To communicate is a verb. Communication is an action. Actions can cause pain…

I have over the years talked about messages and communication. It is a long time topic, and an area of significant personal interest. I got a great

Email the other day. A long time reader asked me to share what are some subtle communications things you can do that send a message you may not have realized you sent.

I thought about that, its a great question. Each communication pattern and its corresponding anti-pattern sends any number of signals to the people around them. Some of those signals are received by the person getting them differently than intended some are  received as intended but the intent wasn’t nice.

How do you balance that? The easy way is by saying did you mean to do that? But there is inherent risk in that model, you are exposed for a moment to the person who or may not have intended to send you a nasty message.

Six qui k ways to send a message:

  1. During a meeting ask someone to leave the room.
  2. Don’t engage the person in the room in a conversation. While everyone is chatting, ignore one person in the room.
  3. Explain c concepts to one person in the room as though they were 8 years old
  4. Don’t invite that person to a meeting (the afterthought invitation)
  5. Interrupt that person every time they speak
  6. Question an expert on their thoughts without basis

All of these send messages to the person that is sucked into the vortex. Now, the question is always did the person intend to send a message. If they did, then you are right to react. If they didn’t you have to ask that person. That’s the risk within communication. If you ask you expose yourself. If you don’t ask you risk offending someone you never meant to offend you.

  1. Add the complexity of the devices we have and communication goes down hill fast. Brief emails may just mean someone gets a lot of emails. Short phone conversations may be because that person isn’t comfortable talking on the phone. Text messaging works well for many things, but it is brief and locked so you run a risk.
  2. Brevity is the friend and enemy of conversation.
  3. Conversation is how you impact people.
  4. So let’s leave this communication blog with the following thought. Start  off by evaluating should I care. There are people in this world you should care about and people you should ignore.
  5. Question 1: Do I care what this person things of me?
  6. Question 2: Is what this person thinks true (self-evaluation) if yes work to change it. If no, go question 1.
  7. Question 3: Is this person fair.
  8. The last one is the hardest to do. Why?  It means you have to be fair, first. No matter what you have to evaluate the person speaking and determine if they are fair first. That means you have to be fair.
  9. Communication is a tricky problem. All of us succeed and all of us fail when communicating. The reality of where we are and what we say is huge. Look around and make sure you didn’t just ruin someone’s day.
  10. .Doc
  11. long time communications wanderer

Has the time finally come? The technology is there.

There is an old adage about a man who lived at the base of a mountain. He wished easy passage to where his children lived on the other side of the mountain. He thought for days about how to move the mountain. What could he do? It was a mountain and he was a man. The mountain had been there millions of years, he had but 70 years on this planet and many of those were gone already.

What could he do?

One day while working in his garden it came to him. The solution to his problem was not to worry about his problem and make it someone else’s problem. So he “found” a nugget of gold in his garden there at the base of the mountain. He quietly went into town and turned his gold in at the assay office. He paid 300 dollars for 20 goal nuggets from a mine in another state. In a month there was a tunnel through the mountain and he could see his children. The answer to his problem, find a way to motivate others to do what you want done. Gold, always works when you want to move mountains!

I have over the years had the fortune of meeting, working for and following some great leaders. I joined Microsoft to work for Bill Gates. He remains a leader that I would follow to this day. His work with his foundation, simply is beyond amazing. He is trying to make the world a better place and all of us better people.

On a Tangential path to leadership there is a question I have to ask. First off, when did presidential campaigns get so chippy? I get that these folks don’t like each other. It comes out every time the Federal Government grinds to a halt and shuts down. But do we have to have it shared with the world, via video stored, recorded and replayed over and over?

My opponent is a good person. He and I differ on the solutions to some issues. I wish to point out only where we differ. In the areas my opponent and I agree, I won’t say anything. Seriously. Nothing.

