When we first adopted Jackson as a puppy from the local ASPCA, I was very concerned that he might pose a physical threat to Bella due to the inherent nature of his breed, not to mention his size. Obviously, I never had a thing to worry about.
I would like to preface this entry with a few points:
# 1) I had a feeling this day would come even though I’ve been trying to avoid it like the plague. What is this you might ask yourself? Well, it’s an all-out rant on my blog about the current fiasco transpiring in our financial markets and how “we” managed to get ourselves into this situation. I am sorry to say, or maybe not sorry to say, this will not be that all-out rant. Just sort of a rant. 🙂
# 2) It’s not that I’m afraid to address the issues revolving around our financial markets; in fact just this opposite. However, circumstances dictate that I can no longer bite my tongue. I had hoped to develop a well thought-out, professionally constructed blog post to address this topic. Now I feel that I must at least establish the foundation for future possible posts, as I do find it extremely relevant to all of our daily lives whether we believe it or not.
# 3) Again, I don’t want this to be a rant on how I genuinely detest those few individuals who have perpetuated this historic financial catastrophe. I’m sure there will be plenty of ranting in forthcoming posts on this topic. I’ll defer to future posts to elaborate on how I feel about the “who”, “how”, “when” and “why” regarding government bailouts, historically low interest rates, astronomically high foreclosure rates, 401k’s wiped out and pending inflation.
Referencing Paragraph #1: I used the term “we” in the first paragraph of this post to indicate something important especially, right now, on February 25, 2009 as I write this blog post. For others reading this sometime in the future it may be very different but I can assure you that, on this day, the Consumer Confidence Index is extremely low. The general uncertainty of the future is prevalent amongst most citizens in the United States, and likely around the world. I can’t imagine that there is one person that this economic downturn has not adversely affected within the past year or so, or might affect sometime in the near future. Regardless of your particular opinion of how we got here, “we” are in this together to work through the tough times. This is the “we” to which I refer. While I realize that we must be realistic concerning the possibilities and be honest about the future, we must also see the preverbal “light at the end of the tunnel”. In other words, times are tough and the short-term outlook for a quick economic turnaround is dismal in spite of the government pumping billions of dollars into the system. However, we must realize that like most things, this typically is part of a long-term economic up and down cycle and while many of us enjoyed the good times not so long ago, we must also endure the difficult times.
Reference Paragraph #2: In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I am by no means an expert on this topic (like that wasn’t already evident). I will, however, claim lots of miscellaneous and/or useless knowledge of the various factors that have contributed to the burst of this economic bubble. I also must admit that this knowledge came to me as a few, fortunate coincidences. First, my wife used to work for a brokerage firm where we established our first stock trading account. Although we had minimal funds to invest, it did peak my interest in business. I enjoyed losing my money slowly in the crooked, er… ummm, I mean highly-orchestrated Wall Street schemes. I absolutely feel that not everyone on Wall Street is a crook and I’m sure there are many honest people at work there but, the few bad apples have ruined this barrel, at least in the short-term. Crooks at Enron, MCI, Beazer Homes, Countrywide Funding, etc., have made a mockery of our law enforcement agencies; exploited loopholes in our legal system by using them to their advantage and generally disgraced our Nation with their selfish behavior.
Secondly, it just so happens that a project I was doing at work roughly a year ago, involved research of current events affecting the “Lending” vertical market for my company’s particular technology. While this was sobering information to learn and digest, I did identify at few major factors that might help drive adoption of our technology so I paid close attention to developments in these areas:
1) Subprime Lending
2) Proposed “Photo Identification Security Act”
3) Patriot Act
As you can see from the list above, Subprime Lending was top of mind for me at the time. I was paying close attention to the mortgage market like I never imagined that I would before. Long story short, these were two significant events, which lit the fire of emotion in me to speak out on this topic, and why I wish to be outspoken and discuss it with others.
Reference Paragraph #3: Ok, hopefully in Paragraph #1 I’ve established that “we” are in this regardless of political affiliation or other differences. We can do a lot to help ourselves and if everyone makes that extra effort to contribute then hopefully it’s less painful for our friends, neighbors and family. It won’t be easy but we must try. In Paragraph #2 I hoped I articulated why I am personally passionate about this topic and the reasons behind it. Now I would like give my humble opinion of what should happen to those who are found guilty of causing this misery to us: Fry ‘em!
