Archive for the 'Uncategorized' category

Responding to the Covid-19 pandemic – what’s happening on a global scale

March 20, 2020 8:59 pm

As someone who works with teams and individuals on changing how they approach software development, I recently thought back to a model that originally came from the family therapist Virginia Satir. She used the model to illustrate how humans cope with change, and much has been written about it before. A write-up that’s often used in the Agile Software Development community is

In addition, a very detailed description is published at

Sadly, the images in that article don’t really show up in context, so I decided to re-create them and produce them in somewhat higher resolution – and I will use those re-creations here.

Normally the model is used to talk about how individual people react to change. It starts with a “Late Status Quo”, where our performance in whatever domain is hovering around a certain level:

This phase may last a while:

At some point, a change of some sort happens, a “Foreign Element” shows up. That could be an unusual new idea, a new person joining a team, or a new demand placed upon an employee:

The normal result from the introduction of this Foreign Element is that our our performance gets thrown into chaos:

How long the chaos will last is unknown.

While I’m writing this, the globe we live on is swept up in a pandemic of a viral infection outbreak called Covid-19. The viral infection has essentially caused the psyche of the entire population on earth to plunge into the “Chaos” phase all at once, and all over the planet.

People are naturally afraid of many things in this phase (contracting the invisible virus through non-symptomatic carriers, having to shelter in place at home, losing income, being unable to pay bills, etc.) Many have no way of working while the pandemic persists.

Others work in the “knowledge” domain, and are being instructed to conduct their business from home via the Internet, essentially having to become remote workers overnight. For those people, the foreign element is not only related to fears, but also to having to develop new skills and social “online” practices in a hurry. This exacerbates the feeling of chaos and mixes in a great deal of anxiety.

What is needed to get out of the chaos is a “Transforming idea”, an insight into how the new situation can be tackled, or a new skill that can be learned to make one feel more competent and confident:

Once this Transforming Idea exists, we move into the phase of “Integration and practice”, where our performance still oscillates wildly as we try on the new idea, or build up new skills:

With repetition and repeated practice, we slowly arrive at a “New Status Quo”, where our level of performance is (hopefully) above what it was before, since we are now more capable, and we experience natural oscillation around a new “normal”:

In the case of the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the transforming ideas to deal with the global outbreak is “social distancing” (more appropriate would be to call it “physical distancing”), where people avoid physical contact and close proximity to others to prevent transmission of the virus in the population.

Unfortunately that idea triggers additional chaos for those people who are being asked to become remote workers “over night” because they mostly work in intellectual endeavors. They are now asked to learn how to function well in an environment that is mostly unfamiliar to them, where social norms are not fully established, and new habits are difficult to form. This has given rise to many, many tips and articles being published online, laying out a plethora of Transforming Ideas to choose from, inviting people to join free sessions to learn new skills in a hurry, and all kinds of real-world training (and conferences) moving online. All of that is offered with the best of intentions – and without it we’d be much poorer off in terms of having Transforming Ideas available.

But as the Satir change model shows, integration and practice will take time. Enlightened companies and managers will take that into account and help their employees calm the fear and anxiety that is swirling all around. One key component to helping everyone work through the current situation is to realize that it is completely normal for people to react this way, and to reassure them that there is patience and a supportive stance that they can rely upon to calm some of the chaos.

Windows 7 System Image Restore – Three Days of Frustration

December 18, 2013 10:00 pm

If you ever need to recover a Windows 7 system image onto a new hard drive, I hope you don’t have to go through the same pain I just did. It took me three days to get my main PC back in working condition…

A few days ago Windows finally alerted me to an impending disk failure (after having silently logged the problem to the event log for over three months – gee, thanks Windows!) It was trying to be helpful by encouraging me to make a system image backup before replacing the drive, which I did. That took a while, of course, with 336 GB to transfer. I used an external USB-to-SATA bridge for this. But it took nowhere near as long as the recovery odyssey I ended up with.

My surprises started when attempting to restore this image on a fresh drive. My system has three hard drives, one for the OS and two for data. I attempted to restore the image using a regular Windows 7 install DVD. I had several lying around, but none of them would work. I ended up burning a new one with Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1 and using that.

The first attempt at restoring took over 20 hours. I had connected both the new drive and the old drive (plus my two data drives) to the system via its plentiful SATA connectors, so it was a SATA-to-SATA transfer, which I expected to go really fast. Nope. And, apparently, having all disks connected and active while restoring is bad, since (as I think I’ve now concluded) that messes up the drive letter assignment of the restored image. Somehow the restored image ends up with a non-C:\ drive letter.

