The mysterious case of the ‘Engine-Stopping Ray’

Peter MerrittFunLeave a Comment

The Mysterious Case of the ‘Engine-Stopping Ray’ - A blog.

In Most Secret War, Dr. R. V. Jones discusses the human tendency to “conjure up fear under conditions of stress,” a tendency the modern Westerner—stalked by fears of terrorism, crime, and economic catastrophe, international mergers—will no doubt appreciate. The example Jones cites, though seemingly trivial in hindsight, is both entertaining and revealing. Bear with me on this one as it … Read More

Fortunate correlations

Peter MerrittFunLeave a Comment

The more successful his efforts proved, the more pressure Dr. Jones and his team felt. He grew increasingly concerned that they would miss something vital. The most direct solution would be to hire more staff, which he considered, somewhat skeptically. Unfortunately, at that point all the ablest people had been fitted into posts, and it was now difficult to pries … Read More

The Problem of Playing It Safe

Peter MerrittFunLeave a Comment

This item challenges us to truly examine our motives in giving advice to clients (or colleagues). We may be working in high-tech IT, but we are still not all that far from our hunter-gatherer ancestors… As always, I am indebted to my colleagues both here and in the US professional gaming community for the inspiration and basis of this article.While … Read More

Things That Go Fud…(Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt)

Peter MerrittFunLeave a Comment

This item involves an illustration of some of the exaggerated and warped ‘group-think’ which was engendered by the famous V2 missile, the first man-made object into space. Whilst much of Jones’s comments in the article concern the missile, try to think of it in our terms as the next, fab solution/fad… As always, I am indebted to my colleagues both … Read More

AA – Abbreviations and Acronyms

Gil AthorayaFunLeave a Comment

Abbreviations and acronyms are great when you want to save space (or typing). There exists a plethora of commonly used abbreviations in most languages and most people recognise and read them without any problems. But how do you best shorten a new name or phrase? The Problem We have a collection of drug descriptions, typically not more than a dozen … Read More

The value of ‘hierarchical attenuation’

Peter MerrittFunLeave a Comment

Or Figures Never Lie – We Do In Reflections on Intelligence, R. V. Jones briefly reviews the British decision to adopt a convoy system during World War I. The case brings to light two useful insights: Know your data’s heritage and; Value the opinions of junior analysts. It also emphasizes how easy it is to work at cross purposes within … Read More

Historical lessons for new consultants

Peter MerrittFunLeave a Comment

This is the first in what may be an occasional series which seeks to make historical lessons more widely available to 21stC business. All of these are taken from the work of Dr R.V. Jones, a home-grown genius from WW2. I am indebted to some American colleagues involved with what is known as ‘red team’ training, the awkward squad developing … Read More

Mount Snowdon charity climb: Report

Sam GutsellFunLeave a Comment

Background The climb was all in aid of raising money for Cancer Research UK, we planned the climb for June 2nd and the weather was absolutely perfect for it, a clear day, around 18 degrees with little wind. The planned routes were using the Snowdon Ranger path for the ascent and the Llanberis path for the descent, which should’ve taken … Read More

Money talks, but can’t spell…

Peter MerrittFunLeave a Comment

It is well known that computers are superb at handling numbers (and before anyone raises it, even spelling and other nifty Word-processing tools are reduced to numeric rules and ‘weightings’; sorry…). However, for arcane reasons dating back well over two hundred years, some contractual statements of financial amounts must also be expressed in written English, presumably because potential 18thC fraudsters … Read More

Sonification: Listening to big data

Peter MerrittFunLeave a Comment

Introduction to Sonification First off, this has nothing to do with certain weird old Hedgehog-oriented video games (for more details on that, see here). The term actually applies to the translation of often complex, massed data streams from a variety of sources into sounds. Like the associated use of colour, it uses the specialised sensory areas of our brains to … Read More

Pi Day

Paul GrosvenorFunLeave a Comment

Saturday 14th March 2015 will be a very special Pi Day. One that only comes along once every 100 years! This year, not only does the month and day of the date (3/14) correspond to the digits in the mathematical constant, the digits in the year do too. If you write the date in the month/day/year format, then the digits … Read More

What is Lagom?

Gil AthorayaFunLeave a Comment

I often repeat a quote that I remember from my apprentice days that goes: 90% of the development work is done in 10% of the time, the last 90% of the time accounts for the remaining 10% of code. Today I found a similar one (that makes me think I remembered it wrong): The first 90 percent of the code … Read More