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November 2008 Archives

Folder iconAfter a recent defrag of my harddrive it suddenly became excruciatingly slow to browse 'My Computer' and other folders with Windows Explorer (explorer.exe) in Windows XP. Sometimes just opening a regular folder with a few files in it would take more than 5 minutes, as well as having explorer.exe hang and be not responding. As none of my other applications were noticeably affected it really had me stumped as to why a regular defrag would cause such a slowdown for folder-browsing, until I discovered that browsing was still near instantaneous when using other file-explorers like Total Commander. Relieved that it wasn't a problem with my drive but likely just a bug in Windows Explorer I set out to find a fix that would bring it back to its old self, but that was easier said than done, and I spent several days searching and experimenting with various fixes.

Apparently many people are having problems with Windows Explorer being slow, and for a host of different reasons too. Most commonly I found the obvious suggestions to run windows update, antivirus, antispyware, defrag and chkdisk, as this will commonly fix the performance and many common issues that crop up on computers that are not kept and maintained by professionals. The next step is to improve performance by adjusting the Folder Options in Explorer. Good tips here are to disable the automatic search for network folders and printers, as well as using simple folder view and to not cache thumbnails. But it didn't make any difference and explorer was still just as slow afterwards. Then I downloaded and ran CCleaner to do a full systems checkup and registry cleaning, and I also removed all recent network paths from my "Network Neighbourhoood" as these things also appear to cause many slowdowns too. Still none of these suggestions made any difference. A thread at Google Answers hinted to NeroVision Express as a possible culprit, but I didn't have that installed of course.

Finally I stumbled across a Techspot thread describing how you by logging in as a different administrator user and deleting the folder "c:\documents and settings\<username>\local settings\application data\microsoft\windows", can fix the problem of extremely slow browsing in Explorer, and this actually worked!
It seems that something had corrupted that part of my windows user profile, but deleting the folder and inducing an automatic recreation of it on the next login fixed all of the problems I was experiencing. Another good thing to come out of this is that all the other tweaks has made the rest of my computer faster too :-)

Presidents sealThrough the Enterprise 2.0 blog I discovered an article in the New York Times discussing how President-elect Obama may have to give up his personal Blackberry when accepting the position as leader of the free world, while he might be the first President to actually keep a computer in the Oval Office.

It is really food for thought that the most powerful man on earth does not have the freedom to use the web as he likes or even to read his own email. Maybe then its not so strange that high-ranking politicians are becoming more and more disconnected from their electorate.

On a different note Eirik referred me to some maps from StrangeMaps comparing the southern election-districts where Obama won with the cotton producing plantations in 1860. While not surprising, the overlap is certainly striking!

Elevator signWhile doing my Masters degree I used to volunteer for the student organization Start Norway, an organization working to promote entrepreneurship and innovation among students and faculty staff at higher-learning institutions all across Norway. This experience inspired me to apply for a graduate programme called the Norwegian School of Entrepreneurship, where I was accepted and got to spend three months studying and working as an intern in the heartland of IT, Silicon Valley. Both during my volunteering and during the entrepreneurship programme there was of focus on learning and doing the so called "elevator pitch", a very valuable skill that everyone should learn and perfect for their own needs.

For those not familiar with the term, an "elevator pitch" is simply a short practiced speech that explains in an enticing way what you do during the time one usually spends in an elevator, often 30 seconds or less. And why an elevator in particular? Because it is based on the assumption that if you by chance should find yourself in the unique opportunity of being in an elevator with someone you badly want or need to talk to, having a prepared elevator pitch to present might pique the other persons interest enough for you to get a real meeting later, and with that a real chance to present your business or idea properly.

That's not to say this is only applicable in elevators of course, as using it successfully in an elevator will likely be a very rare occurrence for most people. However it is also a very useful and efficient way to present yourself to new people in various other settings, for instance when people at a party ask what you do, or when you are presenting yourself at networking events. Having a good elevator pitch prepared in such situations lets you stand out and be interesting to the people you talk to, and lets you avoid having to say those conversation killing words: "I'm a consultant"

So how do you prepare a good elevator pitch then? Well, like most things there is no single answer to how to make the perfect pitch, but good suggestions abound on the Internet so check out these resources:

And finally have a look at other peoples pitches to see how yours compare!

EvolutionPå et nettverksmøte i kveld lanserte Dataforeningen offisielt en ny veileder (PDF) for hvordan man kan kombinere smidig systemutvikling med bransjestandard PS2000-kontrakter for iterative utviklingsprosesser. Denne er utarbeidet i Faggruppen for Effektiv Programvareutvikling av et team som har inkludert deltakere fra både kundesiden, leverandørsiden og rådgiversiden, representert ved blant annet Bekk, Computas, Conceptos, Promis, Forsvaret, Lånekassen, NAV og andre selskaper. Møtet bestod av presentasjoner av nyvinningene i veilederen sett fra synspunktene til alle tre deltakende grupper, samt en åpen debatt om fordeler og ulemper ved bruk av smidige metoder i forhold til prosjektvilkår og kontraktsforpliktelser. Som kan forventes var Forsvaret som et konservativt statlig organ noe skeptiske til å slippe bruken av smidige metoder fri av frykt for å miste kontrollen, mens konsulentbransjen er svært opptatte av å kunne benytte de beste tilgjengelige arbeidsmetodikkene for å kunne levere bedre løsninger til sine kunder.

