Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Feeling Gratitude on Thanksgiving

I'm thankful for many things.

My life is blessed with family, friends, home, health, faith, a successful career, a beautiful place to live.

Some of the things I'm thankful for include:

  • 27 years of happiness in marriage to VJ. I'm especially thankful for VJ's increasing committment to personal fitness.

  • Our son Mike, finding success and independence with his first job.

  • Our son Nick, who is doing so well in college that he is likely to complete his BS in Computer Science in 3-1/2 instead of four years, while pursuing his interests in powerrisers and video production.

  • Our daughter Emily, who is getting off to a great start in her first year in college and whose intramural volleyball team won the college league.

  • My Mom, who raised over $3,000 this summer to purchase a set of steps to enable handicapped, elderly or disabled people to use the municiapal pool where my parents swim.

  • My Dad, who at age 84 is continuing on the recovery from triple by-pass surgery last May.

  • The rest of my extended family, my sisters, in-laws, nieces and nephews, who I am looking forward to seeing more often over the holidays.

  • The spiritual leadership of Fr. Bob, Fr. Matt, Fr. Ray Collins, Bishop Tobin, and the many members of St. Luke's parish family, especially Dave & Marilyn and the members of St. Luke's Alpha group, and the Men's Fellowship Group.

  • Friends around town, at work and online.

  • Boats, fishing, bikes, kayaks.

  • The ability and motivation to share these gifts with others.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 5, 2007

Bill Cosby performed at URI Family Weekend

Saturday night VJ, Emily & I, along with 5,000 of our close friends had the pleasure of listening and laughing at a live performance performance by Bill Cosby at the Ryan Center. I've been a Bill Cosby fan since I was a kid. I use to enjoy his records, "200 mph", stories about "my brother Russel... Awe man you broke the bed", "Dad & the BELT, Noah, and many others." We loved his show Thursday nights on NBC. He held the sell out crowd fascinated for over two hours entertaining, enlightening, and dispensing personal wisdom through humorous obervations on fatherhood and families which made ordinary life seem magical. Young and old, kids and parents alike felt like he was speaking to them.

He invited a fellow graduate of Central High school in Philadelphia to join him on stage where they sang thier Alma Mater.

He finished the show with his classic dentist routine.
The dentist drills some more and you hear him make a mistake. [He makes motions
and sound of a dentist drill slipping] And to cover it up, they all say the same thing: "Okay, rinse." After rinsing in a dentist's office, you're gonna spit into this miniature toilet bowl. You have no bottom lip so you let it all fall out and say, "Thank God for gravity." Now you want to sit back, but you can't because hanging from your bottom lip is a long line and you can't get it off your bottom lip. Oh, if you wanna be gross, you can grab it and throw it over there. But you try to be smooth about it. And there's breaking over here and there's breaking over there. You try to blow it off. Just vibrating. So you figure, maybe if you sit back, it will snap in half. So you sit back. Now you have a line from the bowl to your bottom lip. The dentist looks at it and says, "Oh, look, a rainbow!"
By the end I was laughing so hard, tears were rolling down my cheeks. I haven't had that good a laugh in a long time.

New Coffee Mug from RI Blood Center

I dontated blood today and got my 2nd gallon mug from the RI Blood Center.

Here are four reasons why I make an effort to donate blood four times a year.

1. It fits with Harry's rule #7: Connect & commit.
2. It feels great doing something for others.
3. It takes less than an hour.
4. It really doesn't hurt.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

See what you mean

A peek at the vision for 3D design and collaboration from Dassault Systemes

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sights & Sounds of Newport Harbor on Jazz Festival Weekend 2007

Last week I had the great pleasure of spending a perfect weekend on the boat in Newport Harbor listening to great jazz and soaking up the summer the scenery. Click to watch.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Managing a web traffic surge

I've been the volunteer webmaster for St. Luke's Parish for about seven years. I run the site on a very low budget site. Up to now, it's hosted at using their "$0 dollar" hosting service. The deal is you pay the domain registration, they provide server space, some basic management tools and a limited traffic quota, which has always been fine for out typical traffic of 50 to 100 hits per day up to now.

Last Tuesday, July 17 there was tragedy in our town, three seventeen year old boys were involved in a boating accident. One boy, who was kneeboarding behind the boat without a life jacket, was lost. His body was located the following day. He was buried Thursday, July 25. The autopsy said he died of blunt force and sharp (propeller) trauma. The police said alcohol was involved. The operator of the boat was charged with reckless operation, death resulting and refusal to submit to a blood alcohol test. More charges are pending. They say he could serve 10 years in prison. My heart goes out to these families, although I can rationalize that they brought it upon themselves, I can't help but think there but for the grace of God, go I. I did my share of stupid things in my youth.

Father Matt Glover, the Associate pastor at St. Luke's was on the waterfront Tuesday night, along with many people, especially youth from town as the search went on. Recently ordained, Fr. Matt is young and very close to the kids in town. In April, he took a group of high school kids to work at the Mustard Seed mission in Jamaica. These kids raised $50,000 through the parish to provide supplies for the care of Jamaican orphans. When they came home, Fr. Matt and his mission team spoke at the Masses giving moving testimony about their experience.

Our town has been plagued by a rash of drug and alcohol related teen tragedies. Two years ago three local boys were involved in a late-night high-speed crash in town. Two were killed. The survivor required nearly a year of rehabilitation to recover. Last week another 21 year old, who graduated high school a few years ago died unexpectedly.

Sunday Fr. Matt gave an emotional sermon about these tragedies. Last spring I started recording homilies from our Masses and posting them on the web as audio podcasts for parishioners. I was at a different Mass Sunday, so I didn't hear Fr. Matt's homily in person, but I was blown away by the emotion of it as I edited, produced and posted the podcast. The homily was 22 minutes. The MP3 file was 10 Mb. You can hear the entire sermon here.

Tuesday morning, I got up a 5:45 and walked out to the driveway to pick up the Providence Journal. As I opened to the front page, I knew immediately that we would have an overload of traffic on the website. The page 1 headline read "Barrington priest decries denial after teen's death." The Rev. S. Matthew Glover tells parishioners to own up to substance abuse problems in town. "Our kids drink because we drink, that's why," he says. At the end of the story it said the full 22 minute homily can be heard at

I knew that with any significant numbers, downloads of the MP3 would overwhelm the site's monthly traffic quota. I'll just upgrade the hosting service I thought. I logged in to my ISP's site management page, which informed me that "Upgrading to ultra or unlimited hosting requires moving the site to a different server which will take place within 24 hours of the upgrade request. I didn't want to take a chance on bringing down the site in the middle of what was then expected to be a busy day.

