Make mine a double…

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The human, software connection

What is your favorite software application on your computer? By favorite it can’t be a name or a simple I like the application, it has to be the application you use every day. And that can be Outlook, but would you use it if you weren’t working?

My favorite application is actually Microsoft Word. Not because I worked at Microsoft but because as a writer, it is the application that I use the most because I want to. I learned to type and write on a Royal Manual typewriter. Over time I migrated into the computer world and used a number of different word processors over the years. MS Word remains the one application that I would say is resolutely my favorite.

What is the one application that helps you be a better person? The applications that helps you do the things you want to do? It is the connection between human and machine that results in the favorite choice. What is your closest point of connection to your computer?

What is your favorite software application on your mobile device? The wonder of the cellular device is the freedom it gives you. Personally I really enjoy having mapping applications available at my fingertips. Ever since I learned about topographic maps while in Boy Scouts (now more than 2 years ago) I have been a GPS and map freak. The ability to find where I am and get to where I need to be without hassle or worry is a fantastic tool – my personal favorite mobile application.

If that application were to be made closer to what you wanted how would it change? What are the things that you find missing that would make it even better? That is the other side of the human software connection. The fact that nothing is static. Over time things change and develop, improving based on the thoughts and ideas presented by a single user at times. Making the software better fit the niche in your life.

What would make your favorite software better?


Shameless Review of the new IPAD

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Shameless Review IPAD 2012

(for lack of a better name, you could call it the IPAD HD, The IPAD 3 or just the IPAD as well)

I spent many years waiting for a tablet. I take notes at meetings so that I can review them later and have been searching for a device that will do the note thing effectively.

To date, I have not replaced my livescribe pen with my Ipad. The livescribe (echo smart pen) remains my note taking device of choice.

As with all tablets I follow a simple process – the first thing is to start doing my blog on the device. I don’t like the primary and secondary software options on the IPAD so after using Blogsy and a couple of others for three days I stopped using the Ipad for my blog. I did do my last two podcasts on the Ipad – so it does have some value in the space. I wouldn’t rate it as a bad device, I just don’t like the software.

Things I like

Things I hate


screen (OMG)

virtual keyboard (if you have fat fingers like me it’s a bit hard to use)


LTE network (really fast)


The AT&T service is awesome!

battery (last a solid 9 hours) hot hot hot (the device heats up pretty bad when used for an extended period)
Uses all Apple accessories   Huge plus – being able to reuse things makes upgrades less painful
upgrade was virtually painless   Now we own two iPads, the upgrade was simple for me – and the kids got a new toy.

All in all I highly recommend the new IPAD. Even for those with an IPAD2, the graphics alone make it a great device. The improved radio stack take it even one step further. As a former (loved it) portable TV service user, having Hulu, SlingMedia and other video services like Netflix and Blockbuster Online makes this an incredible tool.

3 things apple could improve:

  • Integration with Amazon for Cloud storage and cloud drive reuse
  • the virtual keyboard needs fat finger mode to reduce typing errors
  • Better blogging software.

It’s a great tool, the business modeling and other software packages including the Microanalysis tools make this device a winner go forward. We will have to see what windows 8 offers.


Trust, ethics and the corner bakery

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The ethics of forgetting. I worked at my previous company for 15 years. Since leaving I’ve had a number of friends that have reached out to me since leaving and that makes me really happy. I also have had a bunch of friends reach out to me that are also unhappy with the way things are, which makes me sad, I’ve helped them and listened as much as I could.

There are a number of folks who haven’t reached out and that is kind of sad. But I guess to be expected. I would also in fairness have to take some blame because in some cases I was happy to no longer have to communicate with some of the folks, so not hearing from them is a value add.

Which leads me to the purpose of this diatribe, the ethics of forgetting. There are a number of components of the discipline “human dynamics” that we all consider over time.

The first component is the overall relationship we have with the person. Human dynamics is the interaction of two or more people in a controlled or uncontrolled scenario. How we act (or don’t act) when those situations change is the ethics piece.

Everyone has moments when they wished they had done things in a different or even better way. The question of ethics comes in how you handle it.

There are a number of people I have worked with over the years that I would trust completely. I keep in touch with those folks because they are honorable and ethical. There are a number of people I’ve met that I lose touch with – so if I haven’t reached out to you recently assume its this rather than the other issue,

There are people I do not trust. When the opportunity comes to place distance between myself and you, I do it.



Is Software Architecture dead?

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I heard a discussion yesterday that got me thinking. I have to start out with the disclaimer, I am a reformed architect.

  • I do not believe in reference architectures unless they come from standards bodies.
  • I do believe in reference models and reference implementations of organization.
  • I am beginning to wonder if I believe in architects.