What about a national election system that has criteria, and rule. Such as, all commercials are limited, you can only campaign for 10 weeks and you CANNOT SPEND YOUR MONEY nor can you TAKE DONATIONS OF ANY FORM. Let’s agree that we all pay .o2% more taxes and that funds elections. Each congressman gets 1 ad. Each senator gets 2. The presidential candidates get 52 (one for each state and the 2 territories).

We could do this. It should not be that hard. To build a system where it was equal. Where we picked people that understood not only the reality of the laws of our nation but also had a broad understanding of world politics.

I know that dream is not to be. Its time now for direct voting. No more congress or senate as the purveyors of law. Instead they can write the laws, but the people vote on them directly. They can then be applied by the legal system equally. Equal rights under the law means we have equal representation in what laws are passed. No more special interests. No more political groups whose agenda is wholly their agenda. Let the people vote.

We the people want a vote. Not to pick who will represent us (or represent the NRA, or big corporations in our district that give money to politicians or other special interests) we the people want a direct vote.


Time has come…

Oh Value, why does thou escape me so?

What does that five letter word really mean. The value of something? In the world I work in day in and day out value is normally applies to the change relative to the cost provided by a new solution. Cloud Computing is often tagged with a value provided of 20% or more. (It really probably isn’t 20% but that is a different argument). Value is so much more though.

As we come to an age of transition (or we age to the age of transition) in the workforce we are going to see value slip away and new value created. There is a value in having knowledge of what was (tacit) as well as what was documented (explicit). I won’t go on my we are losing information tirade again. Instead let’s talk about the value that isn’t going to be in the organization with the changing workforce.

What is the value of experience? Been there, done that experience? What is the value of optimism? Not wild eyed everything is going to be OK but wild eyed anything is possible optimism? What value lies between those two? The tempering and the envisioning? The best “art of the possible” people sit between those two and pull together an image of what can be done. The value of that person in the middle is fairly easy to get. We call them get things done done people. They aren’t flashy and they bring value in the form of finish.

But there is a value to that dream and a value to what was. How do we within a traditional value equation take advantage of that? I wrote  a book about innovation and innovators (its on Amazon). In that book I talked about the shifting market of innovation. That what once was (working in R&D for a big company) doesn’t happen in the Kickstarter/Indiegogo (and others) world. Innovators at times forsake the knowledge of what was.

Memories of what was, the history are important. I learned a lot of my early impressions of the world like most of us from those around me. Teachers, parents and grandparents opening my eyes to a view of what is through the eyes of those that built it. I continue to find value in asking those who were involved in building things how they did it. But I also see that value in people that can build what isn’t there.

The knowledge value chain or perhaps better the knowledge teeter totter has to be balanced. It has to have the ability to allow what was and what will be to balance in the middle. That way, the art of the possible person can translate both ends.

The system also has to be smart enough to know that sometimes just because that is the way things are, it doesn’t have to be the way things will be. Or, that just because it is possible it doesn’t mean it provides value and is therefore needed.

The equation for value is return – cost. I know that is the simplification of that to an nth degree. But frankly all the complexity around value is simply complexity. If something costs more than its return, it doesn’t have value today. That doesn’t mean it won’t have value later. So the value equation is really return (plus time) – cost. Or Return (plus time, and competitive scenario) – cost. sometimes you have to add package tracking because your competitor already did.

My proposed new value equation is this:

Return = Knowledge

Where knowledge represents the balanced what was, and what could be.


Knowledge worker…

By the numbers, my blog in review…

Like most bloggers and avid posters I watch the stats of my site. I wonder sometimes why there is a reader spike. Or when there is a subscription spike. I consider, ponder and sometimes I make changes to the blog. One of the most requested early additions to my various blogs was adding more pictures. Pictures, help tell the story I was told. When I started the family history project now almost two years ago I started sharing more pictures with my blogs. I often get comments and emails, “enough with this topic, we get it.” But for the most part I write what I want to write.

