Thursday, March 27, 2008


Contrary to popular belief, the value of information can be calculated and expressed as a dollar value! Or so says Mr. Doug Hubbard.

Credit goes to Hubbard Decision Research that wrote a white paper entitled “Applied Information Economics: A New Method for Quantifying IT Value.”

I’ve been reading more of this author’s works. I think they’re impressive. So does Lucent, the Department of Defense, and his other clients.

This is how Mr. Doug Hubbard explains the calculation process:

1. Information reduces uncertainty.
2. Less uncertainty improves decisions.
3. Better decisions result in more effective actions.
4. Effective actions improve profit.

He concludes by stating that:

These four steps can be stated in unambiguous mathematical terms. The mathematical model for this has been around since the late 1940s.

Do you agree with the process as he explained it?

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008


My father is an avid birdwatcher. It's too bad that he doesn't watch birds in the remote forests of the Philippines. If he did and was lucky, he might catch a glimpse of the Philippine eagle. The photos came from last month's issue of National Geographic Magazine. The February 2008 issue contained an article about the Philippine Eagle.

This raptor is the second largest and most endangered eagle in the world. Currently, this bird of prey is confirmed to exist in just four Philippine islands: Mindanao, Luzon, Leyte, and Samar. Scientists estimate that perhaps only a few hundred pairs remain in the world.

• You can click on any photo to enlarge it.
• Usted puede hacer clic en cualquier foto para ampliarlo.
• Вы можете нажать на любую фотографию, чтобы увеличить это.
• Ви клацання в фотографія до збільшуватися.


Let me quote from the Chicago Field Museum's website:

When the first humans arrived in the Philippines from adjacent Asia many thousands of years ago, they found an archipelago that was remarkably rich in natural resources. The seas were inhabited by the earth's most diverse marine communities on earth, providing an abundant source of food throughout the year. The land was covered almost entirely by rain forest that provided them with meat from wildlife, building materials, and seemingly everlasting supplies of clear, cool water.

Those natural resources have been squandered, so badly damaged by over-use, mismanagement, and greed that recovery is uncertain, and collapse seems to be a real possibility. The nation now faces stark alternatives: a decline from the biologically richest place on earth to environmental devastation, or recovery from the current brush with disaster to a point of stability. To understand the origin of this dramatic and terrible situation, we must begin with history, but must end with societal and personal choice.

Few countries in the world were originally more thoroughly covered by rain forest than the Philippines. Brazil has extensive savannah and brush; Indonesia has many dry islands; Kenya and Tanzania have only small patches of rain forest. A few hundred years ago, at least 95 percent of the Philippines was covered by rain forest; only a few patches of open woodland and seasonal forest, mostly on Luzon, broke the expanse of moist, verdant land.

By the time the Spanish arrived in the Philippines in the 16th century, scattered coastal areas had been cleared for agriculture and villages. The only domestic grazer was the water buffalo, and pastureland was very limited. Some forest had been cleared in the interior as well—particularly the terraced rice lands of the central cordillera mountain range of northern Luzon—but most coastal areas and the richest of the lowlands remained completely forested, broken only by the occasional cultivated clearings. By 1600, the human population of the Philippines probably numbered about 500,000, and old-growth rain forest over 90 percent of the land, home to thousands of plant and animal species interacting in the web of life that sustained the human population.


From National Geographic's website:

With a wingspan of two meters (seven feet) and a weight of up to 6.5 kilograms (15 pounds), the species casts an impressive shadow as it soars through its rain forest home. Its long tail helps it skillfully maneuver while hunting for its elusive prey, like flying lemurs or palm civets.

Known for its large, deep bill and spiky crest, the Philippine eagle is arguably the most majestic creature in the rain forest. Its blue-gray eyes, unique among raptors, add to its striking appearance. The bird’s call is a loud, high-pitched whistle. Both female and male eagles display their impressive crests when on alert. An eagle twists its head to change its visual perspective and determine an object’s size and distance.

A breeding pair of eagles requires from 40 to 80 square kilometers (25 to 50 square miles) of rain forest to survive. The word "raptor" comes from the Latin root that means "to seize and carry away." Any bird that kills with its feet is a raptor. While they often catch prey in midair, those nesting in large trees in lowland areas search for prey on the ground. Eagles hunt a variety of animals, ranging in size from small bats to 14-kilogram (30-pound) deer. The most common prey is the flying lemur, an arboreal mammal with webbed feet and claws. Other meals of choice include palm civets, flying squirrels, snakes, rats, and birds.

For decades the bird was known as the monkey-eating eagle. A presidential proclamation renamed it the Philippine eagle in 1978, in part to promote national pride in the magnificent endangered bird. In 1995 the Philippine eagle replaced the maya as the national bird.


This video shows an eagle hunting in flight.


Click here: The Philippine Eagle Foundation

Here's one final whimsical look at this magnificent animal.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008


One of the most important and difficult phases of project management is planning. A well-executed project is only possible from a good plan. More concisely, good execution requires good planning.

