A Man’s World

happyworld

Things have gone beyond the 24 news cycle looking for something to talk about.  It’s about ideas.  Ideas that you may have, ones that are shared with you, and for the media sloth it is about ideas that they can persuade you to believe in.  There are much more people with minds and hearts plowed deep to where nearly every seed of thought brings about some type of reaction.  People are torn in two and a very dangerous reality of folks having their beliefs and identities wrapped so tightly together as a contorted reality. The result now exists in the form of if a person doesn’t believe the same way that a contorted identity fill in the blank believes, they take it as their identity is denied.  What does this now make the non-believer?  Let’s use racist because that is pretty popular these days.  Micro-aggression, hate speech, and melting snow flakes.

This surely needs to stop

This is generating a very harmful and possibly a crisis state in America as an entire generation is not maturing to grow into the kind of adults which can continue to lead and prosper in a country like America.  If so many folks can’t stand their current leaders, blame the past leaders, and at the first sign of opposition begin to feel violated and victimized requiring a latte and a safe zone.

The tongue in cheek joke for many years and especially this year is that the Mike Judge movie “Idiocracy” is looking like it is going to be true after all.  America may be getting slimmer in some areas in the IQ pool, but it is the spineless contorted reality team which is getting its participation trophy in the game of reducing the IQ pool. Never before has such a small mouth created such a racket, but maybe I should not have said small mouth because I may have offended someone with a tiny mouth.

Idiocracy_FB_1200x627

Winning

Eventually, something will either cause the game to change for having winners and losers, or the players will change and start leading again.  Winning is not about “making America great again”, taking things back to a more moral time, putting the type of leader in office, or providing for every social, physical, and human need.  Winning is the process of adding and giving back to the real strengths of the humans of the United States.  Winning is about most of the issues we discuss, protest, and march for.  Winning is about real leaders who do their best for others.  Finally winning is having the right things in place for a safe, sustainable, and prosperous place to live.

A man’s world

I believe in strong leaders and even stronger followers.  It is how things get done.  Great ideas are formed into marching orders and carried out to completion.  It may offend, but the skill of being a man is one of the most dangerous weapons against the corrosion and weakening that is taking place today.

Let me make it simple….

A mans job is to take care of the present and providing for the future for those who count on him.

If every man would just take this thought and make a short list of five things they will do forever for the ones that rely on him (spouse, kids, family, co-workers, and others), things start to get taken care of and we all start to win.

If a man is taking care of the present and providing for the future for those who count on him, then many of the plights that tear down families would not exist because the space these things live in is not longer there.

The list is long on the impact of a true man in this world.  Ladies you have your part too, but this is for men.  It’s a big job to take care of the present and provide for the future.  A real man does not do it for himself, but for others.  What a paradigm shift from the way young men are being influenced by media and other sources.

A mans world consists of every man being a real man and just think of the changes that will come forth if this is a reality.

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We Need to Solve the Stinky Problems

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them. — Albert EinsteinurbanProblems

It is very compelling to imagine going to the top in Washington with a superior plan for one of our stinky problems and winning the hill with this solution and revolutionizing America. The mental image of this rings with a pseudo Jimmy Stewart like personal with a vision and courage. The actual truth is that in this state of national government nothing worth while will ever take place, no matter the value, promise, or future. Sad, very sad. Thank you Albert for seeing this one coming.

Where the problems, or the results of failure which is producing the problems exist, is often not the place where visionary problem solvers are headed. Why, because it is stinky there. The problems there stink. They stink because of too many causes, not enough results, and lack of fresh air and ideas.

Now with that said, many folks do with open hearts and since clean hands go and take care of the aftermath of the problems, the people and places left behind from the continual fallout. But the result is still the same, stinky problems exist.

Where are the problems? Follow your nose, not your ears.

There are a couple of really stand out stinky problems today. Here is one, the outrageous cost of medical care. Not fancy facelift care, but common care for colds, cuts, hearts, heads, and blood. Basic stuff. I don’t know what to do here, but it isn’t what Washington is doing. My opinion, what is happening now with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the rest will go down as one of the most expensive and costly mistakes of our stupid bi-partisan government. No incumbents should be allowed back in office in 2018. Just my humble opinion.

This is a stinky problem for many folks. If you work (and work hard) but you do not have health insurance, that stinks. If you are a small employer and can’t afford to pay for health insurance for your employees, that stinks. Granted both here pay taxes and more to the government. What do they get back, news material ( I use the word news lightly) for the cable channels. This stinks.

