The skill of estimating activity durations

Unfortunately, this is one skill that probably can only be developed through repeated mistakes because it is not likely that a freshly minted graduate will be able to give an accurate estimate of the duration that an activity will require.

If anything, it is common for people to overestimate their abilities and underestimate the amount of time required to complete an activity. As a rule of thumb, you will probably need to add a buffer to your estimates but not to the extent that you end up “padding” your duration estimates¬†(which is not considered professional behaviour).

Ah Goh the instant drunk

There was this guy in the same training cadre as me who had a “special skill” — he could get drunk really easily! And by easy, I mean he just needed half a can of SAF beer before he became drunk and incoherent!

I suppose that is not the ultimate because Esh said she knows of someone who is able to be a bit light-headed just by inhaling a bit of alcohol fumes!

Quick security improvements for your PHP code

When accepting input from users in your web application, there is always the chance that the user will key in some code that causes errors ranging from the cosmetic to the malicious.

One of the most common cosmetic errors is when the user formats everything nicely in a <textarea> but all the formatting is lost when it is redisplayed. This can usually be easily solved by using the nl2br() function where all the new lines in the user’s input is converted to HTML-friendly <br /> tags.

To guard against malicious code such as when users try a cross-site scripting attack or inject some HTML that can seriously screw up your web page, you should clean up the input by using the htmlspecialchars(), htmlentities() or strip_tags() (arranged in ascending order of “paranoidness”) functions depending on your requirements.

The Perilous Scope Creep

Much too often, projects fall victim to the “scope creep” syndrome where the project scope expands with disregard to the scope that was originally agreed when it was first chartered.

This often causes many problems inside and out of the organisation. For the organic project team working within the organisation, they will find that tasks are constantly being added to their plate in a never-ending stream and the project sponsor/s will constantly be hounding them on why deadlines are not met — even when the original deadlines were established without the new additions to the scope!

Exernal to the organisation, the vendors will also face problems as they will be caught between the wall and a very hard place: risk annoying the customers by refusing to add to the original project scope or take on the additional scope and overallocate resources beyond the original budget?

100 Pushups

After a PE lesson, I was unjustly punished by an Indian PE teacher for some reason (I can’t remember what now…) and he gave me a ridiculous punishment of doing 100 pushups before walking away.

Think it was the crazy adolescence hormones as well as pride (not to mention fury) that drove me to complete the 100 pushups simply because that teacher thought I could not do it. Although I managed to hold on to my pride, my arms did ache for quite a few days…

Understanding Project Scope – Work Breakdown Structure

Although the WBS is an important document to ensure that all team members have a good understanding of the project scope as it breaks the entire project down into bite-sized work packages, it does not seem to be granted a high level of importance in Singapore.

The people whom I have spoken to have seldom/never come across a WBS in the course of managing their projects. Considering the high delay rate of projects in Singapore (which I read about some time back, can’t remember from where though), perhaps we should pay more attention to documents and processes that can help us manage our projects better.

The discus accident

A little known fact is that I was the House Captain during my days in Secondary School. Unfortunately, an accident happened during my watch when one fo the boys got too enthusiastic and started practising his discus throws in an open field! One of the boys got a glancing blow to his head and all of us were horrified when the blood began to stream down. Thank goodness it was not a serious accident…