Web Solution Architect - Rockwell Collins - My ramblings on work, technology, & life in general

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Seven signs of a challenging project

I could not resist posting this because I'm overly involved with a crucial business project that is planned to increase our company's revenue by $1 BILLION.  Unfortunately, we have had each of these signs in the order they are listed. 

7 signs of a challenging project
  1. Time constraints
  2. Solution changes
  3. Limited process knowledge
  4. Limited requirements available
  5. Training needs
  6. Resource needs
  7. Customer changes


Outline for an Executive Summary

Over time I've constructed the following general outline for creating executive summary presentations.
  • Overview 
  • Case for change (drivers: business & IT)
  • Current State (key observations and issues)
  • Future State (alternatives & recommendation)
  • Gap Analysis (current, recommended, and future capabilities)
  • Roadmap 
  • Summary (Key... takeaways, recommendations, next steps, measures of success)

13 Mobile Development Questions to Think About

  1. Why is this important to our business?
  2. How is this different than how we develop today?  
  3. Why now?
  4. What new skills and technologies are required?
  5. What devices and standards should we target?
  6. Is context-awareness important?
  7. Where will applications be deployed?
  8. What enterprise capabilities are required to support mobile?
  9. What is the roadmap?
  10. How is this related or not related to the portal?
  11. Are we targeting internal apps, external apps, or both?  
  12. Who will consume the apps and with what?
  13. How does this change IT service offerings?

Solution Architecture Guidance

Here is my general guidance in regards to solutions architecture:
  • Leverage what we have first
  • Gather facts, not opinions when assessing solutions
  • Avoid making early assumptions
  • Prove that issues are real before escalating concerns
  • Present issues or concerns within proper context
  • If prototypes reveal concerns, consider alternative solutions.



Critical Thinking Model for Writing Whitepapers

1.  State your initial point of view
2.  Define your point of view more clearly
3.  Give an example of your point of view
4.  Explore the origin of your point of view
5.  Identify your assumptions
6.  Offer supporting reasons, evidence, and arguments
7.  Consider other points of view
8.  Arrive at a conclusion, decision, solutions, or prediction
9.  Consider the consequences
 



Custom Number Format Codes in Office

I've struggled many times to remember the custom format codes in Office.  For example, I was creating a chart and wanted to show 1.2M instead of $1,200,000.    Finally, I found this wonderful resource.

http://www.igetit.net/newsletters/Y04_02/CustomFormats.aspx



Plugged in Not Charging.

Suggested steps to fix the nasty Windows power management issue of plugged in not charging.

Option 1:

  1. Disconnect AC
  2. Shutdown
  3. Remove battery
  4. Connect AC
  5. Startup
  6. Under the Batteries category, right-click all of the Microsoft ACPI Compliant Control Method Battery listings, and select Uninstall (it’s ok if you only have 1).
  7. Shutdown
  8. Disconnect AC
  9. Insert battery
  10. Connect AC
  11. Startup

Option 2:

  1. Turn off laptop.
  2. Unplug AC power.
  3. Remove battery.
  4. Replace AC power.
  5. Turn on laptop, allow OS to boot.
  6. Once logged in to the machine, perform a normal shut down.
  7. Unplug AC power.
  8. Replace battery.
  9. Replace AC power.
  10. Turn on laptop, allow OS to boot. The battery should once again be charging as normal

Additional troubleshooting techniques:

  1. Check battery charging status in the BIOS
  2. Update BIOS
  3. Replace Battery (I did this and the new battery is not charging)
  4. See if the battery charging light works when the laptop is powered down.

Supporting Links:
http://jeffreypalermo.com/blog/plugged-in-not-charging-windows-7-solution/
http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en/itprovistahardware/thread/741398c6-a733-482c-a33c-2b61d9bc2984
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Xf-ipP0wSY&feature=fvw



ISO Mount for Windown 7 and/or Server 2008

Apparently it's hard to locate a free ISO mapper these days.  Like most people I've use Microsoft's Virtual CD ROM to mount ISO images on XP and server 2003 machines.   This will not work in Windows 7 and Server 2008 machines.  Therefore, I recommend people try out magic ISO instead.   It's freeware and can be downloaded from the following URL.

http://www.magiciso.com/tutorials/miso-magicdisc-history.htm



TiVo Premiere Review

I've been a TiVo subscriber for ten years.  In fact, my original series one had a serial number in the hundreds and according to my TiVo account I've upgraded every 5 years.  However, I was recently considering switching to a DVR from my cable provider, Dish, or Direct TV.  After making the leap to the new TiVo premiere model, I'm glad I stuck with TiVo.

