The Enchanted CIO

 

Once upon a time there lived a prince who received no respect from the king or his subjects.  Everyday he awoke and worked very hard at his princely duties, which was to ensure that the subjects of the kingdom were satisfied with the king and were able to do their jobs.   Of course, they were subjects, so they were all very unhappy and expressed their dissatisfaction from the prince who, after all, had no real power to make change and therefore relegated to the role of appeasing the subjects.   But he did his best, every day. “You have to be enchanting”, he said.  And that’s not necessarily a skill included in most prince’s job-description these days.

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Enchanting?  CIOs?  I just threw up in my mouth a little bit… This bit of storytelling was inspired after reading this article by Nicole Laskowski who was summarizing points made at Gartner Symposium. The majority of content came from Gartner analyst Dave Cappuccio but also includes a quote from Damon Mayes, a director of educational and information technologies at NorQuest College in Alberta, Canada where he said; ”You have to be enchanting” when speaking to the business in attempting to show value from IT.OK, let me comment on the bulk of the article, David’s Top 10 IT Strategies for 2014.  *Note – I was not at the event, so I am entirely depending on Nicole’s article for comment.


1. SDN and 2.SDS- Software-Defined Networks and Software-Defined Storage.  Great concepts – using a software abstraction layer to manage my networks and storage across many vendors.  It would solve hardware vendor lock-in but, then again, am I now locked into the software provider?  And it’s all really part of SDDC, the Software-Defined Data Center.  In any event, all those things will go into my 2014 plan, because it reads well.  As for budgeting and project-planning?  I think that it will probably push out a year, but worth keeping an eye on what’s happening in the industry and doing some hands-on research.3. Hybrid Cloud Services – My approach to hybrid clouds is to build in a public cloud first, test scalability and security, and pull back functions and services that I need back into my private cloud.  Hybrid magic cloud, voila!

4. Integrated Systems – Nothing new to see here, folks.  Move along!

5. Applications acceleration – I’m all for this concept, I take it to the extent of Lean Development, just make sure you’re not building a MVPOS!  (you know what I mean).

6. Internet of Things – Yea, yea, I agree but only us smrt people know how to build the back-end to support this.  If you haven’t already figured out how to do this, I suggest you spend the rest of 2013 learning about it so that you can budget and build this into your 2014 plan.

7. Open Compute Project – A couple months ago I set out to build a Hadoop Cluster on Raspberry Pi, but then discovered that somebody already did it!   I thought that it was cool enough to do anyways, but the jerk installed it in an Ikea drawer.  This type of enchanted brilliance just couldn’t be matched, so I shelved it.

8. Intelligent Data Centers – Sounds like a lot of coding effort to me, who’s got the time?  We’re all still trying to transform our legacy apps.

9. IT demand – Take away the BYODs and bring back green-screens.  That’ll shut them up and reduce capacity. 10. Disruptive Workforce – Now you’re talking.  Don’t hire anyone younger than 60 and move your development efforts to senior care centers.  Being one myself, I see nothing better than laying down some wicked code before I hit the shuffleboard court.

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Back to the eCIO…Webster defines Enchanted as “being or appearing to be under a magic spell”.  Based on that definition, I contend that every CIO I’ve ever met is enchanted.  We walk around all day appearing  to be under the influence of a magic spell, so I’ll accept that excuse.

No, not these shoes. (Attribution: Glamhag)

OK, I gotta wrap this up.  What do I think is the most important technology that CIOs should be incorporating into their 2014 IT strategy?  Shoes.  Walking around, talking to your internal customers, your stakeholders and your executives is more important than anything else you can bring in.  Shoes are great technologies and have the best ROI.  Learn how to use them.  They are also multi-purpose, since you can use them to kick someone in the can if they’re not doing the right thing.

And if you can find some Enchanted Shoes, so much the better!

P-Cz

Nicole, Dave or Damon – If you’re ever in Detroit, I owe you lunch.

The Programmer’s ‘Code’

 

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Reading about programmers in government,
in businesses and start-ups and, being a
programmer myself, I’ve been thinking lately
about the power that programmers have, yet
there are no ethics written down. Medical
professionals have the Hippocratic Oath to
guide them to practice medicine honestly.
Other professions have oaths as well,
perhaps they’re just good intentions. I’m
really not sure how serious people take oaths and vows anymore, but that’s a blog for another day.
I think that when programmers consider their career, they should adopt their own code-of conduct.So, here’s mine:

