They were all gone. What was in those pills?

Everyone turned the blockers in. We were helping them. We felt so good without pain that we had to help them right. We had to turn them in. It wasn’t that we were sending them  We weren’t turning them in to die, we were turning them in to have a better life. To experience the freedom of pain free living.

I turned in my brother.

It wouldn’t have mattered. He and I hadn’t been close. We were half brothers from our father’s first marriage (me) and second marriage (him) and had drifted apart. He came to me scared one night “I feel pain” he said. He was terrified. I talked him off the ledge and we went together. We turned him in to the authorities.

“I feel pain.” My brother said. They took him away. Then the desk person stepped around the desk and took a picture with me. Posted it there on the wall with the rest of the hero’s. “We will help him.” The man said as he pressed the thumbtack through the picture and attached it to the wall., “We will help him.”

It wasn’t that we were close. We weren’t. But I never saw him again. Not in passing, not on the street, not at the holidays. Never. My brother disappeared. I started asking people. In a light and friendly manner at parties. “Hey have you helped someone?” “Have you enabled a blocker to live a pain free life?” Using the words, using the language of the commercials I asked. I asked a lot of people 100’s in fact.

Not one of them had ever seen the person they helped again. Plus I found out some blockers were pain free but were questioning the pills. Questioning what else the pills did.

You can fake being pain free.

So I did.

Things started to make sense. First there were no back doors, no halls, no rooms behind the stations. The places we were taking people who felt pain. People I knew from before the pills people that had hair triggers. You know the type when you bump into them they stop and they yell at you. They curse and call you a moron for knocking into them. So knowing that I knocked into them. I spilled beer on them. I “tripped” slamming into them. They smiled each of them, they picked me up off the ground and they apologized for bumping into me.

It bothered me.

What was in those pills.

A world suddenly friendly scared me beyond anything. People that were always angry suddenly pick you up off the ground and excuse themselves for knocking into you. People who felt pain suddenly going missing. Never to be seen again. I watched that building where I had turned my brother in. No one except the officers ever came out. No one. Just the officers. Where did they go? What was in those pills.

Why was violence gone?

It had been two years since the last reported murder. Police smiled now most of the time. They stopped and offered rides to people who were carrying groceries home. They were happy. We were all happy.

I knew it was the pills but what were they?


What was in the pills?

I don’t remember the first time I thought it. Maybe I always thought it, just never vocalized it. So the first time isn’t relevant. It happened at some point that I started wondering. I would love to say it was on the third anniversary of world terrorism day. The last time there was a global act of terrorism. A horrific event toppling the tallest building in the world. Not imploding like the world trade center buildings did, but toppling the building taking out ¼ of the city. A horrible day that resulted in global horror. People aghast at what one group did. It was about a month after that they appeared.

Genetic pain killers. Designed to remove your pain. Specifically genetically modified drugs that were made just for you. They removed your pain. People flocked to the clinics that were set-up in every country. They removed all your pain. No matter the pain was they removed it. People started taking them and governments started buying them for everyone.

I think I started wondering about two years after they appeared. What is in those pills. Terrorism and murder continued for the first six months as everyone got their pills. Then suddenly they stopped. The world stopped killing each other.

By the second anniversary of world terrorism day murders didn’t happen. Political discourse meant you went to a bar and your argued with others who disagreed with you. You didn’t kill them, or in hearing their arguments have a desire to blow up a building or to destroy ancient temples. You just smiled, shook their hands and bought them a beer, unless their religion prohibited alcohol, then you bought them a water with lemon or tea.

What is in those pills?

Violence stopped. People stopped being angry. The pain they felt in walking or running, standing up or simply aging went away. TV was better, there were no ads now with pain killers, and drugs to help you with the pain of Arthritis and many other diseases. People weren’t in pain anymore.

But what was in those pills? At first sitting through the first two world terrorism day I didn’t think anything of it. The world matured. But it matured very quickly. Too fast I think. So I started wondering. Asking myself if it was the pills or if humanity had grown up.

