Tom The Architect

Technology and other Interesting Stuff

Category: General

At&t not surprised

I have made it my mission to remove at&t from my life. I started this effort after a customer service rep had informed me that my Local loop could not support DSL, but at my expense I could upgrade the local loop. Just for clarification at the time I was living in a suburban community definitely not in the middle of the sticks. So I pledged to spend nothing with At&t, I dropped idsl Internet services, I dropped voice service to my home all I have left is cell service. At the end of my contract I am going to drop it.

I wasn’t surprised to read aboutAt&t’s move to censor their network traffic. I suspect that they are practicing for contracts in China. Nothing like sanctioning customers without due process, so I would like to offer some suggestions for additional services At&t can offer:

At&t Morality network filtering.
At&t Patent infringement network filtering.
At&t Free speech network filtering.

Here is the new slogan:
At&t
Our World. Filtered.

Did I mention that they are Headquartered in Texas.

Back from the dead

The site was choking on a fur ball for the last few days. I have been without a reliable internet connection in the evenings, resulting in a long outage. So after resolving my Mysql problem I decided to upgrade just about everything. So you might experience some issues over the next few days. I have added permalinks and will be upgrading my theme and finally getting the Feedburner installed. So pardon my dust it should stabilize by the end of the week and I should be back on a regular post schedule.

The Sapphire wave of Master Data

I spent a great deal of time attending Master Data Management sessions. Many people I spoke with observed that Master Data Management was a popular topic. Companies have come to embrace the value of high quality data. The level of complexity varies by domain, Material being the most complex and vendor being the least complex, customer and employee somewhere between the two. One of the speakers thought that material master data might be 10x more complex compared to vendor. In simple terms data is still an under valued asset. As more companies work to implement service oriented architectures and build more complex composite applications, the value of the high quality data will become even more evident.

Some critical success factors from the sessions I attended:

  • Executive sponsorship is required
  • The business must drive the master data effort
  • Take a focused approach (aka don’t boil the ocean)
  • Treat data quality like product quality, with the same rigor

SAP and the way forward to the “New Idea”

I am at Sapphire this week and spent hour listening to Hasso Plattner talk about his “New idea”. The “New Idea” seemed to be SAP meets all the cool and new technologies. So I thought how does SAP get its customer base from an R/3 world to this “New Idea”. So I thought about it (Danger, I’m thinking) and I think Hasso hinted at the way forward. He was talking about the 1000’s of services this “New Idea” would have and in one brief moment said those service definitions would look like the current Enterprise Service Repository (ESR). The ESR, is the road forward or at least the foundation of the road forward. Customers who share Hasso’s vision of the “New Idea” will have to implement the SAP solutions composed of the services in the ESR.

It is the abstraction that the Service layer provides from the actual implementation that offers to free customers from the underlying SAP software. It is that freedom that allows customers to operate and create value independent SAP code base. Adaptation will occur at the service layer decoupling customer customization from standard SAP. The use of SAP ESR based solutions offers a higher rate of adaptation and easier upgrades. The service abstraction also allows SAP implementations to more at a velocity independent of the business processes. This offers SAP the opportunity to address feature lead time and allows customers to supplement SAP with third parties until SAP implements the desired functionality without great risk.

It will be an interesting day when SAP demonstrates value of the Service abstraction with customer success stories, but my guess that day is not far off.

Charter Cable Stupid Questions and Crappy Customer Service

I had recently had Charter Cable and internet installed. At the time I didn’t have a television to check the install, but the internet worked just fine. This past week I finally got a Television and hooked it all up. At to my surprise the cable did not work. So I called the customer service number. (Oh and buy the way the documentation the installer left with me didn’t have the customer service number. I assume that in the land of Charter the everything goes right the first time and who would think the customer might need support.)

So I select cable support on the IVR.
Then I get the mother of all IVR’s. It proceeds to take me through an automated diagnostics and trouble shooting process. The problem was that some of the steps were wrong. At one point the IVR states that I will know the cable box has resynchronized when the box displays the time or channel number. Well lets see My cable box doesn’t have a display other than a yellow and red light. Hmmm! If I was an average user I might have waited for a long time for that re-sync to complete.

