MoMu – Sprint #2 – What

Sprint #1 was about researching technologies and themes, and getting content.

MotownMuseumHomePageReplicating the first website was easy enough.  I still don’t have the administrative password I’ve been waiting for, but that doesn’t stop me from pulling content and building a test site.   When I get the administrative rights, I’ll go ahead and try the export/import widgets, but experience has told me that the value of these are limited.  The theme I picked for my research easily rebuilt the current site, although I want to build my own theme.  This is a little more work.

The key to building a website on AWS is to combine the economy of open-source, the ease-of-use of WordPress and the power of API programming to build a website that is easy to update, yet open enough to code anything I want.   I believe I have that with the current implementation, although I think that I want full control of the Theme.  Not sure.  More research to do before I dive into my own theme.

I considered implementing the multi-site version of WordPress, but came to the conclusion that I like the single-instance and the power it gave me.  Sure, I have to update software individually, but that’s so EASY!  No more multi-tenant for me, SORRY!  I think multi-site is overrated, especially when implemented on AWS.

I struggled with the functionality to make the domain go directly to home-page because the bitnami documentation for that issue is dated and the tools they give don’t always work.  I solved that on my web-page with a simple re-direct, which is a hack, but I don’t care, it worked and it doesn’t mess with the config files.  I worry that the next update would wipe it out.

MotownIsHOTSo why bother with WordPress at all?  Because it’s easy and I want to spend my time coding cool stuff, not a boring website.  Besides, websites are so passé‎ , anyways.  The key is using it serendipitously with your other social-media outlets.

So, back to design and starting with something that looks completely different than what we currently have.

One thing I forgot – the music.  I need to remind myself to always play Motown music while I’m working.  It inspires me and reminds me what the focus of the site should be.What's Going On

Cheers, P-Cz

MoMu – Sprint #1 – WHY.

OK, I have my new webserver staged in AWS. 

Motown Nice, little microserver in my private cloud, only I can get to it.  As soon as I get credentials, I’ll export/import the old site.   This will be a temporary situation.

The site is a Bitnami WordPress installation on EC2 in AWS.  I have root access and have already cleaned up a bit of the basic installation messiness and secured the server access.

Requirements?  Yes, you’re right.  I haven’t sat down with the creative marketing and curator staff yet but even before that I need to “Start SimonSinekwith WHY”.  This approach is based from the book by Simon Sinek who is really worth reading or at least viewing his TED talks on YouTube.   His talks are inspiring and help me focus on what’s, er, WHY’s important and how to express that.

Being on the Motown Museum’s Board of Trustees for three years and being a life-long Motown music fan, I pretty much know the “WHY”, so I can formulate the new approach and build a theme for the first page that visitors will see on the site.

This is my goal for this sprint and I won’t get too far ahead of myself.  The point is that I have a technical perspective, which will be the framework I will operate in to set the strategy of the site.  I don’t want to give away too much of the cool things that I’ll build right now, but I can say that it has to be MUCH different than the way things are being done today, so most of the rest of my SPRINT #1 will be spent in research mode.

Look at any website for a company.  Do they express the “WHY” that they are in business or do they merely tell you WHAT they do and perhaps HOW they do it.  Check out Simon and you’ll understand why “WHY” is the most important thing to consider.

Cheers! P-CZ

 

 

 

The Most Famous Lean Startup – EVER!

This was one of my favoritest blogs, reposting!

8497601Detroit; We got our Ford, Dodge, Durant and Chrysler.  We got our Strohs, Illitch, Karmanos & Gilbert.  We got a whole slew of up-and-comers, most all had modest upbringing and rose to success through vision, risk, and hard work.  True entrepreneurs.
However, my favorite Detroiter-turned-entrepreneur of all time is the one-and-only Berry Gordy.I am fortunate to have grown up in Detroit listening to Motown music.  I am even more fortunate to sit on the Board of Trustees for the Motown Museum and experience first-hand the history of this American icon.    I am most fortunate to experience in person the culmination of a fifty-year mutual-respect relationship between Motown and The Beatles.  I am also blessed to be able to play these great songs myself for my personal enjoyment and fun.There are many books and articles written about Berry Gordy and Motown which you yourself can read, so let me get to my point.

Berry Gordy was an entrepreneur extraordinaire who knew the rules of the game before they were even written:

  • He understood his target audience – Everyone.  That was risky, especially when the market was becoming fragmented.
  • He mastered the compelling reason to buy, which was songs with a first-person perspective.
  • He completely understood whole product – songwriters, the ‘sound’, quality-control, talent, the ‘look’, etc…
  • He negotiated like crazy with his partners and allies, including Brian Epstein, who negotiated great royalties for the Beatles but in the end was a winning collaboration for Motown.
  • His distribution model was expansive, he knew how to make hits and get vinyl to the masses.
  • Competition?  If he couldn’t beat them, he hired them!
  • He knew that his talent had to be positioned to present themselves in a classy, professional manner.
  • He priced his product to sell and was an extremely shrewd salesman.
  • Next Target?  Do you know how many labels he started so that he could have multiples of hit records?  Check it out!