Initially my research was useless. The pills didn’t have a ineage. They didn’t just appear but it seemed they did. As I wandered past that 3rd world terrorism day (we have to remind the future of what happened in the past) I wondered.

That was when they started talking about blockers. What they told us a blocker was at first was someone that couldn’t receive the genetic pain killers. The ones they had released. The pills that we took because it stoped the pain.

We were to be on the lookout for people that still experienced pain, so that we could help them. We did turning them in so they could get new versions of the drug.

to be continued…


Serial Story Writer…

The 5 highest impact technologies, right now!

I am a huge fan of the book “There are 5 people you meet in heaven. I also am a fan of the movie.” I like the style and format so I am going to borrow it and apply it to technology. There are 5 technologies you have to have around you in order to be safe, happy and ultimately move on to the next phase.

The first one is car safety in particular the car radar that tells you if there is a car behind you in the lane you want to move into. This safety feature will reduce accidents. Just this one simple car technology will reduce a large number of accidents.

The second technology is also car related as it is the new auto stopping of your auto. Auto brake reduces the risk of a delayed reaction and stops your car in situations that you may not react fast enough. This one also will reduce the number of accidents although it may increase the number of non-auto stop autos slamming into the rear of cars that auto-stop.

Number three in my list of technologies you have to have is the wireless speaker system. Personally I am hooked on Sonos. I have indoor, outdoor and speaker throughout the house. I can very quickly from a single application launch music throughout my house. The Amazon echo is a close second (voice control is simply amazing). The two rooms that don’t have Sonos speakers today have Amazon Echo speakers.

Number 4 is a smart phone. Seems like everyone has one. They don’t, it makes me sad that political candidates run around talking about ways to improve the world and miss the easy one. Remove the cost of smart phones so there is no barrier to having one.  If everyone has a smart phone than it makes things a lot easier (and by adding a block chip, stealing someone’s smart phone would render the phone useless). If everyone has a legal personal smart phone, then you can put a chip in all burner phones and shut them off when needed. Why would someone doing the right things need a burner phone?

Number five, the last technology everyone needs to have is a photo scanner. I would have said 10 other technologies over the past 10 years. But frankly having completed a family history project removing all of the printed pictures and slides in our house, having a good scanner is critical. Buy one and share it amongst family members. Get, got it, use it. Scan those pictures and slides before they are lost forever. Put them on a hard drive and in the cloud. So number five the last technology is a scanner.

This list changes virtually every quarter. There are new technologies that rise on your way to becoming a better you. Technology is a tool that we can leverage to improve our lives, ourselves and ultimately improve the world around us.


List Maker

Wandering the passage of time…

Over the years I’ve embarked on any number of life improvement projects. Make my life easier, do things I love to do and so on. An extension of the broad concepts of both what I love to do and the time to do them.

Time is the interesting problem. When I was younger I had more time but didn’t have the resources I have now. I have resources now that save time, but I have less time to save. It is an interesting paradigm that happens as you get older. You have the concept of time, but effectively time isn’t there because no matter you manage your time you just don’t have time.

Time is the most interesting problem you will ever have. As a child time is old, beyond your grasp, ancient. As you age time doesn’t it like Benjamin Buttons goes backwards. As you slow down and age it speeds up shedding age and flitting about you can’t catch it as easily. It becomes harder to take time to make time. Memories cloud the picture and you cannot catch time.

You would think that the passing of time would be painful. But memories change the perception. Yes there is pain as you age. Your back hurts, your knees ache. But with each passing day there is more to remember. More to stop and enjoy. You find, you see and you remember a world around you. There are things you will always recall. Things that shaped who you are. There are things that stopped you at a time. Things that blocked you from moving forward. You didn’t see them coming sometimes. Sometimes they were there in front of you and with grappling hooks and ladders you attempted to scale them.

They, the walls in front of you, didn’t always block you. They didn’t always win. But they moved you. To the left or right. They forced your path to change, for a second, an hour, a week or forever. They changed you in subtle and in massive ways.

