Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Golden Circle

Today I discovered Simon Sinek and I re-discovered myself. Almost every single entry in this blog contained what Simon explains with such simplicity, the fundamental Why. "People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it."

 He wrote in his book  "the one reason, the only reason I become the representative of Why, is because other people." He truly  inspires me and I deeply hope to inspire others, it is viral

Simon Sinek Golden Circle. We go from inside (Why)  to outside (what)

The video was first shown on, - there alone it has over 4 million viewers - but now it is all over the Internet. One quote stands out is this:
If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears
A true entrepreneur shakes  people from their reverie and tells them: "You don't need to live a life of desperation and confusion. You have unique skills. You have a legacy worth preserving. You have a future worth fighting for."  He shows us the world is heading somewhere and we control its movement. He tells us we need not be at the mercy of prejudices or the prevailing  political wind.

He does not want control, or  imposition of his will. He does not take away other people autonomy. He cares. when you consult him for guidance, it is like coming face to face with yourself for the first time.

This is the power of Why, and it works only if there is chemistry.
 Watch the video

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

14 ways to go from bitterness to betterness

See also Tell the status quo to go to hell 

1. Don't study  just to qualify for disposable routine jobs
2. Use your moral compass, read history, be cosmopolitan
3. A great accomplishment is more than what's visible in vicinity
4. Use your passion with a vengeance  to the max and beyond.
5. Dream so big, that you can ignore the others who laugh.
6. Don't entice mediocrity by shuffling PowerPoint  slides
7. Topple the status-quo: use ambition, persevere, use empathy
8. The sooner you get started, the better
9. If you fail, fail big and forgive
10. Mistakes are the beginning of wisdom and show possibilities
11. Prosperity is nowhere near the status-quo
12. Status-quo is dying metropolises. mass unemployment, fear of future
13. Map the horizons where you are going
14. When status quo tells you it can't be done, tell the status-quo to go to hell.

Adapted from Umair Haque

Monday, February 20, 2012

Optimize your work for happiness, not only profit

Tom Preston Werner @mojombo who wrote the famous How I Turned Down $300,000 from Microsoft to go Full-Time on GitHub   explains why. He brought to live, consciously or sub-consciously, the  Umair Haque  @umairh teachings. ( See his must-read blog The Betterness Manifesto) , in the slides below. It is a must .Absorb these into your being and write a new script for your life. I bought a Courvoisier VSOP bottle of cognac and sipped it from special glass

Will Betterness Work?
Amen! L'Chaim! Prost! Salud y amor y tiempo para disfrutarlo!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cloud Connection 02/15/2012. A personal view

Four Things I'd Like To See At Cloud Connect  says Charles Babcock in his Information Week article.
He wants (1) with no human tinkering any virtual cloud can exchange files with other virtual clouds. (2) universal units of measure for cloud pricing, something like a "Kilowatt of cloud" (3) performance monitoring universal and "a la carte" and on demand (4) the ability to move at wish in a jiffy to another cloud or availability zone.
Nati Shalom
Isn't this asking too much from Cloud Connect? Mr. Babcock has an impossible dream, It will never happen, because it is NOT a goal for a technology, but standards, politics and competitiveness,  At Cloud Connect, everyone labels their software -whatever that may be -  as cloud. My visiting experiences fall in a few categories.

The large companies (IBM, CISCO, Microsoft) have impressive large booths, but it appears no one knows what they sell and why.  They are men and women smiling and polite. These are actual replies:  "I am so sorry, I just started last week and I was told to attend the show". Or " I am a lifetime company man, never been outside and I don't know"
Ruv Cohen

Then we have the storage and back up companies. Or monitoring software companies. Or anti-virus companies. Or security solutions software. They may have a good products, but they can go to any data center show and sell the same products. They are useful add-ons  not solutions by themselves

Randy Bias
There are real cloud companies. - IaaS providers, private cloud software. - have good products.  Yet some of them confuse the poor visitor with their claims they are the best, with a mixture of slogans and technical blah-blah. Personally I think they are too many small companies fighting access, at least now, to too few reluctant and skeptical corporate buyers. Many startup cloud sales executives, are drifting from company to company, because they can not make a living from a few sales per year

Bernard Golden
I like practical dreamers, like Steve Jobs, who changed the way we think product management and entrepreneurship. . They are the ones who distort reality to make new breakthroughs real.  Perhaps my disappointment at Cloud Connect is that I met very few people who dare. The show was dominated by me-too-ers. The Enterprise IT companies, they say want to sell and make money from sales. They know the traditional, legacy IT will give them business for years. They are Data Center providers of routine tools that lock in their customers This has nothing to do with cloud, it has to do with filling in cracks and holding hands for their customers' new employees replacing the one who left for better jobs elsewhere.. .

