First, congratulations are in order to Roger Federer, for winning his first ever French Open.
And to Tiger Woods, for once again demonstrating that he is one of the greatest golfers who ever lived and who pounced on the field at The Memorial in Indianapolis this past weekend and let everybody know he is ready to rock 'n' roll at the U.S. Open in Bethpage Black in two weeks.
Me, I proved late last week why I work at IBM and am NOT a professional golfer.
My dad and I were playing in his annual Member/Guest tournament at the Denton Country Club up in North Texas, and alas, we put in our worst showing in the three years we've played in the tournament.
Despite a great start, on a course that was in impeccable shape (the greens there are some of the best in the state), we just couldn't pull it together.
But, we had a great time trying, and most importantly, the father/son time was...well...priceless.
I'm even thinking my dad and I could maybe even do one of those MasterCard commercials, just in time for Father's Day:
Four days of golf in a row with some of the best players on one of the best courses in north Texas: $750
A new Titleist cap with magnetized ball marker: $20.00
A hot dog and cold beer at the turn: $12.00
That impossible approach shot you made over the forest, that curving putt for birdie on 18, and all that quality time you spent with your dad:
Sign me up.
But whatever you do, remind me not to Tweet every last detail of my travel plans.
USA Today has a story today suggesting that Twitterers need to be more careful about announcing to the world they're going to be out of the country for a week, lest they invite burglars over to steal their stuff (which is what happened to Israel Hyman and his wife during a recent trip to Kansas City).
This raises the specter of how social media are requiring us all to learn new rules of the road, both personally and professionally.
A number of folks from inside and outside IBM will be gathering both in Yorktown Heights and in cyberspace (via teleconference and emeeting) next week to discuss some of these new rules of the road in IBM's second Social Media Summit.
Currently, the lineup includes social media experts from the likes of Comcast, Pepsico, Intel, Ogilvy & Mather, Text100, CoTweet and Google, .
If interested, click here to learn more about the event and to register.
Technorati Tags: netiquette, twitter, vacation
ComputerWorld reminds us that UNIX turns 40 this summer.
Happy Birthday, UNIX!
It was August 1969 that AT&T Bell Labs programmer Ken Thompson sat down and drafted the first version of UNIX, changing the face of information technology forever.
At the time, I was just a wee lad sitting on my pop's knee, still marveling at the fact that we had landed a man on the moon.
Little did I know how integral that operating system would become to the world, and how it would ultimately shape my own destiny.
I started my career with IBM working on a customer magazine called /AIXtra, which was dedicated to providing useful information and insight about IBM's early flavor of UNIX, AIX.
These days, I use an Apple MacBook Pro running Mac OS X, whose heritage includes FreeBSD and the Nextstep object-oriented OS developed by NeXT and, later, OPENSTEP.
My iPod Touch runs an OS X derivative, again, based on UNIX.
My Acer Inspire One netbook runs Windows XP, but sitting in the dual boot sector, an Ubuntu Netbook Remix, based on UNIX.
Everywhere I turn, there's a UNIX.
There's no escaping it. UNIX is ubiquitous.
Including at this year's Roland-Garros 2009 (better known to we non-Francophones as the "French Open")
This year's tournament is a poster child for smarter tennis, with new intelligence generated through technologies such as intelligent sensors on the court that calculate the speed of a player's serve, and real-time data analytics that gives fans the opportunity to customize the tracking of their favorite (and not-so-favorite) players.
This year's site includes the "Visual Match," which helps fans analyze matches and player technique, and the "SlamTracker," which lets them see selected players and track scores and matches.
The engine behind the site was a poster child for server consolidation, with IBM consolidating 60 servers that once powered the site down to 6 IBM Power 550 Express servers running POWER6 processors.
The servers are located at three geographically dispersed service delivery sites, but they operate as one single virtual site using IBM's PowerVM virtualization technology.
This allows the Roland Garros system resources to be automatically adjusted to meet fluctuating demands and handle up to 100 times the regular traffic at rolandgarros.com.