The passage of time a thief and gift. A wonder, a joy and loss. In all a journey all take. A path that wanders past us. We can’t stop time. We can’t like a great DVR in our lives pause time. We can, upon reflection, go back to a moment and recall that moment. Recall those seconds fleeting that passed. Perhaps a picture or a video that immerses us in what was for a moment. But effectively time passes as if without regard.

Time cheats. Time changes. Time flows. It fills your heart, it fills your day and ultimately it fills the world around you. Time is the great equalizer. The great emancipator. The great imprisoner. It is the one thing we all fear. It makes a mockery of treasures and treasure of moments. Time is both bad and good. Sometimes at the same time.



Response to a great email–why City Brokers would fail…

Best argument against my city broker concept came in the email yesterday. As I read it I started laughing because it is the one fatal flaw in the system. The writer simply said “Your city broker can’t work. I know it can’t work because I watch TV.” I emailed the person back and said how does watching TV prove my idea can’t work. They replied “see presidential race on TV.”

The reality of politics would make my City Broker concept weak. There would be the reduce government groups that would want to get rid of the City Broker (too much big government). There would be the socially active groups that would want to get rid of it because it would know too much. So it would become a political football. Then I realized that is the beauty of the solution. Instead of owned and operated by city or regional government, it could be operated by a co-sponsored group representing both government and non-government professionals. They are sometimes called NGO’s or non-government organizations.

There is an organization in the US Federal Government dedicated to the creation of NGO’s that start out government funded but eventually are spun out to a separate management system. NIST could sponsor the initial City Broker. This would alleviate the fears of state, local and municipal governments that the federal government was trying to take over. It removes some of the politics by having this group pay the city a fee for connections. It allows the city, region or state (or country wide) government to provide security professionals to maintain the value of the security presence. But it gets the broker away from the police football field.

In fact, this would nestle nicely into the existing Global Smart Cities challenge. Building a unified joint City or Regional Broker to be deployed. It does remove the rather unfortunate presidential politics we have every 4 years. It could exist as more like AmeriCorps, an organization focused on helping people that exists with both local and national sponsorship.

Building the Broker Corps wouldn’t be horribly hard. You could start by having colleges support the security requirements. Add that internship as a requirement for any computer degree. It would allow for rotations of people that were engaged and involved not only in the overall coding but also in the creation and management of the solution. You keep the actual implemented security separate so you don’t create 1000 back doors. College interns create the service catalog and city marketplace. If you think about the broader city marketplace concept and the small business incubation capabilities this does fit more with the modern market. From social media to Kickstarter and Indiegogo the small market where people work together on a dream fits with how the market is evolving.

The structure for fees would also be similar to the original concept. The goal of the fees would be cost recovery not profit. Fees could be set to include a monthly revenue for cities that would allow them to reduce taxes (property taxes, or the sales taxes charged). The monthly security fee would go directly to the city and the city would manage the implementation of the security structure. The broker corps would focus on delivering the many broker services.

This system would take advantage of the modern crowd funded market place as its expansion model. If the region wants to improve the City Broker, it starts a crowd funding campaign. Voters can allocate a percentage of their upcoming city taxes (whichever tax they still pay) to this new feature. You could limit the citizen digression fund to no more than 1% of any one citizen’s tax bill. The city or region (state or Country) bases its budget on 99% of the tax and Broker revenue. The 1% is then used as a functional fund by citizens to vote in new features.

It would however remove politics from the implementation of the City Broker. At the same time it would ultimately increase the integration of cities and universities into offering citizen services. It would allow for the creation of a national computer service group like AmeriCorps that would ultimately create a better broker experience and it would give control back to citizens of some of their tax dollars.

It could happen!



The age of Agency and City/Regional Cloud Brokers is here, now. Why?

