Let’s Just Keep An Eye On The Time

“You’re asking me how a watch works. For now, let’s just keep an eye on the time.” – Alejandro, Sicario I’ve enjoyed the eclectic roles Benicio del Toro has been playing these last few years. His appearance in recent space movies reminded me of this quote of his from the movie Sicario. Often enough in our own technological roles we are asked to explain ourselves, explain why something is the way it is or why we want it to be a particular way. How do you convey to someone in just a minute the years of school, decades of experience, days in noisy data centers, nights bringing systems back online, hours staring at configurations that are wrong and scripts that don’t work, dumb …

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"When in Rome, be a Roman candle"

“Never be afraid to change the circumstances in which you find yourself.” – Maitri Erwin, in her eulogy for her friend Michael S. Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg and ostensibly the father of eBooks. The title quote appears to be from Mr. Hart himself. It meshes well with what Guy Kawasaki wrote over the weekend, in “What I Learned From Steve Jobs.” Particularly the part about “changing your mind is a sign of intelligence.” I like that, perhaps because I’ve never been apologetic for changing my mind. Or for occasionally being the Roman candle. 🙂

Just Ask

“Ask. What’s the worst that’ll happen? They’ll say no.” – Lynn Plankers

The Manhattan Way

“We prefer plain dealings and straightforward transactions in America. If you go to Egypt and, say, take a taxi somewhere, you become a part of the taxi driver’s life; he refuses to take your money because it would demean your friendship, he follows you around town, and weeps hot tears when you get in some other guy’s taxi. You end up meeting his kids at some point and have to devote all sorts of ingenuity to finding some way to compensate him without insulting his honor. It is exhausing. Sometimes you just want a simple Manhattan-style taxi ride. But in order to have an American-style setup, where you can just go out and hail a taxi and be on your …

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Levels of Indirection

“All problems in computer science can be solved by another level of indirection… Except for the problem of too many layers of indirection.” – David Wheeler, though often attributed to Butler Lampson, who has some great quotes, too: “When in doubt, use brute force.” “In handling resources, strive to avoid disaster rather than to attain an optimum.” Lots of good stuff if you read his “Hints for Computer System Design.”

If You Don't Like Change…

“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” – General Eric Shinseki, former United States Army Chief of Staff.


“I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”  — Robert McCloskey

Architects vs. Engineers

“An architect knows something about everything. An engineer knows everything about one thing.” – Matthew Frederick, “101 Things I Learned in Architecture School”


“No one wants to learn by mistakes, but we cannot learn enough from successes to go beyond the state of the art.” – Henry Petroski, “To Engineer is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design” My friend Jon has a script to randomize quotes in his email signature, and this came through yesterday. I’ve always enjoyed Henry Petroski’s books, and though he’s a civil engineer most of the lessons are ones IT professionals can learn from, too. Luckily, most of our mistakes don’t involve buildings collapsing, though.[0] ——————- [0] Which reminds me of another thing a former boss of mine used to say during crisis situations: “Calm down, nobody is dying here.”


“A man’s troubles can be measured by the number of keys in his pocket.” – David Plankers