I quickly found an online service,, to host the MP3, and I provided a link there from our home page. Switchpod offers unlimited traffic quotas on a free hosting site for a select number of audio clips. I re-hosted the file there and updated our link. Fortunately the print article only listed our home page, not the specific URL for the file. I headed off to the office for an 8:30 meeting. I was able to monitor traffic using the hit counter statistics which showed 900 hits by 9:00 am and 2,000 by mid morning. We exceeded our 1 Gb per month traffic quota early in the day. I was concerned that the ISP would shut down the site. I submitted a support incident, explaining the situation and asking for advice on managing the surge.

Around 11:00 am, despite relocating the podcast, the traffic on the site continued to skyrocket. I looked at and found the reason. The online version of the newspaper had linked directly to the MP3 file which was still hosted on our server. I phoned the journal newsroom, and explained the situation. They were extremely cooperative and promptly updated their links.

We were over 3,500 hits when I checked around 3:00 pm and on the advice of the hosting service, I put in an order to upgrade our traffic quota on the website from 1 to 5 Gb/mo. At 10Mb per play for the audio file that didn't take long.

So far there were no apparent service interruptions. By this time, Eyewitness News channels 12 & 64 also had links to the podcast. On their web pages. I talked to a couple of friends who told me that talk radio in Providence was buzzing all day with the story and were broadcasting the podcast over the air.

By evening, the hits approached 5,000. The total, when I went to bed around 11:30 pm was over 6,800.

Two days later, the web hits are subsiding, there have been several follow up stories in local papers and television stations. Between the hits on the website, the news stories and talk radio, I'm sure that tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people got to hear Fr. Matt's important message, which in the old days, would have been limited to the parish. Although the circumstances are tragic, I feel really blessed to have had an opportunity to help Father Matt get out his message to a wider audience and to make a difference.

I'm here to serve,

Links to related news stories: Overall, the news coverage of Father Matt's Homily and the response from both parishioner's and the general public was overwhelmingly positive.

Providence Journal Thursday July 19, 2007 Barrington teen's body recovered
Providence Journal Tuesday July 24, 2007 Barrington Priest Decries Denial
Eyewitness News 12 Tuesday July 24, 2007
Providence Journal Wednesday July 25, 2007 Bob Kerr Reverend says what needs to be said
NBC News Channel 10 Providence Wednesday July 25, 2007
RI Catholic July 26, 2007 (p. 9) Priest asks body of Christ to turn away from denial and toward God after teen’s death
Barrington Times Friday July 27 2007 Rev. S. Matthew Glover responds to tragedies

Saturday, July 7, 2007

My morning paddle

The interactive community at Younger Next Year is encouraging me to break out of the same old exercise routine and mix up my workouts. I need something more for the upper body, because my usual exercises focus mainly on the legs and lower body. I'm looking for an aerobic workout while giving my knees and hips a rest.

A friend, Jason, has stored his kayak in my yard for I don't know how many years now, since he moved from Providence to South Carolina. I haven't used it for several years, but this morning I was out before 6:00 am. I launched it at the Barrington Yacht Club and enjoyed a refreshing hour and fifteen minutes of paddling to the mouth of the river and back. The image shows my route. There was a very light breeze, slightly overcast skies, near low tide, so not much current to paddle against. I saw a mother swan with her cygnet, a heron, a lot of small baitfish running before the kayak and a few larger swirls chasing them. I was home before 8:00 ready to start the rest of my day.

I'll try to fit this into my routine. I'll have to get going quite a bit earlier than usual to fit this in on a workday.

I'm unbelievably blessed to live in such a beautiful place where I can enjoy this beautiful shoreline.

I'm here to serve,

Thursday, June 28, 2007

broccoli chips - don't laugh, they're great!

I recently tried some fresh broccoli slaw, made from stringed stems, and sold in bags in the produce section of the grocery store.
VJ & I ate a lot of broccoli when we were on the South Beach a couple of years ago. We each lost quite a bit of weight, then gained some back.
I discovered broccoli chips then, and figured I would try them again now that I'm trying to get back down to my college weight of 165#. I'm currently using a modified version of the South Beach diet, (a little less strict at the beginning and with more fruit).
You can make chips when you buy a bunch of fresh broccoli, rather than tossing out the stems. Try slicing them as thin as possible. I eat the chips raw. A dip in some light ranch salad dressing may make them more palatable if plain is just a little too rustic for you.
I'm here to serve,

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

My healthy Mexican black bean salad recipe

I previously posted this on the Younger Next Year community blog but am adding it here for easy linking. I made up a big batch this morning. It's high in Protein & fiber, low in fat, easy to make, keeps 5 or 6 days in the fridge and makes a great main dish, salad topper, pocket filler, side course or a quick snack.

2 - 2 lb cans Black Beans
1 - 1 lb can Chick Peas
1 - 1 lb can small red beans
1 - 1 lb can dark red kidney beans
1 large onion
1 tomato
1 large red bell pepper
4 jalapeno peppers
3 tablespoons (heaping) chili powder
Dash of crushed red pepper or other hot stuff. Sometimes I use “Hot Shot”
½ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup olive oil

Drain all but ½ cup of liquid from the back beans which is poured over the beans in the bowl as a base for the dressing. Rinse the beans – & combine in a large bowl. Dice the onion, tomato & peppers mix with the beans. Add chili powder, sprinkle crushed red pepper (to taste) go easy unless you like hot stuff. Drizzle balsamic vinegar & oil over the beans & mix well. Adjust hot peppers & chili powder to your taste. Sometimes I throw in chopped up black olives or sprinkle with cilantro for a little flavor twist.

Serve chilled – keeps well in closed containers in the fridge.

Approximate nutrition information: Serving size ½ cup: 90 calories with only 5 calories from fat 7 grams protein & 6 grams of fiber About 460 mg sodium – although rinsing the beans may reduce this a bit. A good source of iron

For more on the benefits of beans see: Dr. Perricone's 10 Superfoods In a large study of almost 10,000 men and women, those who ate beans four or more times a week cut their risk of coronary heart disease by about 20 percent, compared with those who ate beans less than once a week. It appears that this health benefit was independent of other health habits, since adjustments to account for other important cardiovascular disease risk factors produced minimal change in the risk estimates.

Other studies show that within two to three weeks, diets high in either canned or dry beans (3 to 4 ounces per day) reduce blood cholesterol levels by 10 percent or more: an effect that can result in a 20 percent decrease in the risk of coronary heart disease. Beans and lentils have the same potent anti-inflammatory antioxidants—flavonoids and flavonals—found in tea, fruits, grapes, red wine and cocoa beans. In particular, the reddish flavonal pigments in bean and lentil seed coats exert antioxidant activity 50 times greater than vitamin E, protect against oxidative damage to cell membrane lipids, promote healthy collagen and cartilage, and restore the antioxidant powers of vitamins C and E after they’ve battled free radicals.
There is a downside - beans are the "musical fruit" - don't eat too many when you will be sitting for an extended time in a confined space with other people...

