Remembering those who touched and influenced my life…

John Nash died yesterday in a car crash. His wife also died in the accident. A taxi driver lost control of the car killing both of them.

Nash was the father of modern game theory. He was the subject of a Hollywood movie “A beautiful mind” and the book of the same name by Silvia Nasser. I first read the book when it came out in 1998. It impacted me greatly. First because it is a discussion of the line between genius and in the end what we consider madness. But in the end it is also a story of the human spirit. John Nash descended both into what is often called mental illness and to the system we have for those who suffer from mental illness. I am not sure at this point which is worse.

He was able to rise above both his illness and our system. Sad that his life was cut short in an automobile accident. I never had the honor of meeting John Nash but I am deeply saddened by his passing.

There are many different people that have influenced me or for that matter whose thinking I found so extraordinary that I did everything I could to learn more. William “Bill” Gates is another example of a human being with incredible ideas. My early computer years were as a devotee of Steven Jobs and the Apple computer concept. I came over time to see the genius of what Bill Gates saw in the computer potential and slowly moved from the Macintosh world to the PC world. His post Microsoft vision as laid out in his foundation is even grander.

There have been others. Voices who concepts and ideas rang forth into the world. I read a book about the men and woman that shaped this country early on. One of the names and the actions of that person have stuck with me as well. Tadeusz Kosciuszko was a native of Poland. He came to America based on the promise of our revolution and fought for America. Ultimately rising to the rank of General he counted as his friends Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and many other members of the Founding Fathers. During the war he wrestled with the inconsistency of liberty for those with Land and of a certain ilk. He watched men whose forefathers came from Africa die alongside men whose forefathers came from Europe. He found no difference in them (because there isn’t one). He freed his slaves. He spent years trying to convince his friend Thomas Jefferson to do the same thing. A great man who believed in the freedom’s inherent for all.

Not that those who influence me need to stand above the crowd and be giants of thought and deed. Many influence me every day. I find myself constantly amazed at the capabilities of the human mind and the human heart.

My father influenced my thinking as did my grandfather early in my life and both of them well into my adult years. They taught me to listen and hear both sides of an argument. They taught me to consider the impact of my bias on the decision I was making. My mother taught me to care for those around me but to pay attention to those in need.

So many other people influenced me over the years. My wife at times pulling me back from the brink of doing something stupid. My children infusing in me the wonder of the world that sometimes you lose as an adult. My dog and the family dogs whose unconditional love isn’t bound to my success or failure of a day, week or year rather it is bound to their love of me as a person.

Thank you to all of you. Your gentle shaping hands have made me who I am.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Climate change isn’t real because the ocean isn’t salty and other theories that can’t be tested…

Is there an objective reality we can consider? For example if we assume there are two sets of facts for every argument which is correct? The easy answer is yes. The one that can be tested and the tests can be repeated getting the same results is the answer.

Right?

Except people believe that other people cheat on the testing. IE, I personally am the objective reality and am able to discern who is cheating the testing and therefore I can reject that data. It is an interesting problem and one that you probably encounter more than you realize. I called this phenomena “Ilackasourcism” a number of years ago. It is in the end a fairly considerable problem.

First off studies that publish data are more credible than beliefs and well suppositions that people have. A valid tested set of data has merit. Let’s take a fairly easy problem. The ocean is comprised of salt water. That can be easily tested. You go to the beach (oh wait, fresh water lakes like Superior are large and have beaches, we need to be specific here). Ok you go to a beach that is directly connected to one of the Oceans of the world. Not a major lake or body of fresh water with a sandy beach. Let’s say that its stipulated that you have to be near an ocean such as the Atlantic, Pacific, Antarctic or Indian. You then draw a cup of water while on that beach. You can use any number of tests to prove it is salt water. Let’s say you taste it (is it salty?). We can argue if you use this model that in fact your taste buds are wrong and therefore it isn’t salty.

