Expanding the SCRaaS concept…

Innovation is something to cherish. It is a unique or even a simple way of looking at a problem and finding a better way to solve the problem. It is a safety feature like an air bag or a seatbelt. It is lights that turn on in your house when you open your garage door at night. It is automation, it is simplification and presentation.

Recently there have been a number of interesting innovations on Kickstarter and Indiegogo that intrigue me. The products include the Nexdock, and PopSlate. Both are extensions of the concept that you only carry your cellular device and not a computer or tablet. Interesting in that they make interacting with your cellular phone easier. PopSlate is a detachable screen you add to the cellular device while Nexdock is an interest screen. Over time using the software of the systems they will enable USB and other devices so that you will have more memory, and additional capabilities.

360 degree cameras are available. I use the BUBL camera all the time. I love seeing what a room looks like from every angle possible. Its integration with the cloud (for image processing) and the cellular phone make for an impressive presentation. That market continues to grow and expand. This explosion of innovative ideas in part because of the IoT/CPS reality. In part because the reality of tech savvy users and that tech base of users has increased. The integration of your cellular device to the IoT/CPS potential is amazing. There are already great points of integration being the smart watch, and the two new products I’ve mentioned Nexdock and PopSlate. These devices extend your cell phone to a Screen as a Service device (SCRaaS). There are more of these devices coming. Keecker is one that presents interesting potential changes. Keecker is a SCRaaS that adds flexibility to your devices. Because it is also a system running its own OS, it can also operate independently of the cellular device. This comes back to something a very smart person told me a long time ago, while the Swiss Army knife is a great tool, you wouldn’t use it to cut down a tree.

New solar backpacks are emerging. These include the ability to increase the solar panel size when you are stopped, at the same time doing a trickle charge while you are walking. It extends and expands the concept of a micro grid to create the new concept of a personal grid, a home grid and a neighborhood together creating a micro grid. Where within the micro grid you have power production and power distribution that never leaves the micro grid. As more and more houses in a neighborhood add solar power the reality of shared power becomes greater. Of course the reality of multiple solar providers creates a different problem but that one is economic not technology limited. How do you manage the distributed production if you have four solar companies producing the energy? IE WHO GETS PAID!

So I can ask the what’s next question. I won’t but I could. Its why I think Shark Tank whiffed on PopSlate. They didn’t understand the SCRaaS concept fully. I have a smart watch. I have ordered a PopSlate. My intention is not to stop wearing the smart watch. It is gives me direct information that is short. For example, if you get a text that says meet me outside, you wisely check your watch (see text) and then you do what? I look at the weather personally. That is simply taking the phone out of the pocket and seeing what the weather is, always displayed on the PopSlate SCRaaS. Simple, reduces the number of times I have to unlock my phone considerably. Any information that is critical to you can be a notification on a smart watch and further information on the PopSlate system. I wouldn’t however use either to reply to a detailed email. That would be when I would grab the Keecker system or I would grab the Nexdock. Within the concept of SCRaaS is the concept of functionality. The more screen RealEstate you have for complex tasks the better. The smaller the message is, the smaller the SCRaaS can be. Smart watch = quick small information consumption. PopSlate (slightly larger screen) = information I consume frequently but not as small as would present on the Smart Watch and then Nexdock for information I need to see, evaluate and respond to. My favorite that I have used for years is the reality of an Excel spreadsheet or a web meeting. In both those cases you don’t use your cellular phone screen, your smart watch but instead you use Keecker or Nexdock as your SCRaaS.

The screens are coming. The data is already there. It is now surfaced in a way that will make us smarter!

The context of what you say is as important as….

One of the things I have long believed is that everyone should have to spend a year as a public school teacher. I have in recent years amended that to everyone should serve in one of the following roles at least once in their career. Police/Fire or first responders of any form, Military in any form or being a public school teacher. Why?

