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Parallel processing in a project team

How important is it to prioritize?

Lets assume we have 4 ideal projects A, B, C, D, and an ideal project team. Each of these projects takes 3 months to complete. They are all equally important. We work on them in parallel. When will the projects be ready? Project A will be ready after 12 months. Project B will be ready in 12 months. Project C will be ready in 12 months. And Project D will be ready in 12 months.

Now, what happens when we prioritize and work on the projects in alphabetical order? When will the projects be ready now? Project A will be ready after 3 months. Project B will be ready after 6 months. Project C will be ready after 9 months. And project D will be ready after 12 months. Everyone except the customer of project D will be better off! Fantastic, isn't it?

Unfortunately, this is not the perception of your customers. Each of them sees a 3 month project and wants it finished in 3 months. The customer in project D does not want to hear "we will start on your project in 9 months". All too often, priorities therefore change. Every month, at a project team review, you will be forced to reprioritize. What is the effect? Project A will be ready after 9 months. Project B will be ready after 10 months. Project C will be ready after 11 months. Project D will be ready after 12 months.

What a waste. Don't fall into this trap. Prioritize, and stick with the choice.

[Image credit: goldstardeputy]

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The 1000km photo project

Latest addition: 2010 picture from Madagascar.

I realized that over the course of the last 16 years I have been visiting several quite different areas of the globe. This made me decide to make a special cross section of the 34000 pictures that I have taken over the years: a set with as special property that any pair of pictures selected from the set are always taken at more than 1000 km distance from each other. The result: 19 pictures, representing 19 completely separate circles of 500 km radius or 14.9 million square kilometers of the earth's surface, under 3%. I still have a long way to go!

I have manually selected these pictures, not always selecting the best picture I had available but preferring pictures that make it possible to recognize where it was taken. Until summer 2006, the pictures were taken with chemical film, printed and scanned on a fladbed scanner.

June 1994. USA, New York, New York. On the roof of the World Trade Center tower.
June 1994. USA, New York, New York. On the roof of the World Trade Center tower.
June 1994. USA, New York, New York. On the roof of the World Trade Center tower.
February 1995. UK, London. Tower Bridge.
May 1995. USA, California, San Francisco. View of the city from the north side of Golden Gate Bridge.
November 1995. Cuba, Havana. The old city fortification.
December 1995. Mexico, Mexico City. View from one of the pyramids.
January 1997. USA, Hawaii, Big Island. Barren Lava Landscape in Volcanoes National Park.
January 1997. USA, Utah, Natural Bridges National Monument. Snowscape.
January 1997. USA, Texas, San Antonio. View on the Alamo from the tower.
October 2000. La Palma. One of the astronomical observatories seen from above.
August 2003. South Africa, Kruger Park. Landscape.
January 2005. Finland, near Kuusamo. Raindeer Farm in \
August 2005. Portugal, Lisbon. View from a World Expo cable car.
January 2006. Iceland, near Reykjavic. Geyser.
August 2006. Greece, Kerkyra. Panoramic view from Paleokastritsa.
August 2007. Maldives, North Male Atol. Entry to an island resort.
June 2008. USA, Wisconsin, Madison. The Capitol building and market with a demonstration by the fire department.
August 2008. Japan, Tokyo. Sunday view on the main street in Ginza, free of cars.
December 2009. Czech Republic, Prague. Statue on the Wenceslas square.
July 2010. Madagascar, view on a red island landscape along the road from Antananarivo to Andasibe.

How many pictures can you use if you try a 1000km photo project yourself? Send me a message! If you point me to a series of pictures you took, I will add a reference on this page.

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PGP Key

Secure communications

a keyPlease use the following key if you can. On the keyservers you can also find my older pgp 2.x key, but I prefer to use the "gnupg" program for my secure communications now. For your convenience I have signed my new key with my old key.


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Professional Biography


Rob Hooft is Manager of the Dutch tasks in the European ELIXIR infrastructure for life science data, at the Dutch Techcenter for Life Sciences (DTL). He was educated as a structural chemist at Utrecht University under Professor Jan Kroon in the Bijvoet Laboratory. His major had the subject of Maximum Entropy in X-ray diffraction. Rob did his PhD studies in the same lab, on the subject of structure-activity relationships of sweet tasting compounds. For this study he developed several (statistical) methods to facilitate the simulation of sugar-like molecules. He spent 4 years at the EMBL in Heidelberg where he developed tools to verify the quality of protein structures in the group of Gert Vriend and Chris Sander. He joined the company Nonius in 1997 where he developed application software for a diffraction system with a CCD detector.

When Nonius and Bruker AXS merged in 2001, Rob led the team of developers for the company in Delft. This team developed components and systems for X-ray diffraction analysis. Rob treated management as a new scientific subject that he tried to master. Even as a manager, Rob never lost the attraction to solving X-ray structures and improvements of algorithms.

When Bruker AXS has stopped their R&D in the Netherlands, Rob moved back to the academic world and joined the Netherlands center for Bioinformatics, NBIC, as CTO for the service-directed program. Via a two year excursion to the Netherlands eScience Center from where he ran the data program of DTL he is now working for DTL itself. Rob has been building up a body of knowledge on FAIR research data stewardship since early 2014. Rob also represents ELIXIR relations in the Research Data Alliance.

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Computer Programs

These are three programs I wrote mostly in the early 1990s to analyze data. By now, there are a number of alternatives available, but to me these programs are still serving a good purpose. I even sometimes make small changes....

The programs on this page are written in good-old Fortran-77 and come as source code under the Apache-2.0 license. If you're looking for some re-usable python code I wrote look in the column on the left.

scatter
Scatter is a program to make X-Y plots. It reads a column-formatted file of data points (one line per data point). It writes its output as an "svg" file that can be handled by programs like InkScape.

Download scatter version 3.1 (16 November 2013), or read its manual

 

balkjes
Balkjes is a program to make histograms. It reads a column-formatted file of data points (one line per data point). It writes its output as an "svg" file.

Download balkjes version 4.1 (16 November 2013), or read its manual

 

contour3d
Contour3D is a program that reads a special file containing an XYZ grid with scalar data, and writes an "OOGL" file with a 3D contour. "OOGL" data can be viewed using the ancient geomview program.

Download contour3d version 3.0.

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Who am I?

I am a passionate scientist with management experience on both sides of the divide between academic and commercial ventures.

Foto Rob 2017

  • Dutch, Born in Utrecht (25 June 1967)
  • Current Employment: Programme manager data stewardship at DTL; Technical coordinator of the Dutch ELIXIR node.
  • 2009-2013: Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of NBIC BioAssist; managing the academic engineering team like it is done in a company.
  • 2001-2009: Manager R&D at Bruker AXS BV, in Delft; running a commercial group run with a  long-term, almost academic, focus.
  • Scientific background: Crystal and Structural Chemistry (PhD thesis A Computer-Simulation Study of the Correlation between Molecular Conformation and Sweet Taste [ISBN 90-393-0266-9] Utrecht, 1993). Science is my passion, from theoretical mathematics to biology.
  • Scientific Publications: I (co)authored 36 publications between 1990 and 2019. These papers together were cited 4900 times (May 2019), resulting in H=20. See also ORCID:0000-0001-6825-9439Google Scholar and Publons.
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Subcategories

  • Events

    Things that happen to me, and that I think are fun to share.