To Resonate, I resonate, am I resonating?
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Yesterday I was heading down the usability path. I wish there were a huge neon sign I could pre-program for certain anti-pattern blogs like usability and communications patterns/anti-patterns. A sign flashing DON’T GO THERE!!!!!

Those types of blogs resonate well inside my head but less so when I read them later. Mostly because the reality of the problems I am addressing is greater than the ability of my blog to fix. No matter what I write or if it resonates the shark culture companies will continue to have shark cultures. Of course, eventually the sharks escape those companies and you have issues. But that is a different day and another blog.

So why do specific themes resonate with me in the am and not in the PM?

I used to be a morning person (back in the time period when I had a shorter day. Now I find myself a middle of the morning early afternoon person (for my personal peak). I don’t often make it past 9:30 at night anymore and I am usually up and about by 5 am. I do find I stumble to the coffee pot first thing so I have consistency.

In the morning I am reflective preparing for another day so I suspect in the end that is the bug that is biting me here. Reflection causes me to view things in a more positive light I’ve found.


Maybe I should starting writing half my blogs at the end of the day and see if they balance each other…


Within the boundaries
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How sir, the old question asks, do you sleep at night? The answer is “like a baby.” The reality is that we had three babies in our house over the years. One, the first, slept all night after her fifth night on this planet. (of course now I wake up in the middle of the night worrying about her so payback is a <>>>). The others work up every four hours for feeding and then later just woke up every four hours.

This is how the reality of the Internet seems to me. There is/are amazing things happening. I am a huge xBox fan. I believe that Xbox and Xbox live are the future of both gaming and of Microsoft. Without a doubt the platform is simply amazing. Last night I setup Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and Hulu. I searched for applications I was interested in using the Kinect and my voice. It actually made me wonder why voice search on the computer hasn’t taken off. I use Siri all the itme for voice search functions…

The thing that amazes me about the Xbox is the adoption of the tiles architecture that is so intriguing in windows 8. Unlike the windows phone (which I tried to love but the iPhone won the war on that one) which has a limited implementation the Xbox gives you screen after screen and, with integrated wireless n you can easily plug and play the device into any network.

I wonder however if Xbox isn’t also what is wrong with Microsoft. I spent years at MS trying to be a good corporate citizen. You can exist with a Windows Phone (and I proudly carried a pocket pc phone when it was THE SMART PHONE). Its about innovation and allowing the platform to conform with what people really want and need. I wonder if the Xbox won’t in the end fail (no portable gaming system). Sure you can interact with Xbox live now from a variety of platforms but in the end its just noise.

Its as much the ecosystem as it is the technology. Its about what people want and need when they game or for that matter interact with their system.

How long before Xbox’s lead begins to fade?


Is it the right direction?

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What does tomorrow truly bring? People talk bout the current generation of kids being the digital age. They strive for connection at levels never before seen. I would argue with that point in that the children who ate 14 to 18 now (and even up to 20 or 21) have more access to communication devices in a number of different formats that any other generation. A cellular phone carried by a 14 year old in 1988 would have not only been shocking it would have been well, very abnormal.

Today it is the norm.

I think the reality of communication is the message that is being carried into the world. Facebook, twitter and SMS have become communication platforms that people leverage to feel less alone.

There is a difference that we are all missing right tow – a reality that is caused by the communication change around us. My family came to America about 120 years ago in two different groups. One from Ireland and the other from Denmark (yes like most American’s we have a number of other components but those are the two main pieces). They left the land they grew up in knowing that the highest probability was they would never see the land or talk to the people again.

Today you make the same journey in less than 12 hours. You can land in the old counties and call the new world via your cellular device and talk to your family (I’ve done it many many times). Connection is becoming different and we aren’t paying attention. The digital child of today isn’t creating a new way of doing things, they simply have the tools that allow them to do things that people have long wanted to do, but couldn’t because they lacked the tools.

It is not that the generation digital’s are different, they, like the first farmers many thousand years ago, have the tools to change their lifestyle. The question is are we heading in the right direction?


The concept of Smart Replication…

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I was thinking yesterday about simplicity and improving again the offline experience. I started my career working at Microsoft at a time when MS didn’t have a good offline strategy for a number of applications (we can talk about the fact that in fact they still don’t have a good offline capability in any application except Outlook which in the end is very, very sad).

Offline however is more than simply data. It is an experience. It is the extension of the usefulness of the device you are using. If you consider an application as a function you use and leverage what happens when you lose for a time data connectivity?

