ReBoot – The Joys of Road Trips

CaptureSo my son is now 2 1/2 going on “getting too old”. He is quite the little traveler having flown to India, Canada, Dubai and numerous car trips.

These days, my son has a variety of gadgets to occupy a 6 hour road trip or a 12 hour plane flight. So it has not been as traumatizing as I remember when I was on trips with my family.

On a recent short haul trip we decided to teach my son how to get a trucker to blow his horn. One of the few smile inducing actions you can receive from a total stranger while travelling at 65 mile per hour.

While buckled in his car seat and barely his head peeking out of the window he learned, quite efficiently, the fist pump. To his joy (and his parents) he was able to get about 4 out of 4 trucks to blow their horns.

The joys of childhood and fatherhood.


A CIO’s Christmas List

aciosvoice.jpg2014 has been a great year. Things are looking better. Hopefully the momentum will carry into 2015.

I have tried to be really good by being the best CIO I can. So Santa, this year, I would like the following:

  • Apple iPhone 6 plus. I have decided bigger is better but I haven’t figured out how to carry it.
  • A development team that can hit the ground running and fix code quickly.
  • An approved IT budget where I don’t have to make drastic cuts and figure out how to do more with so much less.
  • A migration plan to get legacy applications into the cloud.
  • Not to be hacked by foreign governments.
  • One of those toy helicopters. I think your elves are messing with us. I have yet to fly one of those straight and have it last longer than 3 days without breaking it.
  • A new set of golf clubs. It won’t help my game in the least but I will look cool on the greens.

Thanks Santa and Merry Christmas.

P.S. I left cookies and milk for you in our virtual environment. Please help yourself and ask your reindeer to pick up after themselves in the datacenter.

ReBoot – Golf and Big Data

A CIO's VoiceI am a horrible golfer. I am first to admit it. I struggle with having a complete game. There are days when my long game is on point and others when my short game and putting is phenomenal. It is rare that both are working together. I struggle with it because I want to improve. Like anything in life, if I was good at it from the start what fun will be that be? Maybe it is my weird sense of what fun is.

A new virtual golf business opened not too far from my home. Great little joint and the simulators help work on your game during the brutal winter months when that Polar Vertex is hovering over us.

I started to think about the simulator and the amount of data it was using to alow us to play a round of golf. Can Big Data be used to improve a golfer? Or allow a professional golfer to win more tournaments?

Here is a hypothetical – say you are able to capture the following data:

  • Day of the year
  • Time
  •  Weather information (wind, humidity, etc)
  • Course information (distance, markers, green info, etc, etc)

The above information is readily available on most golf GPSs. And clearly most golf simulators are able to capture a lot of data such as swing speed, club head angle, etc.

Now if we add the following information player specific dat

  • Handicap
  • Average # of shots played previously on that course
  • Distance made with specific clubs for that course
  • Ball type
  • How the player is playing the day of (soft data point)

Can this information be loaded into a database and be crunched and then sent to an iPad or other device to allow a player to know what club he should/or should not use and how to hit?

All this rests on if a player is able to duplicate his swing repeatedly. For most amateurs that is impossible. But I think a professional golfer can easily do that.

There is definitely a place for this type of information in this sport. 

ReBoot – Where Is My TV Guide?

A CIO's VoiceThe other day I was having a conversation with someone in there 20s and I mentioned a TV Guide. They gave me that look you get when you tell people you remember when TV sets had knobs.

As technology marches on, there are some items in print that have or are disappearing. I remember reading the TV Guide but I have not used on in over 10 years, since I got cable and use the online TV Guide.

Do you remember encyclopedias? I grew up using them in school. With the internet you can find virtually any fact you need.

What about a dictionary or thesaurus? When was the last time you looked up a definition for a word? MSOffice has made them obsolete as well or you can use the internet.

I still read a newspaper on occasion. But for the most part I now read it more often on online.

As for magazines, I do read those. Mostly on my commute home or on the plane. But now they are quickly getting thinner with more content online along with more online ads.

Maybe some day we will no longer have to print information on paper. In some ways that is great progress. But in others something nostalgic is lost.

What’s In a Name? Plenty if you think about it…

A CIO's VoiceLike all parents my wife and I had the very lengthy discussions on what to name our son when we found out he was a boy.

This was a very arduous task both opposing opinions and armies. So we had to compromise and compromise we did.

First we eliminated all outside influences – family and friends. They all had their own agenda and we wanted this to be personal and in our control. Obviously that went over very well with everyone (not).
1. My wife wanted a name of Indian origin. I was indifferent. In this day in age all ethics names sound cool. Especially in America.
2. I did not want a name starting with the letter ‘A’ or a long name. Have you tried pronouncing 16 letter names lately? Let’s not start the boy out with an unpronounceable name.
3. The name could not rhyme with some type of body fluid or other word that can be made fun of. The playground is a rough area to transverse.
4. The name had to grow and fit with him as he becomes a man and starts a career. A 40 year old man named “Tiny” or paging “Dr. Junior” just does not sound right.
5. The name had to mean something profound and have our sound be proud of it.

