Archive for the ‘Perosnal’ Category

The Functional Idiot

February 16, 2013

accountant-funny2

Here is a story. I’m sitting in a room with an extremely intelligent  person. Our new VP of product marketing – Mr Y. He has an MBA from one of the finest universities in the world ,a track record as a C level executive in a Fortune 100 company. He is articulate and presents an amazing vision for the future of our company. Moreover, he defines concrete examples how we will be using social media and go beyond traditional  enterprise marketing. I’m quite impressed. Finally, we have someone in marketing who knows what he is talking about.

One month later, Mr Y Speaks in an executive forum. He repeats exactly the same story with the same social media example and same jokes. I’m getting a bit suspicious , but as the great Jack Welch said – communicating your message is one of the top leadership roles. So, I give Mr Y the credit that he is talking to a new audience.

Two months later, Mer Y is already working with us for four months. We are in a customer conference. The same exact story, word by word 😦 . Two months later he was not working with us anymore …

He is probably a “Type A” functional idiot.

I recently learned the term “Functional Idiot” which I really like. Unfortunately it is not well-defined, yet. The Urban Dictionary definition for “Functional Idiot” is :

A person who suffers from functional idiocy.

Which does not help much. However, almost everyone seems to “Get It”, so they must have worked with some.

There can be a few of ways to describe a functional idiot:

  • Type A functional idiot – A complete idiot who made it through the system to obtain an important function or position (e.g. George Bush Junior :))
  • Type B functional idiot – A very smart person in specific domains who behaves like an idiot in other domains  (e.g. Steve Jobs’ failure to admit he needs to shower to smell good)
  • Type C functional idiot – A person who used to be very smart and effective, but became outdated and irrelevant (e.g Dan Margalit might be an example for the Israeli audience)

Let’s say you are walking around the office and you spot a “Functional Idiot”  make a stupid decision. Let me provide you with tools to rationalize it.

Here is a second story. In a board meeting, you realize one of your board members (Let’s call him Prisoner X)  suggests the company should release a “simple self-service” version of your costly, sophisticated enterprise product. This could have been   a great suggestion. But we already did it six months ago and discussed it multiple times with him.

The challenge is that Prisoner X is quite smart and has a very good track record in the industry. How can we explain the fact he get’s $40K$ a month ,but is not able to remember the main products of his four companies?

Prisoner X is probably a type B functional idiot. He is very smart in the big picture and in identifying opportunities, but he is very bad in operational work and following details.

Type C functional idiots are easier to spot. You would usually find them in the CTO office, they have the word “Strategy” in their title.  in a recent example I was observing a very long thread on the pros and cons of C vs C++. The heated discussions was taking place in 2012 by people with an amazing track record in the high-tech industry history. And it was a very interesting discussion to have. In 1996.

To conclude,It is essential to identify functional idiots and tell them apart. Otherwise  we are all doomed 🙂

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Americana 2013

January 26, 2013
Green Robot - Tomo Hotel

Green Robot – Tomo Hotel,

  • I like Hotel Tomo, cute Japanese design makes a lot of difference.
  • Going green. Why do American hotels provide 9 (as in  3*3, 4+5, 99/11) pillows for a single guest?  And then they ask me not to replace the towels everyday.
  • Continental was bought by United. No major difference. Upgrading to business is now $600 instead of $500. All the rest is the same.
Snowy Boston

Snowy Boston

  • I’m not a virgin for Virgin anymore. First time flight from Boston to San Francisco. The only difference is that the crew is much more beautiful. Old fashioned stewardesses (meaning young and good looking ).
  •  FaceTime is amazing. High quality video calls with family and 10 months old kid. Mac to iPhone, iPhone to iPhone and Mac to iPad.
  • The Windows store in Palo Alto mall is quite empty. It is three times bigger the the Apple store and has 25% people in it. The Sony store is somewhere in between.
Apple Store,Stanford Mall

Apple Store,Stanford Mall

Empty Windows Store,Stanford Mall

Empty Windows Store,Stanford Mall

  • The new Windows 8 Laptops\Tablets from Sony and Microsoft are actually pretty nice, at a glance. The touch screen + Keyboard make a good combination and offers an interesting alternative to iPad. The price point is why they would probably fail.
  • iPad mini is even better than Ipad. Better form factor.
San Francisco, Fillmore and Broadway

San Francisco, Fillmore and Broadway

  • Go Wireless! I physically broke three cables and adapters this trip. The American plugs are always loose and the Mac power adapter is quite heavy 😦
  • In the “Cheese Cake Factory” choose the classic Cheesecake. Don’t be tempted for three layers of chocolate.
  • Could not see a big difference in 4K pixels TV. Probably need newer movies.
Granola in Boston

Granola in Boston

Samsung SmartTV – Building the Hope for Apple’s TV

November 24, 2012

Samsung  Smart TV

I just bought a new Samsung 46″ LED SmartTV and I’m very happy.Still waiting for the real smart Apple TV, though.

The “Smart” part shows the great potential the internet+TV combo has, but it seems we will have to wait for Apple to “Get it Right”.

One thing I learned is that the TV is much better for consuming content like videos and songs on Vimeo and YouTube.

The TV comes with a wireless internet connection, integrated browser, Application store and VOD service.