I do often get requests from long time readers to do more communication patterns and anti-patterns.  On my podcast I get frequent requests for Fred and Ed stories. Fred and Ed stories are those created when I was teaching 30 years ago. I told those stories to the kids after lunch. About a set of twins that were always in trouble and always wreaking havoc. Now, I have real life Fred and Ed living with me so I add some real experience to the new Fred and Ed stories. (those are on my Podcast – 20 or so of them I advocate that people do family and work history projects. This blog is my work history project.

It is funny to me also the shift in readership. I get roughly 100 or so hits per blog from people wandering around looking for a topic. I also have 200 people that get my blogs everyday in the mail (ok 199, one of them is me, so I have an archive of my blog). On average I get roughly 1 comment a month or less. But I average 3 to 4 emails per week from people I know, commenting, correcting and sometimes (rarely) agreeing with my points completely.

I have in the 11 years I’ve been doing this own (2005 was post number 1 on my first blog, 2009 was post number one on this blog) posted more than 5000 blogs and roughly 75 episodes of my podcast. Between this and my other blog posts, a total of well more than 3 million views.

The long pole in the tent or the most popular topics I’ve posted over the years:

Fred and Ed Stories (most popular podcasts with more than 100,000 downloads overall)

Cloud Whisperer blog (which was done nearly 3 years ago and had 12 segments) heavily viewed (800 per day)

Interesting the lowest read overall of my various blogs has been the most requested by my long time readers. My communications patterns blogs tend to only have 100 or so views plus subscribers. I guess it just goes to show that numbers never lie.

Except numbers do lie, because the communication patters posts are the ones most likely to be shared and I can’t track the views and numbers when a blog is shared.

For those that have been reading my blogs for years, you know that when I do a numbers blog I am stuck on a topic and unable to really spit anything else out. So I do numbers blogs. These, by and far are the lowest read of my blog series. The day after I post a numbers blog my numbers go down. I guess there is a lesson there.

By the way if you are considering a blog consider this. It doesn’t matter (to borrow from the Carpenters song) if its good enough for anyone else to read. It is good enough. If you want to write it, write it. There is no reason not to. If people don’t like it, they won’t read it. Just make sure you moderate the comments. Trolls (haters) love to hurt people. Moderated blogs allow you to review and not post hateful comments.


Avid Blogger

I wonder (not aloud) about Quiet…

I won’t on this day when Maryland’s holds it primary elections, bombard or bombast you with my political opinions. I am not a crawl out of the every four year political person. I live and work in the DC area, politics are a way of life here. But what I will say is today, just like every other day is more comprised of bad traffic than great speeches.

The word quit is intriguing. When I was a school teacher I used to have my class see how quietly they could traverse the halls. Not as a demand but as a contest. Last week on the way to music I heard three people whispering. Can we get that down to two? The kids were always good about being as quiet as they could be. Quiet when you are 8 being very different than quiet when you are 30. Now, however when my kids at 18 are quiet, I wonder what they are up to!

We do have places however where quiet is demanded and I wonder about that. First off, libraries. Why quiet? I understand the need to study and read the books, but there should also be great sound proofed halls where the ideas bandied about in the books can be argued, debated and discussed. What once was called a Saloon, intellectuals gathered in a room debating the ideas of the day. But we expect quiet only in libraries.

My classroom, as a teacher and as a computer trainer was never quiet. I know that learning requires some level of interaction and some level of entertainment. If people need quiet I would warn them of the noise so they knew to go elsewhere.

Quiet isn’t required for either teaching or learning. Teacher earn quiet, it shouldn’t be demanded. In fact, if you ask for something you better do it yourself. I worry often about style over substance. If, style is the driver than in the end there is no learning. You have to have substance, the matter that matters the most. 100 small mistakes don’t make a bad learning experience, facts in error make a bad learning experience.

So, quiet really? Today, perhaps a little quieter, a little sadder for the world watches and laughs. Let us instead on this day make a loud raucous noise. Let us open the doors of the Saloon and shout to the world that we understand the insanity that has unfolded and we embrace it. Quiet does little good.

No politics.


political mourner

A new communications pattern (information) and anti-pattern (distraction).