Live Long & Prosper,

Friday, June 22, 2007

S.M.A.R.T. Goals (improved)

SMART goals are: Specific, Measurable, Ambitious, Realistic, and Timed.

I'm working on loosing some weight and I found several nice articles on S.M.A.R.T. Goals, but after thinking about them and working on them for a few days I think I improved on the S.M.A.R.T. acronym by replacing Attainable with Ambitious. Attainability overlaps heavily with Realistic. In order to have a significant impact, its crucial that our goals are Ambitious. We can't water our goals down to the point where success is always guaranteed. We will achieve more by taking a bit of risk and stretching to achieve our full potential.

Specific - A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. To set a specific goal; answer these questions:
What: What specifically do I want to accomplish?
Why: Specific reasons or benefits of accomplishing the goal to aid motivation.
How: What are my strategies and tactics to accomplish the goal
Who: Are others involved? Do I need help? Who can I get to help?
Which: Identify requirements and constraints.
Where: Identify a location if it’s important

Measurable - Establish concrete criteria or milestones for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goal.

To determine if your goal is measurable, ask How much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished? How many projects have you seen where the status reports said everything was on time, with no problems, until the deadline hit?

Ambitious – If your goal is set so easily as to be a sure thing, will you achieve all that is possible? While we want to set realistic goals that can be achieved, there is not much reward if success is guaranteed. With risk comes reward. The art is in balancing risk and reward. Identify what is achievable, then set a stretch goal that may require just a bit more effort, creativity or persistence. If you don’t reach the stretch goal, the outcome is not necessarily a failure. If you set your sights so low that there is no stretch, will you be satisfied with the outcome? Ambitious goals may be easier to reach because easy goals don’t provide much motivation.

Realistic - To be realistic, you must be both willing and able to work toward it. Do you have the right skills, preparation, tools and resources to reach the goal? If not how can you get them? If you understand the steps and resources needed to accomplish the goal and have the necessary skills it is much more likely to be achieved. If you’ve accomplished something similar in the past then your goal is probably realistic.

Timed - A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to the goal there's no sense of urgency and your ability to measure progress is greatly diminished.

I'm here to serve

Four ways to Curb Appetite

From Time Magazine June 11 2007 with a few of my own interjections...

1. Eat Fiber: Unrefined foods are high in fiber and stimulate appetite-suppressing hormones making you feel full.

2. Brush Your Teeth: The clean mouth and flavor change help you resist eating more, and good dental hygiene is good for your overall health.

3. Be Consistent: Eating breakfast and regularly scheduled meals keeps hormone levels steady and quashes hunger pangs.

4. Eat Slowly: It takes a while for the brain to realize that the stomach is full. slowing down gives the brain time to catch up with your stomach.
I'm here to serve,

See more about health, exercise & nutrition on the Younger Next Year Interactive Community. I started a blog there to support my weight loss goal. 165 lb. by August 1.

You can read much more on the Science of Appetite at the Time Magazine website. I found the article interesting, but from my perspective, the above tidbits are the most useful.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Humor and Leadership

A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done" Dwight D. Eisenhower*

Studies suggest that humor useful in facilitating communication in difficult situations, relieving stress, and in clarifying mutual understanding of difficult topics in work groups. Humor can be used to convey information, break down behavioral barriers, highlight key points, and identify where tension exists.

Humor facilitates communication in difficult situations, such as when a supervisor needs to provide negative or sanctioning feedback and when broaching taboo topics.

Humor can be used by managers to communicate corrective actions without offending or threatening. Humor can also be used as a non-threatening way for subordinates to push back up the chain of command without overstepping customary lines of authority. Humor allows you to discuss taboo topics, including expression of certain emotions, such as aggression, fear, and sadness. Humor allows you to maintain lines of communication in spite of conflict. Humor's ability to facilitate communication is likely one of its most powerful and potentially useful aspects.

Humor makes it possible to communicate in stressful situations because it simultaneously conveys both the message and information about how to interpret the message. Through smiling, an exaggerated tone of voice, etc. humor tells us that the normal rules of behavior are temporarily suspended. Humor lets both the speaker and listener off the hook should conflict arise on the subject. For example, if you first establish, by smiles and voice tone, that you are joking around, you may be able to communicate ideas that would be considered insulting under other circumstances without jeopardizing the relationship. Humor provides the speaker the opportunity to deny that he meant anything by his comment, and it gives the listener the right to act as if nothing has been conveyed.

Humor usually puts people in a good mood, and people in a good mood tend to be more accepting and cooperative, reducing conflict and enabling deeper communication. Humor draws attention. Advertising executives consider humor an effective way to gain attention. Attention emphasizes the message and emphasizes the importance of related segments of the interaction.

Three important questions should be considered When using humor in difficult situations: Do the nonverbal signals clearly convey that the comment is not to be taken seriously? Will the humor leave listeners in a good mood? Is the humor calling attention to something valuable (e.g., the encouraging desired behavior, rather than emphasizing undesirable behavior)?
Humor can reduce stress or tension. Joking provides an energizing distraction for team members when the activity seems overly taxing.

Humor is an important emotion management tool to relieve tension and stress in interpersonal relationships. Many employers consider stress reduction to be the main benefit of humor in the workplace.

Humor allows group members to come to common understanding of our physical and social environment. It identifies situations as safer and less serious than they initially seem. People with a good sense of humor tend to suffer fewer negative outcomes when exposed to stress. Humor can also induce a positive mood, which alleviates stress-induced resistance, and it can draw attention away from the source of stress.

When using humor to reduce stress, remember that your objective may be to change the listener's appraisal of a situation as well as their emotional reaction to it. Is the content of the humor aimed at defining or redefining the situation as safe? Will the humor generate a positive rather than a negative mood? And will the humor draw attention away from the source of stress rather than toward it?

Humor can alert you to issues that others find stressful or problematic. Because humor gives both the speaker and listener the chance to deny that anything important was conveyed, leaders and listeners, should be aware of cases where humor has allowed a potentially contentious matter into a conversation. Your ability to "take a joke" opens an important back channel of communication through which your peers and subordinates may try to pass valuable feedback.

Because humor is often used to alleviate stress, its presence can serve as an important signal that the topic makes the speaker uncomfortable, or to identify issues related to interpersonal conflict. The presence of stress-related humor and laughter reflected the higher levels of stress and conflict in those interactions might be viewed as a warning flag of latent conflict.

Example: disarming humor:
How are you doing?
I have good days and.... better days!