I have talked about cloud brokers many time sin the past. Recently I have proposed the concept of the #mysmartcity or more broadly the City Cloud Broker. Since that initial proposal I’ve gotten a number of emails from people arguing that the time of brokers isn’t as near as I have argued nor would a city broker be effective. I get the second one it is difficult to imagine a broker run by a city. Why? Because most of the people I work with come from the service provider world. Its hard to take your hat off and see the horizon. I ran into that problem for years at Microsoft. When we were first starting the “remove Domino” campaign we struggled against the SharePoint bigots. SharePoint + Exchange wasn’t a replacement for Lotus Domino. It replaced some of Lotus Domino but not all of it. Getting the people to see the big picture was a 10 year crusade.

A managed service within a US Federal Agency and a Managed Service within a region, state or City would provide a much stronger broker offering than an independent company would. My repeating that over and over doesn’t prove my point however. It simply points out that I don’t see value in large integration shops having broker offerings.

First off – I don’t see cloud brokers existing as defined today. The definition being that of a cloud services aggregator. I see that as far too small a market to ever  be effective. For the most part organizations are going to do their due diligence and select a cloud provider. Once that provider is selected they are going to build their solution and again for the most part that’s it. We take the existing data center and move services to the cloud. In the process I’ve been building we take a look at several factors that would ultimately lead to this particular use of a broker being the primary use.

  • Set and forget – taking services that exist and moving them to a cloud provider.


Collaboration Services

There are many set and forget services that will move. They probably move once. I doubt there is a huge need nor business for moving email multiple times.

From that perspective a broker would offer a connected directory service. You want to know why city brokers are of value? Now you have a service you offer at a flat fee that you don’t have to make a profit on. Cost recovery is something a city broker can offer because they don’t need to make a profit. The value in the broker chain is the reality of cost recovery. That by the way is another knock on SI’s doing broker – they don’t do cost recovery.

The one service the one cloud solution that I see having a huge impact on the growth of Brokers is PaaS. Platform as a Service has the ability to change the direction of entire industries.

PaaS offered within a broker can do something that people haven’t quite grasped yet. Not just offering a platform service for development. But offering an aggregated platform that spans not just cloud services. Not just cloud development environments but also IoT/CPS environments. Imagine being able to automate your facilities quickly because within the PaaS environment of the broker (be agency wide or City/Regional) allows you to quickly grab the services and automate them. The problem today is integration. A central connected unified PaaS environment offered within a Broker managed at the Federal Agency level or the City/Regional/State government level (or province etc.) would create a value proposition for organizations to join that larger broker.

  • Reduce the cost of automation.
  • Increase the ability of small business’s to start, grow and flourish by consuming shared services at a city and national level.
  • Reduce the cost of services by providing some services as agreed in cost-recovery mode.
  • Reduce taxes by having fees (City/Regional broker) that represent sign on and monthly continuation fees.
  • Increase security by having a dedicated city broker team and the security teams of the various companies security teams.

I guess I see Brokers as different. Its why I believe that the City Broker (or regional) or Agency Broker makes more sense than one provided by an SI. If the goal of the broker is to sell SI services, than it will never fulfill the promise of cloud brokers.


Broker Dreamer #mysmartcity

How many IoT devices does it take to report an Earthquake?

The Internet of Things has become huge. But it is such a huge misnomer it scares me. The internet in and of itself has, is and was comprised of things. The change is simply more communication enabled devices. I once dubbed it the Internet of Communication but you can’t use the IoC as that stands for the International Olympic Committee!

There is the broader CPS or Cyber Physical Systems that covers the two layers often missing from IoT discussions (integration and management). The two critical layers are the management and integration layers. First off because while we use the protocols and transportation systems commonly called “the internet” the chatter isn’t the same.

Windows devices, Unix and Linux devices, Android devices and iOS devices all speak different languages to shared connected printers. Printers are IoT devices. They broadcast services (printing) or (printing, scanning and faxing)to devices. It is different for the platforms listed above. So while it is an IoT device it has to be able to speak and translate information from a number of disparate sources.

The accidental printing tourist just resends the packets louder.

Reality of IoT and truly CPS is two fold for most organizations.

  1. How do I manage all of these devices.
  2. How do I connect the many devices and the information produced into a system that allows me to effectively recuse the information.

For example security cameras are motion sensitive. Why? So they monitor the world around them all the time. But they start to record when they sense motion. That way when you “check the tape” you are only viewing video of motion.

