Wednesday, February 25, 2015

SOCCNX 8 Invades Boston And I will be Speaking on Single Malt Vs. Blended

I expect a few vendors to order Magic 8-Balls (US people know what is, for everyone else see this page)

Logo Social Connections
For those who do not know, Social Connections (SOCCNX) has been running across Europe for the last few years and providing a different type of event. Not as much of a user group as an affinity group for people that want to be social and collaborative. The dates are April 16-17, 2015 in Boston. Register to attend if you have not already.

Ideally it represents IBM Connections and some derivative topics but also hits on user adoption, employee engagement and in my case, Single Malt vs. Blended.

Yes, I, along with a few other IBM Champions, IBMers and friends, will be presenting on a slightly different topic from last time, the official title is:
 "Single Malt vs. Blended - The Email vs. Status Update Game"

Based on the description someone submitted, I will be discussing the following:
In a perfect world, we would not be using email. Everyone would just leave status updates around like cigarette butts. Sorry, bad image? Now imagine that the 182.9 BILLION emails sent a day are in your social media status update “drawer”. Ick is right. So if Email is so bad for us, why do we use it? Shouldn’t we be doing something better with our lives? Listen not to just facts and numbers, but ways in which you can limit the abuse of email and free up more time in your day to get work done. Do not try this game at a bar, it will be very expensive.

LOCATION: Auditorium 1DATE: April 16, 2015TIME: 2:05 pm - 2:35 pm
Whether or not you think email, or status updates should win, the point was that we have a problem and we need to manage this now before it is too late.
This session has not yet been sponsored by a specific Scotch or Whisky, so if you work at a spirits company, or know someone that does, and wish to help brand this session, please let me know.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

6 Months? Has it Been that Long?

guinness the dogNot since I blogged, but since we left the US.

August 12th we picked up the family and the labrador and moved to Israel. And it has been the best thing we have done in years.

Many of my friends at the IBM event formerly known as Lotusphere in Orlando remarked how much happier I seemed, that I must be enjoying myself. The truth, of course, is not as rosy as Facebook posts, but there is much truth to it nonetheless.

keith brooks Jaffa
Life is different. You get used to creature comforts in the US that just do not exist in Israel. No Amazon Prime, Target, Walmart or similar customer service. And yes I did shop a bit to bring things back for everyone, but in general, I don’t expect to do it this way. Like adoption of a new product, you can’t just go cold turkey.

We gained nearly unlimited places to eat at, finally, and a bakery on every corner that makes our little city just smell awesome, even on rainy days. Fresh Danish or bread can’t be beat.

Admittedly my Hebrew is still not where I would like it to be, it is coming back to me. The kids are getting more integrated and surviving their trial by fire of classes in Hebrew. The dog, well, she just doesn't speak whatever language the local dogs speak. But there are cats and she is happy chasing them.

The pinball machine survived and is getting operated on to be converted to 240 from 110.

Our cost of living is about half of what it was in Boca. While my salary fluctuates based on the projects I work on, and please feel free to let me know if you need any help, we have been getting out to see things more over here. There is no shortage of sights, museums, caves, parks to see and experience. There are also distilleries, breweries and wineries waiting for us.

Our friends in Rehovot have been great and welcoming and we look forward to do the same for the next people to arrive in our neck of the woods.

beet picking leketstalactite cavebeit guvrin
Yes, we did go beet picking, on archaeological digs, spelunking through a stalactite cave, hang out by the ocean in Jaffa, go up to the North and look out on the Mediterranean and of course to Jerusalem and all that it offers.

chanuka at Tel Aviv Pier
More places to go and see and learn about, the list is very long. But there is also business. I have been going to various meetups, events, seminars from Google, IBM, RackSpace, SalesForce and others related to startups, founders, marketing and the travel industry. While I would like to do more work in Israel, IBM Verse will not do BiDi (BI-Directional languages) until 3 months after GA, this part of being here is the slowest. It takes time to get to know, and be known, by the people you are seeking to work with or consult.

