Saturday, May 23, 2015

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mindmap (WIP)

I'm working on a mindmap to help a customer understand what is inside MS Dynamics CRM 2013. It is coming from multiple sources and the aim is that it becomes a usable reference for describing the possibilities of the product.

It might help you. Please feel free to share and adapt but I'd ask that the originator and disclaimer attributes remain intact. If you want to feed anything back to me or share your edits, that would be nice.

Here's jpg preview. I'll try to remember to update it as I change the map.

The .mm file is here. Mindmap file.

You will need freemind. It's available for windows and linux and there's a viewer for Android. Apple muffins, you are on your own.

It is very much a work in progress. The sales and marketing nodes a pretty well complete but there is loads more to come. Bookmark it and come back. I'll be updating it as I get time.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Readable jquery

I'm doing some JQuery stuff and for a person of simple tastes the readability of nested function() definitions all written on one line is very poor. Debugging is a pain in the arse. So here's some modest proposals for maintanable code:

  • Assign callback functions to variables
  • Use the variable in place of the function (){...}
  • Format them as you would if it was a function with all the relevant curly braces and indents
This adds a few characters of 'weight' to the page, but these can be minified away for production code.  

Here's how I would do it:


<script src=""></script>

var showmess="Show";
var hidemess="Hide";
var show=function()



<p>You can't see this</p>

But you can see this.

<a href="#" id="showlink">&nbsp;</a>

As you can see I'm a bit of a traditionalist with my curly braces. My training manual when I started c programming was K&R C Programming Language and I've never really got out of the habit of matching brace indents.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Romania and the Ceaucescu thing

I've been having an extended stay in Bucharest. I have got a smattering of the language, though it is a bitch, using no personal pronouns and definite and indefinite articles seemingly at random. And the gender thing is a bigger mess than an explosion in a jelly factory.

I've been drinking in a couple of bars and am sort of accepted into the conversation. A lot of people speak English and it's they are in general a friendly bunch. My favourite drinking place is the cafe at Cismigiu park.

When I arrived in mid-April the talk was all of the imminent Russian invasion of Moldova, which the Romanians would be obliged by various ancient alliances to defend. It didn't happen and it is no longer the topic. When the threat lessened we talked about Ceaucescu. There is a surprising amount of respect here still among some of the older people who remember what it was like.

Here's the perception of him I was given:

He was a bit of a peasant and culturally ignorant. He very hostile to non-ethnic Romanians, at his 'trial' he was accused of genocide, with reference to the putting down of the revolution. (There doesn't seem to be any evidence to support genocide* in the true definition IMO.) He suppressed all worship except that for the state. He destroyed much of the cultural heritage of the country. He was corrupt and lined his pockets. He did not tolerate opposition and was implicated in disappearing people who he didn't like. Looking at most political systems that all seems an extreme form of normal behaviour.
All sounds pretty grim until you compare the Ceaucescu years to now. The poverty here is astounding. The biggest industry seems to be collecting plastic bottles from bins into massive bin bags and getting a few lei for recycling them. The number of presumably homeless people living on the streets is  growing and there are slum areas. I mean proper shanty towns that were mainly cleared but are creeping back. The perception here is that homelessness and joblessness were both less under Ceaucescu. There was no greater wealth but people had jobs and roofs over their heads.

He achieved this by massive building and infrastructure projects created by what we would now call slave labour. If you were jobless or homeless you were drafted in to building one of Ceaucescu's follies. Some of which are still not finished and remain as monuments to the 'bad times.' The fact of the matter is though that the revenue generated by using poorly or unpaid (my informants were ambiguous) paid for them all and their families to be fed and housed. Not to great luxury but warmish, dryish and fed.

He also over a period of 10 years stopped international borrowing and upped exports (at some cost to the population) and cleared the national debt.

The student revolution in Timisoarena objected to a lot of the bad stuff he was doing, quite rightly. Particularly the poverty and food shortages brought about by the export of agricultural produce. Their big gripe was the slavery that was at least generating cash to keep people fed and housed. They bought into the magic money tree theory of economics. The turning point was the possible suicide of an army general which was widely speculated to be an execution and this caused the army to defect to the revolutionaries.

The current perception is that things were better with him than without him. I was drinking with people who could afford to drink in the park so this is not a fair sampling of the population.