Jobs. Indeed is full of jobs. Jobs that not many folks want to do or can do. That is another stinky problem. Education for real world Americans. Another stinky problem. The problem is here among use at our level. It is right here. When I drive through town it is all of the blighted areas I cross over to get to work. It is the poor and over used emergency rooms because of the lack of clinics that can stay in business. It is the busting job lists with lots of folks who want to work, but education or their home situation when they were in school failed them. You know what also stinks, multiple generations of folks who haven’t worked full time stacked up like sandbags in a flood. This really stinks.

It really stinks.

This all really stinks. While the news and the town crier are bellowing out the pablum of the masses, real stinky problems exist. I wish I knew what to do about them. I am starting with doing some thinking everyday about them and writing about them as I dissect and discern them. I am going to start something. Something that helps. Something that may take away some of the stinky problems. I will need more who can start thinking as well to create something to solve a stinky problem. We can’t throw money at it but we can do something to solve it.

Go ahead, follow your nose, and there you will be soon to find a stinky problem looking for you to solve it.

 

A project, because old work is dying…

futurework

Note: This was also published on medium.  Not all of you are on medium, so this lives here as well.

 

There are a few very strong topics that if I get going seem to be front and center of my thinking mind, and there I have lost about everyone who was reading. But wait there’s more….

This is not a soap box, diatribe, or online rant. I am not complaining nor digital grumbling. Please don’t take this for that.

I am writing this because of the need to get started on a project, or projects which will consume the next few years of my life. That is all this is. This is the stone tablets, the declaration, and the charter. I don’t want to make this more than it is but I really need to put a few things in writing and describe them then let you go. Thanks for reading by the way.

I don’t have many answers but see a work worth doing. That is what is on my mind. In 1999, I had a few things happen which were a true life changer for me. I had a handful of simple goals, and felt like with hard work and some providence they would be goals to work on for the rest of my life. One goal was to write an actual software program. I have never coded but fell in love with computers a few years earlier and really felt like I could do this. Another thing was to have a high paying day job doing something I enjoyed. Very nice. The last thing was to finish my unfinished and tarnished college degree.

Since then I have been able to transform my life with software development and have written thousands of programs, modules, interfaces, entire software systems, and have redesigned and developed modern business systems. This was also coupled by the software development providing goal number two, a high paying day job doing something I enjoyed. Midway through the software development career path I went back to college, gained my bachelors and graduated Magna Cum Laude. I did not stop there and went on to get my MBA as well. No cheering, it was all hard work, a supportive family, and very little rest. It does not come easy, free, nor for everyone.

Now today, I am looking to put some new things into the mix and push them as things to start planning a project around. These things have been consuming me for some time and I am putting them out there so they will form and become a plan for the future.

These thoughts consume my mind:

  1. Engineering and design are paths to the future. Very few people get introduced to them properly and thus miss the chance to find their space in this forward moving way of working. Old work is dying. This is new work. And in America, we are starving for engineers. Software, mechanical, structural, chemical, process, design, metal, energy, and you name it. Old work is dying. New work is emerging and those who need to benefit from it the most are being left behind because they are not being introduced to it properly and they feel they can’t do it. That is rubbish.
  2. I want to introduce people to careers in information technology. I fight to find qualified candidates to work for me. I should be flooded with qualified candidates but I’m not. We do not get people connected with careers in information technology the right way. It’s not all geeky nerd stuff. It’s business and a whole lot more. Too many smart people work at crappy jobs because they have not been introduced to how the future is going to work. Remember old work is dying.
  3. Writing is the new currency. It’s about time. Reading, writing, and arithmetic. Writing by hand and cursive are dying. They are so important. Typing and keyboarding is important too. Being able to read, write, and understand math is golden. This importance is not taught much and I see it all over the place. You must read to gain facts and intellectual knowledge to develop thoughts and a viewpoint of your own. There are billions and billions of lines of stimulating and engaging written words by the greatest minds of all time growing cold as minds consume babble and click bait. And writing is the new currency.
  4. As a society, we are not focusing on actually taking care of ourselves and rely on broken and corrupt governments to do this with policy and spending our money. I don’t know what to do here but it is front and center of my mind.
  5. I believe in local first, and go from there.

There they are. I am trying to figure out how to get them into a project or projects for the next phase of my life. I am also glad your read through all of this to this point. Most of all, I believe….

In honest hard work and a few dreams now and then.

Cheers…

These things don’t change

I found the image below in my Evernote journal. I wrote this 3 years ago. It is still very much real today. The work I do is real and difficult with many challenges strewn in for good measure. I want to work hard, but I should also work smarter and with organization to the efforts. Still words and thoughts to live by.

Evernote Camera Roll 20140624 060819

The Buying and Selling of RPG

They Buying and Selling of RPG

I remember it well, and for a good reason, it was how another programmer, one who I still deeply respect as a programmer, reacted to something that I was working on and how it was developed. First of all, it was not the best of situations and second of all I was on the defensive which is not my best side. Offensive is not my best side either, after all I am a programmer, and digging into the code and data is my best side.