But video is an easy one. You want the motion moments. What about other events? For example if you are capturing a regional collection of sensor data. What validation data do you want? Perhaps you’ve set a voluntary accelerometer program to track seismic activity in the daily lives of people (and to monitor a specific geography for seismic activity.) What other sensor data would you want to collect at the moment of seismic activity?

Now let’s take this pretty diagram of communication and apply it to our problem collecting Seismic data in a specific region. First off there are many devices that have accelerometers. We can effectively limit the devices we collect from by saying only PC’s running Windows 10 and Cellular devices running Android Kit Kat. The application won’t work on anything else and we setup an 800 number with a recording that says just that. “Hi, if you are running the Shake and Bake application on Windows 7 it won’t work. If you are S&B on an iPhone it won’t work. Thanks for calling!” We still by the way have three distinct integration problems.

  1. The distance from the core of the seismic event of the reporting device.
  2. The type of reporting device.
  3. The quality of the accelerometer in the reporting device (beyond type cheaper laptops have cheaper accelerometers etc.).

A very smart friend of mine once pointed out that the difference between gathering information and gathering information and knowing the quality is critical. Its not just about gathering data its about knowing the quality.

Seismic events have different impacts on different people. They have different impacts based on the device and location within the device of the sensor. Finally how far you are from the event and the quality of the sensor you have drives the data.

It becomes a rather large integration problem. Once you integrate it becomes a data quality problem. After you solve those two issues you still have the variance issue with the reporting devices. (where was the device and where is the sensor) that has to be factored into the information you present.

IoT, or more properly CPS is really the communications of the internet. (COI!)


IoT, CPS, COI kinda guy

What would you risk your life to save?

I have a dear friend who loves to talk about what if scenarios. Over the years he has had a number of go-to scenarios and they always make me think. For years he started off talks with what personal items would you pack on a four year mission to Mars. Lately, or at least the last talk he gave that I attended he was asking what would you carry out of a burning building.

First of all, rational thought disappears as you evacuate a burning building. Fire professionals, first responders are trained the rest of us are reacting to the fire. So rational thought doesn’t always occur. In that moment you have to make sure your family is out of the house or your co-workers are out of the office building. Anything else at that point is frankly gravy.

It isn’t just fires. It could be tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, mud slides or even flooding and super storms that removes your house or home. What in the end would you need to start over.

What items cannot be replaced? My friend asked the question what would you run back into your burning house to save. I said my family, children, wife and dogs. He asked me on the call if there wasn’t anything else I would risk my life for. He asked what about that family history project you are always talking about would you run back in to rescue all that work? No I answered. I know that wasn’t the answer he was looking for. He was trying to setup DR as a critical piece not just of our business lives but of our lives in general. But he forgot that he got the DR bug from me 10 years ago.

Everything is backed up. They are all digital and all in the cloud. Two clouds in fact so that effectively there is no way for me to lose them without a much larger disaster than a fire.

If my wife, children and dogs were safely out of the house there is nothing I would run back in for. The rest is already out of the house. Yes it would horrible to lose some of the art work we have in the house. The chairs that are conformed and comfortable. The quilts my mother made but in the end there is nothing we couldn’t eventually replace. So what would you run into a burning building to save?

Figure out what you cannot lose and make sure you back-it-up NOW! Get the things out of your house that would make you act les than rational in a moment of crisis. That way when the time comes that bad things happen, all you lose is carpeting, walls and some artwork. Artwork is beautiful and seeing it burn is sad. Hugging your children safely outside and petting your dog as you watch your home disappear is priceless.



Cloud backup guy!

If you balance on the head of a pin what happens when you fall?

There is a line there between today and tomorrow that while not there is there. Something that we imply as a transition from what we have now to what will be. If you think about cell phones that line is probably two lines with one set in 2007 on stage at Apple World, and the other more recently in around 2010 with the expansion of LTE networks throughout most of the United States.

