Designing around cell phone failures…

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I have blogged before about the great cloud concept of design for failure. (not design to fail which is always a bad idea). In this concept you make sure you build alternate solutions that can solve breakdowns as they occur.

The cellular telephone network is designed for failure. It may not feel like it when your call gets dropped but in fact it is. The cellular phone itself however is not designed for failure. It fails when the network connection is lost. Perhaps there is a better way to maintain that connection – ie – we lost the network signal captain, we will keep retrying to automatically connect. Or, if you lose a connection to a conference call go ahead and re-establish the connection to that call after prompting the user (should I reconnect?)

Here we are considering the two end points of the solution (cellular network and cellular phone). There isn’t a lot of room in the cellular phone to add additional antennas (can you imagine people wearing hats that doubled as cellular towers? They would be pointy haired bosses the rest of their lives.)

You could probably create an interception program that grabbed your cell dialer and entered all information into a cache (of course, that isn’t fraught with HUGE security concerns). The other option is to head down the RSA path and create a secure Bluetooth token that would work as a secured cache only with proximity. You could even set the device to forget everything once it was out of range of your phone and start remembering once the Bluetooth connection with the phone was validated. You would need a greater security string than the four characters supported by Bluetooth today (perhaps 8 or more) but it would be possible.

Then you have another device to carry, but in the end it would be a great solution that wouldn’t violate security principles too much. That said it would have to be Bluetooth 4, low power consumption and be able to run 3-4 days or more on a single charge. It would have to fit on a keychain and couldn’t setoff airport security.

Sounds like a Kickstarter project to me.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Lowest cost technically acceptable creating what?

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The business case against lowest cost technically acceptable (LCTA). If, considering the short term business need the cost is acceptable why shouldn’t the organization accept the LCTA?

I’ve asked myself that question a number of times. In the end I have to ask the question what is the goal of transformation? If you are looking to move to a new solution and you head down the LCTA path what are the potential business risks?

  1. The solution is obsolete before it is deployed
  2. The solution doesn’t function like other solutions in the space that are more widely used.
  3. Lowest cost gives the vendor no room for add on or features resulting in a flurry of change orders.
  4. it doesn’t create a partnership where the vendor (partner) and the customer work together to solve complex problems.
  5. LCTA doesn’t work in all cases.

The biggest risk I see with LCTA is tomorrow. You certainly can survive the reduced budget using LCTA but tomorrow’s cost almost certainly increases because of the LCTA model.

The concept of pushing cost to tomorrow isn’t effective for a number of reasons. The primary being of course that when tomorrow gets there you are forced to leverage the LCTA model, because you can’t afford the upgrade cost.

The second is the lag in technology created by leveraging LCTA. You in the end force your organization to become a catchup player. That means you lose out on people who may join your organization because frankly they can’t use the older technologies you have.

Finally and perhaps most critical is the reality of tomorrow. Gartner published an IT maturity model many years ago that had four distinct components. LCTA is a function of the lowest end of the model, the basic organization. Moving from basic to dynamic can be expensive, but being a basic organization for ten years in the end will cost more than the transition.

Thanks for reading!

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Still not deep enough for diving, but…

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Podcasting technology has come a long way in the past 5 or so years. I haven’t gotten to the video podcast stuff very often, but its actually quite easy to do.

The thing about podcasts and blogs is consistency. To build an audience you have to post often. Of course, if you only have one or two messages, they are useful but in the end they should be posted on the Internet not added to a blog.

Blogs and podcasts are intriguing changes to the world of writing and sharing information. I predicted in my book “The Syncverse” that YouTube would have an explosion of how to video’s. It has. I find myself going to YouTube often to find out how to do something specific. Two summers ago we had an awesome intern who actually went out and compiled a lot of great cloud training, from YouTube.

Once I wrote (back in 2005) that the Internet is an ocean of information but don’t dive in head first because well, you can never tell how deep it really is. It is still that way, but the depth on consistent basis is improving. Google, Microsoft, Amazon, IBM and others are releasing more and more information into the universe for free. It is slowly increasing the depth of information and the validity of sources on the Internet.

(hashtag #headfirst)

There will be a time coming soon when that isn’t the case. When it will be safe to jump into the Internet’s data pool head first, anywhere. That time is sooner than we think.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Your gesture was ignored because, well its just rude.

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Yesterday I talked about my thesis that motion was the new touch. I got a great email from a “long time reader first time caller” from an old friend of mine from Cincinnati Ohio (and frankly a huge Bob & Tom fan also).

His concern was actually the same as mine. He said “motion is restricted as much by space as it is by ability to move per the applications expectations.” I agree with that assessment and have mentioned that to a couple of the motion vendors I’ve talked to.

