on a few informatics gadgets.

As early as 1962, I founded a Pfiff-Club (Pfiff-Club) with some friends. We tried lots of informatics things. And we also did some true automation on a shared model. There was also a DB newspaper with exciting topics that the Club got every other month from the Deutsche Bundesbahn. It was always very eagerly anticipated.

There are several other digital things I learned from my father. He worked at the Deutsche Bundesbahn and brought the old graphic time tables (of Swabia and Bavaria) home. They were meant to be used up as note paper (also for cutting patterns for dresses to be made) – but for me, these unique drawings of train routes, along with the actual time tables, became very exciting reading material. It was absolutely informatics.

Even better were the technological DB magazines (I forgot the titles and unfortunately none of them is still available to me) my father brought home from work, I think four times each year. It was a little like “Pfiff-Club for grown-ups”. For me, it was exciting to read because it said many things about the real railway management.

It was about new railway control centres and new switch yards, and always about future technologies. About new locomotives and railway cars. In each of the magazines, you could find a particularly important topic as a highlight. I remember the opening of the as-the-crow-flies-line (that must have been around 1963), Roll-In-/Roll-Out Ferries, new sleeping compartments, the attempt at creating twin vehicles that could move both on the street and on railway tracks, new signalling and security systems and much more that definitely had an informatics background.

And in one instalment of the magazine, they celebrated the introduction of the new data processing technology at the Deutsche Bundesbahn. Let me explain:

In Germany, they used to have only state-wide railways. Some of them had their own locomotives. The Bavarian S3/6, one of which can still be admired at the Deutsches Museum, is a famous example. With the merging of the state railways to become the Deutsche Reichsbahn, there came a uniformity. The purpose of this merging had been to make the entire system more efficient through higher numbers.

Since the beginning of the railway was the steam locomotive, they noticed that the categorization would have to be between types 0 and 99. They called these types model ranges. Famous model ranges are, for instance, the 01 and the 03 (both are express train locomotives), the 10 (incidentally, that was the old Bavarian S3/6) and the 50 (a locomotive for freight trains). To the best of my knowledge, the last steam construction that actually took up work was the BR 10, but it did not work long.

With the advent of other drive systems, they put initial letters before the names. Electric locomotives received an E and the combustion motor (diesel) was given a V in front of the number. That meant the E-locomotives were now called E10 or E18 (fast train), E44 (passenger train) or E63 (switch engine) and the Diesel locomotives were now called V200 (multiple purpose locomotive) or V60 (switch locomotive). Other vehicle types were the VT (diesel railcar), the ET (electro railcar) and ETA (electro railcar with accumulator) – and more.

AND THEN THEY INVENTED DATA PROCESSING …

The species were something like CLASSES and the individual locomotives were the OBJECTS of a class. As with all huge technological devices, each OBJECT of a CLASS had its individual distinctive features that became more as time went by. In this system, the classes were described by the first two letters, then came – with a space that we today would call “blanc” – the object classification. That was the number of the individual locomotive, mostly in the same sequence as they were built. With most of the produced units, this number was a three-digit number, if the type was very successful, you occasionally got four digits.

Various BWs and BAs were assigned to the locomotives (objects). This is where they were serviced and maintained. This information was (incrementally) documented with tags on the locomotives, the same went for technological specialties as, for instance, for the compartment temperature or the compensating air (that kept the tyres away from the brakes through air pressure).

One significant difference between individual (steam) engines of a series was, for example, how they were lighted – with coal or oil. Naturally, this was quite a determining factor for the use, because a steam engine that was powered with oil could not make use of coal. If you were a member of the Pfiff-Club and spying out locomotives, you would be able to recognize the type from a long distance. Consequently, I am not sure if the lighting of a locomotive was also documented with a tag. For me, it was self-explanatory.

And there was a central register for all locomotives. In my imagination, this is a very big collection of very thick file folders. One for each locomotives – and they become thicker and thicker with time. All those data were to be transferred to electronic data processing.

And thus, there came a day when the magazine’s highlight was the information that, with the introduction of electronic data processing, the “number tags“ on the locomotives were no longer to have letters but numbers instead. Now all the locomotives got new number tags – and the old tags became well-loved collector pieces for the Pfiff-Club and other railway friends.

