Archive for July, 2013



I’m heading out next week for a bit of a vacation from life. So don’t panic.

I’ll be back (no…no Terminator voice here).

It’s been more than a year since I’ve had a real vacation (no, moving my elderly father from Kansas to Wisconsin doesn’t count), so it’s going to be nice to get some time away.

We’re heading to San Diego for about 10 days. I’m really looking forward to it, but maybe not for all the reasons you’d expect.

You see, I’ve never been to California for fun.

Sure, I’ve been there lots, but it was always for work. You know the drill. Fly in. See the airport. See the shuttle to the hotel. See the hotel. See the conference center or the offices (depending on the trip). See more of the hotel. See the shuttle to the airport. See the airport.

I’ve probably done that 8 times in the past 10 years. But I’ve never gone just for fun. Never gone to see anything of the state.

So I’m looking forward to it.

San Diego, the zoo, Balboa Park, the Midway (that’s an aircraft carrier), beaches, ocean, etc. I hear they have good sushi out there.

I’ll be taking a bit of a blogging break also, so don’t panic when you don’t see me for a bit. I know you all are watching the blog challenge Mrs. Technocrat and I have going (still going…..) but we’ve mutually agreed to take a break for the duration of the vacation.

So, see you all in early August.


Old school

I do most of my “industry” reading on my iPad.

It’s just easier. Multiple sources of stuff in a single place?

Yes please!

It’s all searchable? You bet!!

But I noticed that there are a couple things that I still read in “print”. That’s a few of my “trade” magazines.

Let’s take CIO magazine for example.

I just had to renew the subscription and when the person asked me print or email, I (out of reflex) replied “Print please.”

I stopped for a second and thought about that. Why?

I think it comes back to habit.

I’ve always read this sort of thing in “print”. All the stuff I’ve read for years. CIO, Healthcare Informatics…etc.

I like them in print. I like holding them in my hands.

I like having them on my desk. Maybe I feel “official” having them there.

But is there really a “need” to have them in print?


So I’m thinking the next one I have to renew, I’m going to transition to format. I just don’t know about getting them in email.

I don’t like that one bit.

Wonder if there is a PDF option.

Random thoughts

Has anyone else noticed that just about NOTHING takes “C” batteries anymore?

I mean really. I found a couple in a drawer today and I couldn’t find/remember a single thing in my house that needs that specific size of battery.

AA, you bet. AAA, no problem…tons of stuff for those. D, up, just look around in the garage.

But C batteries….nope. Nada.


The mosquitos here in WI have been fucking HORRIBLE lately.

I mean I know I’m sweet and probably very tasty, but give me a break already.

I think it’s finally the lack of rain, and heat that’s causing the invasion.

Really, you can’t go outside int he mooring or evening without becoming a snack for a swarm of the little bastards.

My legs look like I have chicken pox or something.


If anyone out there has a cure for teenage melancholy or “boredom”…can you please drop me a line.

The oldest kid is getting on my nerves lately.

I know he’s a teen ager and all, but JFC.

All he does is sit in his room, play on his computer, read and pout.

Meals are inhaled in minutes and he’s back to his room.

God help me when/if the youngest starts this. Not sure I can take the drama of two of them like this at the same time.


Here’s hoping the weather (read: no rain) continues for a while yet.

Really getting tired of the archeological dig in my font yard.

It would be nice to get the work done before we leave on vacation in about a week.

I know the guy needs a long stretch of uninterrupted sun to get the stuff to cure on the side of the foundation…but we’ve had that.

Getting a bit peeved it’s not done.

/crossing_fingers = on
/crossing_toes = on


I installed IOS7 on my iPad this week and have been playing around with it.

I can offer an official verdict now having messed with it for a week.

Overall, I give it a resounding….meh.

/underwhelmed_face = on

Yeah. I’m not impressed and more than a little disappointed.

Functionality…I like. Not back. The whole Control Center thing is nice.

The new look and feel…HATE IT!.

Let me say that again:


If I wanted an Android device, I’d go buy one.

WTF Apple? This is the best you’ve got?

As to new features and “innovation”……..yeah. Those would be where?

I’ve not been this disappointed and dismayed by an Apple product in years. almost makes me want to try a Windows Phone.


A bothersome observation

As we finishing celebrating the 4th of July, something occurs to me.

As we look with fondness on the founding of our nation, It bothers me, how much we in the IT field are doing (both willingly and unwittingly) to undermine the very freedoms it was founded on.

Yes, I’m going to be a Donny Downer here for just a bit.

We read about the whistle blowers and the spying and the lying occurring in the Federal Government. The NSA spying on U.S. citizens without warrants, covert intelligence programs and clandestine military operations and secret courts, all designed to “protect” us against terrorism. You can’t look at CNN or any other news outlet without seeing something along those lines.

