Open Workbench is now Open Source

July 23, 2004

Open Workbench – Home

Now this is interesting. Niki has made their Project Workbench an open source product called Open Workbench. It’s available to distribute freely. At first glance it appears to have all the important features of Microsoft Project but with a considerably smaller price tag. Project is one of Microsoft’s most expensive components of their Office Suite. Open Workbench is free. Where is this heading?

Sand as a Fluid medium – Granular Matter

July 18, 2004

Researchers at the University of Twente in the Netherlands have created an experiment that demonstrates how sand can exhibit liquid-like properties. They provide beautiful photos and a 1k-frame/sec movie of a marble-size steel ball dropping onto loose, fine sand. This may aid geophysicists in understanding what happens when an asteroid smashes into a planet.

This reminds me of attempts in the 1970’s in graduate school and at my first job at a R&D organisation to use computers to model the flow of fluids. It was simple when we tried simple things–rivers and streams, waves in very deep water, hydraulic jumps, etc. Proved impossible for anything “complex”. 99% of fluid flows are “complex”. This movie helps me appreciate why.

Learning about Lean

July 3, 2004

Learning about Lean

Joe Ely provides very insightful understanding of a practical (and personal) application of the Theory of Constraints as applied to the ubiuquitous long queue’s at airport security checks.

Interestingly, while American security agents insist that their patrons remove their shoes before passing through the metal detectors, this does not seem to happen in Europe even though these passengers are entering the same airline “system”.

Perhaps there is another perspective. Perhaps by addressing this issue from the perspective of risk as advocated by Bruce Schneir may result in something, e.g.

1. What asset are we trying to protect?

2. What are the risks to those assets?

3. How well does the secruity solution mitigate those risks?

4. What other risks does the security solution cause?

5. What costs and tradeoffs does the security solution impose?

Asking and answering these questions leads to some interesting conclusions.