The number was probably the key to the locomotive in the then perhaps still sequential database. I think that must have been around 1965 – and even then, I found it rather annoying that electronic data processing (informatics) could not process letters.

? And this is how the E10 became the 110 and the V200 became the 320. What a pity.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
After my learning years at Siemens, I had the chance to be part of the team that wrote the proposal for an X25 network based on a separate BASA cable network of the Deutsche Bundesbahn at the Munich Bundesbahnzentralamt (BZA). That must have been in the early 1980ies and it was a really great project. However, the end was not really glorious. … 
(but I will write more on that at another time)

Roland Dürre
Monday December 31st, 2018

(Deutsch) Und schon wieder geht ein Jahr zu Ende! DANKE!

Another Year is Over! Thank You!

My Dear Friends!

Vivat the New Year!

Here is what I wish you, along with a little wish of mine for 2019!

 

The picture is from Rolo Zollner (http://www.rolozollner.de/). It's under Common Licence

May this piggy bring you all lots of happiness! It has been my Sylvester talisman for many years in IF Blog.

A good start!
Enjoy the new year!
Enjoy the world and honour creation!
Do not shun common sense!
Be free!
Live in lust and joy!
Be autonomous and follow your stars!
Do what you want to do!
Think first of yourself but then also of the others!
And, please, do not become martyrs for a “good cause”!
Do not act right but instead do the right things!
Consequently:
In six words and two sentences:
Enjoy life!
and
Be totally happy!
And I mean every minute of every day and night of your life in the new year 2019!


And here is my wish. Unlike my ”Christmas Greetings 2018“, it is not only for the “old white men“, but for all the people! I would wish that, in 2019, we all act a little more rationally than in 2018 and in the years before, perhaps as I suggest in my DontBuy Article!

Because it is simply a no-go that we destroy the planet with canine madness and kill each other in wars.


But above all
MANY THANKS
To all of you!

RMD
P.S.
The picture is a true click-pig. It is the first thing you get on google. Zillions of people have seen it. It was arranged by my friend Rolo Zollner. He created it for IF Blog and it is listed under Common Licence, which means you can use it if you cite the source and author.

Arrangement and picture by Rolo Zollner.

InterFace Christmas Card 2014.

This year, I again received a lot of mail on Christmas. Some of them were general Christmas Greetings and some were very personal. I tried to reply to all the greetings. If there are persons who did not get a reply from me, I ask their forgiveness.

A highly appreciated friend of mine wrote something special. His greetings started as follows:

The “Online Roland” differs considerably from the underlying human being I know and hold in high esteem.

In this letter, I read many nice and appreciative things. That made me quite happy. Between the lines, however, I quite clearly found a certain helplessness because of my “digital schizophrenia“. Because I seem to betray values in the digital world that are important in my personal world.

Well, reading about my “digital schizophrenia” made me thoughtful. After all, for me, my biggest riddle is my own personality.

The “digital thoughtfulness” started with the IF Blog. You all know that I sometimes strip quite naked . Why am I doing this?

Christmas in 2009

My answer is simple. Basically, I write the IF Blog only for myself. It is a kind of diary. And since I believe that transparency is not just a virtue but a necessary requirement for a better social co-existence, I publish my ideas. I do not want to press my ideas on anybody and I also do not want to be a missionary – even if sometimes you might get that impression on reading my articles. Also, I do not really care about a high number of clicks.

(Even though it makes me quite happy that my short Christmas Greetings (Weihnachtsbotschaft) – according to a rudimentary measuring – has already been read by several hundred persons, even if wordpress, due to technological specialties, counts less and less readings (since it only counts the direct number of downloads on an IP address)).

Seite downloads
/rd/einen-guten-rutsch-und-ein-gutes-neues-jahr/ 214

This was yesterday

I consider this happiness a very normal human trait.

What is important to me is that, at least in my own perception, I mutated from idealist to egoist. Because I believe very strongly that I can move a lot more if I feel well myself. Consequently, my first duty is perhaps to do well by myself. After all, only those who treat themselves well can treat others well (incidentally, you can exchange “treat well” with many other terms, for instance: only if you appreciate your own value can you appreciate another person’s value).

And since the coming year is the last year before I turn seventy, I believe my time is too precious to waste it on being against something or getting annoyed with someone. Or even worse: getting angry with someone or something.