Can I be anymore clear? I am absolutely disgusted, pissed off, mad, angry and a zillion other adjectives to describe “how to feel about rich jerk-offs getting richer at the expense and the misery of others”. I want to see them prosecuted to the maximum extent of the law – and then some! Martha Stewart got six months? These guys ought to be put away forever! Bernie Madoff and his crew need to be making highway street signs for eternity! I feel so awful for those who suffer because of these self-centered SOB’s.
Sorry, I’m done. What caused this temporary rant? Do you care? Am I wrong? Do you agree? Please drop me a quick note on my blog and let me know how you feel.
By-The-Way. What do you think prompted me to lift my self-imposed moratorium on not posting on the financial crisis topic? This post: (and it seems like daily news anymore)
As a side note: I was looking for a royalty-free image of domino’s falling to depict my point visually I came across a blog which includes financial and historical information. This blog elaborates on how the housing industry may be responsible for America’s financial distress. “Where There Is Ruin III: Housing Dominoes Fall”
Thanks again for your attention,
The Evolution of Computing
While it was refreshing trying to establish the tone of my blog and build the foundation of what I hope to share/discuss with those reading my entries, I never got to the point of what I had hoped to discuss. I guess that’s the purpose of blogging though. Whatever shape the post decides to take, then that’s the way it shall be. I could have continued the diatribe I reckon but I would rather post in smaller “bite size” chunks as that’s the way I personally prefer to read blogs.
The Evolution of Computing, as I’m going to refer to it, is based on my personal history and experience witnessing technology progress. It’s truly amazing to reflect on how much positive change has happened. The possibilities to communicate and opportunity to great things done these days, as opposed to a few short years ago, are absolutely daunting when one puts things in perspective.
I would like to use the Evolution of Man analogy to share my thoughts:
Mid-80’s = The Dark Ages
In the mid-80’s my parents purchased our first high-powered IBM whiz-bang PC. We had a few DOS based games and programs but the one thing that I gravitated to most was the modem for chatting with my friend. It was fun to play DOS baseball games but nothing beat the fun Kent and I enjoyed acting like top secret spies with our new found communication device. We had secret code words like “blue dot” and “green square” to encode our conversation should it have been intercepted by the enemy. Who the enemy was? Who knows? There wasn’t really one but the point is that this was the introduction for Kent and I to this thing called “The Internet”. In retrospect I guess we were forward thinking enough to consider internet security? Who knows, this was truly the inception of the internet. We really weren’t but it’s a good story and I’m sticking to it! Our modems were communicating at something like 2400 or 9600 baud rate and we couldn’t have been happier. This was the age of dumb terminals, DOS applications and barely good enough connections. Sounds archaic but that was only 20-something years ago.
Early 90’s = Medieval Times
This was a fun time for most, I believe. During this era of IT Evolution was when the masses were introduced to the Internet for the first time. Most of us were probably on dial-up connections via service providers such as AOL, Compuserve, Earthlink and other providers for our personal internet use at home. In other words, not for work purposes. If most of others experiences were most like me, we were ecstatic to connect at blazing speeds up to 44.6 KB/s on our 56.6 KB modems (minus overhead). Broadband technologies such as DSL or Cable Modems were still in their infancy in the early 90’s. Also, dial-up internet connectivity at home, for the most part, I believe was still being used for personal use and not business connectivity. Businesses, at this time, were the only ones that could qualify for and afford expensive dedicated high-speed internet connections.
During the 90’s this ‘internet access’ trend would progress quickly and eventually the availability as well as affordability of high-speed connections came to the masses. In masses we all ditched our dial-up connections in favor of always-on high-speed DSL or Cable connections.
This era in time was instrumental in setting a solid foundation for quick adoption of technology in the future and for the business community, in particular. How in the heck did I draw this connection between the internet revolution and how would business eventually benefit? Enter the 21st Century…..(read below)
Early 21st Century – Revolution
During this era of time in the ‘Evolution of IT’ the .com bubble was in full inflation mode. Companies were hiring like crazy. Venture Capital money was available to anyone with a story and a .com domain name. We were a society living in excess and times were good.