I'm here to serve,


* I picked up this quote from an excellent address given to the students and parents of the Barrington High School [BHS] Class of 2007 by Dan Monaco, a teacher, at the BHS Friendship Service leading up to graduation.

Friday, June 8, 2007

New Community Features at

Chris Crowley and Dr. Harry Lodge, co-authors of Younger Next Year, and my favorite personal health, fitness, and nutrition gurus created an interactive community to share ideas and inspire fitness on the Younger Next Year website:

Community Features include:
HEALTH JOURNAL (Public / Private)You can now make your Journals PRIVATE or PUBLIC

PERSONAL BLOGS Post your own articles or "blogs" about living younger next year.

FRIENDS LIST Create a friends list to monitor their Blog and Journal and send messages.

FORUM Communicate with others on various health related topics.

The books have been a huge success, I expect the community will be too as the word gets out. The community is free to use, and will likely help you live a better healthier life.
This is a must visit web site!

Software Licensing Messiness

Here is a link to the original document (from that Ed Bott wrote about on the ZDNet blog about the messiness of Windows Licensing.

Mislicensing occurs when a customer uses their Volume License Agreement to install the initial Windows License on a new PC. Volume License Agreements cover the Windows UPGRADE only, therefore these systems are not properly licensed—they are mislicensed. You must first acquire a qualifying underlying operating system license, such as a full version of the Windows Desktop, either preinstalled from your hardware vendor(OEM/system builder) or through Full Packaged Product.
The Microsoft document is not dated – so there is no way to know when it was published or what specific Windows licenses are covered, nor is there a way to know on what data the following statement is based:

we (presumably Microsoft) have found that nearly 44% of Volume License customers believe that Volume License rights include the full OS and 40% of Volume License customers report they have acquired naked or unlicensed PCs, putting themselves at risk of non-compliance with their Volume License Agreement.
I tried calling the phone number in the document in the middle of the business day. The phone rang and rang and I never even had an opportunity to leave a message with an automated attendant.

If you have further questions, please contact 1-866-606-3749 (8-5 pm CST).
My conclusion is that there is a lot of litter in the literature…

However; I find value in the 5 issues that Ed identified in the Microsoft License. These are pretty fundamental to many Software licenses. I’ve added some of my own comments to Ed’s below:

1. The license agreement is not understandable on its face. New license agreements are commonly infested with jargon and gobbledygook terminology, which is why most people don’t read them. It’s definitely not in the interest of the lawyers to provide a one-page summary written in language that anyone can understand. If vendors provided a summary, it wouldn’t be binding and you would have to understand the full document to interpret its meaning anyway.

2. Multiple license types cause confusion. Different license types are offered to address business requirements for different channels or sales models. They channels often overlap and transparency may be contrary to the vendor or channel business objective. The trouble is, most vendors provide don’t provide an easy way to tell which type of license you own. Why can’t vendors provide a simple tool that generates a license report showing your version, product ID, and whether the license can be transferred to another PC?

3. Multiple versions of media and product keys cause unneeded headaches. This problem is especially bad with Windows XP, where you need to find exactly the right type of Windows media to reinstall Windows. If you have a Dell system and a Dell product key, for example, you can’t use a retail copy of Windows to reinstall. This means you need to keep track of the installation media for the life of the system. Oh did media come with that?

4. Record-keeping requirements are burdensome. If you have a large shop, you need to keep a paper trail for every PC and be prepared to prove that each one is properly licensed.

5. There’s no way to deactivate a license. Even though you can legally transfer a retail Windows license from one PC to another, there is no way to de-activate the license. Wouldn’t it make more sense if you could deactivate a system as easily as you can activate it? Doing so could tell the activation servers to remove the record for the current system and would allow activation on a new PC.

I'm here to serve,

Thursday, June 7, 2007

How to set the right price

Peter Longini, Managing Editor for Inside Product Strategy discussed pricing strategies with Mike Naumuk of medSage Technologies in his latest Product Strategy Network newsletter.

Theory: Target the mix of offering to maximize customer value while at the same time meeting your own cost and revenue objectives.

In practice, more factors need consideration:

  • Competitive pricing - not just direct competitors, but also alternative solutions - maybe the competition for a software offering is not software at all, but a service.

  • Positioning the technology and business adoption lifecyle - Do you not charge for certain services that ultimately drive customer adoption.

  • What is the customer willing to pay? The price that sticks is based on what customers are willing to pay.

  • Revenue trails - Are there any opportunity for supplemental revenue from associated products or services?

The basic foundation of SaaS pricing for monthly or annual subscriptions typically uses a tiered subscription based on a metric such as: number of transactions, number of instances, activity thresholds or other value metric. The fee generally includes: use of the application, including periodic upgrades basic customer support and hosting services. The fee generally increases by a small amount each year to cover ongoing maintenance costs.

Pricing models for professional services are:

  • Fixed price for well defined bundled services

  • Menu based pricing where the buyer selects from a predefined list of services

  • Time and materials - where the cost is based on the effort required and associated costs
Mike Naumuk warns that the impact of future software releases on existing service capabilities is the most frequently overlooked cost driver. Customers ask for all sorts of value added features that tend to make applications more expensive to support. Factors to consider include pre-release testing, documentation, training materials, and configuration options.

I'm here to serve,

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

On choosing a college... how to decide

The decision deadline for most colleges is past, and we had quite an experience with Emily, our third child, who is graduating high school this weekend and plans to begin studying pharmacy, (a six year program) in the fall. She was accepted at two well known private schools, including her initial top choice. (Here are a few relevant financial facts for her initial top choice: $43,000/year times six years less $5,000/year scholarship and $3,000 financial aid package = $210,000 before other living expenses) She was also accepted at our state university which has a highly ranked pharmacy program where she received a full tuition merit scholarship where our net cost for 6 years will be about $84,000. That’s still a LOT of money, but less than half of the private school.

I talked to many people asking the question, how to explain to an 18 year old that these are not just numbers written on piece of paper? How can I help my daughter understand this choice will have a huge impact on her long (and our) term finances? In the end, this is how we addressed the issue.

1) We told her she could go wherever she wanted, but if she chose a school that is beyond our means, she would have to take out loans to cover what we are unable to afford, and she would be responsible for paying back the loans.

2) We helped her understand the interest payments on student loans multiply the amount owed. The school’s financial aid offices provided information on typical payment schedules. We also provided her information on the amount of borrowing vs. future expected income from the College Board Workbook for families Meeting College Costs. (The book is discounted if purchased it when completing the CSS Profile).

3) We made it clear that if she took out huge loans, then decided later on to switch majors, say from pharmacy to teaching, resulting in a much lower expected annual income after graduation, she would still be responsible for the loans.

