IBM ConnectED 2015: A Few Problems

December 12, 2014

Connected2015_logo

After giving this topic some thought, and soliciting some comments, it isn’t news that IBM has a few image problems with ConnectED. One could make the argument that these problems started a couple of years ago. As it is, this being the last (IMHO) conference for this particular IBM software group in Orlando, here are a few problems with ConnectED 2015:

  1. If you change the name of something, you will instantly lose a percentage of the customers you had attending. Remember all that goodwill, identity, and buzz you had for Lotusphere? Perhaps even Connect? It’s gone. You blew it all on a name change. “Wait! But we have refocused the conference and it needed a new name!” No, you’ve just destroyed years of goodwill and instant recognition. It’s gone, forever. Was it worth it for a (silly) name change? I could point out that a name change was needed when IBM did away with the Lotus name. Fine. But then two subsequent name changes? Oh, and “Connect” is not a unique conference name. Try Googling it; you best be specific with your search.
  2. Many past attendees have not heard the message that this year will be “more technical” and are assuming the quality and  content will be roughly what it was in years past. But, a lot of them have been disappointed in years past, so they aren’t coming. Just saying it will be doesn’t make it so. Even if you repeat it to yourself hundreds of times. So, I say, prove it to me. Wait, what? There aren’t any “more technical” sessions listed on the website months in advance of the renamed conference? So, I have to take you at your word? How do I create a case to my manager that it is worth (roughly) $3,000US to attend when I have nothing on which to base my claim? Now that the agenda is available, the focus seems to be Connections (no surprise there). However, this could still be a tough sell for those companies that do not run Connections.
  3. Those who are in the know enough to have heard it will be “more technical” are also the ones to realize that IBM often do not deliver what they promise and/or what you expect, so they may not trust IBM that it will be more technical. They don’t trust IBM’s presenters will be subject matter experts. They are skeptical as to whether the technical content will be relevant to them (could be non-ICS content in an attempt to get atendees to use Cognos, or could be ICS products that customers are not using and don’t care about – CCM, anyone?). Remember the past few years? While I certainly see where IBM is heading, there are quite a few companies out there, quite possibly the majority, that see zero value in “social” or cloud.

ConnectED 2015 is less value for the same money, which is very upsetting.  What do I mean? Fewer days, same price. Fewer sessions (because of fewer days), same price. This is very troubling.

In years past, previous attendees would be getting hammered with phone calls and e-mails leading up to the conference. This year? Silence from both mediums. I think that the funny thing about this is that IBM believes that everyone that they need to reach are on Twitter, watch PlanetLotus, are on LinkedIN, etc. That is definitely not the case. E-mail is still, I am guessing, the Number One method of effectively communicating with everyone.

I believe, that of the problems, the money issue and complete lack of messaging and marketing have aided IBM in creating an event for about 1,000-1,500 attendees. Only those “in the know” will be aware of the changes; those that are on Twitter or regularly read PlanetLotus.

In my opinion, this is the last year for the conference in this location at this time. Look for something later in the year, hosted in Las Vegas, as a part of much larger IBM conference. Which should mean “more value for your money” if you are an IBM customer.

By the way, I am planning to be there for the opening weekend. I will not be an attendee.


Forbes: How to Fix IBM

October 24, 2014

I’ve been waiting for this article, since IBM announced that they were abandoning their 2015 plan (I think that a lot of people were calling it “Death March 2015″). The money quote comes early in the article:

IBM forgot the most important part of running a business.  While shareholder value is important, it is customers that make business possible.

On Global Services:

IBM’s Global Services have seen the worst cost cuts and the most layoffs.  These cuts have hurt many of IBM’s customers.  Many contracts have been cancelled and sales lost.  IBM is no longer considered to be a trusted supplier by many of its customers.

On “The Cloud,” emphasis, mine:

The biggest market for Cloud Saas is not with IBM’s huge legacy customers, it is the other 80 percent of the market consisting of not-so-big companies that IBM has served poorly (if at all) in recent years.  They will want something this is cost effective and “just works.”  IBM does not have in its product portfolio the business applications these customers need.

On Mobile:

IBM should be partnering with Apple, Google, and yes – Microsoft.  There should be no favorites.  IBM already has a mobile deal of sorts with Apple but it is key to understand that it has so far resulted in a total head count increase in Cupertino of two workers, whch shows what Apple thinks of IBM. Apple is not enough.

But, more importantly, Robert describes serious management issues. Throughout the organization. Those problems may never be resolved. After all, those people rarely see themselves as the problem/roadblock.

More >


iOS 8 and Traveler

September 9, 2014

A new TechNote, published yesterday, outlines iOS 8 and Traveler issues/responses. The good news: If you are currently on Traveler 8.5.3 UP2 or later, you are ready. If you’re on Traaveler 9.0.1 IF5 or IF6, you are really ready (those versions recognize iOS 8 devices).

