Family History project recap and statistics…

Today is a Family history project math day.


The graph shows the distribution of pictures I’ve taken over the years. The years in question are at the bottom of the image and start in 1971 (my first camera) and move to the later years when I was having children.

Two quick findings:

  1. Having kids increases the number of pictures you take
  2. The transition from my father taking most of the pictures to me taking most of the pictures occurs first for my family in 1991 and then for the whole family around 2001.

I suspect most people have a similar curve. When you are younger you really don’t have a lot of interest in picture taking. With digital however I suspect my children’s curve to be slightly different with the steep rise (increased pictures) occurring earlier in life. In the early years the cost of taking pictures was higher for me than it would be for them.

Average pictures taken per year  
1971 to 1988 42.88235
1988 to 1990 29.5
1990 to 2001 500
2001 to now 4642.857

1988 to 1990 I was recovering from divorce and didn’t often taken pictures. Interesting because around 1992 the pictures actually exceed 500 per year as that is when my daughter was born. They increased again in 1998 as that was when the boys were born.

I find the numbers intriguing. As I said my own children will have different numbers. Of the pictures Jakki has taken I have 2400 of them stored on the network. That puts her roughly 1700 pictures ahead of me. Plus, I don’t have all her pictures. Like her grandfather she only shares the pictures she thinks are good.

The fun of a family history project is discovering and recovering events that happened long ago, or yesterday. The current stats for the Andersen Family History Project are:

9500 scans of pictures (Joan Ralstin, Ralstin Family and Barb and Scott family pictures)

10400 scans of slides (Hans O Andersen and Henry O Andersen)

288 blogs

It has been a wonderful project so far. Lots of great memories and in the end a few sad ones as well.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Diving into IoT and CSTEAM…a conversation about a conversation…

So I’ve been doing a CSTEAM IoT presentation. (interesting discussion yesterday – (IoT is the Internet of Things. iOt is the Internet OF things). As part of that presentation I’ve been showing what you can do with connections. From temperature probes to UV probes and then connecting to sensors not in the room with us.

The other side of the presentation is about what you can do with the data. I know that probably brings a smile to a couple of my data analytics friends faces. We talk about the impact of the data and the value of the data from remote sensors.

We talk about the sensors you can connect to that present data in a finished form for you to consume. Traffic sensors are the quick one as are weather sensors. Everyone quickly (particularly in the great metropolitan parking lot known as the District of Columbia) gets the value of traffic cameras and traffic flow senor data. Weather data they understand as well. We talk about the national broadcast DC temperature and the reality of the suburban temperature. On most days DC is normally 5-8 degrees warmer than it is in the suburbs. The presence of more green makes it colder. Plus the presence of less asphalt.

All of this resulting in a talk that covers all components of a CSTEAM conversation. Well, for older students the art piece is in learning the value of a design that is aesthetically pleasing. The way I’ve been doing this is showing them a raw feed of data from a weather sensor and the finished application version of the same data. All the information is in the raw data its just a little harder to parse in the 5 seconds or so I leave it on the screen. It helps show the value of making things look good though.

All of this the art of the possible. Then we talk a little about the reality of risk. The television show “Person of Interest” offers a great view of what is possible with too much control. But we also talk about the value proposition of IoT going forward. That you can connect with and communicate with other people regardless of where you are. Air travel made the world flat, IoT and the concept of personal presence makes everyone next door.

Finally I end with a joke. A computer chip made yesterday at 3 pm walks into a bar. All the other patrons laugh. The chip say’s what did I do? The patrons say “Your so yesterday.”

Its not a good joke and half the kids groan the other half laugh. My kids just look at me and say “dad your jokes are making us want to move out.”


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Some rules for creators and backers of crowd funding campaigns…

As crowd funding continues to head on an upwards path there are some interesting phenomena occurring. First off let me say that less than 2% of all the projects I’ve backed have had poor or no communication.

I am debating right now if that would in fact qualify for poor customer service and free me from my no names blog rule. I will debate that internally for a couple more days.

