Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Oops abound

Not only do oops happen, they seem to abound. (WSJ 2/22/08, Technology 1, Common Sense 0). Some are truly unexpected; many are related to risk.

Let's see, isn't it the basic tenet of capitalism, from some views which are not, by the way, that to which we ought to have undying loyalty, that the spoils goes to those who take risk?

Now, to see where such a comment might be going, what if that same attitude was applied to real life events, such as flying? First, the manufacturer knows that risk elements are to be minimized, not just left to their own devices. Too, those who provide services related to flying know that they cannot push risks too far because of safety and cost.

Yet, in the economy, some aura that is best described as more amenable to Las Vegas, or Reno, than to normal affairs has taken hold.

Of course, what is risk and how ought we manage this thing are topics that require continual study and discussion. Whole disciplines deal with the matter.

Again, let's use an example from engineering. A recent IEEE Control Systems Society publication surveys the state, and continuing issues, of inertial stablized platform (ISP) technology. By the way, how this relates to the topic is the a plane can be an example of an ISP application in action. One comment alluded to the decades of work that have gone into improving the state of affairs in regard to the ISPs.

Yet, there are plenty of problems to solve. Two key issues are measurement and control. That is, like ourselves (we are another example of an ISP) who have to sense and respond, so do things that move intelligently. Nowadays, there is no component used for the ISP task that is not computationally influenced, whether it is more embedded piece of circuity than software.

In regard to oops, we get to where we trust technology too much. The WSJ (see above) story talked about a truck going awry and getting into a messy situation, because the driver followed GPS instructions (evidently, though, not paying attention to warnings) rather than responding to visual cues that things were getting problematic.

Ah, truth engineering deals with this sort of thing, in part.

In a complex project, one can somewhat sympathize with managers who let things go awry due to too much reliance on the computational, in particular pointing fingers here at both PLM and CAE. Yet, one wonders how many engineers were thrown out of the office or downright disciplined under some guise of not being a team player? What is that old story of the team of lemmings running over the cliff?

So, 'oops and loops lead to oops. They are inevitable. Yet, unreasonable risk taking (or even reasonable when stakes are high) are not to be rewarded; actually, we need to take back some bonuses made to financial folks the past few years.

How about putting a lag on some financial rewards of a longer duration, like years? Any other dampers that we could think of?

After all, most of us don't retire after childhood. When one looks at the situation with the boomers, who are significant due to their massive generational imprint, one sees problems arising as the boomer retirement period advances, the study of which ought to helps us to learn a few lessons.


01/09/2009 -- The year end was very interesting; now, we need to show that oops help us to learn.

11/20/2008 -- Boon and bust, the way of fairy dust.

Modified: 12/09/2009

Friday, February 22, 2008

Q2 query

It is interesting that no one has participated in the bet2give poll on whether the first 787 'test-flight' will be before the 'end of Q2, 2008'.

Earlier polls (787 in 2008 closed, 787 on time closed) had activity that was fairly representative of the situation.

If everything was going well, would there have been the overblown reaction reported in the S-PI about an accidental incursion into the 787 area by visitors?

Modified: 01/20/2013

Monday, February 18, 2008

Oops happen

Image from flightblogger

Using the vernacular, we can mostly expect 'oops. How we handle these is what makes for progress or not.

One example might be the above particular image provided by an OEM in an announcement of their new offering.

It's an image of a plane, a composited image that shows people standing in front of the thing. Well, some might think that the plane existed and was ready to carry the parties to some destination. Except, on closer reading one sees a time line that is in the future.

Images, such as this, might be okay on paper, where credits and explanations can be given. Unfortunately, even with that medium, the text may not be there; but, assuming some text, it may be too small to read.

Let's see, the diameter is 73 inches or so which is only 5" or so greater than a predecessor . Yet, it stands much taller than expected.

Is it that the perspective of the people and the plane don't match? Of course, the idea may have been to emphasize the plane.

What is the height? One could attempt different schemes, such as using the engine size or the people's height.

Why the issue? In this day of advanced techniques that can alter photos or that can generate artificial images with near-perfect realism, ought we to have some protocols to tip off the viewer as to what is what?