The same can be said for computers. As the desktop began to fade the laptop began to rise. As the laptop began to fade, the tablet began to rise. Those lines of demarcation show the concept of the past, the present and the future. I can clearly the line for VR. Its coming, probably the end of this year beginning of next year.

Some lines are clear. Not fuzzy or even vague but clearly a line. Clearly a moment when everything changed. That moment with Steve Jobs in 2007. The moment when Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer walked out of IBM after refusing to be purchased by IBM. Those are clear lines that changed the way things are and were done. The subtle lines are the harder to see.

One of the fuzziest lines for me is the reality of MIDI. I have had and used MIDI boards for many years. They were once upon a time incredibly complex and difficult to maintain. Now it’s a simple plug and play operation. The same is true of audio files. We once many years ago spent the down time of days ripping MP3 files and then installing them as startup sounds and other system sounds (my mac used to start up to the three stooges “I’m trying to think and nothing happens.) Now its pretty straight forward to convert sound to digital. But it is a fuzzy line as to when that happened. Was it it the birth of a smart phone and the reality of interchangeable ring tones? Or was it the advancement of sound cards?

We can clearly see the line for analog to digital cameras. But when did the cell phone not only become a camera but actually start to replace the digital camera itself? That line is a little fuzzy. The concept of cameras being specialized is one that has existed for a long time. It has however become the only remaining market for digital cameras. Specialized. Drones. Infrared and so on becoming the only way digital cameras can exist separate of a cell phone.

Those moments are there if you pick through everything carefully you will find them. The problem with looking back to find the moments where time shifted from past to future you will miss the next one. The one that occurs as you are looking back. A shift you miss and it becomes a viscous cycle. I have to continue looking back for the lines because I missed the last two while looking back to find the shift between the past, present and future.

History is the study of what happened before. Learning is realizing the things have happened and hopefully not repeating the bad things that happened over and over.



The concert I hear, the concert I see. Is the marriage of VR and Music coming?

I love music. As much as I love water. One of the cool automation projects that I have been playing with is the Amazon Fire speaker. (I also enjoy the Fire TV). Its fun to be able to select and play music by simply asking. It is a subtle mix of the consumer amazon and the enterprise amazon (using their cloud for music and steaming).

That got me thinking. I spent a lot of time converting my CD’s to MP3’s over the years. But I hardly ever listen to MP3’s (I do lately because Alexi will play them if they are in my Amazon cloud drive). I only play records on rare occasions now, even though I own four turntables (two are connected to computers to convert LP’s into MP3’s). The thinking is what is next for music?

What lies ahead for music? Virtual Reality is a game changer for computing and how we interact with each other and the world around us. What does virtual music look like? Can VR and Music meet to create an audio visual experience that immerse the listener in the music? There have many scientific studies on the impact of both color and sound. What about the impact of images, color and sound brought together into a single unfired presentation?

It would change playback radically. It would also let artists expand to the emotions of the music and the visuals the spark that emotional response. Is that the future for music? I wonder about that as a platform and direction.

Music is also personal. Something we use to convey mood and attitude. There are certain songs that when they come on my Sirius Radio I pump up the Jam and sing along. Songs that remind me of people and moments. Similar to what I talked about a moment ago. But different in that it is bound to me. So is that possible as the next step for music? Instead of the artist created VR, or perhaps as an option for me, is my personal VR that some songs create.

VR gives us the option of a personal concert. Neil Young sitting in my office playing Old Man just for me. Or singing Heart of Gold or Transformer. Ok now I would love that. First a player that was capable of that one on one experience and then of course the code that would let me do that. Amazing at least it is to me. I wonder if that is a direction that will happen.

The reality of recorded music is quite impressive now. The library of music people can have is massive. I have more than 500 CD’s and probably 300 LP’s still that haven’t been converted. Most of the CD’s are ripped to my iTunes or MP3 storage folder on Amazon. But the LP’s are for the most part not converted. It takes time to convert them that I do not have. I suspect like my family history project scanning all our old pictures, I should just do the LP conversion before it is too late.

What is the future of music?


Future Music direction wonderer….