And today I am at the FIRST Robotics competition in Ra'anana, will post more on that in a day or two. Third time as a Robot Inspector, first time doing it in Israel. Can't wait to see what the kids come up with for this year's event. (Panorama shot, click on the picture to see it in full)

After the show in Orlando I went to visit my family in Boca and saw some friends. Those I missed, sorry I could not be everywhere, but for those I did see, I’m not the Aliyah cheerleader. The same percentage of people that love Manhattan, or prefer the frozen tundra of upstate New York, are the same people that just feel more comfortable when in Israel. It is cult like, for sure, but then so is any religion, be it spiritual or based around a business solution.

If you have a chance to come over and visit Israel let me know. It is not all sand and desert. It is oranges and rosemary, industry and business, the cross roads between the new and the old world.

And we have Kosher Tim Tams. 
kosher timtams

Monday, February 9, 2015

The IBM Ver, Ver, Ver, Ver, Ver, Ver, Verse

Sorry Duran Duran for taking liberties.

By now IBM has done their marketing show to bring you the “new” email client called Verse. Those from the outside and even within will say it is the new iNotes or Webmail. They would be correct in that description. It is. But it is also so much more.

It turns out, for whatever cyclical reason, which is beyond the space time continuum, Microsoft, Amazon(?!), IBM, Google and numerous others are presenting new ways and formats of email. Oddly enough Facebook dropped their pointless email program…only to come back at corporations with a “business” Facebook. As I said in Stockholm right before they announced it, who would trust Facebook with ANY business information? Evidently Facebook thinks someone would. Just. Say. NO.

Is this truly a reboot of email? Did J.J. Abrams put you all up to this?

At the same time as we, and you IBM, are trying to convince people that email is ubiquitous and passé in the social/collaboration space, you at the same time hedge your bets with a reborn email client?

As a long time messaging adviser I am excited by all the new efforts being put forth. Verse will be on premises and in the Cloud. V’ger is coming to a desktop near you. Email that knows what you want, when you want it, who you want to work with and all your history. Cool! Right? Baby Watson under the covers?

We've been here before, remember Actioneer? SwiftFile? Numerous other software sidetracks along the dead product highway. So this is the modern  version. All those bits and pieces were building blocks to get to this point.

There is a Freemium model which is 15 years to late to many of us that have been on Yahoo or Gmail for an eternity, but then see the second paragraph above and you wonder if IBM has an idea here. What I mean is, yes, this all looks on the outside like an odd solution, but from within IBM there is a movement afoot to gain a foothold while Microsoft sleeps. My competitive mind says Gmail should be the aim, and maybe it is, but it seems that the IBM teams have a plan to expand Watson, as well as the rest of the portfolio.

Could we really be n the cusp of a product so expansive  that it would dwarf the existing ecosystem around IBM Connections? Could this truly raise Notes and Domino from the moribund state it has been hanging out in lately?

I don’t know. As much as I love messaging, I don’t think it should be all encompassing. Do I need to know that I email my boss more than my wife? Shouldn't it also be saying to me, “Go outside and play ball with your son.” Or maybe it should be saying, “abstracts are open for a conference that would fit well for you”.  I want real information that is useful to me, not just to business.

As an entrepreneur I can see how insights could be helpful, after all I can only read 1/314159265359 of the internet, if that much, on any given year so who wouldn't want some genius mind helping us?

Hang on, one might be thinking, you are over thinking what Verse does or will do. I don’t think I am. I am extending what I want it to do for me and isn’t that what the whole point of an email client is? To work for me in the best way possible? IBM researchers, and newer designers re thinking about some of these ideas right now, or have been the last 2 years and they want your input as well.

No doubt many reading this post will question my thoughts, but if you will suspend the “email” discussion for a minute, how about this idea….can Verse replace one’s manager?

After all, if it can tell me what I should be doing, then why would one require a manager? Is this another nail 
in the coffin for the middle managers and lower managers? Will we finally be the masters of our domains and be independent contractors within our companies to provide our unique actions to the greater company at large?

Call it what it is, collaboration, knowledge, experiential, whatever other synonyms for analytics that provides HR the ability to finally reach Big Brother mythical status. Providing everyone to be on a new level of productivity. A double edge sword which could be just one of many outcomes. Maybe it really is just another mail client with some nice extras that will require too much effort to build or maintain? 