Not realizing that this was the problem, I tried using Acronis True Image Home 2012 to create a fresh backup image of the failing drive, and then restored that. Same problem. At least Acronis didn’t take over 20 hours to restore the data…

I ended up with two things that needed to be done: The boot configuration had to be fixed (as I later found out this was because somehow my original drive configuration had been messed up between creating the original Windows System Image Backup and the Acronis Image backup). On top of that, I had to somehow fix up the drive letter mapping so that C: would once again be C: – and not F: The drive letter mapping problem showed itself in that the OS would boot (once the boot config was fixed), but after logging in, it would be stuck at “Preparing Your Desktop”, and sometimes even get to a blank blue screen. From there I could start Task Manager via Ctrl+Alt+Del, and then a command prompt, which showed me that the OS thought it was living on the F: drive.

Here’s the boot configuration fix (applied by booting from a Recovery Disk or Windows install DVD):

bcdedit /export C:\BCD_Backup
cd boot
attrib bcd -s -h -r
ren c:\boot\bcd bcd.old
bootrec /RebuildBcd

The drive letter mapping was harder. I couldn’t do it from the Recovery Disk (which I also created along the way), nor by the Task Manager trick (halfway “booted” into the user account). I finally found the trick: Boot from the old disk, load the SYSTEM registry hive from the new disk, and swap the value \DosDevices\F: in HKLM\SYSTEM\MountedDevices with \DosDevices\C:

So here’s the boot drive letter assignment fix based on the above trick for modifying the registry of a non-booting system:

  1. Note what drive letter the non-working disk has for itself based on the “boot halfway” command-prompt (F:, in this case);
  2. Boot the working disk;
  3. Determine what drive letter the working disk has (C:, in this case);
  4. Start regedit, highlight the [HKLM] branch, select the
    regedit option ‘File->Load Hive’, and load the file
    ‘F:\Windows\system32\config\system’ under a {dummy} name;
  5. Locate the two registry entries:

    [HKLM\{dummy}\MountedDevices  \DosDevices\F:]
    [HKLM\{dummy}\MountedDevices  \DosDevices\C:]

  6. Rename the value \DosDevices\C: to some other name, such as \DosDevices\Z:
  7. Rename the value \DosDevices\F: to \DosDevices\C:
  8. Rename the value \DosDevices\Z: to \DosDevices\F: 
  9. Highlight the {dummy} branch, select the regedit option ‘File->Unload Hive’, and exit regedit.

I don’t think I’ve ever had this much trouble restoring an image. I guess the real lesson is “don’t restore the image with any other drives active on the system, and if possible, use a USB bridge for the disk you’re restoring from”. Microsoft, this should be easier!!!

Custom RSS feeds for BUILD 2011 videos

September 17, 2011 11:26 am

Now that //build/ is over, lots of people want to download the sessions they missed because there was an ocean of stuff being presented and you couldn’t possibly catch it all live.

One way to do this is to use a PowerShell script (I found one here).

Here’s the script code in case you don’t want to follow the link:

cd "C:\build11"
[Environment]::CurrentDirectory=(Get-Location -PSProvider FileSystem).ProviderPath
$a = ([xml](new-object net.webclient).downloadstring(""))
$ | foreach{
    $url = New-Object System.Uri($_.enclosure.url)
    $file = $url.Segments[-1]
    if (!(test-path $file))
        (New-Object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadFile($url, $file)

One problem with this might be that you don’t want all videos. So you’d have to filter the RSS feed that the script pulls down. There’s no documentation on how to do that, but a little experimentation shows that you can do this:

The available filters (for the t parameter) are:





Assessment%2Band%2BDeployment Kit




























































If you’re just interested in the slides, use a query like this:

In general, the query can be constructed like this:
[type]?t=[tag]&term=[free text]

Where [type] can be one of: wmv, wmvhigh, mp4, slides

You can add multiple t arguments.

So if you’re interested in slides related to “client” topics, this might be your query:

Apple’s new Cupertino campus: Wow!

June 7, 2011 11:14 pm

Here are some still images from a recent presentation Steve Jobs gave to the Cupertino City council. Amazing stuff. Sorry about the low res quality, these came off of the 240p video at

Old and new campus land

New Campus Buildings
New campus building

New Campus Aerial View
New campus aerial shot

New Campus Aerial View 2
New campus aerial shot

New Campus Aerial View 3
New campus aerial shot

New Campus View 1
New campus view

New Campus View 2
New campus view

Landscape Current
Landscaping current

Landscape Future
Landscaping future

New Campus View 3
Campus view

Trees Current
Trees current

Trees Future
Trees future

New Campus View 4
New campus view

New Campus Buildings Detail
New campus building details

New Campus Statistics
New campus statistics

New Campus View 5
New campus view

New Campus View 6
New campus view of cafeteria

New Campus Aerial View 4
New campus aerial view

Thoroughly impressive. Wow.