Extending that concept beyond the simple, motion will create issues in airplane, bus and train scenarios. In a car other than the back seat gestures aren’t the best control option. But neither is touch. You can use voice control in your car but that has drawbacks as well. You can’t use voice control on an airplane or train. The people next to you will wonder who you are barking orders to. They may all suddenly open, close or launch something.

But I was specific in saying it’s the new touch. Touch computing hasn’t completely launched yet. There are devices that continue to get better but its still a year or so away from perfection.

Gesture based computing is probably two or possibly three years away. The concept here is that eventually devices will offer a mix of motion, touch and voice control.

For now it is fun to play with the various motion controllers that are available. As they improve so will my finger painting and game playing. I wonder however, in the future when motion improves how will motion controllers handle rude gestures?

“Previous gesture ignored due to nature of gesture.”

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Motion is the new touch

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Contrary to the email sent to me this week by a friend I am not a futurist. I do however like to think about what is next in the world of computing for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which is staying ahead of what’s next.

My premise: Motion will replace touch or will extend touch beyond the boundary of the machine.

Right now I am and have been playing with a number of motion devices. The Leap controller is the first one I’ve looked at the rest are in process on Kickstarter.

Motion is the new touch. As touch was as recently as two years ago, motion is the new touch. The difference being (and I’ve had this conversation with a couple of the project teams above) is that motion requires more space.

Leap is a great system (as is the incredibly useful Kinect) for the broad concept of motion but both require significant space. The second project uses a device you carry in your hands to create the 3d space, it requires less space overall but you lose the use of your hands to a degree.

I’ve played with some of the new Windows 8 touch devices (sorry MS friends, the iPad is still a better touch interface – Win8 is a great improvement but it isn’t there yet.) I’ve used the iPad as a word device for the past two years. In all cases touch is good, but has it limits.

A couple of the projects above actually also include iPhone or iPad capabilities. I have to say it is interesting to see how this unfolds.

Motion will replace touch. Touch is bound to the edges of the device. A stylus is also bound to the edges of the device. Motion sensors can open up the infinite.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

The smartest person in the room, drinks for free.

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Three geeks walked into a bar. The first a man who had made millions of dollars selling his software ideas. The second a man who had made billions of dollars selling his software company. The last, the wealthiest of all the woman that had bought the companies and the software.

The first man said “A round of beers for the house. I am feeling generous.”

The second man said “A round of your finest scotch for everyone in the house.”

The woman sat at the bar quietly enjoying her two drinks. Finally the bartender came up to her and said.

“You are the wealthiest person by far of the three of you. I’ve seen your picture in Fortune magazine. Why aren’t you buying a round.”

The woman looked at the bartender and smiled “I am in fact the wealthiest of the three of us. How do you think I got rich in the first place, I drink for free.” with that she smiled.

The bartender smiled as well.

A wise person told me once that the smartest person in the room isn’t in the center of the spotlight. They aren’t the ones making the huge gestures or trying to prove how smart they are. They simply wait in the corner for everyone else to seek glory.

You see the smartest person in this story drinks for free.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Routers, lies and video streams…

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I’ve been watching the recent commercials about in home Internet and I find it quite interesting. One company talks about the consistent bandwidth experience in your home, the other talks about the consistent experience from your home to the Internet and beyond to Cloud solutions.

Over the years I have talked about this (recently I blogged again that the total available bandwidth at some point won’t be enough for the required bandwidth for users to consume the solutions) concept a lot. Today however I am considering the concept of in-home versus Internet experience.

First off, throwing numbers on a screen isn’t relevant. Show me four devices in a house streaming Netflix video and we can talk. We get three going and the fourth doesn’t have great connections. That is of course two more than we could do before so its kind of cool. Show me someone downloading 7.03 for their iPad while another person is watching Netflix and you have something.

The reality of what you are doing at home is that you have n-1 total connectivity. There is some level of baseline (since you probably use DHCP from the provider’s servers and DNS from the provider as well) that you maintain. Let’s say that runs between 1 and 3% of your total capacity. The reality is that if you are fast to the router but slow to the Internet you will experience lag. If you are slow to the router but fast to the Internet you will experience lag.

If, however your router has a high speed rating, but as each device is added it slows down, then you will have an even greater lag. A router takes information from one network (home) and translates it to another (Internet provider). If they have for example a total capacity of 10, then devices each get a percentage of the overall total. If on the other hand they support 10 connects at 10 each it’s a totally different model. The first router may have a higher overall speed rating, but in the end be much slower if you have more than one device connected. Eventually everything in our houses will connect to the Internet. Go with model two, and ask about model two when talking to providers.