So we started compiling names and narrowed it down to 2 over the months. The final month before my wife went into labor we decided to refer to the baby by both names to see how the name rolled off our tongue. That was important because now we heard it out loud and in context of various conversations. We eliminated one of the names and decided on ‘Rishi’. This in the Hindu language means sage or wise one in. Number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 all covered.

ReBoot – Babies, Evil Eyes, and Charms

A CIO's VoiceMy wife and I recently welcomed a son into our lives. It’s great having a new life in our home. As we settle into life with him, we are learning a lot about him and ourselves.

I am not a believer in magic or the so called “evil eye”. I would think if such things did exist we would hear about it more often. I equate such things to Big Foot or UFOs. Nice to hear and get a laugh but I don’t lose much sleep over it.

Recently, I was cleaning my son’s crib and discovered an unusual colored cloth with some black thread wrapped in it. I thought it was odd and brought it to my wife’s attention thinking the delivery people left something they should not have. My wife quickly grabbed it and told me it was to protect the baby. “Protect the baby!” I said. “Protect him from what?” She said, “The evil eye”.

Being the inquisitive (or as my wife likes to call it — being an a**hole) person I am, I wanted to learn more. He is only 3 months old and has barely been out of the house. Why would anyone give him the “stink eye”? My wife was unable to give a direct answer let alone a name of who she thinks might do such an outrageous thing.

She quickly placed the cloth back under the mattress and told me not to touch it. Having learned to choose my battles, this was one that was not worth the headache.

So my son sleeps over an oddly colored piece of cloth and thread which is supposed to protect him from the evil people intend on causing him. I wish all things in life could be so simple….

ReBoot – The Trouble is Between the Keyboard and Chair

I have been in information technology for more than 15 years now; to this day I am still amazed by some of the issues end users call helpdesk about. A CIO's Voice

Here are some real world examples:

1. User – “I cannot my desktop on my monitor. “ Helpdesk – “Have you pressed a key and moved your mouse? Maybe your PC is in hibernation.” User – “Yes but still nothing.” Helpdesk –“Is your monitor turned on?” User – “How do turn it on?” Helpdesk – “Push the power button on the lower right of the monitor.” User – “Ohh. I see a green light and now my desktop appears.”

2. User – “My phone is not ringing.” Helpdesk-“How do you know it is not ringing?” User – “I see it flash but no sound.” Helpdesk – “Is your ringer turned off.” User-“Yes”. Helpdesk –“That is the reason why you do not hear it ringing.”

3. User – “I don’t have internet access.” Helpdesk –“Can you give further details?” User – “When I go to Explorer and type Yahoo. It says page cannot be displayed.” Helpdesk – “Have you tried other sites?” User – “No.” Helpdesk – “Try typing” User – “Amazing! Thanks for turning my internet back on.”

Just another day on the front lines of the technological jungle….

ReBoot – My Camera Is Bigger Than Yours…

I have always been curious about what makes the Average Joe go out and buy the most expensive digital camera on the market and all the accessories that go with it.A CIO's Voice

We have been to a few family functions recently due to the holidays. On these occasions, there is always the big camera guy who whips out his $3000 camera and 6 foot lens to snap a few family pictures of uncle and aunty cutting the birthday cake. We are not looking for a portrait that should be hanging in the National Gallery but a snap that captures the moment. I was amazed  how bad some of the pictures turned out–blurry, framed incorrectly, useless…. Thank god for iPhoto to help clean up some of these mistakes. Others, many others, ended up in my trash can.

I learned to take pictures with a 35mm film camera my parents both for $50. Which to this day I still have and enjoy taking the occasional filmed photograph. Outside of the cost of development I would still use it today because I think it captures the true essence of color of your subject. The ease and use of digital makes it easy for people to take pictures but to be honest it makes it almost too easy. I have delete hundreds of bad pictures from wannabe photojournalist. I did take the occasional ooops picture but I was more careful when I pressed the shutter.  However, with technology today it makes it too easy to take worthless pictures. Technology makes it too easy for the casual amateur photographer to think he is the next Ansel Adams.

If you are going to own an expense camera, a very expense one at that,  it should come with some type of requirement for you to learn how to use it to take proper pictures. Or at least tell your family that of the 600 pictures you have just taken of Uncle Fred cutting the cake, 400 of them will need to be deleted.

ReBoot – The Humbled CIO

I have been remised in writing the last few weeks for a couple of reasons.