Poll completion 4

38 voters showed up for the 4th poll with most being aficionados (58% of 31) or suppliers (25% of 31).

Most (79% of 34) saw delivery as being after May, 2009.

Prior polls: First, second, third.

Modified: 03/20/2008

Monday, February 11, 2008

From small beginnings

An earlier post suggested that Minsky's model might help motivate some discussion related to 'oops, loops, and oops. The WSJ couched the discussion in terms of lies told by economists. We could probably talk about untruths (not to imply lies, rather those things that are meant to overcome uncertainty and are bolstered by optimism) told by suppliers.

But, let's use a couple of economic notions from Minsky and see if there might be a program / project parallel.

For one, in terms of borrowers and a cycle, he described three levels. These are the hedge borrowers (where something of value might be thought of as collateral - existing as a real thing at the moment), speculative borrowers (where leverage starts to raise its head), and Ponzi borrowers (yes, this concept can be applied to the multi-layering found in an extreme outsourcing arrangement).

The movement through these types (and, there are probably many more levels that one could differentiate) goes from the more real to the abstract (I'm being nice here and pointing more to ignorant manipulations rather than explicit malfeasance).

That one needs to hedge has become clear, and this can make financial sense. Can one 'hedge' in engineering? That is a question we must ask and discuss. Some related issues are earned-value analysis, clarity, and the like.

Well, one could definitely talk about 'speculative' use (and, perhaps, even 'ponzi') in terms of some analytics and their assumptions. The main question is how to guard against this; good people, in short.

Now, in terms, of a product, testing is a key convergent phenomenon that has to have higher priority than we saw in one instance.

Too, Minsky talked about some other attributes associated with a cycle, using displacement, boom, euphoria, profit taking, and panic, from early on to late. Without going into detail, it's not hard to map this same type of thing with projects. What denotes more about 'panic' than sending oodles of people out to a project? The mythical man-month applies to more than software.

Well, control is an operative word as a means to dampen instability. And, the old watchwords come to play, such as measurement, vigilance, and, I might add, attitudes that are anti-hubris.


08/01/2013 -- Ben cannot unwind or taper downhe has too many Doves. We'll have to get back to the king thing (yes, the divine rights of the CEO, new royalty, in other words) and dampening of these types by a new outlook (Magna-Carta'ísh).

12/17/2008 -- We'll use made-off in lieu of ponzi, henceforth.

Modified: 08/01/2013

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Hubris or what?

Has anyone noticed, but are people counting their chickens before they hatch more than ever?

If that is so, then we all ought to be worried.

As an example, flightblogger used the present tense in reporting on a recent announcement. Granted, the post was based upon marketing literature, yet one would think that 'new media' would be a little more independent in its view and have more insight into critical thinking.

Okay, positive thinking is a nice thing; probably, it is preferred to unending negative thoughts.

Yet, is our hubris in regard to our prowess such that we see predictions (that is essentially what engineering is until the thing is to where it can perform - meaning, flying, for an airplane) as reality?

Some disciplines, such as product life-cycle management seem to reinforce the notion; it may be of interest to notice that this uses computationally-framed processing.


01/28/2009 -- Earned value issues continue to be of interest.

Modified: 01/28/2009

Economics and engineering

Perhaps Minsky's ideas have some use here. The basic notion is that what we see as the financial gaming is essentially unstable. Yet, a whole industry has arisen the past few decades to support the gaming and to try to put a rational face on it.

Well, folks. Let me remind you that this infrastructure is of recent heritage; the more advanced aspects of it required computers and securitization (already noted as suspect). The one truth of the whole thing is that the mechanisms have helped oodles of monies to flow from the pockets of the hapless to those of the favored few (those with the wherewithal and capital to attempt the gaming 'wins' (very much a zero-based game)).

This blog has noted such a characteristic may occur with programs and projects, to boot.

So, key factors are stabilization, how we obtain this, and what constitutes reasonable variations (and, yes, frothy-ness and volatility).


08/01/2013 -- Ben cannot unwind or taper downhe has too many Doves. We'll have to get back to the king thing (yes, the divine rights of the CEO, new royalty, in other words) and dampening of these types by a new outlook (Magna-Carta'ísh).

05/22/2012 -- FB will be a focus for discussion.