Geva Perry
"To be like Google? Like Facebook?" said one of them? after listening to my question.  "Yes" , I said "or like Apple". He was from Texas,  and  made me feel  as if I was an extraterrestrial .

As I was going to have a drink, I realized that all this cloud movement, would not have had existed without people, my friends, who are on my twitter list named "Fascinating People"  Randy Bias (CloudScale founder), Bernard Golden, Geva Perry, Nati Shalom (GigaSpaces), Adrian Cockcroft (Netflix), Ruv Cohen (who was sailing the Caribbean after he sold his company to Virtustream)

Many people I credit as part of the cloud soul were not there. The Spanish entrepreneurs Diego Marino (Abiquo), Diego Parilla (StackOps) and Javier Perez-Grifo (TAPP). My apologies to those not named.
Jason Hoffman

Jason Hoffman ( Joyent) did not attend.  And talking about Joyent, they are probably closer to the ideal of Charles Babcock than any other company I know

What I did miss at Cloud Connect was to see network virtualization companies, like Nicira, Evolven  and so on. We know more than half of the cost of the cloud are network. Well, we know because of various articles published analyzing cost of the cloud .
Adrian Cockcroft

What I discovered at Cloud Connect is a company called Cloud Cruiser. They operated in stealth until March last year. According to web site:
Cloud Cruiser delivers a comprehensive suite of applications to map and measure resource usage independent of computing environment, allocating costs based on IT-defined criteria, and providing flexible and in-depth reporting of that usage. Cloud Cruiser enables business intelligence from many different levels and perspectives to give you the optimization and chargeback information that you require for your cloud.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Amazon or self-hosted?

From Charlie Oppenheimer, Matrix Partners article published by Gigaom. He assumes this traffic distribution

and produces this cost comparison table:

However it is not recommended to conclude that Self-Hosting is cheaper than Amazon. The author writes:
Notice in the above example, that a bit more than half of the total cost for each alternative is for bandwidth/data transfer charges ($35,144 for self-hosted at $8/Mbps and $36,900 for AWS).
Aha! The cost of the network is more than half the total cost of operating a cloud, and this proves the point of the  M2Mi article I commented below:  Why Include Network Virtualization into the Cloud .

Here the final Mr. Oppenheimer final recommendation:

It is very simple:  if your usage is flat, go Hosting. If your usage is spiky, go Amazon. But in between these two extremes, where actually every institutional user sits, we have a wide space where the cost of the networking (aka bandwidth cost) can tilt the balance either way. The cost of the network is the decisive factor, everything else is just small change.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Flood is coming: Faith Popcorn predictions

Faith Popcorn's 1992 (yes, 20 years ago)  "The Popcorn Report" said on cover: If you are planning to be alive in year 2000, you must read this  books.

Si 1992 #1 trend was Cocooning. People will be too afraid to go out. Supermarkets will deliver the food at your door, doctors will make again house calls. Sales for home alarms will increase 80%. Cocooning never happened and was her biggest boo-boo.

She recommends American Airlines to transform the coast-to-coast flight into a a special restorative time for body and mind, promising passengers to arrive feeling much better than before they boarded the flight. In 2012 this is big joke. No food, less leg room is what we get and for cheap flight, passengers put up with everything.

Also men will color their hair to look younger. (Actually more people today shave their head to hide boldness)

But she did predict some things with amazing foresight . Her book will become interactive on line, well ahead anyone else. America will become more entrepreneurial and less big business corporate. (She said this long before Umair Haque from Harvard) .

Finally, she said, America is really mad. In 1992 this was precocious.

