update on computer count

Ok, yesterday’s exercise got me to thinking about how to minimize the number of machines/computers that I use. My first corrective action was to redefine a machine or computer and reduce the number. Today I won’t count light switches or toilet flushes, just machines that have batteries or electricity other than things like lights, heater, air conditioner, and door bell (yes that would have counted yesterday but it wasn’t used). Today the count is substantially less

1) clock
2) alarm
3) fridge
4) coffee grinder
5) coffee maker
6) second coffee maker (I was experimenting on grinding my own for a Senseo machine I got for Christmas. It was a real failure)
7) griddle for tortillias and eggs
8) cell phone
9-11) computer, network hub, internet modem
12) car (it was parked in the driveway)
13-14) iPod and FM transmitter
15) cell phone charger
16) credit card processing machine
17) golden tee video game
18-19) laptop, wireless hub
20) tv, my kids turned it on after school
21) second car
22) garage door opener (this car does stay in the garage)
23) home phone
24) ice maker

not bad. almost half of yesterday and I don’t expect to use much more tonight. Let’s see if I can reduce it to less than 10 tomorrow. It will be difficult.

how many machines/electronics did you use today?

I was reading a blog earlier today and the author wrote about how many machines that she used today. The number was a little amazing. I thought I would give it a try

1) clock – looking to see if it is time to wake up or another hour or two
2) alarm – not as long as I thought it was
3) toilet – ok, TMI but it is a simple machine with a lever
4-7) light switches to keep from tripping over stuff other people leave out
8-12) computer, wireless hub, internet connection, servers at office
13) cell phone (multiple times)
14) fridge
15) gridle to heat a tortillia
16) coffee maker
17) remote alarm on car
18) car
19) gate for parking at customer site
20) elevator (multiple times)
21) another car (to pick up my mom for a doctor appt)
22) door bell
23-25) ipod, car radio, fm wireless transmitter
26) computer at library (different from my laptop)
27) card scanner at library
28) do the electronic doors at the library count? I think so to inflate the numbers
29) another computer to do blog entry
30-33) a few more lights around the house
34) microwave to heat up some dinner
35) ice machine a little later
36) dish washer
37) tv to watch the Daily Show and ESPN
38) I just got a phone call
39) I did pull the 2nd car into the garage so it includes the garage opener
40) I went to the bank and made a deposit so the bank computers count
41-43) I made a few purchases today with credit cards. I almost forgot about these.

Ok, my number is 43. Not bad for one day. I will see if I can do the same thing next week. Some of the things that I didn’t do that are typical are the parking garage at work, the elevators at work, the escalator at work, the coffee maker at work, the fridge at work, the network for my laptop at work (but I usually don’t use the library computer), my phone at work.

Wow, this is close to my age. I wonder if there is a corrillary between the number of machines/electronics that you use and your age? Does it go up or down as you get older and at what point does it start to drop. I know that my mom probably only used 10-15 today if you include her hearing aids.

what is the next hot technology

I have been a firm believer that you should do one thing very good and do it better than anyone else. Doing this makes you valuable and your talents and resources are needed by many people. The biggest problem is what to focus on? This is the key question that makes or breaks a career. I have talked with many corporate executives and managers and they all agree that their success is part hard work, part picking the right technology, and part getting lucky by being in the right place at the right time.

This leads me to ask what is the right thing? Is it becoming a database expert? There are some new technologies inside the database and I was an operating system expert while at Sun. The database operation and management isn’t vastly different that an operating system. Unfortunately, there are way too many corners of the database to pick it up quickly. There are people in the office that have been doing this for 10+ years thus know significantly more than me.

I could become an expert in one of the corner cases. For example, I could be an expert in high availability, management, and disaster recovery since I have done this for other places that I have worked. This is a very interesting topic but no one typically wants to spend a significant amount of time focused on these areas because it takes a CXO title to make the policy decisions but a DBA credential to strategize the plan. Very few companies typically have joint efforts with the CXO and the DBA because they speak such different languages.

I could become an expert in application servers and SOA. This seems to be a hot topic for most customers. Given my Java background and experience with Tomcat this could be an easy road. Unfortunately, this does not generate much revenue since few companies develop their own software and those that do have very small groups that focus on this area.