Veilederen er delvis delvis basert på pilot-erfaringene som er gjort i MATS-prosjektet der jeg selv har arbeidet i snart to år, hvor et stort team fra Computas arbeider med å utvikle et nytt enhetlig fagsystem for Mattilsynet. Avtalegrunnlaget for prosjektet er en standard PS2000-kontrakt hvor kunde og leverandør i fellesskap og med stor suksess har gått over til å benytte Scrum som arbeidsmetodikk for alle deler av prosjektet. I løpet av denne prosessen har mange erfaringer og tanker dannet seg her og på andre prosjekter rundt emnet smidig PS2000, og disse har blitt løpende presentert på en rekke konferanser, inkludert Smidig, Prosjekt og JavaZone, samt på andre møter og seminarer.

Mine erfaringer fra dette og andre utviklingsprosjekter levner ingen tvil om at smidige og post-smidige metoder er veien å gå for å oppnå høyere kvalitet, måloppnåelse og effektivitet i de fleste typer utviklingsprosjekter. Sammenlignet med fossefall og andre tidligere metoder som i stor grad er basert på 'intelligent design' er smidige metoder mer Darwinistiske i sin tilnærming til problemene som skal løses. Dette gir systemutviklingen en mer naturlig flyt mot å oppfylle systemets faktiske krav og bruksområder, framfor å være begrenset til de løsningene man klarer å forutse på forhånd. Dette er virkelig et stort steg videre for systemutvikling som en prosess, og ennå har vi ikke engang begynt å snakke om automatisk programmering... :-)

Gol stave church in NorwayTo better facilitate meaningful writing and discussion about Norwegian matters and Norwegian national news I have now created a category for Norwegian content on this blog. Most entries will still be written in English, but you should in the future expect a few norwegian entries in between on matters that are mostly relevant for Norwegian-speakers.

For å tilrettelegge bedre for innlegg og diskusjon rundt Norske emner og nyheter har jeg opprettet en kategori for norsk innhold her på bloggen. De fleste innlegg vil fortsatt skrives på engelsk, men innimellom vil det kunne dukke opp innlegg på norsk om temaer som primært er interessante for nordmenn.

Pirate flagChris Brogan recently wrote a very thought-provoking post about how businesses could deal better with hard times through the time-tested strategies used by pirates on the high seas. The analogy may be historically flawed, but the concept itself is surely one to take note of, and one that resonates very well with Nietzsche's concept of creative destruction, as named by economist Joseph Schumpeter.

That this is how the world of business actually works might not be obvious at first glance, but this has been thoroughly researched as presented in detail by Richard Foster and Sarah Kaplan in their book by the same name. It was among the readings for a university-course I once did on ICT and Markets, and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone working on business strategy, should that be for a company or just for yourself.

Finally I present you with a more personal take on creative destruction, as put forward by Rachel Cornell like this:

"When you find your life is in pieces, don’t get out the super glue. Find the shard that matters the most to you, the one element that you are the most passionate about and build something great out of that."

Exit leftSince the early days of web-publishing I have been adding a target="_blank" attribute to all the external links I create on my websites. This has partly been to keep readers from 'forgetting' about my site after leaving through an interesting link, but mostly because my personal browsing preference is to open most links in new tabs so I can complete reading that page later. It makes sense to me, so it should to everyone else too, right?

Maybe not, so have googled a bit to find out other peoples preferences on this topic, and while the opposition to forced new windows appear very vocal, these polls surprisingly shows that a majority actually prefers links opening in a new window, especially if it is indicated on the link that it is so.

From the debate around that poll and on other sites I came across, the opposition to forced new windows generally take the stance that users are not ignorant and should be allowed to choose for themselves, since browsers make this very easy nowadays. Adherents to forced new windows on the other hand claim that many people hardly even know about tabbed browsing, or even the back button (!), so helping them discover this is a good thing. Besides those who already are in know are likely to open the link in a new tab anyway, since that is the reasonable way to browse for experienced netizens.

I would tend to agree most with the latter statements, but I'm still considering to get rid of my forced new-window links as a token of good faith to my readers. Well and also because Jakob Nielsen is against it, but what do you think?

WritingWhile I was working on setting up this blog I serendipitously came across this recent article by Andrew Sullivan through Eiriks forfatterblog. In it Andrew is reflecting in great detail on the development and properties that make blogs into such valued tools for writing on recent developments and how they fit into the human desire of building communities. Despite the article being angled towards professional writing I found the underlying themes highly relevant to what I am trying to do here, which Sullivan excellently phrased as 'writing out loud'!

And what is it that I am trying to do here then? Well first of all I have been wanting a place to express myself about current events and other relevant issues in the business and technology fields. Hopefully this site will fill that need and in the future provide a place for open exchanges on these topics among others with aligning interests. Secondly I hope that having this place to share my knowledge and expertise will be a good way of honing my skills through direct feedback and discussion. Also I hope that maintaining this site in addition to my participation elsewhere on the social web will over time help me to establish my personal brand as a recognized part of the global, or at least the Norwegian, IT-community. Is this realistic? Well, others have done it before. I just need to find my niche I guess..

WritingUp until recently my blogging have mostly consisted of diary-like details on my endeavors around the world, and its form has not been particularly suited to the discussion of vocational matters. However as of today I am launching this new blog and will be dedicating space and time here to deliberate and debate various matters of business and technology. I intend to keep the content professionally focused, specifically on matters within my fields of interest.

Hopefully the contents that come to be written here will be far more appealing and engaging than my previous and rather dry musings on everyday life and travels. So with this I welcome you to browse around, read, comment and enjoy your visit!

Oh yeah, and unlike what some misinformed people seem to think, the blog format is most certainly not dead...