Monday, November 12, 2007

On Things Physical

I'm no spring chicken.

There, I've admitted it. For those who know me, this isn't news. For those who don't know me, I am not deluding myself into believing that they care about this. But admitting that we are changing as we age is part of the optional wisdom available from aging.

Like lots of men my age I have a bunch of aches and injuries. Sometimes -- only sometimes mind you -- when I get together with my friends, we spend a few moments enumerating those aches and pains. Fortunately, we quickly realize that we're sounding like stereotypical old men and laugh it off.

For me, I have a repaired knee, a broken back and pain in my shoulder. And I still get out to swim, ride and run nearly every day. Because if I don't...

Because if I don't then I will really be an old man before my time.

All things physical wear out. My printer wears out. I get more comments on my printer repair posting than anything else. Gosh, but I wish I could write about taking a few screws out, pulling out the bad vertebra and epoxy the broken protuberance back into place. The printer I can repair. My back I have to manage.

Another part of that wisdom thing is knowing when you need to push against the ache and pains and when you need to respect them. And it isn't always obvious. Recognizing the difference takes experience. The danger, I think, is erring on the side of not doing enough.

So, when the shoulder aches, I can choose to not go swimming. But that lets the shoulder get weaker, which makes it ache more, so I postpone swimming even more. Et cetera until I can't go swimming because I've let my body weaken to the point of unusability.

At some point, my printer will wear out to the point of being too expensive to repair. We don't really have that luxury with our bodies. All the wonderful things that we can do in hospitals are still a shadow of the miracle of our own bodies.

Use it or loose it. Even if it takes more time to warm up and more time to stretch out. No one is a spring chicken for ever. It's what you do after you've stopped being young that makes the difference.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Feeling Manipulated by the Media

I heard a news headline from the BBC that caught my attention. Something along the line of "The American military says that it accidentally killed some women and children in an attack against militants in Iraq."

I am very saddened to hear that yet more people were killed.

What caught my attention was that the focus of the headline was the admittance that women and children -- let's say "non-combatants" -- were killed. After all, non-combatants have been victims all throughout pressing of war in Afghanistan and Iraq. As a matter of fact, I thought it was odd that we had been hearing so very little about the depth and breadth of havoc and utter destruction wrought upon non-combatants. Why have we not been hearing about what full impact our presence has been having?

Is it the same reason that we, the American public, were not allowed to see pictures of the coffins of our service men and women? That was pretty strange -- it felt very manipulative. In light of the significant -- and let's leave it at that -- lack of information about the war, the news headline was highly notable for its frankness and disclosure.

You know, I wouldn't be at all surprised if we started hearing more and more about the "collateral" damage in Iraq (and Afghanistan). Almost as if we, the American public, were supposed to be seeing more things that will undoubtedly further reduce the publics willingness to sustain this war effort.

Monday, April 09, 2007

There Is No Box

Here is a concept that came to me a while back when I started my own product development company, Innovatium: "There Is No Box"

The reference, of course, is to "out of the box thinking." That was practically a mantra at a previous company. At the time it was a good mantra. Engineers had a tendency to look at a problem from their perspective and apply to it their known solutions. The Out Of The Box mantra helped to express that, as engineers, we needed to push ourselves out of our comfort zone for more creative solutions that would benefit our customers.

For example, did we really need a $24,000 multi-card computer when two $4,000 PC's networked together would do the trick? We came up with all sorts of new things following that mantra.

However, it's not enough.

The typical problem we encountered (and I lived it at multiple companies and through multiple projects) was that we were thinking outside of the engineering box, but within another box. We often failed to understand our customer, their business, their priorities, their fears, and other critical factors.

What I learned from running my own company is that there is no box, so don't go climbing into one. You are not beholden to following the "way things are done". There are problems to solve and there is creative thinking to solve those problems. Ignore good experience at your peril, but don't limit yourself to doing things the way they worked last time just because it worked last time.

Remember, remarkable things are not often accomplished by mediocre people. If you want to accomplish something remarkable, you need to be willing to risk yourself in the pursuit of that thing. Just stay focused on the goal -- creating something remarkable for your customer -- and don't get fettered by someone else's ideas about How It Must Be Done.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ooooh, this makes me angry!

A substitute teacher in Connecticut has been found guilty of child endangerment because the PC in the classroom where she was substituting was unprotected, had been infected with viruses and adware, was displaying porn pop-up ads, and she was too much a computer neophyte (and computer-phobe to boot!) to know how to deal with the situation.

Here is where I learned about it:

Here is the NY Times story (tinyURL):

Finally, here is the blog her husband has made:

This is wrong on so many levels.