We can also dive into the science of testing for salt. Put lead (II) nitrate, Pb(NO3)2 in there, or any kind of soluble lead (II) compound. The lead (II) will bond with the chloride ions (assuming this is NaCl), and form a PbCl2 precipitate, which is visibly recognizable.

If you want to know how much salt, weigh the amount of PbCl2 you have, and then use stoichiometric ratios in the following reaction:
2NaCl(aq) + Pb(NO3)2(aq) —> 2NaNO3(aq) + PbCl2(s)

Now we can take the water, seal it in a container and using tape or some other modality guarantee that it isn’t opened before we take it to another person who runs the tests above and verifies that it is salty water.

Based on the above you can’t argue that in fact the water isn’t salty. 100 people can run the same test on the same water from the same location or any one of 100000000000000 other locations near one of the oceans of the world and get the exact same results. Salt water.

So how is it in the end, without credible tests and without verifiable data bunches of people that are not scientist say global warming is a myth? That in fact global warming is a natural process (it is) that hasn’t been modified or changed by human gas production (umm…where did the CO2 come from Giraffes?). I would like to see a test that shows Co2 is actually produced by farting Giraffes. That would be an interesting test. There is no climate change caused by humans it is all caused by farting giraffe’s and burping sharks.

The data is in. You can test the data. We can send people to Antarctica and have them core ice and pull up ice from a million years ago and test the presence of CO2. Folks it is radically different. We can test 100 different ways and in the end show that in the last 100 years the impact of humans on the environment is so massive that we have changed the very fragile ecosystem we depend on to survive.

Now you get my favorite argument in response to the scientific data. Global Warming is a myth. It was colder this winter than it has been in the past 20 years.

Climate change produced by CO2 gases has to do with the amount of energy either absorbed or last from the sun. Based on the ultimately easily tested information about how much energy is or isn’t captured by the earth from the sun we can quickly and easily determine if there is a difference. Why is the climate change so bad? First off you get more super storms. Super storms are game changers and impact the world more than normal storms do. There are normally 1-2 super storms per time period as determined by historical records. The number of super storms around the world has increased to levels never before seen. That happens from energy. Once energy is created it has to be used. The earth is not a huge space battery. That energy produces heat in one place that evaporates water. That water enters the atmosphere and moves to another location. It can then cool the atmosphere around it and produce colder temperatures. Or because it is hot, has energy, and is in the atmosphere it can modify where it goes.

Hot rises.

Cold sinks.

It saddens me that the science is out there. You can do the experiments yourself. You can gather all the data yourself and see that climate change is happening. Or you can listen to media outlets that proclaim scientists are lying to us because they are going to gain financially from the research grants given to them to study climate change. Argue both sides of this. Look at the conservative view. There is no climate change. Look at the liberal view, humans caused climate change. Throw both of those away and test the data yourself. No one can manipulate your test results but you. If you intentionally sabotage testing to get the results you want then shame on you.

Climate Change is real. It is happening. It is going to get worse.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

What would you take on a journey to Mars?

A disk the size of pin could hold a lot of memory. In that memory you could store massive amounts of information. That said what would you store on the head of a pin? I used to teach a class years ago where we would start the class with an exercise in planning.

What would you take to Mars?

Given a four-to-six year voyage what in the end would take with you? What assuming that Martians are friendly would you want available to share with them about earth? Once upon a time that information would have been much larger than the head of a pin. Now it could probably fit on a memory drive around that size.

What would you take though?

1. The first thing I would do is begin building a streaming library. As the spacecraft will be heading away from earth there will need to be a steady stream of media and the ability to capture and store that stream. Where I might be watching movies produced in 2020, movies from 2021 would be streaming to the cache. Caching streaming media is something we need to consider critical path before the mission takes off.

