Monday, May 27, 2013

My Commencement Speech

If I gave a commencement speech this is what I would say.
This time of year is filled with commencement speeches and pockets of wisdom from many public figures directed at college students.  My favorite was by Senator Elizabeth Warren. Twice in my academic career, I asked to be a commencement speaker when I received my associate’s degree and when I received my masters.  Both times, academic and community politics got in the way with me sharing that message.  Someday, I am going to be a successful entrepreneur and when I am there this is the speech I am going to give.  Enjoy.

Thank you Madam President and fellow students, I am deeply honored to be here and to be a small footnote to your lives.  You see on a day like this you have a lot more things on your mind that what some middle aged portly man has to say about life, the universe and everything.  As many of the fine arts students who have read Douglas Adams can attest the answer is 42.  All kidding aside, you are more interested in where you are going to have dinner, visiting with your parents, and figuring out what to do with the rest of your lives.  This is heady stuff and important.  You know how hard it is to get a dinner reservation in this town tonight.
That said I do want to leave you with something besides my vain attempts at humor.  Today is one of the biggest successes in your life you have entered a very elite group of people you are college graduates.  According Harvard and the Asian Development Bank, only 6.7 percent of the world population holds a bachelor’s degree.  You are not quite the 1% but you are damn close.  You are roughly the one in twenty people on this planet that can boast this kind of education and experience.   But you didn't get here on your own it took your family and community to get you here.  So for a brief moment can all the parents, siblings, spouses, friends, and significant others please stand up.  Give yourself a hand because these graduates are here because you helped them get here.

Like I said, today is a big deal.  This may be the biggest success you have in your entire life but I want to leave you with a little nugget wisdom on this big day.  Today you embrace success, but now that you are graduates you will be confronted with failure.  How you deal with failure and hardship will define you for the rest of your lives.  I am sorry, I am harshing this happy occasion but it would be wrong of me not to share the wisdom I have accumulated over the years.  Failure is necessary.  Failure is pure.  Failure educates in ways that will remain with you the rest of your life long after your American Literature finals.  Many of you have been scared of failure and have done everything in your power to avoid it.  I have some bad news for you.  Failure will find you and grasp you in its unjust embrace.

My father had a sign on his desk which said, “The only people who never fail are those who never try.”  It was a dose of wisdom that as a twenty year old graduate, I mocked.  As a middle aged man launching his own business, I understood.  As a culture we are frightened of failure.  I have known people who have failed who were treated like those afflicted with leprosy by their friends because they were afraid that failure was contagious.  I have seen careers end because of failure. I have seen people end their own lives because they could not cope with failure.  It is sad because I have learned that failure is just another way that human beings learn and grow.

I have failed in so many ways in my life.  I am twice divorced.  I do not have any children to carry on my name.  I have been fired from several jobs because I struggled to conform to what I thought were ethically dubious situations or take grief from someone I though was not my equal.  On paper, my life looks like a failure.  I beg to differ.  I am my own boss and lead an organization that employees many people.  I have finally earned some financial independence and I can support my parents in their old age.  Finally, I wake up in the morning and can look myself in the mirror without feeling profound levels of contempt and rage for the petty compromises I have made in my life.  I have gotten to this point because of failure.

The playwright Arthur Miller said, “…possibly the greatest truth we know, have come out of peoples suffering.”  This from a man who was married to Marilyn Monroe; I get the feeling he did lot of suffering.  We suffer because of failure.  People are greedy, mean, selfish, and crazy.  And that folks is just on the good days.  Add personal pride, money, and sexual gratification to the mix and you have a recipe for suffering and failure.  I know.  I have been in those situations and I am sad to report they don’t sell t-shirts.

What I have discovered is that during these profoundly dark moments, I have learned something.  Failure educates in ways that cramming for an exam does not.  It enlightens because I illustrates who your friends are.  They are the ones who will stand by your side and support you went others will turn away.  Failure shows you what your limits are and what you need to do to overcome them.  Failure is the reset button of your life because when you fail the only way to go is up.

It is said that there is nothing worse than a failure.  I disagree.  There is nothing worse that someone who doesn't learn from failure.  There is nothing worse that someone who doesn't grow after failure.  There is nothing worse than someone who repeats the same mistakes to fail.  Finally, there is nothing worse than someone who wallows in failure.  It is not wrong to fail.  It is wrong to fail and not gain something anything from the experience.

I come from a community of technologists known as the agile community and our motto is to fail early and often.  So today on one of the greatest days of success in your life, I want to remind you that failure is coming.  Fail early and fail often.  Don’t quit trying.  Don’t give a crap about what others think; because at the end of the day you sleep with yourself and you better learn to like that experience.  Look in the mirror and know that you have done your best and then do better the next day.  Life is unfair, cruel, and short.  Don’t be like life.  It is not a question of if you will fail but when.  It is that test of your character which will define you for the remainder of your life.

Fail early and fail often, because inside each failure is a nugget of wisdom which will lead you to greater success.  God Speed, go forth and fail.  I will see you on the other side and then we will have stories to share and a world to change.

Congratulations and God bless you and your families.

Monday, May 20, 2013

About Darn Time!

HTML5, it makes me want to get my
hands dirty with web development.
I am working on a site redesign and I am pretty excited about the process. One of the best trends in web development is the interlocking technologies of JQuery, CSS 3, and HTML which form the group of technologies collectively known as HTML5.  In this issue, I want to speak briefly about why HTML5 is such a big deal and why you mister small business person should pay attention.