  1. Stick to moral Principles. I don’t care what they are, but be true to yourself. Think about what guides your life, be it spiritual or not. Don’t trade money or security for your principals, it’s not worth it. I once designed some code that turned out to be ‘not quite ethical’ (the system has not been in production in decades). I was working on well-defined specs and didn’t realize the implication. I ended up ‘technically redeeming myself’ by creating a reversed-engineered version of the code that looked for ‘non-ethical’ transactions for a company that had to handle the processing of the original system.
  2. Purpose. By programming with a purpose, I mean choose projects that are meaningful to you. Do you really want to be programming on a non-value app, or do you want to work on great projects? It’s up to you. I prefer to work on projects that truly do something valuable. 
  3. Problem-solving . This goes along with #2, except it’s specific to working on code that tackles a problem and simplifies a complex process. This also goes with job satisfaction, since doing thought-experiments , working on puzzles, and coding all day is fun!
  4. Intellectual Property. Do you own the code you wrote? If not, is it legally licenced and properly attributed? Be honest.
  5. Avoid Patents. OK, this is personal. I understand patents for defensive purposes, especially in a large company, but if I was a start-up, I’d avoid them like the plague; move fast and let the trolls chase me. If your company requires you to submit patents, think about the value of the time it takes to do so, and whether or not having your name on a patent really has some stature. I’m happy to say that I’ve avoided having my name listed on any patents, yet I have coded some really cool stuff. Think I’m violating your patent? I’ve invested my expertise in understand decades of ‘prior art’, so bring it! Be Proficient. Know your craft, try to constantly get better. You will never know everything, but learn something every day. Focus on quality code.
  6. Be Prolific. Get into a cadence that allows you to produce a lot. Think about good literary writers. They are very disciplined and use their routine to produce. Find quiet time, whether it’s early in the morning (like me) or late at night (like everybody else) to grind out deliverables.
  7. Patience. Let the solutions come to you. We’ve all had that experience of solving our coding problem while showering or driving. There’s enough work to put something aside and let your brain solve it at it’s own pace. This is the essence of good problem-solving.
  8. Performance. Maybe this should be #1. Always think about performance when coding. In my early days I was forced to write performant code because hardware resources were scarce and I had to deal with a lot in the ISO Stack. Things are much easier at the hardware level but there are a lot more opportunities to write bad, non-performing code these days. Educate yourself on good coding, use instrumentation and every tool available and, most importantly, give yourself the time to write code that performs! Want to discipline yourself on performant code? Write an Android app!
  9. People. Computers are our friends, people are jerks. No, be nice, as your mother taught you. Have respect for your peers, empathy for your customers, mentor younger professional, be empowered, but realize that designers, testers, project-managers all have their roles to play in technology success. I know it’s hard, but be especially nice to your Salesfolks. I love sales professionals; they’re fun and they give you a direct line into understand the value you provide to customers.
  10. Professional. I hate to break this to you, but YOU ARE NOT A ROCK-STAR!  Rock stars are rock stars and I know a few, programmers are nicer, have longer careers and (eventually) have more money and fun!
  11.    Meritocracy. This is actually my favorite. I love development environments where the best idea wins and we all rally around it. That’s real teamwork, not “let’s try every idea” or “your idea stinks and I hate you”. Learn how to objectively analye proposed ideas and how to negotiate. Because if another person’s idea doesn’t work, you’ll quickly figure it out during your next sprint and pivot to something better, maybe your idea!
Peace! P-CzAbout Paul Czarnik
Paul is the CTO of Compuware where he provides technology strategy and investment leadership. A venture-technologist and programmer at heart, his hands-on experience and technical diligence model help with M&A activities and incubator/startups. Contact him at @PaulCzrnk to chat about IT Transformation (even though he hates that word), agile delivery, lean startup methodologies or music.

Paul serves on the boards of, iRule, the Motown Museum and the Admission/Retention Committee for Wayne State University.

The Singularity is Nearer, but Not for the Reason You Think

 

10/07/2013
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If you don’t know, the Singularity is Near is a fun book, written by Ray KurzweilQuoting Wikipedia, “Kurzweil describes his law of accelerating returns which predicts an exponential increase in technologies like computersgeneticsnanotechnologyrobotics and artificial intelligence. He says this will lead to a technological singularity in the year 2045, a point where progress is so rapid it outstrips humans’ ability to comprehend it.”Kurzweil is simply relying on the continuance of Moore’s Law which, simply put, is that computing power doubles approximately every two years.   So, what could accelerate The Singularity?  Technology would have to advance at a 2x increase, which I contend would be possible with quantum or DNA computing, but there’s a simpler explanation.CALL IT “MORON’S LAW”I contend that The Singularity will occur two decades sooner, or in 2025 because, (wait for it)…Humans are Getting Stupider, uh, Less IntelligentAs reported in the Huffington Post (where I get all my sciencey knowledge), IQ is on the decline, an average of 14 IQ points since the Victorian Era.  What’s causing this?  There is a lot of debate on environmental factors, nutrition, nurture, and the education system.  But, IMHO, the dumbing down of our intelligence is due to… computers!    That’s right smarty-pants Kurzweil, despite the fact he created the worlds-best synthesizers, he forgot to calculate that as computing power increased, so did the human reliance on that computing power.  As intelligence decreases, so does the    acceleration of the date when technology exceeds human’s ability to comprehend it.

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What Does it Mean?In 2011, when Ken Jennings lost Jeopardy to IBM’s Watson, he wrote underneath his Final Jeopardy answer “I for one welcome our new computer overlords.”  Social media companies and the government already have computers tracking your every move, both online, in the public square and even in your home*.  If you want a preview of the future, watch THIS.What Can We Do?Even though The Singularity is upon us, computers are not ready to take over.  What we need to do is accelerate even more the date of The Singularity.  Since innovating and advancing computer power seems beyond our capabilities, we certainly can accelerate the decline of our collective IQ rate, very simply.  Get on the couch and watch television, download more moronic apps onto your phone, text your friends about everything you’re doing.  My hypothesis is that we’ll become so useless that The Singularity will become irrelevant and when it happens, no one will even notice.So smrt, right? PCz*Hint – beware the cat About Paul Czarnik Paul is the CTO of Compuware where he provides technology strategy and investment leadership. A venture-technologist and programmer at heart, his hands-on experience and technical diligence model help with M&A activities and incubator/startups. Contact him at @PaulCzrnk to chat about IT Transformation (even though he hates that word), agile delivery, lean startup methodologies or music.Paul serves on the boards of, iRule, the Motown Museum and the Admission/Retention Committee for Wayne State University.