I helped build several different architect certifications over the years but I am beginning to wonder if in fact software architects aren’t part of the problem rather than a potential solution.

They (software architects) are very smart people of that there is no question.

But I wonder if in fact the role of software architects has become less than it should be, and more than it really is (perception). I don’t see the innovation from software folks that I saw a couple of years ago. Everyone is rushing to the banks of the Enterprise Architecture river. That river is the separation between IT and the business today, and thereto part of the real problem.

I see software architects as communicators. (not, intimidators as a former colleague was convinced). Based on the communication concept the software architect should be in the middle of everything, pushing things along.

In reality I’ve just argued myself out of my previous position, but what I am struggling with remains. I do not believe in the “software architects” I meet and used to work with today. The profession has so much more that it could do, and so much more that it should do. It in the end makes me sad.


Tape is dead, long live on-line backup!

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Alas poor DLT I knew him well. He was a tape of infinite mirth backing up the data center and sitting in a box waiting always waiting.

Tape is dead.

Well, not dead as I suspect it will remain in use in large enterprises as a vehicle for long term storage.  But the device (tape drive) that once ruled the data center is dying. Of course the data center is changing as well.

We’ve come to define the processes of the data center (ITIL, ISO) and the people who build and design them (Infrastructure Architectures working with Enterprise Architects). We’ve made them virtual (but virtual does not equal cloud) and we’ve begun the push to cloud computing.

Today the cloud is all about cost savings. In fact, a full embrace of cloud computing could save the US Federal Government and many world governments, trillions of dollars (Billions in the US alone).

But like all new things, we are cautious. We should be, new can equal risk, but the time of cloud is coming. First, my long projected burp, and once the digestive juices have again settled and we are again ready to face the brave new world, then again the march to cloud.

The thing I spent my walk yesterday thinking about was the impact on consumers. I’ve been watching the consumer trend (Icloud, SkyDrive and Amazon cloud) that provides for services in the cloud. I am a consumer of many of those services as well as the On-line Backup service Carbonite (which rules by the way). The loss of data will eventually go away, as we backup everything to cloud services. The ability to use any device anywhere will continue to expand. But that is coming, today there is something missing, something that will remain missing until the world changes a little.


Smart applications that are aware both of the user state (device) as well as the human state (what I need to act on). Application’s that flow easily from device to device (on the smaller screen present the data I need, on the larger screen present all the information). Adjust between laptops and desktops, tables and cell phones to produce a uniform device independent user experience.

Like tape, many modern applications will fade. The question is which will change in time to catch the tide?


Build your own applications…you might have to…

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My first computer of note was an Apple IIc. I upgraded the system to two disks (3.5 inch floppies) and 640 k of RAM. The upgrade  was simple (disk) and complex (memory) as I had to remove everything and place a new RAM component on the mother board.

Back in those days most of us took apart the systems we had and added memory or other things to the system. I wonder how many people do that today? The market for home built computer kits has gone way down (IMHO). There used to be a catalog (Heathkit) that featured do it yourself projects (HAM radios, computers etc.)  But that market seems to be disappear.

Not that it should still exist. The phase of do it yourself/hobbyist computing is past. The goal for computers was to become mainstream and they have for the most part. The smaller they get, the more functional they are in the end. I have more computing power (although less addressable power) in my hand than I had on my desk 20 years ago.

Now is the great change from where things are to the reality of the new paradigm, addressable power. Power is an interesting thing, it can mean the power you use to turn on and run a device, but in the case we are looking to the second meaning, which is really the functional capacity of a device – what can it do.

Addressable power in that scenario then becomes the power the device has that given the scenario can be easily used.

For example, financial records are not easy to read on a mobile device so in that scenario their addressable power goes down.

Good Mobile Scenarios (today)

  • Email
  • browsing for a quick answer
  • directions/gps
  • Wikipedia or dictionary look ups
  • remote conversations (telephone)
  • backup presentation device

Not so good mobile scenarios (today)

  • Financial record review
  • Picture editing
  • document collaboration
  • speech to text conversion

The problem of addressable power lies within the applications we have today. We don’t have smart applications that are capable of fixing the addressable power issues inherent in the mobile platforms of today. It will take a new generation of applications that are aware of the limits and use those as boundaries rather than as harsh stopping points that result in use failure.

Reality is today there is more “addressable” power than the existing applications can use. There is, however, less “addressable” power in the applications so the result is a wash. The change in applications will over time result in that situation being reversed (which is a more solid situation anyway – software should always wait for hardware to catch-up – its what drives the directionality of hardware research).


Simple is as Simple does

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Given the inconsistency of hardware solutions today – what are the three things that could change in the short run that would make the market a little stronger and therefore solutions a little better?