So the ideal of my life lies in the serenity I will need during the next few years in order to be able to die in peace. In the IF blog, I created my own categories What I dislike! (Was ich nicht mag!) and What annoys me (Ärger), where I wrote articles about what I find frustrating.

I learned that frustration is not something that agrees with me. Just as it helps neither others nor myself if I am against something. Both concepts will make me smaller. Mind you, this is not resignation. It simply means that there are more important things than getting annoyed or hating something. I am always mindful of the paradox of hatred:
”If you hate someone, you do not harm him/her, but you ruin your own life”.
Naturally, I really like all the things in this world. This is especially true for the consequences of “technological advance“. And digitalization, which some people love much and others condemn with a passion, is only a current manifestation of said “technological advance“.

In 2019, I will celebrate my fifty-years-of-digitalization. It will then have been fifty years that I played an active part in digital development. That is something I feel very comfortable with. To be sure, I, too, detest such results as “military drones” that come down from the heavens and kill people and destroy their homes. The nuclear bomb, too, is basically a digital product, and I do not like it at all.

On the other hand, I feel quite comfortable with social media, etc. One of the reasons for this is that, by now, I think I am autonomous enough not to buy things I do not want. I believe I have now become resistant against marketing. This is true for the Fang-Gang (FANG is short for Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google – I am sure you need include a few others, too). And the discussion of yesterday and today during the 35th Congress of the Chaos Computer Club – Hashtag #35c3 – which, incidentally, I think is among the best German social discussion platforms – is also something I like. Even if, as far as I know, politicians shun the 35c3. I wonder why.

Talking of how technological advance is a danger, the first thing that comes to mind which I really find threatening is the MIV (motorized individual traffic). On top of my life, I feel that my lungs, too, are in danger. I only need to leave my house and approach the Putzbrunner or Rosenheimer Land Straße, and will immediately get gas poisoning. Ask any lung doctor for the facts! For me, those who drive a car are like smokers who blow their poison into my lungs.

But then, what good will it do to become upset? I live my life without using individualized vehicles and thus I demonstrate that you do not really need them. It is quasi the inherent “thank-you” when I experience how good this is for my health.

I have exercise in fresh air. I get extra time that I know how to use well. Basically, I try to find routes that are as far away from poisoned air as possible. Even if this occasionally means a detour. But at least I do not have to get annoyed with the fat old men and women driving their SUVs.

And that is exactly what I also do with other things in life. I detest fascism and nationalism, but I am not categorically against the AFD or other forms of latent fascism. I believe that God and religions were invented by people. And I cannot understand how anybody can consider something “the highest” if they themselves invented it. But I know that this belief of mine, too, is just a belief and nothing else.

So how can I oppose people who firmly believe that God created the world a few thousand years ago exactly as it now is and that he made the strict rules which turn around the world and which he clearly communicated through his ministers and diverse messages (the stories of humanity)?

If then a fanatic who is particularly receptive to this kind of indoctrination kills a few people, then I find this no worse than the daily killing that happens on our motorways, highways and other streets. And even these killings on the streets are not a reason for me to categorically oppose all SUVs and their drivers. And for all those who kill (some even say: murder) carelessly, I do not feel hatred but compassion.

It is clear that I am in favour of both a reduction of speed in the MIV sector and a reduction of religious indoctrination of children and other people. And that is also how I live as a model. Just as I am in favour of peace and love. And I find it good to always question what is allegedly the truth or what goes without saying. And that is what I try to do myself, as well.

Except: I no longer want to be “against something“. Just like I also never again want to be angry with anyone. Because both sentiments just make me feel miserable. And that is not at all what I need in life.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Hans Bonfigt
Wednesday December 19th, 2018

Ich bin gern ein weißer alter Mann

Sorry, this entry is only available in German.

Roland Dürre
Monday December 17th, 2018

Old White Men.

Next year, I will be 69 years old, which means I have been one of the “old white men” for quite some time.

Well, “old white men“ are the opposite of my idol. It is not what I want to be. So what should I abstain from if I do not wish to be an “old white man”?

But then, what exactly is an “old white man”? Historically speaking, we have had these “old white men” for a very long time, indeed. And they have always brought misery over their micro-cosmos and/or the entire world.