Is this even feasible today? If so, it would require some serious efforts, which are being done, to bring some of these ideas to fruition. Automation, Artificial Intelligence, programmatic cues to trigger functions…all very HAL/SkyNet like to me. IBM is trying to reboot themselves, Verse may not be the whole solution....yet, but it looks to be a step in the right direction.

So come on, you know you want to try it out, maybe it will help you even get on Jeopardy. That would be an awesome way to get a large amount of people to use it by the way, hint, hint IBM.

If you want to play with Verse, go here to sign up and getan account.

Friday, February 6, 2015

The ConnectED 2015 Edition is Closed For Renovations Until Further Notice

This is the first Lotusphere (that is what a very yellow clad IBMer proclaimed) in years I did not do any blogging. Not a daily, no recaps, no massive posting. Just one posting, my SpeedGeeking session slide deck.

Why the silence? I chose to follow IBMs lead.

No fanfare, no big PR team push, no daily main tent sessions, no branding on stage. IBM hit the target, they wanted it to feel like a LUG and it did. Friends gathered, speakers presented, SpeedGeeking rocked, as usual, and somewhere in between it all, I, for one, found myself happy throughout the few days.

Happy. Been a few years since I was this happy. 

Not sales happy, but maybe it was the premise that this may be was the final swan song for a brand previously known as Lotus. We wanted to see friends, IBMers and our Kimono’s and Dolphin bar waitresses one last time. Carpe Diem did not exactly happen but there were many nights in a mostly quiet Dolphin Rotunda just talking about life and things that were beyond the Yellow universe. No late night meetings at 2am with IBM execs, well, the usual ones, and we even got kicked out of Kimono’s early , for us, on the last night. Yes it was different.

Kind of like the ending of St. Elmo’s Fire.

Did IBM hit the technical mark for sessions? Debatable, but I am not the target audience and neither are most of the bloggers and Champions. 

The newbies and first years said  ”it was mind blowing”, “amazing”, “too much to take in at once”. Really, they loved it. And, believe it or not, there were quite a few newbies. Some even thanked me for my blog post from before the event. I got to meet some more readers and Twitter followers too.

Sadly, they also realized what they had been missing out on all these years and most likely will not get to be a part of in the future. LUG events are great and will provide that needed adrenalin that keeps developers and administrators crushing their work and deadlines. But they can’t replace having 80 or so IBM Champions, dozens of bloggers and people that have shaped this universe, in one way or another all in one place.

I would ask IBM to reconsider dropping Lotusphere, but maybe we overstayed our welcome. It was a great run, but the new kids in town deserve to have their fun too. Maybe Watson should get its own conference, or maybe IBM Connections should since both of these are the next generation of front facing solutions that people can touch see and feel in some way that they will never do for Rational, Tivoli or Websphere.

The meetings I had with IBMers were interesting and led to some more discussions that will pan out further this year. I did not get to many sessions, but did get to some friends sessions to wish them well and rock their sessions. I could not be there for all of them, but I know from my past sessions, it provides that extra push when your friends are with you. 

Hope you all aced your sessions! Based on the Twitter feeds it sounded that way.

Sure things were odd this year compared to previous years, change is hard for some of us dinosaurs. We can’t go back. Neither can IBM. It must go forward and try to bring everyone along with them.

Did a case study, did a video, roamed around the show case floor, possibly walked more than previous years. I got to meet some people, way too many to list, that only existed as Ids on my computer with avatars that did not always show their faces. Evidently I am now part of the Italian team, thanks Matteo and Andrea but we missed Giuseppe and I am always happy to come to Italy if you need me.

Thanked other Champions that really helped me in times of need and found some friends that while outside of the usual suspects, fit right in with everyone. It is great when your worlds collide and nothing explodes beyond your fresh beer being opened.

Seeing and hearing from some of you that were unofficially hanging out with us because you also just wanted one last hurrah made it all the more special. Since I am now overseas, for me especially, I am less likely to come over as often for different events.

This was not the end, it is just a new beginning.

One which may not include many of us, but we will always have these moments and we are all just a Skype chat away from each other. 

May you all live long and prosper, seems an appropriate way to end this post.