4) We helped her to confirm for herself that there was nothing at the higher cost private schools that she could not do at the less expensive state school.

5) For the field of pharmacy, it doesn’t seem like where you go to school has a huge impact on future career potential. For liberal arts, that may be less true.

6) If she chose the private school, at least part of the money she earned while working summers would have to go to tuition and board expenses, so she would have a lot less spending money while in school, whereas at the more affordable state school, we can cover her tuition and board, and she can use her earnings for her living expenses.

7) Originally, I wasn’t going to include this last point, but in the interest of full disclosure, I thought that I should, because I think that it had some influence on her decision. We have an extra car in the family for our kids to share, and with her two older brothers away for the most of the year at college. Emily had the car pretty much to herself for her senior year at high school. We dropped a few hints that if she chose the state university, she would be able to take the car with her to school, giving her a lot of mobility and freedom. This would have been out of the question at the private school because it’s in the city and none of us would have been able to afford to run it anyway. OK you can call it a bribe if you want. In the end, considering all these factors, we were thrilled when she chose the state school.

I hope that things work out as well for your family.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

more on Enterprise 2.0 and WPI 2007 Commencement Speakers

More on Enterprise 2.0

Meet Charlie, Mr. Enterprise 2.0, - Slideshare Intro to Enterprise 2.0 which Tom Mandel posted on his blog. Oops! You can see in the screenshot below, Tom didn't tag his blog post.

- although slide 16 indicates that tagging is key to Enterprise 2.0.

I hope that's not an example of big hat, no cattle... (just teasing Tom.) From Tom's other posts, you can see this is an isolated oversight.

I also found Corante blogs, which examine critical themes and memes in technology, business, law, science, and culture. ( I admit, I had to look up memes in the dictionary ) -

An idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture

I came across Corante because they produce the FastForward blog on Enterprise 2.0 for Fast Enterprise Search. I'm convinced that Enterprise 2.0 is here to stay despite what the editors of Wikipedia may do.

I enjoyed the Speakers Saturday at WPI's 139th Commencement, where my oldest son, Mike, took his BS in Computer Science, He will be starting a full time job after a short vacation. Dad and mom are very proud!

Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist and Frederick P. Rose Director Hayden Planetarium and a Research Associate at American Museum of Natural History and host for NOVA, Science Now. Neil deGrasse Tyson received an honorary Ph.d. from WPI and gave a brief, and amusing, but unscheduled address that was one of the highlights of the ceremony. He couldn't resist the opportunity to address such a large audience of technologists and assured the graduates he remains a card carrying Nerd with Pi to 11,000 decimal places, the text of Newton' s Principia, and the screenplay to the original Matrix on his PDA (the original, not the other two). He did include a serious message for graduates telling them that technological innovation is the greatest driver of Economic development. He also put a new twist on the verse from the Beatitudes, Mathew 5, 5, "The meek shall inherit the earth", suggesting instead that the Geeks shall inherit the Earth!

The primary speaker was Barbara Dunsire, president and CEO of Millennium Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, MA, who emphasized three messages, in a world of change, let integrity be your compass, expand your horizons to find growth opportunities, and be true to yourself. More on that in a another post. She has clearly had to make some difficult decisions. I have most of the commencement on video and will work on getting it posted as time permits.

I'm here to serve,

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

"Enterprise 2.0" equals "Next Generation IT" but does not equal "Web 2.0" (or does it?)

Enterprise 2.0 = Next Generation IT by ZDNet's Dan Farber -- After Wikipedia deleted the "Enterprise 2.0" entry, the Enterprise Irregulars swarmed, responding to the critique of the term by a Wikipedian editor as a "neologism of dubious utility" and taking a crack at defining it.

Accprdomg to Dan, battle lines are being drawn over the term Enterprise 2.0 after the term was deleted by editors of Wikipedia (I found Enterprise 2.0 in Wikipedia redirected under Enterprise Social Software).

In his recent presentation at IDC Directions in Boston, Don Tapscott talked about a similar experience when the term Wikinomics was added, then deleted and subsequently re-added to Wikipedia. Wikinomics is currently #13 on the Business Week best-seller list based on February 2007 sales.

At a recent Boston-SPIN meeting Ed Yourdon gave an hour-long overview of Web 2.0 and keeps updating his Web 2.0 mindmap which has grown to about 25 Mb describing Web 2.0 themes, history, technology, vendors, business & cultural issues, references and conclusions.

There are some common themes with Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0.

Collaborative user generated content
Two way data flow in and out of the enterprise
-- prosumer = producer/consumer
Self Service
Low Barriers to entry
User Driven

Is Enterprise 2.0 a subset of Web 2.0 for business? Interesting topic.

I'm here to serve,

Monday, April 30, 2007

Joe Thomas & the NFL draft - Keeping Priorities Straight

I'm not much of a football fan, and had never heard of Joe Thomas until Saturday morning, but I have a new admiration for Thomas who became the third overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft. He was chosen by the Cleveland Browns . I heard about Thomas on my way to an early morning haircut, while listening to "Only a Game" on NPR. Bill Littlefield did a story about Thomas who, declined an invitation by NFL football commissioner Roger Goodell to the nationally broadcast draft ceremonies from New York City, electing instead to stick with his previous plans to spend the day fishing with his dad on Lake Michigan. (The story about Joe is about 7 minutes into the podcast.) It's a great example of keeping life in perspective. Keeping priority on family and not letting success go to your head. Thanks Joe for a breath of fresh air in a world where we need more roles models like you!

If people concentrated on the really important things of life, there'd be a shortage of fishing poles.
This quote is attributed online to Herbert Hoover, Doug Larson & others. I'm not sure who really said it, but I know it's true. I wouldn't be surprised to hear about Joe signing a celebrity endorsement deal for a major fishing tackle company at some point in the future, and good luck to him.

I'm here to serve,

Monday, April 23, 2007

Getting the job done faster by taking your time

I had an experience that demonstrates how it's possible to get the job done faster by taking your time.

My son Nick is at college, about an hour's drive from home. When the weather started getting nice, he asked me to drop off his bicycle which had been stored at home for the winter. I had a busy weekend, but I told him that I would drop it off Saturday. I had also promised to take my daughter, Emily, out to dinner that evening, but I told Nick I would drop off his bike around 5:00 pm figuring that I would be able to get back home a little after 6:00 to take Emily out to dinner. It turned out to be a gorgeous day, and I was working in the yard. I wanted to get a little more done, so I didn't start packing the bike in the car until almost 4:00 pm. It took me longer than I expected to get ready to go. I took the front tire off the bike to fit it in the car, because I wanted to save gas by driving VJ's Honda, rather than my Expedition.