First – Work has just gotten really busy and there have been a few issues that required me to put in extra hours. In my old age, those late nights require me to take longer to recuperate.

Second – My weekends have been spent attending weddings, birthday parties, and the occasional family visit requiring me to be an unofficial tour guide.

Third and most importantly – My wife and I are expecting our first child. So we are eagerly preparing our house for our new arrival.

We recently visited the doctor’s office for our first full body ultrasound of our baby. I must admit I was a little intimated by the ultrasound machine. Having worked  in datacenters the size of football fields filled with blade servers, main frames, and generators the size of locomotives, I was humbled by this ultra sound machine the size of a small desk that was able to peer into my wife’s stomach and show us our precious little one in 3D.

It is rare for me to be impressed with technology these days but this did. With a small scanner the technician was able to see every finger and bump in what appeared to me to be a bad black and white picture. But everything was there and measurements and even weighted were calculated.

As I sat in the room and watched it on a 45inch lcd screen next to my wife I couldn’t help but say to myself, “Damn this is really really cool”. I often forget that technology is more than processing and storage. It can be and should be used for things like this. To peer inside and give parents that feeling that everything is going well and to not be afraid of what is about to come.

ReBoot – Making a Switch to FiOS

I have been a customer of Cablevision for over 11 years. I am one of those people that when I like something I usually stay with it forever.

I have been having problems over the last year with both my TV signal and Internet. During critical time of watching “Game of Thrones” my TV signal with pixelate and skip causing my wife and I to miss key parts of the story. She was not happy about this. My cable modem on the other hand would lose connectivity again when the wife needed it the most.

I called Cablevision and to their credit they did try and fix the TV issues by digging up my front lawn and replacing an underground cable. I had the modem replaced several times with what looked like a very large car battery (I was under the impression technology should get smaller and thinner not bigger and fatter). Again the Mrs. was not happy about this. But we suffered through and called Cablevision every time we had and issue. It got to the point where we had them on speed dial and customer support knew our name.

A few weeks back Verizon had a deal going on where I could get a TV, Internet, and Phone for a cheaper price then what I was paying Cablevision . I did some research and talked to my neighbors that had Verizon and the reviews were overall favorable. I live in neighborhood where we have several choices for providers so switching is not difficult.

So I made the call, scheduled the appointment and last week had Verizon install the services. 6 hours later we had a Verizon lit house. As a technologist I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the services.

My TVs are showing in true HD. I can see every wrinkle and freckle. The TV guide provides so much information about every show. Navigation is a little complicated but it is nice to have options and different ways to get around.

As for the Internet, I got bumped up to 50mb/20mb and I am getting true speeds all day every day. There are no peak times where my service degrades.  Configuration is done all thru Verizon provided software.

Overall the move was worth it. Let’s see how it goes over the next 2 years and what the increase in my contract will be. Being able to do more with my TV and Internet is always a plus.

ReBoot – I am a Movie Junkie

The 2012 summer movie schedule is starting to line up and like most summers I look forward to going to the movies even though I have a pretty good home theater system. I think I get a little of the excitement from my father who would often go to the movies no matter how bad the movie or reviews were. My wife on other hand is more discerning and only wants to go see the artsy Oscar films that can put any person to sleep (at least the ones I have seen). Growing up there were some films that left an immeasurable impression that even to this day I still enjoy watching. These films made me enjoy watching movies and appreciate the art of making a film.

So here is my list of films that left that mark:

  1. Star Wars
  2. Terminator
  3. Predator
  4. The Dark Knight
  5. Lord of the Rings
  6. The Matrix
  7. Alien
  8. Reservoir Dogs
  9. Goodfellas
  10. Raiders of the Lost Ark

ReBoot – Happy Birthday Mr. CIO

I will be celebrating a major milestone in my life tomorrow-my 40th birthday. Too be honest I don’t feel 40 even though some say I look 50. I think it is my premature gray hair which runs in my A CIO's Voicefamily. Damn those family genes. “Color it” they say. But I could never bring myself to doing that.

Earlier this month I was depressed about turning 40. With deeper reflection there was no reason I should be. Career wise I have done more than most. The youngest senior vice president in a major bank. Successful CIO with tons of experience all before 40.  I have a happy home and a loving family what else does one need?

I think the idea of crossing a number such as 40 is the thought that a part of life is completed. My youth (if ever I had one) is over (ok that is how I rationale it). But the more I dwelled upon it; life is not stopping for me. In fact, there is so much more I want to do. 40 is my new starting point. I want to do the things that I was not able to do or afford in my 20s and 30s.Take life and conquer it. My new philosophy is to never look back, never regret, always look forward.

So here’s to 40. Happy birthday to me!