I count the Prussian Emperor as much among the “old white men” as the generals of the courageous armies. The same is true for the upper echelons of the Catholic Church.

Nowadays, I count the German “National Hero” Konrad Adenauer among the famous examples, or, to be totally up-to-date, Donald Trump, the “America First” president of our most beloved ally, the USA, also known as “God’s Own Country”.

Among the German and Bavarian politicians, too, you can find a number of them. Most of us suffer under them. I leave it to you to imagine whom I mean.

Even “God” was presented to me during my catholic education as an old wise man. Basically, this is no surprise if you read the (man-made) “Holy Scriptures” of the monotheistic religions (Christendom, Islam, Judaism). What you read will fit extremely well with the “old white man” as a deity.
Let me try to define what exactly an “old white man” is. Here are three special characteristics shared by all “old white men“.

“Old white men” have three characteristics:

  • Old white men are afraid!
    Although they actually have made it in life and could in theory live without sorrows, they are very much driven by fear. Their fears happen between the ears. The reasons for the fear change with time, but they will always return. For example: at one time, the evil Russians are the enemies, then the immigrants, and then again the evil Russians. And so on. 
Due to their fear, they cannot stop and let the power go.
  • Old white men judge and condemn.
    Because they know everything. If they meet someone, they will immediately know if the other person is competent or not (mostly the other person is not competent). They also know why this is so. Whatever someone says or does will be judged and condemned without much contemplation. 
They always know what is right and what is wrong. And that is why they think they need to make sure that the others, too, do the right things. Of course by their definition. 
Thoughtlessness is closer to their lifestyle than consideration. Experience is used selectively to prove their prejudices, counter-arguments are ignored.
  • Old white men are cynics.
    A long time ago, I learned the sentence “cynicism is the emotional manifestation of the intellectuals”. I think this sentence is still true. However, its meaning has turned around. “Old white men“ have often lost their emotions. They believe they can compensate this loss with cynicism. Naturally, this cannot work. Because cynicism is the opposite of emotional empathy.

Now you might say I forgot the characteristic “male“. Well, that is not what I think. In fact, more and more often I see women who think and act like “old white men”. Besides, stating that they are male would be a tautology (Tautologie) when we are talking old white men, it would sound like a Pleonasm (Pleonasmus). Which means it is no good as a criterion for defining anything.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

P.S.
In Otto Scharmer’s Theorie U, I read that the three highest barriers against finding yourself are “permanent judging, cynicism and fear”. Well, doesn’t this sound a lot like the “old white man”.

Roland Dürre
Friday November 16th, 2018

Unbelievable but Likely .

Somwhere over the clouds (yesterday at the Spitzing Pass)

I read the following dialogue as reported and commented in a tweet. I want to hand it on to you with my own comments:


Two teenagers in a bus:
“If you take the year 2018 and subtract your age, you will get the year of your birth!”

”Wow, it’s true! Great!“

We are lost. All of us


And I must admit that I immediately did my own mental calculations. And the result was truly stunning:

Yes, it is correct!

2018 – 68 = 1950

I even did the reverse mathematics as a test:

1950 + 68 = 2018

Also true!

And then I felt truly embarrassed.

? After all, the difference between the year you have and the year of your birth is defined as your age, isn’t it? Consequently, it has to work.

But what would happen if, on a huge stage, I would say that the year 2018 is a very special year because, exactly as the year ends (on December, 31st), the sum of their year of birth and their current age in years would be 2018 for all living people? And if I would add the comment that this is really something special?

I guess that most of the audience would quickly do their own calculations to find out if it is true for them and then accept this truly asinine statement of mine. And that only very few would get up and leave the lecture hall because the speaker is telling such rubbish. Because people are used to believing what they are told. And asking critical questions is no longer fashionable.

Incidentally, this is where we touch the origins of mathematics. The age of a person is a good example for the axiom of the natural numbers {0,1,2 … n, n+1} (except that the natural numbers are, by definition, infinite – which is only true for the number of years a person has lived if there is eternal life). To be sure, you can still have an argument about whether or not zero is a natural number. I would say this is a pure matter of definition.

You can perform the operation “add“ on the natural numbers – the same is true for the operation “multiply“ that is derived from the adding operation – and yet you will remain in the domain “natural numbers “.