The architecture of connection comes from the lack of connection not the presence of connection. The reality of being connected was designed before it was implemented. Now, we can argue that the intent of the design and the implementation of the design are different. But one led to the other, design then implement.

Connections reality comes from the 1980’s and 1990’s. I won’t go into the details of the pain but point that without the pain of the early cellular conversation, the later digital and ultimately the world we have today, wouldn’t be. You have to have a problem to fix. Connection is a two-sided street. It is important to remember that you need both sides for the connection to work.

There is a human side of connection as well. I’ve spent years on my blogs and podcast sharing communications patterns and anti-patterns. Fun characters whose focus was to inform but also remind. In case, in looking at the character I painted you see a piece of yourself. The reality is, most people with an anti-pattern never see that in themselves. But its there for the rest of us to see.

But connections are more than just what we see in others. They are more than the one or two bars your cell phone has as it cuts out and you can’t talk to other people. It is more than downloading the latest version of Angry Birds while waiting at the Doctors Office. Or looking up the films of Jim Carrey as you wait in line at the grocery store. Connection is all that and more. In fact from this I have found a new communication pattern and anti-pattern.

The communications pattern is the connected worker. The anti-pattern is the directly face connected to the device “disconnected” worker. Yes the names are very similar and we all run into this pattern. The good side is the universe of information at our fingertips. We can reach out into the internet and pull back any information that is delaying a meeting, group or project. The downside is distraction. That device becoming the be all and end all. We no longer need to talk to the people in the room, instead we interact with the electronic device in front of us.

I started this piece with a discussion of the intent of connection (the architecture) and talked about the drifting that often occurs (intent begat reality). The reality of the distracted anti-pattern is the disconnection from the physical world to the digital world. The problems that presents in a meeting, in a group or just at a family diner are immense. It isn’t just the cellular phone or tablet. It’s the world impinging on us.

Personally I get frustrated when people bring devices into meetings. Why? It means they are disconnected form the meeting. I do it myself from time to time. My rule is if I have a device I take notes. If I don’t have a device I still take notes, I just use the Armstrong Word processing system to take the notes. (pen and paper). Don’t lose sight of the person across from you (or next to you). The real connection in the room, is the person in the room with you. The digital connection is transient.


Communications wanderer

When is the last time you powered off your device?

People connections are fairly straight forward, we see them fairly well. But within each of the circles that represents a person there are 2-3 IoT connections (Today). One or two of those connections is by choice. One is by someone else and probably isn’t by choice. Its call BlueJacking, or seizing control of a device via Bluetooth connections. The thing is the number of connections is manageable today (headset, car phone, speaker phone, other devices) but it won’t be tomorrow.

Its going to get harder to harder to manage the CPS/IoT device connections with one-off security. Security focused on the user knowing what should, and what should not be connected to their device. Perhaps the change is as simple as anytime a device connects to your tablet or phone (or laptop) there is a forced yes I started this connection dialog box. Until that box is cleared the device remains in quarantine. While actively there, not actively connected to your device.

Who connects. What are the connecting. What will they do with that connection. Is there a risk for me. Did I setup the connection. When did I? All sorts of potential security components that could be used in setting up new connected devices (or connected bits). Easy security that wouldn’t require people relearn how things work. Complexity is the emend of security. Pushing good security down to users is a good thing. It allows the user to interact with the system in an intelligent way.

CPS/IoT security will require more human intervention than less in the short run. Why? The more compact the device the less inherent security it can have. I’ve talked about the need for CPS/IoT removable security to keep those devices up to date. I think however the reality of what’s next is we need short run local security on your device. It will reduce Blue jacking.

It won’t remove the risk of someone else seizing your device but it may allow a time limit to that seizure. Good phone hygiene perhaps. How often do you power off your phone?

That becomes the magic question. How often should you power off your device? I remember in the dawn of computing we had to have people power off often, so we could run the Novell Login Scrip’s on their machines. We moved to the world of group policies (which only apply when you log in). The next interaction has to be, when network resources are launched and GP is new, they GP has to be applied before you can use the resource. People often don’t power off their devices enough.