Each of those professions teaches you to approach people differently. To access quickly the situation and respond in a measured and effective manner. Don’t walk from the problems that impact you right now, because they are going to get worse if left untended. Problems don’t improve with age. They simmer and bubble and eventually create the caldron of hate.

It isn’t feasible, my belief. There aren’t enough jobs in the professions listed for everyone to be in them. But it would help solve a number of communication and interaction problems we have in our world. It is about building, maintaining and improving structure and order. People are really hard to build order around. They like the many facets of the world they are a part of and consume.

Communication is such an integral part of how we enter this world. Things that impact us as people are so often wound around communication. The conversation where the person dismisses your feelings ends up spinning you into a deeply negative thought process. Why? You think. Why you ponder? Why you ask over and over and over and over. Until you realize that the why isn’t anything to do with you. The why of communication is always one of two things. Something between the two of you, or something between the two of you.

Ok so it’s really one thing. Between the two of you. Communication is about the connection of two people. Even one to many communication is still a connection. It either resonates with you or it doesn’t. That resonation is the connection. That connection or lack of connection changes the communication. Sometimes we listen to a speaker and we wonder if they speaking to us. Sometimes we begin formulating arguments against what they are saying, because they are speaking near us but not with us. Communication is such a fragile framework.

That’s why I believe everyone should have a balance of teaching and first responder/military training. It gives you the ability to build and understand teams. In building a team to expand that team and make it stronger. It gives you a framework for the communication you are driving and delivering.

I won’t argue the need for ethics. I believe ethics are a given. Organizations that have systemic ethics issues have many other issues as well. Ethics drives so many communication processes and interactions that you can’t hide that behind false communication. That one to many, when I don’t trust or believe you is nearly impossible to bridge. It becomes a gap and that gap is ethics.

Back to my beginning theme, for me there is a missing piece that impacts people. That quick ability to access a situation and respond with that situation. That’s why I believe teachers, first responders and military trained professionals are successful beyond their original professions. They are trained to calmly access the situation and quickly get to the root cause. Clear, concise communication with the intent of sharing and solving quickly.

My final conclusion, having grown up in an educator’s home (the inquiry method) and having learned the OODA Loop modeling later, there are many points of intersection. OODA Loops are designed to improve decision making. The inquiry model is designed to get students interested, involved, engaged and learning. Both end up with the same result, connected communication.


communications dreamer

Failure isn’t a one way street.

What are we responsible for as human beings? What level of interaction is wholly our responsibility? Is there one? Do we as humans have responsibility (solely) for any one specific interaction in our lives? Probably not, right? We are always engaged and involved, and own a portion of every interaction but frankly the reality is we aren’t the sole owner. If a relationship fails it is because of both sides. There are cases where one side is wholly responsible but those are the ones that are outside the realm of normal like Domestic Violence and murder. In those cases, the perpetrator is responsible for what happened.

In the course of normal human interaction there are varying degrees but in all cases a joint responsibility. Both sides own the interaction and therefore any failures that occur. But if one side never owns up to their responsibility what happens next?

My father introduced to the Novel Flatlands many years ago. I spent hours reading that book (he reminded me of the book when he gave me a copy much later on). All things are lines and therefore relationships fit within physical space. Simple point to point connections that result between people have shared responsibility.

I have mentored many people over the years and one of the hardest things to learn as a professional is that reality. We all want to spend our time blaming someone else for what happens around us. We want to place the negative view of that relationship wholly on them. As long as it is not an abusive or bullying situation that just isn’t the case. People are always responsible for ½ the bad connections.

A good friend of mine is an Electrical Engineer. One of the things he always talks about is the quality of the connection. If power doesn’t make it to both sides, the connection is bad. The same is true for interpersonal connections. Both sides have to be engaged and wired properly.

