The theater and how to get there

This Sunday I was at the Royal Theater in Copenhagen, to watch “Store balletskoledag. When a Danish ballet school is to show their best, this is the place to be. It gives even the youngest students an chance to try the stage and experience what life as a performer can be like. Great fun.

But first we had to get there, and that turned out more exciting than planned. It seemed so simple, and that is a reminder to always be careful about making assumptions. When planning it is not enough to know “when” to meet (or make delivery), the “where” also matters, be that a physical place (or a site or server somewhere). Also, accounting for delays in the overall plan can save the day if you stay cool and pragmatic.

This was first posted on LinkedIn

Summer reading 2023

Weather is getting better, so I will also do a summer book post.

‘How Big Things Get Done’ by Bent Flyvbjerg and Dan Gardner, and ‘The Worlds Worst Warships’ by Antony Preston. Both take an interesting, readable and enjoyable look at mega projects and how they succeed or fail. Flyvbjerg and Gardner look forward at how we can do better; Preston’s view is more historical, but at a complex subject “…which encompasses engineering, economics, sociology , and even psychology”, with outcomes that may be ridiculous, often tragic and sometimes change the path of history.

As an IT manager of people and projects I particularly enjoyed these books because they provide an outside perspective on the challenges I meet in my daily work, including that IT projects aren’t worse or better than others (actually it depends: Flyvbjerg and Gardner got statistics).

Next up in my reading list in non-fiction must be ‘In Search of Stupidity’ by Merrill Chapman which is now out in a 3rd edition, with a fresh look at the latest mistakes within technology marketing.

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Repost: Tuckman’s model

I always find inspiration in Tuckman’s model of group development, which states that whenever a team is formed to resolve a task, the team will move through the stages of forming, storming, norming and finally performing. That is, some level of conflict (aka “disagreement” or “misalignment”) is inevitable when a team is created/changed, but once differences have been sorted out and a common ground has been found, the group can work and perform efficiently. I am so fortunate as to be working with highly competent and passionate people in different contexts, and while we may not initially agree on our direction, great things happen once we find it. Of course, meeting your collaborators with a professional, respectful, and open attitude is the shortcut to high performance.

This was first posted on LinkedIn

PC Update 2020 – for Lightroom and occasional gaming

The list of bad things that happened in 2020 is pretty much endless, so every spark of light must be cherished. To me one of those points is that 2020 looks like a great year to finally update my PC. and indeed a great year for everyone else thinking along those lines.

Why? Well, AMD, that’s why. Imagine that the company was on Ars Technica‘s Death Watch list in 2014 and still got dishonorable mention in 2016, having become insignificant while Intel ruled the desktop CPU market. AMD’s new CPU line is aptly named Ryzen.

The first generation in 2017 definitely got my attention, and the 2 and 3rd generations even more so. I’ve been holding out while my i5-2500K PC went from venerable to obsolete. Now the time is nigh.

My Requirements – What do I need?

A PC revamp is a solid investment and I don’t want to invest in bragging rights alone. I will get the stuff I need, which is a PC to work with photos and movie editing on a hobby basis. “movie editing” is a magic word in this context – I don’t think a PC can be too powerful for that application, which mean that it is all down to cost/benefit analysis. How often am I going to render a movie and how often will cutting the waiting half in time make a difference? If I was a media creation professional getting paid by the hour, the business case would allow to by some very high performing stuff. Being a hobbyist, I think I’ll live with that occasional couple of minutes extra waiting time and give my kids an extra hug. Photo editing is also a key word, although this is more about single thread performance, while movie editing involves coding on many frames, which can be packaged out to processing by several cores, a single image being loaded for editing is a single image. Therefore, single thread performance remains a key interest of mine. However, while browsing though a list of images means I will certainly feel a 50% performance gain, I highly doubt that would feel a performance gain less than 5%. I.e., being fast is great, but being fastest is not worth it.

My gamin habits do little to change that conclusion. At my level, having a decent CPU is important, but the video card is the most important. Looking at my current list of games to play, the most demaing is Witch r 3 from 2915, so I am not worried.

PC Design 2020

What is the best CPU?

Looking at the mid-end CPU options in 2020 the main options are

  • AMD: Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7
  • Intel: i5 and i7

where Ryzen 5 has 6 cores and twice as many threads, Ryzen 7 has 8 cores/16 threads; the latest i5 has 6 cores/6 threads and i7 has 6 cores/12 threads

The table below shows a collection of options, including some that are mostly of historical interest to me, with benchmarks from the PassMark Software PerformanceTest V10:

CPUBenchmarkBenchmark (ST)Year#cores#threadsNotes
Ryzen 7 5800X2794933832020816
Ryzen 5 5600X2234133322020612
Ryzen 7 3700X2281826892019816
Ryzen 3 3300X127852689202048
Ryzen 5 3600X1832826782019612
Ryzen 3 3100117782443202048
Ryzen 7 2700X1758524382018816
Ryzen 5 2600X1409824132018612
Ryzen 5 1600X1308321942017612
Ryzen 7 1800X1623321782017816
i5-2500K40831696201044My 2011 build
Core 2 Duo E840011651250200822My 2009 build


Having chosen a latest generation AMD CPU the selection is narrowed down considerably. To me it becomes a choice between a general purpose b550 chipset and the higher performing x570 chipset, which requires active cooling. My PC is in my living room, so fewer fans outweighs being proofed for a hypothetical future (at which point updating the motherboard may be a welcome opportunity anyway). Note that most current AM4 socket motherboards will need a BIOS upgrade before they can support a Ryzen 5000 series CPU, i.e., an older CPU must be installed first).