Last year, the site recorded 35 milllion visits from 6.3M unique visitors, and requests of over 260M Web pages during the tournament.
That's a whole lot of serving. : )
Technorati Tags: grand slam tennis, unix, roland garros, server consolidation, virtualization
In anticipation of tomorrow's 20th anniversary of the Tienanmen Square massacre in Beijing, it appears that a whole slew of Websites in China are suspiciously and suddenly undergoing "technical maintenance."
And something tells me it's not all those famous Chinese hackers I keep hearing about.
There have been numerous reports that Twitter and other digital engines of global communication have been blocked by the Great Firewall of China.
The Twitter report specifically I've had confirmed by an associate on the ground in Beijing.
Danwei reports that Fanfou.com, China's knock-off of Twitter, portrayed this message:
"The Fanfou server is undergoing technical maintenance. Service is expected to resume before dawn on the 6th."
Another site dedicated to user-generated content, VeryCD.com, will also be under "technical repair" from June 3rd to June 6th.
These are, of course, approximately the dates of the window of key events that were widely reported to have occurred in Beijing in June 1989.
But I'm not sure what everyone is so concerned about, online and off.
Apparently, nothing of real significance really did happen in June 1989 in Tiananmen Square.
At least, not according to another source on the ground with whom I spoke during my first visit to Beijing a year ago.
A colleague and I paid a nice young Chinese woman of about 21 years of age to give us a personal tour of the Forbidden City.
She was an expert tour guide, having studied the subject at university, and speaking very good English.
Once we were finished touring the Forbidden City, she walked us over to Tiananmen Square nearby and my associate made reference to the Tiananmen events of June 1989 in the form of a question.
The young lady turned her head and looked curiously at us both, as if she had no idea in the world what my associate was talking about.
I suspect, most very likely, that was because she didn't know what she was talking about, judging by the look on her face. And even if she did, she was probably in no position to comment.
I am in a position to comment, and so I will.
But only on the technological implications, of course.
Because the Chinese are so suddenly having such trouble with their Internet services, perhaps we should officially redesignate the Tiananmen Square Massacre with a more appropriate retitling, "Chinese Internet Maintenance Day."
That's how WordKu and other Chinese sites have already begun to refer to this period of June 3rd to June 6th (mockingly, of course.)
Then again, such technological challenges are not unprecedented around this time of year in China.
Many still remember Dan Rather trying to get word out with his TV camera before CBS News' live feed from Tiananmen Square was suspiciously cut off that June not so long ago, just before the nightsticks came out.
And then, of course, there's that one image, one that was distributed almost everywhere around the globe with lightspeed...everywhere, of course, but China.
That one single, brave, solitary man, in the now famous photograph, defiantly standing in front of those tanks, seemingly begging them to stop before the madness began.
Before he, too, was led away, never to be seen or heard from again.
Here's hoping they get those Internet services back up and working in China soon.
Oh...and Happy Chinese Internet Maintenance Day.
Technorati Tags: chinese internet maintenance day, censorship, tiananmen square massacre
The 2009 Rational Software Conference kicked off in Orlando, Florida, yesterday, and IBM has begun to make a series of key announcements in the software development space at the event.
Let's set the scene.
In this economic climate, making uninformed decisions can lead to costly mistakes that businesses can't afford to fix, and yet 77% of managers continue to be aware of bad decisions being made due to a lack of accurate information.
To stem this tide, organizations need to increasingly view their investments in software as strategic business assets, and therefore make better informed decisions on the current status of these software projects and the evolving needs of their businesses.
With these client needs in mind, IBM has introduced IBM Rational insight, a new investment and project management solution.
This product was designed to help business leaders measure and manage team performance and project results across an organization.
Built atop IBM Cognos software, IBM Rational Insight provides metrics and dashboards that help companies find and focus on cross-organizational issues that delay or derail software and systems projects.
It can also help ensure the right people are collaborating, and then take real-time action to help continuously improve results.
IBM also introduced a new beta program, IBM Rational Focal Point for Project Managment. This is a new solution designed to reduce the delays and mistakes that hinder software projects from meeting the needs of the business.