I could focus on becomeing a .NET integration expert. Unfortunately, I don’t think that I could do this because everything in my past screams that I should run into the night. Yes, Microsoft is an important platform. Yes, Vista will generate a substantial amount of interest. Yes, I am a UNIX bigot. No, I don’t think that I can keep my sanity  and tell people that using .NET is the right thing. I would just want to make fun of them and openly mock them to their face. I realize that this is a personal weakness so I should avoid the topic at all cost.

I could focus on business intelligence and the BPEL process. This is something that I have some knowledge at but little experience. It is also something that everyone wants to know about but hasn’t invested much time in making work. This in combination with Analytics could be something that has made some sales reps successful in accounts that haven’t purchased much in the past few months.

I could hope that my writing abilities will make me rich and famous. Hey, I could make some money writing this blog. I could have millions of people following what I write and get thousands of comments every day into my inbox. I could also wake up from my sugar high from one too many slices of pie and face reality.

If you had a crystal ball, what would you say is the next hot technology? If you were given all the training resources and time to learn a topic what would it be? I guess I better take the rest of the holidays to contemplate my belly button and figure out what I want to be when I grow up. Ah, too many choices and too little time. Unfortunately, I want to learn it all.

information collaboration and libraries

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I have been working with my wife in building a school library for my kids new school. When the school opened this fall they did not plan on creating a library for the kids due to expenses. My wife thought that this was wrong and began a grass roots movement to gets books, bookshelves, and a library computer donated. This movement was very popular among the parents and over 7000 books were donated as well as money for bookshelves, time to build and install the bookshelves, and a computer to checkout and checkin books. Now that we have the basic resources to build a library, it reminds me of a problem I am having at work. How do you arrange information so that it can be referenced and indexed at a later date and how is this information shared with my peers.

What are the basic technologies that can be used to share information?

A web page? A good start but I want to make it a little more dynamic. When I was at Sun we started onestop.central.sun.com which was a central navigation tool into product engineering. It was very successful but didn’t capture day to day problems and FAQ data that people posted on a daily basis. It was typically controlled by one or two people thus the data was limited to the knowledge base of these few people and the availability of their time to update the pages. It did allow us to create pointers into engineering so that we could navigate and learn about technologies quickly.

A blog? Blogs are interesting but they don’t have enough order to them. They are typically good at recording daily thoughts and stream of events but are typically organized by calendar and not topics.

A wiki? Interesting idea since it does allow for a blending of web information and blogs. Administration of a wiki server is a little complex but I like the idea of something like OraclePedia (Oracle specific implementation of WikiPedia). This might just work so I will have to investigate more.

A portal? We do have an internal portal that everyone has access to and it does allow us to customize it to view my personal interests. The problem with a portal is that it does not allow me to create content but subscribe to existing content. If I go this route I am still locked into the question of linking in web pages and blogs that I generate. It also gives me a view of what I want to see but how do I share this with my peers?

Shared files? I can create a shared file repository with information in heiarchial format but how do I index this data without opening the files? Directory organization of information is complex and different for everyone. I can give people access rights so that they can drop files into a directory and even give them access rights that allow them to update files. The problem is that you need to open the files to read the data. It is much easier to navigate this data with a web browser and navigate it with links. Shared files typically don’t have hyperlinks that allow you to go from file to file.

collaboration has always been a difficult topic. There is no single answer for all problems. I have been looking at applying this problem to the legal industry. How do laywers collaborate yet still keep confidential client information from people who should not see the data? It seems that searching and discovery of information is critical to their industry. I know that there are legal search engines to look at judgements and verdicts of court cases. The problem with these search engines is that they don’t index and search local information controlled and managed by the law firm. Allowing this data to be indexed is potentially an issue because key words published to a public search engine like Google desktop could lead to a break in the client confidentiality. The same is true for a sales organization. Do I really want to use Google desktop to index my documentation and presentations? Yes. Do I want to index my email exchanges with people inside my company and customers? Not really. This metadata gets shared with Google. True, they have done a good job of protecting this data and not using it malicously but it does become a vulnerability out of my control. I don’t think that many CIOs would approve of using a tool that exposes them to a risk that they have zero ability to control or mitigate.