Another good friend is a phenomenal public speaker. I love going to his DC area talks. He is simply riveting. He always says the path to miscommunication starts with two people. One message, one discussion, two people and a disagreement. Both parties own what happens next. Interestingly one party will always blame the other party for the failure. Why? We don’t want to accept responsibility for failure.

I fail all the time. I often publish my blogs with early morning grammatical errors. I try to remove most of them but frankly I fail. I fail in communication all the time. Things hat I think are clearly said sometimes aren’t. I accept that about myself and I work to get better. I am responsible for this problem. Yes, there are times I wish I could blame someone else. But when I start blaming instead of taking responsibility I ultimately lose. There is genius in other’s. I sometimes realize this. That the ideas of others are so much better than my own ideas. That I need to change my thinking. I need to be responsible for my communication and change that because someone else is right. I accept. I own. I change. Maturity tells us that the path to understanding is the wisdom of age. Reality tells us that sometimes people don’t mature. They continue to be angry. It continues to be the fault of others. Blame isn’t just a path it is a way of life.

I choose to accept that I fail. I am failing now. I have failed in the past. I will fail again. My goal is to put myself in a place where all the failures will add to success. That I can succeed as a person, as a parent as most important as a human being.

I am wrong. I do fail. I do fall. But it doesn’t matter how far you fall, or how many times you fail it only matters how high you bounce.

I love this failure is an event not a person. When we fail, it is just that event that fails. Not the entire person. When you close a person out because they failed once you really aren’t doing them any good.

No learns unless they are told where they failed. But reality is that some failures (HR or Domestic Abuse) can’t be accepted. You move on from those failures. In the case of Domestic Violence or HR type issues it is ok to blame the other person and move away. Self-preservation dictates that we never accept that kind of treatment.

Failure is an event in everybody’s life.

It is something we all do.

Forgiving failures is what makes us human.


Trying to be a human being

The three rules for great teams!!!!!!!!!!

If an employee comes to you with something that bothers them what should you do? I know that I was offered a great training opportunity as a manager in a previous job. The training talked about not forcing employees to feel bad ever. That you listen and offer support. If someone says something that hurts your employee you do the right thing. I know, I tried and frankly as a manager it isn’t that easy. I lose an employee because I didn’t accept being told no, but I didn’t find a fast way to solve the problem and the employee left. I still feel bad about that. I could have resolved that faster.

Managers that strive to be leaders look for a team path. Building a team isn’t hard. Keeping a team moving forward isn’t hard. It takes three things:

· Honest Communication

· Listening

· A goal

The first two should nicely drive the third. Honest communication means there isn’t back trails and back channel communication about people. As a leader you communicate with everyone involved. As a manager you always put your team on the CC line even if your boss didn’t include them. If the goal is a solid functional team they have to know the good and the bad.

I’ve built good teams over the years. How did I know my classroom was a good team? We could quickly within hours take a new student and make them part of the team. I’ve had great teams as a manager, how did I know they were great teams? They succeeded, even when my directions were at best wrong. They still managed to take the concepts and make it into something amazing. I’ve sadly also been on bad teams. I know now quickly when a team is bad. They don’t follow the three rules above.

Now honest communication is a two-fold process. As I said you have included them on the upward and downward communication. The other side of that is you have to tell them when they do a good job. That failure is ultimately the end game for your team if you don’t. Teams don’t function on negative. They just don’t. They wither and eventually they crumble. By the way, if someone is on your team and they do nothing good or worthy of praise then why are they there?

I’ve had managers over the years tell me that a specific team member wasn’t preforming. I watched that person and realized that in fact sometimes they are preforming but the manager isn’t. To build a good team you have a good manager.

Support your team. Tell them when they do something right. Regardless. Leaders always tell people when they have done the right thing. Managers often forget. Don’t in your honest communications adopt the what have you done for me lately perspective. Remember to balance the good with the bad. Reward the good, pull the bad aside and have a one on one conversation.