For 2012, she predicts "in the coming decade we will see a sea change in the way feminine power is  incorporated in  society"  "Males’ problems with aggression, depression and performance will continue to worsen as long  as they go untreated" She adds "Unchecked masculinity will be seen as a liability.
Corporations will lose a lot of their male populace to the stay-at-home dad trend.". Marriages will sort of disappear Unmarried women deliver 41% of the  children born in US. By the end of the decade there will be more businesses started by women than men.
Now for 2020, we should expect the Flood of biblical proportions. We need to build an Arc and navigate for survival, because it seems the feminine power will not save us and only a few real men will survive as much precious stallions

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Which Private Cloud is Best and How to Select One


This litmus test is proposed to compare private clouds
  1. How long does it take  to place in production an application delivered as service in your private cloud? (comparing apples to apples)?  Less than 1 hour? Less than 1 day? Less than 1 week? More than 1 week?
  2. What is the skill level required for (1)? . Rate 1 any user, 2 any sysadmin, no training,  3 only trained computer science sysadmins
  3. Does it have a ready to use billing system to be used internally and externally? Most reply " it has "hooks" to external "unnamed billing systems". The reply is either Yes or Not.
  4. How the server scalability works?  Manual or Automatic? Where the additional servers are located?  (a) More servers on site or other sites inside the same organization are added  function of aggregated demand? Or (b) servers are added from public sites for additional costs whenever they are needed? If  (b) , how outside bills are allocated to internal and external users?
Now read on to see why.

OpenStack vs Eucalyptus vs OpenNebula is an animated discussion on linked in. Here is my take.

Don't compete on features

This discussion assumes that the winner will determined from technical features. This is wrong of course. Experience shows, the executives who back the product, - Eucalyptus has Marten Mickos - and who know all the right people - will win.

OpenStack is yet to produce a startup backed by some big names well connected. If you think this is not important, read the blog from Andreessen Horowitz You will see how Opsware was transformed from one product with a single customer, and full of holes bugs, into something that HP bought for $1.6B

Flaunting product features to win the war with competitors, is a mistake, because no one knows the winning features anyway. Martin Mickos tweeted a quote; "Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck."

I had a look at Andrew Chen blog Don’t compete on features  He says:
There are three key ramifications for teams building the first version of a product.
  1.  Don’t compete on features. Find an interesting way to position yourself differently – not better, just differently – than your competitors and build a small featureset that addresses that use case well. 
  2.  If your product initially doesn’t find a fit in the market (as is common), don’t react by adding additional new features to “fix” the problem. That rarely works. 
  3. Make sure your product reflects the market positioning. If your product is called the Ultimate Driving Machine,..., bring that positioning into the core of your product so that it’s immediately obvious to anyone using it.... Your product will be fundamentally differentiated from the start.
I was the product manager of Sun Grid Engine for a decade and the most frequent request I had was to produce comparison with competing products LSF, PBSpro, and so on. Each time such a document was produced, it was leaked to competitors, they immediately added (or claimed they added) the features we claimed as exclusive. Some of the features were so esoteric (see A glimpse into the new features of  Sun Grid Engine 6.2 Update 5, due in December 2009 ) that you can count the users who demanded them on your fingers. The vast majority of users did not need them

Private Clouds vs. wishful thinking Private Clouds

Tom Morse has an excellent web site where he lists  most private cloud  offerings which are claimed  to be products. It is a very nice work. Here are the companies he lists

However this list completeness pays as price the inclusion of wishful thinking companies who they believe they are a private cloud, like IMO Cisco. Cisco under December 2011 claimed they integrated 3rd parties cloud software in their solutions, creating complicated labyrinthine implementations. On February 1, in Padmasree Warrior, Cisco's CTO claimed in Cisco Live Europe event that
...Cisco also has plans to build out its cloud offerings, with a four-pillar strategy to help customers build private, public and hybrid clouds on its Unified Computing System (UCS)
This statement - a surprise for many engineers at execution level in Cisco who are reading on Internet what their company is up to  - contradicts teh claim that Cisco has a Private Cloud Solution now.

The litmus test to identify the real Private Cloud

Can someone do one table comparison of all the private clouds offering on Paul Morse's web site? I do not mean comparing features, just a few categories:

  1. How long does it take make an application delivered as service (comparing apples to apples)? ( less than 1 hour? Less than 1 day? Less than 1 week? More than 1 week?
  2. What is the skill level required for (1)? . Rate 1 any user, 2 any sysadmin, no training,  3 only trained computer science sysadmins
  3. Does it have a ready to use billing system to be used internally and externally? (Most reply" it has "hooks" to external "unnamed billing systems). The reply is either Yes or Not.
  4. How the scalability works?  (a) More servers on site or other sites inside the same org. are added automatically function of aggregated demand? Or (b) servers are added from public sites for additional costs? If (4) , how outside bills are allocated to internal and external users?