Interestingly there are a number of communications templates that campaigns use. I am intrigued and have worked with several campaigns on that very problem. I think as many marketing professionals will tell you it’s a balancing act. Update too often and people will start to ignore it and then forget it. Don’t update enough and your backers will get frustrated.

Personally the least effective is communicating but starting off each time with we are sorry. I think I am going to do an informal poll amongst my friends that back projects and see what the fialure rate really is.

campaign Rule number 1: establish a communications rhythm and stick to it.

The next interesting style is overly technical. For these blasts the creators share everything that is going on. That style is much better as a short regular burst (see rule 1) and then a link to a blog so people can geek out. I like to geek out right before the item ships to see the design decisions and other concepts.

campaign Rule number 2: Your audience is wide and varied make sure you communication is concise and non-technical. Blog the technical details they are important, just don’t blast them out to everyone.

Adhering to these two simple rules will actually decrease your negative comments (where is it? Is this campaign a rip off). Keeping the backers informed in a consistent manner will ultimately make the campaign easier to run. You don’t have to go into crisis communication mode.

The other side of the rules needs to apply to backers. I am not sure how to implement the rules of social backing. If you back a project assume the timeline they present with the campaign is optimistic. Assume that there will be issues. In part because where once there were 100 open campaigns any 30 days now there are 2000 or more. As a backer read about the projects that have failed and in the end why they failed.

Backer Rule One: if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

As a backer it behooves us to treat every single campaign like you would a traditional manufacturing company. If Sony announces a new TV for June 2015 and they end up not being able to ship it until July do we stand in front of their US offices protesting? Campaigns are the same way. The only difference being the distance between marketing and delivery isn’t as great. So they have to be optimistic in their timeline. If they said it’s a project that will take 5 years to deliver no one would back it.

Backer Rule Two: Everyone involved is doing there best. Backers are patiently waiting and innovators are happily innovating. Yelling at each other doesn’t do anyone any good.

There are many more campaign and backer rules that I have. I will share more backer rules. The campaign rules I share with campaigns that approach me for help. You can reach me for campaign help here.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow!

Capability buckets, home devices and the impact of IoT…

I was thinking about capability buckets and home devices yesterday on my short (114 minutes to go 30 miles) drive home. I was thinking about printers for some unknown reason.

Roughly 5 years ago I got a color laser printer. I had waited for the prices to come down from the original color lasers (2000 plus). They finally did so I got one. we used it frequently and still use it to this day. It was a simple connect and print device.

But the capability “print” is not a huge bucket now compared to what it was when we first got the printer. There were a number of projects the family was involved in then that required a lot of color prints. Now we print on occasion but for the most part the color inkjet printer is good enough.

So we are donating the big color printer. We no longer need that level of color laser printing in the house. We can operate with a smaller printer that still does color laser prints but also now serves a secondary backup role – fax machine. That in the end allows me to get rid of two stand alone devices (fax machine and color laser) and combine into a single machine. I gain space back and in the end have fewer devices in the house.

That got me thinking about the impact of IoT on devices. What devices will as IoT activated replace other devices people have today. For example, Keecker (on Kickstarter here) got me thinking. They call Keecker the first homepod. I think it is actually the first portable home theater. Instead of having a number of devices in a single place you simply have Keecker come to you. This allows you to have what you need literally at your fingertips in any room of the house. From music to videos. The example I am going to use for this is the other day I was installing something in the house. I had to balance my phone to watch the excellent YouTube video on how to install the device. With Keecker (coming soon!!!!!) I would have simple put my phone down and had Keecker display what I was watching right where I was installing the device.

In the end that is a new capability bucket that can be filled by a device that also fills other capability buckets (portable radio, portable TV, portable video phone, portable meeting device).

The number of capabilities that we will be able to add to devices is simply amazing. Embracing this IoT capability onslaught will help us make the world a better place with technology. From the Internet of illness (published on CloudTweaks) to what is the CO and CO2 level of my house the IoT technology impact is going to be huge. From your health, to staying healthy by having people who are sick stay home the impact of technology on our lives is already great and going to get even better!