When I went to load the bike in the car, I noticed the tires were flat. Not wanting Nick to have to deal with flat tires, I got out the pump and filled them with air. Then I remembered Nick had his own pump that went with the bike, but it was not to be found in the garage. I called Nick to ask where to look for it. It turned out he had a whole bag of gear that he wanted along with the bike. After a few trips between his room, the garage and the basement, I located all of his bike gear, but was more than half an hour behnd schedule when I loaded the bike, pump, helmet, riding gloves, etc. into the Honda. Off I drove, pushing the speed limit, trying to make up time, but knowing that I was going to late for my dinner with Emily. Fortunately I was able to reach Emily by phone from the car, to warn her I was running late.

I phoned Nick as I pulled into the parking lot at his dorm, "you've got to come down and meet me quickly so you can take the bike and I can be on my way for dinner with Emily." Nick joined me in the parking lot and after a quick greeting I opened the back of the car. I was incredulous as it was immediately obvious, in my rush to depart, I had left the front wheel of the bike at home. After pumping up the tire, I carried it around while looking for his gear, at some point I put the wheel down in the garage and completely forgot about it in my rush to locate his other stuff and get going.

This was an embarrassing moment for a father looking foolish in the eyes of his son, but I had to admit there was no one to blame but myself. I told Nick to leave the bike in the car. I returned home and took Emily out for a very nice Mexican dinner, then after putting the missing wheel in the car I made the return trip to Nick's school. Spending two extra hours behind the wheel gave me time to think about the benefits of taking an extra moment to check that I had all the mission critical components before departing. I arrived home, after my second trip, well after 10:00 pm, tired, but reflective.

Here are my lessons learned from this little mis-adventure.
1. Don't cram overlapping events into the schedule with no allowance for unexpected delays.
2. When you're committed to a tight schedule, don't try to squeeze in another unplanned activity.
3. The time allowed to complete a mission should include preparation as well as execution.
4. Preparation time frequently takes longer than originally estimated.
5. Don't get so wrapped up in the details that a critical success factor for the job is forgotten.
6. When the schedule starts to go south, open communication is the best policy.
7. If you don't take the time to do it right, you may have to take the time to do it over.

For more on the subject of avoiding rushing, I recommend Michael Mah's 2004 column written for the Cutter Consortium I WOULDN'T BE SO LATE IF I WEREN'T IN SUCH A HURRY... and his more recent writing on the same subject in his Optimal Friction Blog part 1 and part 2. Michael wrote:

there’s a rule in cosmos that says “There are times that 'fast' can actually be slow. If you stop to think about it, you can discover a hidden secret: slowing down just a little bit can actually allow you to go fast - without breaking your neck, or putting you on the sidelines from tearing up your shoulder.”
Michael also gave an excellent presentation to the Boston Software Process Improvement Network in the Spring of 2006 on the subject of Excess Friction: How Fast Deadlines Can Slow You Down & Ruin Your Life

So plan time wisely, keep deadlines in perspective, and go fast by taking your time.

I'm here to serve,

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Earthday 2007

Here is a photo of South-Eastern New England taken from the Space Shuttle. This is my corner of the Earth. Cape Cod Bay is visible along the right hand (east) side of the photo. The sand spits about halfway down the right hand side of the photo form the harbor at Plymouth, MA which is where the pilgrims formed their colony when they arrived from England in 1620, and near where I grew up. Martha's Vineyard, the Elizabeth Islands, Buzzards Bay, and the Cape Cod Canal are in the bottom right (south-east) corner of the photo.

Narragansett bay occupies the center of the image. The city of Newport, RI is where Atlantic Ocean meets the bay. I live in Barrington, RI about 14 miles up Narragansett bay, along it's eastern shore. Block Island, RI and Montauk Point, NY are in the bottom left (southwest) corner of the image. The space image reminds me that I'm a steward of a beautiful corner of the Earth, and I should do more to protect it and reduce my impact on our environment.

Today is a gorgeous spring day- sunny with the temperature in the mid- 60's. I added the lilac bud photo Sunday morning 4/22. The temperature hit 80 degrees F Saturday afternoon, and all many buds on the lilacs and forsythias popped during the day.

Although I'm avid about re-use and recycling, and am conscious of energy consumption, I haven't done anywhere near as much as I could. I'll try to do better. I'm looking for suggestions about what I should do about the gas hog vehicle I've been driving since 2000.

It has 100,000+ miles on it, but with two kids in college, I'm not really in the market for another car just yet. When it needs to be replaced, I will definitely get a smaller vehicle with better mileage. One of the reasons I keep it is because I have a boat trailer to pull around. With my current commute of 11 miles to work, I'm using a lot less fuel than I used to, when I commuted 30 miles each way. Should I consider getting a scooter to reduce my fuel consumption in nice weather? My only issue with a scooter is safety since I commute through very busy traffic in Providence every day.

Happy Earth Day!

Space Photo ISS006-E-45447 courtesy of the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center. For more images, visit Image Science and Analysis Laboratory, NASA-Johnson Space Center. "The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth."

Monday, April 16, 2007

Bill Nye the Science Guy says "You can change the world."

I saw Bill Nye last week when he spoke on April 10th at Bridgewater State College's distinguished speaker series. The mission of this lecture series is to present a variety of leaders and luminaries to challenge the minds and thinking of students and the community. Their mission was accomplished in this lecture. Bill is a former mechanical engineer (like me) with a degree from Cornell, who worked for many years a Boeing, where he desingned a hydralic resonance suppressor that still flies on 747 airliners. Bill gave up his engineering career, becoming a stand-up comic and eventually becoming a passionate public educator.

Bill described his contribution of the concept and design for a sun dial installed on each of the the Mars Rovers which evolved from the need to generate a shadow on mars for the purpose of calibrating on-board cameras. The sun dial idea was inspired by Bill's dad, Ned, who became interested in sun dials to pass time while he was a POW in China where Ned spent 44 months after being captured on Wake Island in the Pacific during WWII. Ned evenutally started a business selling sundials and at one time proposed converting the Washington Monument into a sundial.

Bill observed that the cost of the Mars mission was a bargain when you consider the value of the resulting discoveries. He remarked, there are two Rovers that cost of $435 million each just sitting there on Mars, and they aren't even locked!

Bill both praised and derided Pluto's recent de-classification from planet status. The understanding and insight that lead to the re-classification of Pluto opens the door to a whole relm of intricacies and nuances in the characteristices of celestial bodies that were not even possible to consider 30 to 50 years ago. According to the International Astronomical Union, "Pluto is not a planet, it's a dwarf planet. " But Bill chided, if you say Pluto is not a planet, you shouldn't use the word "panet", even with a "dwarf" modifier to define what it is.

