Information about me

Chicago, Illinois, United States
I have worked to improve professionals and international interaction centers since the mid-90s. I have worked with organizations to grow newly formed organizations to 300% their initial inflow of customers and support personnel and helped others reduce the life of open issues by 1/3. I have aided multiple start-up ventures through planning and initial phases of opening their doors. Occasionally, I work with individuals on improving their resumes, interviewing skills and professional presentation. I believe in a core principle that you should always be looking for the next rung above you and guiding somebody to make a change in their lives as they approach where you have been. Kaizen is the Japanese principle of continual improvement, I call mine ‘the next one up’.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Quick Representation of Me

Creating Technology Solutions - a Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires"

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Work Travel and Parenthood

Traveling parents have options to make separation more comfortable and help build bonds that not every child will get to experience with their parent. Most importantly, do not allow yourself to slip into a dark void, make efforts to stay in touch and use new experiences to show you care about who they are. You can make travel for work exciting and educational with some prior planning and a little creativity. Finally, take advantage of the time away, take some time for yourself.

Stay in Touch
·       Skype and FaceTime are a favorite of just about everybody I talk to. Even as simple as a tour of the hotel room or trees outside the client site. A few minutes of visual time and maybe getting to show you homework that came home today can go a long way. Do not expect long conversations, but embrace them when you can. I was working in the hotel room on the east coast while I watched my son play with Legos in his Midwest bedroom, twenty minutes of Skype, maybe thirty words were said, we were two happy people.
·       Encourage age appropriate children to text while you are away. You can let them know you thought of them between meetings or a client watches the TV should they watch.
Make it a Game
·       ‘How many minutes did it take me?’ – My kids are early elementary age so math is great fun. Call, have them note the time, hang up, go through security at airport, call them back… how long did it take? They may enjoy figuring out the answer, and you will realize you really were not in that line FOREVER.
·       Get a map – Have them look at a map and see where you are headed, at, or came home from. I know some people continue to mark a paper map, we use a magnetic puzzle map to keep the memories short-term and post the state on the fridge for regular reference.
·       Share pictures – Take a few as you go about my day (e.g. interesting water dispenser, sunset, huge appetizer, hotel pools and exercise rooms) and give your child a cheap digital camera to share their activities as well. When you return they will love telling you about what was going on when they took twenty-eight pictures of their thumb and the carpet.
What to Avoid
·       Special nights BECAUSE you are gone – Grandma taking the little one to the movies each time or the nanny letting them invite the neighborhood over casts a negative perspective on your return.
·       Buying gifts while traveling – ‘I saw this and thought of you’ is great for a few dollars but avoid the stuffed bear so big it needs a plane ticket, they will only expect you to top it yourself next trip.
·       ‘I don’t want to but I have to go’ – I make every effort to let my son know I am choosing to make this trip. Yes I will miss him, but this is part of the important things I do to help people, the same important things that help us enjoy our lives and the same important things that leave us alone when we go camping together.
Why it’s Good for You
·       A little me time – Even if it is just an hour eating out at a restaurant quietly, enjoying food nobody else in your house likes/would try or relaxing on a hotel bed actually paying attention to Sport Center(or NHL Tonight). Remember you are an individual, as well as a parent and employee.
·       New = Happy – Marriott did a survey and found going new places, meeting new people and eating new food left people feeling happy.
·       Boost your confidence – Traversing the United terminals at O’hare is an art, just as finding a great park to go running in or convincing the rental counter you should get an upgrade. You can do that and more with ease on this trip, and at home.

Utilizing SitterCity.Com and my Experience

New to a neighborhood, need a sitter, looking for a back-up option, click here to register, My employer provides a membership to the Sitter City program as part of our benefits and is great for helping our us parents.

Sitter City offers a review structure and background checks for a variety of care services including nannies, Au Pairs, occasional sitters, tutors, housekeepers, senior care and pet care specialists. Having limited family in the area and wanting to have parent date nights, I jumped on this.

I did eventually find a regular babysitter in our area, even used some of the site’s helpful tips in interviewing. Here are a few things I learned:
  • Plan your posting by reading babysitter bios and other posts.
  • Set your distance because responses will express interest from all over your area, I want my sitter in our community, less than 15 minutes away.
  • Get your first two interviewed and selected now, when you need them you will be too rushed and putting them on stand-by costs nothing, the are contractors.
  • I am not communicating with adults, both our primary and backup like to schedule over text message, which is awkward to me still. I admit, I do LOVE asking for kid updates mid-outing without kids or my evening being interrupted by a phone call.