2. Devices like HomePods would also be critical. Small, battery operated and able to interact with the media streaming cache so that we can effectively watch anything or read anything at any time. Lag stitching software that allows one side to send a question, the other side to respond and then stitches them together into a single conversation without the lags and played via the HomePod.

There are many more things I would probably want to have available. Like I said this is a great conversation/class starter that ends up offering interesting views of the world. You would probably have a digital library of books, movies, music and images already on the craft beyond the streaming and stitching systems. You would probably want to have 25% more capacity for storage and a way to archive some IP easily.

Modifying the HomePods to deliver the overall solution wouldn’t be hard. Those are available soon and eventually adding HD and 3d camera systems for holographic displays won’t be a huge engineering obstacle.

Personally I would find it hard to go 4-6 years without a dog along. But I am also not the ideal candidate for the mission so I suspect that is moot. The ideal astronaut for this is able to function in a small group and at the same time has few ties back to earth. In the movie Interstellar the ties back to earth kept the Hero alive. But it also drove the antagonist mad due to the failure of being able to save humanity.

It is in the end a journey of discovery. You would need scientists and people with great curiosity. You would want an artist on the journey to recreate what is seen. You would want someone with an engineering background and of course a 3d printer so that person could fabricate tools and parts quickly for repairs. You would want a raconteur on the journey. Someone able to build and lead great conversations that last weeks and months. You would want an entertainer onboard. Someone with fresh new ideas and concepts to explore that were entertaining and humorous.

To use the resource triangle long used in the IT world it is about people, process and technology. Mixing all three into a soup that tastes good and is filling. That is what our crew will need as much as device or media services. It will at the end of the journey be a family of people exploring Mars.

So I guess in the end the thing I would take to Mars is a family.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Downward looking evolution.

I was getting off an airplane yesterday when I noticed the human race had changed. It has actually been a very rapid evolution. From where we were to this new state in less than 8 years. In 2000 and all the way to 2006 when you got on an airplane more than ½ people on the plane had a flip phone. Fewer than ½ of the people had a smart phone. Fewer still of those were connected to their corporate email system and upon landing sending and receiving mail.

That switched in 2007 and continues to change. Now when the plane lands the cabin lights up at night. All the cellular phones that had slept in people’s bags or pockets suddenly spring to life. Actually that isn’t true. All the cellular devices that were not texting, instagramming and talking were actually showing movies and playing games.

The evolution of communication is that human beings don’t make eye contact anymore. They make person to phone contact. Staring down in their hands as they follow the crowd out of the airplane and to the baggage claim. It is worse by the way the younger you get.

More and more phone zombies appearing. Walking into each other as if the other wasn’t here because you can’t see them on the screen you are attached to. Our necks forever bent slightly to see our screens that perched in our hands lead us. The mournful statue of Ozmandias no long willfully declaring the works of an immortal King. Now the base inscribed with “If it’s ok I am going to flash a picture of my works on your Instagram account. Please tweet and Facebook like your response if its ok.” Not the mighty look upon my works ye mighty and despair. Rather now the great King asks for likes and favorites.

TS Eliot said the world will end not with bang but whimper. Instead TS, I propose that the world won’t with a whimper. Instead it will end with disconnected cellular phone. People suddenly bereft of their crutch looking up to realize that life is passing them by.

Look upon my Instagram ye hunched over cell phone absorbed and despair. clip_image002

Necks bent ever so slightly now forever. So that we can see the palm of our hands. The evolution of the human cellular phone. Where the phone and the person are no longer separated. As if a permanent mental and physical connection is created. “Go for Bob” the hunched over man on the baggage claim shuttle said. Where once your ring tone unique allowed you to hear your phone. Now everyone has that ringtone and even if it isn’t our ring tone we react and reach for our friends instinctually.

“Police report a significant rise in the number of people simply walking into open Man Holes. Holes created in the earth to take us to areas where we drain water from our great cities.” What said news report to be shared. I wonder if anyone would look up long enough to hear it and then realizing they were walking, stop for a second and look down before it would be another number rising people falling into man holes.

