Friday, 29 October 2010

The Russian Mafia are hooked into our power...

A few months after a visit to inspect the office in Moscow, I received a call from their IT Director.
Me: "Hey how are things going out in Moscow? Have you managed to run those power tests for the Data Centre yet?"
Grigory: "Hi Boss, not yet we ran into a snag. The tests are going to be delayed for a week."
Me: "Why is that Grigory? It will mean you are 3 weeks late on the target date." [name changed to protect the innocent]
Grigory: "Hell Boss, we had planned the tests ok, but when we got the power company in to check the main fuses before the total power outage we discovered our neighbours had tapped into our building power. We had to postpone the test."
Me: "You mean those neighbours?"
Grigory: "Yes Boss, the local Russian Mafia. Remember I showed you all their Porsches and Ferraris."
Me: "I guess you couldn't just cut their power suddenly could you?"
Grigory: "No Boss, they might send men around to fix it. Armed men."
Me: "So what have you got planned then Grigory?"

If you want to hear the rest of this true life management opportunity, drop me a line?

Theses another power related problem here.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

The best laid project plans of mice and men...

The business directors had recognised the project was beginning to run wild. The time scales were slipping and costs were escalating. At this point I'd been appointed to revitalise the project to build a new trading floor in the heart of London.
My first meeting was with the incumbent project manager. It was clear he was an excellent technical project manager. He clearly knew all of the correct terms and procedures to be employed when planning a project. He was clear well qualified in the terminology and techniques of Prince 2. He kindly spent a good part of our meeting explaining the plans to me in some detail and what reports I was expected to provide to allow him to monitor the project and hold the required progress meetings so he could report progress to senior management in the approved method.
Unfortunately he was a project manager inexperienced in the complexities of creating a trading floor and the associated data centre. He believed, without checking, the plans that had been provided to him by the architects and other technical managers.
My first question was: "How much protected (UPS) power will you need and what is the required power endurance of the UPS batteries?" He didn't know. I made a few phone calls to key players on the project team and returned to him a couple of hours later.
"You have a magnificent project plan, but the floor of the building cannot support the weight of your proposed data centre. It will collapse when loaded with equipment if it hasn't already melted down owing to insufficient cooling."
The Project Manager flew home to Belgium two days later, no longer controlling the project.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

London - wake up!

Last Sunday I returned to the UK from a speaking trip in Asia. I'd had a 10 hour flight from Hong Kong. It arrived in London Heathrow just after 5 am. After the usual immigration/baggage hall delays I was on the the Heathrow Express train at 6:05 which raced me into Paddington station in just 15 minutes.
Sadly there the experience ground to a halt. The London Transport underground system was not open until 7:00 am. which would have been a 40 minute delay. The only alternative for a poor soul like me with travel baggage was to catch a black cab and pay a searingly expensive £12.70 fare for a short ride to Charing Cross station.
Why does the city of London close down to early visitors on a Sunday morning? It is not as though we are a religious country. It just reflects poorly when compared with other international cities in Asia. The UK is getting left behind.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Flash crash

A report on the BBC website identifies a single trader in a single company triggering the 700 point flash crash of the US stock market in May 2010. He ran an algorithm which rapidly sold a stock to the value of £2.6 billion. Automated trading is only as good as the person who designed the original algorithm. It is not investing and it can cause a lot of damage to unconnected people.
If experienced human traders are involved in the loop of placing trades there is the chance they can act as common sense circuit breakers in the trading process. Algorithmic trading is not investment it is merely gambling based on probabilities/historic events. It should be banned.