Monday, August 29, 2005
Saturday, August 27, 2005
This is my third post today. And its Saturday. I think I might need to get a life. I did go to Cactus Jack's last night for a while, though I must admit that Shawna and I didn't connect as tightly with the band as we might have liked. Still, it was nice to get out and take a "thin slice" of Ahwatukee night life. There were some folks there deeply into CHG...
I'm also fired up about this diagram the data warehouse folks put together. I have it as a powerpoint file and as a jpg file.
By the way, just FYI, I had a great time up at Northern Arizona University last week. Apart from the beautiful country and the break from the heat, I was very impressed with Fred Estrella (the NAU CIO), his crack IT team, and the administration folks that helped craft their PeopleSoft Human Resources and Student Administration implementation. From what I gathered, their implementation did take somewhere between 3 and 5 years, and while they managed to skip the worst of the "monster" phase, their system did have to "grow live" rather than "go live". But all the participants in the project that I met -- and I met easily 20 from both the technical and "business" side -- were unanimous that the new system meets their needs better and gives them a better platform for meeting the future.
It was also interesting to learn that their decision to go PeopleSoft did have its roots in a crisis -- a registration failure one fall that sent all the students to the gym with pencils and 3x5 cards.
Given that we want to avoid a crisis, I wish there was a way to wave a magic wand and be where they are now.
Hope folks are reading the comments here too. Both on the forum and in private emails, we are starting to talk about more than scorpions. Not that I didn't appreciate the help with the vermin, but I am anxious to learn from and respond to what people are thinking about the future of technology here at ASU.
In the past couple of days some questions have been raised that I'd like to respond to. I'm doing it as a post instead of a reply to the comments to maximize the chance that people will read both.
Please remember, as I will try to, that we're having this dialog for the good of ASU. So it’s incumbent on all of us to tell the truth as we see it, to look for common ground, and to be open to being convinced of another way.
So here goes.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
I love music... Really.... Love it. I'm a frustrated guitar player; I like to sing; I'm an eclectic fan of all kinds of different stuff, from Blues to Bluegrass, from Mozart to Phillip Glass. But my mainstay is the music that now goes by the name of "Classic Rock". The Beatles. The Who. Dylan. James Taylor. Crosby, Stills, Nash and "not-so-much-anymore" Young. All the usual suspects...
A lot of times pieces of these songs get stuck in my head and I can't get them out. I sing them while I'm out walking around campus (which might account for the extra "personal space" I seem to get?) Anyway, I've learned over the years to listen to those snippets, because sometimes it’s my subconscious trying to tell me something.
The past few days the internal tape loop has been running fragments of a real classic, Revolution by the Beatles -- John Lennon style.
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
(with apologies to Mary Shelley.)
NOTE: I am just trying to get a point across with a little humor here. If you can't take a joke, don't read this posting. There are no secret or veiled references to individuals at ASU or elsewhere, so don't look for them. I mean no disrespect. Also, please note that I am not a qualified fiction writer or satirist.
Proceed at your own risk.
Sunday, August 14, 2005
Does it rain every day here in the "desert"? Based on my two weeks of observation, it sure looks that way to me. As far as my personal experience goes, seems we're going to run out of umbrellas way before we run out of water!!
Which tells you how easy it is to jump to the wrong conclusion when you've only been looking at an environment for a short time -- probably my principal occupational hazard at the moment.
Of course, on the other hand, there's the "go with your gut" school of thought, the rapid cognition crowd. Malcom Gladwell, author of the best selling "The Tipping Point", recently released a new book, "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking", which explores this decision mode -- what he calls "thin-slice cognition" -- basing a judgement or decision on a broad, but not deep, look at a situation.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Got another scorpion last Friday. Well, in fairness, my son Andy got him. My wife spotted it in one of the moving boxes, and did the only sensible thing. She promptly closed it and waited till I got home. The box was full of that paper that movers seem to use so very much of. Anyway, while I was gingerly pulling individual sheets out of this box one at a time, my son was tearing into it willy-nilly, clearly not appreciating the gravity of the situation. When we were done, the box was empty, and still no scorpion. So we started folding the paper to throw it away and, of course - THE SCORPION FELL OUT ON THE FLOOR. It was hiding you see, as scorpions do. Same color as the paper. Squish. Current score: Sanniers 2, Scorpions 0.
Apart from scorpion hunting, a big chunk of last week was devoted to learning about ASU's Student Information System (SIS). Taking this opportunity to showcase my ignorance, here is my 30,000 foot view of the SIS.
1. The act, process, or result of transforming a complex, organically developed, interrelated information system into a user friendly, easily accessible tool that works well for a wide variety of user groups.
2. A system thus transformed, as in "This new tool is the amazondotcomification of a student information system. See personification.
3. Often shortened to amazonification.
[Middle English, from Latin Amzon, from Greek Amazon, probably of Iranian origin.]
In classical legend the Amazons were a tribe of warrior women. Their name is supposedly derived from Greek a-mazos, “without a breast,” because according to the legend they cut off their right breasts so as to be better able to shoot with a bow and arrow. This folk etymology, like most folk etymologies, is incorrect, but the Amazons of legend are not so completely different from the historical Amazons, who were also warriors. The historical Amazons were Scythians, an Iranian people renowned for their cavalry. The first Greeks to come into contact with the Iranians were the Ionians, who lived on the coast of Asia Minor and were constantly threatened by the Persians, the most important of the Iranian peoples. Amazn is the Ionian Greek form of the Iranian word ha-mazan, “fighting together.” The regular Greek form would be hamazn, but because the Ionians dropped their aitches like Cockneys, hamazn became amazn, the form taken into the other Greek dialects. < Dictionary.com >
The Amazon River, or Rio Amazonas, was named by Spanish explorer Francisco de Orellana, who fought a battle against a tribe of Tapuya savages, in which the women fought alongside the men.
In Internet Bubble legend, amazon.com took its name from the Amazon river, which founder Jeff Bezos believed was a great metaphor for "The World's Greatest Selection".
Making an information system work as well as amazon.com's is amazon.com-ification.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Killed my first scorpion this weekend. Hardy, dangerous, well-adapted little devil. Nearly put my hand right on him, which I am happy to learn from AZ veterans would not have killed me - just hurt like hell. They tell me that short of squishing nothing kills these guys. A good metaphor for what early settlers of Arizona must have been like. Facing this whole monsoon season (forget that whole "dry heat" thing during monsoon), the brutal heat of the summer, the scarce water...that must have taken a hardy brand of people...whether they were the Hohokom, the Navaho, the Spanish, the Franciscan missionaries, the gold prospectors, or the cowboys...These are people who could handle themselves and cope with whatever got dished out...
Not like me. I wouldn't last a week out here without the benefits of civilization.