I wonder, as my last thought when the concepts of bandwidth will allow for the various solutions to bid for your business. That would be intriguing.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Maryland Lab Rescue–great organization

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A serious blog today not about technology. Last year we decided to add a second dog to our family gatherings. We considered a number of options in terms of the “dog breed” and decided that another lab was the best option.

My daughter and I had a long discussion and we decided that we wanted to adopt a rescue lab. First off adding Dylan to our family was by far the best possible answer.

More importantly we became familiar with an organization called Lab Rescue of Maryland (even though we actually got Dylan from a place in Virginia).

Abusing a dog is bad, like abusing a child they keep coming back for more, hoping for a different response. But the Lab Rescue group is without a doubt one of the coolest organizations, period.

First off we had to apply for Dylan. At the time Dylan was called Cedar and we had to have an in home visit, fill out a bunch of paperwork and have a phone interview. They also wanted to make sure everyone in the family wanted another dog.

Then after getting Cedar (and while driving home from Virginia trying to pick his name in the car. The boys wanted Jack to be his name, but Jacks didn’t think that was fair. She however was willing to let go of her “boy name” Dylan. (long story short had she been a boy our original thought was her name would be Dylan. Family tradition is a middle name starting with O, so DOA was out for Quilly Bean). By the way the name we ended up with was Dylan Thomas (my choice) and my wife and sons adding Pickle as his other middle name producing the acronym DTP. Full name Dylan Thomas Pickles. He is named for the writer and Nick’s favorite food.

Its been over a year now. Dylan is as much a part of our family as well, anyone. He has a bond with each member of the family as dogs are wont to do. We heartily and lovingly say if you are looking for another dog, look no further than your local rescue group.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

What is the WW Network Tipping Point?

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The point of contact. In 2002 I had a phone from Sprint (PPC phone) that was an unlocked phone connected to the Sprint network. My family all had Verizon at that time. I used my phone frequently but never really lived with my phone. It was a nice to have but not a critical component of what I did daily.

Fast forward a few years (say 11). The phone is now the nexus of what I do. I can in the space of 30 seconds check all three voicemails I have (home, work, cell). I can check my email for all my email addresses (personal, work). I can get directions to where I need to be, and at the same time have games and other entertaining applications available.

I have been a sling user for many years. What once was annoying (constant drops etc) is now actually quite usable. Mobile TV is actually something you can depend on now.

What however concerns me remains an interesting problem. At this point analysts say between 1.8 and 2.1 billion people on the planet connect to the Internet. Netflix announced yesterday that they had crossed the 400 million member threshold. Let’s assume for a moment that Netflix US is not the final solution – Netflix Bollywood, Netflix Beijing etc becoming as large as NetFlix US. So let’s just say based on the growth of cloud – that traffic for just video on the Internet is going to say double in the next 2 years.

Wait, let’s go back for a moment. Let’s assume the total number of people who will be able to touch a cloud solution increases as well. Say 20% year over year. Current cloud CAGR’s are between 18-25% eyar over year rising to about 170 billion by 2018 world wide (government and commercial). That is by the way a doubling from 2008 to 2018.

So basically the number of available solutions goes up by 100% in ten years. The number of people who can use those solutions well increases as well. At some point something has to give.

As far as I know the speed of light is well still the speed of light. In theory it can be broken – but that theory may take decades to prove. In the next ten years we are basically going to double both the number of users and the number of cloud solutions available.

To me it still feels like network saturation.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

The battle not fought

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Many years ago a friend told me “it’s the why of the battle you don’t fight that in the end, matters.” The pause before the word matters confused me at the time he said it. Of course now that time has passed I realized that while the teacher was ready (my friend) the student (me) was not ready for the lesson.

Why drives what and how. I remember that from a great class I took many years ago. Why is the rationale for what we are doing. The self labeled, personalized justification for the end game.

We all fight battles.

Why then did it matter to my friend all those years ago that some battles you choose not to fight. That some battles you in the end leave on the table.

That’s when I got what he was saying. Why you don’t fight specific battles, even battles you’ve fought valiantly before, is critical. Stop for a moment and consider the battles you haven’t fought. The sword you didn’t draw. Why?

Of course there are battles we realize we cannot win. Yet those are fought every day, people ride valiantly to their deaths (guns to the left of me, guns to the right of me. Mine is not to reason why. Mine is but to do, or die). Why in some cases do the people preparing the great battle walk away. Girded with their armor swords by their sides, they lay arms down and walk away. Why?

The why in this case is as much a personal choice as it is a reality. It is the reasons that we as humans get out of bed in the morning. As unique as each of us yet the same.

I do now understand what my friend was telling me. Sometimes there are battles you cannot fight. Not that you couldn’t prevail or even that you wouldn’t be the victor easily, its that there are some battles we cannot fight. Why we don’t fight the battle is more important sometimes than why we do.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow