June 1201

Don't Hate On 8:

I love this graphic. I just had to post it.

Windows 8 Infographic

Source: http://FrugalDad.com

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We have known for some time that the video gaming industry is leading significant innovation trends in the software and hardware industry.  I stumbled upon this Op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today (from January 2011)  that documents what the gaming industry has brought to defense, collaboration and even the entertainment industry.  I think that one of the biggest innovations brought to us by the video game industry that has yet to be untapped is the Microsoft Kinect.

If you have no idea what a Kinect is let me spend a few seconds bringing you up to speed.  The Kinect is basically a motion detector, voice recognition and camera all built into a device that allows for deviceless control of your xBox.  Meaning that you don’t need a remote to control a game, play a movie, etc. 

Cool I know, that’s why I bought one.  However, not for the reason you might expect.  I purchased it for the kids.  My kids are young.  Handling a controller would be impossible and I shuttered in fear at them using something like a Wii.  Although flat screens have come down in price I don’t have a desire to replace mine once a year because a controller went through the screen.  However, there are some really great educational games out there and I thought that during the 110 degree Texas heat this might be a good change up.  I must admit that I was a bit skeptical at first.  These things never work as advertised.  But it did.  And it worked well.

Fast forward six months.  As any self respecting geek I started to wonder what if.  Microsoft at the time wasn’t allowing much if any customization, but now it appears that the flood gates have opened.  People are beginning to put the device into action.  And now, you don’t need an xBox!

So what is it being used for?  The video below will give you a preview:


Cool huh?  You would be right to stop right there and imagine the possibilities.  However, I came across this next gem.  It’s six minutes long, but I assure you it’s worth your time.


This video highlights two big innovations with real commercial potential.  One is the the virtual content and integrations via a pointing device (read your iPad or phone).  Secondly was the in the last part.  The virtual partial interaction with real world objects (the desk/drawer/garbage can).

So what does this mean?  Simple, no need to carry a laptop or in some cases any device.  Because of the Kinect your apps can go with you anywhere this system is in place.  Your digital life, apps, etc are in the cloud.  Innovation and collaboration anywhere, anytime.  You now become the device.  The technology is just a platform to display it.  No need for keyboards, mice, monitors, etc.  Exciting times for sure!

If you would like to learn more, or even get funded by Microsoft for developing a great idea I would recommend checking out the Kinect Accelerator page.

Tags: , , , , | Categories: Kinect | Microsoft | Opinion | Software | Strategy | Technology


188166_187273097981908_6301399_nI’ve been following the recent AT&T and T-Mobile merger news closely over the last few months.  Not because of my love for AT&T nor the cute T-Mobile girl.  I’ve been following it because it’s a replay of the broadband vs. dialup fight and the tiered bandwidth cap fight.  You always hear that history repeats itself and that the speed of technology innovation doubles every few years.  Here is a situation where there is a perfect storm of each factor.

Sprint, is in a unique position, so far.  They are the only major carrier that does not cap or tier it’s bandwidth usage.  AT&T and Verizon have tiered pricing for both phone and data services.  Take the iPad for instance.  AT&T has a 2 gig limit on their top plan with additional charges applied should you go over that amount.  Verizon has a 5 gig with similar terms.  Prices for these services are comparable.  Sprint has yet to offer the iPad, but I do have a contract with Sprint where for $79 I get as much as I want anytime.  It doesn’t mean I’m a sprint fan boy.  It just means that every month my bill is the same.  And there is the key.  Consistency.

During  the late 90’s the internet consuming public witnessed a race between the Telco’s based on speed.  Why use AOL dialup when you can use SW Bell DSL?  It was comparable in price and 8X faster.  Then you had the internet cap situation, which is still in play. Telco's over allocated resources and sought caps to limit large consumers of data.  Verizon was the clear winner in terms of capability and future expansion.  They spent billions to build out their network with no caps on FiOS.  I would argue that Verizon has won the battle for savvy users who really use the internet, which is most of us born after 1950.  I don’t know one person that says I have FiOS, but I wish U–Verse was available.

So, back to Sprint and the portable internet which is all the rage.  They have the network capability, the iPhone 4S, and the market share to start challenging the largest two providers in the US.  If Dan Hess takes a lesson from history I would say look to Verizon.  They’ve had great success with their FiOS implementation and I would say that the same market  that drove them will be the same that drive the wireless age.  I would also argue that the US consumer likes fixed pricing.  Whether or not I use it consumers still want a predictable price that doesn’t fluctuate based on the amount of videos you download on a rainy day.

