everyone thinks they’re special

you're not specialWhen you work for the public sector, there’s this need to create your own walled garden and make yourself the guardian keeper of something. It might be some sort of technology, system or application. It’s a status that you need and create to keep yourself useful within the system. The more dependent people are of you or of your technology, the best for you, but it’s the worse thing that may happen to the entire organization.

Usually after being the guardian keeper of something, your next step is to create a long tail of people working for you, doing repetitive tasks, not creating value, but working to keep the garden away from other people or even not improving it. The more people the merrier. Your area is then a big blob, sipping resources out of the organization, just to do keep that walled garden alive.

This not only happens with the public sector, but also within the private sector, with some small subtle changes. There everyone thinks they’re special, that have special needs and therefore need special software or solutions.

Lets take invoicing as an example. Everyone needs to invoice customers. It’s a standard, pretty much commoditized function across the company. The department A might want to charge customers in pounds, and department B in dollars, but at the end it’s an invoice, with some changes between departments. Now because everyone’s thinks they’re special, every department picks their own invoicing system, because they have special needs (subtle needs at the end and straightforward customizable into the software).

After a while, you’re going to have two or more different invoice systems across the organization, doing pretty much the same thing, but because everyone’s special, these invoicing systems don’t talk to each other or even sync data. They were not chosen to do that, if they would, then someone will notice that after all it’s not that big deal what people think it’s special. Now you need different teams to support the software or have different suppliers for it. It’s your own walled garden and you’re going to get someone to be the gatekeeper of that thing that you think it makes you special.

But, news flash, you’re not special. Your need is shared across your organization and “your need” is just a custom field into some database. You don’t need different software to do a commoditized function. After a while, instead of doing invoicing for your customers, you’re going to be the invoice of your suppliers.

So, how to overcome this ? 
Well, first of all it’s a mentality thing. You need to explain to people that all commoditized needs should be shared across the organization and instead of asking how people are doing their own tasks, tell them that 90% of what they’re doing is shared and those 10% might be just a custom development, easily achieved with the current solution. Also, soon you’re going to realize that those 10%, might be some change into the process or procedure that you’re doing wrong across different departments.

Another thing that keeps everyone out of walled gardens is having a common set of rules and principles regarding choices. If someone uses a shared invoice system, then its from the organization budget, if they’re using their own, then it comes out of their own budget. Also, having the principle of sharing data across different systems and keeping them synced is usually a turn down to get new special tools. So if someone uses a different invoice system, then they will need to integrate with the shared across the organization, out of their own budget.

At the end is about having tools for capabilities, not capabilities for tools and having common principles and rules across the whole organization.

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knowing your fears

There’s a lot of talk today around startups and how nice it is to build something for people to use or consume. Some do it for themselves (which then can be useful for others), some do it for profit or just because they feel other people needs. To achieve that goal, startups and entrepreneurs have a bunch of options. From self funding, to investment or event participating in some accelerator program.

That’s nice and pretty much a picture of what startups can be or are. But to do so, every entrepreneur has to overcome their own fears.

The fear of failing, the fear of not getting there, not having money or even to fire people. The fear their families have if they don’t succeed and even the fear of losing relationships in between.

For me the worst fear, when I did my startup, was not getting to the point of what I dreamt of. And I failed. More than once. Which gave me the fair of failing, and I never moved to another idea since then.

So, when I saw today this Mutts cartoon, it hit me hard.

fears

Before you do a startup, make a list of your fears and try to figure out a solution for them, before doing anything. The better you know your fears, the easier it is to deal with them when they hit you – and believe me, they will!

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data is like water

data is like water- Clean data is like clean water. It’s expensive, scarce and we should save it for hard times.

- If data is like water, then it doesn’t matter how much we have, but how we bottle it.

Non structured data is like sparkling water, every time you drink it you have the need to burp to make it more clear.

- The difference between tap water and bottled water is pretty much the difference between selling ads or monetizing information.

- Clients will choose between the taste of data, the bottle or label and how it was advertized.

- The secret of monetizing data will be about the source you get your water, the production line and how you pack it.

- For us to sell data, we first need the plumbing in place.

- At the end, plumbers will be expensive to sort out the plumbing for your data.

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the genius behind Apple products

Jony IveJony Ive is known as the genius behind latest Apple products, such as the iphone, iMac, Macbook, iPod and even the new iOS. So I thought that this book from Leander Kahney, a true Apple Fanboy and author of The Cult of the Mac book and blog, was something to read for. Maybe with some true insights, interviews and tech details.

But, it was somewhat of a just “meh”. Not good enough to fully understand the genius behind Apple biggest success and a true industry visionaire, as Jonathan Ive is.

