November 07, 2014

IT Talent Shortage: Ugly Truths
"As one of the 'unemployable' IT workers with 3 decades of experience, I think you are missing something," one reader emailed me. "The one thing that was not discussed is how we are treating the people as disposable commodities in an industry where it can take decades to develop the knowledge, wisdom, and experience that is required." Disposable commodities. Take that in for a minute. For many people, I bet it hit home instantly. He's not the only person to voice that sentiment to me in the past few weeks as I researched this article, but he crystallized it.

Software Designs Products by Simulating Evolution
Dreamcatcher shows how even creative industries could be changed by automation. “Designers worry it will take their job away, and [they] doubt that it can create beauty,” acknowledges Autodesk’s senior director of design research, Mark Davis. Dreamcatcher’s simulated evolution process begins with the software offering a set of potential solutions to a problem posed by the user. The software then “breeds” a new generation of solutions by recombining the best of those designs, as chosen by the user, and adding some random variation. The software can repeat this process to produce thousands of designs

Five things we learned from robotics expert Mark Setrakian
While Setrakian may have started off with low, slightly lumpy robots on wheels, hacking and pummeling each other, Robot Combat League took the fight to humanoid form, scaling the difficulty of pretty much everything. Compared to the two or three motors found in the wheeled variety of drones, humanoid bots would take around 28 motors, with multiple degrees of freedom for movement -- he adds there was now a nuance of puppetry to how the humanoid bots moved and were controlled. These robots also had engineering ties to a project that followed after: the Female Figure.

The problem of managing schemas
But the worst problem by far is the fact that with CSV and JSON data, the data has a schema, but the schema isn’t stored with the data. For example, CSV files have columns, and those columns have meaning. They represent IDs, names, phone numbers, etc. Each of these columns also has a data type: they can represent integers, strings, or dates. There are also some constraints involved — you can dictate that some of those columns contain unique values or that others will never contain nulls. All this information exists in the head of the people managing the data, but it doesn’t exist in the data itself.

The Future of Enterprise IT: An interview with Geoffrey Moore
Systems of record are a must-have. They’re foundational, they’re critical, and they have to be protected. Systems of engagement are a nice-to-have in many industries, moving to must-have, where there’s opportunity to create a competitive advantage. You want to have an agile system of engagement that can interface to a stable system of record. The IT function has to bifurcate itself into two camps: A conservative camp that maintains and protects the systems of record; and A progressive camp that takes risks with systems of engagement. There will have to be some interface between the two, which is a new architectural interface that we haven't had to build in the past.

Home Depot attackers broke in using a vendor's stolen credentials
The stolen login credentials didn't provide direct access to its point-of-sale terminals, Home Depot said. But once inside, the hackers gained "elevated rights" that allowed them to navigate to other parts of its network and install their malware on self-checkout systems in the U.S. and Canada. The retailer didn't identify the third-party vendor that was compromised. A Home Depot spokesman said the attack is still under investigation and the company could not comment further.

InfoShot: EU Tech Lobbying Spend
According to the data, Microsoft is the biggest tech lobbying spender in Europe, splashing out €4.75million trying to influence lawmakers. That’s half the company’s US figure for roughly the same time period. China’s Huawei is also one of the biggest spenders in the tech industry, coughing up €3million, but its US spend last year barely scraped €500,000. Google, the biggest spender on US tech lobbying, only spent €1.25-1.5million in Europe, well short of the €11million the search giant spent in the US last year. This trend of spending less in Europe wasn’t just limited to Google and Microsoft.

The complexity of the IoT requires experience design solutions
What we’ll accept in the digital world isn’t the same as what we’ll accept in the physical world. “We have these expectations about things — like Skype calls can fail and web pages can be slow to load and sometimes emails go on a long route round to get to you and take a while,” Rowland says. “It is not great, but we’re used to that. However, we are used to physical things in the world around us responding immediately and reliably. That might not happen [with the IoT]. It is obviously not acceptable if you’re to turn a light on from your smartphone and have that take 30 seconds to respond. You are just going to think it’s not working. ”

Dogs In The Data Center: Flexibility Gone Wild
Reader "Technorati" wrote in to ask what I think about dogs coming to work at the IT department. I like dogs. Dogs are great. But this trend where your fellow IT workers feel like it's OK to bring them into work? Suuuuuure... Bring your dog to work. Outfit him with matching Birkenstocks and a hoodie. As long as he has expertise with Javascript, Python, help desk, or general sys admin. Or maybe some other things. I understand that your dog cannot write code, but maybe your dog can inspire you to write more or better code. But when is enough enough?

Collaboration: It’s not what you think it is
A continuum of interaction that I learned many years ago helped me to understand what collaboration is. It can help you to understand what you really want to do in the situations you deal with and therefore direct your attention, intention and behavior when you choose to collaborate. Three words that begin with “C” broadly describe the types of interactions and relationships you may have with others. On a continuum, they look like this:

Quote for the day:

"Playing it safe is the most popular way to fail" -- Elliott Smith