Category Archives: ibm

On this page:
  • Notes from software customization talk
  • Back in the groove
  • Backlog: IBM
  • Blogging is vanity
  • Telecon
  • Interesting people, interesting conversations

Notes from software customization talk

I caught the subway and the bus for the first time on my way to the
IBM Center for Advanced Studies. Mark and I arrived too early for the
lecture, so Pierre Duez showed me around IBM. (I owe him a thank-you
note.) It’s a great building, with beautiful themed spaces (Asian,
English cottage, etc.) and game rooms (billiards, air hockey, table
tennis, computer games, gaming consoles). Neato.

The talks started at 11:00. Both presentations came out of term
projects in the requirements engineering course under U of T professor
Steve Easterbrook.

The first presentation was about cognitive anchoring bias in project
estimation, which is when our estimates are affected by the starting
number. High starting numbers result in high estimates, low numbers
result in low estimates.

The second presentation, though, raised goosebumps.
This-is-what-I-want-to-do goosebumps. Sotirios Liaskos talked about
goal-oriented software customization, using Mozilla Thunderbird as an
example of an option-laden program that’s hard to customize. I was
blown away by graphs of people’s goals and how those goals are
affected by the different options.

I found another name for what I want to do! =) Soft goal analysis.

I want to do that for tasks. I want to analyze the different
strategies people use and _why_ they use them. For example, why people
keep track of contexts, why people use dated or undated tasks… I
want to write something that will profile a person’s task-management
preferences and suggest software support. When people want to modify
their task management strategy, I want to suggest step-by-step ways to
achieve their goals.

So basically, I’m looking at:

  1. software support recommendations for task management strategies
  2. support for changing task strategies
  3. customization of task management software using soft goals (harder)

I need to learn how to do things like cognitive work analysis and soft
goal analysis while I’m here. I need to find other people who are
analyzing similar domains so that I can bounce ideas off them.

Here’s what I should read next. I’ll grab the URLs when I connect back
to the Net.

  • http://www.cs.toronto.edu/~sme/ – readings in requirements engineering
  • Triggers and barriers to customizing software
  • User customization of a word processor
  • An evaluation of a multiple interface design solution for bloated software
  • Reasoning with goal models
  • Simple and minimum-cost satisfiability for goal models

People met today:

  • Ryan from the lab
  • Sotirios Liaskos, who gave the talk on software customization
  • Pierre Duez, person who showed me around
  • Leah, working on software customization of Rational software
  • Steve Easterbrook, professor who taught requirements engg and is now doing experimental methods for software engg
  • Jen, research manager for Pierre(?)

People heard about:

  • Eric Yu, in charge of the mailing lists
  • Alexei, who’s looking at goal models for business processes

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Back in the groove

I had a totally awesome day at IBM today, crunching some data and
doing some nifty photocloud visualizations of all the people who had
blogged about a certain topic. I sorted it by domain in order to
collocate people from the same lab, and resized the photos according
to the number of posts they had made, linking each picture to the
respective blogs. I then ran the same analysis on their bookmarks.
Next week, I’m going to do a 2D plot… =)

It was _tons_ of fun hacking together a little Java program to do the
analysis. I had to look up a lot of things in order to do the first
program. It took me a while to dump SAX in favor of DOM, but once I’d
gotten the XML parsing code out of the way, I wrote the data analysis
quickly. My code wouldn’t win points for elegance or efficiency, but
it works. I wish I had either Ruby or Python on that system – heck, I
could do this stuff in Emacs Lisp. I think I’ll go install the Windows
versions of my favorite programming languages as soon as possible,
although I might have to clear it with IBM first.

Today put me firmly back in the programming/hacking camp. I couldn’t
pry my fingers off the keyboard. =) Mark had to call me to make sure I
didn’t miss the 3:55 bus. I just had so much fun writing glue code and
crunching all the data. In terms of geek stuff, this is where I
belong…

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Random Japanese sentence: ペルシャ猫に関連した古いお話しがあります。
There is a classic story related about a Persian cat. Perusha-neko ni
kanren shita furui o-hanashi ga arimasu.

Backlog: IBM

I skipped the HFIG panel (bad Sacha! ;) ) to go to IBM. I had so much
fun coding a simple data processor, though, that I didn’t feel guilty
at all. Another blogger had posted this _totally_ awesome
visualization of bloggers and their locations, and the blog entry
helped me learn how to determine a person’s work location given the
e-mail address. Neato. Also, I did some more evangelism work. Whee! =)

I had so much fun hacking that I nearly forgot about the 5:35 bus.
Good thing Stephen IMed me. =) I ran to the bus stop and caught it,
but that was still pretty scary!

I ended up chatting with Quinn on the way home. I should invite her to
a dinner party sometime…

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Random Japanese sentence: 「にゃお、にゃお、今度はおなかが減った!」と、百匹のねこ千匹のねこ、百万匹一億匹のねこがいいました。 “Mew, mew! Now we are hungry!” cried the Hundreds of cats, Thousands of cats, Millions and billions and trillions of cats.

Blogging is vanity

Congratulations to Stephen Perelgut for making it to the #1
most-commented blog entry in IBM and #4 hottest blog! Heh. Blogging as
ego-stroking. ;) It was an interesting blog entry, though, and I’m
glad he sparked such a conversation. Hooray for blogs!

I usually hover about #3 on hottest blogs within IBM. Stephen thinks
it’s because my blog title is “geek – girl – dogear dogmatist,” and
the combination of “geek” and “girl” makes most people click. ;)

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Random Japanese sentence: 太った白い猫が塀に座って、眠そうな目で二人を見ていました。 A fat white cat sat on a wall and watched them with sleepy eyes.

Telecon

I was panicking all morning because I didn’t have the teleconference
details for something at noon, but fortunately I remembered that I
could e-mail a friend in IBM and ask him to send a message to the
teleconference organizer. I then used Skype
to call in for free. Hooray for Skype! Voice quality is a bit
variable, but it does the job, and it’s saved me from getting another
phone line…

I’m so excited about the tagging panel. It looks like such an
interesting lineup!

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Random Japanese sentence: 飼い猫の毛のつやが悪くなった。 Our cat’s fur has lost its luster.

Interesting people, interesting conversations

It is my firm belief that if I mash interesting people together,
they’ll most probably have interesting conversations – and if I’m
around to hear those conversations, even better.

I went to IBM, and that turned out to be perfect timing. Laurie
Dillon, Pranam Kolari and Ian Chan all pinged me for lunch. I thought
they should definitely meet each other, so we all met up for lunch at
12 and had a wonderful conversation about IBM intranet goodness and
blogging visualizations. =) That was tons of fun.

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Random Japanese sentence: 家はねこが2匹います。1匹は白で、もう1匹はくろです。 We have two cats; one is white, and the other is black.