Customer Satisfaction and future buying decisions

It has been shown that as many as 90 percent of departing customers said that they were "satisfied" immediately prior to their attrition! Contrary to long-held misconceptions, "customer satisfaction" is actually a good measure of "customers' rationalizations of their past buying decisions," but not highly predictive of future buying decisions.

As a consumer, I think that this matches my buying patterns.

The quote is from Transforming Performance Measurement, by Dean Spitzer, a nice book even/specially for someone (like me) that tends to hate measurements and metrics. Dean is senior researcher, consultant, and performance measurement thought leader in IBM Research.


La primera novel·la

La venganza de las Risitas (La venjança dels Mofetes) de Roddy Doyle va ser la primera novel·la que vaig llegir-li al meu fill. A tots dos ens va encantar. Passar dels contes a una novel·la va ser molt divertit pels dos: calia repassar on havíem deixat la historia la nit abans, i "calia" discutir cada nit per què ell sempre volia llegir un capítol més (i jo!).

Durant setmanes, les Risitas van formar part de les nostres bromes. Les Risitas són criatures que s'encarrguen de venjar-se del adults que li fan una injustícia algun nen (Las personas mayores que dicen que algo sabe a pollo cuando no es cierto, las que los culpan sabiendo que son inocentes, las que se comen el último trozo de pizza sin preguntar si a alguien le apetece más..).

Els dies que estic malcarat ja m'aniria prou bé que les Risitas no fossin personatges fantàstics i m'ajudessin a fer examen de consciència amb els seus recordatoris pringosos...

M'enduc una alegria en ensopegar a la biblioteca amb Rover salva la Navidad, que segueix amb els personatges de La Venganza de las Risitas. En G. (9 anys) no el deixa anar fins que se l'acaba; ja és un devora-llibres i queda molt lluny això de llegir junts (ara sovint llegeixo el que em recomana).

La C. (4 anys) és ara a la fase de voler cada dia el mateix conte, després de molt temps en que semblava que no tenia prou paciència per un conte sencer; estic content: trobava a faltar llegir-li!

I escrivint això tinc una nova alegria, doncs veig que hi ha un tercer llibre sobre la família Mack: Mientras tanto... una aventura. I tots tres magníficament il·lustrats per Brian Ajhar.

Actualització: En G. ha trobat boníssim el Rover salva la Navidad. Jo no tant.


Book review

Seen on an Amazon book review:

This book is both original and good. The part that is good is not original and the part that is original is not good.
I loved it.

Update: it looks like this is often attributed to Samuel Johnson, but it seems that it is not found in any of his works.

Play with ClearQuest and ClearCase without installing them

I've been playing with IBM Rational ClearQuest and ClearCase without doing any configuration. Cool. I'm hoping that we'll do the same for more IBM Rational products.

You can access a dW server with a tutorial environment setup using a Citrix client. Go to Trial: Rational ClearCase V7.0 (I just reported it, but, in case that you take the first tutorial, you'll see that the screenshots of the first part don't match the actual product: you'll have to "connect" instead of "login", and you better know that pat's password is pat and that she has the lead project role).

Bird by bird

I've finished reading Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott. I've enjoyed it more than anything that I have read in years. The book tries to capture what Lamott teached in her writing worshops, "every single thing I know about writing". And the surprising thing is that she does it in a way that makes the book great even for people like me that don't have the slightest interest in writing fiction [1].

Not every book makes you think, or gives you advice that sets you in a good mood that lasts for days, or makes you have bursts of laughter while reading it on the bus, or makes you feel like going to watch a baseball game when you have always thought that watching paint dry is more exciting than watching a baseball game. And Bird by Bird did all this to me.

I'll be quoting some instructions on life in other posts, but I feel like quoting today some of the fragments that have made me burst in laughter. Of course, sense of humor being sense of humor, they may not even make you smile.

On the writer's block (p177)

A blissfully productive manic stage may come to a screeching halt, and all of a sudden you realize you're Wile E. Coyote and you've run off the cliff and a second away from having to look down. (...) You may feel a little as if writing a novel is like trying to level Mount McKinley with a dentists drill.
On one of the reasons to write a book while her father was dying of cancer (p187)
I found myself desperate for books that talked about cancer in a way that would both illuminate the experience and make me laugh. But there weren't many. In fact, there was only one that I was aware of, Violet Weingarten's Intimations of Mortality, a journal of het chemotherapy (...) I read the book over and over (...), then went to the library and said, "Do you have any other really funny books about cancer?" And they looked at me like, Yeah, they're are right over there by the comedies about spina bifida.
While discussing the lack of books on single parenting that were funny and sick and therefore true (p188)
Having a baby is like suddenly getting the world's worst roommate, like having Janis Joplin with a bad hangover and PMS come to stay with you.
[1] During my teen years, I liked to write short stories; but in my late teens I thought that first I had to become a better reader before being a writer. And when I realized that, while enjoying very much reading, I was not able to capture in the books what other people seemed to be able to capture, I decided that I was done with writing fiction.


