Archive for the Ramblings Category

Technology Does Expire Doesn’t It?

Posted in Ramblings on May 11, 2011 by mjohnsonitstuff

Technology isn’t what it used to be! Well excuse me, but duh! So why is it that so many organizations continue to utilize antiquated and obsolete computing resources? Time and time again I observe organizations clinging to their oldest computers and software in the belief that it is saving them money! Nothing could be further from the truth as this line of thinking strangles productivity and efficiency and stymies those team members willing to grasp the newer technologies. In many cases, younger team members are coming to jobs where the computing technology in use is inferior to their own personal devices such as their personal laptop and mobile devices such as a smartphone and a tablet. (please note the “mobile” nature of the personal devices!) So what does an organization do?

First, the organization must decide that information technology is a strategic investment and refuse to continue to look at it as an expense. By committing to update both computing hardware and software on a regular basis the organization secures faster computing equipment with more feature-rich software, period. This easily results in more productivity by all team members. In addition, investing in the time to provide proper training on the optimum use of the software and then productivity gains are virtually assured!

Second, consider making as many computing resources as possible mobile in nature.  In other words, embrace the use of laptops, smartphones and tablets! This mobility encourages team members to invest in their own computing skills development and provides much more connectivity throughout the organization as a whole. While data security and privacy are a concern, in nearly every circumstance the added mobility provided with this approach far outweighs the security and privacy challenges. Needless to say, Wi-Fi and internet resources are basically ubiquitous now and provide constant connectivity!

Finally, leadership in an organization should be willing to become advocates for technological advance. This advocacy does not mean providing just budget and lip service to technology resources, but leadership should be major adopters and users of the technology!  Simply put, leading by example in this area will pay huge organizational dividends.

What Comes First? The Chicken or the…..

Posted in Ramblings on September 8, 2010 by mjohnsonitstuff

“The hurrier I do…the behinder I get!”  Okay, I understand this quote may not strike you as intellectually deep, but with the information technology overload of today, I think we might find this quote provides some valuable insights for us. You see we have consistently been led to believe that the implementation of new technologies would aid us in being more efficient and productive in whatever we were about doing. It didn’t really matter what that doing was about, technology and especially information technology, was going to ensure we accomplished whatever we were doing quicker, better, faster while simultaneously accomplishing it cheaper and easier!

Somewhere though, we allowed the entire equation to get out of balance, mainly by throwing technology solutions at problems instead of solving problems with application of new technologies. For example, how about the simple use of electronic mail. From the early days of this technology, the tool was used mainly for communications, but quickly became a repository for all communications past and present requiring hours of management and organization time to simply catalog and retrieve predominantly useless emails. Worried about finding something we kept everything instead of deleting emails that required no further reference or attention clogging up disk drives with archives and email stores with always expanding disk requirements. Before long, we had created for ourselves additional work just managing the storage of all that email! The more email we got, the further behind we got! Then we added a calendar, a task list, and contacts! Again, the more we communicated the further behind we found ourselves.

Of course hindsight is 20/20 they say and I understand that as these technologies started we didn’t really have the tools available then to operate paperless systems like we do today but we could have done some things differently! Instead, we just kept grabbing the technology without stopping and truly applying how we could have best used it to solve our work problems. If we had simply reminded ourselves that at the end of the day we always emptied our regular mailbox at home, did something with that content, and then applied that same approach to our electronic email systems at work, we could have saved ourselves countless hours of wasted time!

So to avoid continuing this approach we should consider carefully our processes before we throw technology at it and instead determine the best process to accomplish our objective then apply technology to that process that will most efficiently achieve the desired results. This of course means developing and documenting processes before we decide on the technologies to use!  So What Comes First? The Process or the New Technology?

Bad Reality Show?

