Sunday, July 22, 2007

Busy, Busy, Busy

Holy crap I've been busy!

It's been like two months since I last posted and all kinds of stuff has been going on.

First off, it's getting really exciting at LiquidPlanner! We're getting ready to come out of that highly secretive and mysterious "stealth mode" that all really cool start-ups do (well, it seems all cool at the time).

We've re-named "Team46" as "LiquidPlanner" and I've been running around showing the product to anyone who will sit still for two hours and look at my laptop. Patent drafts are about to be handed back from the lawyers and then things will really crank up.

On Friday I drove all the way up to Snohomish to pick up a server rack (well, half-height rack) to go in the office for us to configure our servers before moving them to the co-lo. After all that and dragging the damned thing back and hauling it upstairs to the office I discover that it won't fit the rails we've got for the servers. That's $40 bucks and 3 hours that I'll never get back. Oh well.

I'm SO stoked to get the servers up and running so we can start showing people what we've been building. Just a little longer and we'll start handing out logins to the private Alpha servers so that more folks can take a look and see what they think. I've got to get the forum software up and running too. We're a Rails shop so we've chosen Beast and I think I'm gonna be really happy with it. It seems simple and straightforward while still allowing most of the features that we want.

I've been reading just about everything I can get my hands on about probabilistic scheduling and some of it is at once cool, and nearly incomprehensible. As we work on this and I dig into the subject I become more and more convinced that most scheduling woes in projects are caused by Murphy's law and Parkinson's law (work expands to fill available time) colliding with bad estimates (like saying 10 days instead of giving a range like 8-15 days) and the usual way that Gantt charts get drawn.

There's this industry report called the Standish CHAOS report (gotta love that name) that says that something like 80% of projects miss their schedule, budget, or scope. I think that I understand where that number comes from and here's the kicker... it isn't bad project management. It is the system itself that is causing the misses. You want a hint... it's all about the log-normal distribution.