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.

Back-up-now!

.doc

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.

.doc

Futurist

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?

.doc

Future Music direction wonderer….

The Surface Book is a great device. Kudos! But I wonder how much longer will Tablets be around?

So I’ve been writing this blog on a Surface Book the past three weeks. Why would I note that? Well first off because I was one of the pundits that said MS should get out of the hardware business with the release of the first Surface products. Now, well they have really improved the product, to the point where I have to say it is actually more than good.

I had been writing my blog on the iPad Pro. Now overall the iPad Pro remains my go to carry around media device. I can play my music or listen to XM anywhere. I don’t have a SIM card in the Book so it is limited to Wi-Fi and Ethernet for connectivity. That got me thinking about tablets.

First off, I am a fan of the tablet format. Mostly because I have been a fan of electronic note taking for a long time. I have been seeking the perfect tool to transition from pen to electronic and back.

Tablets are the perfect size. About the same size as a notebook. Now, my children prefer smaller tablets. I like the slightly larger iPad Pro, Surface Book or Samsung. I also find for quick note taking the Chrome book works very well. The problem with the devices is that I am still better at typing than I am at writing legible notes so converting my handwriting is an adventure at times.  Still the tablet format is improving. Lighter, faster and more and more useful. So enter the Surface Book.

Microsoft got that one right. Like the Xbox One (and Office 2016) the product integrates with Windows 10 well. It is a highly functional tablet. Now, battery life is not as good as the iPad today. But expandability make it a very useful tablet. What is most impressive to me is the integration with the Pen and giving me a second meeting device that I can quickly use on the online whiteboard the same way I use the offline (connected) whiteboard. I just don’t have to hold all the bulky pens!

Tablets are also however expanding into many others areas. Some are mounted on walls. If you do a home automation project you can mount tablets on the wall that both control your home but also offer many other services (music, intercom etc.). The quest for me started with replacing pen and paper. The reality now is I am replacing servers with tablets now. I use my iPad Pro to connect to various VM’s I have running on a box at home. But with the Surface Book I can pop into Hyper-V and quickly bring up a virtual machine. I have an external hard drive full of disk images so I can quickly bring up something.

It used to be that in order to run a VM effectively I had to carry around a massive notebook. One that weight 8 or more pounds. Now with the Surface Book I can spin up a VM in Hyper-V and interact with it, live on the screen. I had hoped that this would become a great meeting device. It truly has. I withdraw my earlier statement that MS should get out of the hardware business. They have learned from Apple, margin the Surface Book a platform for creative and professional expression.

Tablets are the new today tech. I wonder though how much longer that market exists. Again the home automation world will have a place for tablets for awhile. Static and mounted they are effective tools for that solution. But long run how much longer do tablets last?

.doc

Wondering…

The cloud broker, a market calling for small business….

I first looked at the Cloud Broker market about 4 years ago. It was an intriguing market then with a number of small players. That has changed radically as a number of smaller players has entered the market and some larger players have entered as well. My fear is the market has shifted too far towards big players in the short run.

What is a cloud broker? Brokers are an ancient market concept, as markets mature brokers arrive. Brokers take aggregated services and provide them to consumers. The depth and breadth of what the broker provides becomes the interesting question. Today it is the concept of “providing cloud services.” But personally that definition is far too narrow. It isn’t about cloud services. Brokers are the intermediary – the first step for the organization. A single connection that provides both value and security for the organization.

In order for the reality of cloud brokers to be effective they have to do more than simply connect organizations to cloud services. They have to offer on premise services such as application containers and other shared services. In the ITSM world the cloud broker needs to offer a cloud catalog. One that merges the service catalog (everything the IT organization can provide on premise) with the cloud broker catalog (everything the broker can provide). Add to that the services of application containers and you have the beginnings of where brokers should be.

That is why the entry of large companies into the broker market is a bad thing. Systems integrators (SI) move to homeostasis. The standardization of offerings and solutions. They want a broker to be an easily repeated offering. It really can’t be. First I don’t think that an SI offering a broker is a good business model. Sure the SI makes money but organizations don’t get the value they would get from other providers.

SI’s don’t create markets or value they create IP and value for the SI. The value in broker is not the acquisition of cloud services. It’s the standardization, increased security and the end to end monitoring afforded by a single screen or pane of command and control. Today there are roughly 10 or so true broker products out there. Here is what I believe should happen.

  • Market consolidation, fewer products equal a stronger market
  • No SI’s in the market. An SI managed broker isn’t going to do the right things, they are going to do things the way the SI has always done them.
  • The broader ITSM concept of cloud catalog and service catalog merging into the even larger concept of a Marketplace. A cloud broker that only manages cloud services in the end doesn’t provide enough value.