DDR4 blocks with 288 pins is the thing these days, with 3200 MHz being the pragmatic choice. In most cases 16GB is fine, but since I will be editing RAW files and rendering movies, I’ll go one step up to 32GB.


Something mid-range will do, Radeon 5600XT or Nvidia RTX 2060 sounds fine.

Storage etc.

I am happy to note that the cost of M.2 SSDs is now comparable to SATA SSDs. That is particular good if you are bad at sorting photos and culling the bad ones. Also, the NVME drives are cab le less, greatly reducing clutter in the case and improving air flow.

Another piece of good “news” (I totally missed when this became a feature) is modular power supplies. How great you can remove all those cables that you’ll never need.

Finally a point to watch out for: When buying a new case make sure it has room for the components you need, First of all a front loading bay like a DVD drive or internal card reader. This is no longer a given (I believe I once had a case with room for 7 units).

Featured Image

A leaf in fall colors.

Related posts

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The Anne Karenina Principle and the Case for Project Management

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

– Leo Tolstoy in Anna Karenina (1877)

Thus begins Tolstoy‘s novel Anne Karenina. I learned about it when I was introduced to the Anna Karenina principle in Jared Diamond‘s book “Guns, Germs and Steel“. The book explores why in the history of humanity some societies have come to dominate others and one the factors involved is the access to domesticated animals. Ever wondered why you can’t ride a zebra like a horse? When you count it becomes clear that very few of the planet’s large animals can be domesticated, a fact that it explained by considering the factors that must all be fulfilled for an animal to be domesticated successfully. If just one of these factors is missing, then domestication is not feasible. In other words, while domesticated animals are all essentially alike, each is undomesticated animal is undomesticated in its own way.

Project managers talk a lot about unhappy projects and often seem quite unhappy about it. However, I believe that the unhappy nature of projects is not necessarily a bad thing and that a certain unhappiness is part of being a good project manager.

First, what is a happy project? If a project is a “…temporary organization that is created for the purpose of delivering one or more business products according to an agreed Business Case” [cf.], then a happy one must be one that has no problems delivering its products at the expected cost, value and time, and where all other status indicators are good and green. I suppose these projects exists. At least I will not say on record that they don’t – maybe like black swans they live and roam free in a country far away and in zoos, where they are executed perfectly and run smoothly, always delivering on time, budget and quality.

However, in my experience, all projects are unhappy, and they are each unhappy in their own way. And yes, I just admitted that the projects I manage are rarely in an all green status, and when that happens, then it is time to review the project and look for risks and issues that might have been overlooked. Or, keeping the project management triangle in mind, if project is in the middle for an extended period, then either the budget is higher than it needs to be, the scope unambitious or not innovative, or the timeline too lax. It reminds me of the anecdote about Henry Ford that he would have workmen check Ford cars in junkyards to see which parts could be manufactured cheaper. Seriously, though, part of good project management is to deliver what is agreed at the right time and in the agreed quality and at no more than the agreed cost, and to do this work the project manager should always look for opportunities for optimizing delivery. This principle is weaved into common Agile frameworks as part of retrospectives and continuous improvement and in PRINCE2 as part of the Managing a Stage Boundary process.

In other words. to deliver the most value, the project manager should not be afraid of challenging herself, the delivery organization, or the client. Having said that, there are also projects that are severely challenged and possibly beyond redemption (or may not have actual delivery as the main purpose). Transparency and upright communication go a long way for this.

Doing this not only provide the client the best bang for the buck, but it is also good for the project managers, even though they expose themselves to unhappiness. Consider the alternative – a project where everything is green always and the project manager tasks is reduced blindly approving stuff. First the project manager might follow the example of Homer Simpson in “King-Size Homer” who got someone to cover for him, but eventually the project manager would be replaced by someone more junior (or a dipping bird). No Challenge -> No Job.

Someone to cover for King-Size Homer (or an under-challenged project manager). (from The Simpsons, episode S07E07 – thanks

Therefore, project management is about working perpetually unhappy projects and whenever one source of unhappiness is removed move on to the next. It is a Sisyphean, almost depressing task, always focusing on the things that are missing, the things that are going wrong and being suspicions of ever there is an all green status report. All glasses are half-empty or out to get you.

Just thinking of a recent experience: At one point all looked green and I really considered calling a meeting to brainstorm risks and determine what we might be missing. We found out soon enough though and could go back to work. External interfaces, uncertain backlog and uncertain funding kept times interesting thereafter.

Another project I was involved was hardly a project at all – missing both a clear goal and timeline (no budget either : ), but it was a tricky (and very innovative) job and someone had to do it. That sort of thing calls for project manager skills, so it was called a project anyway.

All said, I can happily return to work and keep pushing, pulling, nudging, and kicking my projects forward. Not only are all projects unhappy, but they are also unhappy in each their own way, providing a never-ending source of challenges and opportunities for the experienced project manager to learn, excel and add value.