You’ll note that the most effective GPS programs have an offline component on your cellular device so that maps are not downloaded during travel. You work from an offline map that has your current location integrated.

But so many other applications are online only. While this is certainly a huge aspect of the “mobile” concept it will change how people use their devices. The need for offline is greater I suspect with the move to mobile devices. There are a number of issues that have to be dealt with however.

  • What should be offline
  • How much of the “should be” should be available offline? All? Most? or only that portion that can be effectively used?
  • Should applications filter information for mobile users before they get it?
  • How do you force replication with smaller network bandwidth?

I adopted Microsoft Groove (now called SharePoint something or other) as an offline tool. Sure it had issues but it did allow you to effectively build and carry solutions in an offline mode. Colligo is another tool that is effective in that department.

The problem with previous solutions is they are either focused on web pages or focused on data. The reality of mobility is the need for applications to be smart enough to cache information. Today that just isn’t the case. I would personally be very happy if foursquare would cache my data and allow me to post (en masse) later on. Or better yet to prevent net stalking, allow me to post the places I want people to know I’ve been to rather than everything. Being able to post pictures to flickr etc while offline would be of value.

The other side of this is that the solution also has to be sensitive about the amount of data traffic for an offline phone coming back online. Some people (and I won’t mention names but the person in question lives with my wife and I) get as many as 100 text messages a day (or more). As such if she is in the mountains of Virginia where they can be limited services when she gets back into services her phone gets slammed with messages. If the phone is also uploading a tone of data, you can cause the phone service experience to be poor (due to all the slowing down).

The concept I am going to introduce is smart replication. I will spend some time thinking about what this would look like and will blog this later.


Shameless Review of the new IPAD

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Shameless Review IPAD 2012

(for lack of a better name, you could call it the IPAD HD, The IPAD 3 or just the IPAD as well)

I spent many years waiting for a tablet. I take notes at meetings so that I can review them later and have been searching for a device that will do the note thing effectively.

To date, I have not replaced my livescribe pen with my Ipad. The livescribe (echo smart pen) remains my note taking device of choice.

As with all tablets I follow a simple process – the first thing is to start doing my blog on the device. I don’t like the primary and secondary software options on the IPAD so after using Blogsy and a couple of others for three days I stopped using the Ipad for my blog. I did do my last two podcasts on the Ipad – so it does have some value in the space. I wouldn’t rate it as a bad device, I just don’t like the software.

Things I like

Things I hate


screen (OMG)

virtual keyboard (if you have fat fingers like me it’s a bit hard to use)


LTE network (really fast)


The AT&T service is awesome!

battery (last a solid 9 hours) hot hot hot (the device heats up pretty bad when used for an extended period)
Uses all Apple accessories   Huge plus – being able to reuse things makes upgrades less painful
upgrade was virtually painless   Now we own two iPads, the upgrade was simple for me – and the kids got a new toy.

All in all I highly recommend the new IPAD. Even for those with an IPAD2, the graphics alone make it a great device. The improved radio stack take it even one step further. As a former (loved it) portable TV service user, having Hulu, SlingMedia and other video services like Netflix and Blockbuster Online makes this an incredible tool.

3 things apple could improve:

  • Integration with Amazon for Cloud storage and cloud drive reuse
  • the virtual keyboard needs fat finger mode to reduce typing errors
  • Better blogging software.

It’s a great tool, the business modeling and other software packages including the Microanalysis tools make this device a winner go forward. We will have to see what windows 8 offers.


Trust, ethics and the corner bakery

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The ethics of forgetting. I worked at my previous company for 15 years. Since leaving I’ve had a number of friends that have reached out to me since leaving and that makes me really happy. I also have had a bunch of friends reach out to me that are also unhappy with the way things are, which makes me sad, I’ve helped them and listened as much as I could.

There are a number of folks who haven’t reached out and that is kind of sad. But I guess to be expected. I would also in fairness have to take some blame because in some cases I was happy to no longer have to communicate with some of the folks, so not hearing from them is a value add.

Which leads me to the purpose of this diatribe, the ethics of forgetting. There are a number of components of the discipline “human dynamics” that we all consider over time.

The first component is the overall relationship we have with the person. Human dynamics is the interaction of two or more people in a controlled or uncontrolled scenario. How we act (or don’t act) when those situations change is the ethics piece.

Everyone has moments when they wished they had done things in a different or even better way. The question of ethics comes in how you handle it.