This happened in a meeting to review my current and recently finished work with the senior programmer in the applications department. Our main platform for development was RPGLE (RPG) on the IBM i (at this time it was running V5R2 on a pre power series box). I had returned a few months before from Common and was still buzzing about all the techniques and ways to develop applications. This was a true technology hangover if you love to code.

Back to the meeting. I was leaving the company to work for another company following what I thought was the course of my career and a move forward in my technical pilgrimage to code nirvana. In the meeting it came to a place where I was going to turn one of my projects over to el senior. This is when I took a no holds barred bashing of what I was working on, how I was doing it, and a complete dressing down of my work and myself as a programmer.

The crime I committed was developing a web service HTTP set of programs to receive orders and send order confirmations back and forth to a new distributor who was running their system via .Net. In 2016 this is nothing unusual for many systems. RPG handles XML very well and has been very modern and versatile with strings and data parsing. This was 2008 and although this was a hot topic at Common, it was not a hot topic to all IBM i shops and developers. As I found out, it was not a hot topic here as well.

The point of my story is not to run through this situation in my life to discuss what I was doing and why I was getting a verbal spanking from my senior. The point is something I said without thinking too much about it that has later became a mantra of mine and a pillar in who I am in the software development world and on the IBM i platform.

The conversation was boiling at the point of why are we going to use XML and not EDI and/or FTP of text files which was a very successful tool set for our business. My explanation to his questioning was to bring on a new tool set to our company that could open up new doors of business with companies who do not use EDI or are on different platforms. His answer was “I’m not buying that”. I knew I was right. Time has proven this. Technology has supported this. My future work has validated this.

My response was “You are actually buying this, because you are not listening to what I am telling you, but just wanting to stick to what you are comfortable with. I am selling an idea and way to gain more business by having more ways for other businesses to trade with us. Actually if you are not selling you are buying.” I left it there, then left the company for my new opportunity, and was still branded with the thought of “Are you buying or selling”.

Since then I have been in many situations where my leadership and managers saw me challenged about using new techniques, tools, and modern coding to do my work and to have other, often times more senior programmers challenge and try to tear my work apart. My response was to keep selling. Sell because I really believe in what I was doing, and selling because RPG has much more to offer businesses and development teams that what we are giving to it. Selling because modern RPG is the gateway to understanding other programming languages and merging technologies. Selling because the old school RPG programmer and limited capabilities because of limited skills thinking has to die off. Selling because my career and job depends on it.

So, are you buying or selling? When was the last time you pushed the envelope and sold something new to your company and team? When was the last time you pushed into the full capabilities of RPG and how it can do more that sling data in and out of fields?

Are you buying, or are you selling?

I am writing this article as an encouragement to the RPG development community to be that force which is the lifeblood of the system. It does not matter if you work for an ISV or like me as an in-house developer with a company. We all are drawn to this platform, database, and language because it simply gets stuff done. It is the gold standard for business programming. The platform is tough, strong, and integrates with everything. But none of this will ever happen unless programmers and development leaders sell the merits of what can be done, and then do it. Don’t buy, sell.

Once again, are you buying or selling?

 

 

 

Give it a name…

I know, project management or project leadership blogs and postings are boring. It’s all the same stuff. Only the unicorns or the wizards have anything useful to say for the rest of us who daily have to manage things rather than people.

I don’t do boredom well.

I’m not a dedicated project manager as in PMP or PMi certified (yet). But I do manage projects of various sizes and if the risk, cost, or effort exceeds a certain point, it becomes a project rather than a task or support request. Elevation of an effort to a platform of being managed is a topic for another time but of great importance if chaos is to be trumped in you organization.

But what is in a name? Identity. Simply that for starts. Projects are about the pieces. Like a Rube Goldberg trap, the parts and pieces and the actions of each determine the final outcome. As a project manager/leader the first thing is to give the project identity, and start naming things. Stakeholders, sponsors, systems, resources, locations, files, reports, water boys, and anything else that is involved. Give it a name, and identify what it is, what it does, and why it is there.

Preach it, Preach it, Preach it to your team, leadership, followers, minions, and resources. No Clouds. Nothing ambiguous. No whatchamacallits. If it can’t be defined and named, maybe it does not belong.

Jettison the unneeded things early. Open the door and push, then shut the door and move on. Report the offload of the undeeded like a mob thug to your boss man. Make it clear that if it does not belong, you’re outta here.

You would be surprised what sticks in the craws of very intelligent folks over the course of a project. “Remember this, why don’t we talk about this anymore?” Then you waste time talking about something that did not get the 86 earlier on.