The general erosion of our rights and freedoms in this country disturb me. Greatly.

It also bothers me that the same people that are near riot stage anytime someone threatens to restrict the 2nd amendment don’t get just as mad when some politicians blatantly ignore other amendments. I’m mean really? Are the others not as important? What about the 4th? The 5th? Heck…that pesky 1st Amendment. Do none of those matter as long as each citizen is allowed to purchase an assault rifle and a couple thousand rounds of ammo?


We in IT need to accept a small share of the responsibility for this.

As we develop systems that house more and more data, are we asking our selves, what could happen to all this data?

Are we looking at the potential for abuse, not just from criminals and greedy corporations, but our own government?

I’m not so sure we are.

As IT professionals, when we take a job, are we even questioning the requests we get from our supervisors?

A former employee of mine used to question data delivery and usage all the time. It got to be a bit of a joke between he and I. While I respected him, he also frustrated the heck out of me.

Today, over the past few months, I’ve come to have a new respect for him.

Today, I wonder if we, in the IT world, don’t need to start looking more at what we do for the sake of the “why” and not just the “how” or “can we”.

I suspect we are on a slippery slope, and I don’t see the politicians fixing it anytime soon.

Not really sure what we can do, but we can at least ask our selves if we are doing things because we “should” or because we “can”.

There is a tremendous difference.

I think we owe it to the Founding Fathers.


I have an observation to make.

For a group of people that claim to deal with products and systems that encourage and facilitate communication, we, as a whole, suck at communicating.

I’m talking about IT people in general.

I’ve seen so many example in the past weeks, that it’s becoming frightening.

We need to face the facts. IT people are not good communicators.

Based on my extensive and highly non-scientific research, there are a few reasons why.

#1 – We are too busy.

I’m not making excuses. Everyone is busy. But IT people seem to always (I mean a constantly) be in a state of near panic. We run around like decapitated chickens and don’t really stop to try and communicate

We deal with really complex subjects and systems. Topics and processes that can impact every single aspect of a business.

And yet we rarely take the necessary time to have the discussions necessary to handle these things.

The reasons we are too busy are typical. Not enough staff, too much work, unrealistic deadlines, clueless upper management that set said unrealistic deadlines, and a general assumption that we can get our points across in twitter-like fashion.

It doesn’t work.

#2 – We rely too much on email.

This is because we are too busy.

We take complex topics, policies and subjects and try to boil them down into emails people read.

Problem is, we write too much and we do’t read them (See #1). Write too little and the points aren’t made and problems ensue.

No one wants to take the time to write an email that really explains a situation and even if we do, no one will really read it. We’ll skim it.

Salient points get lost, confusion sets in, and problems ensue.

I see it constantly.

#3 – Email as a medium sucks.

Person to person communication is a multifaceted process. People communicate with more than just words. Facial expressions, body language, tonal inflections. They all are part of the communicative process.

ALL of that is lost in email. Sarcasm is lost in email. Irony falls flat. Hesitation and doubt played out in a voice don’t exist.

Email is great for short, brief, factual communication. But when you try and have meaningful dialogue in email, it doesn’t work.

When you are trying to explain something complex, the look in a person’s eyes can tell you they are not on the same page. So you have a change to go back over the topic. They don’t have to put themselves “out there” by asking you to repeat something. You can just tell they don’t get it.

Face-to-face communications are much better. We need to get back to them.

#4 – Egos

IT people (in general) have huge egos. We tend to be smart people (did I mention we deal with complex topics) and most are very good at what we do.

So we don’t like to seem stupid or appear to be lost in a conversation. We can hide that in email. We can’t hide that in person-to-person communication.

We don’t like to seem like we don’t understand something and even though we dispute it, most of us are confrontation adverse.

Talking to someone, and more importantly, really, really listening to them is hard. It opens us to to challenge and to seem “less”.

This isn’t a bad thing in my opinion.

#5 – Meetings

Meetings have a bad reputation. Some of it deservedly.

Personal communication often requires meetings. More meeting are bad things in today’s world. So it stands to reason that we try and avoid them.

However a good meeting, run well, with a clear agenda (listing goals) can be a tremendously productive situation.

We need better meetings. Not more. Not less…better.

Fundamentally, it comes down to people skills.

IT is a technical field, but in the end, it is about manning people. It’s not about process, or policies, or computers, or smart phones. It’s about people. Engaging them, empowering them, make them more efficient and better at what they do.

It’s about people. It’s about communication.

We as an institution, need to realize that and get back to that.

If we don’t, the issues we have in out own “house” aren’t going to go away.