There are a number of people I have worked with over the years that I would trust completely. I keep in touch with those folks because they are honorable and ethical. There are a number of people I’ve met that I lose touch with – so if I haven’t reached out to you recently assume its this rather than the other issue,

There are people I do not trust. When the opportunity comes to place distance between myself and you, I do it.



Is Software Architecture dead?

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I heard a discussion yesterday that got me thinking. I have to start out with the disclaimer, I am a reformed architect.

  • I do not believe in reference architectures unless they come from standards bodies.
  • I do believe in reference models and reference implementations of organization.
  • I am beginning to wonder if I believe in architects.

I helped build several different architect certifications over the years but I am beginning to wonder if in fact software architects aren’t part of the problem rather than a potential solution.

They (software architects) are very smart people of that there is no question.

But I wonder if in fact the role of software architects has become less than it should be, and more than it really is (perception). I don’t see the innovation from software folks that I saw a couple of years ago. Everyone is rushing to the banks of the Enterprise Architecture river. That river is the separation between IT and the business today, and thereto part of the real problem.

I see software architects as communicators. (not, intimidators as a former colleague was convinced). Based on the communication concept the software architect should be in the middle of everything, pushing things along.

In reality I’ve just argued myself out of my previous position, but what I am struggling with remains. I do not believe in the “software architects” I meet and used to work with today. The profession has so much more that it could do, and so much more that it should do. It in the end makes me sad.


Simple is as Simple does

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Given the inconsistency of hardware solutions today – what are the three things that could change in the short run that would make the market a little stronger and therefore solutions a little better?

  • Consistent Cellular Data (and by default – beyond the consistent data to actually have consistent charges for that data. Its amazing to me the differences offered by the various vendors. I play less for an all you can eat plan on T-Mobile than I pay for data on my Ipad).
  • Make the mobile device platform uniform – there are significant variances among the many different android phones that really make consistency hard.
  • Universal spectrum for all wireless vendors (so your phone can easily move around and get the best possible connection)
  • More all you can eat pricing – knowing that in reality too many people with all you can eat. Perhaps mixing wi-fi more on portable devices allowing them to easily switch between wifi and cellular.

I’ve talked about a few of these things before. One of the things that is the biggest game changer in the short run in my opinion will be the new application development patterns that are developed. Smarter applications will always result in a better user experience.

Finally I believe the simplification process will also result in some of the new development patterns being expedited. Simple is the future for mobile devices.


what was to never be…

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The missing link, a solution that never found a home. I’ve been playing with the Inpulse watch lately (dying for their someday soon to be released Iphone version). It is an interesting solution to a problem that has vexed me since I started carrying a blackberry again.

  • First off the BlackBerry is free so well beggars can’t be choosers.
  • Second off the BlackBerry is stuck in 1998. It rocked then, it really doesn’t rock now.
  • BlackBerry’s are simply too slow.

The Inplus pairs with the BlackBerry to provide very cool functionality. Similar to the spot watch of many years ago (its still my all time favorite watch). The ability to see appts and emails, texts and caller ID on your wrist means I take the phone out of its holster less and less.

But this brings me back to the solution that never found its home. The spot watch was the neatest geek accessory I’ve ever owned. A watch that connected me with my world, while providing me with information in a easily consumed format. I miss the smart watch.

Sadly it was a Niche that didn’t fit the whole in the market. Great idea, wrong technology and time. I suspect as the Inpluse moves to the Iphone world they will be able to add some of the cool features of the Spot watch (weather, live news feeds) that will make it even better.


What is the tipping point…

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My grandfather once told me that the most important thing about working with people in the business world is the way you treat them. I was thinking about that today for some reason.

Why do we create competitive environments in organizations? Why can’t we have a world of high achievers.

First I should post a disclaimer – I come from a company where competition is king. This of course means that politics is also king and you learn quickly that you can be good, but it only does you good if other people know it.

What does competition mean and do we in the end hurt more people through competition then we do through competition. My wife and I have had this discussion for years. She has long preferred to start a process with cooperation and if needed compete (except for some reason driving go carts, then she starts with completion and smiles at you as she laps you on the track. Which my son Nicholas did to me last year at the Dells, smiling and waving as he passed me just like his mother.).

Is competition the wrong first answer? No. There are many times when competition is not only good it is required. There are however many times when it is not.

What is the fulcrum point that balances the need for competition and the need for cooperation?

Sadly that is for another blog…