All the preceding is culled from conversations over coffee and beer. I have no idea of the facts and some of the people I was speaking were not contemporaries of Ceaucescu.

Incidentally the graves are well tended and always seem to have flowers.

And now the payback is a country (or at least the capitol city) in real trouble. The second biggest industry is security guards. Shops, supermarkets, hotels, everywhere. And all ground floor windows are generally barred and or shuttered. There is a sense of desperation. Begging is a way of life. So is stealing. I walk with my "no, fuck off" face permanently set in place. It's still mainly safe, I was only subjected to aggressive begging once but he was drunk and is probably still wondering how he ended up on his arse, but there are some areas, like around the Gare de Nord that made me just a bit nervous. There is a big solvent abuse problem here. And used hypodermics litter the streets in the shadier areas. It was a big shock to have on of the street cleaners beg from me but she took a break from sweeping and stuck her hand out.

If you can live with the grinding poverty everywhere and the Romanian way of doing things it's still an interesting city to visit. It feels different to London, Paris, Amsterdam and even Prague. And the country is even better.

So my questions are:

  • Could he have achieved what he did without all the bad stuff?
  • If he could, how would history perceive him?
  • If you can only support your population by paying them in housing and food for civic projects, is that an acceptable thing to do?

I don't have any answers. However, I think the last question is a question a lot of countries might have to consider in the not too far distant future.

Genocide:the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular nation or ethnic group.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Is it time to dump Left and Right in discussing poilitics?

The terms left and right are bandied about and arguments still rage about Hitler being extreme right or extreme left. Pol Pot, extreme left or extreme right? Mao? Tsian Kai Check? Ciaucescu

What if it doesn't matter?

What if it is not a continuum with left at one end and right at the other? A one dimensional view.

What if it is more like a circle with extreme left and extreme right pretty well aligned in their dogmatism and desire for control? The two dimensional view.

So what is the on the other end of the diameter of the circle from extreme left and right? A lack of alignment. Apoliticism. The ultimate freedom from dogma and tribal politics. Once upon a time the distinction could be drawn because the left want state control of commerce. What if the right do to but by a different means. By regulation rather than ownership?

Just saying.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Learning to pick your fights

If there is one thing I have learned in life...'s to learn to pick your fights. I never go into an argument I know I'm going to lose. Concede early and concede graciously.

I used to play the Japanese game of Go a fair bit. When you start playing you want to play to a conclusion and until there are no moves left. Soon you learn that this is not in the spirit of the game. At some point you will realise that you are playing undefendable stones that have no relevance, This shows no respect for yourself or your opponent.  the The mark of a good player is to learn to recognise the outcome early and bow out graciously. Also, to give you opponent the opportunity to do the same, without condescension or malice.

Player 1:"I think the game has gone stale but I think you might take it by a few stones"

to which the correct response is something like

Player 2:"No, you would definitely have won the battle in this corner, my defeat was inevitable by 10 stones."

Two experienced players will know that there is only a five stone advantage to Player 1 but both exit the game with elegance and neither looses face.

So, play for the joy of playing. With experience you will recognise when to concede and when to procede. And if your opponent is more experienced than you, listen carefully to what he says, he might be saving you face and time. And when the joy goes out of the game, end it. There will be other games.

Go appeals to the philosopher in any man and Chess to the merchant in him. - Trevannion (Shibumi)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Put some fun into politics

Politics isn't much fun is it...

Oh I know we can have a bit of a giggle at the politicians who aren't the sharpest knives in the block and every now and again a belly laugh at on who does something outrageous but there really isn't enough fun being had. We need less dour gloompeddling and and more chaos. I like chaos. Chaos is a state of possibilities. The road to order is just a restriction of those possibilities.

We are in a 4 1/2 month drag to the next general election. It's really difficult to get engaged. There's a new series of I'm a Celebrities Failing in Uninteresting Ways starting every week.  My prediction is that just over two thirds of the people who can vote will. No one will have a clear majority so some deals will be done in order to form a government. The government will not represent the majority of the populace. And all the promises in the manifestos will be forgotten in the first 3 months when the clear intent will be seen too late. They will dick around for 5 years tinkering here and there and things will be a bit better or a bit worse, depending on how you choose to measure it, than when they started. Then we'll do the same thing all over again and we'll wonder why nothing changes.

It's not all doom and gloom though. I think it can be fixed.

Do away with general elections and introduce some random churn instead.