Praising effort vs. praising smartness

An article worth reading for anyone dealing with kids or former kids: How Not to Talk to Your Kids. The Inverse Power of Praise. Very simple experiments with highly surprising results. I'd like to read more about this topic, but, for now, I'm keeping this quote from Carol Dweck

"(when praising kids) emphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control. They come to see themselves as in control of their success. Emphasizing natural intelligence takes it out of the child's control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to a failure"

¿Tu router es tuyo?

Te llegó el ADSL, y, como un niño con zapatos nuevos, te pusiste a navegar al momento. Con las prisas, no te molestaste en cambiar al contraseña de tu flamante router, que es la misma que la que tienen inicialmente todos los routers del mismo fabricante. Mala idea.

Resulta que los malos también saben que la contraseña de tu router es '1234' y que tienen mecanismos para, desde una página que estas viendo en tu navegador, conectarse a tu router; no ha hecho falta que te descargaras nada, ni has recibido ningún aviso. Y si se conectan a tu router, pueden hacer que cuando tú y tu navegador creeis estar visitando banco_tio_gilito.com esteis realmente en cueva_de_ladrones.net. Esto se llama 'Drive-By Pharming' y utiliza una técnica llamada 'Cross Site Request Forgery' (no seré yo quién se atreva a traducir esto de manera comprensible...). Más info en http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2007/02/driveby_pharmin.html.

Ya ha pasado la emoción del router nuevo: hora de cambiarle la contraseña.


SystemRescueCd and TestDisk

TestDisk in SystemRescueCd just allowed me to fix (?) my brother's PC's hard drive. Not too hard, since all the data was already lost and his only expectation was to be able to reinstall; messing with the partition table is not scary when there is nothing to loose.


On using dead chickens for problem determination

My friend Luis comes back to the office in state of shock. He has been at a client's, along with two people from two other supplier companies that will go unnamed.

They are trying to determine why an application with code from the three parties is crashing. Luis is amazed while the experts invoke the crashing code while turning over their heads a dead chicken clockwise, check the output of filemon and regmon, repeat the process turning the chicken counter-clockwise, and perform another half an hour of equally insightful tests. Based on the evidence collected while changing the chicken's turning speed, the experts conclude that's IBM's code fault and they want to rush to tell the customer about it.

Luis takes a while to digest these new problem determination techniques, and, when he is able to recover his ability to speak, suggests taking a look at the logs from Doctor Watson; the experts are amazed by the tool; the logs show that the dead-chicken-based finger pointing is very unlikely to be right.

The experts grab their huge flemon and regmon outputs, the drwtson32 logs and their dead chickens and leave. It takes us a while to get Luis back to unpuzzled mode.


Hormigas artificiales

Las hormigas artificiales no son el último gadget que un snob atento necesita tener en casa (¿o si?). La vida artificial consiste en utilizar modelos de simulación para estudiar sistemas complejos. No es que yo sepa sobre esto, pero hoy me he acordado [1] de una conferencia fantástica sobre hormigas artificiales a la que asistí hace años.

Las hormigas simuladas son simplonas, como probablemente lo son las de carne y hueso (?): van a por comida, comen un poquito, y llevan el resto al hormiguero. Si encuentran en su camino a otra hormiga, procurando el bien de la colonia, le cuentan dónde han encontrado comida.

Pero, ¡ay!, no todas las hormigas son genéticamente iguales: algunas son de fiar, mientras que otras son unas mentirosas que engañan a sus compañeras para que no se zampen la comida que han encontrado; unas son crédulas, y otras desconfiadas; unas, trabajadoras, mientras que otras deberían haber nacido cigarras; algunas se olvidan de la posición de la comida más facilmente que otras... Mueren, y nacen nuevas hormigas con su propia carga genética que define su grado de actividad, memoria, escepticismo y tendencia a mentir.

Ponemos a nuestras hormiguitas en su hormiguero, definimos la cantidad de comida disponible y las dejamos vivir (?). Independientemente de la disponibilidad de comidad, con el paso del tiempo son mayoría las hormigas con mayor actividad y memoria: las perezosas y las desmemoriadas tienen más complicado comer y sobrevivir.

Cuando la comida es escasa, las hormigas compiten, y mentirosos y escépticos tienen mayor probabilidad de sobrevivir. Cuando la comida es abundante, mentirosos y escépticos desaparecen de la colonia.

Fascinado pensando en cómo de las interacciones de muchas cosas simples surgen cosas complejas, y sin saber encontrar una moraleja en relación a la falsedad y el escepticísmo de las hormigas, acabo ya para ver si ahora funciona esta webcam de un hormiguero...

[1] Esta conferencia, una de las mejores a las que he asistido en mi vida, la dió Manuel Alfonseca, de la Autónoma de Madrid, ex de IBM, y miembro émerito del Technical Experts Council de IBM. Hoy M. Alfonseca tenía una Carta al Director publicada en La Vanguardia, y ver su nombre me ha llenado la cabeza y este post de hormigas. En su carta, discute la afirmación de Arcadi Navarro en un artículo anterior: "solamente por la ignorancia o la práctica consumada del autoengaño pueden creerse compatibles el evolucionismo y el diseño inteligente".

[2] ¡Puaj! Hoy sufro un caso flagrante de tantas ganas de leer (¡e incluso de volver a la universdad!) y tan poco tiempo... Algunos links: