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The Audacity of Hope

One of the first books that I read on my awesome Kindle
was The Audacity of Hope
by Barack Obama. First, a little about my Kindle. You see – I wasn't going to buy one. I could not justify spending $350 on a device to put books. It's kind of like when the iPod first came out. I was content with whatever I had. Once they came down in price, I finally got one. But then my awesome sister decided to upgrade her Kindle when the Kindle 2 came out. And voila – she GAVE it to me. Free. As in beer. How awesome is that?

So I had the audacity to read Obama's book. It was an interesting read and gave me some insights into the man who is our 44th President whether you voted for him or not. While I can't say I recommend rushing out to read it, it did provide some good insight to him and his way of thinking. My take away is this – He listens. His mind is already made up, but he listens. He's kind of like Bill Clinton in that regard, only I think I trusted Clinton a little more.  Oh well, only time will tell. In all, this book was basicly an outline of his liberal way of thinking – you can see it in action now, so there's not really much reason to read it. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

Good Things Are In Store For Me

I have had a migraine for most of today. Growing up, I had one pretty much every day. In my twenties, the severity increased, although the frequency decreased to maybe once a week. Now that I am in my thirties, the frequency has decrease to maybe every 3 weeks – but the severity fluctuates between bed ridden and not bad. Today, it wasn't all that severe, but it really screwed with my mood and ability to function. I made some careless mistakes and was generally depressed.

On my way home, I picked up some takeout from the local Japanese restaurant. I am not sure why they give out fortune cookies, but I guess to many residents in my county the Asian population is all the same and they expect to get a fortune cookie. My fortune – "Remember three months from this date. Good things are in store for you." Deep down I realize this is just some random pre-printed paper shoved in a folded over piece of fried sugar, but looking at today's date I can't help but wonder what is in store for me. You see, three months from today is my birthday.

Yeah, I know. It's just a coincidence. Oh well, back to my project -> which is launching this weekend! I'll talk more about that once we go live.

First Open Water Swim of 2009 in Lake Lanier

Air Temp 48 – Lake Temp 59. Perfect for an Open Water Swim

Originally uploaded by Mike’s Adventures

It was a cold day yesterday – April 18, 2009. The air temperature at sunrise was 48 and the water temperature was 59. The wetsuit does a great job keeping your core, arms and legs warm – but your feet, hands and head are left exposed. I did get a swim in and everything checked out ok. I was definitely happy when the swim ended though.

Afterward, it was a ~22 mile ride around Cumming, GA with around 1600 feet of elevation gain. Today was a 7 mile run. My body is responding well to training and I’m looking forward to next week’s tune up race at John Tanner.

The Way of the Wiki

Today's Best of Mike Series post comes from April 7th, 2005. It is apropo to the project I am currently leading at work and was interesting to re-read these thoughts from 4 years ago. Enjoy!

 The Way of the Wiki

What's a Wiki you may ask? Check out it's definition at perhaps the greatest example of them all – Wikipedia.

My job as a technologist is to figure out innovative ways to allow non-technologists to perform their job functions better. In the old IT model, we focused on centralized processes – forcing people into certain models. There were many good reasons for this – supportability being one of the keys (that's just another word for control).

Along came the concept of alignment. IT departments became concerned with whether their initiatives were meeting the current needs of the organization and whether they were structured to fit the overall strategy of the company. Knowledge management caught on to some extent, and companies used products like Lotus Notes to enable collaboration to take place on a grander scale. Conversations could be turned into documentation and shared with the masses. But this technology still relied on centralization.

We are now entering a phase where IT departments won't be focused on alignment, but rather convergence. I think you will still have a core IT group focused on internetworking, storage, server farms and support – but the analysts, developers, technical writers, etc will be more integrated into business units rather than centralized in IT. Granted, this will probably take a long time, but it is a move toward decentralization and is clearly putting technologists at the edge of the network.

Moving collaboration and the supporting structures to the edge of the network is one of the first challenges we face. If you untether the developers and so on from their IT silo, they will need tools to allow them to quickly construct their support mechanisms. These tools need to be lightweight and fast.

I think the wiki will be one of these tools. And I'm not sure that a formalized IT process will actually bring it in the door. Compare the way of the wiki to the way Blackberrys entered the enterprise. Most IT shops I know did not embrace the Blackberry at first. It was the demands of their business users that brought them in the door. We were then left scrambling to do risk analyses, training, and infrastructure upgrades in order to support this "disruptive" technology.

I'm looking to avoid incidents like the one the Blackberry brought about. I am evaluating each of the problems we see in the environment against all of the tools that are sitting on the landscape and I think I have found one that a wiki system just might solve.

Recognizing change is the first step toward embracing it.

Lotus Connections – A profile does not exist for this person

A strange error started occuring in our deployment of Lotus Connections a month or so back. The business card functionality started showing the error "A profile does not exist for this person". It was interesting because you could be sitting on one of the affected users' profiles, initiate the business card popup and still receive this error.

Turns out that if any part of the JSON processing fails, this is the error you get. It may be that a profile was truly not found, or it may be that something invalid was returned. In our case, a field that was included on the business card contained an apostrophe – and the apostrophe was not escaped or URL encoded, so it was terminating a string prematurely. Once I put code in to begin encoding the apostrophe all was fine.

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