Good security comes from good decisions. It comes from powering off that device from time to time. At least once a week. Then given that we prompt for every connection to that device we will increase security. Tomorrow, there will be far too many connections to be remembered if we are not careful. If you block a connection you need later, you can always read it.

Time to go back to the past. Reboot your computer. Power off your devices at least once a week. At the very least you will have a little time away from technology to reflect and listen to the world around you.


IoT/CPS futurist

The rise of Specialized Cameras…

RC or Radio Controlled flying devices have been around for a long time. Additionally you can find any number of devices that also go underwater. I can’t say how excited I am to get my hands on the OPENROV units (Hopefully this fall). You can go up into the air, and down underwater with UAV’s. The cool thing as well is the video that is returned.

Interesting in that the camera is shifting. I find that interesting because of the change in the market and the change in the devices. My father was an avid photographer (I have his film cameras still) who loved taking pictures. Thousands upon thousands of pictures. We canned all of those images in the past three years. Dad’s cameras had a set of features (control light, control exposure feed and control focus) that today’s digital cameras do automatically. They (today’s cameras) also take Video and transferring the video/images is simple. You don’t have to scan anything.

The new age of cameras is cameras that go where people can’t. Flying and underwater drones that show you a world you can’t see on your own. Well you can, but it requires special equipment (Airplane. Submarine or Scuba Gear). With drones you can do this in your pool, local lake or simply flying around your backyard. The reality of the change is the camera included. 4k video shot from above you of your house, your family, anything.

It is the age of the “portable” specialized camera. They aren’t widespread yet but that is changing. Smaller and smaller (the image above is of a larger airborne drone and the original OPENROV product (I had one for a year-they are a blast to have and operate). As more people embark on their UAV journey the reality of the products will be simpler and easier.

That specialized camera is intriguing. What you can do with a camera today is simply amazing. Scary in that you never know now what is a camera and what is simply an office plant.

(I highly recommend the OPENROV products by the way the new one is here on the left).

Now its time to build a pin (wearable IoT) that you can wear that lets you know the presence of cameras. Most of them are plainly insight. (conference room wall etc. or security cameras in the hallway). But it would be nice to know who has their cellular camera on. They (the person with the camera on) may not even know it (you can turn them on remotely without permission).

So many new uses for cameras. I still like my point and shoot but I think other than the fact that I can take it underwater, the days of hand held cameras not in cell phones is slowly passing out of the consumer market.


Specialized Camera Fan

It, IoT is so much more than dumping data into my iPad…

Perception sometimes rules reality. The Internet of Things (IoT) represents those one or two devices that chatter with your tablet or cellular device. The reason for NIST producing the Cyber Physical Systems (CPS) whitepaper was the fact that IoT, while a beautiful image here in this picture has a lot of whitespace. Plus there are layers of devices that may never chatter with a human. They may chatter with a control system that the human observes and manages, but they never chatter directly with the device.

So instead of this lovely tree of information flowing in and out of your tablet it is really a more similar to the modality of a cloud service provider. Where you have multiple cloud service providers that have services. You, as a consumer in that scenario link to, connect with and  Dumb devices in this process are the easier problem. They don’t chatter today. They don’t even know often, what a network is. They are pull data devices. Pull data means you can write an intelligent system that only grabs data when you need it, for analysis and push data to that device when there needs to be changes.

It becomes a balancing act at that point. Data in, data out who is in process, in flight and in analysis. The new order of information is not only what information is needed but which device is it coming from and something a good friend of mine brought up the other day, if necessary can we validate the source. His point was that in a court of law, you may have to be able to prove the source of data. IE this image came from this camera at this time. How? The time and GPS stamp within the image itself. But that means the camera needs more than simply a wire pushing video to a monitor. It needs to know where it is, it needs to be aware of time.

