Innovation (I know, again)

Is this the story of reaching for more than you can have or seeking greater glory than you deserve? Or is this instead of the story of the futility of immortality? I argue the difference between an innovator and Ozymandias is as much that there was once something there versus there is nothing there now. Innovations live without the grandiose warning.

The conversation drifted instead to the questions never asked of Ozymandias. The things the travelers didn’t have a chance to ask the “king of kings.” If all your change leaves nothing when you are gone is in fact that changes at all?

If you would indulge me for a moment, let’s talk about the poetry of innovation. Poetry is an expression that shows instead of telling, and for me, the poetry here is that moment when that innovation is no longer cherished by the cutting edge of innovation. That cutting edge that is so clearly defined as not mainstream. That box is where the early adopters live and when the systems fail they are on the bleeding edge.

Innovations move towards the mass market slowly sometimes. But at other times they move like a steam roller grasping the mass audience by the nose and leading it to a refrigerator filled with deserts and other great wonders. Would you like a glass of port with that?

Other times as I said they move slowly. Picking up steam and becoming stronger over time. Moving from a device used by those who saw the value to the device everyone has to have. Sometimes they seem to catch on, seem to grasp something the market wants only to have a newer better widget step in and take the mass market away.

All of this is of course dependent upon the existence of a manufacturing base. That base creates a new way to approach the market. This new way less about innovation, although incremental innovations occur it’s the big company way. I have said for years that you could not out research companies with huge R&D staffs. You can get ahead for a time, but if it is a mass or consumer market that is close to them, they will flood that market with new things.

The rumored Apple iWatch v5 is a great example. Pundits and analysts are speculating left and right what sensors it will have. Blood sugar and glucose are out because the rumor is the chips to do that are expensive and don’t exist yet. But barometric sensors, ambient temperature, and so many others are possible.

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Failure is always an option

When I was first starting as a school teacher, I used to wonder about the reality and impact of technology on education. I know, now, that many schools struggle, not only with having the latest tech but also in being able to make that technology a part of a core curriculum. You have to teach certain skills for students to be able to pass the national tests. The problem with the national tests is that they are the mid-point. Designed to capture the needed skills, but it really can’t. In the book Freakonomics, the author speaks of creating and maintaining economies. Not, the global buying and selling of billions of the dollar, but the economy of an area, of a group of a family.

When you break an economy down to the atomic level, the lowest point is a single person. You are an economy of one. In being that economy of one, you may extend your economy to more people. You may become an economy of two, three, four or more. Either in becoming a larger economy your buying power increases or your limited resources get stretched much thinner. When we consider the reality of crowdfunding we come to this economic problem. A crowdfunding campaign is an economy. Sometimes you are pledging to help a person move forward. They need an operation. They have to pay, or funeral or they want to go to college. Or they want to make something.

All are reasonable; all convey with them a sense of participation. I am helping. Giving at church and other charitable organizations achieves the same thing. I am giving it. What becomes interesting is when you, give to a crowdfunding campaign with the intent of that campaign producing something tangible at the end. Something honestly like the now former crowdfunded, former companies  Jibo, Keecker, and other products. Sadly just because a campaign reaches the goal and ships what you were funding, doesn’t mean they are a company. I have a really good friend that says the startup technology market is a crocodile. It moves a lot faster than people think, and if you aren’t careful, you won’t know the crocodile is about to eat you.

No one ever hit a shot in basketball that they didn’t take.

But, no one ever missed a shot they didn’t take.

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Information age someday…

To be clear, there are some types of information floating around in the world. There is deeply personal information that most people do not often share and that is perfectly acceptable. It is your choice when it comes to personal information about what you share and what you do not share. That information isn’t however, the information that the analysts would consider part of the information age. When we talk about the someday arriving information age, we are talking about some of the other types of information. The first is that information once given that solves a specific problem. There are times when your deeply personal information can help someone else feel better, but it will seldom solve a specific problem.

Solving a problem is information that can be used, and reused over and over. It is information that provides an ongoing interaction. Today that information is what I want to focus on. Specifically, information that once shared solves a technology problem. That is the information that again the analysts believe/discuss and declare part of the information age. That is the information that is missing. Or worse, comes in a locked PDF file. There is no reusability in a locked PDF file that you don’t have the password for. How the information is provided is critical. Where and when is also important (oh yeah I know to solve that problem after something blows up and is no longer fixable, is useless).