After one day, I'm enjoying... dual tuner recording; YouTube video; HD quality & support; enhanced search; expanded season pass capabilities; shows listed by season & episode number; tons of mashups with online services,  online games, automatic 30 second fast forward, picture-in-picture, etc.  Tomorrow my cable card arrives and I'll have all the digital and HD channels combine witht the TiVo interface.

It truly is the "one" single device everyone needs for their living room.  Once again, TiVo has proven to be the innovation leader in their marketspace and I'm glad I'm on their bandwagon.



Manual Uninstall Adobe Reader 9.2

Lately, I've been having issues with Adobe Reader and noticed that I had multiple versions installed.  Unfortunately I was unable to remove Reader 9.2 through add/remove programs.  However, I found this handy msi command that manually removed it from my machine.

msiexec /x {AC76BA86-7AD7-1033-7B44-A92000000001} /qn



My view on Ultimate Reality

I was raised as Christian and attended a Methodist church where god was described as having anthropomorphic features.  For example, Michelangelo’s famous painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome portrays God as being a kindly old man with a long white beard (Solomon, 2010).   Growing up, I was raised to believe the concept of monotheism, meaning that there is only one God, not several. However, these conceptions of God have changed dramatically throughout the past two thousand years and even within the Bible (Solomon, 2010).

Similarly, my view of God has changed throughout my life, shifting away from the one anthropomorphic image presented to me as child.  Today, my view is more aligned with the theories that God is immanent or an unknown object of faith.  For example, some describe this as God is not outside of us or distinct from the universe (Solomon, 2010).  Like Kierkegaad, I believe God is a divine presence that simply exists without proof or our understanding.  I was surprised to learn that my view is actually fairly aligned with Hinduism.  For example, I believe God can take many forms and it not constrained to Michelangelo’s image or anthropomorphic features such as gender. 

Additionally, my views on religion have also changed in that I believe modern religion is more about society’s conformance to a specific belief than the actual belief in God itself.  Therefore, I believe in god, but do not believe attending church is requirement for my faith.  This is similar to the Kierkegaad’s view of what he called “Chistendom” (Solomon, 2010). 

In conclusion, I believe my beliefs are now more similar to pantheism.  Similar to the scrutiny that the seventeenth-century Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza received, some may perceive my view as atheism.  However, I’d argue that it is more agnostic because I believe in some form of God, just not a specific one. 

Reference:

Solomon, R. C. (2010). The big questions: A Short Introduction to Philosophy (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth. 


My Political Ideology and Party Identification

According to the "the world's smallest political quiz", my political ideology is aligned with the Centrist group.  They favor the "middle ground" regarding government control of the economy and personal behavior. Depending on the issue, they sometimes favor government intervention and sometimes support individual freedom of choice. They pride themselves on keeping an open mind, tend to oppose "political extremes," and emphasize what they describe as "practical" solutions to problems. (Advocates, 2009)  I was a bit surprised that the results so accurately described my views and behavior.  For example, I often debate extreme left and right winged views in politics.  Also, my stance on issues changes based on the current conditions of our country.  However, my views do not change based on my personal or economic circumstances.

According to the “PartyMatch quiz”, my political views are 48% democratic, 43% green, and 35% republican.  These results were aligned with my political ideology and with my expectations since I am a registered Independent. (Party Match, 2004)  Two minor parties that I find interesting are the Green Party of the United States and the Modern Whig Party.  The green party has been associated with Ralph Nader and is known as the informal US-affiliate of the leftist, environmentalist European Greens movement.   The Modern Whig Party supports the principles of fiscal responsibility, strong national defense and bold social progression.  They are also known as centrists. (Gunzburger, 2009)  I believe many of my political views are aligned with these two groups because I often consider the environment in political debates and support some forms of social progression such as national healthcare.