I have been working in the web business for over 15 years.  In that time, I have seen technologies come and go.  One thing that never changed was that web browsers from different manufacturers behaved differently.  Internet Explorer treated the way pages were displayed differently than Firefox.  It was and still is a mess.   But thanks to the HTML5 technologies and a strong push for standards across all web browsers things are looking better.  They will never be perfect but they are getting better.  For instance, rounded corners no longer require graphic arts wizardry and countless HTML and CSS hack to place a simple design element on a page with round corners.  

What does this mean to your business? First, the HTML5 technologies finally make it possible to build one web site and have it display differently for any type of screen resolution.  So your company web site will now look good on a smart phone, tablet, and desktop web browser.  It also means that changes to your web site can be made in a swifter manner to meet market needs.   Next, JQuery and JQuery Mobile make your web site behave more like client server applications of old.  Now, you do not have to wait for round trips to the server or database refreshes when you only want to hide an element on the page.  Finally, HTML5 is being treated as a development environment for Windows 8 applications and in other mobile environments.  I consider this progress because Apple requires iOS and visual C to do development work, while Android requires Java, and Windows 8 requires Visual Studio and C# or Visual Basic.

HTML5 is an important development and an ideal choice for a small or medium sized business and its technology choices.  Drop us a line and we will tell you more.  

I am glad that after fifteen years we are at this point of web development.  It should not have taken this long.

Until next time.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Grossly Exaggerated

Mark Twain can feel Microsoft's Pain.

Mark Twain used to joke, “Reports of my demise are grossly exaggerated.”  As I read the latest technology headlines that is how you should feel about Windows 8.  It has not been a good week for Microsoft in the press but I don’t think the end is neigh for the folks in Redmond.  In this blog, I will tell you why and how our firm fits into that scheme.

Many of these issues came to a head this week when an article appeared from Financial Times.  In it, they pointed out that Microsoft is publicly admitting failure and that they are getting ready for the release of windows blue which is the possible replacement to Windows 8.  Quickly other technology blogs and sites jumped on the bandwagon and decided to kick Redmond while it was down.  Motley Fool even blamed the poor performance of PC sales on Windows 8.  

I am a new adopter of Windows 8 and I have to confess that without the special widget Classic Start Menu 3.6, I would be lost in this operating system.  This is because it relies heavily on touch screens.  This means that your 20 inch monitor you purchased must be swapped for a $600 monitor or an $80 Logitech touch pad to be useful.  Many people will find the live tiles off putting.  Finally, Windows 8 offers apps using the live tile motif and the desktop for traditional applications.  I have been using the desktop exclusively.

What this means that unless you have a surface tablet or a Windows 8 laptop your home system is going to need a major upgrade.  During recessionary times like this it is a lot to ask.  Windows 8 is a huge leap of faith that the user community is willing to adapt and once again the user community has disappointed.

All is not lost though; I find that Windows 8 is very fast.  I can download pod casts that used to take five minutes in less than thirty seconds.  The windows explorer is clean and quick with additional means of organizing files and systems.  Internet Explorer 10 fully embraces many of the features of HTML 5 and development with Visual Studio 2012 and Web Matrix 3 is clean and slick.  If you are a software developer then Windows 8 is a natural choice.

So to me, Windows 8 isn't a failure.  It is too much too soon and too early for the general consumer.  For a techie like me it is a logical extension of the Windows operating system.  This means that at E3 systems we will start experimenting with Windows 8 applications along with more adaptive web sites so that our systems can work across multiple systems.  Find out what we mean by dropping us a line. It also means that we are going to be more cautious with our user design so that we don’t shock people too much with the changes.

Windows 8 is great, if you are ready for it.  If not you are going to be in for a huge shock.

Until next time.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Worry about Where and Not What

It does not matter what you use it is where you use it.
If you have not been paying attention to the news, the Personal computer is dying.  In the same breath other experts are saying the Personal computer is alive and well.  This kind of schizophrenic punditry is common in the technology business.  For a person like me who has spent over fifteen years in the business, I take these contradictory signals in stride.  The breakthroughs are never as big as advertised and the setbacks are never as dramatic as they seem.  Let me try to impart a little sane and sober guidance for you.  Where you compute is more important that what you compute with.

Frequent readers of this blog know that I have been discussing two major trends in computing where we are engulfed.  The first is cloud computing.  The second is the rise of mobile computing.  These two trends together are changing the nature of technology.  So it really does not matter what you compute with but where you are doing the computing.

If you are working in an office or need significant computing power then you will be using a PC.  If you are on the go but still need a significant amount of power then a laptop may be what you need. For the casual consume of web content and information, a tablet is all you need.  Finally everyone is getting a smart phone whether they want one or not.

The reason I am giving you this simple rule of thumb is because thanks to widely available access to the web via wireless networks and the access to cloud based system what you use is irrelevant compared to where you use them.  All you need is a connection to the cloud.

So, am I endorsing one kind of operating system or technology? No, I am not.  I am one of those weird people who believes that technology people should set asides our differences and work together.  As you can see in this video by Nokia that is wishful thinking.

What we specialize at E3 systems are cloud based systems which work on any device.  So if you are an Apple iOS person or a Microsoft person you should have a reasonable expectation that your systems should work.  These systems should work any time at any place.  Finally, these systems should be easy to use and understand so that you can run your business more efficiently.  Anything else is just a wast of your time and money.

So remember where your compute is more important than what you compute with.  Drop us a line and we will explain it to you.

Until Next time.