Remaining Analytical: Avoiding the pitfalls of feature-driven decisions

Information Technology is Science, a very practical science at that.  We are bombarded everyday with “Hey, look at what this does!”.  The coolness factor can be a blessing and a curse in technology.  We want to constantly push forward what our colleagues are capable of.  How do we recommend products and peak the interest of our customers and clients without bombarding them with features?

Results oriented methodology is taking over our small little world.  Users and managers are no longer amazed by bells and whistles. They need technology, but not in the feature-driven approach that worked ten years ago.  Potential of a product is not as important as fullfilling immediate needs.  The features have to take care of everyday issues, not something they will experience when they are the big dog on the block.  Reporting is very important.  Success of products from salesforce.com, Siebel, Remedy, and Oracle have paved the way for a great deal of accountability with regards to the employee-employer relationship and the Information Technology department is no longer immune.  Utilization is a strong requirement with limited budgets.

What can be done to adjust to the cycle we are currently in?  There are many ways to thrive.

  • Remain focused on your client’s needs. The sharper the image you have in your mind the better.  Don’t make guesses regarding what will help day to day. Learn about problems, document them and focus on solutions that will address immediate needs.
  • Document everything:  Keep personal records of what you accomplish and notice in your day to day interactions.  This is not to share with others, but to research and revisit as discussions arise.
  • Do NOT under any circumstances suggest products that do not meet the needs of a project and proceed to belittle the problems management is concerned about.  The problem with saying “My way or the highway!” is there are so many choices of highway right now.
  • Know that like any other economic cycle, this will eventually give way to brighter days.  This is very important with regards to attitude.  The last thing any organization wants or needs right now is a grumpy technologist.
  • Focus on sustainability and making things run to their full potential.

With these thoughts in mind, remaining analytical will be a lot easier.  After all, we are more scientist than salesperson.

The Road Towards Good Backups: Mile One

One of the most critical concepts in maintaining business continuity is data organization.  Any company, client, or even home user, has to organize their data in such a way that they know where the “important stuff” is and also have access to that one @#$%! file that they know they will need months from now.  Ideally, the less backup targets you have, the better.  This reduces the licensing costs to produce a stellar backup and disaster recovery can devour your entire IT budget if you are not cautious.

A heart-to-heart may be needed with management and ultimately the people you support.  Environments that have a long standing history of doing it themselves will have a hard time with being told how and where to save their files, and there will even be some people that have a workable system.  The key is to get as many people on board as possible.  Let them participate in the filing system planning to prove to them you have their and the company’s needs in mind. When you are new to a network, always be sure to perform a rundown of all user accounts to make sure all home drives have been provided and are mapped correctly.  The last thing you want is to have your customers question sincerity because they are feeling overlooked.

Running a quick check of applications running on the network and the drawbacks of forcing that data onto a shared drive can also reduce the number of backup targets.

The solution in regards to data consolidation will vary based on your environment and this makes complete sense.  Each organization will have it’s individual needs, but it is very important to address this issue to ensure a cost effective backup system.

Scion Sponsored Events

Whether you love this kind of music or not, you’ve gotta be impressed with how close Scion is to the third rail in social media. If only GM would go out on a limb like this, they might make a turnaround.

Scion Metal Show Presents: Municipal Waste & Trap Them from Scion A/V on Vimeo.

SCION and VICE present:

SCION METAL SHOW JUNE

Featuring

MUNICIPAL WASTE
TRAP THEM

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

KNITTING FACTORY
7021 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028

8PM – 11PM (All Ages)

The event is FREE WITH RSVP at www.scion.com/metalshow

RSVP is strictly required. Early arrival is suggested as space is limited. Entry is not guaranteed. Line up subject to change.

Home Theater 1.0

hometheaterds I’ve added yet another ongoing project to my long list. I have been debating the idea of incorporating a computer into my “Home Theater” setup for a while now. I decided to tear down my office and grab the GQ desktop that has been running for no reason and take the plunge into setting up a home media server. The first step is out of the way, getting the thing hooked up to the TV. Initially, I was piping the audio through the TV, but that wasn’t cutting it for music. The Creative Labs Dolby 2.1 PC speakers came into the mix this morning. I will get a proper surround sound system when I can, but for the time being, this will do. Enigma sounds a lot deeper than through the TV.  I am happy to say that I can now blog through the TV! ( I am such a geek!).
Anyway, I will add improvements as I go. That usually is the best way to go for me, get the basics installed then improve over time. I really need to start pricing some better hardware, but with the economy the way it is, I want to do that slowly. For now, I get to play with Ubuntu on a 27inch screen and test things. I’m leaning towards MythTV as an interface, but XBMC and Boxee might be worth the memory upgrade someday.

xB Anecdotes

I was filling up my car yesterday when a woman approached me. “Excuse me, sir” Okay, locked the keys in the car, asking for directions, needs a jump (which oddly enough doesn’t happen too much in Texas)… “Do you like your car? The xB, I mean. I’ve been thinking about getting one.” For the first time in my life, I am not driving some second-hand beater. “I do, it only took me 3 fillups to get to Chicago last time.” “Wow, I’m from Chicago, too.” “Cool” “well, thank you…” “Thank you” End of story. I know, lame little story. Know what though? I’m not usually approachable, or maybe I just thought I wasn’t. I love my Scion. It’s fun to drive and to be honest, I like the fact that it’s ugly. Ugly means character in these days of bland SUVs and compact cars.