Tech Wiz on Heroes…

I think about heroes from time to time. In part because my heroes change over time. When I was nine years old, Thomas Jefferson was my hero. When I learned more about him, he was my hero when I was 15. When I finally learned the full story, he was no longer my hero. My grandfather and father were my heroes and still are, but that is more normal I suspect. Robert Montgomery Knight remains a hero. I felt like he was an incredible coach and he remains a pretty good person. I do not, since wandering away from Jefferson often select heroes from the world of politics. I do, however, personally find the behavior, actions, and presence of Barack Obama to be another hero in recent years.

That got me thinking, what is a hero? Bill Gates is and was a hero of mine for many years. His willingness to do the right things is something that I have found impressive over the years.  I do also have heroes from the world of sports as well. Ernie Banks, Ryne Sandberg is former Cubs players that I have long admired. Walter Payton is my all time favorite professional football player. Payton is also a hero of mine because of who and what he was as a person.

What is a hero? Someone that is exceptional or someone that behaves exceptionally? I find both to be true, but the latter is always the critical one for me. Jefferson didn’t behave well in the last few years of his life. Based on that he slipped from my hero garden. I haven’t really replaced Jefferson with another of the first US leaders, many of them had honor, but most of them also had a few warts.

The reality of heroes is they have to live up to your expectation.


tech Wiz

of dad jokes and fake news….

I loved it when my father came home from NSTA (National Science Teacher Association) conventions. I missed him when he wasn’t home. But, and I never would have told him this, I also loved the new jokes he would tell upon returning. NSTA members were creators of dad jokes and other forms of humor. Some bad, but some fun. I enjoyed hearing the humor when dad returned. Back then, when I was little, the world was different. Communication was less rapid then and more expensive. When in the early 1970’s we moved to Thailand calling the US was technically very difficult and also very expensive. I think we called once or twice during the year we were there. The same was true from many of my father’s trips. He couldn’t call. Not like today, when a cell call from Europe to the US, is about three bucks for ten minutes (or less). The value of communication is the cost reduction overall in being able to call. I know, all the times I was outside the US for work, being able to call once or twice a day was a life saver for me emotionally.

The world has evolved, but I wonder if we haven’t taken a turn for the worse in recent days. My new rule for posts I read is if I see fake new used as anything other than a declaration, I stop reading that person’s posts. Fake News, is a creation. It is not real. Journalists work very hard to gather information. If they, like the rest of us, are fed falsehoods, they can only report falsehoods. There is truly no such thing as Fake News. If someone says that to you, understand that what they mean to say is “I don’t like what is being said.”

Fake News is an opinion, not a fact. Saying it doesn’t make you smarter. It doesn’t make the information you don’t like any worse. It just makes all of us a little less open. Personally again, if I see Fake News used as anything other than a post about how bad the concept is, I stop reading that person’s posts. There is no value in using a phrase that means nothing. CNN, ABC, NBC, BBC, CBC and SKY News and others have all been accused. But without a basis or facts to back up the accusation, what is the value of accusing?

Anyway, I miss my dad’s jokes.

Why did the chicken cross the road? To get away from Colonel Sanders (creator of Kentucky Fried Chicken)!


dad joke fan

My review rules and why I do not often post about politics

I can honestly say, over the years that I have moved further and further away from sharing my political opinions very often. In part, because there are groups of people both liberal and conservative that the simple act of sharing an opinion causes them to feel less of you as a person. It is one of the rules I made for myself when I started blogging in earnest now more than ten years ago. My rules are simple, try, whenever possible not to mention names. When do I mention names? The first example of when I would mention a name is when there is good or bad customer service. The other time I would mention a name of production is  I am reviewing a product or idea. I do try for the most part not to mention names based on that first set of rules. It isn’t fair to have a one-way conversation with a person, such as a blog, and then also call them out by name.