Our measuring of time with the arbitrarily fixed point zero that is supposed to have been the time Christ was born can be an example for the ”Whole Numbers“– as we all know, they are constructed from the natural numbers through another operation, the subtraction. Just like you can construct the rational numbers from the whole numbers through the operation of division.

These are the kinds of ideas I had after my first shock had subsided. And now I am even more surprised to see that some people are actually surprised about getting a as a result of a subtraction of b and c.

(cb = a) and similarly of c being the result of an addition of a and b (a + b = c).
a = year of birth  b = age  c = current year

Wow. Extraordinary?

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday November 1st, 2018

My Sources of Inspiration …

I like to see myself as a source of inspiration for other people and as someone who creates impulses. However, I do not like to give advice – especially not if nobody asked for advice. Because ad-vices are also vices. Especially if nobody asked for them. That is at least how I feel about it. Just as I also believe that it is a good thing for everybody if he or she can follow his or her own way in life, instead of having to follow what others defined as the way.

But I also assume that, when looking for solutions, we first have to ask the right questions – before then answering them. More often than not, there is no limit to how stupid a question can be. I like asking stupid questions. Just like I also like to inspire people.

View from three hundred metres above on Raiatea and its neighbouring island – one of many highlights of my travels. A good place for contemplation and inspiration …

But then, there are more people who inspire me and give me impulses. It happens if you meet people. If a place is very beautiful, I can even be my own

Currently, I am quite busy studying social systems such as enterprises, which means I am studying Niels Pflaeging. You can also find him on Twitter and FB. I have met him in person and to me he looks like someone who, occasionally, will formulate things directly and who also likes arguments, along with ending up as the winner of an argument.

However, I feel very close to him and consequently I will now write down a few of his recent theories. I found them more or less at random in twitter and facebook.

So here is the stage for Niels:


Let me repeat it, because this is really important: 
The so-called #MaturityDegreeModels  are abominable, misanthropic dirt that hinders the development.

They stand in contrast to all upright learning and development theories. 
They have inherent assignments of guilt. 
They are truly criminal.

Introducing one´s own opinion with expressions such as „Science tells us that…“ does not make one look smart. People see through you.


Lean should never be imposed. #Agile should never be imposed. #Beta should never be imposed. #SelfOrganization should never be imposed. #OrgDevelopment should never be imposed. @OpenSpaceBeta takes an clear stance in favor of #invitation. http://www.OpenSpaceBeta.com  #InviteOrImpose


These days, many firms stage a #NewWork and #Transformation theater.
This will not cause more #achievement and a more humane organisation. On the contrary: it will erode integrity and trust.
How about transformation without (!) making a lot of fuss instead?


Remember:
Holacracy and self-organization 
are as related as a shoe and a banana.


How about we stop wanting to “lead employees“ and instead start „letting teams lead the enterprise“?


You can distance yourself from the #AgileIndustrialComplex. Do not mention the intent, the method, the patterns. Anyone can. And should.


„A good #leader…“ – that does not exist! #Leaders do not exist. Only #leadership exists: It is a social phenomenon that happens in the space between people! Let´s stop the quackery.


It is all about #irritating people – not about #convincing people!


You don’t need to #develop your #people. They can do that on their own. In fact, they #must do it on their own.


Management level. What a dirty piece of vocabulary.


True leadership means working on the system.


Command-and-control organization does not produce any winners. It only produces losers. Even at the top.


So far Niels Pflaeging.

Much of what he says is how I feel about life in my family, in my enterprise and in all other social systems.

There should be a prohibition on all wheel models, competence matrices/models, development processes, teaching programmes, development centres and leadership programs. In all of these models, one individual person puts himself above others. Or, and that is just as bad (or even worse), a system is put above individual persons.

Well, if you have rules, that means someone has written some orders. Processes are processes. First, you have the “I-know-better”, then comes the morals and then the assignment of guilt. We really should stop doing things that make us and others look smaller and that hinder our development.

However, Jens is far from the only source of inspiration for me. There are many others. It starts with my family and continues far out, including you all. Currently, due to the Bavarian elections and the political discussion, often comes to mind. I might even write an article about him similar to this one. Again, speaking for all of you. Until such a time, however, you may wish to follow him on twitter ().