At the end of the day, we, the consumer wins.  Whichever these models wins out it’s sure to drive speeds and price down, just like DLS vs. Dial-up did in the 90’s.

Tags: , , , | Categories: Business | Opinion | Strategy | Technology


17Just in case you haven’t noticed the explosion of devices and consumer based applications is beginning to challenge IT departments.  Do you allow your employees to use their own devices?  What about applications?  How do you deploy and manage security?  These are all questions that just about every IT shop in the world is having to answer.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a multi billion dollar conglomerate or supporting the local church.  The consumerization of IT is here, and I predict here to stay. 

The question of managing this phenomenon is not if you should allow it.  That battle has already been fought.  Devices and applications are being used because they are convenient or introduce efficiencies.  You cannot stop this wave.  Imagine being the head of a pager company and you just saw your first cell phone in action.  You need to start making cell phones, not scoff at the idea that cell phones will never catch on!  The real question is how do you take advantage of this movement.

Make no mistake, this is a paradigm changer and you need to think of ways to take advantage of this.  So what in the world am I talking about?  I remember when I first started working in the 90’s.  You hardly ever saw a laptop.  They were reserved for the ‘high-ups’.  They were cool and a status symbol.  Fast forward 10 years and now all you see is laptops.  They are now the standard of a productive work culture allowing people to work from anywhere, and unfortunately for this guy, at anytime of the day or night.  Laptops stopped being a status symbol and the hallmark of productivity.   They changed the paradigm. 

Today we have devices and applications that take full advantage of sleek form factors and the cloud.  Paradigm changer?  No doubt.  I, myself, own 3 laptops and two iPads.  I have the ability to work from anywhere and at anytime.  Couple that with some slick collaboration apps like Lync, Skype, Facetime and a host of other cloud based collaboration utilities there is no need for me to go into the office.  So why do we continue to build applications, corporate infrastructures and offices like it’s the 1990’s?  Do I really need a cube, an office or a desk phone?  No, what I need is a power strip. 

So what is the next model?  The next laptop transformation?  First, I think IT needs to look at how we allocate IT assets.  Why buy me a laptop?  I have three.  And they are far superior to the one you will probably provide me.  Why not give me a stipend so I can purchase my own equipment?  Why not give me a stipend for being an employee?  Chances are if you are like me you even dislike the office supplies!  I’ll buy my own pens and paper! 

Imagine how that would change the way you not only build out an office, but your approach to building business solutions!  Your external customers and internal customers become one in the same. All rely on the ability to use your product anytime and anywhere.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Categories: Business | Cloud | Internet | Jobs | Management | Operations | Opinion | SaaS | Software | Software Development | Strategy | Technology

August 1106

Blog refresh

I was having a cup of coffee this morning while surfing the web and realized I have not posted since May!  Time flys.  I took a few minutes this morning to update blogengine.net and apply a new theme.  I've had the same one for about 3 years so it's time for a change.  

 

I've been up to some cool things so stay tuned.  I should have some updates in the next week or so.

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May 1126

Love What You Do


Sometimes it's odd that you come across an article or video that just speaks to you and your current mindset.  I'm no fan of Steve Jobs but somehow I came across his Stanford graduation speech today.  Something I've seen before but this time it spoke to me (No I don't have cancer).  The speach is about living life and persuing dreams.  Very good.

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Tags: , , | Categories: Apple | Internet | Jobs | Opinion


I watched this RSAnimate video today and was blown away by the speach.  Added annimation made it better.

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Tags: | Categories: Education


556976357_2062640bd7_oI’m probably one of the biggest fans of Agile.  Not because it’s one of the hottest things going on right now in the development community.  I’m big on Agile because I’ve seen what it can do for teams and organizations first hand.  Transformational would be an understatement.  Unfortunately there are plenty of shops out there not realizing the benefits that agile can bring.  They are practicing a faux pas version of it.  Let’s just call it ‘iterative’.  If you think you might be doing this type of Agile than this post is not for you.  This post is about the next level of Agile.

Those of us that have seen true Agile in practice will tell you that at the end of the day you’ll be left wanting more.  Clearly this practice can be applied to a larger audience.  Clearly every company should use Agile for everything!  Agile is more than the considerable uptick in productivity, quality and customer satisfaction!  To borrow from the extreme sports community:  Go big or go home!  I think I echo most of my colleagues when I say this.

I have news for us Agile advocates.  The business side of the house has been looking at Agile based methodologies much longer than we have.  I’ve known this for sometime, but I recently came across an article in Forbes where the author, Dan Woods, speaks about the marriage of Lean Manufacturing and Agile Development.  Agile is not Lean and Lean is not Agile.  Their approach to iterative improvement, removal of barriers and fail early- fail often approach is a best of breed. 

