Tag: Ipad

Open letter to Apple

Open letter to Apple

Dear Apple,

It would seem to me that creating an environment where your products have designed obsolescence is wrong on any number of levels.

“An aging relative thought he might like to read on a Kindle type device.  I took my working IPad version 1 and reset it to its factory original specifications.  I then made him an apple account on iTunes and attempted to download Netflix, Kindle and some other games he might enjoy.”

My plan had one major flaw that I had not anticipated.  Not only do all apps require an IOS of a later date but, I cannot update to any more recent IOS that was on there because it is no longer available. The latest IOS will not support the iPad 1, and I suspect the iPad II may be close to becoming obsolete as well.  Since this was my first iPad and I have moved onto the II, IPad Air, and the Pro, I no longer had the backup from that iPad version 1, making it now a paperweight.

Might I suggest that you make available the latest IOS for those devices and a cache of apps that will work with them?  I realize that this might affect people buying new iPads and phones and such vs. keeping their old ones going a little longer but, each phone and each iPad was not cheap. While they may not be a primary device, they will still play a movie or music and serve some purpose vs. filling a landfill.

In the previous case mentioned, a tablet running Android IOS for $100 took care of everything that he needed.  While I would have preferred that he was able to use my iPad 1, I was not about to drop $1000 for a tablet to read, play games and maybe watch Netflix on.

I still have my first iPhone and use it for music, the same is true with the 4S. These are great for plugging into your car.  Even with the cellular service terminated, it will still function to dial 911 in a pinch.  It of course also has your music which plays nicely through the stereo, replacing the iPod.  The apps that I purchased at the time still work beautifully as well.

I must admit that I find it curious how the old updated iPhone 4s performs nicely compared to my 6S which has become slower and slower with every update.  Is that my imagination?  I think not.

The PC industry has been guilty of this for years, although one could blame it on programmers designing software on the latest and greatest hardware.

What we used to refer to as “tight code” is no longer necessary as programmers have terabytes of space, gigahertz of speed and of course gigs of memory to store that slack code in to.

Programming back in the day, was probably more of a challenge than it is today.

Whether the hardware drives the software industry or the other way around, it is the consumer that gets the short end of the stick.

Apple should have a place where one can obtain the latest IOS (or last available) for their particular device, and apps that were written for and worked with that version of the IOS.

While the tail rarely wags the dog, as we are learning with recent events, consumers, if rallied and coordinated, can wag the dog.

Should we organize a campaign to wag the dog?

My two cents!

 

Scott

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To Lock or not to Lock

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This is not the first time that I have written about air travel.

On a recent trip the bags went one way, and the passenger another.  Now if you tried to do this deliberately, you could not orchestrate it but; trying to keep the bag and passenger on the same plane is proving more and more difficult.

The bag finally was returned a week later, and after many phone calls to several different airport personnel who did not have a clue or care. It was almost as if, “hey you are bothering me, I am just here to draw a check, not actually do something!”  I was going to say I may be exaggerating a little but actually no; not at all.  This was the attitude! When asked for her name she would not give it.  Hmmmmm…  And we wonder why the airlines have to cut services, charge more for the services that they still do have, and are still going broke.  Get rid of the dead weight airline people!  Grow a pair!

Usually; when my bag has been rifled through, looking for god knows what; there is a lovely piece of paper in it telling me that it was searched.  “Like I need a piece of paper telling me that my once neatly folded clothes, now appearing as if some gorilla had worn them for a week was not clue enough.”  Still, some notification of who did this would be nice.  On a recent trip the bag was searched, the lock went missing and there was no piece of paper.  Can we no longer afford the paper or did somebody else go through the bag?

These locks are not cheap and for my money not very secure either; as we have no idea who all has the magic “TSA Key”.  I am guessing that there are more than a few baggage handlers who have them in their possession.  So where are all of the missing locks?  A quick look on eBay and I found several “lots of airline TSA approved locks all set to 0.”

I wonder if the seller either works for the TSA, or has family or friends that do, surely not, they surely would not be that stupid.

