Monday, April 26, 2010

I Believe?

There is an old song which goes something like:

I believe for every drop of rain that falls, a flower grows.
I believe that somewhere in the darkest night, a candle glows.
I believe for everyone who goes astray, someone will come to show the way.
I believe, I believe.

An interesting idea. If this is true (an the theologians, meteorologists, and horticulturalists I consulted in preparation for this screed seem mixed in their opinions of the Raindrop-To-Blossom Equivalency Theorem) then this spring is going to be one heck of a colorful one!

A couple different weather forecasters have mentioned this weekend that the recent rains and snows have brought the state well over the annual averages for the month. Apparently the watersheds are ahead of where they should be for the season.

I can believe it! Saga's park has large portions of it underwater; the lake has overflowed its banks and encroached on the footpath in a couple places. Bear Creek is way above where it normally is!

Okay, so its nowhere as bad as the flooding you have heard of in North Dakota, but it is pretty impressive when this little creek that barely trickles in the summer become a raging torrent.

But that is what the park is there for after all! After Denver was wiped off the map a few times in the early part of the last century the flood abatement plans were put into place. Part of those plans where the intricate way that the greenbelt was designed.

As one walks along the paths in the park one will notice that the park is roughly pan-shaped. The edges along the north, west, and east edges are raised by the embankment of the roads bordering it. The forth side is raised along the natural rise of the south wall of the valley.

The floor of this pan contains a couple ponds and an intricate tracing of raised trails something like a shallow maze. It was designed to divert the flow of the creek above a certain level and trap it thus regulating the creek flow. The goal is to keep the creek flowing below the maximum level that the South Platte river (into which the creek empties) can handle.

That being said, there has still been a lot of rain... and there are a lot of flowers and trees blooming. So, perhaps there is something to this whole raindrop-flower theory. My explorations these days are far more colorful than they have been!

And the trees have just recently started to bud-out. Standing on the southern lip of Bear Valley the brown expanse of the northern sloping valley wall is starting to show a touch of green. And with more storms blowing in over the mountains come the promise of continuing blooming, blossoming, and general springtime sprouting. I love this time of year! (But then, in Colorado, is there really a bad time of year?)


Wherever you are this morning, I hope that you have had a lovely weekend and are beginning you week with a great morning!

Don Bergquist - April 26, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Happy anniversary to Paul and Suzette

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

Reprieve

Saga is a smart little one. She probably knows that she dodged a bullet this weekend. I know that I had mentioned the B word in her presence. Perhaps she didn't put it together and realize that she was going to get a B-A-T-H, perhaps she had. She hates it when I get her wet. (She especially hates it when I say "Let's go out" only to discover that I've made it rain so that she gets wet.)

All I can say is with it being chilly and damp on Saturday and Sunday morning I decided to give her a brief reprieve and push the bathing activities to a later date.

With her double layered coat, she takes forever to dry and I didn't want to have her lounging about the house damp. I prefer to let her lounge out on the deck to dry. Oh well. Perhaps this weekend…

Wherever you are were weekend, I hope that you had a good one filled only with the things you enjoy/ .

Don Bergquist – April 19, 2010 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Huh?

Is it just me or have continuity writers really started scraping the bottom of the barrel? As someone who used to write commercials for a living (okay, technically, it was for beer money, I was on a paid college internship and was living in the college dorms…) I know that I tend to be more critical than the average viewer, but is anyone else bothered when something makes absolutely no sense?

This morning I was set off by a commercial for a shoe store. The commercial began with the line "Imagine more shoes than you could possibly imagine..." I know that I must have seen the spot before, but this morning I must have been awake enough to logically parse the sentence. The instruction contains the seeds for its own downfall.

They may as well have told you to watch something that cannot be seen, go somewhere that cannot be reached, or do something that is patently impossible. I believe they were trying to get across that they had some implausibly large number of choices. But is the hyperbole really necessary?

Besides, could it even be possible to have more shoes that one can imagine? You'd have to be pretty dull not to be able to imagine a large number of shoes. Heck, I had no problem with the theory of The Shoe Event Horizon as posited by Douglas Adams in The Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy.

This theory basically states that when a society goes into decline, they become depressed and spend a disproportionate amount of time looking down at their shoes. They cheer themselves up by buying a new pair of shoes. The more depressed the society, the more shoes they buy. Eventually, it becomes economically unviable to build anything but shoe stores. The society collapses; the population evolves into birds and leave behind nothing but an entire geological layer of nothing but compressed shoes.

Don't tell me I can’t imagine a large quantity of shoes! Rather than making me want to buy shoes there, it made me think that someone with logic that faulty didn't deserve my business.

It puts me in mind of that grocery store in the UK that uses a tagline that has no noun in it: "every little helps." I tried to never shop at Tesco unless there was no other choice… and there was always an alternative.

Wherever you are today, I wish you a day surrounded by people who use impeccable logic and good grammar!

Don Bergquist – April 15, 2010 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Tax Day

Happy birthday to my friend Sara

Happy birthday to my friend Dougie

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Late Start

My! How time flies when you're having fun!