No clouds. No puffy white things that can’t be contained. Give it a name. Does it belong. Why is it mentioned. Be a Colombo and ask questions irregardless of the other party things your frumpy and off track. Write it down, and decide the fate on your own dime.

Does it belong. No. Lop it off and notify the team. If yes, give it a name and purpose and put it on the bench to play when called upon.

News Aggregator not News Agitator

Just inserting a thought I had this morning while looking over some news on my phone.  On a personal note I like a variety of news and prefer it to not be too one sided or the other or sensationalist.  That makes things slim to none right?

Here is where a news aggregator comes in handy and and saves the day.  Your typical news sites such as MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, and the others all have an agenda (shocked I know) and a “here is what we are serving up appeal to them.  For folks like me who really just want news and a variety of it in a collection like news aggregators.  The aggregators can collect news stories that are trending or based on personal selections and bring them into a central location for fast headline browsing and deep dives if the story is interesting.

The opposite is the new agitator.  Fox, CNBC, MSNBC, and CNN are agitators in that with an agenda and trend on stirring the pot and amping the nerves and brains of the audience, the news is served up with a purpose.  And it is not to be fair and balanced (you believe that one heh?)

My favorite news aggregators are the following:

  • Mashable – I have always liked this fun and good looking news-a-palozza site.  It does gear toward techy geeky nerdy trendy folks.  Like me!
  • Google News – This is my home page in Mozilla.  Google does a nice job with the aggregation and it is very clean and wickedly easy to dive in and drill down.
  • Flipboard – This is more of an app than just an aggregator but it allows you to pick content specific to your likes.  I can get lost in here.  And it is one of the best user interfaces on Windows 8, Apple, and Android devices.  One of my favorites.
  • News Bento – This is fun Windows 8 store app that allows you to build content based on choices that the app is tied into.  Great to use on a Windows 8 tablet.
  • Stitcher Radio – Another phone app but you can select content and news that plays one right after another and is a mixture of streaming audio and podcast excerpts.

And there are more, many more.  Buzzfeed, Reddit, The Daily Beast, and etc…

Search up a few in Google and maybe download a new app or two and explore the world through aggregation, and ditch the aggravation.

 

Windows 8: It’s time to love that ugly duckling (in a Speedo)

In my line of work, I hear a lot of complaints.  If people have nothing better to do, they will complain about something.  Recently with the release of Windows 8 from Microsoft, the throng of complaints and ovations of “I want Windows 7 back” have been ringing loud and clear from the computing villagers.  What is funny is that many of the pitchfork and torch crowd are the ones cried the same song when Windows 7 came out.  Give me XP or give me death.

As the Occasional Guru, I have been long overdue addressing the village people on Windows 8, but please don’t lynch me, because I love Windows 8.

Windows 8 is best described as a dive by Microsoft into new waters with their flagship operating system.  Rather than be a beautiful, graceful, and choreographed double helix half bend double bledsoe sow cow pike into pristine waters with nary a splash, it was a like a 350 pound couch potato gaming nerd hipster doing a colossal cannonball into the deep water while wearing a Speedo.

It wasn’t pretty, but it was necessary.  Necessary for Microsoft, and necessary for us.  Why, because the computing waters have changed.  With the advent of the iPhone and iPad, Apple made the first inroads into the “your content everywhere” and “multiple devices, one user” paradigm that is shifting computing forever.  Microsoft made the plunge too, but not as pretty.  But that is what Apple does.  And that is what Microsoft does.

Microsoft knew the dive was awkward, but in form released Windows 8.1 as an upgrade and life at the pool has improved.  It still is wearing a Speedo, but this Guru will help you understand the beauty of this ugly duckling.

Next time…

 

Burgers: Tell me what you want, what you really really want

On Burgers:

Still singing the high praises of the Swenson’s Galley Boy, but I know there are contenders out there.

I will pay you next Tuesday for a hamburger today

On Hamburgers…

Kicking off my new home for The Occasional Guru right now.  I write about all kinds of things and I hope I can be your occasional guru.

Instead of tech, it is about hamburgers.  A really good one.  The best one found in Akron Ohio if you ask me. Now there are those gigantic hoss burgers that like a roast on a bun that you can’t even take a reasonable bite out of.  Those often make the top 5 in the burger lists.

Then there are the bacon orgies where if you add enough bacon, they will come.

Farm raised local, grass fed, happy bovine volunteers who result in primo ground chuck.  Low fat, pretzel bun, minced onions, and special sauce.  You understand.

For me, the best hamburger is the pride of Akron, Swenson’s Galley Boy.  It is the right size, has the right components, is cooked to order, and they will run it to your car.  The Galley Boy.  The best burger in Akron, and maybe Ohio.  Because it is just right in all the burger ways.