What aspects should be considered in order to come up with a good plan? Start with the two major factors that affect planning: scope and resources.

Scope is one because it defines the quantity and type of work to be accomplished. Resources (or, specifically, resource availability) are the other because resources are finite and its availability needs to be scheduled.

A realistic time horizon is one indication of a credible plan. A credible project plan always has a realistic time horizon.

The general rule for developing a credible project schedule is the consistent match between a planned activity and the resources it needs.

The time horizon is the number of future time periods of a schedule. If a schedule extends for five months then the project’s time horizon is five months into the future.

Why is it important for the time horizon to be realistic?

Uncertainty is highest at the beginning of a project. The reliability of information decreases the further that plans that are based on that information extend into the future. It doesn’t make sense therefore to create a 12-month schedule (for example) if today’s information about resource availability or project requirements is unclear after five months.

Assume that a project has been planned out 12 months into the future. That means that the plan has a 12-month long time horizon. If a close examination determines that its assumptions become unstable after the fifth month, then that plan is credible only up to the fifth month. It may depict a 12-month time horizon but it only has a realistic 5-month time horizon.

What, then, makes a project schedule credible? It is a schedule that only contains activities that can be achieved with available resources. For example, if the development of a software module is the activity, then it means there are resources, e.g., developers, available for that activity.

The project schedule consolidates work requirements and resource availability. Any work activity (or task) in the schedule implies that its tasks are going to be satisfied by resources that are available during the task’s appearance in the schedule. A credible project plan fulfills that assumption. A questionable project plan does not.

It is not possible to create a stable schedule if the scope and resources are unknown or cannot be assessed with confidence. The realistic time horizon is that point in the future that assumptions about the project’s work requirements and availability of resources can be depended upon.

To summarize:

A project schedule includes activities that can be achieved with available resources. Any schedule implies that each task is going to be satisfied by resources that are available during that specific tasks’ appearance in the schedule.

The project’s time horizon is the number of future time periods of that project’s schedule. For example, a schedule that projects 12 months into the future is said to have a 12-month time horizon.

A credible schedule is careful to include only those tasks that have a high probability of being satisfied by resources during the appearance of those tasks in the schedule.

A dubious schedule is one that extends into the future without that high probability of realism. For example, a schedule that projects 12 months into the future but has only stable assumptions up to the fifth months only has a realistic 5-month time horizon. The remaining seven months are dubious and unreliable.

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Monday, March 10, 2008


In an earlier post, I reviewed the history of the Red Cross—how it was directly responsible for the Geneva Convention, how it has been awarded three Nobel Peace Prizes, how two organizations actually comprise the Red Cross, etc. The Red Cross is one of the world’s great humanitarian organizations and it deserves to be more widely known.

The Red Cross has three official emblems: (1) the Red Cross, (2) the Red Crescent, and more recently (3) the Red Crystal. The map shows the emblems that each country has adopted for its national society.

Countries in red use the traditional Red Cross emblem. Countries in Green use the Islamic Red Crescent. Israel is the only country so far that uses the Red Crystal.

A country has to sign the Geneva Convention before its volunteers can officially become a part of the international Federation of the Red Cross. A country’s national Red Cross is referred to as a national society.

The other organization that comprises the Red Cross is the International Committee of the Red Cross, otherwise known as the ICRC. It is the ICRC that works in areas of conflict. Their members work at great risk to themselves. They work in the war zone. As the conflict ends, the ICRC gradually turns over the task of rebuilding lives to the country’s national society. If there is none or if the society is unable to take on the task itself, other national societies pitch in. 

National societies have a lot of work during peacetime. They address immediate and long-terms needs. There is an emphasis on the latter as it aims to eventually make the population self-reliant.

Immediate needs are:
  1. Disaster response
  2. Emergency shelter, food, and medicine
  3. Restoring family contact
Long-term needs are:
  1. Disaster preparedness
  2. Developing safe water and sanitation sources
  3. Community-based health and care
  4. First-aid training and exercises
  5. Control and prevention of diseases
  6. HIV-AIDS prevention
National societies are also preoccupied with meeting budgetary concerns.
  1. Raising funds
  2. Attracting volunteers
  3. Blood donor recruitment, collection, and supply
Sometimes it is necessary for the ICRC and the country’s national society to stay at a disaster zone for years.

In Bosnia, for example, long after the conflict ended, landmines killed about 50 persons a month. Four years after the Red Cross’s mine-awareness education began, fatalities had decreased to nine victims a month. Similar programs run in countries like Afghanistan and Somalia. Conditions in Somalia are worse. There is no real government and the country is overrun with warring factions. Piracy, as you may know, is a growth industry.” In the midst of this chaos and danger, the Red Cross has been working diligently since the 1980s. It stepped up its efforts in 1992 and has been there ever since, 16 years and counting. The lawlessness has taken its toll on the Red Cross. Since 1991, more than 10 Red Cross volunteers have been abducted or murdered outright. Somalia’s own Red Cross barely exists.

There are numerous ways to support the Red Cross. Contact your local chapter to find out!

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