Click here to follow more announcements emerging from the Rational Software Conference.
Technorati Tags: cognos, project management, rsc2009, rational, software development
Man, talk about major cha-cha-cha-cha-changes over the past few days.
First, it was Jay Leno leaving "The Tonight Show" after 17 years (I still remember the hoopla about when he took over after Johnny Carson left! Could that really have been 17 years ago? Pre-Internet??)
Then there was the announcement today about General Motor's bankruptcy.
What's good for GM apparently wasn't good for America after all.
Then there was the upset in the fourth round of the French Open, with number one seed Rafael Nadal being ousted by Sweden's Robin Soderling.
All is not right with the world.
However, I do want to congratulate Steve Stricker for winning the Crowne Plaza Colonial Invitational golf tournament in nearby Fort Worth, Texas, yesterday.
True golfers know Fort Worth is sacred golf ground, with the Colonial and surrounding courses having been Ben Hogan's stomping ground (not to mention Byron Nelson!)
They also know the Colonial course ain't for the faint of heart, with a demanding track, tight fairways and tough up and downs, so congrats are very much in order to Mr. Stricker for getting his first win there.
On the Internets news front, and in not necessarily related but also Texas news, Ars Technica covers Texas blogger Lyndal Harrington's trip to a Texas jail.
Harrington allegedly said some not so nice things about Anna Nicole Smith's mother, and in a resulting defamation suit, ignored a court order to turn her PC over as evidence.
Failure to do so meant Harrington had to go directly to jail, do not pass "Go," do not collect $200.
You can peruse the Ars Technica post here, but the sound byte that most struck me was that the number of blogger arrests around the world had "tripled since 2006."
Blogging has moved into the mainstream faster than many might have expected, but in the process it has also become a key vehicle for whistleblowing, political commentary, and other important contributions to the sociopolitical realm.
In those countries where the collective is held to be in more esteem than the individual, those dissenting voices in the blogosphere have the potential to become the voice of the silent minority.
Unfortunately, the same avenue also provides a mechanism for identifying and arresting those dissenting voices before the full weight of their words can be known.
Interestingly, a quick glance at the World Information Access Project's data on arrested bloggers reveals that an overwhelming majority fall into the category of blog "organizers" or "social protesters."
They are followed shortly after by those posting comments about political figures and public policy.
As a blogger myself, I certainly don't want to find myself sitting in a jail cell anytime soon.
But I also don't want to see an important and emerging avenue for those dissenting voices become blockaded or stifled, especially when truth is being spoken to power.
Over the last five years, the WIA reports that the average prison time for "citizen journalists" was fifteen months.
From where I sit, fifteen minutes is too long, which is why the defense of someone even as seemingly innocuous and pedestrian as Lyndal Harrington is warranted.
If not, that fifteen months could turn into fifteen years and worse, and all because the opportunity to communicate via the blogosphere was limited by the confine of geographical borders instead of the marketplace of ideas.
Certainly, legitimate defamation suits should be given their day in court, regardless of media source: blog, newspaper, etc.
But in our efforts to ensure that the wheels of justice move effectively into the social mediasphere, we should also work to minimize the chilling effect that overadjudication could bring to the table when this unleashing of liberated voices around the globe has only just begun to be heard.
Technorati Tags: blogging, french open, gm, citizen journalism
It's been that kind of a day and that kind of a week, which is why I'm blogging after 6 my time on a Friday.
Let me now hold the big "L," for loser, above my forehead, but when you find yourself stuck on the phone for most of the day, on conference calls, it's kind of difficult to sit down and blog.
That said, there were some productive parts to my day. For one, I shared some insights around legal issues and social media with my wider team, and boy are there plenty of them.
I also had some good discussions on some key projects I've been involved with, and as well, some good catch up time with individual team members with whom I hadn't spoken much this week.
In the Weekly World News section of my weekly update call, I also shared some news from IDC about server sales being down 25% year over year.