The book starts with a long story about his childhood, the Tangerine company and then Apple. His first problems, the ID department, how Steve liked him and their relationship right until the end, where he became an “untouchable” inside Apple. Shows some details about the design development process and here Jony Ive got a few ideas or the trips to China to build products, but it doesn’t feature any interviews, details of the imaginative mind or even Ive failures. As usual, it immortalizes Ive as the design god and that’s it.

Personally was expecting more details on the designs Ive built, on the process, on the mind and how those creations came to reality. Bottom line; it’s something to read but not worth to buy.

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Amazon Zocalo – hands on

ZocaloAmazon has given me the privilege to test their new service Zocalo, which is like a nice dropbox alike frontend for S3.  My first initial feeling is that the whole thing is really, really fast! The upload or download seems to be faster than dropbox or box. The user experience is pretty straightforward and simple, as it should be.

Currently there are only a small set of features; to share and review documents (and having that as Word comments), but I’m expecting in the near future more dropbox options to share folders with other people or more granular actions to documents. Maybe a google docs live collaboration system ?  The 200GB per user really do the difference in corporate or even personal environments. Also, they already have their sync tools available for desktop users.

Amazon Zocalo 01 Amazon Zocalo 02Amazon Zocalo Client

If we look at it, Dropbox is a nice interface for S3 and Box.com started as an interface to S3 as well, so there’s enough space for Amazon to move around and create something better.

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the strange case of Foocall

FooCall is one of those strange cases of an application with lots of potential, yet unleashed.

For those who never used it, Foocall is an application that allows you to make really cheap international phone calls. It basically calls a local number when you do an international call, at a very cheap rate. Since most of the current plans have inclusive minutes for local numbers and not international, calling abroad can be really expensive, so Foocall uses your inclusive minutes as a ‘gateway’ for international dialling plus their own – very low – rate.

They recently upgraded their iphone app 3 months ago and yesterday the android version. It looks really good and ‘stable’. They really needed to push the android version fast, since their last version really sucked and most of the times was a cpu hog.

zackphoneWhy is it then a strange case, for such an app that only does international phone calls ? Well, first because it works, it’s cheap, it already has your phone address book, but strangely it didn’t released any chat features, as lets say, Whatsapp is. Usually most apps start with text and messaging as a feature, because it’s easy to do and scale, then expanding to voice. Now Foocall does voice perfectly well, but never started doing messaging and if it did, I’m guessing that it could easily take Whatsapp or Telegram on this. Setting up and entire voice infrastructure is way more complicated than scaling a message queueing system.

The other thing that really surprises me is that even their website is so 90′s. Now imagine it on a hipster version, doing messaging and media sharing.

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captains log; mostly doing this

windows

Lately I’ve been using Windows. No, this isn’t a OS war again, but just a personal thing. Windows 7 was really good. Now with 2012 and the 8 thingie, is really, really awful. I always defended the right tool for the job, and sometimes it was Windows, I’m that pragmatic, but these latest versions are completely wrong, complicated, bloated on the UI. Even the Windows 2012, for a server version, looks like Vista, but worse. Thank god there’s PowerShell.

 

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first world cloud problems; your code

Rackspace launched a new service, the “bare metal cloud” (more info here), because neighbours can be loud and you need some privacy and performance. Basically it’s Openstack on bare metal service and even Ubuntu joined the bandwagon with their MAAS (Metal as a Service).

Cloud Computing premise is to take full advantage of a massive distributed computing platform, automatically using and sharing resources, by lowering costs and operational effort. Metal as a Cloud is quite interesting, but saying that it solves your problems of performance and multi tenancy is like saying that you should stop using the tube and start using your own car, because you don’t like people around you and you get there faster – which is not necessarily true.

We deploy software on those cloud servers, we build services on top of software and we use the cloud to scale them or manage in an easy way. In the 90′s and 2000′s, when we had a problem with software (bad performance normally), we just bought more hardware and throw at the problem – more disk space, more memory, more cpu. 9 out of 10, bad performance was not because of the hardware, but because of our faulty or badly written software. We didn’t had time to optimize it properly, so we just get more and faster hardware.

Bare metal cloud is pretty much the same, masquerading our bad written software, with faster hardware. So, if you need more performance, maybe you should get a new look at your code and optimize it first, build it with cloud in mind and not blaming it on the cloud.

simpsons cloud

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Fire – Amazon new shopping device

Everyone’s talking about the new phone from Amazon and its new 3D features. Which are rather cool, such as the device itself. But for me the most important thing that Amazon launched, is their new shopping device. Yeap, this phone.

Firefly combines Amazon’s deep catalog of physical and digital content with multiple image, text and audio recognition technologies to quickly identify web and email addresses, phone numbers, QR and bar codes, plus over 100 million items, including movies, TV episodes, songs, and products. Simply press and hold the dedicated Firefly button to discover helpful information and take action in seconds.

