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Feature Creep in Lab Software

Customers want features, features, features and a clean, easy to use application. How to square that circle?

Sure, the goal for Labordatenbank is to provide clean and easy to use applications. Laboratories have complex tasks to solve. That's what they do. No need for lab software to add even more complexity.

Alright than, keep it simple!

Having said that, labs do need specific features to get specific tasks done.
While every feature may add value to at least one user, it also adds complexity to the whole laboratory information system.

We approach this dilemma by

  1. learning: better understanding enables less complex solutions.
  2. customizing: features are only activated on need to use basis.
  3. saying no: if 1.) and 2.) fails and a requests adds more complexity than value, say so and stay firm.
The last may well be the toughest. But saying no is just as important.

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Fulfilling Development

As I wrote before Menschen müssen arbeiten und lieben um Erfüllung zu finden.

Would I enjoy spending my life on a beach under the sun? Surely, for a week. But in the end, I need to do great work to find fulfillment. Ideally, work that flows.

I find flow when I'm facing challenges and successes in rapid succession. Really both is needed to stay in the flow of maximum productivity. Tools like Textmate, OS X and git provide fast cycles of code, test and deploy. Which is key to quickly jump from challenge to success and back.

Sure, to run a software company we have to manage marketing, sales, contracts, accounting and so on. But what I enjoy is finding those seemingly obvious solutions in interface and database design that ultimatly provide value to our customer and therefor drive our business.

It's not Twitter or some fancy web company monetizing eyeballs. We charge money for software that customers value. With our customers we develop solutions to collect and manage literally billions of measurements. If we can make their work more effective, than that's fulfilling development!

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Labordatenbank Demos: Allgemeine Einführung

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What is a gift?

A clarification for Economists

C: A gift. (shakes his collecting tin to drive home the point)
B: Oh, a gift! (his face brightens) A tax dodge!
C: No, no, no, no!
B:  No? Well, I'm awfully sorry. I don't understand. 
     Can you just explain exactly what you want?
C: I want you to give me a pound. And then I'll go 
     away and give it to the orphans.
B: Yes? (waiting, as above, absolutely baffled)
C: Well, that's it.
B: (shaking his head in utter disbelief)  
     No, no, I don't follow this at all, I mean, 
     I don't want to seem stupid, but it looks to me  
     as if I was a pound down on the whole deal.
C: Well, yes you are!
B: I am? But what is my incentive to give you the pound?
C: Well,  the incentive is to make the orphans happy.
B: (genuinely puzzled) Happy?  
     Are you quite sure you've got this right?
C: Yes, lots of people give me money.
B: What, just like that?
C: Yes!
B: They must be sick! I don't suppose you could give me  
     a list with their names and addresses, could you?

 

Now published: An n-Sector Migration Simulation

I'm happy to report that my work on migration got published!

You can order the book on Amazon or read the original paper, including key results of the book, in a free online version.


 

Beijing Soya Chicken

Chicken legs, onion, ginger and salt go in boiling water. Wait till the chicken is tender.
Next, place the chicken in a hot pan with oil and broil it in soya sauce. Add sugar and salt. Lower the heat but keep adding chicken soup till the meat is nice and juicy.
Ingredients

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An n-Sector Migration Simulation

I finished my work on migration simulation for the Research-Unit Economics.

It's based on a Two-Sector Migration Model inspired by Harris and Todaro and applied Agent Based Simulation aligned to Axtell’s Emergence of Firms to build "An n-Sector Migration Simulation".

Here is the abstract:
"Workers, considering costs of migration, tend to migrate to sectors where they expect higher wages. In revers, firms trying to increase profits, migrate to sectors with lower wages. The result of their combined movement determins wages in each sector. This Agent Based Simulation applies an inductive behavior models with various strategies for wage expectations, and yields patterns of migration in an n-sector scenario."

Here are some results:

Download: http://www.derbaum.com/n-sector-migration.pdf

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Nomads work and love

This weeks issue of The Economist is running a special report on mobile telecoms: Nomads at last.

The report describes how today's ubiquitous mobile technology allows us to work, live and love like nomads (wanderer), without staying long in the same place.

Our documents, spreadsheets, contacts, calenders,... are always available online in the cloud. So unlike previous nomads, we don't have to carry much weight. An iPhone like device may do. Where ever we are we can sit down, do some work, play around with ideas or catch-up with customers, coworkers, or friends and family.

Who wants to be at the office from 9 to 5? If I'm working, does it matter if I sweat in a cubicle or enjoy fresh air in the park? Of course it does! And reading this report just gave me additional encouragement to stay out of that cubicle.


Surely this beach has Wifi

For some an office may be great to get focused, while others prefer a beach. If you find yourself bored or in need for inspiration, get moving. (Right now, I'm in a coffee shop, but that beach looks inviting). In the end, where we are becomes secondary. What counts is that we get things done and spend time with those we love.

Or, as Sigmund Freud put it, Menschen müssen arbeiten und lieben um Erfüllung zu finden (humans must work and love in order to find fulfillment). Mmm, I love it when The Economist runs quotes like that.

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Freegans

I'm all about consumerism. Electronics made in China. A newspaper from Britan. Shirts from Turkey and eggs from Aldi (no idea where they come from).

I try to marginally improve the world by bringing at least a small part of my euros to workers in poor or developing countries (even the most capitalistic company creates jobs and incomes). However there are some who restrict their consumption.