  • Consistent Cellular Data (and by default – beyond the consistent data to actually have consistent charges for that data. Its amazing to me the differences offered by the various vendors. I play less for an all you can eat plan on T-Mobile than I pay for data on my Ipad).
  • Make the mobile device platform uniform – there are significant variances among the many different android phones that really make consistency hard.
  • Universal spectrum for all wireless vendors (so your phone can easily move around and get the best possible connection)
  • More all you can eat pricing – knowing that in reality too many people with all you can eat. Perhaps mixing wi-fi more on portable devices allowing them to easily switch between wifi and cellular.

I’ve talked about a few of these things before. One of the things that is the biggest game changer in the short run in my opinion will be the new application development patterns that are developed. Smarter applications will always result in a better user experience.

Finally I believe the simplification process will also result in some of the new development patterns being expedited. Simple is the future for mobile devices.


The complexity of mobility

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The complexity of hand held solutions amazes me. I have been playing with an interesting tool called instapaper. It lets you book mark web pages to read them offline, later. Basically the concept is create your own newspaper. Between that and news 360 I have cut my research time for newsfeed stuff down to less than an hour a day (it reached a high of nearly 3 hours a day at one point).

What I am intrigued by however is the complex nature of mobile solutions as they grow.


  • I don’t like my blackberry very much so all that is on it, corporate calls and corporate email.
  • I find myself leveraging mobile applications more and more often just to find out where something is, or answer a question that is plaguing me at the moment.
  • The smaller the application the more likely I am to download it. You can always throw it away later.
  • Specialized tools that help me actually get a nod right now. A level – awesome! A ruler? Awesome.

What is the complexity I am talking about? Well the first complexity is the nature of cellular data. Coverage is an interesting beast. I have an AT&T LTE IPAD, an IPhone on T-Mobile and a BB on AT&T. I can guarantee that there are times all three have no signal, (which is rare). The most likely occurrence is that one of the three will have no signal. So complexity one is the overall “holes” in the cellular data network.

The second complexity is the cost of data. It is a high profit zone for the cellular vendors right now. But the reality of the situation is very complex.

As more devices use the “existing” bandwidth,” that overall bandwidth decreases. The cellular companies have to purchase additional wavelengths, which has a ripple affect (you have to get a new phone with a new antenna) or they have to find ways to optimize the traffic they have in the bandwidth that is there.

The last complexity is applications. Today there are a number of productivity applications that could be more mobile device aware. that transition is going to consume most of the next 3-5 years. It takes time to change the way people build and deploy solutions.

Reality says things are moving forward slowly. Its just that in moving forward slowly, its frustrating!


From here to eternity


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It seems strange now, when I think about it becuase it is all different now. When I started out in the technical world we were contained in one building, with a four digit code between us and the servers we were using.

Everyone knew that code so in the end it wasn’t really critical, but it was a barrier. Now the barrier is distance. Who knows where your data lives. I was on a panel yesterday listening to a bunch of folks talk about directories of the future. As I introduced myself I had a sudden realization.

My identity is not that secure.

My phone alone has 12 saved passwords (had 12 saved passwords, I have since unchecked that box – what’s a little extra data entry for greater security?). Each of hte solutions I leverage frequently extends the value of the mobile device but presents a greater and greater surface area for attack.

The conversation quickly turned to an interesting concept. What attributes does a system really needg to validate and verify you are who you say you are? Is it one thing that all systems need (greater risk) or can we build solutions that allow for many attributes to be leveraged by indentity claims?

It was a great conversation. In the end it comes down to how and what IDM systems will need in the cloud to support the reduced risk of multiple attributes in fulfillling a claims request.

I have to say by the end of the conversation I was more scared than at the start.


what was to never be…

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The missing link, a solution that never found a home. I’ve been playing with the Inpulse watch lately (dying for their someday soon to be released Iphone version). It is an interesting solution to a problem that has vexed me since I started carrying a blackberry again.

  • First off the BlackBerry is free so well beggars can’t be choosers.
  • Second off the BlackBerry is stuck in 1998. It rocked then, it really doesn’t rock now.
  • BlackBerry’s are simply too slow.

The Inplus pairs with the BlackBerry to provide very cool functionality. Similar to the spot watch of many years ago (its still my all time favorite watch). The ability to see appts and emails, texts and caller ID on your wrist means I take the phone out of its holster less and less.

But this brings me back to the solution that never found its home. The spot watch was the neatest geek accessory I’ve ever owned. A watch that connected me with my world, while providing me with information in a easily consumed format. I miss the smart watch.

Sadly it was a Niche that didn’t fit the whole in the market. Great idea, wrong technology and time. I suspect as the Inpluse moves to the Iphone world they will be able to add some of the cool features of the Spot watch (weather, live news feeds) that will make it even better.