Public shaming is interesting in that it is still one of the most prevalent management techniques used. It does no good in any form. Public shaming creates resentment in the person shamed and fear in the non-shamed public. Who knows when it is you that will be shamed.

So building a team requires honest communication. Be fair with your own evaluation. If you are weak at something, tell the team. They know, but the honest communication will help the team accept and move on.

Teams are living creatures. They need three things. Honest Communication, listening and A Goal. If you give your teams all three, they will save the world.

You cannot take away my dreams. But if you never hear my stories what have we all lost?

To those who read these words I apologize for the probably 50th time for the many Typo’s and grammatical errors I make. I write these blogs at 4 in the morning Eastern time and most of the time am not awake. So please excuse the typos. I am trying to live to my ideal of sharing information rather than focusing on presenting perfect information and while I am accomplishing the former the latter is still important. I have cut down the error rate over the years and will continue to strive to improve.

I had a discussion on LinkedIn with a dear friend reminding me about the typos and trying to reduce them but also reminded me of the importance of getting information out of your head and into the world. As a child I grew up on the stories of my father and my grandfather. More my grandfather than my father, although dad did share great stories from time to time. My grandfather had many great stories that he shared. I grew to love, wait for, and remember those stories. I’ve shared some of them in the family history project I started a couple of years ago.

In the business world and in government services the processes that are not documented and the concepts that are never written down are the ones that eventually are lost. The person leaves the company or retires and the information never does anything except wither and die. We lose so much data over time. So many ideas and concepts that we lose. It is not perfect we think therefore it shouldn’t leave our thoughts. Keep it tight inside until it is polished and perfect. But instead that makes things worse over time.

There is a concept that I learned as a beginning teacher called Whole Language. Where you taught young children to produce writing regardless of the words and concepts. Just to get the ideas on paper was the critical process. Mixed with science it made for a fun classroom. Don’t worry about if it’s perfect, get it down and get it out.

I would argue that getting out into the wild is as important as having it in the first place. One idea may spawn 100 more. One great concept that you in passing come up with may spawn the next great thing. Ideas are free. They are as the great writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said the one thing (ideas) that you can’t take away from a person. My ideas (and your ideas) set you free. So get them out. Share them.

Don’t worry about typos, I’ve put enough out to change the world 12 times. The typos don’t make the content less. What makes the content less? Never being shared. Yes, Solzhenitsyn was right you can never take away someone’s ideas. They are in your head. But to use the project management rule, what happens if you are hit by a bus? What happens if you sit in a dark room and never that sliver of light that makes the world a better place?

Dylan Thomas told us “Do not go gentle into that good night…” Don’t take that idea, that concept that wonderful story into that good night. Write it down, share it someone. Find a place where you can post it, and share. The world will be a better place if we are able to share all the brilliant ideas in all the heads of the world!

A couple of questions about IoT devices and drivers.…

Two things I always wonder about. First off, when driving what makes you more important than the entire line of cars you cut in front of? Yesterday due to traffic I was forced to cut off about 8 cars and I felt horrible. I actually waved to the car behind me for letting me in. A sign of weakness in DC.

The other thing I wonder about is what is coming in the technology space. First off right now if you want to get funded on Indiegogo and Kickstarter it feels like adding IIoT or IoT to your project will get you the money you are seeking. Everything is now IoT.

Now that presents a wonderful opportunity for a reset. Instead of building IoT frameworks we should build a single device integration framework. A single device management framework. Then regardless of device type, they fit somewhere on those larger frameworks. We could argue that the Internet of Things (or Cyber Physical Systems) could actually be components of a virtual environment. A “virtual” device such as a billing tool. That would add a IIoT (industrial Internet of Things) and now the VIoT (the virtual Internet of things) we could have a lot of fun with this. An ever expanding array of information shared, stored and eventually discarded.

