Sunday, January 24, 2010
As some of you just learned, I will be working with FICO Product Management full time beginning on Monday, 25 Jan 2010. BUT, I still hope to lead (or co-lead) the Dallas Rules Group (DRG) now that the DRG has returned to its roots of being a local group of rulebase developers. Greg Barton (Southwest Airlines Rule Architect) has agreed to co-host and help lead the group with various kinds of projects.
Now, understand, this could be BRMS (Business Rules Management System) or it might be any other kind of rulebase that is used for forecasting, scheduling, configuration management, diagnosis, homeland security, airport/bus/train security or solving any truly complex problem that might have insufficient data and insufficient knowledge and then reporting on probable results.
So, beginning on the 2nd Tuesday of each month, we will convene (for now) at IBM in Dallas. Later, we might move to either the Sun Location or the Improving Enterprises location on North Dallas Tollway. What I would hope for in addition to DRG would be an Austin Rules Group, a Houston Rules Group, an XXX Rules Group - all local and all coming to October Rules Fest (ORF) each year to participate in a truly technical conference focused on technology and solutions rather than a business-oriented dog-and-pony show. The business guys have many, many conferences of their own, both by vendors such as FICO and ILOG, as well as the granddaddy of them all, the Business Rules Forum (BRF) hosted by Ron Ross et cie. (I hope that the business guys will attend the FICO user conferences that we do annually on many different topics.)
So, see you guys on the 2 Tuesday of each month. Check the web page (hopefully it will be up before the end of the month) for each months location, time, etc.
Quite a long time ago, there was an old spiritual song called "Going Home." Sometimes I think of that and realize that I don't really have a home. Yesterday a friend of mine asked me if I had ever been outside of the state of Texas - probably because I'm constantly promoting West Texas as THE place to live and work. For curiosity's sake I listed for him the places that I have worked or lived for at least two weeks (most for several months) in my brief life: The list contained 45 different cities, about 8 countries and did not count the few vacation spots. Home for me is where I hang my hats (about 10 of them) and set up my computers (about 7 or 8). Out of all those places and towns, I made the conscious decision to choose West Texas as my home. If there were a number two or three selection it probably would be either San Francisco, CA, or Paris, France.
Anyway, this is not a blog on where I've lived nor how many hat I have nor even the number of computers that I use for various types of research. Rather, it's about returning to the AI family of Neuron Data / Blaze Software / Fair Isaac / FICO. Beginning tomorrow morning (25 Jan 2010) I will be, once again, working with FICO in Product Management - mostly working on Blaze Advisor but, hopefully, branching out into business optimization software such as analytics and forecasting. After all, my master's degree was focused in Quantitative Analysis and Forecasting and I wrote my first white papers (part of my thesis back then) on rulebased systems as used to do early analysis of statistical data for proper analysis.
So, what about the benchmarking programs and things of that nature that I have been doing at KBSC all these years? Again, I'm calling on my old friend in Sweetwater, Texas, Yaakov Kohen, former CTO of KBSC and present-day horse-wrangler, to step in and do that. I will be giving all of my material over to him, along with the spreadsheets, to keep up to date. So, if you have any questions, please contact him at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org in the future. Don't expect a quick reply since he is just a bit over 70 and still has the ranch to manage in addition to doing benchmarks, writing white papers and doing forecasting programs.
I suppose that Yaakov might be able to wrangle an article or two in InfoWorld should the editors there see past his advanced years and consider only that he is one of the brightest minds in the industry, one of my few mentors, and fairly forthright (non-diplomatic) in his opinions. Also, he is an excellent shot (sniper level) with both rifle and pistol. You HAVE to be to live in Sweetwater - it's the home of the annual Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup every year. An shooting pesky coyotes that tend to bring down a whole cow for just a snack on the open range calls for shots of about 1K yards or more.
October Rules Fest will be turned over to one of several person who have expressed an interest in the masochism of conference leadership. We have a 3:00 p.m. conference call tomorrow to kick that off for 2010 and, if you would like to be part of that, just send me your Skype ID and I'll see if I can get it on the list before the call starts.
All in all, I'm looking forward to returning to work with some good friends and moving Blaze Advisor to even greater heights. I'm not sure that this blog will continue - maybe FICO will let me start one with a FICO address like some other folks there.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
About the same time that Texas became a nation (1934, to become a state nine years later), Richard Henry Dana, Jr., began writing an American classic novel called "Two Years Before the Mast" - an intriguing story of his last two years as a common sailor on board the Alert. He finished it about 1840, five years before Texas became a state via a treaty between the two nations. It has become my considered opinion after 30 years in service to various software vendors and 15 years working with rulebase vendors, (I call it "30 Years Before the Mast") that their engineers should pass a two-year (or more) training course as a consultant for that company BEFORE EVER being allowed to touch one line of code.
I say this after having spent considerable time with engineers who work for various (really) major rulebase companies. I have not encountered one (not one at the engineering level) who has ever had to make his living working with customers and, as a direct result, has absolutely no idea about how the their tool is actually used. I do know that there are those who help with consulting who have served their time in engineering, but not the reverse; except for Dr. Charles Forgy and Paul Haley. OK, there may be one or two more but I don't know them.
So, is there a problem? You betcha, Red Ryder!! And a major problem it is as well. It seems that you can't communicate with these guys about real-world problems because they can not grasp the entire problem at once and possibly foresee other problems that might result from their "quick fix" solution. So they slap a band aid (plaster to you English guys) on the problem and really hope and pray that it actually works.
Now, Heads UP senior engineering management guys: make sure that your staff has "real world" experience in actually USING your software BEFORE allowing them to make even the first modification.