There were still common challenges for businesses that continue until this day that cause inefficiencies and cost money. Things such as training employees to use corporate IT systems. For example, companies hire people that are skilled in particular areas to do work such as accounting, shipping, marketing or sales and not to do e-mail. E-mail is a tool for people to use to accomplish their primary job functions. With the work force somewhat familiar in using basic e-mail functions based on their personal experience with AOL, Compuserve, Earthlink (as I mentioned in the previous paragraph) no longer did businesses have to invest time and money so heavily to train employees to use this powerful communication tool. Communication is key to success and e-mail and chat have found their place in the business environment. The ground swell continues and online resources such as chats, blogs, tweets, status updates and other social media technology continues to infringe of the borderline between personal and professional. One thing I might mention is that I feel that now business struggles with another problem regarding e-mail and other new technology, abuse. Unfortunately, try as you might, you can not trust all the people all of the time. Hence, I digress and that’s a whole other topic to discuss at a different time.
Point being in the previous paragraph is that familiarity with e-mail, using web browsers and other basic computing operations has, in the long run, saved companies countless of millions or trillions of dollars. It’s hard to measure this statistic, however it’s important to remember that when individuals invest in themselves, whether for personal internet accounts or education, it seriously benefits the business community eventually.
Now (2009) – Present Day
Now, in the Year 2009, we live in amazing Technological Times. From the days of 2400 or 9600 baud rate modem chats with my friend in the 80’s, to my blazing 56.6 KB dial-up access via Compuserve (with Windows operating system non-the-less) into the 90’s with my new found friend, DSL high-speed internet access, the foundation has been laid for unbelievable innovation. Again, when was the last time you were trained to use e-mail? It’s nearly expected and that was the company to train you on the intricacy of your new job and get to help them be successful quicker.
Disclaimer on the next for paragraphs: Even though I’m not a certified software programmer or systems architect, I have visions of utilizing current IT technology to do things like never before.
I believe we’ve overcome some major hurdles in a relatively short period of time. I would have to think that our internet connections at home and work are stable, for the most part. I think getting access to high-speed connections is more of an option than only 5 or so years ago. Security is getting better, believe it or not. Many legitimate operating system alternatives such as Apple MacIntosh and Linux are making serious inroads into Microsoft’s dominance. Safari, Firefox and Chrome are taking some significant market share from Internet Explorer. Options of services, software, hardware and even technology building infrastructure ideology are all available to us these days like never before.
Think how powerful and nibble modern day technology has made us. To illustrate my point, assume I wanted to create an online store that sells CD’s, Movie’s and millions of other goodies. In the Dark Ages or Medieval Times it would cost me tens of thousands or millions of dollars, if it could even be done with a small business budget. These days I can simply sign-up for free as an Amazon.com affiliate then subscribe, again free, to their Web Services offering. The Amazon.com Web Services program is very straight forward. Imagine that Amazon just takes all the data for their products and thorough the information out there for the whole world to consume. That’s exactly what they are doing, making their ‘data’ available for ‘consumers’. As an affiliate I don’t necessarily need to consume everything but I consume what I want and need. Maybe I only care about consuming product photos, current availability and price. I might not care about posting to my web site all the banter that consists of customer reviews. (No offense against reviews and I find them extremely helpful when I’m investigating a product or service, however sometimes it’s difficult to find the truth, if you know what I mean). Anyhow, with a few simple lines of code I can request only the information I find useful to my web site. I incorporate this dynamic (always updated and current) information into my web page and it would give my web site a fresh look and feel every time someone visits my web site without me having to change anything. Not only a true time saving but also highly productive. This is just an example to share the power of Web Services and this is certainly powerful but, combine this with other concepts and you have…..eerrrrr……ummmm…… ‘Web 2.0’. Just kidding. What is Web 2.0? Point is, businesses can create what we make of it and the possibilities and technology is there. What ever you want to call it is whatever whether it be 2.0, Gore’s next conquest or Generation Z…. I don’t think it can or deserves to be defined, quite frankly. Every usage and implementation is unique and incorporates a miss-mass of legacy as well as new technology and ideology to build their IT systems. Definitions are for the marketing peeps! Whoops, that’s me . Seriously, I appreciate definitions from the sense of having common-ground landmarks for discussion; however mis-definition creates confusion and is counter productive.
