Manual Work is a Bug

My own personal story:  A long time ago, I was a farm kid on my grandfather’s farm.  The neighboring town decided to outlaw the carbide noise makers (like this one) that we used to keep crows off the corn…at peak harvest.  Understandable, but we would have lost the commercial value of the sweet corn crop for the year.

So 14-year-old me got to be a walking scarecrow for a week, in 100 degree heat and 95+% humidity, with a big straw hat and a gallon jug of water that became disgustingly warm as the day went on.

What I learned from this:

  1. Sometimes you have to take one for the team.
  2. In the long run, there are some tasks that human beings shouldn’t do, that should be automated.  (In this case, I was the stopgap in going *backwards* away from an existing automated solution).  We dropped sweet corn as a crop after that year.
  3. The small family farm is a dead end; the margins are too small to make a decent living, so I was the last of 10 generations of family to work that farm.  It wasn’t practical to aggregate the farm with others, as the state had run two highways through it, but that, as they say, is another story.
  4. Corollary: You have to move on from time to time and refresh your approach if you want to succeed.  This is a good general lesson.

Given this, and my history in software development and IT operations, I wholeheartedly agree with the article below.

Every IT team should have a culture of constant improvement – or movement along the path toward the goal of automating whatever the team feels confident in automating, in ways that are easy to change as conditions change. As the needle moves to the right, the team learns from each other’s experiences, and the system becomes easier to create and safer to operate.

Source: Manual Work is a Bug

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Fixing a Baritone Tuning Stability Problem

I really enjoyed this article. Solid thinking and a clear exposition of the details.

Innovation Fascinations

How did I get into baritone guitar? I’m not sure I even remember the motivation accurately. I recall wanting to extend the range of tonal possibilities in my music. For those that don’t know what they sound like, the baritone guitar is featured in the solo on Wichita Lineman. It has a very deep, dark, masculine tone, reminiscent of the Wild West. When distorted, the sound is throaty and testosterone-laden, somewhere between the guitar and the bass guitar. It’s a bit like comparing the viola to the violin. You can create ominous, sombre, emotionally-charged melodies with one. They have a way of gently weeping, if coaxed into it.

There is a growing sub culture of baritone guitar players. Some very famous guitar players have recorded with them, yet it’s still a minority interest. Baritone guitars are sometimes difficult to find, choice is limited and the prices are higher, compared to…

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