Information validity is one change. I suspect that lawsuit has already been filed (traffic cameras). I’ve seen several rulings in that space but no one has pushed that to the legal limits yet to result in a ruling from one of the higher courts so that is yet to be. There are others coming. The reality of information is processing. The nomenclature that became “Big Data” was in reference to the inability to process information as fast as it arrived. Building systems and solutions that could handle that new influx of data.

110 zB today produced by all those sensors. Sure tons of it we can dismiss and throw out as not being important. But you can’;t throw it all out. We are able to process a lot of that data, but if you think about it, we are processing in arrears often. Not processing real time. There are many systems that have process real time. Video surveillance systems only really work in real or near real-team.

The trade-off for real time versus near real time in video is the reaction required. If, you are the police, and you are reviewing the tape of a crime the reaction is more identifying a person after the fact. If you are trying to prevent a crime or prevent an action then you need to have information live.

Based on that information flow can then be managed. Real time to watch the grounds of a business or to survey the grounds of a facility (I still think drones will have something to say, here). Surveillance will have to over time change, someone will invent feedback material that forces a camera to not record anyone wearing that fabric. Then an algorithm will be required to pick out blank spots in video and so on.

All of this to catch the person stealing the cookies from the pantry at night. Every parents dream!


IoT/CPS futurist

The devices are coming, the devices are coming…

I had an amazing conversation the other night about the concept of smart devices and “dumb devices.” I should, had I been thinking clarified the concept a little, as frankly I am not sure I agree with the concept of dumb devices. Mute devices, yes, dumb no. So I thought for this morning I would define the terms (IMHO) and lay it out clearly at least in my mind.

Device: Anything used by tool using creatures to make their lives easier.

Smart: here is where I differ. I don’t believe smart devices are connected. The act, art and reality of connection doesn’t make a device dumb or smart. It simply makes the device connected. So my definition of a smart device, is a device capable of producing information regardless of connection.

Devices producing information regardless of consumption. Simple. Clean. Connection is interesting in that we can now create devices that are connected. But what of all the smart devices out there that don’t today have connections? Or don’t understand the concept of mesh connections and therefore if Bluetooth isn’t available they are quiet? No wi-fi no weather data.

Integration with devices then becomes the challenge for CPS (IoT). Not the explosion of devices but the integration of that information becomes the problem. Not looking at data only but considering the analysis required. What can we learn from the information we have right now? What information that we don’t currently have could we gain that would change the results we are gathering significantly? Farmer’s can gather information about soil and plant health. Yes we can’t stop the freeze, but we can provide the right attributes in the soil to prevent freezes from being devastating.

Smart Devices: Devices that produce information regardless of connection. Let’s play with stadium turnstiles for a moment. Today they capture relevant information (does the person have a ticket). Sometimes they are fully automated and sometimes they have a human there. What data could we collect that would be interesting? What about that stadium full of people would be interesting to know?

Let’s first off grab a color sensor and have it on the turnstile as people walk into the stadium. Snap the color of their hats and coats. Why? What the heck let’s share the dB produced by fans of a specific team and then the number of fans estimated quickly by simply counting the colors as they walk in. 100,000 people in a stadium. 32,000 fans of the Indiana Hoosiers produce 132 dB of noise as they go on to victory. 68,000 fans of the Ohio State Buckeyes produce 32 dB of noise. *not possible or real just teasing all my Ohio State fans.

Tell me when you have information is one aspect of a smart device. capturing information that is logical but also valuable is another aspect of smart devices. Let’s take roads as another example. Today we have millions of miles of roads around the world. Millions of miles. We know what the impact of weather is on the condition and status of roads. We know the decay rate of concrete and of asphalt (as well as dirt and gravel). The sensor that is aware of this and able to report during periods of peak use as well as periods of peak decay is of value.

Connection isn’t the mark of a smart sensor and smart device. Connection is simply a state the device can be in or not in. In 2013 Analysts projected 50 billion IoT/CPS devices deployed by 2020. I’ve seen new numbers (2016) that change that to 200 billion IoT/CPS devices deployed. I wonder how many of them can tell the difference between Crimson and Scarlet? I can!


IoT/CPS futurist