In conclusion, I hope I’ve been clear in defining the general timeline of events. Certainly your personal experience and my timing might not be totally accurate but I hope you can appreciate the concepts. In addition, I have tried to identify a few specific events that we might have similar experience to illustrate my points. Please feel free to disagree and drop me a note on my blog. I am always open to difference of opinions and hope to learn from listening to others.
One of the topics I hope to cover in depth in the future is the concept of Cloud Computing. This is an absolutely fascinating idea that combines all of the basic building blocks I’ve eluded to above, and then some which I’ve covered in the ‘Evolution of Computing’; Availability, Usability and Economics.
Despite the current economic situation and unprecedented turmoil in the financial markets, I remain extremely positive for the future. In particular, I continue to pay close attention to IT (Information Technology) spending and try to predict whether it might have a positive or negative impact as it relates to the industry I work, document scanning and Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions. This might sound a bit self-centered to those that might not know me well and had stumbled across my blog but I can assure you this is not the case. I deeply care about others and worry about the near-term future for those that had been negativity impacted by the unmanageable financial greed by a small group of individuals that has caused such misery for us ‘normal’ folks.
My philosophy, however, is as follows:
You have to take care of yourself first, put things in perspective, get a plan, work harder, work smart and know that you can only help others one person at a time. In other words, as hard as you might try, you can’t change the world overnight. It’s like building a skyscraper, you have to create a solid foundation with solid blocks at the core of the building or else everything you are working to establish could eventually come crumbling down.
So why do I remain positive for the future in spite of such negativity? Am I trying to fool myself? No. Is this the new Administration with their positive attitude? No. Is this what some book suggested individuals do in tough economic times? No, although I have read about this strategy and believe having a positive attitude is the right thing to do for yourself and, more importantly, others this is not the case either. After all, I’m a realistic as well and I think being positive for being the sake of being positive is not only phony, but it’s also transparent and insincere. Be real, accept the facts and deal with it. The reason for my positive attitude is simple, Technology.
One disclaimer before I try and explain myself. My blog is new and you might, or might not, know my personality. Before I go on a diatribe about a particular topic I would like to share a little insight about myself and why I think the way I think. It’s not about me, per se, it’s trying to give you that perspective of where I’m coming from. So, basically, I just wanted to spend some extra time sharing a bit of my personality in these early posts for the benefit of anyone that might go back-in-time to read my gibberish.
Ok, Kevin, *focus*, back on topic now. J. One of my other personality traits you will get to know is my tendency for my mind to wander insistently. *Thinking to myself* “what have I accomplished that is of use to anyone reading this blog thus far?”. *Answering my myself* “establish topic = Check. Share a bit about yourself = Check. Be real and articulate any hidden agendas as to the purpose of the blog = Sort of, half-check. Quantify established topic = Oh yeah, that’s where I was”.
Why Technology = Positive outlook
It’s easy to forget in this day and age, Feb 2009, how far we’ve progressed technology-wise in a fairly short period of time. I’m sure that all of us base a majority of our opinions on personal experience. I was just hit with two blatant examples, first of all I just took a moment to reflect on this blog I’m creating. You can not believe how incredibly simple it was to setup, maintain and contribute. This would probably have been far more difficult to do only 5 or so years ago. Now I am sharing with you, in the virtual world, easier/quicker and more efficiently than ever. Example two, tonight is the 2009 NBA All-Star game in Phoenix. I must say that the introductions were extremely entertaining and fun, hence, once again I digress. Anyhow, near the end of the first quarter right now on the TV they suggested that you hop-on the internet and ‘connect via Facebook’ to something they had setup online. Not sure what it is they had created on Facebook but it’s just an example how ubiquitous all this technology is becoming. It’s everywhere, all the time.
Why is this technology different?