On a related note, IBM announced a new Server Consolidation and Migration Services offering yesterday to help companies migrate from Sun and HP servers to IBM's System z platform, with particular help on the Linux platform.
To date, nearly 2,800 of the 5,000 unique apps available on the System z platform are Linux-based, and Linux accounted for about half of the roughly 1,000 new or updated apps produced for the IBM mainframe in 2008.
So, on System z, Linux 'R Us.
In light of this server sales drop, I would imagine there are many customers out there looking to get more work from less machines, and the System z Linux environment has proven very popular with customers looking to do workload consolidation and server maximization.
This new service is another in a long line of steps IBM has taken to help, and in fact, this past year alone IBM migrated over 150 customers across a variety of industries from competitive systems to IBM mainframes.
You could be next. : )
Check out this demo of the new migration services offering to learn more.
As for my own self, it's just about that time, so have yourself a very merry weekend.
Technorati Tags: idc, mainframe, server consolidation, server migration, server sales, System z, utilization
When I started work at IBM in August 1991, the U.S. was on the verge of a recession and, just out of my undergrad work, I was as green as they came.
It was not (to me, anyhow) without some irony that the day I started my career at IBM was the precise same day as when Boris Yeltsin stood up on that tank outside the Russian Parliament.
Things seemed volatile and about to change, bigtime.
It also never escaped my memory watching longtime IBMers walking out of the IBM Southlake building near DFW Airport in Dallas with boxes of their personal belongings under their arms, victims of widespread layoffs at the company.
Those were dark days for the IBM company, no question.
This was a couple of years before Lou Gerstner took the helm, and a heck of a time and place to launch one’s career: In the shadow of a looming recession, significant evolution in global affairs, and walking into a company that was bleeding red ink.
That image of those people leaving the building with their stuff, walking through the out door as I was walking in…well, let’s just say that that’s an impression that never leaves one.
In fact, it made me outright paranoid.
If it could happen to them, it could happen to me.
So I made a personal commitment to, no matter my role, always try to be adding value.
And even then, of course, I knew it might not always be enough. That's proven true, because since that time, I’ve seen very good people shown the door despite their best efforts.
Not because they did anything wrong, nor because they weren’t adding value…but because business needs were shifting, the workforce mix was shifting, and they got caught in the crossfire.
In light of all this, and of the current economic situation, I’ve gotten many inquiries about how to go about getting a job in this economy.
I can’t say I have a great answer. But I will share my two cents.
To be perfectly honest, I was most blessed to enter into IBM when I did, because for as bad as the situation was, the IBM culture was still firmly intact, and I had some great managers and mentors who helped “on board” me into the company. I still do.
And recognize IBM has a company culture that, like anywhere else, is filled with pluses and minuses.
The pluses are the company’s vast resources, its massive global reach, the incredible wellspring of talent, its world class technology.
The minuses? The “bluereaucracy,” the hesitancy towards risk taking, the entrenched interests that don’t look favorably upon change, the fact that it’s always been more a sales than marketing company.
For someone of my impatience and desire to do just that, to bring change and innovation, especially in the marketing ranks (and the digital marketing ranks at that), it has been a continual challenge.
That’s precisely why I have stayed as long as I have.
If it was easy, what would be the point?
It’s been a great and worthwhile experience precisely because the opportunity to participate in helping turn and evolve the Big Blue ship of state means you’re operating in one of the grandest of arenas, a multinational global corporation that has tentacles into the far corners of the world.
As I like to tell newcomers to IBM, one must take the greatest satisfaction in the smallest of victories.
Also, becoming an IBMer is a process in and of its own right.
The acculturation here is like the acculturation into a tribe. There are the initiation rituals, technological and cultural, and the various stages of maturity and adaptability.
Once upon a time, those included learning how to operate the “green machine” terminals featuring OfficeVision and Profs, requiring a command line virtuosity.
Today, they include learning how to master the more graphically-oriented Lotus Notes, Sametime, and most recently, Cattail, an internal file sharing service that has changed the way we IBMers share information (and most especially, presentations!)
