Tag Archives: failure


Just a quick post about incompetence on a very small but very personal level.

It has just taken me three attempts to put the correct URLs in the correct places in a blog post. The problem? There were only two references to get in the right order and yet it still took three attempts.

This must be a similar level of ineptitude as when it takes me more than two attempts to put a USB connector (an A connector if you’re interested) the right way round in the socket.

How hard can it be?

It vexes me. I’m terribly vexed.

Taking cuttings

The winter just gone took its toll on several plants in the garden.  One particular casualty was a rosemary bush which was dead apart from the end of one branch.  Rosemary is one of my favourite herbs to cook with and so a month or two ago I took a cutting.  This evening I planted it back in the herb bed.  It doesn’t look great but it has taken root and will hopefully like its new pot-free conditions and fresh soil.  Time will tell.

As I firmed down the soil I found myself comparing my cutting-taking exercise to that of salvaging something useful from a failing project.  There may be times when something useful can be taken from the ailing project and used as the starting point of another project.  There might be times when there is nothing workable to salvage, but it’s still worth documenting what happened.  This might lead to an unexpected use of the work in the future or might at least save somebody else the pain of making the same mistakes again.

Having had more experience (some -v- none) of taking cuttings than of salvaging useful work from failing projects I thought it might be worth analysing the experience.  My starting question was that I could have just dumped the whole thing and so why didn’t I?

  • An interest in saving something from it.
  • Recognising that it could still have something to offer if used in the right way.
  • Being able to identify the one small usable section of a large dead plant.
  • Having the skills to give it the best chance to grow into something new.
  • Being prepared to invest the time, effort and the right resources to make it work.
  • Accepting that there was no guarantee of success but still having a go.


The Hazards of Forced Participation

If someone has had the opportunity (gaps in talking) to contribute to a group discussion, but hasn’t spoken up, then maybe:

  1. they haven’t got anything they want to contribute at that moment; or
  2. they don’t feel comfortable or confident expressing their views in the group situation; and
  3. they may well not appreciate any attempts, within that group situation at least, to cajole them into participating.


Tolerance of the learning curve

Having read David’s post about Dwarf Fortress (I keep wanting to call it Gnome Fortress for some reason) I had a “quick” play.  Admittedly my interest in computer games peaked when I owned a SNES (a D-pad and six buttons really should be enough for anything) and since then my tolerance of computer game complexity just about stretches to Command and Conquer style offerings.

But there was something strangely compelling about Gnome Dwarf Fortress.  ASCII graphics: check. Near-vertical learning curve: check. Certain defeat: check.  It doesn’t sound like a winning combination, but I was compelled to delete it before addiction set in.

Afterwards I kept thinking about the link between a product’s learning curve and the willingness of the end user to invest time and energy in learning how to use the product sufficiently well to obtain what they consider to be a successful outcome.

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McMeetup 11 May

Lots of interesting ideas from yesterday’s meeting but I was particularly taken with our discussion of what constitutes “success” and “failure” in a project and the value of documenting problems and unexpected outcomes for future reference.

The invention of Teflon seems a good example of achieving an unexpected success from an activity.

Definitely more scope for discussion and blogging.