I got a pretty late start on my walk last evening. One thing after another seemed to conspire to keep me from getting out to enjoy "Saga's Park." The sunset was in full swing as I started my eastward journey along the creek and the thunderheads that I was to later learn were dropping hail and spawning tornadoes over the eastern plains were looming like a huge, pink, cotton candy menace out beyond the downtown cityscape. (I really must remember to carry a camera with me more often. It's not as if I don't own three – or is it four? – of them! But I digress…)

Out into the garish evening I went, mentally calculating as to whether there was enough of the sunset left to do the full five-K I had planned or not. As it turned-out, not. By the time I had turned south to head across the creek and head back west, the color had fled the eastern sky and what light still outlined the mountains silhouetted to the west had faded to a murky grayish-orange glow.

The twilight was enough to follow the trail along the creek, but just barely. I was about half-way back to the western end of the park when a noise off to my right made me start. And had that been a movement that I half-caught out of the corner of my eye?

I peered off into the murky twilight under the trees and there, over the stream, on a tree that had fallen under the weight of one of the snowfalls we had received this winter, was a fox. He sat there, staring back at me with that same expression that Saga uses on me when she is trying her Jedi mind trick on me; "You can go about your business now. You did not see me steal this sandwich off the coffee table! This is not your lunch!"

The noise I had heard repeated itself and I noticed that the fox had been out hunting for its dinner. It had a field mouse in its jaws. As I watched, fascinated, the fox settled down to a sit, then to a crouch, he was still wary, but it appeared that he decided that I wasn't going to take his prey.

If those two joggers hadn’t come by and frightened it away, I probably would have been able to leave the poor fellow in peace to enjoy his dinner. But just then two guys came running down the path on the other side of the stream; startling the fox who dropped the mouse into the stream and darted past me off into the field.

I finished my walk and returned home well after it was full-on dark, and with the new moon being this evening, there was no moon or light at all one the final dregs of the sunset had left. I am going to have to get an earlier start this evening!

Wherever you are today, I hope you had a pleasant evening and that your day today is a great one!

Don Bergquist – April 14, 2010 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Friday, April 09, 2010

What Is A Business Analyst?

This discussion came up on one of the group discussions I follow on LinkedIn and thought that this would be a good subject for a blog entry as well. (For all of you who have ever wondered what I do, this blog's for you!)

I have struggled with this same issue for the past seven years myself. I used to take the easy way out and just say "I design computer software" when people asked what I did. But that was not really the answer to the question was it? I mean, that's not really the function of a BA.

The answer has evolved of late to "I study how people want to use the systems they have and/or how they want to use the systems they want designed. I then translate that into technical geek-speak so that programmers can make the computers do it."

I then usually go on to use the example of the old I Love Lucy episode where Lucy gets arrested in Italy and nobody there speaks English so they find a person who speaks Italian and Spanish and then they get him to tell Ricky what the problem is so that Ricky can explain it to Lucy.

That is what a Business Analyst does. Translates the needs of the user into a usable format so that it can be understood and translated into computer code. In my example, the user is the Italian policeman, I am the guy who speaks Italian and Spanish, The programmer is Ricky, and the computer is Lucy. The user tells me what they want; I understand it and translate it into a set of instructions sufficiently detailed that the programmer can understand the desired outcome. The programmer then translates that into code. The computer then can do what the user wants to do.

"But couldn't the programmer just get the instruction directly from the user?" is the usual next question. They could, I suppose, if the user were sufficiently advanced in their way of thinking to be able to define exactly what they want so that the programmer can act on it; or if the programmer was able to perform the role of the BA and translate the needs of the user into what the actual affect of the request is.

A user may say that they want a button added to a screen to perform a given action. Very few users would know to ask "What are the rules behind when the button should be active? What would happen to the underlying data if the control were to be used at a time which was not appropriate?" And other important questions.

The programmer unless they are trained in the field of business analysis gets a request to add a button to a screen and thinks: "That means I need to persist the button to the display and hook it to the underlying function called."

The business analyst thinks: "What is the desired outcome of having this button there? What are the business rules that control whether the button is active? What are the potential problems with this solution? Are there other ramifications within the system of this new feature?"

Business Analysis is a necessary function to modern software development.

Wherever you are, I hope I have brought a little light and enlightenment to your day today!

Don Bergquist - April 09, 2010 - Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Welcome To The Realities Of The Electronic Age

A recent posting on a discussion group asked "Will book readers move from books to smart phones?" What followed was a discussion of whether the new offering of the Kindle Reader for smart phones would be viable. Would people really be willing to read books on their phone? I found this to be a terribly interesting question. It made me get out and put on my prognostication had.
As someone who has been active in the broadcast industry now for over thirty years, I can attest to how much that industry has changed because of the advent of free content via the internet. It also makes sense that the publishing industry would be similarly affected. It is largely the availability of free information on the internet that has lead to the downfall of the newspaper industry. Very few markets are left with competing daily papers any more.