Posted in Ramblings on August 10, 2010 by mjohnsonitstuff

Is it live or… Is it Memorex? Many of you will remember those Memorex advertisements challenging people to determine if the music they were listening to was live or a recording on a Memorex cassette tape. And for the time, 1971 or so, it was a very good quality recording!  It was so good in fact that you actually did have a difficult time separating live sounds from recorded sounds.

Fast forward to today(no pun intended)! We have replaced Memorex tape with digital systems such as mp3 players and the Ipod, and the ability to distinguish between live music and a recording has become that much more difficult to discern. And in this area of technological advance, most music aficionados say thanks and wow! But for many others of us, not only has this advance in sound quality fallen on deaf ears, but so much of the technology available to us today has been lost or viewed as if it only exist in a bad reality show! 

You see, reality shows actually have very little  to do with reality. What they have to do with is entertainment, fantasy and illusion. Many folks view technology in that same perspective; as entertainment, fantasy and illusion.  What could be further from the truth or reality of our lives today! Just a few quick examples. When was the last time you stopped in at the local gas station and purchased a roadmap so you could make sure you reached your destination? Maybe you use Mapquest or some similar service on the internet to retrieve driving directions. You then print out the directions and use them while you are driving. Or maybe you have a GPS such as a Garmin or Magellan. Or maybe you even have an app on your phone that serves as a GPS.  Now that’s reality!  Or maybe you still use the paper yellow pages or call 411 to find a phone number!  Nearly all numbers can be found rapidly on the internet using a cadre of different services.  Many of them will provide not only the number but lots of information as well.  And if you are willing to drop a few bucks, you can find out more than you ever wanted to know about someone. Yep, more reality!

So you see, if you view rapid technology change as a bad reality show you might be losing your own grip on reality! Let me encourage you to consider creating some reality of your own by jumping into this new world of technology and its many fascinating benefits.

By the way, here’s one of those Memorex ads for your viewing.

Don’t Blink!

Posted in Ramblings on July 20, 2010 by mjohnsonitstuff

Don’t blink, you’ll miss it!  How many times have you heard those words in your lifetime? More than a few times I’m sure.  However, those words may have never been more relevant than they are now when they are uttered in reference to the continued pace of technology change. Yes, in the time it takes you to blink an eye, something if not many things will have changed regarding technology.

The first personal computer I saw was a Radio Shack TRS-80.  It wasn’t too much longer after that I saw my first IBM-PC.  Both were dual-floppy models! For the younger ones of you that means that one floppy disk contained the programs and the other floppy disk stored the data. There was no such thing as a hard drive in those days. I honestly can’t remember the amount of memory on the machines, but I can assure you it was miniscule!  To say that the processing speeds of these machines were faster than a glacier is simply untrue! Blink!

Rapidly, as hardware began to develop, I hurried through the IBM-XT and the IBM-AT. Blink! Then on to a Compaq Luggable! Blink! Blink!  Then through a veritable plethora of Compaq notebooks and laptops Blink! Blink! Blink! to the HP EliteBook I use today! Blink! Oh yeah, I forgot my Ipad!  So in what seems to be in the blink of an eye I have seen my personal computing resources progress from a stand-alone, oversized, unconnected piece of metal to the light weight almost continously connected composite materials of a touchscreen device! Blink!  What’s next?

While I believe we will continue to see enormous advances in the hardware we use I am convinced that this rapid change is presenting all of us with overwhelming quantities of information and data.  Some of that information and data is valuable, the rest not so valuable. So the issue becomes how we utilize this information to accomplish what we do in our daily activities both on the job and in our personal lives before it becomes obsolete. Blink! Rumors are a second version of the Ipad will be available before Christmas!

And You Thought a Cell Phone Was for……

Posted in Ramblings on July 11, 2010 by mjohnsonitstuff

In keeping with the topic we left earlier, have you given some thought to the question of rapid information technology change in your own life and surroundings? From my vantage point, I believe none of us are exempt from this phenomenon regardless of our level of current technological skills or our desire to ignore the whole thing!  Simply put, every aspect of daily life has been permeated with technology, and it will continue unabated for the foreseeable future.  Let me give you an example.