Here is another issue with this.  I realize that this puts me out there with the conspiracy folks but what if someone wanted to use your luggage to smuggle something out of the country or state, or into the country?   If the luggage (with the payload) makes it through, it then is simply intercepted at the other end. You file a missing bag claim and nothing happens as nobody gives a damn anyway.  You chalk it up to the lousy airline, buy new stuff and write a blog about how crappy the airline is.  But what if the TSA actually doing there job while trying on your clothes, finds the “payload.”  Then they get all puffed up thinking they have found the “bust of the year, their name will be in all of the papers and they will be a hero to women and children alike!  Wheaties will even want to put their picture on a box and they will get money for their likeness being used!” Well, maybe not, maybe then just a simple promotion for doing their job.  Meanwhile; you get arrested and have to explain “the payload.”  Like who would be stupid enough to put something illegal in their own bag.  Well, some idiots do and thank goodness that they do or there would be nothing for the “locked up abroad” folks to write about.   I digress.  Think about it though. Because your luggage is now “unsecure” what if?  Do you realize that in a lot of countries you are not presumed innocent, until proven otherwise?

While the TSA is doing an excellent job of feeling up old ladies and small children, and of course looking at everyone’s “rude bits,” I would be a whole lot happier if they would secure my luggage with cameras, people and of course honest TSA agents.

My advice for now, use a carry-on if you can. Consider shipping your luggage via USPS or UPS or even FED-EX as even that would be cheaper than trying to prove to someone in Bora-Bora, that the drugs or money or what have you in your bag, are not yours.

Failing that, save some money, Use a cable tie to lock your bag.  It is too much trouble for the average baggage handler to cut off, and if the TSA wants in there, they can cut off a lock, they can certainly handle a zip tie.  Put a few extra in your carry on, purse or wallet for the rest of the trip and leave nothing of value in your bag.  Realizing that some Blue Jeans can sell for over $200 a pair (you know the ones with holes in them,) you may want to wear them.  Besides, if they have enough holes, the TSA will have less to grope!

It seems a sad state of affairs when the people who are providing a service think that it is ok to steal from you.  It is equally sad that Americans and for that matter anyone that travels by air; is forced to submit to this treatment.  A major news outlet actually did something that was not politically motivated by taking part in apprehending two TSA agents who on two separate occasions absconded with two different iPads. You would think that in this day and age of cameras everywhere, that the airport folks could put some security in the areas where people’s bags are.  Now that we know what is in everyone’s underwear, how about turning the cameras on the fox’s watching the hen house?

-Best to you and those that you care about!

Information Technology then and now

Information Technology then and now.

Having started in this industry when IBM Selectrics were the only game in town, I have seen many things come to pass.  I have witnessed the end of Greg Shorthand to dictating equipment to word processors and finally executives typing out their own letters and e-mails.

Back not so long ago an executive would dictate a letter to a secretary who would go type it up and return it to his inbox for his approval.  During this process he would change something and she would once again type it up and return it to his inbox.  This process could take the entire day to generate one letter.

The dictation machine came about; and the secretary with Greg shorthand know how, turned into a secretarial pool where somewhere in a smoke-filled room several typists, typed letters and submitted them in similar fashion.  The letter would be accompanied by the tape or in the early days a “dictabelt” or even a wax cylinder.

In the late 70s the word processor came about in the form of a typewriter that could save the keystrokes to a magnetic card.  When the letter came back for revisions the card would be placed into the slot on this huge box that sat on the floor next to the typewriter and the typist would hit “play” and the typewriter would come to life regurgitating the keystrokes until she got to the part that needed to be changed.

It wasn’t too long after that the true word processor was born in that there was a green screen and one typed much like I am doing now.  Editing was not near as simple as this, but it was a huge step up from the manual typewriter.

Before Bill Gates and Steve Job were household names, Xerox, IBM, and Burroughs, not to forget Unisys, Pitney Bows, and Wang, were the big boys.

No one expected that college kids in a garage with a rudimentary understanding of business would revolutionize the world with what we have today.

I met Steve Jobs while working for a company that had one of his creations for computers.  The NEXT computer which was a UNIX based computer that had a GUI that was semi user-friendly. The cases to these computers for whatever reason were crafted from magnesium and shaped like a pizza box or a Borg Cube however; the wiring of them regarding the keyboard and mouse are very similar to what apple is today.  Little did I appreciate at the time the man who started out his career as a techno-criminal by phone freaking, would be responsible for my Smartphone and my beloved iPad. For this alone I am eternally grateful.

