An SUV I couldn’t stand

This weekend, we rented a car to go to a high school graduation in Texas. When we arrived in Houston, I hopped out of the rental car bus looking forward to my choice of cars. There at the end of the aisle was a Mercedes SUV. I thought “I’ve never had one of those, now’s the Time.” We jumped in and off we went.

The first thing I noticed was that there were 4 (count them four) levers on the steering column. Who needs a porcupine for a steering column.

It was foggy. The first encounter with this little design gem was that one of the levers was located in exactly the same location as the wiper controls on my wife’s Chevy Equinox. The big difference in experience was that if you touch this lever, it drops you into neutral and one time even into park.

There is also a button on the console between the seats that when your hand brushes it, you are now in manual transmission mode rather than automatic. That happened twice before I figured out what was causing it. Flappy paddle shifting can be fun, but only when you expect it.

A bonus feature was that along my drive between Houston and Austin, the following screen kept popping up:

I like a leasurely drive as much as the next person, but to remind me to stop and take a break every 30 minutes is a bit much. I am driving across Texas, not to the grocery store. There is only so much coffee one can drink.

Another thing I found truly disappointing was the entertainment system. In the Equinox, Chevy has made it so the phone can display maps… on the large screen built into the car, allowing me to see the map that I am trying to follow or the progress in the podcast. Not on the Mercedes!

The final bow was when I was about half an hour from the rental return, the car decided it had enough of the Texas heat, and the window cracked, halfway across the drivers side.

I must say that for a car that costs as much as a down payment for a family home, I was a bit disappointed. Maybe that’s because the folks who buy this are looking for status and not convenient transportation. I’m out.

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First flight in months

Headed to Round Rock, TX for a graduation. This is my first flight since October and after all the issues and controversy about flying lately, I am hoping for an uneventful flight.

Based on the level of traffic at the Starbucks in the Savannah airport, it should be a quiet flight.

Hopefully, I’ll be home before the first tropical depression of the year can make things interesting.

Ready Player One

Last night, I had the opportunity to see Ready Player One and found it to be an enjoyable movie. Some folks have reacted negatively to the amount of nostalgia placement throughout the movie, but that’s nothing compared to what the book had in it – and I thoroughly enjoyed the book as have many others. In fact, it is the only book I can recall where I had multiple people actually stop me after I’d recommended reading it and claim that reading it had upset their lives, since they literally couldn’t put the book down.

It was clear that those attending the movie, who had not read the book, enjoyed the experience more than those who had not. That’s probably because the movie was only loosely based on the book (in my opinion) — no spoilers here to Joust about… They both had the same characters and the concept of ‘Easter eggs’. I must compliment Warner Brothers on the release date selection. The movie is definitely a safe one for teens and up.

We did not see the movie in 3D and frankly can’t image how difficult some of the gyrations in the action scenes would be to watch in 3D.

My son did state that he would be definitely reading the book now that he’s seen the movie. If you like the book, you’ll also like Ernest Cline’s other book Armada which also has a nostalgic feel to it, especially if you liked The Last Star Fighter.

Six thoughts on mobility trends for 2018

mobility walkLet’s face it, some aspects of mobility are getting long in the tooth. The demand for more capabilities is insatiable. Here are a few areas where I think 2018 will see some exciting capabilities develop. Many of these are not new, but their interactions and intersection should provide some interesting results and thoughts to include during your planning.

1. Further blurring and integration of IoT and mobile

We’re likely to see more situations where mobile recognizes the IoT devices around them to enhance contextual understanding for the user. We’ve seen some use of NFC and Bluetooth to share information, but approaches to embrace the environment and act upon the information available is still in its infancy. This year should provide some significant use cases and maturity.

2. Cloud Integration

By now most businesses have done much more than just stick their toe in the cloud Everything as a Service (XaaS) pool. As the number of potential devices in the mobility and IoT space expand, the flexibility and time to action that cloud solutions facilitate needs to be understood and put into practice. It is also time to take all the data coming in from these and transform that flow into true contextual understanding and action, also requiring a dynamic computing environment.

3. Augmented reality

With augmented reality predicted to expend to a market somewhere between $120 and $221 billion in revenues by 2021, we’re likely to see quite a bit of innovation in this space. The wide range of potential demonstrates the lack of a real understanding. 2018 should be a year where AR gets real.

4. Security

All discussions of mobility need to include security. Heck, the first month of 2018 has should have nailed the importance of security into the minds of anyone in the IT space. There were more patches (and patches of patches) on a greater range of systems than many would have believed possible just a short time ago. Recently, every mobile store (Apple, Android…) was found to have nefarious software that had to be exercised. Mobile developers need to be ever more vigilant, not just about the code they write but the libraries they use.

