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Showing posts from August, 2008

Sleep apparently necessary

I try my best to get 7+ hours of sleep per day. I've noticed my ability to focus and concentrate on tough problems tends to decrease when I have 6 or less hours. Despite controversy and claims by some to be able to function "fine" on very little sleep, studies keep telling us adequate sleep is quite necessary.

CNN Money Small Business reports:

"The researchers were startled to find that subjects' mental acuity declined markedly after just one night and kept dropping with each successive night of four hours' sleep. Even more worrying: The study's volunteers were unaware of their impairment. One woman, so fatigued that she could barely say her name, was nonetheless certain she was able to drive home.

Says David Dinges, who ran the project: "Like people who have had too much to drink, the chronically sleep-deprived have no sense of their limitations." The consequences can be dire - Dinges believes inadequate sleep was a factor in some of the world&…

Why is banking so expensive in Canada?

We have two major oligopolies in Canada -- the communication companies (Bell, Rogers, Shaw, and Telus) and the major banks (BMO, RBC, CIBC, and TD).

I'm routinely annoyed by both, but today I'm going to complain about the banks. In the US, banks compete with one another, and routinely offer no-fee, no-limit chequing accounts. The major banks here do not.*

I recently learned that the bank I deal with, RBC, offers their $10.95/month unlimited chequing account FOR FREE in the States. Have a look: US RBC Free Checking Account

Meanwhile, their Canadian division charges more than $130 a year for the same product!

Why do they do this? Because they can. They're colluding with the other major banks to keep fees artificially high, and nobody has challenged them.

Aren't these guys supposed to keep watch for this sort of thing?

* Yes, I know some of the "fringe" banks like PC Financial do, but there are a lot of drawbacks to these accounts. They have deposit wait times, …

I.O.U.S.A. - A movie about the debt crisis

I just found out today that there's a movie all about the debt/credit/finance crisis in the States. I think just about everyone knows that something bad is going on, but relatively few understand the size and scope of the problem. Hopefully this will help explain it to the masses.

Even here in Canada, where the federal government has been balancing the budget, and we have a trade surplus, our consumers are buried in debt. And things will likely get worse before they get better.

From the trailer: "This is America. We don't do anything until something reaches a crisis."

Check their website at: http://www.iousathemovie.com/

Service Failure

Today I experienced something I learned about in a Services Marketing course while doing my MBA at Laurier. It’s what’s called “Service Failure.” I’m sure you’ve all experienced it one time or another.

This is when a service business promises you a certain experience, then fails to deliver.

In this case, it was a not-to-be named local haircutting salon I’ve been going to for a year or so. I always make an appointment, arrive on time, and typically wait 10-15 minutes before being started on.

Anyone who knows me is aware of my strict adherence to deadlines and schedules and my general annoyance at people who don’t.

To me, making an appointment with someone is a promise that they will be available at the specified time, barring an unforeseen calamity.

Nonetheless, I put up with the 10-15 minute wait because most places aren’t much better.

Well, today I came in on time, as usual, and was told, “Just finishing up here. Have a seat and I’ll be with you shortly.” I sat down, texted a bit, wat…

Reducing the Risk of Fixed-Price Projects

Scott Ambler has posted a follow-up on his previous article about fixed price software projects at http://www.ddj.com/architect/209602001.

As a quick summary, he gives five recommendations:

Give a ranged estimate (+/- a certain percentage or amount)
Do some upfront agile modeling (using people who will actually do the work)
If the customer still insists on a "precise" estimate, pad the number as much as possible to account for the risks
Fix the price, flex the scope (anything added requires removing something of equal effort)
Stage the funding, based on real deliverables (working software)

More to come on this topic...