Data Anxiety

Tempus fugit

#Business

“The woman in question is extremely photogenic and obviously good at self-promotion, but there is nothing strategic in the article. The big strategic error here is to regard social media and content management as a marketing issue, separate from the business model itself. This seems to suggest a lack of joined-up thinking - and ultimately a failure of organizational intelligence.”

Architecture: Intelligence Failure at Kodak - @RichardVeryard

That was a trenchant observation in its own right. It was prefaced by the following, which helps place it in context:

"There is a great deal on the Internet about Kodak’s social media strategy - but it seems to be largely about Kodak marketing communications. Journalist @Ms XYZ invites us to meet the brilliant and beautiful woman behind Kodak’s social media strategy…” (September 2011).

I think about Eastman Kodak often. I will miss Kodak’s consistently high quality developing services. Even Kodak paper was better.

@richardveryard is an organizational behavior and strategic management type. He might be one of the few examples of a career management consultant, independently employed.

I don’t think too highly of many recent McKinsey-type management consultants. McKinsey, Bain, Cap-Gemini and probably Hay Group were worthwhile, as high-end experts, at varying times in the past. Some may still be. I do believe that some consultants e.g. those who work for IBM or Deloitte & Touche, continue to offer genuine value and benefit for their clients.

The highly productive management consultant?

First allow me to mention that I am eliminating the many subject matter experts that work as consultants. There is no question in my mind that these people are likely to be worth retaining by clients, if used in an appropriate project, for work that is feasible.

There ARE other consultants, not quite as purely strategic as Richard, but close, who are worth every penny. These consultants are individuals who have deep industry or process design experience, acquired over a span of years.

Some might be in their 30’s, as one can become very knowledgeable between 21 and 35 years of age, if focused. More common, among the really useful consultants, are those who have years of experience in a variety of closely related fields. They are adaptable, despite a range of client engagements. Also, such versatility compensates for the tendency for people to become less flexible and open-minded as they get older.

Red Ted

I am thinking of a consultant that I worked with at a company where I was an employee. We called him “Red Ted”, as he was  tall, florid complected, with a lot of white hair. He seemed aloof, old-fashioned to me at first. For example, this was in Arizona, yet he often wore dark wool-blend business suits, tie, white button-down collar shirts. My boss, to whom we both directly reported, did too though. Boss was the organizational head of the Data Management and Analytics area. He had 20 programmers, data quality (DQ), and a department of 6 actuaries reporting to him. Boss was a young-ish attorney who was a wannabe-programmer. It wasn’t a good situation.

As time went on, both my group (Data Governance and DQ)  and the consultant were faced with bottlenecks in accomplishing the goals for which we were brought to the company to do. Without being given any say in the matter, Red Ted, me and the two programmers who worked for me were moved out of the Data Management and Analytics Department, to the far opposite end of the building, and relocated in a windowless area between the mail room and facilities. We continued to report to the same wannabe-programmer-attorney though.

To be continued…

Kristof plays the Drupal song on the traditional Hungarian instrument known as the revolving lute or Hurdy-Gurdy

This performance was recorded at the closing ceremony of the European DrupalCon 2008, held in Szeged, Hungary

via Nate Haug

I heard the original form, with lyrics, of The Drupal Song today, for the first time. Sorry, but I thought it was awful. THIS version* was MUCH more to my liking! It might even be okay with lyrics, and of course, the proper recording that it deserves.

Background

Drupal is a widely used, open source content management system. Drupal 7.x is the most current release, with Drupal 8 anticipated in 2013. There is a large and cohesive Drupal developer community. A surprising variety of websites use Drupal e.g. ZeroHedge.

My motivation for sharing this video  was an article written by Bryan Ruby, Leaving Drupal is Hard to Do (10 Sept 2012). Bryan Ruby created and successfully ran the CMS Report website for six (!) years. CMS Report focuses on topics in content management systems,  ”CMS”.

Breaking up is hard to do

I understand the rational for Bryan Ruby’s decision to migrate to a non-Drupal CMS. His site’s objective is to provide unbiased reviews and discussion of a variety of CMS. Also, he said that he needs to gain more expertise with a wider variety of content management systems, for his own technical currency (as in “up-to-date”), which makes sense. If he doesn’t, his CMS Report will become of limited value to readers.

A new home

The only aspect of Bryan’s decision that strikes an off-note for me is his decision to partner with Agility Inc. Agility is a semi-proprietary CMS provider. The semi-proprietary aspect is less relevant than the fact that it is, in effect, a Drupal competitor. 

There is no doubt more to the story than I am aware of. I am sympathetic to anyone who supports a family, with young children, and needs to make a decent living, as Bryan describes himself. Yet with the limited information at hand, I would think Bryan’s objectives would be better satisfied by moving to his own home-grown CMS. An alternative might be something totally free and generic e.g. Wordpress dot org, or, maybe Github.