5. Predictive Analytics

Context is king and the use of analytics to increase the understanding of the situation and possible responses is going to continue to expand. As capabilities advance, only our imagination will hold this area back from increasing where and when mobile devices become useful. Unfortunately, the same can be said about the security issues that are based on using predictive analytics.

6. Changing business models

Peer to peer solutions continue to be the rage but with the capabilities listed above, whole new approaches to value generation are possible. There will always be early adopters who are willing to play with these and with the deeper understanding possibilities today new approaches to crossing the chasm will be demonstrated.

It should be an interesting year…

Nine questions to ask during a strategic shift

questionsI was talking with someone the other day about a strategic change they were contemplating and what it takes to adopt a new approach, strategy or tool. They were looking for guidance on the issues that might disrupt their efforts. Rather than just answer the question specifically, I thought about it from a process perspective and attempted to answer their need more generally:

Nine questions that will help improve your understanding of the impact and implications of events that may disrupt your plans. This approach attempts to look at the issues from the outside in.

  1. What is happening today? Look for the events or cultural trends that support or imped the change you’re trying to make. We have lots of examples today of cultural disruption and individuals being blindsided by cultural perspective, learn from their mistakes.
  2. What does it mean for others? Look at how the change will be viewed. In many cases perception is reality. Will others really need your solution?? What will it take to keep up with demand, when they do???
  3. What does it mean for you and your team? What are your motivations and will they sustain you through the entire process of change – making a change can be lonely.
  4. What needs to happen first? Every change requires a bit of triage. You can’t eat the elephant whole, so where would you start to increase your likelihood of success.
  5. What does it take to be a change agent? Unfortunately, just because you want to do something different, you will not necessarily be ordained by others as someone to follow. Do you have a vision?? Do you have the relationships needed to initiate the change??? No person is an island. To be a leader, you must have followers.
  6. Do you know what needs to be done next? Change of almost any size requires a plan. We already looked at what needs to be done first, can we make an unstoppable train of events that will carry the change through to completion – plan on it. Also look for measures of success so you can adjust along the way.
  7. When is the solution needed, is this the right time? Every change has an optimal time for it to take place. If now is (or is not) the time – why??
  8. Who will be affected? It is as important to understand who will be crushed under the wheels of progress, as who will be elevated by the change. Thinking about the implications of all the affected parties will greatly improve your plan and its effectiveness.
  9. How much investment will be needed? I’ve kept this until the end, not that funding isn’t important but based on the fact that if you haven’t thought about these others issues you probably only have a vague notion of what it will take to be successful. If you have the right camp of supporters, it can significantly reduce your funding needs. Similarly, if you’re going after the wrong market or don’t have the right kinds of support, no amount of funding will make your efforts successful.

There are likely some gaps in this thought process, but this approach been helpful over the years, maybe it will be useful to you too.

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” – Woody Allen

Babbage in motion

While I was in Seattle I had the opportunity to see one of the two Babbage Difference Engines in operations. I’d seen it before in the Computer History Museum, but never in operation.

A difference engine is an automatic mechanical calculator designed to tabulate polynomial functions. It is viewed as a pioneer computing device and was created by Charles Babbage. There is quite a complex and intriguing story about how it came to be invented and then how the device came into being at around the year 2000. I’ll not go into that here though.

The difference engine is fascinating to watch, especially the back side, which reminds me of DNA‘s double helix. I added a youtube video of it operating that has a good background narrative.

A Great Glass Blowing Experience in Dallas

For Christmas, I purchased a glassblowing workshop with a Groupon for my wife. This weekend we finally got around to going to the workshop by Aaron Tate at the Marrsart studio.

We were shocked by the range of objects they would let us make in the workshop. Sure, they had the typical glass paperweight but they also had vases, bowls, cups, ring holders… with quite a range of colors as well.

The support staff were very helpful and patient, explaining everything that was going on and why it was being done. IMG_20170319_173337789

Michelle made a ring holder and I made a glass paperweight (with little bubbles in it).

We both decided that next time we’re both going to make bowls, since you actually first create a big blub (yes, like a Christmas ornament) and then suck on the tube to pull into a bowl shape.

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That’s a picture of Michelle pulling the glass to twist the colors into it.

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This is a picture of me turning the colored glass in the furnace that will be in the center of the paperweight. I had to get it up to temperature, so we can work with it more.