Timing is critical, the nature of the information is critical, and finally, the delivery of the information is critical. When all three of those structures come together, we will have entered the information age. Information has a time to live. That time to live is the very simple formula. It takes the delivery components and puts into a structure. That structure is simple the value of the information – the timing of delivery and the delivery model. Then we add back in the applicability of the information. If the information solves the problem we are seeking to solve then its applicability is high. If it partially solves the problem, then applicability is lower but still higher than 0. You get the idea, the more applicable the higher the score. The later the information, the lower the score. The model of delivery then also has to be considered. (information that solve s adorable you will face frequently hat requires you to return to the source every time, is less useful than information you can download and use, over and over).

information age dreamer

moving forward! Let’s figure out how to improve Virily!

It can be fixed!

I posted a poll yesterday to start gathering information bout Virily users. I will post another poll and share the results of the first poll later this week, or if I end up swamped at work, next weekend. I did, however, want to say there are two things to think about here. The first thing is information. Problems like the ones we’ve all experienced are complex. The reality of that complexity is that we don’t know what is causing the issues right now. The process to get to that answer is called Root Cause Analysis (RCA). To do a good job of finding out what is going on, you start an RCA process. This involves removing Variables. That is one of the goals of the pool I shared this weekend. You can find a link to the poll here.

The initial goal, understand how and what people use to connect with and publish to Virily. That process is started. The reason for that is to see if there are platform specific errors. IE, I can’t comment on lists in Chrome. But I can in IE (which by the way I checked and is not true. You can’t comment on lists in the four browsers I’ve tried so far.). Another issue that people have been discussing is the latest list bug. This bug says you can’t see all verified authors in the latest view. I played around with this one, just like the last one, and I found that in fact if I used chrome, I had the problem. One of the verified users that other people see is a writer I frequently read. I tried Internet Explorer (IE) and the issue when away.

One of the things that developers do is at times they develop a site based on the use of a standard browser. In other words, a site may appear to have issues interacting with Chrome, but not Edge. It may have issues working with Edge, but no Firefox. It depends on the expected underlying technology. Apple with its Safari browser supports Java but not flash.  That makes a significant difference and important. Even if there isn’t a standard browser as a goal, whatever the primary developers use to build a site, is most likely to work. These are things that users can fix on their own, and honestly, cause a number of issues. Over the next few days, I will continue to post technical questions to pull together into a Virily community report!

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Tech Wiz

Of problems and resolutions!

Over the years I have been in IT, I have changed many strange problems. Some of the problems I’ve changes ended up being fixable, but we were never able to fully understand the triggers. Why does that matter? Not knowing the triggers forced us to fix the problem on one side. We quickly found that not knowing pushed us right back to the issue. Root Cause analysis is a part of the European standard for computer operations we call ITIL (or the newer iteration ITSM or even DevOps). As we evolve how we work on problems the funny thing is, the steps to get to do, are the same year over year. Understand what the initial goal of the system is. Figure out when the problems occur and begin backtracking from there.

I do want to say to all my fellow Virily users, some of the bugs are frustrating. Some of them just seem to go on forever. They don’t, but there are times when it feels like that. I understand the frustration, and I do understand the anger. But I will also tell you that the power of the writer’s community on Virility is that we are a strong community. It’s time for us to help the admin team. I said this the other day, but now I am going to work hard on doing what I said.

One of the writers that I read all the time stopped appearing in the latest view. I was frustrated by that. Then I stopped, and I wondered. I tried connecting with Microsoft Edge. Still couldn’t see that writer. Then I realized, I hadn’t tried Internet Explorer. Suddenly I could that writers posts again in the latest. But, only with IE, neither chrome or edge showed her posts.

Problem one, the latest view doesn’t seem to work. Inconsistent, only for some verified users, and not all the time. However, always works with IE. Only seems to have an issue with Edge or Chrome. Posting comments in a list of pictures. Well tried all three browsers, this issue didn’t work. Got the same error message from Virility related to this issue (something seems to have gone wrong) in all three browser windows.