Once upon a time, they included presentation foils, with sales projections and marketing plans projected on clear plastic sheets before a roomful of fellow IBMers, all of whom were in the same physical "meatspace."
Today, that same meeting would be held via our Lotus Sametime Unyte product, an emeeting in which people from around the globe would participate remotely and in real-time, with time and space irrevocably erased as a factor in the equation.
Or, let me put it this way: The only time I see my boss these days is typically in some other country when we’re both on a business trip.
Previously, you might have gone years without having been exposed to an IBM colleague on the other side of the planet.
Today, if you don’t wake up and think first and foremost about how you can help your colleagues in India, China, Russia…well, you might as well not bother showing up for work.
So what would I recommend for those of you who are looking for a job, especially those just coming out of university, in these dire economic times?
First, tell somebody something they don’t already know. The value of a new and a fresh perspective is bringing new insight into what might seem to be an otherwise static situation. If you know something or have an insight nobody else has, you’re already adding value to the discussion.
Second, demonstrate by benefit of your prior experience how you personally have helped solve a tough problem, whatever its nature or size. Because, make no mistake, the problems we deal with at IBM are extremely tough, no matter what function. The way you approached and solved a problem elsewhere could be completely relevant in solving a much bigger problem at a company like IBM.
Third, focus on your communication skills – all of them. Whatever the size of the company you work in, communication skills are paramount. Go to Toastmasters and learn how to speak with more confidence and authority. Take a creative writing class and learn how to write with more clarity and conviction. Take a presentation class to learn how to better convey your ideas and recommendations. Trust me when I tell you this is an investment that will pay off in ways you can never imagine.
Fourth, learn the art of the sale. If you can’t sell yourself to a hiring manager, you will certainly have a difficult time making the sale to our customers or your internal constituency. If you can’t find your dream job right now, go get a job as a salesperson and learn how to sell something to somebody. It will help you gain confidence and assuredness as you work your way towards your ultimate goals, and it will certainly make you remember your job in marketing or IT or whatever endeavor you go into is to help your salespeople. They are the lifeblood of any business.
Fifth, be flexible and humble. Countless Hollywood agents who started out in the mailroom went on to manage the careers of high profile celebrities. Why? Not because they were making copies, but because that’s where the information flow was, a flow which helped them better understand what was going on at the core of their business. So, be willing to get the coffee or provide the sandwiches or make the copies or whatever other seemingly mundane tasks are needed. You never know in so doing whom you might meet and what you might learn from them.
And finally, work your network and be persistent. You know somebody who knows somebody who can help you get a foot in the door somewhere. If not, find somebody who does. That’s working your network, and doing so can help eliminate right angles that could otherwise prove obstacles in your quest.
But most of all, be persistent, and when the door of opportunity does finally open, be prepared to seize it.
The great English poet William Blake said it best: "If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.”
You would become wise to be persistent in your pursuit of employment, particularly at this moment in time.
And know that the journey itself will provide valuable lessons along the way, ones which – hopefully like this blog post – will fill your treasure chest of memories good and bad that will allow you to share the benefit of your wisdom.
In the meantime, happy hunting.
Technorati Tags: employment, human resources, ibm careers, job hunting, college grads
I survived the sharks, the sea turtles, the anemones, and even a major election in Grand Cayman.
But I also survived being (mostly) unconnected and blogless during my scuba vacation.
I did so at the strong encouragement of several of my friends who follow this blog on the Internet Evolution site.
And boy oh boy, did they have some strong feelings about my not blogging during my holiday!
Auntie NoNo observed that "This is VACATION. This is not WORK time. It is meant as a time for bodily and spiritual rejuventation. Commune with the rays, not the hum of a hard drive."
DHCIR piled on, suggesting two blog posts would lead to three, three to four, and so on, and that I should get away from the "addictive" blah-gging.
Being the crowdsourced kinda guy I am, I followed the advice of the crowd and focused most all my attention on vacation and didn't write a single blog post while on holiday (well, not a work-related one, anyhow).