As to whether people will make the move to smart phones for the consumption of books, I would have to say that it can never hurt anyone to offer a variety of delivery conduits for their content; that is, provided those conduits are secure and enable to content owner to retain their rights to the content licensing.

I think that there will definitely be people who will make the leap to the new delivery method for any media. Additionally, let us not forget what Ken Olsen (Founder of Digital Equipment Corporation) so infamously proclaimed back in 1977: "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."

I would go so far as to say that there is no content delivery method you can conceive of that someone will not feel is cool enough to adopt. The question really should be "will it have enough mass appeal to reach its 'tipping point'?" or "will the new technology replace the old technology."

Here too, let's look at history for the answer. Any technology that provides a good solution to a problem (be it one of convenience, time or labor savings, or life improvement) will remain viable regardless of the new technologies that come along as long as they continue to provide the benefits they were designed to provide. Who hasn't used a telephone? There is probably at least one in the room with you as you read this. That technology is about a century-and-a-half old, but it is still in use. Why? Because although there are alternatives to the technology, it still is a fundamentally good technology that still serves the purpose it was designed to.

If the new technology is a sufficient improvement over the old, the old will die off quickly. How many of you reading this own an 8-Track Cartridge player? I feel pretty safe saying that even if you have used one, nobody reading this currently has one. Why? It was a clunky technology. Cassette tapes and CDs came along and much better fulfilled the needs of the 8-Track marketplace. That technology was invented in the late fifties and was more-or-less dead by the middle of the seventies.

So, will people be willing to read books on their phones? Sure. Will enough people adopt it to make it viable? My gut feeling is yes. These days a phone is no longer the device that Bell called Watson on. It is an alarm clock, a music player, a diary, and a television. So why not a library as well? We'll have to watch and see.

Wherever you are today, I hope that you're having a great day!

Don Bergquist – April 08, 2010 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Monday, April 05, 2010

Roller Coaster Weather

This month’s postcard, perhaps, takes a little explaining, perhaps.

Those of you who read my blog regularly will remember the pictures posted during the storm of March 25th. The change in the weather was remarkable. First it was blizzard-conditions in the morning and then it was lovely, spring-like conditions in the afternoon. The difference was remarkable!

The part of the card on the left was taken at 04:30 that morning; the part on the right, twelve hours later. The camera was in the same place, pointing the same way… the difference is that at 04:30 the Colorado Blue Spruce was covered with a thick frosting of snow. By 16:30 the weather was so pleasant that I had shed my coat for my afternoon walk with Saga. As the pictures show, so had the tree!

The weather this weekend was typical Colorado weather in this respect. I had a lovely sunny day Saturday to walk Saga in her park. Sure, it was a bit windy, bit all-in-all, it was a good day. Sunday was nice too but colder. Today is supposed to be nice but really windy. There must be a front moving in because the weather man said that four-letter-word in the forecast for the week. S*N*O*W!

Ah, well! That is why we live in Colorado!

Wherever you are today, I hope that you have had a lovely weekend and are looking forward to having a good week!

Don Bergquist – April 05, 2010 – Lakewood, Colorado, USA

Easter Monday


Saturday, April 03, 2010

An Open Letter To Family And Friends


Greetings family, friends, associates, and readers!

You are receiving this because you are important to me, and I thought it was time to bring you “into the loop” as to what has going on with me recently.

This year has been an interesting one for me so far and it is likely to get more interesting as it progresses. The company where I work recently announced the decision to enter into a new partnership with a company that will streamline delivery methods and enable them to react more quickly to ever-changing market demands and provide a more robust product line.

With the news of this partnership, however, there also came news of deep, worldwide staffing cuts. A large percentage of the company is now being laid off or having their functions outsourced. I fall into the latter category. My last day at Harris will be at the end of May.

Rest at ease, though, because I am doing well and when all is said and done, I am sure that I am going to be fine. I have started a career transition plan which involves updating my resume and looking for opportunities which are either directly or tangentially related to what I have been doing for the past twenty years, and this is where you come in.

As part of these efforts, I have been building my network on LinkedIn.com—a professional networking site. If you are already on this site, I would really appreciate it if you would link into me. You never know how the “6-degrees of separation” will play out.

If you hear about an opportunity in the field of Business Analysis (in the broadcasting, broadcast automation, or a field you feel may nicely play on my experience in those areas), or you know somebody who I should be speaking to, please let me know.

I would welcome the opportunity to learn about any career opportunities that you may know of; to discuss with you any information you may feel that I could use in my search, or preparation for interviewing; or just to reconnect with family and friends I have neglected to be as close to as I would have liked recently. And please do not limit this information to positions in Denver. I am more than open to the possibility of relocation for the right opportunity.

Please be clear, this is not a request for direct employment. All I am looking for is information and connections. The old adage goes “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” but I beg to differ. In today’s job market, I believe it is both. You count on your network to find the contacts to get you in the interview seat, and after that, it is all what you know!

I thank you all in advance for any information, and words of support you have to offer. It has been an adventure, and I am sure that the future holds great things for all of us.

Sincerely,



• • • • •

Happy birthday to my friend Eddie