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Smoke and mirrors September 22, 2009

Posted by Matsu in Fun, Photography, Random, Travel, Uncategorized.
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Century Plaza Hotel in L.A.

Century Plaza Hotel in L.A.

During my recent visit to Los Angeles, I stayed at the Century Plaza Hotel. It was very nice. But, what I really liked was the view from the room that was randomly assigned to me for my visit. It was on the front side of the hotel facing, dead center, the uniquely architected (is that a word?) office building directly across the street. I couldn’t help but take some snap-shots of the view using my iPhone. The purpose of this blog post is to share those photos.

View from Century Plaza Hotel Balcony

View from Century Plaza Hotel Balcony

The unique building across the street has a hole in it, literally. It’s hard to see if from the above image, but what you see through that hole is part of two other buildings. One of the things I really enjoyed about this room, in addition to the view, was the fountain seen in this photo. It helped to drown out (no pun intended) the city noises. The sound of the fountain was a little bit like the sounds you hear at the ocean. Or, it was as close as you might get to it in a metropolitan area like Century City.

View of buildings in L.A. at sunset

View of buildings in L.A. at sunset

This wider-angle photo of the same view of the building across from my hotel room gives you a much better idea of how there are two separate buildings behind the building with the hole in it. To add to the strangeness, the two tall buildings behind are triangle shaped, not traditional buildings with four outside walls.

Yes, the hole is real. I’m not sure the thinking behind it, other than making it very unique, but there is no magic trick at play in these photos (no smoke or mirrors were used to produce these photos).

My stay was more pleasant because of the view and the sounds produced by the fountain. Oh, and the weather (65 F degrees at night), didn’t hurt, either.


The new phone books are here (or, I’m on the list) September 21, 2009

Posted by Matsu in Information Technology, Management, Random, Technology, Uncategorized.
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Midsize Enterprise Summit LogoLast week I attended the Midsize Enterprise Summit (MES) conference for CIO’s. This year it took place in Los Angeles, California. At that conference, which is made up of CIO’s from many different industries all across the United States, the organizers picked what they called the top 50 CIO’s. Well, today I found out the list was published on the Internet by Reuters news agency.

If you know me, you’ll see my name in the list. If you don’t know me, then you probably don’t care. I am really just posting this link so extended family, friends, and colleagues can know about it. I e-mailed a couple of people already but I don’t intend to e-mail anyone else about it. Obviously, this kind of thing would never happen if it were not for my staff. It is because of their hard work and dedication that we were included in the list. So, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank them for making this possible.

The title of this post? Yup, I took the inspiration from Steve Martin and his movie, The Jerk. Do you remember that funny scene when the new phone books arrive and he discovered his name is included? Well, that’s a little how I felt when I discovered the list was out and I was included.

Fuel shortage drives increase in telework October 3, 2008

Posted by Matsu in Business, Education, Information Technology, Management, Technology, Uncategorized, Web.
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Working at home

Working at home

Teleworking, the term used to describe working from home through the use of technology, is on the rise in the hardest hit areas of the country. The recent severe gas shortages in Atlanta, Nashville, and Charlotte has caused employers and employees to take a long hard look at ways to avoid the daily commute while maintaining or even increasing productivity.

An article in Network World talks about this workplace phenomenon, including the benefits and pitfalls of adopting telecommuting or teleworking policies. Before you jump in and start providing your employees with the option of working from home you might want to think through the problems and create some clear policies to address potential problems before they arise. To get you started, you should read this TAI article listing the Pros and Cons of teleworking.

If you are serious about starting a teleworking policy for your employees, then you might want to read this post that gives advice on the things that OSHA says you must address before you launch that new work-from-home program. It also includes a boiler-plate agreement that will help you get started on building your own policy.

Also, as you consider the affect that teleworking may have on those who stay home (and their productivity) don’t forget about those workers who still go to the office… here’s an article about that problem.

To Dallas and back – lessons for a CIO September 18, 2008

Posted by Matsu in Information Technology, Management, Open Source, Technology, Uncategorized.

Texas - The Lone Star State

This week I attended a conference in Dallas, Texas (USA) for CIO’s — also known as Chief Information Officers. As corny as this may sound, it has changed me, professionally.

Many of the sessions were led by Gartner research analysts. They gave me a lot of “food for thought.” In fact, I filled an entire legal pad of paper with my notes from just the Gartner sessions.

I have begun to see my role as CIO and my job where I work as far more strategic. I almost never have time (or take time) to conduct strategic planning — yet, that is my job. I must rethink what I do and how I do it in order to do what’s important — my job.

In one of the opening keynote addresses the speaker quoted Charles Darwin. I haven’t looked this up and verified it, but I will do that before too many days pass. Anyway, here is the quote:

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.”

There certainly seems to be a lot of truth to that when it comes to technology and IT projects and support.

On a positive note, I took the Gartner CIO leadership survey and scored very high, compared with my peers (other CIO’s across all industries who took the survey). Of course, I have areas where I am weak and all areas could use work and improvement, but I was pleasantly surprised that my overall results were significantly better than the norm. To quote my friend, Stuart, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like me.”

I guess I’m at least going in the right direction.

When do you read? August 29, 2008

Posted by Matsu in Education, Random, Uncategorized, Web.