But also in the spirit of crowdsourcing, SteveGNYC remarked on Internet Evolution overnight that he would "love to hear from you upon return," specifically (a) that you did not become snacks for sharks" (we're okay on that front, Steve, unless I were writing this from the stomach of Jaws!), "but more importantly, (b) how did you feel not checking in, tweeting, blogging, calling, texting, etc.
Well, first off, Steve, to be perfectly honest, I didn't completely cut myself off.
Electronic communications are so integrated into my life these days, even though I didn't spend much time focused on work, I still used the digital media throughout my vacation.
My room had a powerful wi-fi connection in Grand Cayman, and it became my daily ritual to post videos I shot on my morning dives of the fishes and turtles up to Facebook.
By mid-afternoon, I'd have a whole peanut gallery full of commentary on my Facebook wall from friends, colleagues, family members, etc.
That was a whole lot of fun -- it was like all my friends were on vacation with me, looking over my shoulder and adding their witticisms via the Facebook comments feature.
Mind you, I'm very much a knowledge worker, but posting a video on Facebook doesn't take an excessive amount of knowledge (in fact, it's probably one of the easiest things one can do on Facebook!), so I didn't feel as though posting videos was treading anywhere close to work territory. And I got a real kick out of hearing from my friends in near real-time.
But Steve, to get more to the point of your question, I also felt just fine about not blogging for the entire week.
Auntie NoNo was absolutely right, vacation is just that.
If I'd have been posting throughout the break, that meant I would have had to have tuned into the blogosphere information flow on all things IT and digital media, which meant I really hadn't cut the umbilical cord.
As the old adage goes, a vacation is what you take when you can't take what you've been taking any longer. It should be just long enough that your boss misses you, and not long enough for him/her to discover how well he/she can get along without you.
Boss, I'm back, I'm blogging, and I sure hope you missed me while I was gone...even if just a little.
I'm taking a few days off to head down to Grand Cayman for my first scuba diving trip there.
Not unlike last summer, when I was diving off a liveaboard boat down in the Belizean Carribean, I reserve the right to completely disappear and disconnect for a few days, which means you may not see any blog posts.
Barring any unforeseen and misfortunate accidents in which Turbo becomes a Scooby snack for some hungry sharks, I should be back, online and blogging again in a week or so.
Of course, because I'll be on an island that has a reputation for being a global financial services center, I do reserve the right to find my way to a wi-fi connection in a quaint little spot and write a blog post or two.
That is, of course, when I'm not in search of the rare and elusive Caribbean Torpedo Ray.
Technorati Tags: diving, grand cayman, torpedo ray
I'm back at JFK and getting ready to get back on an airplane to head back to Austin.
But I won't lie, I had a great time visiting my friends and colleagues in NYC (even former colleagues, whom I don't see nearly enough of), and had the opportunity to have a dinner last evening with a number of said colleagues.
A la table, we discussed the IBM smarter planet initiative (well, we didn't talk only about that), and I think we all agreed IBM needs to help build a smarter traffic system for NYC!
While we get right on that, I wanted to celebrate an announcement that emerged yesterday from our offices in Brussels, Belgium, and La Gaude, France.
Both are places I've visited over the past year, and with the announcement of our new Global Healthcare Center of Excellence in LaGaude, IBM is stepping up its investment in creating smarter healthcare by helping IBM healthcare clients design and create healthcare and life sciences solutions that improve care delivery, predict and prevent disease and enable smarter individual health and wellness.
From this base at the IBM Business Solutions Center at La Gaude, the Centre of Excellence will draw upon the knowledge and expertise of up to 4,000 IBM healthcare IT and healthcare process experts worldwide.
Very exciting stuff, and from a world-class location (you should see the view of Nice from the La Gaude office. Mon diue, c'est magnifique!)
Congats to the teams in Brussels and La Gaude on building this important new practice.
If you'd like to follow the IBM Healthcare and Life Sciences news more closely, you can subscribe to this RSS feed.
Technorati Tags: brussels, la gaude, ibm healthcare, smarter healthcare