Working together to improve Virily (and another poll)

One of the things I have often worried about is the anger that happens so quickly when it comes to issues with Web Sites. I used to write for a site called Niume. I enjoyed my time on the site. At the end of the time Niume was still functioning they announced the site would be closing. At that time it was recommended that everyone download their posts. The sad reality of all those posts, however, was that if you have more than 400 posts, the system wouldn’t be able to download your posts into a file.  I backup all of my posts so I didn’t lose anything, I couldn’t use their site recovery and backup option, but I had my backups of everything.

What I did lost was a year of links to posts. That was hard to take, and I decided if I was ever in a position of being on a similar site, that I was going to make sure I did everything possible to keep the site alive. That is why I spend so much time talking about ways we could improve the Virily site. I don’t want to have another Niume crashing down around me. That doesn’t mean the Virily site doesn’t have issues. It does, and it could be better. However, the thing that I think is important to share today is the reality of Virily. They, the editors and admins, actually pay writers. In paying writers, they create a 1099 type relationship with us as content creators. There is a pride factor and of course a financial incentive to make things better!

Earlier this week the social media connection for twitter was down. The admin team responded to my post on Facebook and reset the connection in less than 10 minutes. That makes me happy because it means the admins are responding to and trying to solve problems. Like solving problems in our personal lives the reality of solving complete application issues can be daunting. The fact that the admin team is responding means they are trying!  That said, I do know and understand that the issues people are discovering can be frustrating and painful. It is hard to balance the reality of what people need, what they perceive and how they perceive it. Anger is a normal response to things not working the way you would like them to work!



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!


Tech Wiz

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.


tech Wiz

Tech Wiz on Pen vs Electronic (and link to a poll!)

The difference between paper and electronic is interesting. In part because I love writing on paper. There is something about the feel of a pen on paper. I know that I shouldn’t be stuck on paper, but I still love the feel. I still think better sometimes when I have a pen in hand. It is why I like pens that are connected and whiteboards that are connected. There is something wonderful about merging the two worlds (paper and electronic).

There are some fun poll questions below and a couple of tough questions. I find the reality of integrity to be more interesting right now, than the reality of pen versus electronic.

Look and feel can be very important. I know that is why I still like to use paper from time to time. Funny, when doing computer diagrams and designs, I almost never use a pen and almost always use something digital. That is more because I find that I often need to be able to refer to and reuse the diagrams I create. That makes going straight to digital a much smarter idea for the diagrams I create.

Oh, brave new world.

Interesting follow up on my initial thinking on the Oculus Go. I am enjoying the fit of the device more than the Oculus Rift. I suspect they took some time and worked with end users to make the Go fit better. The virtual world is getting a lot easier to use. My new idea for the title of my upcoming review is an Homage to Inspector Gadget (Go-Go Oculus)! The really sad thing about Inspector Gadget is that I loved that show as an adult, and effectively and to bribe my kids to watch it with me!


tech wiz

Tech Wiz and the future of entertainment devices…

I have had a chance to play with two distinctly different personal media devices over the past 20 days. In both cases, there was a learning curve, funny but in both cases, the learning curve for me was around the concept of charging. It was also, sadly in both cases my issue, not the technologies issue. Sometimes, you have to stop and carefully pay attention to what the manual is saying. What is the future of home entertainment? I know when I was a kid cable TV was new. Originally when we lived in Bloomington Indiana, we had four stations. The only one that mattered to my dad was Channel 4 because they carried IU Basketball games. But we also got a couple of other stations. There ended up being 4 out of Indianapolis that we got, 1 PBS station from IU and a CBS station out of Terre Haute Indiana. Cable brought many more stations.

But that was the wired age, when we were dependent on what came into our houses form the air (antenna) or via a cable (cable). My kids don’t watch TV. They still watch TV shows but a lot differently then I did at their age. I’ve tried a few times to explain that once upon a time you got two chances to watch a TV show. Once was the first time it aired, the second during summer reruns. If you missed it, you never got to see it. If you were lucky and the show had enough episodes to syndicate, you could watch it later. But that did require that there were more than 22 episodes. At least it did back in the day. Now shows are syndicated before they are even done with the season.

Streaming changed everything. My kids watch a show, sometimes in what they call the binge form (all of them in as long a period as it takes), sometimes they watch them once a day. The reality is, entertainment is changing, and devices like Oculus Go and Keecker are the new wave. First, because they allow you to interact with your media/ For example, I converted my grandfathers home movies. 13 hours of video. I have 13 hours a year of video, starting when the twins were born. Lot’s more video is available to be viewed and seen. Plus, who wants to go downstairs, find the family video disk, put it in the player and watch home movies. I would rather be able to stream my movies.

Keecker and Oculus are riding that first wave of change. There are more devices to come!


of what is to come…

IoT from the Tech Wiz

When I was a little kid, I wasn’t very good at putting together models. I hated the smell of the glue you had to use, and I wasn’t coordinated. That meant my models were often a bit off. The reason for this is I was playing with the Littlebits Droid kit on Saturday. It, the Droid kit allows you to build your droid. I love that kind of stuff, in part because it is the IoT integration between the art of the possible and the art of creating.  Littlebits is a really interesting company and one that I am happy to publicize and support. I’ve played with a couple of their build kits, and I find them to be professional, well built and fun. It reminds me of the days of old for me when I had the 100 in 1 Radio Shack electronics board. You could do or complete more than 100 different electronics experiments with that kit.

There are some vendors in the IoT creation space. They each start in a different part of the market. I spend time with the creators and developers of both the software and the hardware solutions I this space. Yes, it is a geeky thing for me, but it is something that I find incredibly interest right now. Today’s art of the possible in technology, is always what empowers the technology dreams of tomorrow. I used to do an IoT presentation for various high schools. A couple of times I had a drone in the back of the room, and as part of the presentation (the first time), I flew the drone over the crowd and then showed them the footage. A principal did tell me I couldn’t do that again (risky in case the drone crashed).

I did continue to fly and show the drone video, just flying the one on stage with me instead of over the audience. With stage lighting, it was less an image of the kids and more an image of the top of my head. It was a fun presentation; I should dust it off and offer to do it again. There is something incredible about presenting to interested kids (the reverse, angry and disinterested kids are really hard to reach).  There are many more things available now for this overall type of presentation than there was three years ago when I stopped. The Littlebits team continues to build interesting concepts. The Droid kit is one of the more recent releases, the software and hardware are well integrated. Always fun to see a new idea start to come alive!


IoT fan