I discovered a great find as I searched for two occasional sitters, a piano teacher. Our six and seven year olds just began piano lessons with a place we quickly became dissatisfied with. In an ‘I wonder if’ moment, I found somebody on Sitter City who was not only half the price, but came to our house! Now we look forward to weekly lessons while mom & dad are much happier about the price since we are uncertain of their future commitments to Juilliard.

Note to those sitters out there posting:
  • This is a profile picture for a 'trust me with your kids' site, not a Chive selfie from the bar. (I found plenty of these)
  • Think school photo, way to many out there of your full body looks like advertising looking to be daddy's new lolita. (ask mom 'is this picture church appropriate')
  • Learn to use the calendar and reminders function on the damn phone your face is glued to! I set up two phone calls and a 'meet the kids' time with prospects to show you can be reliable. Multiples missed a meeting completely.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Personal Safety

I want peace of mind that my family is not only going to be safe but that they can live their lives and pursue their happiness.  I am a Democrat who enjoys the safety and sport of having firearms, an interest shared with my family and many friends.  I want our country to have a discussion about tragic events that occur multiple times a year and the lack of safety it instills in the society.

Dividing Democrats over firearms will disenfranchise a large portion of voters the Republicans crave for the next two elections. I want universal health care and allowing people who love each other to marry, I also want a  sense of safety for my family and that we can help ourselves.  As Miller points out, this is a wedge issue people will leave the party over despite all our other common ground.

Changes in rights and liberties rarely are sweeping and immediate, what seems a reasonable firearm for self protection today could be only one tragedy away from restriction.
  • In the mid-80's less than half of the U.S. states issued conceal Carry permits, Illinois will be the last state to formalize this process in 2013.
  • IN 1920 all women in the United States were allowed to vote, 230 years after New Jersey let them vote.
  • Chicago's reputation as an organized crime capital peaked during the 1930's and 40's under characters like Al Capone but has its roots dating back to the corruption of erecting a city on an unstable mud foundation in the 1850s.
Recognizing rights and infringing on them is not something that happens in a president's single term but I do not want to look back at this presidency and realize this is where fear for our safety gathered significant momentum. 

Our competitive, sensationalizing nation needs to talk about mental health as the impetus to societal impacting violence.  Erdos recommends the MMP for only firearm permit holders and Jacobson believes the use of mental health professionals is optimistic.  Erdos has to narrow of a scope to be impactful.  I agree with Jacobson, there is no fair way to profile, examine and restrict a portion of society.  We need to become a more cohesive society with a safety net.  Violence comes from three mindsets:
  • I want, you have
  • I will be noticed after I do this
  • I don't have and SOMEBODY needs to pay for that
I am left with the opinion reactive politicians want to continue to chase and strip protective tools from responsible individuals in a single political term without laying groundwork to build a society that:
  • Exhibits value in earning wealth through work and responsible wisdom (e.g. Andrew Carnegie, Bill Gates)
  • Lessen the notoriety given to those who infringe on the society or rocket to momentary stardom (e.g. John Wayne Gacy, any Jersey Shore TV personality)
  • Provide reasonable mental/physical health care to those in need and encourage society to help grow and care for each other
I am open and interested in having dialogue about 'personal safety and peace of mind'; 'gun control' is a narrowed focus of a concept the majority of people are in agreement on, we want to feel safe.  It is the fear of the unknown, either misuse of a firearm or violence directed at us, is were the divide continues to exist.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Toss the Tapes, I'm Backing Up & Working on Business Continuity

My new concern/consideration for the idea of backups is many of today's applications use live data that does not fit into the static idea of 'copy LOCATION X to TAPE Y'.  With each of these applications kindly (read the sarcasm) providing their own methodology for backing up, certainly outside the standard for your enterprise.

All of these applications have a method for delivering a static copy of the data but you need to evaluate if this is required.  Considerations are (a) memory dumps to store what hasn't been written to disk, (b) transaction logs that allow you to replace transactions from a time period and (c) general ability to sync data to disk, at which point a storage solution snapshot can take over.

As well as utilizing the application, I hit on the key functionality of storage solutions and created a business continuity methodology, reusing older storage devices.  I worked my way from disk to RAM to understand the application and then flipped that to determine the right approach.  The disk has a copy of the data but there were items in memory and it had an option to maintain a transaction log.  A large DB takes a big amount of time to back up so I needed a large window for a full backup.  This also means I can't do a full backup during most of the business week.