As technology is an ever changing target the personnel also have to be malleable and willing to learn, grow and in some cases leave.

After I placed a pc on one secretaries desk and after she had been to training I walked by her one day to see her making a spreadsheet with a ruler and paper.  The PC and Lotus and the secretary were not working well together.

Technology is one part of the equation when it comes to business.  Finding and keeping the proper people is a challenge that can make any CEO’s head spin.

Through the years a niche market evolved from the early days of Novell.  Novell was one of the leading networking companies long before Bill Gates came up with a server OS.  I have worked with their products since ver 1.X.

Novell made a good name for itself early on.  They came up with the idea to “certify” hardware for their product.  The manufacturers of hardware would submit their hardware to Novell and pay them to evaluate their hardware and then put the “Novell stamp of approval” on it, which of course drove the price of their equipment up and made their equipment more in demand.

It wasn’t long after that, they came up with the idea of “certifying” people.  This certification process begat a whole new industry across the entire technological spectrum; the training and testing and certifying of people.

The problems with this are many, and the industry is fraught with deception.  Many people can take a test but cannot physically do the job.  Technology is forever changing which requires ongoing certification classes or CEC.  The cost is very high and the certification may be short-lived.

It did not take me long as I started making my way through the classes and certification process to figure out that this was simply a way for Novell and others to make yet more money.  In fact today there are certifications for damned near anything and everything.  The industry standard as a whole is some sort of certification.

While this may give a hiring manager some quantitative measuring stick to know if John Doe is who he wants to hire as a technologist; myself as a hiring manager, I can tell you that certifications were the last thing that I looked at.  As I worked my way up from the lowly support person to Director Level, I could and can speak intelligently about technology and I can tell if someone is full of….well crap.

The classes and certifications are so expensive that very few people will invest their own money to get them.  That means that some company paid for them.  Again as technology changes the weight of their certification looses validity much like a new car looses value, once you drive it off the showroom floor or in the case of technology, the next day.

Years ago I interviewed for company for a project management position.  I could talk about projects and milestones and task and deliverables all day long; without that certification this guy was not interested. My guess is that he had no idea what a project manager was and the certification was the thing that would do his job for him.  Keep in mind that I had been doing this before there was a class and the PMP certification did not exists.  I could in fact write a book on it.  I was doing this before Microsoft ever thought of MS Project.

When I hired project managers I would ask them to tell me about a project that they had done and I would look for certain details.  The certification was superfluous to me.  Can they do the job? Can they tell me how they can tell  the health of their project. Can they articulate themselves well, verbally as well as in writing? Do they work well with others?

Personnel can make or break a company.  As a troubleshooter not only do I have to determine if the technology is the right fit for the business but, I often have to figure out if this person is the best fit for this position at that company. The problems are indicative of the industry.  As the technology increases or evolves the personnel must change with it, and in fact embrace change because that is what this industry is, “change”.   Information technology is a very fluid dynamic field.  Unlike history or geology, computer science changes with the next program or hardware modification.

One of the issues that I see often is that the higher up the food chain, the more the person in that position does not fit.  When one gets up into the management area where titles are involved, the duties and responsibilities seem blurred.  When there is a failure, the high up individual always seems to have a way to have a subordinate fall on their sword rather than owning up to the fact the he or she is at fault and may need training, be repositioned within the organization or retire.  I knew this as the “Peter Principle.” Simply stated, as one stays within a company long enough he or she is promoted to a place where they can no longer function, as their skill set or intelligence is lacking.

One way to flesh this out is to insist on a root cause analysis of the failure.  Truthfully this should be done every time that there is a failure so future failures can be avoided.  Obtaining clients is an uphill battle, loosing them over an unnecessary screw up is simply not acceptable.

Too seldom will one ever see a CIO take responsibility for his lack of knowledge or forethought as his own ego will not permit him or her admit that, they may be the problem.

Teaching people to own their mess ups is something that we have lost with this new generation of kids coming fresh out of college and expecting a corner office.