So after saying CONTINUE about 1000 times the IVR runs our of stupid things for me to do and finally directs me to an agent. So after going through an identification process just short of submitting DNA (didn’t know cable was such a high security service) I explain my problem. All my channels except infomercials and CSPAN are disabled. The agent then asks me if I have tried to resolve the problem previously, Yeah about 40 minutes with the IVR, which transfered me to you. So the agent determines that I need a technician. The agent informs me that I would have to be home between 8 and 12. Yeah But I work sorry not possible, so the agent says the technician will check the connection from the outside. The agent seems to think that the installer failed to properly set up the connection at the outside box.

So I figure we are done, but no there is one more stupid question. “Would you like to upgrade to Digital cable?”

A bad script gone wrong, or really dumb agent. My extended basic cable doesn’t even work, why would I want to add on to something that doesn’t work.

Please just make work what I originally paid for and forget the up sell until you do something right.

IT Services as inventory

I have been thinking a bit about how a company might treat IT services as inventory. Thinking about investments in capital items, direct and indirect materials and labor to deliver some specific service with some finite capacity. The challenge is developing the proper quantitative measures by which the inventory can be managed. IT Services as inventory also allows for the application of many techniques to optimize and leverage the inventory. I’m sure that someone has done all this thinking already but it still interests me. I find most interesting the application of say LEAN to an IT Service inventory and the processes used to create the inventory. Ideas like, process yield variance, become very powerful and very intimidating to some participants in a traditional IT process. I have to dig around and talk to the Mr. Bieber, I’m sure he’s thought about it to.

More to think about.

Consumers, Creators and branded widgets

With the coming storm of platforms that allow for the Rich Internet Apps, James Governor cites a response from Gabor Vida of Teknision:

“Applications need to realize that there is a shift in the conversation when a user moves from web site to desktop and celebrate it. Applications need to focus on the transition users make when they move from consumer to creator and build experiences around it.”

How about thinking about it in terms of increased continuity of experience. The barriers a user faces when trying to create a continuity of experience are what constitute the fundamental problem with the “applications” today.

There are explicit barriers to delivering or enabling users to increase their continuity of experience. Some of those barriers are:

  • Rigid metaphors like “Rich client”, Desktop, and web site.
  • Physical barriers like laptop, phone, location, network access
  • Corporate barriers like Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Cingular, Verizon ect.. (to many to list)

I think the key is to envelop the users with opportunities to consume and create their own continuities of experience. That requires companies and developers to think about how, where and when in more depth and ensure that the what and why are consistent and compelling. We are chained to computers, phones, televisions, cars, and ipods, all limiting our ability to develop continuity of experience.

In recent years Google has sought to remove those barriers in very focused ways. They have done this by trying to expend their contextual advertising to other channels and more web sites are integrating with cell phones. Sites like twitter are working to make “online conversation” more ubiquitous.

We will always be consumers and at the same time creators of continuity of experience.

We are heading into some interesting times.

Linksys WRT54G trouble

I think the WRT54G set a record today for the number of reboots I had to perform. I don’t know what happened my last Linksys router was great. I have applied firmware more times than I can count. Checked the knowledge base and messed with the router, I have better things to spend my time on. Video is choppy, forget CNN video, it’s terrible. All I want is a router that works out of the box and doesn’t require my baby sitting services. Linksys Cisco is about to lose a loyal customer forever.

Does any one have any suggesting for a affordable high quality wireless Router similar to the WRT54G?

Death to the Link Monkey and iPodus no Updatus

Ok, I have been gone for far to long. Back at the beginning of March I started work for a new company. I thought that restarting my blog would be fitting. So, I have returned to the town where my career started. I have enjoyed the questions of my friends. One question I found funny was “Do you control your own lights?”. I guess the ability to control your own lights is an informal measure of accomplishment. I wasn’t aware of that measure, but for the record I can control my own lights.

I have been living in a hotel for the last month, about 1 minute from the office. I would like to coin a new disease iPodus no Updatus. My iTunes account is on my home PC ugh! The hardest thing of all is being away from my family. So look for regular posts from Tom The Architect.

We are Enron

The financial statement of the United States of America was released on December 15. The best explanation I have seen can be found here. The report is put out by David Walker the Comptroller of the United States of America. I have seen him speak on CSPAN and he is very direct about the state of our national finances.

The hypocrisy that is Congress, never ceases to amaze me. The Sarbanes-Oxley legislation is meant to prevent another Enron, mean while Congress continues keep 53 Trillion dollars of debt ‘off balance sheet’, something a public company could now never do. The future doesn’t look to bright.