He was also a genius at running a “Lean Startup“.

  • He ran iterative sprints for the development of his agile product.
  • He constantly built MVP‘s to preview songs under production.
  • He hosted, literally, demo days which presented product to his staff for review.
  • He ran customer validation processes with his target audiences.  He gave customers what they wanted.
  • He begged to get funding and made sure that his investors, which also happened to be his family, governed their investment and got the proper return.
  • He surrounded himself not only with music talent, but also business talent, no matter what color or gender.
  • He hit the road to sell, sell, sell!
  • He pivoted.  This is where I don’t always agree with his vision.  By leaving Detroit for California, he may have enabled new relationships and opportunities, but he left ‘the sound’ behind, and it never was the same again.  Financially it may have made sense, but a lot of people, me included, were disappointed.

Studio-AWant to know more?  Come visit the Motown Museum and discover for yourself!

The Cloud is Dead, Long Live the Cloud!

Talking about “The Cloud” is boring.  That’s because the term has been hijacked by ‘has-beens’ and used to death.

CloudKing

BUT – the technology itself is compelling and the offerings from   providers get better every day.  The challenge that I have using AWS (Amazon Web Services) is that the latest releases surpass the documentation, so it can be a burden to find the latest information that maps to the product.  It’s even more difficult to search for a problem-resolution because many of the answers and work-arounds are based on older releases.

All that being said, however, I really like the cadence and pace of evolution that cloud providers are well, providing.  The ability to stand up applications platforms is amazing.  I can terminate and create a new WordPress Server and content in minutes, not hours.  I can add Widgets and Plugins as I like and will continuously improve as I see fit.  But the best part of controlling my own site is that I can run it very inexpensively, track costs and performance, and adjust extremely quickly as the breadth and depth of usage increases.

I’m going to be writing about my journey with improving the MotownHitsvilleUSA Museum digital presence, starting February 1st.  It’s a labor of love that will take their website into digital curation and be a global illustration of what a “King of Apps” can be!

P-Cz

Enter, Stage Right

It’s been too long.  You may have heard.  I’m gone, I’ve retired.

StageRight

When I left Compuware I knew EXACTLY what I wanted to do.  I am a big fan of Amazon Web Services and, as a programmer, know the power that one person could have armed with cloud architecture and programming skill.

I spent my first month setting up my office and cloud environment, then catching up on programming languages that were new to me.

HINT: coding is coding, it’s all ones and zeros to me.

Cloud stack built, coding set, now the hard part – finding all the API’s I need and getting all the moving parts to work properly.

Now, finding the projects.  First ones are easy – move my web-site to AWS and finally dig in to projects I want to work on, like creating a Curator Management System for Motown Museum.  That’s gonna take some time.

In the meantime I’ve also found a lot of people as passionate about building cloud apps as I am and finding customers willing to partner up on projects.

Let the fun begin!

P-Cz

Exit, Stage Left

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  • One of the things I always ask startup ventures is “What is your exit strategy”.  Many entrepreneurs have no idea what their exit would look like, many say the obvious “sell to Google, Facebook or any other company with deep pockets”.That’s not what I’m looking for.When I talk to folks about their exit strategy, I’m looking to see if they have guiding principles that will get them there safely.  A company that is not ‘clean’ will not exit cleanly.  There’s too much to hide.  No matter how you ‘muddy the waters’, new investor will find out.


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    “Pay Your Taxes, Sleep Well”This was the best advice I got from a tax-consultant, years ago. He was doing the taxes for my company and we discussed different ways to reduce tax burden.  He said that he knew people who ‘cheat the system’ and then spend an enormous amount of time covering their tracks or looking over their shoulders instead of growing their business fairly.Think about it.  If you want to sell your company, IPO, merge, whatever the exit, you better have clean books and a clean conscience.  If you’re not paying taxes, or manufacturing sales, or cooking the books to make them look better, you’re in trouble and will be in a situation where you just cannot exit.


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    Years ago I talked to a CFO friend and asked him how much pressure there was to do things that weren’t financially ethical.  He told me that the stress was there but anytime he was asked to do something he thought was wrong, he imagined himself doing the ‘perp walk’.  “Orange just isn’t my color” was one way he explained it.Do not be tempted.  You can’t hide lies.  People will know, whistle-blowers will whistle, employees will talk, the IRS and the FBI know how to get to the truth, and investors will find out.

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    So, as you start your business, any business, keep the exit in mind as a goal and a guiding principle to maintaining you ethics and morals.  However you exit, you’ll enjoy the journey with a good night’s sleep.P-Cz

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.