But I have so many more sources of inspiration – and I would like to write about all of them. Well, all I can say is I wish you all love and all that is well and good. And I thank you all very much, indeed.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Sunday October 28th, 2018

1969 – 2019: Fifty Years of Computer Science.

It is now autumn of 2018 – which means that, before long, we will have 2019. 2019 minus fifty is 1969. In the autumn of 1969, I had my first intense contact with “computer science”. I started studying at TUM as a mathematics student, minoring in computer science. At the time, TUM was still Technische Hochschule München (THM). In fact, I found that name even nicer that TUM, but that is neither here nor there.

This means that, next year, I will have a very special personal jubilee – fifty years of computer science in my life. In the light of this, it is probably justified that I consider myself an IT pioneer of the third generation. In my view, the first generation was represented by people like Konrad Zuse, whom I was lucky enough to meet in 1985 during the InterFace bike tour to Hünfeld (where Konrad Zuse lived at the time).

The second generation is represented by people like my teacher Friedrich L. Bauer, who, among other things, gave the first lecture in computer science at THM (now TUM) in 1969. I was there.

I think that fifty years of contact with IT are definitely something special. There are so many stories I need to tell.

However, the current digitalization hype is something I am fed up with. For me, digitalization started happening when they came up with a method to write down what you said. And what we today call digitalization is basically nothing but normal progress.

And I intend to tell many stories from those fifty years in 2019. I will relate anecdotes that are quite useful when it comes to understanding how things were done in those days. Without internet and wikipedia. And I will also talk about the influence our entrepreneurial cultures had on society. And how we ourselves were influenced and changed.

It will be a potpourri of individual contemporary stories that go well with each other and that describe many different aspects of change. Since there are many exciting stories, I will make two presentations out of them. Part one will be the first twenty-five years from 1969 until 1994. Part two will relate the time from 1995 with the change of the millennium until today. However, I will not only speak about yesterday and today. There will also be some tomorrow. I really look forward to it and I will see to it that both the audience and the speaker will enjoy the presentations.

Well, I already told some of the stories in the IF blog, didn’t I? For instance when I wrote about Tools Making Tools …  (Werkzeuge machen Werkzeuge …) in 2017 or when I wrote about My First Project (Mein erstes Projekt) in 2015 or My Best Slide… (Meine schönste Folie …)  of 1981 (written down in 2008) – but these are all only examples. Of course, my presentations will not be quite as lengthy as my IF blog articles.

And the occasional missing story will also become an IF blog article. And, of course, I will also tell you in the blog where and when the presentations will be given.

RMD
(Translated by EG)

Roland Dürre
Thursday October 18th, 2018

Childhood Memories – Waste, Potable Water

Perhaps, as you grow older, you start thinking a little more about how life was when you were small?

Eating a snack with my sister in the backyard of our flat at Rosenaustrasse 18 in Augsburg (behind the central station).

I was one of two children of a middle-class family. My father was a tenured officer at the German Railway and my mother was a teacher who, due to having children, no longer worked in her job. To this day, I still enjoy meeting my sister who is five years younger than I.

I forgot most of the things that happened during my childhood, but a few memories remained with me through my entire life. And they are still quite vivid.

One of these memories is about washing your hands. And about our relationship with water.

Our parents took cleanliness very seriously. Which meant that we had to wash our hands as often as possible. Here is how we did it: turn on the tub, wet your hands, use some soap, rub vigorously, use more soap, rub vigorously… as long as necessary, and then, finally, turn off the tub.

On weekends, we often went to Thannhausen (in Swabia) and met our grandparents on mother’s side, as well as the families of my mother’s sisters. We spent much time in the open. And I often returned to the grandparents‘ flat looking quite dirty. So, again, I had to wash my hands.

Which I did. Once, my grandfather saw me wash my hands. He scolded me because – as was normal for me from at home – I never turned the tub off during the entire procedure. He explained to me that water is a valuable commodity in our lives and that you should never waste it.

I immediately agreed with him and I believe that this short episode had a huge impact on my life. And if I see today how, in the public swimming pool, some grown-up men activate the shower and then chat with someone in the ante-room, I do not find this so great.

Thinking of Thannhausen, Augsburg and those times, I remember many other things that were not so great.

RMD
(Translated by EG)