Every week the names of three MPs will be selected at random. We could use something like the lottery machines. 

They will be put on two weeks notice. 

One seat will be decided by the traditional democratic method of a by election as a nod to democracy.

Another will be decided games designed to see who is best at strategy and thinking. I suggest a GCSE maths paper, chess, Brain of Britain, go, World of Warcraft and It's a Knockout. The overall  winner gets the seat. 

The last seat would be decided by a random selection from the constituency. Drawing a salary and not turning up would be an option, just as it is for MPs now.

That should eventually give us a good churn rate and a good mix of skills. The turnover would be the equivalent of new government every 4 years.

Deciding who gets to talk and for how long should be on merit. In order to draw their salary each month MPs would be required to submit forecasts of a bunch of indicators 3 months ahead. Off hand I suggest GDP, borrowing requirement, cost of a trolley of shopping, house price index, Number 10 hospitality bill, A&E average waiting times. To introduce a bit of chaos they would also have lottery tickets and a win would count towards their score. Depending on the aggregate score MPs would be given allocated a time to speak and introduce suggestions for new legislation. The person who did worse would have to wear a pink ballerina outfit for the month and the other MPs would be allowed to refer to him as the honourable poohead. The person who had statistically speaking tracked the trends best over a year would be made prime minister at the end of the year and would be able to wear casual clothes on Tuesdays and Fridays. He would select his cabinet from the 100 next top scorers using the time honoured method of eeny meeny miney mo on parliament green.

House of commons debating could be replaced with the rules of something like Just a Minute. An MP is given a set time, depending on their predictive skill in the areas above to speak on a current affairs topic and in that time everyone listens, in silence. Interruptions not in the rules of hesitation, deviation and repetition would be penalised by having to sit in silence in a dunces cap for 30 minutes. A successful challenge would mean that you got to talk on the same topic. Until everyone got fed up and no one wanted to say anything else. Then there would be a division but instead of ayes and noes each MP would post on facebook what he thought it was about and the one with the most likes would be taken away by the civil servants and drafted into a law.

There would also be set phrases that had to be used in the correct context. These would be changed weekly by randomly selecting phrases posted on social media. I've just done a random scan through a couple of pages my twitter feed (really) here's some we might expect to see:

rabid, non-objective, sensationalist
self-serving buffoons
just blocked the fat tub of lard
voluntary deradicalisation programme

Failure to work in the required phrase means you have to get the next round in in the bar.

There would still have to be a speaker to keep order. I suggest the job is allocated a bit like jury service and instead of order papers to waive the speaker has a supersoaker filled with ink for minor infractions and taser which he can use if things get really out if hand.

The house of lords would be abolished completely. New laws would be posted on twitter and hashtag campaigns would decide which ones were enacted. For every law passed twitter would be allowed to revoke one. Bonus revocations would be awarded every time an MP was caught with their hands in the till.

See, all it takes are some well established gameshow formats, social media and we could put everything right. I'd pay my taxes to watch that.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Grim Day Yesterday

So here's the thing...
Yesterday a whole bunch of people were killed in Paris because of some ink marks on bits of paper. The killers feel justified and righteous because there these ink marks made fun of their beliefs.
It seems there is a bunch of people who are happy to live in old testament times. This is the state that IS, Taliban and Boko Haram are promoting on the African and Asian continents and as brutal as they are the time when the European and North American continents could act as world police dealing out justice abroad is well and truly over as witnessed by the results, or lack of them in the catalogue of recent African and Asian exploits. Imposing our values on other countries is not going to work any more unless we are prepared to admit our aim is to wrest sovereignty from them and become an imperial powers again. That time is past. The crusades were 700 years ago and we live in a different world now.
So what is to be done if they try to export old testament beliefs to more civilised countries? Go into  full Christian patriot mode and start a holy war? That is what some keyboard warriors would like to see I am sure. My opinion is that we should unleash the full force of the justice system on them. Becoming as brutalised as they are can never be the answer.
I have no idea how many 'terrorists' the UK is harbouring. I have seen numbers that say 700. Given that more than half of these are gobby kids who have no intention to take up arms we are left with a few hundred in a population of 64 million.  
I don't feel terrorised.
So let's take a deep breath, stand back and look at ourselves. Try and stay civilised people. And think for yourselves. Being carried along with the mob is not your only option.