I do not believe the media shapes my political ideology because I pride myself on being an independent and practical thinker.  Although the comedy is a bit farfetched, I do enjoy watching the Daily Show and believe it helps me identify with the views of a particular party.  For example, during the 2008 elections I was more aligned with the views of the Democratic nominees that supported social change.  I avoid many of the major news stations because I believe they are biased towards particular political parties and I often question the creditably of some of their analysts.  One thing I enjoyed about the media since the last election was their use of Web 2.0 elements on the Internet.  For example, I followed and commented on Obama’s micro blog on Twitter during the election and watched many of Obama’s video blogs featured on www.whitehouse.gov since the election.

References:

Advocates. (2009). World's Smallest Political Quiz. Retrieved 09, 22, 2009 form Advocates for self Government: http://www.theadvocates.org/quizp/index.html

Gunzburger. R. (2009). Directory of U.S political parties. Retrieved 09, 23, 2009 from Politics 1: http://www.politics1.com/parties.htm

PartyMatch. (2004). Party Match Quiz. Retrieved 09 22, 2009 from Issues 2000:
http://www.issues2000.org/quizeng/xPartyMatch/start.asp

Patterson, T. (2008). The American democracy (8th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.



Using philosophy in Enterprise Architecture

I started taking a philosophy class at school this week and discovered a critical thinking model that I believe can be applied to Enterprise Architecture to better communicate thought leadership on controversial topics.   The critical thinking model is incredibly simple, yet powerful.

1.  State your initial point of view
2.  Define your point of view more clearly
3.  Give an example of your point of view
4.  Explore the origin of your point of view
5.  Identify your assumptions
6.  Offer supporting reasons, evidence, and arguments
7.  Consider other points of view
8.  Arrive at a conclusion, decision, solutions, or prediction
9.  Consider the consequences

Reference:
Chaffee, J. (2005). The philosopher’s way: Thinking critically about profound ideas (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.



Advanced Persistant Threats (aka BYZANTINE FOOTHOLD)

According to BusinessWeek (2008)... In 2007, a new form of attack, using sophisticated technology, deluges outfits from the State Dept. to Boeing. Military cyber security specialists find the "resources of a nation-state behind it" and call the type of attack an "advanced persistent threat." The breaches are detailed in a classified document known as an Intelligence Community Assessment. The source of many of the attacks, allege U.S. officials, is China. China denies the charge.

Below are some recent resources related to APTs.

An Evolving Crisis
- Major attacks on the U.S. government and defense industry—and their code names

Defense Industrial Base Cybersecurity
- The US is facing a severe national security challenge from a pervasive, deep penetration of government and private industry information networks by foreign intelligence and organized criminal entities

When Compromise is No Longer an Option
- Mandiant highlights key finding related to APTs and a methodology to combat that (detect, collect, analyze, remediate)

Under Cyberthreat: Defense Contractors
- Northrop Grumman's info security chief addresses the "well-resourced, highly sophisticated" attacks against makers of high-tech weaponry

Northrop Grumman's Timothy McKnight on Security and Identity Management
- Discusses the threat of nation-based attacks, the benefits of identity management and the future of the CISO role



Results-only Workforce Environment

A few people have been asking me about telecommuting and deliverables based management.  Therefore, I'm posting some links to resources on Results-only Workforce Environment (ROWE).

No Schedules, No Meetings–Enter Best Buy’s ROWE – Part 1
http://www.fourhourworkweek.com/blog/2008/05/21/no-schedules-no-meetings-enter-best-buys-rowe-part-1/

Smashing the Clock: Best Buy's ROWE
http://www.slideshare.net/cferdinandi/smashing-the-clock-best-buys-rowe

Why Work Sucks and How to Fix It: No Schedules, No Meetings, No Joke--the Simple Change That Can Make Your Job Terrific
http://www.amazon.com/Why-Work-Sucks-How-Joke/dp/1591842034

Disucssion about the Book
http://hunternuttall.com/blog/2008/12/work-sucks-fix-it-with-rowe/