Dog, long man’s best friend wanders off to form a Luddite community in the hills of Colorado. No more dogs and people co-existing say’s the dog spokesperson. We are choosing to live the way we’ve always lived free of cellular phones and people hunched over. Do you know how hard it is for dogs walking their owners to have to look up and look down all the time?

clip_image005What will we post on Instagram without cute dog tricks?

I have to go, it’s time to connect to my Facebook account and see if there are any new cute pictures of cats and cute pictures of dogs for my collection.

Plus I have to go on a cell phone led Manhole cover free walk.

 

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

The news of the day

I remember visting my grandparents as a young person. We would watch Walter Cronkite each night as he shared the news. We ate dinner watching the news which was always different. My parents always did Sunday night dinner watching TV (snack dinner) but we didn’t do that every night.

Mr. Cronkite shared the same news that people do today but in the end it felt different. I remember listening to him during the Apollo 13 crisis. I knew he cared for the crew as much as I did. He brought experts with graphics and information for us so that we could in the end maintain hope.

Somehow the news lost that piece of the puzzle recently. They don’t leave us with hope. That hope is important at least from a watching the news at dinner time. You don’t want to walk away from dinner until you have that hope otherwise dinner becomes sad.

In the end it is part of a larger change in the world. A reality that has settled around us. Hate fills so many people now and they spew that hate into the world. They take and destroy things that existed before not becuase they were bad but instead becuase they were there before.

So I guess I don’t blame the news for lacking hope. The news we have is bad. It isn’t I think worse than it was when i was little there is just more of it. Things that happened 30 years ago didn’t always include video. That isn’t the case anymore. The sight of a chlld running bleeding from an explosion is horrifying. 

I don’t watch the news often anymore.

Sad perhaps that there isn’t a new Walter Cronkite. A new voice that we would invite into our homes to tell us about what is going on in the world around us.  No knock on the earnest efforts made by the newcasters of today. Sim[ly a lament that there isn’t a voice of reason in these trying times.

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Revisiting Screen as a Service from another angle…

Over the years I have watched the world of media change. I had a dear friend who worked with me on the helpdesk at The Future Now in Cincinnati Ohio (Circa 1992). He and I made every computer on the helpdesk have a unique audio voice. Lots of Ren and Stimpy samples and a lot of Three Stooges (I am trying to think but nothing happens). It was the birth of digital noise. We didn’t mess with the then senior engineer’s workstation. He thought he was the boss and our leader. In the end he was simply someone with a tiny bit of authority and absolutely no power. Towards the end of his reign of terror he no longer even answered escalated calls.

The birth of “ripping” taking your CD’s (of legally purchased music) and pushing them to your computer began the media computer craze. Up to the birth of MP3’s we lived for the most part between radio antennas. Driving for long distances you had to change the radio channel ever 100 miles or less. Or have a CD player with lots of CD’s in it. Then came the portable MP3 player. There were a number of them that had incredible capabilities. But iTunes and the iPod won the war. The birth of the portable mP3 player in the end saw a littered path however to the end of that war.

In the car we had the birth of Satellite radio. Suddenly we changed the channel not because of weak signal but because no one in the car wanted to listen to 12 hours of the 70’s. Well I did but no one else would let me so we changed the channel. Your car suddenly becoming a media device. Inputs and outputs and streaming media became the norm.

clip_image002

It was in the end the high fidelity streaming and the birth of the smart phone world that killed the portable media player. My media library in 1998 was 70% songs ripped from the various CD’s I owned (yes a lot of Neil Young) and 30% videos that were mostly family videos. That percentage stayed the same although the family video portion of the library increased when the kids were little.