Some of my other rules are what I would or wouldn’t review. I know that I get frequent suggestions for technologies to review. I do try to review products that people ask me to review. I have one critical rule when it comes to technology reviews. I have to use the service. As a long time, yelp reviewer organizations and businesses in my area are something I review. My rule is I have to use the service, have eaten at the restaurant and so on. It means I have reviewed 4 or 5 different Starbucks because honestly I often meet people at Starbucks. I have the same rule for technology reviews. Originally it was that I had to personally own the item, now I have added I do not know review technologies I don’t use.

Reviews have to be useful and credible. There are technology and restaurant reviewers I trust and respect. If I intend to do a review of a technology (or a restaurant) I don’t read the reviews. I do, check the overall ratings (on Yelp you give stars). But I don’t read reviews until after I posted my review. The reason for that is the fruit of the poisoned well as lawyers sometimes say (or is it the fruit of the poised true I can never remember). I want to make sure my reviews represent my use, feelings or experience of that organization. I do find after the fact that for the most part, I agree with the reviews I read after the fact. Things that are difficult and frustrating are often universal in the sense that they impact everyone!

All this said, more technology reviews are coming!

technology wanderer

Just, pump the brakes…

I have been an IT consultant and an IT delivery person for the past 30 years. In that time I have operated and managed solutions that were used by 400,000 or more people. I traveled the world building systems for a lot of organizations. Based on those years of experience I tend to approach things a little differently than most people do, regarding what is happening around them. Based on that, however, I did want to say pump the brakes. That is, what you do when you are driving, and are unsure of what is happening around you. Lately, there has been a lot of angry, frustrated posts about the editorial and administrative functionality presented by the Virily site.

First, everyone has the right to complain. But it is really important that when you complain you understand the reality of that complaint. “I hate.” is the phrase that pays. When you hear that you know what comes next is an opinion. “This doesn’t” is a phrase that normally is followed by a diatribe about what isn’t working. You’ve all read these statements many times. In fact, I know, there are so many things thrown around about Virily that I am beginning to realize, it doesn’t matter anymore. Since Virily pays writers, we are nominally 1099 contractors. As content creators we have to report the issues to the admin team, as they work to improve the site. And most important, we get in return what we bring to the admin team. I see so many posts on Virily talking about problems with the site. But I don’t see all the variables covered upfront first. Let’s start with some of the variables we need to consider (and if possible remove) before casting blame on the site itself. Just looking at the easy variables even before we get to Virily there are so many things to consider.

  1. The browser you are using. TRUST me each of these browsers operates completely differently than the others.
    1. EDGE
    2. Chrome
    3. Mozilla
    4. Firefox
    5. Internet Explorer
    6. Safari
  2. The computer operating system you are using
    1. Mac OS pre 10
    2. Mac OS post 10
    3. Windows 7
    4. Windows 8
    5. Windows 10
    6. Linux all flavors
    7. Android Tablet
    8. IoS Tablet
    9. iPhone
    10. Android Phone
    11. Another phone
  3. Type of internet connection
    1. Satellite
    2. Cable Modem
    3. Dial-up or modem based
    4. Internet café
    5. Provided wi-fi work
    6. Provided wi-fi coffee shop
    7. Fiber Optic
    8. DSL
    9. ISDN
  4. Consideration of your pc
    1. Corrupt
    2. Clean
    3. New
    4. Old
  5. Virus Scanner
    1. Commercial
    2. Free
  6. Malware Scanning
    1. Commercial
    2. free

Just to be clear, there are versions of number 1 and that causes issues. Edge doesn’t always work with everything. Chrome, Safari, IE, Firefox, and Mozilla all have known issues with various things.. You can have Java installed (old), or Java installed new. Or you can have no Java. There is flash players from Adobe, old and new or not installed at all. You can have the .net framework old or the .net framework new installed. All of this is the easy stuff. Your virus scanner, or malware and so on impacts the ability to interoperate with the system you are using. Virus scanners can impact your browser, your computer, and YOUR internet connection. There are at least 30 companies that release Virus scanners, and you can be way out of date with that as well.