While I could see myself as a pescatarian, I find it hard to imagine life as a fruitarian. However, today I read about a group called freegans. It's some kind of antiglobalisation thing, which -obviously- I don't understand.
No, we are not homeless. We eat garbage to save the world.

I found those freegans on 3 Extreme Ways To Go Green (via digg).
A related post on derbaum.com is: Eier von Glücklichen Bauern

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iPhone Surgery

My friend Peter was kind enough to bring me an iPhone from New York. It looked cool, but initially it was locked to AT&T and therefor useless in Europe. But luckily I found an unlocking guide on the web: iPhone in Switzerland.

It looked tough, but doable. So Stefan and I decided to go for it.

Me with special light to see impossible small circuits.
After seven hours of sweat and pain we reassembled the device. And...
NO SERVICE, PLEASE INSERT AT&T SIM CARD
Agrr...

But wait, we forgot to enter:

AT+CLCK=”PN”,0,”00000000″
AT+CLCK=”PN”,2
And surprise, surprise: the iPhone is now unlocked!
iPhone with Austrian SIM (ONE)

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Sommerpause

Sommerpause im Gartenbau
The Gartenbau Cinema

Walking around Vienna, one is easily reminded of the current season: Summerbreak. The time when small and mid-sized shops hang a little sign in the window saying "Summerpause". They leave early in August and most return in September.

I'm glad to see how successful those shops must be. How else could their owners afford to close and take a month long vacation? I always misunderstood their past complains about international competition. An ironic joke it must have been.

It must be a fest, for the shop owners on vacation, to lay in the sun and laugh about their competitors working thru the summer heath. "Those poor bastards" they might think. "Who knows, if allowed, they would probably work on Sunday as well."

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Could the Dollar fall any lower?

Another fun illustration of China's economic relations with the USA.
From The Economist print edition Aug 9th 2007

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Free flights to Hong Kong

I always keep an eye on cheap flights to Asia. I hailed Lufthansa's "Ready to Fly" for it's 300€ flights to China, but this offer seems to be expired. Anyway, help is on it's way: Oasis Hong Kong Airline promises flights from London to Hong Kong for 50€.

Checking flights for next week showed nothing below 400€. But a month later, flights show up for about 130€. Adding a discount flight to London Gatewick, and one should get from about anywhere in Europe to Hong Kong for under 200€ (one-way).

Now if I just buy a nicely trailered suit and a few gadgets, I can quickly save 2x200€ in the tax-free-shopping-haven also known as Hong Kong. Which leaves me a free flight to Hong Kong. Right?

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Please, No Asiaphobia

Twice a year (next on May 22nd) the economic leadership of China and America meets for a Strategic Economic Dialogue to disuse trade relations.

Hank Paulson and Wu Yi
Hank Paulson and Wu Yi

The Economist, May 17th 2007
The dialogue was coined by Hank Paulson, America's treasury secretary and ex CEO of Goldman Sachs. He will welcome Wu Yi, the woman behind China's economic policy since 1991 and current vice-premier of China.

Unfortunately discussions are overshadowed by increasing hostility against China. The American congress accuses China among other things of stealing their economic leadership, natural resources and jobs. (This weeks issue of The Economist runs a survey about America's fear of China.)

First, China's population is more than four times bigger than America's population. Obviously China should command a bigger economy at some point (as it did in the past).

Second, natural resources are bought and sold internationally. As the world economy grows and more people live a decent life, so does demand for resources and their price. America could easily improve a thing or two in its efficiency of using resources. A higher price (and regard for the environment) provides the right incentives. The same counts for China.

Lastly: jobs. Is China stealing American jobs? Some members of congress seem to believe that world trade (or trade in general) is a zero-sum game. One job more in China's export industry means one job less in America.

That's not the case. As America imports from China, China imports from America. Jobs lost in one sector, will be gained in another. If America imports more than it exports (as it currently does), it pays with dollars. A promise of value which China can use for imports in the future. If China does not redeems those dollars, America basically imports for free. Hardly something to complain about.

In today's China Daily I read a smart statement by Ms. Wu: "The United States, as a global leader in science and technology, should give full play to its comparative advantage, enhance mutual trust and relax export controls to boost the competitiveness of American companies, revers the trend of dwindling market share of American hi-tech products in China, and reduce its trade deficit with China."

With comparative advantage, David Ricardo's theory on trade, Ms. Wu reminds us that even if America is far ahead in science and technology, it could still gain from trade in those fields.

As a previous investment banker, Mr. Paulson knows just as well about the gains from trade. That's why he should resist pressure from congress and further open the US economy. Ms. Wu would certainly welcome him.

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Everyday prices in Beijing

10RMB = 1Euro
  • Bottled water 1RMB
  • Small latte at Starbucks 22RMB
  • Latte in Chinese Cafe 4RMB
  • Vegetables for a fine lunch 3.6RMB
  • Haircut 30RMB
  • Dinner at fine Italian 400RMB
  • Cinema 70RMB
  • Fake DVD 5RMB
  • Gintonic 10RMB
  • T-Shirt 10RMB
  • The Economist 70RMB
  • Apartment in central Beijing (55m²) 4800RMB/Month
  • Cleaning lady (full time) 700RMB/month
  • Unlimited broadband internet 120RMB/month
  • Taxi 2RMB/km
  • Car wash (inside + outside) 10RMB
  • Gasoline 4.6RMB/liter
  • Train from Beijing to Shanghai 320RMB
  • Flight from Beijing to Shanghai 560RMB

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