This is the most interesting thing; an integrated way to do shopping, seamlessly with your Amazon account. Utterly this isn’t about Amazon taking a slice of iOS or even Android, but rather giving their customers a new device to deal with content and shopping. For me, Amazon is like the angry panda, disrupting the way people buy stuff.

Angry Panda

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opensource; the latest PR stunt from Tesla

Disclaimer: I love Tesla cars!

The Good: Tesla Motors yesterday did something that no one would ever expected. They opensourced their patent portfolio and give it to the world to use it in a good faith.

The Bad: We still don’t know what good faith is. It seems like those internet providers pr stunts of saying “unlimited downloads within fair usage”, and we know what that means.

The Evil: No, It’s not because they had 3 cars that got fire – and I’m looking at you GM. But, the electric car is quite a few billion cars away of being something mature and even considered an option (no, the world isn’t just California), so giving up on patents might even accelerate some development in this market by other manufacturers. But Tesla is more “evil” than it seems. Let me give you two examples: Tesla Station and Testa Batteries. Both the fuel for electric cars. That’s where the money is and will be; something that electric cars will need and consume on a daily basis.

We all know how the consumer printer market works. First the device (printer) is considered cheap and accessible to anyone, then the consumables (printer and paper) are quite expensive. I still remember when 3 ink cartridges costed more than the whole printer.

Printers and Cartridges

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why I ONLY share content on Linkedin

Linkedin has for some time now articles from known sources and famous people, but recently (last few months) has opened that to everyone on the network, to post longer articles as in a blog-thing-feature. Obviously that the herd started to use it to show off their skills and to “enhance network” visibility and whatnot. Minions, I say.

So a couple of months ago I got the option to promote my content as an influencer (me, right?!?) and write some interesting stuff. Which got me thinking again about a blog and since people keep asking me to return to a more writing format than rather just 140 chars, I was tempted to give it a shot.

Then I somehow stumble up the fine print and realized that I would be working for Linkedin if I did that.

Additionally, you grant LinkedIn a nonexclusive, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual, unlimited, assignable, sublicenseable, fully paid up and royalty-free right to us to copy, prepare derivative works of, improve, distribute, publish, remove, retain, add, process, analyze, use and commercialize, in any way now known or in the future discovered, any information you provide, directly or indirectly to LinkedIn, including, but not limited to, any user generated content, ideas, concepts, techniques and/or data to the services, you submit to LinkedIn, without any further consent, notice and/or compensation to you or to any third parties.

This paragraph by itself is quite amazing. Everything I would write there would be Linkedin property to do whatever they wanted to, right up into the infinity and beyond. It’s just like going to a bar with some friends and there’s a sign saying, “everything you say here is ours to do whatever we decide to”. Now, I know that Twitter and Facebook have a similar policy, but you’re not going to use them to blog stuff, are you ?

Linkedin for Old People

I still like Linkedin a lot, it’s perfect as a professional network, but that’s it. Content is everyone intellectual property and should be treated like that. So mine goes to my own blog, to do whatever I want to and decide. I use Linkedin only to share content and not as a content platform.

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when Wired goes bananas

So, Wired came up with an article regarding the new iOS 8 notifications, which in their own words are going to be awe-what for it-some! The full article is here, but when you do a full comparison with the features announced with the ones that Android already has, it’s truly amazing to see how fanboy the author is.  The best part for me is this one:

Interactive notifications will spur all sorts of new behaviors. (And yes, Android already has interactive notifications, but the ones in iOS 8 look to go beyond what KitKat can do.) Some of these will be simple, like the ability to reply to an email or text message. But they’re powerful in that you can do this without quitting whatever you’re already doing. And this interactivity is not just limited to system apps. Third-party developers can take advantage of this new capability as well, so you could comment on something on Facebook, respond to a tweet, or even check in on Foursquare. But others are going to be radical, stuff we haven’t imagined yet.

stuff we haven’t imagined yet“, because with all the others is stuff we’ve yet imagined….  To sum these new iOS 8 features;

new iOS 8 features

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the evolution of cloud competition on the magic quadrant

A couple of weeks ago I’ve wrote about how Amazon is leaving its competition behind when it comes to cloud computing – “mirrors and snails in the cloud”. So now Gartner just released its magic quadrant for 2014.

gartner mq 2014

There’s quite a notable difference from 2013, where Microsoft was a Visionary and now a Leader, while Google’s now a Visionary. Check my article about containers to find out why.

gartner mq 2013

Even if we look back at both 2012 and 2011, Amazon never left the Leader board.

gartner mq 2012gartner mq 2011

It’s incredible how things change and we can see that for future companies IT doesn’t matter (by Nicholas Carr) any more, but rather what you do with it.

 

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