Working Up

Working Up in Project Management, Systems Engineering, Technology, and Writing

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Please Don’t Ask Me to do My Job

November 30th, 2015 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

Many on-the-job frustrations come when we try to do our job.

The title and summary of this blog post may not make any sense. I have, however, heard much grumbling on the job when people are asked to do their jobs.

Some examples I have heard over the years:

  • I can’t believe they are asking me to write this!
  • But, you are the technical writer. It is your job to write things like this.


  • I had to call the police to see if you were in jail when you didn’t show up for work!
  • But, you work in security. It is your job to call the police.


  • All I do is sit in meetings all day and take notes!
  • But, you are the meetings facilitator assistant. It is your job to take notes in the meetings.

and, let’s just be silly for a moment…

  • I’m sick and tired of hearing people complain.
  • But, you work in the Complaints Department. It is your job to listen to complaints.

Oh, one more thing—never tell a distraught person,

but, that’s your job.

→ No CommentsTags: Adults · Work

Giving Thanks

November 26th, 2015 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

There are too many things to mention on this Thanksgiving Day. To be brief, thanks to WordPress, Apple, Xfinity, and all those who taught me a few things about writing.

→ No CommentsTags: America

The Return of the $50 Computer

November 23rd, 2015 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

Thirty years later, the $50 computer is back. I think that is a good thing.

In the early 1980s (yes, I am that old), we had the Sinclair Research made by Timex ZX81. It was a computer you could buy for $50. No, it wasn’t powerful, but it was a programmable computer.

Recently, Amazon introduced a $50 Fire tablet. I haven’t figured out how to program it, but it is a computer.

I have read a number of reviews of the Amazon $50 tablet. I agree with the reviews in that:

  • the tablet works
  • the Fire operating system is the biggest limiting factor

Why sell a $50 computer? Why not. Put more computers in the hands of more people. Put more paint brushes in the hands of more people. Put more musical instruments in the hands of more people.

Who know what wonderful things might happen.

→ No CommentsTags: Computing

If You Want People to Take You Seriously

November 19th, 2015 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

Why aren’t people taking me seriously? Why aren’t people paying attention to me?

If I want people to take and my group seriously, I should:

  • do CMMI
  • do PMP
  • do ITIL
  • sit at the keyboard and write everyday
  • sit at the table and draw everyday
  • take photos everyday
  • play my instrument everyday
  • do these on a schedule
  • have portfolios in my hand (thumb drive)

Find out what people consider “serious” and do those things.

→ No CommentsTags: Adults · Change · Excuses · Expectations · People

The Difference that Makes a Difference

November 16th, 2015 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

This is the key to information—what separates just more data from something that enables a good choice.

Of course we all want to find this. This is the stuff of basic science that most of us understand.

Let’s walk through a silly example:

  • I am gaining weight. Why?
  • I eat 12 hot dogs every Saturday

Eating hot dogs on Saturday doesn’t make me overweight. Eating 12 hot dogs does. It is the quantity of the hot dogs, not the day of the week is the difference that makes a difference.

Or then again, maybe it is the composition of hot dogs that makes a difference.

Did I mention that I eat a gallon of ice cream every weekday evening before going to bed? Perhaps it is the ice cream. Perhaps it is the time of day. Perhaps…

Everyone can see that, right? I guess not given the mess of the world we have. That is, the world is so complex and there is such much information and I am overwhelmed and didn’t sleep well last night and really didn’t read the above clearly and…

What difference does it make?

→ No CommentsTags: Change · Diet · Differences

Discovery of the Century

November 12th, 2015 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

I find a long-lost cartoon. It is wonderful.

Shown below is a cartoon that I saw pinned to the wall in the mid-1980s while I was in grad school (yes, I am that old). The thought of the cartoon has stayed with since.

We don’t know what will happen with an idea or phrase or just about anything that comes to mind. We have to see how far down it goes.


…discovery of the century.

As best as I can learn, this cartoon is from William O’Brian. I have been unable to find the original publication. I welcome information. This is the best source I have found for William O’Brian cartoons.

→ No CommentsTags: Learning

Change and Why Those Other Guys Just Don’t Get It

November 9th, 2015 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

Why don’t those other guys see what is so obvious to us? Because they didn’t have the same experience we did, and we don’t want to do the work required.

We go through a changing experience, i.e., an experience that changes our concept of something. (I use the word “we” because it is always “we” who are on the forefront of something important while it is always “they” who lag behind for obvious reasons.)

We want them to change their concept to agree with our new concept. No matter how hard we try, they don’t change like we changed.

What is wrong with them?

Simple: They didn’t have the changing experience we did.