After discussing space exploration, Bill switched to the topic of carbon emmissions and global warming. He showed a graph of planetary tempuratures spanning back 1,000 years based on seven independent studies, which each show the same trend of significantly rising temperature over the last 100 years. I approach this data with healthy skepticism, because we have to acknowledge that global climate change is well known to go back to the ice age, about 20,000 years ago, long before humans had any significant influence carbon emmissions. Although I'm not convinced that reducing carbon emmisions will reverse the global warming trend - if there is a statistically significant warming trend, it's hard to argue that we shouldn't do as much as possible conserve energy and focus on renewable resources. My impetus to conserve energy is not to reduce carbon dioxide emmisions, but becasue its the only way we can eliminate our dependence on imported energy and hope to control the fate of our economy.

Bill wrapped up saying he wanted his audience to change the world and enjoy success of ¥€$ [yes] Yaun, Euro, Dollars. If you can design a better battery you can get rich in all three currencies. He encourages all to cut carbon emmisions 80% by 2050 by using high efficiency light bulbs and driving cars with high milage and riding our bicycles the HKEV, Highest Known Efficiency Vehicle. Bill drives a Toyota Prius Hybrid which gets about 46 MPG,
The lecture was enjoyable, entertaining, educational, and inspiring.
I'm here to serve,

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Celebrating Tax day, April 15

I have two more days to file because of the local Patriot's Day holiday, but I'm celebrating because I just finished the annual tax ritual. VJ found this poem online, which I pass along for your enjoyment.

I think that I shall never see
A tax form plain enough for me.
A form that I can understand
without a lawyer near at hand
to guide this poor benighted me
so I won't own a pen-al-ty.
A form that I will not detest
or take as more than awful jest.
A form with pages I can read
and fill out ea-si-ly with speed
Such forms weren't made for fools like me
Nor ever God who made a tree.
(San Francisco Examiner, 1989)

My dad, a retired accountant, always tells me, "I hope you have to pay a lot of taxes. " Not because he wants to see my assets transferred to the government, but because if you are paying taxes, it means that you must be making money.

Here is my rant for the year: The federal 2006 standard mileage rate used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business is 44.5 cents per mile, but the deduction permitted when driving for a charitable organization is 14 cents per mile. Of course, we are permitted to deduct actual expenses for gas and oil if we keep detailed records. Who does that? I don't know who wrote the tax code, but do they figure I get three times the mileage when driving for charity because my vehicle is carried on the wings of angels when I'm doing volunteer work?

I hope you are done too, and I hope you pay a lot of taxes this year and even more next year!
I'm here to serve,

Friday, March 30, 2007

A pizza story with a lesson in business agility

Johanna Rothman recently blogged about a restaurant experience - reminding me of a pizza story that teaches a lesson in small business agility.

In the early '90s I was working at a consulting company in North Kingstown, RI. We were small enough that the whole company took a working lunch once a week at a local pizza place to catch up on what was going on. The pizza was good, but ordinary. Pepperoni, mushrooms, and green peppers were the usual toppings. Black olives were about as exotic as we got. One time I was selected for jury duty and had to spend a few days at the court house in Providence. For lunch, I walked to Wickenden Street on the East Side which has an eclectic reputation, and this is was how I learned about some amazing Pizza toppings. Sliced fresh tomatoes instead of puree, pesto and feta cheese blended with mozzarella or spinach with garlic and feta. When I got back to work, and our pizza lunch the next week, I said we should try something different. Our usual place served Greek salads and spinach pies, so they had all the ingredients. When we asked for pizzas with toppings that weren't on the menu, the proprietor protested, "That won't come out right - you won't like it and you’ll blame me!" "It's OK," I insisted, "try making one, and don't worry about how it comes out." I assured him, " You are a talented cook, you can do it. Remember, we are engineers, you know we'll eat anything.."

When the pies were served, the “specials” disappeared quickly, and the usual pizzas were only touched after the new choices were gone.

The next week all of our pizzas were “special.” Other customers saw the new toppings and started asking for them. The owner started experimenting and soon introduced other “gourmet” toppings like sun dried tomatoes and imported Greek sausage. Within a short time these new toppings appeared on the menu and became some of his most popular selections selling for a premium (read - higher profit margin) over the conventional pizzas and drawing in a different clientele (read - expanding to a new market segment).

The owner had the culinary skill to pull this off successfully, but it took some convincing to overcome his initial resistance. Trying something new was an opportunity to differentiate what was essentially a commodity product from the competition. The agile owner-operated business quickly took advantage of this opportunity while the nearby national pizza franchises, being constrained by their parent companies, took much longer to adopt gourmet toppings.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

George Santayana - Welcome the Future, Repsect the Past

We must welcome the future, remembering that soon it will be the past; and we must respect the past remembering that once it was all that was humanly possible.
George Santayana - in Apologia Pro Mente Sua 1940
This quote caught my attention when it was mentioned by Don Tapscott in his keynote address on Wikinomics at IDC Directions 2007 in Boston. I scribbled down part of the quote so I could look it up later.

When I looked up the quote online, I found it attributed to George Santanaya (1863-1952), who was a very prolific writer and philosopher. My recent experience researching another popular quote led me to want to confirm what I found online, so I stopped in the libary to look for further confirmation. Through an interlibrary loan, I was able to obtain a 1940 first Edition of the "Philosophy of George Santayana" edited by Paul Arthur Schilpp and published by Northwestern University. This volume contains a bibliography of Santayana's writings to 1940 that fills 57 pages. This volume is a unique collection of the writings of Santayana critically scrutinized by his philosophical contemporaries - with responses from Santayana himself.

The quote appears on page 560 in Santayana's reply to his contemporaries, "Apologia Pro Mente Sua." Several page images, including the title page are provided here for reference.

I'm here to serve,

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Naomi Karten on Customer Satisfaction at Boston-SPIN / ASQ Boston

Naomi Karten delivered a delightful presentation titled "Tales of Whoa and the Psychology of Customer Satisfaction" at the joint meeting of the Boston-SPIN and ASQ in Waltham on March 20. Before the presentation, I asked Naomi if the title was intended as a play on the words "woe" and "whoa".

From the Miriam-Webster online dictionary;
Main Entry: whoa Pronunciation: \, , hwô\
Function: verb imperative - Etymology: Middle English whoo, who Date: 15th century
1 — a command (as to a draft animal) to stand still 2
: cease or slow a course of action or a line of thought : pause to consider or reconsider — often used to express a strong reaction (as alarm or astonishment)

Main Entry: woe Pronunciation: \\
Function: interjection - Etymology: Middle English wa, wo, from Old English ; akin to Old Norse vei, interjection, woe, Latin vae Date: before 12th century — used to express grief, regret, or distress

Naomi intentionally substituted "whoa" for "woe" in the common expression. "Tales of woe" -- which is the wording that most people have heard before. Woe refers to the challenges people face in working with customers both in and outside of the software world. The definition of "whoa" -- pause to consider or reconsider -- is what we often need to do to identify ways to work with customers more effectively.