Eventually the broker market will move away from SI’s. Sure a few of them will enter the market with products but hopefully they become software providers and not service providers. Dinosaurs are large, move slowly and eventually given enough time and pressure they become good fuel. You just have to wait until the Dinosaurs and the market around them decay enough… 

.doc

Cloud Broker Futurist

I smell smoke. See what happens next…

IMG_0176

My wife spends a tremendous amount of her day in the car or running around a specific place. There isn’t time to stop and change a phone. So I got her an extended life battery for her iPhone. Wow. What a mistake. I was looking for smaller and easier for her to carry. I usually carry the larger Morphine or other cases that are excellent.

First off, we hear about the danger of Li-On batteries all the time. Planes catch on fire, batteries catch on fire. Batteries get too hot. But this is first hand an example of what can happen. Luckily she was changing the device in her office when it started to SMOKE! A word of warning to anyone carrying this brand of batteries.

IMG_0177

This is the actual USB plug from the device itself. Well you will have to take my word that it is the actual USB plug. It looks like something a dog got ahold of, or something that was burned in a fire place.

It could have a lot worse. Charging in her office she smelled smoke. Luckily my sons were home, found the smoking gun (so to speak) and removed the charger. In removing the charger it also removed this the USB connection of the actual battery.

Had this happened while it was in her purse there would have been a fire or worse. So thanks for small blessings.

Over the years of using many different kinds of battery cases I have learned a few lessons.

IMG_0178

1. get the best case you can afford.

2. Now I would say don’t get the brand in the photo. It looks nice but, well it no longer looks nice with that big burned hole in the left corner.

3. Get one that has what you need as far as power. I usually end up charging my phone every day because I live on it during the day. So I need a battery that supports the amount of use I have.

Overall I am truly glad this wasn’t worse. You hear about airplanes and other transportation system fires caused by the transportation of Li-On batteries. The USPS regulates the shipping of the batteries because of the fire danger as does UPS, DHL, FedEx and every other shipping company.

Perhaps now we should have rules or regulations as to the quality of the battery required.

Shame on me for going cheap.

.doc

Frustrated former extended life battery owner.

Several arguments against the City Broker Concept and one argument for it…

“Its wrong to think that city government or regional, state or even suburban government wouldn’t corrupt your broker. Or worse, offer less than viable services.” First off I welcome arguments – so I welcome any comments and the arguments behind the statement above are pretty solid. The reality is however, that if you think about what a broker could be, large integrators would corrupt it even more. The value under the city broker would be the home security that can be managed by the city. It would allow a reduction in exposure for internet users. It wouldn’t stop hackers, it would just make responses quicker and more coverage for more people.

I do see however the power and corruption story. It does in fact worry me that a city broker could ultimately do more bad than good. The first conceivable problem with be civil liberties. In order to create a security structure the city will place a box in your house. That box now can see everything coming into and out of your house. So there are risks there. The advantage is reduced risk for everyone. The disadvantage is the city will know a lot more about everyone.

It is effectively a brave new world. Literally. The managed and controlled world described in Huxley’s seminal work. Now there could be checks and balances in place. For example:

Home security box has no network monitor. The network monitor would be placed at the ISP. Disadvantage – less information during an attack. Advantage more freedom at the personal level.

Another check and balance that could be in place is market reality. The city stops collecting taxes (sales and other taxes) instead replacing that income with the various services. If the services aren’t worth paying for, people don’t buy them and the city has a budget crunch. So a market uncommonly would drive the city to provide good services at a fair and secure price.

Who will guard the guardians. It is the question that ultimately would be driven by where the brokers end up. If the city owns the broker and provides the service, then you simply move enforcement up the government ladder. If a company that spans multiple countries owns the broker who can enforce that? You can within the borders of one country. But by then its too late. The broker concept is best served in this scenario locally. Small.

I do hear the arguments against the City Broker concept. But the argument above is even more scary. The reality of a multi-national corporation doing something in one country that they are not allowed to do in another is real. It happens all the time. Enforcement while possible is weaker because this company would span governments and regions. Once in place this organization, this multi-corporation could drive the world economy. Innovation could be quickly stifled and worst of all instead of regional or local focus everything would be larger.

So yes, there are arguments against a city broker concept. Find a fix for the problem of corporate brokers and we can have a conversation. For now, I continue to believe that city brokers is the only path that benefits that maximum number of people.

.doc

City Broker Dreamer…