But watch the TechNote for notification of any Interim Fix that addresses iOS 8 specific issues.


Golf as “Exercise?”

August 20, 2014

Last week, from Thursday to Saturday, I was again asked to play in an annual Ryder Cup. It pits a team from Ohio against one from Michigan (Ohio State versus Michigan/Michigan State, or more accurately, friends from the states of Michigan and Ohio). I, again, played on the Michigan team. They need me to round out the number of players and also, so that I can play with my friend, Steve.

The format is Thursday, 36 holes, Friday, 36 holes, Saturday, 18 holes. Or, 90 holes in 3 days. The actual tournament is fourball Thursday morning, alternate shot in the afternoon. Friday, it is two man scramble in the morning and fourball in the afternoon. Saturday is the singles match. Five different games on five different courses. It isn’t easy. Most mornings you would see me down 2 Advil’s and a bottle of Gatorade at least an hour before tee time.

But it is a blast.

So, for those that think that golf isn’t exercise, here are my Fitbit stats for the three days:

RyderCup

 

 


A Lesson From Riding New Mexico and Colorado

July 9, 2014

This past weekend, I took an opportunity to ride New Mexico and Colorado.

Let me first say that to prepare for travel, you look at the weather forecast in northwest New Mexico and see that it will be 98°F (36.6°C). You then bring the proper gear for such a temperature. This means: half helmet, sunglasses, mesh armored jacket, Kevlar and armored riding jeans, and light gloves. You allow a family member, who also rides, to decide on the route.

Through the good graces of the father-in-law-to-be, you get to ride his Kawasaki Vulcan 1500. With a windscreen. And highway pegs. This is not a naked Kawasaki in Norway. It’s properly fitted.

Now, said family member, who is a primary participant in a wedding (he brought the cash for his daughter’s grand day), provides you a map of the route, says, “Text me when you reach Silverton, and I will meet you at this spot.”

And off you go.

It is hot, Africa hot, as you make your way along the route. Alone.

Soon, however, you can’t help but notice that it is getting cooler. “Hmmm,” you think, “It must be the trees and the shade.”

And then you see a sign, at the top of the winding road, “Coal Bank Pass Summit, Elev 10640 ft.” I think I know why it is so “chilly,” now.

And then it starts to rain. Not hard, but not a drizzle, either.

Where’s my rain gear? Oh, yeah, it’s at home, because the forecast for New Mexico showed no rain.

A short time later, as you are properly dampened, you see a turnoff for a small park. Might as well stop and take in the scenery and snap a few photos. What does the sign say at this stop? “Molas Pass Summit, Elev 10910 ft.”

Oh,boy.

After a short break, and a nice chat with a fellow biker, who told me that it is not uncommon to have snow in July up here, I start the descent into Silverton, Colorado. And as the town comes into view, it starts to rain. Really rain. I think I have called this “biblical rain.” All of the bikes I saw ahead of me, have taken refuge under the awning of the only gas station in town.

Much to the disdain of those in cars.

I park under the awning, gas up, get a little food and drink in me, and look at my phone.

I have a text from the family member saying that I am to meet him at the Durango Mountain Resort back up Route 550.

The rain isn’t stopping. In fact, I think it is raining harder, which doesn’t seem possible.

I need to mention that in this part of the US, the use of concrete or asphalt seems to not have caught on. The parking lot and driveway of the gas station is gravel. With a lot of low areas. I need to navigate a 900 pound bike over gravel, up a slight rise, and onto the highway. In pouring rain.

I make it. But as I do, and I start heading south on 550, back up the mountain, it starts to hail. It’s now a combination of biblical rain and hail. Remember, I am dressed for a different climate. I can say, with first hand knowledge, getting hit by hail, as you travel along at 40-50mph, hurts. It really hurts as it hits your uncovered face. A lot.

I make it to the ski resort, where a very dry family member awaits with his Ducati.

I hate him.

But, he is soon “enjoying” the rain, too. Although, he is wearing a full face helmet, so he isn’t getting the same enjoyment as I am. At least there is no hail.

We are traveling in a normal staggered position, heading down the mountain, in the rain, when he signals for a left turn and starts to slow. I am a few seconds behind him, caught suddenly unaware of the new direction we are taking. It’s one thing to maneuver a 400-500 pound Ducati, something else entirely to do the same on a 900 pound Kawasaki. I use the back brake, it’s raining, and we are in a slight curve.

I hit the traffic paint on the asphalt, which marks the left turn lane, while braking. The back end starts to slide out from under me. I release the back brake, the bike straightens and goes upright, I roll over the painted area, and now use both brakes. Gently.