Digging in the configuration files and the documentation, I found a few settings that are of value in this situation.  First, I could send a command that forces all the writes in memory to be put into the DB stored on disk.  Second, I found the flag that turns on transaction logging and specifications necessary to construct this.  These were the two points I needed to start developing my plan.

Recovery time... I can replace a full day in about 2 hours, thus I could recover nearly two weeks in one day if I had to.

The plan of attack:

  • Do a full back-up via application on Sunday when activity is low
  • Each night do a backup of the transaction logs so we can 'replay the day'
  • Take both of these and store on a separate NAS
Even better, we found an old NAS serving limited purpose, migrated that destination to high powered storage and reused it, as well as migrated it to a secondary location, giving us some level of business continuity.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Why is eMail Still in House?

With everybody trying to outsource SOMETHING in the Tech Department and reduce costs why not start with the most basic services where functionality has maintained relatively stagnant since the 1990s?  What has changed in your email system since then really, it is essentially the same system with trusted functionality.  So is it those nagging intangibles that keep it in-house?  I see three simplified dismissals:
  1. In-house STRONG, out-source FAIL - There is a giant leap of faith that has to be made to say that the evils you don't know are more trustworthy than the evils you do.  Having somebody you can physically loom over when you need email services restored, despite their slow response time, is of more importance then trusting a team who maintains and restores one type of system regularly but is a mythological coven in the distance.
  2. Our company secret emails will end up on the web - The concern over an outside company conspiring with your competition to achieve an advantage by knowing your secrets is an unfounded fear, this situations currently lacking significant news events.  If a competitor really wants to get ahold of your competitive information, they will get them from an internal source, I see it time & time again in previous eDiscovery work.  Even then, the information is more likely to be offered up from a disgruntled employee than outside powers seeking them out.
  3. Email admin positions are easy to fill  - The CIO has a friend that can use a job, was a Windows admin and certainly can keep an email server running.  The Exec in marketing has a brother-in-law he just finished 8 tech classes at the local community college and needs a job, he can run an email server.
While there are certainly legitimate concerns regarding email, I am becoming more of the opinion there are two primary concerns about outsourcing email preventing progress.  First, people do not know what it costs to run their current email system or are uncomfortable with the idea of billing departments based on specific usage, an entire how-to topic in itself. Second, the fools that we know are more comfortable than the boogie man we don't.

UPDATE : I had a great conversation with a colleague the other day regarding this topic and he has first hand experience with the issue.  As of this update there is NO LEGAL HOLD ABILITY for the major cloud email providers; this includes Microsoft, IBM and Google.  While they have things in the works and half-baked solutions, their cloud email systems do not allow for clients to easily do legal hold of email boxes.  Using standard software in unconventional manners, my friend has figured out how to make this happen at the enterprise level.  I am almost dumbfounded that cloud email providers did not make this a consideration up front.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Happy Birthday to you, I did it!

A Child's First Birthday is About the Parents

Deep down we all know it, a child's first birthday is about the parents not screwing up more than it is about the kid, even more so on that first child.

Most of the time these parties last for three to four hours and there is a pretty good chance that the child will need to nap for a good portion of it, not to mention there is little to no chance anybody will be able to spend what they call "adequate" time with the child. So let's give up this pretense and start enjoying this part for what it is... a celebration of parents managing to not fail, and possibly succeed in the first year. I'll drink to that!

Remember, these first-time parents were the people that, three years ago, you felt you had to check in on while they house sat for you and cared for a $50 bonsai tree that you have had for four years. Now they have somehow managed to keep a helpless human alive despite their tendency to fail to care for most personal belongings.

And why shouldn't we celebrate this unique accomplishment. After all the stress, aggravation of the last year and admitting that what they once knew as their lives, and the what they used to define as fun, is in jeopardy. I say remind them they are doing well. Consider the fact that you have to go through a few days of training to ring groceries and you would never consider hiring a dog walker that was not certified by the neurotic National Expedition of Unified  Referees Organized Toward Independent Canines, but we will let anybody become a parent without training. I want to be clear, I do not advocate mandatory training because that would lead to certification before allowing conception. What I am saying is this is one of the most intense on-the-job training programs with one heck of a risk factor. I'll drink to that!

As a parent it is importance here is that you do not acknowledge that you are amazed that you accomplished it and neither will your party goers, well, the tackful ones anyway. Let's drink to us!

If you are a first time parent and getting ready for this fun insanity while calculating the number of hours you have slept in the past few months; you will likely realize you can do this on just your fingers, the best thing you can do right now is get ready to accept compliments. How would you do this graciously you may ask? Don't diminish the compliment but don't be overly expressive to the point of appearing fake.