Let’s start with the mobile phone. It wasn’t that long ago that some of us remember utilizing a “party” line to make a phone call from our home to anyone we wanted to talk with. Okay, it was a few years ago, but the concept of having to share a physical phone line with others has been off of the communications landscape for some time now. As a matter of fact, many folks no longer even have “land” lines for their home communications, because their cell phone provides all the access they need.  In addition, this “single” phone number approach simplifies life enormously by eliminating multiple accounts at different providers requiring multiple payments on different dates and on and on! Not to mention, some of us have trouble remembering one ten digit number, much less two!

That same device we use for all of our voice communications also provides us internet access, instant messaging, emailing, a camera for taking quality photos, contact management, social networking, and lots of other things.  It can also be synced to secure “cloud” based storage locations to provide access to basically any type of information we might ever need such as business documents, stored photos, digitized personal records such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, insurance information, and that list goes on and on also! Fairly amazing stuff ….and you thought a cell phone was just  for talking on!

This convergence of information is exponentially accelerating because of the availability and affordability of broadband services. Not only is it available for your cell phone, but nearly every home that wants internet access can obtain it and in most cases it is reliable and affordable. This development enables continued voice communications capability through voice-over-internet-protocols thereby changing the entire landscape of long-distance calling not to mention video conferencing. Yes, even an individual can participate in video conferencing from the comfort of their own home without too much trouble!

We will discuss these topics further in upcoming posts.

Some Things to Ponder!

Posted in Ramblings on July 7, 2010 by mjohnsonitstuff

Everything changes; nothing stays the same. Boy is that so true today as we are experiencing rapid change in the information technology space. I recognize that it is perhaps not the wisest thing to do to ponder on earlier technological advances, but I can’t help believing that it can put some of what’s happening today into better perspective. So try this on for some comparison points.

When I started college, I was thrilled to secure an HP calculator that did basic math functions.  I think I paid $115 for the device and thought I was something special to have it. It served me well for those unbearable Calculus classes but provided no relief in Western Civilization, Freshman Composition, or Marching Band. All of that knowledge and research came from books weighing twenty pounds each and endless hours in the gargantuan on-campus library. Yes, I even had the privilege of using encyclopedias!  Real ones! No really! 

It all seems so 1970’s right? There was no such thing as a personal computer, a mobile phone, or the internet. You actually had to physically move about to gather the sources of the information you needed to prepare a research paper, meet to complete a group project, and yes, turn in your card deck to the computer center so you could complete a simple Cobol calculation. Aah, the “Good ‘Ol Days!”  Not hardly.

You see, for most of us it seems like a long time ago when these “antiquated” behaviors were common place.  For many, it’s just stories they’ve heard about from their parents and grandparents. But you know, it really wasn’t that long ago, just a short 35 years. It really does seem like yesterday!

But in those short 35 years we have replaced the HP calculator with mobile devices containing the computing power to not only perform the required calculus operations but look up world historical facts in seconds and provide significant computer programming abilities at our fingertips!  We replaced 8-track tape with cassettes, then CDs, and finally Itunes! Personal computers really did become ‘personal’, and the internet basically wiped out the World Book Encyclopedia! So what’s next?

I will continue this later. In the meantime consider, the rate of change you have and are experiencing with information technology devices and tools as we will discuss what’s up with all of that in coming posts.

Everybody Has to Start Somewhere!

Posted in Ramblings on July 5, 2010 by mjohnsonitstuff

I have heard all of my life that sometimes you just have to gather as many facts as possible and just “jump in”.  So that is what I am doing with this blog, jumping in!  Hopefully I can share stories, point to interesting articles and information, and share points of view that you will find helpful, interesting, informative, funny and just whatever! Obviously, your feedback will be helpful, I think!

Anyway, here we go!