A home-made and/ or free and/ or open platform, that would provide the ability to use the CMS Report website as a test bed for alternative CMS while being stable itself would provide the functionality that Bryan does not have now, with Drupal. It would not be compromised by even the slightest question of conflict of interest. i.e. no one would suggest using Github as a CMS for an e-commerce site or business. I doubt Github would want that either!

* This version of the song received approx. 10% more views on YouTube than the original, so maybe I’m not the only one with similar opinions on the matter.

Fewer women in technology now than in 1991

I was reminded of an article I read a few months ago about the “real reason women quit engineering.” Stemming The Tide: Why Women Leave Engineering summarizes the findings of a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee study of 3,700 women with engineering degrees.

They found that just one in four women who had left the field reported doing so to spend more time with family. And, unsurprisingly:

Women engineers who were treated in a condescending, patronizing manner, and were belittled and undermined by their supervisors and co-workers were most likely to want to leave their organizations.

News such as this can’t inspire young women to go into these fields…

What percentage of women are participating in the more technical side of technology companies? Vastly fewer than men. According to U.S. government statistics, women accounted for 36 percent of IT professionals in 1991. They now account for only 25 percent of same.

In an article last year in the Wall Street Journal [regarding] the lack of women in venture-backed startups:

Only about 11% of U.S. firms with venture-capital backing in 2009 had current or former female CEOs or female founders… Start-up incubator Y Combinator has had just 14 female founders among the 208 firms it has funded.

The “where-are-all-the-women” meme is familiar… But in start-up land, where the good idea is supposed to trump social status and everything else, the lack of women in positions of authority stands out.

— Excerpt: Tech really is a man’s world 

by Linda Forrest, Business Insider (August 2011)

GAO Audit Reveals Fed Played Fast and Loose With Loan Rules »

The Federal Reserve Bank is accountable to Congress. The Federal Reserve Bank is audited, by the GAO in particular, see link above. (What was Ron Paul thinking? He was basing a campaign around calling for an audit of the Fed. It had been in progress for awhile).

Anyway, there seem to be some irregularities about the Federal Reserve Banks’s invocation of rule 13(3), regarding loans made

in unusual and exigent circumstances
The CNBC article above provides an adequate, fairly brief summary. For the very curious about Federal Reserve Act 13(3), here is a good summary of its history and scope: History of Section 13(3) via The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

This is the complete text of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report to Congress.

UPDATE

For even better coverage than the CNBC article, peruse coverage of the audit by The New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants. Short, sweet and credible.

N.B. Update link was provided courtesy of @ManchurianDevil.

That is such an AWESOME Twitter user ID!!!

Adventures with Venture Capital outside the Valley »

Outside the Valley can be extrapolated to “outside any valley that is familiar”.

@TimBull is the author of this article. His start-up company is trunk.ly. He isn’t located in California. His “home Valley” is in Australia. The unfamiliar valley where he had his adventure was in China.

Tim Bull is candid and brave, because he shares his discouraging experience so that others may benefit.

I use Trunk.ly now and then when I remember. It is a good content aggregation tool, with additional functionality that I probably am not even aware of.

LastPass Demonstrates Impeccable Crisis Handling »

If an organization experiences a security breach, or any sort of business liability “event”, it is best to acknowledge it, and deal with the problem immediately.

What’s done is done, a sunk cost. And that is what LastPass did a few weeks ago, when it experienced a liability event.

Xerox’s first successful copier burst into flame so often it came with a fire-extinguisher

Behold!

Look what Allshare found! The Xerox 914 and it was BLAZING! Hot, that is. Not fast.

Enjoy. I know I did!

via allshare:


Behold, 1959’s groundbreaking Xerox 914, the first successful plain-paper photocopier, weighing in at 648 lbs, making a whopping 136 copies/hour.
Much beloved for its propensity to burst into flame while operating, an occasion considered so normal by the manufacturer that they shipped it with a small fire-extinguisher, euphemistically called a “scorch guard”.

Admitting failure »

The following is a quote from a clever sort named James Barnes (for full post see link above):

The development community is failing to learn from failure. Instead of recognizing these experiences as learning opportunities, we hide them away out of fear and embarrassment.

and admittingfailure.com is a website his post makes mention of.

It seems worth a glance for aspiring start-up types. Not as a scare tactic, more as a “this is the way of the world, but it can still turn out alright in the end” alert.

Goodbye Internet. Sincerely, Urlesque

bitshare:

Urlesque website logoWow, AOL just dropped another bomb on the Internet. According to a Forbes post an hour ago, AOL is consolidating again. There are several victims this time, including Urlesque. If you have never been to the Urlesque site before, check it out, as it may be one of your last chances before AOL shuts it down and folds it under their HuffPost Comedy umbrella.  What a sad day! Goodbye Urlesque. Read More

I will miss URLesque. I enjoyed their stories. Here is a recent URLesque story about Yahoo! Answers that I liked a lot. I curated two that made me laugh:

question about Uganda from Yahoo Answers

Call of Duty video game question Yahoo Answers