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Talking self-promotion, career protection and the simple architecture movement…

As I’ve noted a few times on my blog I seek the simple architectural answer when designing solutions. I try to avoid overly complicated designs and solutions in the end. It is part of what I have dubbed the Simple Architecture movement.

That said there is a place for complexity in the universe beyond Rube Goldberg devices. But the complexity of the view doesn’t always mean the solution that drove the view was complex.

For example, I was reviewing some old pictures and realized there are some very complex and intricate systems created by nature. The process of creation is simple, erosion or freezing but the result is complex.

Beyond that IT solutions that start complex and then well in the end if they start complex they run into two problems.

  1. Hit by the bus
  2. Cannot easily patch or manage

Hit by the bus is the bane of IT projects. It means that one person is a driver or so integral to the overall project that if they aren’t there the project will have issues or fail. We hear people say the phrase all the time but in the end Hit by the Bus is not part of the simple architecture movement. It is in fact a form of complexity.

The other side of complexity is the reality of patching and managing the environment. The harder it is to patch an environment the more over time you run into the complexity issues of solution drift and security risk. Solution drift is the Delta between the baseline (what we believed is deployed) and reality (what is actually deployed). The more complex the patching process the greater in the end the risk created.

Why is it then that sometimes software and solution architects seek complexity? Over documenting or under documenting a solution to the point of creating the hit by a bus issue? Job security.

I started the simple architecture movement with a posting nearly ten years ago (Difference Architectures) on MSDN. The reason for the original post was an internal argument about the size of architecture documents given to the customer and complexity. I broke up the various deliverables I thought ought to be included with an architecture. I struggled to convince my team members that they didn’t need to include every single mouse click in the overall architecture document – that was best included in configuration and operations guides.

Over time the customer started to agree with me which was the only thing that changed the teams mind. The risk of producing a smaller less “Thud-able” architecture and therefore jeopardize their careers was too much for them. There is a negative perception of self-promotion that I personally think is stupid. The only reason I think its stupid has to do with the fact that there are people that don’t do self-promotion but in the end don’t do anything that will jeopardize their careers. They belittle people that self-promote but then in the end they are risk free since whenever their career started.

Effectively my career protection is a pattern that isn’t communications but is actually personal style. So what you end up with is people so motivated to protect their careers that in the end they are paralyzed.

They create massive Thud Factor architectures not because it is the right thing to do for the customer but rather it is the right thing for them to do for their careers. They stand in front of you decrying the foul nature of self-promotion but in the end they seldom venture outside the safety of career protection zone.

Oh well. If you ring fence cow manure its still manure.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

The world is flat, but our lens’ should be curved…

“If we take but one view of everything in the end all we see is what we have chosen to see.” Sandler Boggs

In the exceptional book The World is Flat, the concept of the speed of transportation flattening the globe is presented. I’ve listened to that book three times and continue to find new information each time.

Globalization introduces new cultural variances and speeds up the world economy. Of course the reality of that speeding is that things that once would created a ripple in the world economic pool may now create many impacts rather than one. A flat economy throughout the world creates interdependence.

What worries me however is the opening statement Sandler made in a poem many years ago. Well it was during a poetry reading in describing a specific poem but still part of that poem was thinking about the concept of viewpoints.

Software Architects talk about views and viewpoints. What you see and you see it from. But at times if we aren’t careful we run afoul of the concept of only seeing what we wanted to see or choose to see.

Truly the world is flat. Truly we are one collective group “human.” I have been fortunate enough to travel throughout the world and I am happy to report that smiles are the same everywhere. From child to adult, a smile means a smile. Everything else is different but a smile is still a smile.

Our technology makes reaching people easier. Many years ago my father traveled for business. He was able to call home on rare occasions and would write us letters. He would be gone for one or two months at a time and we missed him. Later in life I also traveled for business but I was able to call home once a day in Europe and twice a day in Asia. The difference is immeasurable.