Personally, I try to play physical compliments off humorously:

These are actually from my kid's first birthday...

"You look very domesticated." Now I know this was intended as a compliment and had it been directed at a home maker, she may have taken mild offense to it but it was directed at me, a guy, and I was going to slug the man who said it. This was about the most emasculating things somebody could say to me at that point and called attention to the fact I had to take care of the kid & house because my ex chose not to.

I simply responded with, "I am glad you see me as an involved & caring parent, an involved part of my son's life. I believe a father should take an active role in developing their child."

Being the father, I did not have to deal with the weight comments but I am sure my son's mom had a few along the lines of:

"It looks like you have lost almost all of the pregnancy weight." Again, intended as a compliment but to somebody who just saw their body expand to extents they never thought possible and with limited sleep this is not a compliment. I over-heard it and retorted with the following, saving my friend the jail time she would have endured for pulverizing them. "These first few years are so crucial to the baby's development I don't focus on my cardio routine like I used so thank you." It got a laugh and then I pulled my friend into a new conversation elsewhere.

"Thank you so much" is the easiest way to get out of most compliments without issue. Other phrases I use include "We really appreciate you saying so". Everybody has an opinion, they are mostly wrong, they all sound wrong when you have only slept a bit.

To that new set of parents who are wondering if it is inappropriate to order the keg for their kid's first birthday, go for it! This is a celebration of your learning to grow up and blend your old personality into a new one... and finally, I drink to you!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Get out of the way, daddy wants to see the floats!

Are parades really for children?

Years ago I went to the parade for my small suburban town with a group of adults and kids. My son was just about to turn two so I figure he would enjoy the sounds and activity. Firetrucks, cheerleaders, candy and some well decorated floats.

I found myself filled with a sense of pride as the armed forces cars drive past; standing up taller, puffing out my chest.

I found myself evaluating the cheerleading squads and identifying the loose ones, one ones that should not be in skirts and really, how much energy do you have as you cheer for the cross-town game.

Six minutes past the leading police and fire department vehicles my two year old son is already board but was moderately entertained by the family next to us while I felt compelled to stay and keep watching. So I started to question, why do we really go to parades and why are we, as adults, so interested in them? 

Break down the different types of participants that were in there.

Social activity clubs from school (e.g. Football, soccer, rugby, band, cheerleading)

We are watching these in remembrance of our youth and in the hopes of what I child will be. One of the guys we were with leaned over to remind me about his great 'almost pro' freshman football experience, I revisited some amazing moments in gymnastics in grade school. This is the reflections of what we could do and remembering when people would be excited about what we do day to day, now we just work. With that I look down at my son and explain to him the significance of him playing baseball in the future and what it will mean to our time together when he is a boy schout; I am sure he was intently listening as he drooled in his stroller, fast asleep.

The Attention Whores (e.g. Homecoming king & queen, politically elected, candidates and clowns)

No, I don't see much difference in the people in that list, do you? These are the people who won't stand on the side lines and enjoy things, they need to have attention focused on them to enjoy the day. These are the people that will use the phrase "don't rain on my parade" because to them, that is it, MY parade, not OUR parade. They need to be dressed up with music, energy and entertainment because on their own, we wouldn't care. Their saving grace is they are normally tossing candy into the crowd.

The Pride Groups (e.g. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, religious groups, Millitary Forces, Fire and police)

They are the organizations that make us happy to be part of something greater, and if it isn't for us there is normally just a hushed underhanded comment. Otherwise you look at these groups with admiration and remind yourself you should get involved in helping the world more. Last is...

The Chance to Change Your Life (e.g. shriners, red hat society, church groups)

These are the 'now do something ADULT' options and you really should embrace them. These are the people that, at the core of their mission, are trying to better society in their view of beter. Isn't this the core of what we are as parents, people who now have a responsibility to better the world we are handing off? At least take a picture as a note to yourself to look at their website or calendar, that you really want to be a better person and make the place you live a better place.

Parade Announcers Take Note these are the reasons we go to parades, these are our thoughts as the participants pass. Put them in this order and help make your community a better community.

Parents get your kids from the first group as they finish the parade, distract them as you reverse up the parade route and they won't notice the attention whores and finally find a seat to show them the last two sets of participants. Then explain to them why it matters so much that they are involved, why you want to be involved and why we are going to come back next year to see this again.

See you after that last police car passes and we all flood the streets...