Michael C Hogan

Agile Product Development & Innovation Strategy


IE/OR + programming = ?

Recently, on LinkedIn the following question was asked: “IE/OR + programming = ?” My answer: There are at least a few ways to solve this equation. In this post I take a look at three of them: UX Design, infrastructure automation, and Industrial Engineering tool design.

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Can IT be leaner?

Recently, on LinkedIn the following question was asked: “Can IT be leaner?” My answer: Absolutely! In this post I take a look at how Lean (and Agile) concepts are being applied to IT tools and processes.

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Sorting out sorting

Nine sorting algorithms are explained and compared with animation in this 30-minute YouTube video that’s a year older than I am, but still seems to be current. “Sorting Out Sorting” — Baecker, Ronald M., with the assistance of David Sherman, 30 minute color sound film, Dynamic Graphics Project, University of Toronto, 1981.

Sorting-Algorithms.com is another reference that offers visual comparisons between algorithms, along with links to more detailed information about each one.

After watching these videos, I stumbled upon some sorting algorithms implemented in JavaScript available on GitHub: nzakas/computer-science-in-javascript.


Redirecting web addresses with .htaccess

Here is a tutorial that worked for me:

htaccess 301 redirect tutorial

And here is the key part that I missed on my first couple tries:

Scroll down past all the existing code, leave a line space, then create a new line that follows this example:

redirect 301 /old/old.htm http://www.you.com/new.htm

It’s as easy as that. Save the file, upload it back into your web and test it out by typing in the old address to the page you’ve changed. You should be instantly and seamlessly transported to the new location.

Notes: Be sure not to add “http://www” to the first part of the statement – just put the path from the top level of your site to the page.


Self-Driving Vans, Not High Speed Rail

I awoke this morning to find a number of articles praising an artist’s concept for a national high-speed rail network. This is a bad idea.

Very few rail projects make economic sense. I studied city light rail projects in graduate school and found most installed systems have failed to meet projected ridership or return on investment. Heavy rail systems made money, but much of that was from the sale of land the rail companies acquired through US homesteading programs, which are no longer available. Rail also has a way of building discrimination into our communities as only some portions of the community benefit from convenient routes and others are excluded.

Like other rail projects, high speed rail sounds exciting and futuristic, but the routes would likely be frustrating.

So, what did I recommend in graduate school and what do I recommend today?
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Using Automator to Show Hidden Files in Mac OSX

Here’s a quick tutorial in how to use Automator to create a Finder action that will show/hide hidden files in Mac OSX. I was inspired by the comments over on a blog post by Mike Sel.

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Does 6-sigma apply to software development?

Often, people will ask, “can I use 6-sigma for software development?” The short answer is yes. I explain why below.

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Note to HBR, Taylorism Lives and has Evolved

I am a fan of the online Harvard Business Review. I read it daily via Flipboard and value the lessons and stories shared by its authors. However, I did not find a lot to value in a recent opinion piece entitled HBR Lives Where Taylorism Died.

The flawed thesis of the subject article is that Taylorism died, replaced by more effective management practices covered in the pages of HBR. I hate to break it to the piece’s author, but Taylorism didn’t die, rather it has evolved over the past hundred years into the modern professional discipline of Industrial and Systems Engineering. Further, HBR didn’t “reintroduce the notion of efficient process redesign.” As I will show below, that notion was introduced far earlier.

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Easiest way to read e-books on Mac or PC

EPUBReader Firefox add-on by @epubread is great for e-book reading and an essential part of an author’s testing workflow.

Since its a Firefox extension it will work great across PCs and Macs. Here’s how to get started with EPUBReader today:

1. Use the Firefox web browser to visit this website: http://www.epubread.com/en/

2. Click on the large green button that reads, “Add to Firefox” and follow the instructions through 2 or 3 more clicks.

3. Restart FIrefox

4. In Firefox, choose File Open… and open the ePub file you’d like to read.
That’s it!

The reading experience is a little different on every device, but this is a good way to get a sense of how the ePub will look across devices in general.


“Free Markets” are Fictional

In his article “Why health insurance is the problem and not the solution” Dr. David Mokotoff argues we need to return health insurance to the free market:

Health insurance is not sold in a truly free market, like home, disability, and life insurance products, etc.

Here’s the problem, nothing is sold in a free market. All products—especially insurance products—are sold in regulated markets. The free market is an idealized scientific model that works under ideal conditions where consumers have perfect information about product pricing and no regulations exist.

Here’s a great video that illustrates the difference between the real world and ideal scientific laboratory conditions using the age-old example of the feather and bowling ball drop experiment.

Just like the feather and the bowling ball, we don’t live in a scientifically ideal world, we live in the real world where some people are better educated and others lie, cheat, hold information secret and steal. The purpose of market regulation is to equalize all of that real-world human behavior.