This is most often found when a small group of people spend time considering a situation. Through time, this small group comes to a new conclusion. The small group returns to a larger group and shouts, “Hey! Look at this. Let’s go!”

The larger group stands back and shrugs. The small group ponders the dimwitted people in the larger group.

Let’s review what has happened in small steps:

  • small group
  • lots of time
  • lots of discussion
  • change

And then let’s consider “them:”

  • larger group
  • almost no time
  • almost no discussion
  • no change

How can we expect them to see our new concept when they didn’t have the same experience? Somehow, we do, and we are greatly disappointed in “them.”

So what do we do? How do we have them see the new reality as we see it? The answer is not nice as it involves time and hard work.

1. realize what has happened (the most difficult step)

2. find a way to recreate the changing experience with the larger group

3. perform that changing experience with the larger group

4. maintain the energy to do all this hard work (and it is hard work and maintaining that energy is the second most difficult step)

Perhaps, just perhaps, they—those people in the larger group—will finally understand what we understand. Then again, perhaps we will conclude that the new understanding isn’t worth all that work and time.

→ No CommentsTags: Adults · Change

Kickstarter and the Office of President

November 5th, 2015 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

Kickstarter campaigns raise more money than presidential candidates. Who, if anyone, should be ashamed?

Some Kickstarter campaigns for little gadgets are raising more money than some presidential candidates.

Americans should be ashamed for putting more time and money into silly little gadgets than they do into who will be the next leader of the free world.

Well, maybe not.

Perhaps the shame should fall on those career politicians who have shaped the public’s view of politics and political campaigns.

Then again, perhaps this is just the way it is and shame is not a valid response from anyone. Perhaps realism is the best reply.

→ No CommentsTags: America · Observation

I Hate October

November 2nd, 2015 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

Why did the worlds of entertainment and advertising decide to ruin the month of October?

I really like some things that come with October. Where I live, the trees turn orange and red and yellow. The temperatures drop to a point where I wear a light jacket in the morning. I love these things.

October ends with Halloween. That is nice, too. I like kids wearing costumes and coming to my door. A piece or two of candy is a very little charge for seeing child-like glee. I love it.

Nevertheless, I hate October. All the movie channels show “horror” movies or anything that slightly resembles horror. Most of it is just crummy. The advertisers slant all the commercials to horror theme of ghouls and goblins and such. This lasts for the entire month. I hate it.

Asking “why” does not good. Just bare it for a month. November will come one day.

→ No CommentsTags: Change

ITIL Foundation Certification

October 29th, 2015 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

I earn a ITIL Foundation-level certification.

For the past six or eight years I have heard of ITIL  certification. I didn’t pay much attention to it as I wasn’t an Enterprise IT person and did see a way that I could qualify for it. A recent look at it changed my mind. I was surprised to learn that the vast majority of ITIL, at least at the lowest or Foundation level, was basic management of the delivery of services. I could do that.

I looked about on the Internet for what would be a good study guide for the exam. I went with “ITIL Foundation Exam Study Guide” by Liz Gallacher and Helen Morris. The book started with an assessment quiz of 30 questions. I answered 17 of them correctly with no study. I felt good at the start.

The book is a good study guide. Each chapter ends with a ten-question quiz. I was scoring 8 to 10 out of ten on each chapter. At the end of the book is a 40-question practice test. I scored about 35 of 40 on the test or a rate of 7 of 8 questions correct.

Next came the exam. ITIL allows for online proctored exams. If you have a computer with a webcam, an Internet connection, and such you can take the exam at home pretty much when you want.

I signed on with $250 brought me more study materials and one exam. If you fail the exam, you have to pay $185 to take it again. I skipped the study materials and took another practice exam on ThoughtRock.

I took the exam from my dining room table on a Saturday morning. I passed with 34 of 40 correct—still at the 7 of 8 questions correct pace. The hardest part of the proctored exam was staring at the computer screen. I have a bad habit of looking up at the ceiling when I try to remember something. The exam proctor asked that I stare at the screen. I understand the request and struggled through it.

The exam itself is about what I expected—40 questions, multiple choice, one hour allowed, half hour needed. In all their materials, ITIL emphasizes that there are no trick questions on the exam. I guess that depends on what you consider a “trick” question as I found at least ten trick questions. I suppose if they just asked you to show you know the ITIL definitions and concepts too many people would pass the test.

The study and exam are much easier than the PMI PMP study and exam. ITIL, nonetheless, isn’t “easy” as some people have told me. There are 40–50 pages of definitions to memorize. You need to know these well enough to work your way through the trick questions.

I am glad I did this as I did learn a few things about how Enterprise IT people view the world. Now I have some more letters to put on my resume.

→ No CommentsTags: Change · Computing · Education · Employment · Knowledge · Learning