I love books. I love to read. If you are like me, you read a lot. So, how do you get all the reading in you want? I never feel like I ever get close to reading everything I want to read. 

If you know me or work with me, you know that my office (and outside my office) is full of books, magazines, printed copes of articles or blog posts I’ve found on the Internet and much more. I can’t possibly read it all, but I also can’t just get rid of it without reading it. Otherwise, I’d be giving up the opportunity to learn and grow and become better equipped to do my job.

Because of my heavy meeting schedule at work (during the day) I tend to do most of my reading after I get home — nights and weekends. Often, I find myself reading well into the night, well past what could be considered a healthy person’s bed time. 

In addition to reading a home during the evenings and on the weekends, I also like to always have something with me to read if I have to wait for something (like in the dentist office or waiting for my son’s physical therapy appointment to be over). I read anywhere and everywhere at any time. Still, it’s not enough. I just can’t obsorb all of the information I need or want.

Welcome to the information age where one can’t possibliy ready everything and learn all that is availalbe to one that tries to keep their knowledge current and relevent.

iPod Touch – The best new PDA on the market July 24, 2008

Posted by Matsu in Apple, Business, Information Technology, Mac, Technology, Uncategorized.

Almost two weeks ago I downloaded Apple’s new update to the iPod Touch (known as version 2.0). The release of the 2.0 software occurred at the same time Apple released the new iPhone 3G and the iPhone 2.0 software.

It took me more than a day to actually get the software update (through the iTunes application) because Apple has some major problems with their update serves. They still have not fully disclosed exactly what happened, but industry experts think that a combination of crashing servers and high demand caused the significant delay in people being able to update their iPhones and iPod Touches (they essentially use the same software). But, after a full day of trying to download the update, I was finally successful and an hour later, I had an updated iPod Touch running the new 2.0 software.

My greatest interest in getting my iPod Touch upgraded was to test the new “enterprise” support, which simply meant that it would work with the Exchange server. Second to that, I was curious about the many different applications that would be released through the new Apple App Store, which is essentially the iTunes store but instead of music, you download programs for the iPod Touch (and iPhone).

I work at a college and I was off campus when I first set up my iPod Touch 2.0 to connect to the Exchange server. I don’t know if that was the reason it didn’t work at first or if it was something else. But, after playing around with the settings, I started to get login errors. So, I went to my laptop computer and tried to log into my Exchange account and discovered that I inadvertently locked out my Exchange account by attempting to log into it with the wrong password too many times.

That was a frustrating delay because it was on a Saturday and I didn’t want to either drive the 20 miles (one way) to reset my account (unlock it) nor did I feel it was urgent enough to ask someone on my staff to stop by the office to take care of my Exchange account. I knew it would reset itself in a few hours, so I shut down everything (the e-mail client on my Mac laptop, my iPod Touch, and my cell phone/PDA that accesses my e-mail and synchs to the Exchange server). About 24 hours later I was able to get into the Exchange server from my laptop, so I stopped experimenting with my iPod Touch setup for Exchange and spent the rest of the weekend just testing the new App Store function and downloading various free applications.

Once I was back in my office after the weekend, I once again tried to set up my iPod Touch to synch with the Exchange server and it worked flawlessly. Ever since then, it has just worked. In fact, it’s worked exceptionally well.

Between the clarity of the screen and the ease of use factor that Apple engineers into every one of their products, I find that the iPod Touch is THE best PDA on the market. I have had this iPod Touch for more than six months. And, while I used it from time to time for listening to music or podcasts, I didn’t really use it all that much. That all changed the minute it began to provide me with easy access to my e-mail, calendar, and contacts. Now, it has become a great new productivity tool that I am becoming dependent on for my work.

You might think that there is nothing special about the iPod Touch when it comes to synchronizing data with the Exchange server. You would be wrong. The experience of reading and responding to e-mail on the iPod Touch is significantly better than using any of the PDA’s on the market. I’ve been using PDA’s since the mid-1990’s and this is different. I don’t know if it’s the way the software looks and works or if it’s the user interface and the large touch surface that makes the difference. Maybe it’s both. But, the entire experience is different — better.

If you have no interest in changing cell phones or for some other reason don’t want to consider buying an iPhone, then look seriously at getting an iPod Touch. If you use an exchange server where you work, it is definitely worth it, but even if you just use it for personal e-mail, it works well with Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo mail, etc.

But wait, there’s more! While the main value of the iPod Touch for me is compatibility with the Exchange server, there is also growing value and significance that it can be expanded to do new things by downloading applications through the Apple App Store. I have downloaded dozens of free games, utilities, news aggregators, etc.  Some of them have been very powerful and I think are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how the iPod Touch and iPhone can or will be used in the future. It’s easy to predict that the iPod Touch and iPhone will become THE portable appliance of choice for custom applications and niche programs used in many industries. I can’t wait to see where the next innovative application will come from, but I would guess that there will be a version for the iPod Touch or a special client that will allow people to access the data from an iPod Touch.

My recommendation for anyone looking to replace or update their old PDA is to get an iPhone Touch. You will be glad you did.

This is not an advertisement for Apple. And, no, I don’t own any Apple stock, but I am tracking their stock price using the Bloomberg software on my iPod.