Streaming changed that. Yes I still collect Neil Young albums. I do still have an MP3 player filled with his songs. I plug it in from time to time, and listen to the iPod at work (no window = no way to receive live Satellite Radio). But for the most part now its streaming audio. Streaming audio and then suddenly you have the great streaming video ability. Where once you had a library of music and if you liked to watch movies at home a library of DVD’s. Now you simply connect to the Internet and listen to your music. You connect to the Internet to watch movies.

What lies beyond? Where once there was a huge industry that produced DVD’s and CD’s now there is a declining industry. What does the future hold? It is something that is intriguing. I watched the birth of HD Radio and in the end its eventual absorption into radio. I watched the MP3 player rise to huge levels and then reaching its plateau stop growing. Now we move that functionality to the smart phone and tablet.

The economy of digital consumption exists and expands every year. The Google Play and iTunes stores are successful digital markets. There are competitors (Pono is another example of a digital store) but the reality is the challengers aren’t to the model but the delivery vehicle. The next market shift occurred with the release of albums to digital first and CD long after. That will eventually be the same for movies and eventually there won’t be a CD/DVD ever released. The digital release will become the only release.

That smart watch you are wearing will add a projector and becomes your digital media hub of the future…

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

First quarter sales bring second quarter ReOrgs!

The words together mean an evaluation of what the organization does with the intent of modifying the organization to better present the ideals of the organization to the world. The impact of the words is fear uncertainty and doubt.

I’ve been through a number in my career. Each of them starting with the intent of refocusing the organization. Or perhaps better aligning with the market. Or one of my favorites streamlining our systems to better achieve our cost goals. There are a million of them. In the end everyone worries. Re-Orgs sometimes = layoffs.

Layoffs can be traumatic. More in the end traumatic than being fired. You weren’t useless to the organization and a bad fit. You simply were a square peg in a round hole. I’ve been on all sides of a layoff. As a person watching the layoff from afar. As a senior person worried about friends and coworkers knowing they were laid off and struggling to find them jobs. As a manager asked to RIF or reduce my workforce and finally as someone being laid off (number 5, number 5 please approach the desk).

It’s painful in any role you are in while a layoff occurs. Making the call is hard. Being called is hard. Watching people you know and care about get called is hard. We can tell ourselves “it’s just business” and in effect it is.

Layoffs are as much a part of any economy as growth is. ReOrgs can during the retooling process create the need for layoffs. There is a great line from the movie Taken. “I have a particular set of skills…”: The next line in a reorg that can terrify you is when you manager says to you “you have a particular set of skills”

And we aren’t heading in that direction anymore.

That particular set of skills puts you at risk during ReOrgs. The bad thing is often the particular set of skills got the organization to the point they didn’t need them anymore. But in fairness there are no guarantees.

Anyway, enough talk of layoffs. The other side of ReOrgs that I find interesting is the overall patterns that are created. Not communication patterns. Rather organization patterns arise that are quite intriguing. During ReOrgs the concept of throwing people under the bus becomes interesting. Where once people that would never throw someone under the bus do during a ReOrg. They, scared for their jobs, let the bus run over people where they wouldn’t under normal day to day business.

Cliques are also worse during ReOrgs. Personally as a teacher I spent a year, every year working with my class to destroy cliques. Cliques generate very bad communication patterns. When ReOrgs surface Cliques get worse. Why? Because part of a clique is their close communication ties. When those ties are broken by moving people around, the clique either dies or becomes much worse.

Distributed cliques in the end create communication barriers. Not problems, or anti-patterns but actual “none shall pass” barriers. Cliques in my humble opinion are the biggest danger of a ReOrg. If you aren’t aware of them in your organization you can create a new org and generate barriers that prevent the transition because communication doesn’t work.

In the end the value of a ReOrg is an organization ready for the new challenge. Just be careful with laying people off that is painful and no matter what you do when you ReOrg, beware Cliques. They are lurking in the darkness can destroy not only the ReOrg but frankly the communication structure of your company.

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Scott Andersen

IASA FellowP8b4!