But we remain a world filled with strife and anger. As if the founding fathers of this country wrote a different paragraph. We hold these truths to be self evident. As long as you are like us. Was that the intended lens of the dream? That all be equal that are like us?

I hear people say they are in technology to change the world. It is in the end an interesting application of service. I wonder however, do they truly mean that? There are crowd funding campaigns that are working diligently to change the world. To create clean water around the world. To create new ways of capturing energy to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels. To make the world a better place. Technology is changing the world all around us. Go to a hospital and watch technology save someone’s life.

Yet we still have the lens of here and now. We publish data not always to inform but sometimes to manipulate. For example when you compare test scores across 100 million people you tend to move towards the lower side of the mean as the overall average. If you compare that to a nation with 10 million people they would normally tend towards the higher side of the mean. To raise or impact 10 million it costs significantly (1/10th) of what it costs to raise the 100 million.

Don’t like American schools – then raise your property taxes and pay more. US schools that have strong tax bases score higher on tests – those that don’t have strong tax bases don’t. Follow the money – its how you impact test scores. You see in the end the world is flat – which means AMERICA is flat as well. We are a nation with potential.

That is the lens. Problems that are local are seen as systemic. Problems that are systemic are seen as regional (multi-nation) and so on. Flat doesn’t mean the same it simply means that you can effectively get from Washington DC to Washington DC flying continuously in less than a day. It took 3 months in a ship that leaked to get from Europe to America and even longer to Australia in the early 1800’s.

Yes the world is flat, but our lens should be curved.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

My nearly monthly Indiegogo and Kickstarter project post…

I haven’t done my Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects I think are cool for awhile so here goes.


The first is ODIN the first virtual mouse. Campaign link here. The interesting thing about this is like the laser keyboards that have been around for the past 3 or so years, this creates a laser mouse. I suspect it will, like the keyboards take some initial adjustment. I use the keyboard on the go with my iPad all the time. I don’t use the keyboard with my laptop but perhaps with this project I may start doing that.

This is my second time backing a Pebble project. My first Pebble Watch was damaged in an accident. My second watch became my daughters somehow. So this is a Pebble watch for me. I’ve looked at the Apple Watch (interesting but expensive) and frankly the Pebble remains the best smart watch I’ve seen. Yes I know I do post on Twitter and Facebook about things my smart watch does, those are jokes. So far this new campaign has taken off well.


I considered buying an induction cooktop a few months ago. By the time you got everything needed in the end it was rather expensive. Along come Paragon. First I like this campaign because it is a large company embracing the new world of crowd funding – kind of lends credibility to the crowd-funding movement in a big way. Second this whole set-up gives you and induction cooktop at a considerably less $$$ point. Cheap is good, right?

This next project is the first of many in this area I suspect. OVRVision Pro is a VR camera. USB 3.0 connection VR camera that offerings an interesting starting point for Virtual reality. 3d cameras have been out for awhile (I love my Sony Bloggie). VR camera’s are the new it thing (the Microsoft Hololens making a huge splash). To me VR is the next phase of the IoT explosion in that the IoT expressed in a VR environment would make the information presented that much more valuable. Imagine being able to connect to your home automation system and see everything in your home, not just video feeds but temperature, environmental variables, sound/noise and security. It would change the world of baby monitors!


When I first started backing and helping campaigns about three years ago there were a number of campaigns that were truly future looking. If you by the way want advice about your potential market and stumbling blocks from an experienced IoT and other new technology person please go here. I’ve noticed the explosion not only of new cutting edge technologies but also that each one is just a little bit more advanced. Very cool!

On the other side, I see a lot more “help me buy an iPhone, help me start college with a new computer. My X broke, I need a new one. So on and so forth, in the end if you want me to help – don’t post it without a really good story. I don’t back projects with sad looking teenagers asking for a car. I have those at home – thanks anyway.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.