I blow right by my riding partner, but am slowing, heading into an area of the highway that is marked for no traffic.

I stop the bike about 30 feet past the turn.

Damn, that was not fun, but it ended well. Note to self, traffic marking paint, when it is wet, is very slippery.

Family member, at the next stop sign, “That turn off came up sooner than I expected.” Yeah, I got that news pretty quickly.

And then it started to hail again.

This was turning out to be quite a ride.

However, we were now rolling into Durango, Colorado, and, at about 6,000 feet, it was starting to warm up. I was happy to realize this, as I was soaked and cold. Soon, it was about 98°F (36.6°C), and what was once a relief started to make me feel like I was in a clothes dryer. The water was evaporating off of me, creating a very humid riding environment. For a short while, we were on the highway, which sped up the drying process and it got to be much more comfortable to ride.

At the end of the ride, with the exception of my socks, I was totally dry.

This was one of the strangest rides I’ve been on; pretty much every season was represented in a few short hours and within 4,000 feet of elevation change.

The route (what I can remember of it):

NMandCORide

Click on image for an interactive Google Map.

The elevation profile (thanks to this site for the image):

NMandCOElevationProfile

 

If I had known the elevation profile before starting out, I would have brought the liner to my jacket. It wouldn’t have provided a lot of cold weather protection, but I would have been a lot dryer (and a bit warmer) in the higher elevations. I’ll know for next time.


Dash4Dosh 2014: Let’s All Laugh

June 9, 2014

For your enjoyment, some random pictures from Denmark, Sweden, and Norway.

First up, Chris pitching his tent. Yes, the photo looks grainy, but that isn’t the fault of the photographer, it was raining. In an epic fashion. Doesn’t he look happy that he will be “sleeping” in a tent?

2014-05-24 21.21.05

I found Paul’s toilet in a Statoil station:

2014-05-25 09.21.12

And Paul’s bike:

2014-05-26 09.48.33

 

The Arctic Circle, Sweden:

2014-05-26 11.08.04

Chris, in his natural pose, taking photos (at the Sweden/Norway border):

2014-05-27 09.49.38

 

And photographing Paul’s bike at the Arctic Circle Center in Norway:

2014-05-28 15.23.53

 

Freshening Paul’s bike:

2014-05-29 16.01.17

Which lead to a bit of freshening of my bike (paybacks are a bitch):

2014-05-31 09.51.11

 

A Chris Harris inspired selfie:

2014-05-31 16.05.55 HDR

 

A beautiful view spoiled by freshly washed undergarments:

2014-06-01 21.07.54

 

Paul discovers that boots with holes in them make for poor waterproofing:

2014-06-02 18.53.08

 

Who would’ve known that there was no pooping in the shower?

2014-06-03 09.52.43

 

Chris, enough said:

2014-06-04 12.55.23

Chris, showing me that I am “Number One:”

2014-06-05 11.35.21

 

The bike that Chris thought he bought, but didn’t:

2014-06-04 19.47.36 HDR


Dash4Dosh 2014: A Quick Overview

June 8, 2014

There will probably be a few blog posts concerning this adventure over the coming weeks. This post is simply a quick overview.

Stuff I brought but didn’t need:

  1. Flashlights. I brought three little LED flashlights but didn’t use any of them. Thankfully, they didn’t take up hardly any room at all.
  2. Ben’s Wipes. Brought two packages of these excellent tick and insect repellent wipes but only used two wipes. Total.
  3. Leatherman. While I didn’t use it, there is no way I would travel without it.

Stuff I should have brought:

  1. USB 1TB hard drive. It was selfish of me to think that others would have the space to copy all of my GoPro movies to their computers. I owe Paul a debt of gratitude for copying my movies to his Mac. It won’t happen again.
  2. More dark t-shirts. Wearing a white t-shirt is ridiculous when you are wearing it for more than one day. Because of the technology in the undergarments I was wearing, I could wear the same outerwear for more than one day. White is very bad choice of colors. For obvious reasons.
  3. One more Smartwool Icebreaker t-shirt. This shirt is made to be worn several days in a row without smelling while providing excellent wicking properties. To wash it, simply put it in a sink with a little soap and water, wring it out, and it will be dry by morning.
  4. A one man tent. However, as I rented a bike, there really wasn’t any room on the bike for a tent. I will know for next time.

5742.9km (3568 miles). It was a lot of fun, though it wasn’t easy. Especially on a rental bike. However, I would, in a minute, join Chris, Paul, Vladimir, Roy and Arvid on another trek. Wherever it may be. They are exceptional riders and a lot of fun.

I’m already hoping that we embark on another adventure next year. Route 66 in the US? Another European adventure? Scotland and Ireland? Whatever it is, I will be there.


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