I have worked for many CIO’s that were more interested in the bottom line than their job.  My guess is that their boss had incented them to save money so their actions were predicated on not what is best for the company necessarily but what do I have to do to meet my budget or come in under; so I get my bonus.  This is often done at the expense of the company and or personnel.  So in that light, I have decided to define what a CIO is.  See how closely this matches how you define your CIO or if you are one, does this fit?

One of the CIO’s that I know about did not even have a computer at home and when PDA’s were making the scene and everyone had one, he still used a pocket notebook.  This man was the very personification of Scrooge and had no business in that position, but like his boss they were both cheap to a fault and would look for ways to save a dime while costing the company thousands of dollars in lost productivity.  Why, lost productivity is not quantifiable if they never recognized it in the first place.  If on the other hand they had it and one removed it, than they would understand; much like cutting the internet off after they had incorporated it into their business model. This is a serious lack of vision.

So here is my definition of what a CIO is.

A Chief Information Officer (CIO) is responsible for providing the leadership, management and strategic technological direction that will enable the company to achieve its business objectives in a competitive environment. The CIO drives technology enabled innovation to improve the company’s performance and competitive advantage. The CIO champions innovation initiatives through a demonstrated ability to creatively apply emerging technologies to mature business processes in order to improve business performance. The CIO must strengthen the company’s core enterprise technological capabilities and leverage the expertise of third party suppliers and partners. The CIO should work closely with customers, partners, colleagues and other stakeholders to identify and maximize innovative opportunities to use technology to improve business processes and optimize performance.

While having a keen understanding of the business, the CIO should be able to sell his or her ideas to the board of directors, CEO and CFO explaining what the ROI is as well as the TCO.

In short the CIO must be a well-informed technologist with a good understanding of the business model as well as others in that industry and must be plugged into what is current and emerging in the market place to know when and what to explore.

In 30 years of Information Technology I have known one such person.  The rest were neither capable nor qualified to be where they were, they simply had good people around them or they were there because they knew someone.  While there is something to be said for surrounding yourself with people smarter than you are, the sad truth is if they are doing your job, than they are not doing theirs.

We live in an ever evolving world where technology is involved.  There is a term called LOAR.  LOAR stands for Law of Accelerated Returns.  Technology does not evolve linearly; in fact it evolves logarithmically meaning that it builds upon itself.  In the early 80’s we had a CPU that ran at 4.7 MHz and now 33 short years later we have laptops with multiple core CPU’s running 3 or more Gigahertz or GHz!  The technology in our smart phone is far superior to all of the technology that went to the moon in the 60’s!  In a few years your computer or smart phone may guess what you want to look up or what you want to do and start the process before you tell it to.  Advances in the next few years will be amazing and frightening at the same time; there is no going back.  Much like Pandora, once the box is opened we deal with what comes out.

One of the things that I happen to be very good at is going into a company which is having some sort of issues and fixing it.

As a troubleshooter, I often have to go into a company and look at how they are doing business.  What is their infrastructure like?  Were best practice standards followed then and now?  Is there a living document that defines all that is? Has someone like a programmer, been promoted into some management role when they have little or no management expertise?  (That is a common one)  What does your disaster recovery plan look like?  When was it last tested?

This is a very small example of the things that I look for.  When my deliverable (report) is examined by the principles of the company there is often to borrow a term from Bush II “shock and aw”.

Few CEO’s have any idea how tenuous a foundation that their data center is built on. Why, because they trust their CIO and ignorance is bliss.  Even the most astute CIO should have his data center, processes and procedures, looked over by an outside entity that has no dog in the fight.  An outside firm simply looks at what you are doing, how and why and balances that against best practice techniques.  These things often turn up in disaster recovery exercises which turn out to be a lot of ad-hoc work.  The company is better for it and it gives them some metric to measure their staff against.

While the word “Audit” dredges up some scary moments and thoughts the CEO should demand it!

The odds are good that the CEO and above consider information technology a necessary evil.  While it is most likely a cost center, the principles of the company would be wise to understand that without it for three days, the company may very well cease to exist! The marriage of technology and business is here to stay.  While the romanticized idea of a young pretty secretary taking short hand has some appeal, those days like the typewriter are gone.  With the evolution of sexual harassment rules and the overly litigious nature of things today, this is probably not a bad thing.   CEO’s should look at technology and those who maintain it as partners, because they are.

-Best