Woods makes an interesting statement at the end of his article:

In practice, Agile seems to be changing for the better by adopting Lean thinking in a large way. Rally says that its customers get to market 50% faster and are 25% more productive when they employ a hybrid of Lean and Agile development methods. Given the way that Agile fits in to the Lean framework, it wouldn't surprise me if before too long Agile is considered a branch of Lean practice tailored for the software industry.

I’ve written many times about the importance of business and technology coming together to create the best value.  This is by far the most common ground I’ve seen.  I agree with Wood, I look forward to the child of these two methodologies.

Tags: , , , | Categories: AGILE | Governance | IT Governance | Management | Methodology | Operations | Opinion | SCRUM | Software Development | Technology


picard-facepalmI’m going to tell you a story about how I almost failed as a manager.  I say almost because it was only because of Bob Smith that I recovered and really understood the error of my ways.    Bob is a factious character because the innocent should be protected.  However, the situation is real and the lesson is a good one that I would like to pass on. 

One of my first experiences managing development teams was an incredible opportunity. I was young, enthusiastic and motivated.  I inherited a team of folks with great capabilities but a relaxed attitude towards owning issues.  I’m positive we were not the first shop to experience this!  During the first few weeks of taking over this team I hired Bob as a replacement for a team member who left just before I took over.  Bob was my first hire.  Bob is an incredible technician.  He knows code, architecture and the urgency of our craft.    

I think I’m preaching to the choir when I say that inevitably there will be an issue in IT.  I, as a young manager, experienced this within two weeks of Bob coming on board.  I remember it clearly.  The guy Bob replaced left a code base and an architecture platform that, well, let’s just say was suboptimal.  I called everyone into a room and said this is the ‘hottest’ issue.  Let’s dedicate all our resources to getting this solved.  I got a lot of blank stares.  Bob however, was the guy on the beat.  Within five minutes he knew what to do, how to solve it and what needed to happen.  I was in love.

We were a young shop and there were about two more ‘major’ issues that came up within the next six weeks.  Each time I leaned on Bob.  He was my go-to guy to fix the issues that the team couldn’t address, with his help we  satisfied the customers and pleased the execs.  Then came the dreaded lunch!  Bob and I went out to lunch and he let me know that he was thinking about leaving the company.  Imagine my face at this point.  Bob was my get it done guy.  However, it was exactly why Bob wanted to go.

Bob had other ambitions.  None of them having to do with fire fighting others misfortunes.  Bob was a team player, but in his words (Bob doesn’t speak the best English so this is the best translation)  he said “I’m always willing help out, but you need to help others know how to win”.  Prolific need I say more!

What I learned from Bob is that teams need to learn how to fail as much as they need to learn how to succeed.  Winning feels good, I think that anyone that’s been a part of a winning team can sense what a winning team ‘feels’ like.  You just know.  Failure is the same.  You just know when something doesn’t feel right.  Winning and losing is intrinsic in our psyche. 

Failure is painful but inevitable in our business, just as much as success is.  The problem is that most people, as a team, don’t know what it’s like to manage through ‘failures’. It’s not natural.   We naturally separate into individuals when we sense failure.  The whole ‘It’s someone else's problem’ is a common reaction.  Arguably it’s a healthy reaction designed to help us cope.  However, in our business, the business of providing technology, it’s a toxic attitude because we can only solve problems as a team. 

Bob taught me that when a crisis occurs hold the team accountable.  The easy way out is always rely on Bob to fix the situation. Bob is not the long-term fix.  The team needs to know what pulling yourself from failure ‘feels’ like just as much as they understand what success ‘feels’ like.  Just like people know what ‘winning’ and ‘failure’ feels like, your team needs to understand what pulling success from the jaws of defeat feels like so they can repeat the behavior each time something goes wrong.  It's like muscle memory!

Tags: , | Categories: Management | Methodology | Opinion | Software Development | Staffing | Strategy

February 1116

Handy SQL Queries

 

These two queries are great when you need to apply some bulk actions...

 

Drop all FK's in a database

SELECT 'ALTER TABLE ' + TABLE_SCHEMA + '.' + TABLE_NAME +

' DROP CONSTRAINT ' + CONSTRAINT_NAME

FROM information_schema.table_constraints

WHERE CONSTRAINT_TYPE = 'FOREIGN KEY'

Drop all tables in a database

exec sp_MSforeachtable "DROP TABLE ? PRINT '? dropped' "

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