Troubleshooting problems based on just these five variables is really hard.

So pump the brakes.

Make sure when you have a problem, post the answers to all six of these questions. Tell the admin team I am using Safari on MacOS 11, McAfee virus scanning connected at my local Starbucks.

Just listing that will help the admin team be more successful, thereby keeping Virily in business longer!!!!!


pump those brakes.

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.


tech Wiz

Is integrity dead?

There are so many things that make me uncomfortable right now, more, it feels like that at any time in the past thirty years. I worry about the concept of honesty now, more than I ever have before. Honestly is an important interpersonal requirement. In fairness, I should add the provider to me, in that sentence. But it is really important to me. I don’t just mean honesty in interpersonal communication; I mean the entire package of honesty for me. The importance of following rules is an example of honesty to me. If there are rules, and you choose to ignore them,  then shame on you. If you do it in a way that impacts me, I will react to that, because as I started with honesty is important to me.

Has it become the reality of the world today that honesty isn’t important? I worry about that reality now. I mentioned the other day the overzealous application of political correctness. Part of my ethics is that I try not to offend people. I do understand, however, that I on occasion offend people. It is not something I am proud of; it is something that happens. What worries me, is that people can sit and correct me, tell me that what I’ve said is offensive, when I know that person doesn’t follow the rules as well. Being PC is a rule, it is also ethics. Honesty and following rules are all part of the broader bucket we call Ethics. I worry that over-zealous application of right means you can skip the reality of the rules.

I guess I have to ask. Does personal integrity matter anymore? Do the ethics of political correctness overwhelm the reality of interpersonal integrity? Does integrity matter anymore? Let’s take the sites where I post blogs. All of them have rules for posting. I work very hard to follow all the rules. If I break one, I apologize right away and remove the post that broke the rules. I take the time to write comments for people that are both heartfelt, but also conversational and relevant to their post. I follow the rules. There are those who don’t. Sometimes they benefit from breaking the rules, and for that I am embarrassed. Because I have to continue asking myself does Integrity matter anymore? It is not just in the online world that I consider this growing problem. It truly makes me sad.


Tech Wiz

Communication is extremely fragile…

The communication pattern and concept of overcorrection. I am a person that tries to be as correct as I can be. I know that I am not. I work hard not to say or do the various things that make people uncomfortable. I know that I do from time to time and for that I am very sorry. If I have ever said anything that offended anyone, I am deeply sorry. I did not realize my offense until later I promise you. That said the world of what is and isn’t correct had swung again. While I do truly understand the rights of people to ask that their life is respected, it is critical that both sides issue respect. I do understand when I make a mistake that someone has to or someone should correct me, but there is another story in there as well. How you correct a person shows the kind of person you are as well.

When I was younger, we were taught respect. It is a word featured in the Aretha Franklyn song, but it is also a state of mind. Adults were to be respected. You, upon entering a situation should take the course of least impact until you knew who was there.  It wasn’t that we feared the adults, it was that we respected them. We didn’t derail communication with sidebar corrections. Based on those memories, and based on dealing with people in the modern world I would like to propose a compromise. A middle road that all can take that won’t create a greater and greater gulf between those special people on both sides. Communication is a two-way street after all.

Based on that, it is the rule of respect. When you speak to someone, assume they are someone you respect. Start there; it means that many cases you don’t correct them. Instead, you pull them aside and say, by the way, many people find that offensive. I promise you if they are someone to be respected. They will be notified that they said something like that. Most people I know are, they don’t start the day out saying today is the left-handed day. On a left-handed day I say offensive things about people that are left handed on purpose. No one does that. But if you only correct and don’t show respect, effectively you are doing the same thing. You are offending the person that made a mistake. Instead of giving them a way out with dignity you’ve done the same thing. If it happens multiple times, and you’ve pulled them aside and mentioned it, then and only one should you say in front of the group “XYZ, we’ve had this conversation some people find the way you re saying that to be offensive.”


communication is critical