I don't think there is even one person among the people I know - and I know some very competent people - who is able to answer these questions for each product from Paul Morse rather complete private clouds list.

IMHO, if the resulting data center can not provide satisfactory replies to (1) through (4) questions without exception, no matter what product is used, we do not have a cloud, but another, slightly less cumbersome to run data center

Note none of the litmus test questions include virtualization. Virtualization is just one tool, not an end by itself

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Selected comments on Many Core processors post

These are selected quotes from the comments to the post Many Core processors: Everything You Know (about Parallel Programming) Is Wrong from this blog, published on Hacker News.

All comments are outstanding, my apologies not including everyone here, please follow the Hacker News link to read them all
"The obstacle we shall have to overcome, if we are to successfully program manycore systems, is our cherished assumption that we write programs that always get the exactly right answers."
The above statement falls in the realm of mystical . The writer Rodger Kamenetz writes in Burned Books,  that any word that has "seventy faces", meaning is infinitely interpretable,  could belong to the level of Scriptures and canonical texts.  It is esoteric. In spite of all texts, courses and information on Kabbalah, the real sensibility behind it, - is further removed from the great majority of people. Those writing below debate with elegance, to say the least.

Most of the time, this is not a trade off worth making. I can't think of a researcher that would willingly trade replicability for speed. I can't think of a mathematician who would base a proof on the idea that a number is probably prime....I can't think of an airline passenger who would be totally fine with the flight computer usually being pretty good. It would be a fine trade off for games, however. But given the choice between an answer that is correct, and an answer that is probably correct, I will take the correct answer.

Probability theory can be an extremely powerful tool when researching things that are otherwise difficult to reason about. And the theorem statement does not have to be probabilistic for the probabilistic method to be applicable. Just see
"I can't think of an airline passenger who would be totally fine with the flight computer usually being pretty good."
Actually, I would think it's pretty much the opposite. That is, the only type of airline passenger I can think of, is one who is fine with the flight computer (and the airplane in general) usually being pretty reliable. We already know that computers can malfunction and airplanes can crash. Now, of course, how reliable you want the airplane to be is up to you, but if you want it to be flawless, then you should never board an airplane.

It's not just the examples that are flawed. In most practical situations, provably correct answers do not exist. In most cases, one can only choose a level of certainty. Sometimes not even the level of certainty is possible to know.

Those are examples of problems that exist within the space of mathematics and number games we created for ourselves. Computers as we have them now are great for those.
However, when interfacing to the real, non-exactly specified, incomplete information world, "good enough most of the time" is not only fine, it is all you can hope for. For example, robots that need to navigate rough terrain, or in living organisms at the nano-scale, or communicate in human language.
There is a huge class of things that simply cannot be addressed with the current "correct" model of computation because they are not well-specified to the lowest level in the first place.
Computers, in other words, need to be more like brains. 

Our brains work that way, and we trust them.
If I understand correctly - no single neuron is neccesary for your brain to work ok. Brain does not depend on any single link working correctly. Somehow it works reliable enough.
It's possible to make reliable systems from unreliable parts.

It's difficult to say how reliable our brains are at doing things like driving cars or riding bikes because we don't really have anything to compare them to. I expect that it won't take long before we can build automated cars that are far safer drivers than any human..I suspect that if we cannot get deterministic behavior out of future computers because of the amount of parallelization required to make efficient use of their CPUs we will end up with 2 streams of computing , one of which will stay relatively static and be interested in using computers for the types of problems we currently do and another which will be interested in applying it to new problems that do not require determinism.

The software for these computers will be radically different so most likely you will have 2 computers on your desk (or in your pocket , or in VMs), one with < 10 cores and one with > 1000 cores.
I don't know much about how the brain works but I guess this is a process that uses a lot of heuristics and psuedo randomness that probably lends itself well to being parallelized which is why we set up our languages this way.

For those making off-the-cuff judgments of how crazy this idea is: In 1990 or so, Dave Ungar told me he was going to make his crazy Self language work at practical speed by using the crazy idea of running the compiler on every method call at runtime. Then he and his crazy students based the Hotspot Java compiler on that crazy idea, which is now the industry-standard way of implementing dynamic languages. So now I tend to pay close attention to Dave's crazy ideas...

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AI and ML for Conversational Economy