Christmas 2010



In the words of some author who I don’t recall “And so the time has come to pass” … To all my Christian friends out there, may you have a blessed Christmas season.

And in particular for those of us who live in the southern hemisphere, have a hot and happy new year!

Fireworks on Diwali

Diwali 2010

Diwali 2010

I just realised a very interesting thing, and that is that in 2010 we celebrate both Guy Fawkes day and also Diwali on the 5th November.

What an amazing coincidence, that two independent “light” festivals are held on the same day this year. Both festivals have to do with lights in one way or another. For somebody like me who loves anything that is a colourful light, both are incredibly interesting events.

Needless to say I think their origins are somewhat different. I believe that Guys Fawkes day was originally intended to be a once-off display of serious magnitude. Just a once-off flicker, really.

On the other hand, the Diwali festival of lights is a joyful time and signals the beginning of new things. The triumph of good over evil. All around much more happy event. According to the website at Diwali Festival .org the main thing is to light some candles in a row and invite family and friends over for some meals – not unlike our Christian Christmas feast.

To make things even more interesting, a few days ago we celebrated All Saints Day on the 1st November, also a day of new beginnings as I wrote on my other blog.

So … this is a wish to all my friends, that their careers and personal lives will kick off with a lot of fireworks on this Diwali festival.


Spice Gold



Tanzania always conjures up images of white sandy beaches drenched with sun and the smell of spices. After all the island of Zanzibar is called Spice Island.

But Tanzania also produces a significant amount of Gold, and where there is gold there are mines, and where there are mines there will be projects.

So next week I’m off to Dar-Es-Salaam to talk to a few Project Managers. Looking forward actually. Apparently it is a select group of managers who want to hone their skills on the latest developments in PM. This is right up my alley!

Will keep you informed!

Seven or Ten

7 or 10

7 or 10

My “old” laptop (it’s always “old” isn’t it?) is running Windows XP Pro. So since my disasterous attempts to “upgrade” to Outlook (see my previous post here), all my Microsoft buddies promised me that all my problems will be solved if I upgrade to Windows 7.

Great news!

But this time I wasn’t going to get caught again. This time I wanted solid evidence, measurable parameters, clear results, before committing to my “new” laptop.

So I purchased a nice piece of hardware (Intel Quad-core, 8400 chipset, 4Gb RAM) with 4 SATA hard drives that I could swap out easily. The strategy is to install a clean operating system on a new hard disk and then emulate my existing workload and work methods and programs. One hard disk was pre-loaded with my document set (around 350Gb, mixed stuff like old documents going back to 1998 in Lotus Smartsuite, recent Outlook PST files, or even very up-to-date Office 2007 documents). The remaining 3 disks were used – one at a time – to hold a particular operating system. Programs ranged from basic Office suites to image manipulation and PDF manipulators.

Windows 7 and Ubuntu version 10 (hence the 7 or 10 moniker) would be the two main contenders, and my control set is Windows XP SP3 with which I am very familiar.

The results were astounding. I am still in shock!

Windows XP came first and within 3 hours my system was running perfectly. Check!

I decided to try Windows 7 next. Windows is Windows, the same, right? Never was I so wrong! It was sheer hell to learn the new interface, to find things, to get used to stupid UAC messages and indexing and searching … after 3 days (two of which were over a weekend with lots of time) I could say that I had a reasonable system up and running. I am still playing “Find-My-Documents” but I now know for sure that the reason MS improved the search facility is to help them find their own documents. Oh, sharing between my XP laptop and my Windows 7 machine is still not exactly seamless, but some kind soul posted a work-around. I was tired. I also have NO confidence that I will be able to make a ghost image of my system and restore it and boot it in a few minutes – a key requirement for when my laptop gets stolen and I have to rebuild to be on-the-air in minutes after buying a new machine.

If Windows 7 was so difficult to get used to, I said to myself, Linux (Ubuntu) must be even worse. I heard the rumours. So very reluctantly (I am now days behind on my customer commitments) I put in a clean hard disk and boot my Ubuntu 10.4 (so now you know why I called it 7 or 10!) DVD. In between doing customer calls, I answer some questions, I re-boot the Ubuntu system … and everything works!

No! Impossible! It cannot be! I try to share a folder … it works! I download a file … I can find it! I try automatic updates … it works! Everything works! Restoring ghost images too … wow.

OK something must be wrong. Try printing on my HP LaserJet 4600 … it also works!

At 9pm that evening I pour myself a glass of wine and sit down to reflect while listening to some music from my Ubuntu machine. I have nothing more to do. It is simply done. My Ubuntu system has gone in effortlessly in 4 hours, including getting used to the new user interface.

  • Cost of Windows 7 including Office, excluding hardware – at least R2500 (ZAR), + 20 of my hours
  • Cost of Ubuntu including Office and all the most important tools I use – z-e-r-o -, +4 of my hours

Both new systems had a steep learning curve. Things are not the way they used to be. You click in different places, you see new terminology. Both are pretty, both struggled with MTU sizes on my iBurst connection. I cannot say the one had a particular edge over the other.

But one thing is certain: Windows 7 doesn’t have any edge over Ubuntu. I cannot give Windows 7 more than 7/10. My recommendation is crystal clear: If you have to choose to upgrade from XP to a new system, don’t waste precious money on Windows 7. Rather use that money for a better sound system, TV or pretty clothes. It will give you more value.

It just proves the old adage: The cost of an item has no relation to its value.