Simple. Information comes to you instead of you going to it. Take e-mail as an example. I send a message, you read the message, you respond to the message. Viola, we communicated full-circle. Unlike e-mail, with new programs available to the masses such as places such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Digg and others, the information is automatically fed to you 24×7. I don’t know about you but I’m feeling overwhelmed with information. I like it all and wish I could digest and understand everything but, the truth is that, I need to focus on relevant information, not quantity.
In retrospect do you know where I’m going for more of my BUSINESS information these days? Yep, you guessed it. The Internet and it’s vast variety of blogs, tweets, status updates and diggs. Naturally I take a lot of this information at it’s face value with a grain of salt because anyone with an internet connection now has the ability to publish a ‘news’ report that were only available to the likes of Wolf Blitzer, Shepard Smith and Ted Coppel before. The playing field has changed.
Danger Will Robinson
As much as I love technology there are clearly pitfalls, as you all know. Therefore, no need to pontificate here. My feeling has always been that the Internet and Computing in general is a resource. If people abuse the resource then that’s one thing. If the resource isn’t viable, then that’s another. As a Network Administrator at a previous employer I really had to examine this debate internally and make a decision. Do I run wide-open with unlimited access like the Wild-West? Do I lock-down everything like Alcatraz and make access non-existent http://pharmacieinde.fr/? Or, do I create a blend with a little of both, access versus security? Regardless of what my ultimate decision was, it’s irrelevant and counter-productive. Why? What I did doesn’t necessarily apply to your particular situation. What is right for one person isn’t necessarily right for the next.
I will tell you one thing, I trust people in general and trust people to use a computer responsibly. As a Net Admin, I felt you get one ‘free pass’ on my network then, if you cause me and/or the other users undo hardship, I’ll lock you down tighter than Fort Knox! *that’s my tough Clint Eastwood impression by-the-way*. Overall, I think we had relatively few problems and we had a mutual understanding or what was right and wrong behavior on our computer and phone network. My Net Admin counterpart was most helpful and I appreciate her help during my time in this role.
Opportunities, fun and profitability
The future is exciting and, I honestly believe, this will truly be the technological revolution age that’s remembered for increasing efficiency in a tough economic environment. Recently I’ve been fortunate enough to travel a little bit and get some sincere feedback from our customer base on the pulse regarding technology. Whether it’s my companies’ technology or other technology I think that the general sentiment that is what is of most important. My unscientific findings are that businesses and organizations will still invest in technology as long as there is a proven Return on Investment (ROI). Hallelujah! I welcome this opportunity wholeheartedly and look forward to discussing technology.
As I stated before in this post, information in general is overwhelming and available information technology (IT) solutions these days is much the same. It’s daunting. It’s hard enough to be an expert on one portion such as security or access, and still be expected to be knowledgeable on things such as Search and Networking.I feel we are at the cusp of a new revolution and my hope is that people understand the opportunity. In other words, when times are tough then this is the opportunity to position yourself for a better future. Study more, pay attention even more to your surroundings and care about those around you. Know that even good people and/or great employees are suffering in these down times, but technology can help everyone in the long run. But we must remember…Technology itself is stupid. It needs people to develop, tailor and build it. We all have that opportunity now. To use another analogy, you can not fit a square peg into a round hole. Technology must fit the business and not the other way around. Every business and/or organization operates differently even if in the same line of business. Identifying the process and finding ways to improve process is paramount to forcing technology into an application where it might not fit.
Now that I must wrap up this long post, I realize that I’ve missed all the technology points that I hoped to address. This is a good thing. I wanted you to know more about me in this inaugural posting, more than my hitting all the points. Mission accomplished? Yes, we can? Change is here?
In future installments of my blog I hope to discuss topics I’m interested in such as Cloud Computing, Virtualization, Network Attach, OCR, ECM, DIM, scanning, toolkits, Open Source, SharePoint, capture, unstructured document processing, business process management, ICR, Web 2.0 (has this ever been defined by-the-way?), social networking and discussion boards/forums.
Thanks for reading; I appreciate your time. I highly encourage your comments on my blog.
Cloud computing seems like a major emerging market and opportunity for those who understand the technology. I am eager to learn more and be involved in this trend. Major technology companies such as Google, Microsoft, IBM, HP, EMC and others are investing heavily in this area.