« December 2010 | Main | February 2011 »

January 31, 2011

The Checklist Manifesto

The Checklist ManifestoThe Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A compelling mix of anecdotes and research exploring the power of the checklist. These are not to-do lists but instead lists of minimum necessary steps to do a task right. Much of the book revolves around the author's own awakening to the power of the checklist while also talking with others in fields such as construction, aviation, and finance about how they use checklists. As such the core takeaways of the book at times can be a little lost in the text but overall the storytelling model makes for an entertaining read while making you aware of the power to improve outcomes with no increase in skills by simply using a checklist.

View all my reviews

My notes:

  • 8: ... we have just two reasons that we may fail. ... ignorance ... ineptitude ...
  • 39: [Checklists] helped with memory recall and clearly set out the minimum necessary steps in the process.
  • 51: You want people to make sure to get the stupid stuff right.
  • 66: ..., if you got the right people and had them take a moment to talk things over as a team rather than an individuals, serious problems could be identified and averted.
  • 70: They trust instead in one set of checklists to make sure that simple steps are no missed or skipped and in another set to make sure that everyone talks through and resolves all the hard and unexpected problems.
  • 120: ... provide reminders of only the most critical and important steps - the ones that even the highly skilled professionals using them could miss.
  • 123: With a DO-CONFIRM checklist ... team members perform their jobs from memory and experience, often separately. But then they stop [and confirm]. With a READ-DO checklist ... people carry out the tasks as they check them off ...
  • 137: ... the "pilot not flying" starts the checklist. ... dispersing the responsibility sends the message that everyone - not just the captain - is responsible for the overall well-being ...
  • 155: Suppose this was just a Hawthorne effect, that is to say, a byproduct of being observed in a study rather than proof of the checklist's power.
  • 168: ... [checklists] improve their outcomes with no increase in skill.
  • 182: All learned occupations have a definition of professionalism ... selflessness ... expectation of skill ... expectation of trustworthiness ... discipline.

Tags: books

January 1, 2011

Last Words

Last WordsLast Words by George Carlin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A wonderful exploration of the life of an iconoclastic comic. From his early childhood to rocky first attempts at making it, Carlin's perfectionist mentality shines through in Tony Hendra's treatment of extensive conversations with Carlin.

View all my reviews

Tags: books comic

How to Catch a Robot Rat

How to Catch a Robot Rat: When Biology Inspires InnovationHow to Catch a Robot Rat: When Biology Inspires Innovation by Agnès Guillot

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

While full of examples of biology inspiring innovation, the book overviews the entire history and field without delving into depth on any particular topic or application. Along the way the book poses interesting ethical questions about the fusion of machines with man and animal parts with machines but shies away from exploration of the topic. The book is best suited for an academic or research setting versus being enjoyable by the layperson.

View all my reviews

Tags: books science


UbikUbik by Philip K. Dick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A wonderful exploration of reality and psychics set in a world that offers salvation in spray can. Great stuff even with a few superficial characters.

View all my reviews

Tags: book scifi

2010 Spam

Another year, another deluge of spam. This is my second year using Postini for spam filtering so while I don't have detailed statistics I can at least compare to last year. For 2010 Postini flagged 63,436 messages as spam or 45% more than last year. My incoming spam rate spiked up to 250 a day in April, May, and June before finishing the year with an average of 170 per day. A quick Google search confirms that some of the biggest dips in the graph below are tied to known spammers being shutdown.

Tags: email spam