01/26/2009 -- Now a new day and way to consider these matters.

12/13/2008 -- Much water has passed under the bridge. But, new types of revelations continue to arise.

11/26/2008 -- The mess grew and grew, fairy dusting indeed.

08/19/08 -- In reviewing the types of gaming done in finance, one has to wonder if Minsky's model has some parallel with the phase changes that we see in matter.

Modified: 08/01/2013

Saturday, February 2, 2008

It would be funny ...

Yes, funny indeed. The recent event at the Société Générale. That has all the elements about which we ought to be more familiar. So, we'll be going into this thing further.

This blog is not only just about railing on things related to 'oops, loops, and oops or financial gaming. It's about learning in conjunction with grappling with the truth in these high-flowing times. We cannot learn except through experience; our wisdom is supposed to mitigate the down side.

When will we learn that the financial realm needs sand-boxes? Well, it might be an uphill trek.

Actually, putting some controls on the thing is of essence, too. It cannot be like trying to fly from one place to another via a plane without the proper control surfaces. All to be defined further, in time.

It is funny that Ben blinked. Or was old Ben thinking that he was doing a Zeus-like move as he threw his lightening rod of the rate cut out on the market? Was he to know that the SocGen was unwinding some mega-Euro positions? Over here, would there may be some culpability to not reporting sooner? Dump the evidence prior to reporting to authorities?

From recent analysis, the perpetrator at SocGen was supposedly not motivated by personal greed which is more than we can say for most players. No, it was simple ambition which we Americans like.

In fact, there has been growing world-wide support (the Robin Hood thing); it's understandable; especially as we see the high-flyers taking 99% of the income leaving the rest to 'eat cake'; or we see a company (who was in ethical thralls yet who was supposedly trying - that was the message to the underlings who were forced to go to mandatory ethics training) causing a 52 year old to lose a significant portion of his pension while another in the same subdivision put millions into his (and his cronies') pockets.

On the other hand, there were supposedly the higher-order players at Soc Gen (Quants, in short), who supposedly had the jewels of the kingdom in their mathematical hands, who worried the managers. Yet, they weren't the source this time. But, the gaming aspect of finance will continue to be a problem (more on this, of course).

Soc Gen does have some 'Social Responsibility' awareness, though, according to their site.


08/01/2013 -- Ben cannot unwind or taper downhe has too many Doves. We'll have to get back to the king thing (yes, the divine rights of the CEO, new royalty, in other words) and dampening of these types by a new outlook (Magna-Carta'ísh).

05/22/2012 -- FB will be a focus for discussion.

08/24/2009 -- Last year, Ben blinked and panicked. He frantically pulled out all stops as if with no thought for tomorrow. Now, he has no use for 'mea culpa' big daddy that he is. Ben, start to unwind now. The Vienna School's view that these things are undecidable (which is a computational issue) is right on.

08/10/2009 -- As promised, FEDaerated is here.

07/16/2009 -- Well, effects from several months of meddling (big Ben's economy) can be analyzed. Yet, the main questions is where is all this going? Systemic issues are still there.

01/27/2009 -- Lessons to be learned (as opposed to learnt), including, by necessity, Ponzi.

11/12/2008 -- Well, things feel apart fairly quickly, starting in September of 2008. By N0vember, there was general spooking. Starting in September, movements toward nationalization sped so fast that it was easy to forget that a Republican administration was still in the White House. Talk about rewarding hubris and moral hazardness!!!!

07/31/2008 -- It's not enough to rant and spout off. So, let's start something constructive by looking a money and what it is.

06/12/2008 -- Of course, these things are not funny.

05/27/2008 -- Related to this, and the links can be found, Alan went on, at one point, about what the Fed can do to dampen the enthusiasm of the frothy market. Well, he is right in a sense about ex post facto being the better glasses, sometimes (better than 20-20 foresight). Yet, we all, as mature adults, know how to evaluate risks and act accordingly, even throwing caution to the wind sometimes.

However, when the playing-field is so un-level as we see (muddied waters), risk assessment is difficult. One would think that lessons from physics would help identify froth and that this would result in removing some of the 'dismal' from the science of economics.

Modified: 08/01/2013