I haven’t tried Safari, that is my next goal. The Macintosh OS is more Unix based than Windows is, sot here be some stability there that I don’t have in windows. I also built a Virtual Machine with Ubuntu and will try a pure Linux OS and connect to see if either of these problems do, or do not exist in that environment as well.

This is my first step. I don’t have hours to do this, but when I have five minutes, I give one of these things a try.

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messed around and got lucky

Of weather, new tech and Cyber!

M, y father would have loved a time-lapse weather station. The Bloomsky continues to provide Yesterday’s Snarky Weather Forecasts, and frankly, I am enjoying the snarky part. It is funny to watch local news stations add drones and time-lapse weather to their forecasts. The reality of weather tech is interesting. You can, now, with two dongles, have a weather station that is your iPhone. The accuracy of the temperature readings is the biggest risk. For example, yesterday with my Bloomsky time-lapse video you (see link above) would notice that the temperature of my station reached 101 degrees, but the minute the sun passed to the other side of the house, not directly shining on the weather station, the temperature drops 5 degrees.

Yes, 5-degree drops happen all the time, Normally, when it is raining. Without rain, it is because the sun is no longer directly shining on the weather station. An interesting factoid, it is hotter in the direct sunlight than it is in the shade. Understanding the what and why of variance is critical when publishing weather data. It is even more critical when considering the impact of cyber security on your organization. What truly is cybersecurity? I read an interesting conversation about Cyber and the impact of a board of directors or board of advisors. That Cybersecurity should come from the top, from the overall business strategy. While I do think that is critical, it cannot be the only way cyber enters the organization.

Strategy often is the big picture view of what could be done. The reality is, that the further away from the strategic view you get, the more likely you are to find that in fact, there are workarounds. One of the things I argued in my book on Innovation was the reality of what companies have created. The concept is new ideas. The reality is that sometimes organizations push new ideas out the door because it doesn’t fit with the existing model. Look at all he crowdfunded technologies in the market today. Cybersecurity is such a place in the business as well. You want a top-down strategy, but you need a bottom-up delivery system, If the top down, forces the creation of a new bottoms-up model, the top isn’t going to see what happens next. The integration of strategy and delivery is critical in Cybersecurity systems.

it matters…

so does IT!

Help the IT team succeed

One of the things I am often asked about is the role of IT in business. Mostly not what is the role actually, more the person is not happy with the overall value of the IT organizations they are dealing with at that moment. Let’s start out with the jails of information technology departments. The first, probably most important thing the IT department has to consider is the short and long-term security. Security has to be both a driver and a systematic approach that IT takes. Not considering, valuing or implementing solid security will cause major problems in the long run. After all the intellectual property that makes your organization special and unique isn’t something you want to be freely available.

The reason that I am focused on this today has to do with two thing,s. First, I see a lot of people complaining about technology issues constantly. The reality of complaint is that unless you focus and make your complaints actionable, they are useless. I remember many years ago when I was a central IT person for the company I worked for. We were having a meeting about a series of issues we were having. There were some regional managers in the room, invited to share the issues they had. They all threw out all the issues, and there were a lot of them. Although looking back, most of the issues were parts of other issues, but at the time it felt like a daunting list.

My boss stood up and smiled. He started off by saying “thank you,” to everyone. Then he shared the following story.

“I went to the doctor the other day. I had a few health issues. The doctor started by saying how are you. I told him everything that was wrong with me, Then I held out my hand and said give me my medication to solve all my problems.” The room was silent. Why is that so hard for Doctors and IT people. In part, it is the reality of linkage. Systems don’t operate in a vacuum. An organization represents a system of systems. It is many interconnected components, as is the human body. IT does not have a magic wand that connects all the problems in the room. There is no magic whiteboard that once all the problems are listed, draws the connections between them. In fact, you are doing IT a disservice when you force them to chase every single problem. Lots of problems are inter-related, connected or simply causative. My boss then looked at all the managers and said, let’s write all the problems on the whiteboard. Let’s draw the lines between the problems and the systems you are using. Let’s see if we can build a path forward to fix everything.

Understand. Document. Discuss. AND prioritize. That is how you help IT people.

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tech Wiz