Back to the first theme and the reason for both themes is the reality of nomenclature. First off, there are people (and devices) that consider themselves more important than the rest of us. When driving they are the ones that have no qualms about cutting the rest of us off. They are extremely important. There are devices like that as well. Some are critical devices (medical and other) some are simply the self-appointed most important driver on any particular stretch of road.

How do we balance this? The reason for the question is the number of inputs I have in front of me as I am driving. My first car (a Volkswagen Beetle) had a barely functional AM radio, a gear shift and a speedometer. None of the other gauges worked so you checked everything else by hand. Now my car warns of weather I am driving into. Literally on the screen it says Thunderstorms, heavy rain etc as I drive. It tells me the air temperature and it tells me the traffic on the road ahead. All arrayed so that I can easily see this without taking my eyes off the road.

All of these readouts are connected devices. Not always IoT devices but connected devices. We could rage that the thermometer that tells you what the air temperature is around you, as well as the temperature of your entire are IoT devices. The computer that manages components of your car is an IoT device. Headlights, sunroof are not truly IoT devices.

I shut the many input devices off when my sons are driving. They are learning to drive and I don’t want to overwhelm them with data. They can probably handle it better than I can as they are more used to having lots of data around but the point is when you are learning something it is better to crawl, then walk and later run.

Perhaps we can have a device installed in every car. If you attempt to cut off more than 10 other cars (because you choose too, not because you are forced to by traffic) it pulls your car over and won’t let you in until those cars pass you. A great IoT device and one that I think would make a lot of people happy. Drive agelessly, it pulls you over and makes you wait. If you suffer from road rage, you beat your car up. Then a broken car doesn’t even start at all!


Great speakers are rare but such a treat…

I have a really good friend who gives a talk here in the DC area. The talk always starts with the following question “what do you do that makes you happy?” No one ever volunteers anything so he starts asking questions “how many of you golf on the weekends, boat, go for hikes, relax, read.” After about four or five questions most of the room raises their hands to one of the questions. Then he hits them with how many of you enjoy your jobs. I’ve seen entire rooms raise their hands. I’ve seen entire rooms not raise their hands. I think the reality of the audience is ½ do love their jobs, ½ don’t.

When you consider the what and why of things you love to do it becomes an interesting personal conversation. My friend often spends time after his talks where people come up and tell him activities that make them happy that he didn’t list in his opening remark. What about gardening, or what about swimming? They ask. He nods his head and says all of them are wonderful, but do you love your job?

I have asked him several times why it matters to him to ask that question. He smiles and looks at me every time and says do you love your job? The last time we were together I smiled right back, looked at him and said do you love your job? He smiled and said yes.

Public speaking I asked or just your entire job? Public speaking is one of my favorites he said. I know that many years ago when we first met he was terrified of speaking. Now he is an exceptional public speaker that can entrance an audience regardless of the topic. I’ve seen him talk to a group of business professionals on an IT topic and leave the entire room nodding their heads. Complex technical presentation to people who normally switch off the speaker and turn on their personal electronic devices listening entranced for an hour.

Great speakers love to speak. I once saw a room full of government professionals, on a government holiday when everything was closed down. Come to an office and sit in a room to hear a specific speaker. That speaker was amazing that day (and every other day I saw him speak by the way). But he got people that have tough jobs and few days off, to give up a day off to hear him speak.

A great speaker grabs the audience. Opens the door and shares something amazing with the audience. I’ve seen a number of great speakers over the years (sadly I am not one of them.) People that reached into what they knew and regardless of the audience made that simply amazing. I have friend who is an amazing speaker, he brews beer. I’ve seen him present a talk on brewing beer to a group of software architects and they ate it up.

Great speakers are:

· Funny

· Interesting

· Motivating

· Engaging

You know a great speaker the minute they start talking. You stop reading the slides and start listening. You realize after whatever time that person has spoken that you connected with the topic and learned something. There is a word that describes a great speaker FIME! OK its not a word but it is the acronym from above.

Do you love your job?