Her presentation provided a few simple and inexpensive steps to improve customer Satisfaction. Naomi admits that most of her advice is a simple statement of what should be obvious. Unfortunately many people ignore the basic principles of human interaction creating unnecessary friction in working relationships. Naomi's "Likability Lesson" focused on three ways to become more likable. 1. Listen - All people (including customers) really want to be listened to. 2. Be friendly - Smiling and taking time to build relationships smooths the road to success. 3. Lightheartedness - Nothing builds relationships like humor.

Naomi emphasized three key customer grievances that create perceptions of poor service.

1. Not being kept informed on matters of importance. No one likes to be kept waiting for answers.
2. Being made to endure excessive unexplained waiting.
3. Dishonesty: Having important information deliberately distorted or withheld. No-one likes doing business with someone they feel isn't being honest with them.

Naomi's advice on the delivery of bad news to customers is: "Don't delay." Naomi observed that most customers will understand when things didn't go exactly as planned; however, we need to acknowledge our responsibility to inform customers of issues or problems in a timely way, so they will have time to react and account for the bad news.

On the psychology of customer satisfaction and economics, Naomi provided the following insight:

While breaking a promise is bad, exceeding a promise is often not worth the effort. Nicolas Epley

This relates to setting and managing expectations. No one likes the disappointment of a missed promise, but in business, it often doesn't pay to go beyond expectations. Customers tend to adapt their expectations so the unexpected higher level of performance becomes the new standard expectation which can increase costs.

Naomi recommends making the following assumptions to avoid customer dissatisfaction :

1. People will interpret what you say differently than you intended.
2. People mean something different than you think they mean.

One of the things I liked best about Naomi's presentation was after each major point, she came back to the question, "What does this mean for you?" At which point, she passed along stories and anecdotes illustrating how to apply the concept in real world situations. For the assumptions listed above, "What this means for you," is that you should take time to confirm that customers understand what you said, and that you understand what you thought you heard.

Naomi recommended a couple of references for further reading:

A Mind of its Own by Cordelia Fine
The Art of Possibility by Rosamund and Benjamin Zander

At the end of the evening, one of the regular SPIN attendees commented to me that this was the best SPIN presentation so far this season. I have to agree.

I'm here to serve,

"Whoa Nellie" Photo above by jahdakine via flickr under a Creative Commons License

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Four Themes of Wikinomics - Don Tapscott at IDC Directions07

I'm really fired up after attending IDC Directions07 in Boston yesterday. Key themes of the conference were: innovation, hyper-disruption, and opportunity.

Don Tapscott, Chief Executive of New Paradigm and author of "The Naked Corporation" and more recently co-author of "Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything" gave the closing keynote address, which summarized the four themes of Wikinomics.

1. Peering
2. Being Open
3. Sharing
4. Act Globally

1. Peering - Economist Ronald Coase was awarded the 1991 Nobel Prize in Economics for his earlier work on Transaction Cost Theory to explain why corporations exist. As Henry Ford built his automobile company, he integrated steel, rubber and glass processing operations. The vertical company included stamping, forging, and machining and assembly operations. Ford also encompassed a trucking operation to move material and components and numerous other disciplines that are frequently outsourced in today's environment. The reason vertical integration made sense at the time was because it was less expensive to do those operations within the confines of the corporation than it was to purchase each item or service separately. Today the web enables collaboration reducing transaction costs to the point where open entities and individuals are collaborating to produce on scale that was previously the sole domain of corporations. Examples include Open Source Software, Boeing's development of the 7E7 Dreamliner and decentralized motorcycle manufacturing in China. This doesn't mean that collaborating individuals will replace corporations anytime soon, but it means that innovative upstart competitors are able to disrupt markets in ways never before possible.

2. Being Open - There is a huge potential to harness global expertise by sharing data and encouraging non-traditional collaboration. GoldCorp, an under performing mining company in Ontario turned itself around through the GoldCorp Challenge, an online contest where geologic data that was previously considered highly proprietary was published on the web for analysis by global scientists with over half a million dollars in prizes made available to entries that were able to identify where the gold was.

Synopsis of a May 2002 "FastCompany" article about the
GoldCorp Challenge:

Rob McEwen, chairman and CEO of Goldcorp Inc., based in Toronto, triggered a gold rush by issuing an extraordinary challenge to the world's geologists: He showed the world all of the geological data on GoldCorp's Red Lake mine online offering outsiders a prize to outsiders tell GoldCorp where they were likely to find 6 million ounces of gold.

The mining community was flabbergasted. Nick Archibald, managing director of Fractal Graphics, the winning organization from West Perth, Australia said, "The mining community was flabbergasted. "We've seen very large data sets from government surveys online, but for a company to post that information and say, 'Here I am, warts and all,' is quite unusual indeed."

For McEwen, the contest was a gold mine. "We have drilled four of the winners' top five targets and have hit on all four," he says. "But what's really important is that from a remote site, the winners were able to analyze a database and generate targets without ever visiting the property. It's clear that this is part of the future." McEwen knew that the contest was risky. But the risks of continuing to do things the old way were even greater.

3. Sharing - Give up on conventional wisdom about intellectual property. The new philosophy is "Give and ye shall receive." Companies need a portfolio of intellectual property, some of which they own and protect, and some of which they give away to build communities around their IP. IBM's investment in Linux is a prime example. In 2000, IBM announced a one-billion dollar investment in Linux. By January 2002, IBM had nearly re-couped the investment. By 2003, IBM was doing two-billion dollars per year in Linux related services (see The Wealth of Networks by Yochai Benkler chapt. 2, p. 47.) A key concept of sharing is turning consumers into producers.
4. Act Globally In the US, Europe & Japan, corporations behave as multinationals. Multinationals think globally, but act locally. In China, India and other emerging economies, rising companies are adopting truly global business models. They think globally and act globally.

Don punctuated the talk with a few humorous quips such as: God may have created the world in 6 days, but he didn't have an installed base." He wrapped up with a bit of philosophy. We must welcome the future, remembering that soon it will become the past, and we must respect the past, remembering that once it was all that was humanly possible. I thought Don attributed this quote to French aviator Antoine de St.-Exupery, author of the Little Prince, but my research indicates that this quote should be attributed to George Santayana.

I enjoyed Don's presentation so much, I stopped at Barnes and Nobel on the way home to buy the book. I couldn't wait to start reading it.

I'm here to serve,