The things I liked :

  • Price of about $1200 including installation+delivery+ wireless + wall mount+ Israeli VAT of 17% (we have wars to finance)
  • The non smart TV functionality is great – colors, lightening , connectors , etc
  • Installation was very straight forward. More of an appliance style than computer style
  • Having an alternate VOD with an excellent quality really shows the promise of breaking the tie of content and infrastructure providers.
  • Comprehensive localization in the configuration and VOD content as well
  • Vimeo is a great web site with an excellent app and high quality content
  • It was fun the watch the War on Channel 10 and Ynet at the same time with PIP (Picture in Picture). Well , the war was not really fun, but you see what I mean.
Facebook App Download on Samsung Smart TV

Facebook App Download on Samsung Smart TV

The reasons why we need Apple iTV for are:

  • Browser runs “Out of Memory” for the majority of web sites
  • No way to change the home page from “Bing”
  • Keyboard entry is extremely slow, unless you buy the wireless keyboard
  • Auto Updates are cool, but why don’t they happen in the background
  • Auto Updates are too frequent , almost every day
  • Integration with Google,Facebook,Picasa and online identity  is quite hard. Entering my password was quite a nightmare.
  • YouTube is full of much junk and songs get stuck frequently
  • No “Ad-Blocking” for the browser and pop-up windows consume the main screen
  • The iPad remote control is not working on iOS6 (and I did not get it to work on ios5 either)
  • Samsung online registration is  as bad as Nokia’s PC software used to be. Early warning signs 😦
Vimeo on Samsung Smart TV

Vimeo on Samsung Smart TV

Expense Report, Audits and Lap Dances

July 28, 2012
 Shrink Your Stomach

Shrink Your Stomach

A men leaves his wife and kids embarking on a long journey. Travelling 16,000 miles in 24 hours, crossing oceans and continents.

His time is shifted, everything seems blurry , the immune system is falling apart and the streets have no name.

Sleepless nights and sleeping pills in an anonymous motel 🙂 But the worst part of business travel is filing an expense report afterwords.

One can use the fake “Expense Report Generator” , but for the honest people life is much harder.

About ten years ago it was relatively simple:

* Company bought the airplane tickets, hotel vouchers and car rental vouchers

* Eating and general costs were $45-50 a day

* For other larger costs one should have brought receipts (Taxis , Hospitality)

* For a long travel an employee could get  a cash advance or a deposit to his bank account

French Toast in The Grove with Strawberries

French Toast in The Grove with Strawberries

Nowadays it has become much worst , although automation should have made life simpler

* The fixed daily amount was deleted, so a receipt is needed for every item purchased,  even $1 bubble gum.

* The previous allowance is  now the daily maximum . Let’s say on Monday I was extremely busy with customer visits and only grabbed a $7 Burger King lunch. On Tuesday I ate the hotel breakfast ($23), some vietnamis noodles for lunch ($7) and nice Italian dinner in San Francisco ($50) . In the past, corporate would understand people might not eat the same way every day. These days the corporate would reimburse me $57 for the two days , instead of $87 actually “eaten”.

* Since sales people abused their expense accounts to get lap dances, every receipt has to be “Itemized” . Corporates want to validate that expenses are not spent on Whiskey, Women and fancy Falafel. I’m quite confident that sales people have ways to solve the problem, but for the poor developers that’s just another annoying rule.

* There is no cash advance. The employee is supposed to pay for all the expenses with his private credit card. “Corporate Credit Card” are a fiction and do not really exist in Israel.Even in the US the mechanism is problematic , because the employee is personally  liable for unpaid accounts, and his credit reputation might be damaged when corporate delays payments.

The problem , like in many other cases, is that finance department focuses on the minority of unethical employees and creates a huge bureaucratic workflow that wastes more money than it aims to saves. While finance administration might be easier, it is amazing that an employee needs to spend 3-4 hours post travel to get back the private money he spent.

Since the costs of checking all these rules become very high, many corporates outsource the auditing to a far away country, with people who can’t read our language and have litle understanding of business, business travel and local facts. Try and explain to an auditor from India your Hebrew Receipt for a Big Data conference (or vice versa).

Of course, once you get high enough in the pyramid , you can delegate such chores to your admin (I’m guilty as charged) , and once you get high enough to change the process you  forget how annoying this type of activity is…..

Five Best Songs for Pogo (Dancing)

April 12, 2012
POGO Dancing

POGO Dancing

In memory of many fun Friday nights in  “Zman Amiti”.

  • Should I Stay or Should I Go, The Clash
  • Killing in The Name, Rage Against the Machine
  • Papa Won’t Leave You Henry, Nick Cave
  • Smells Like Teen Spirit, Nirvana
  • Debaser, Pixies

From Wikipedia: The basic steps allow for a variety of interpretations, some of which might appear quite violent. Pogo dancers have their choice of:

  • keeping their torsos rigid or thrashing them about;
  • holding their arms stiffly at their sides or flailing them;
  • keeping their legs together or kicking about;
  • jumping straight up and down, jumping in any direction, or spinning in the air.

Occasionally, dancers collide, but this is not necessarily part of pogo dancing. An uninformed bystander might get the impression that the dancers are attacking one another. People sometimes get injured when pogoing, but, more often than not, pogoers who fall to the ground are helped up instead of getting trampled.

An Apple Real Smart TV – Next Week?

February 29, 2012

The rumors about Apple launching a “Real” TV appliance next Month make a lot of sense.

Apple quote is “We have something you really have to see. And touch”.

  • It is very easy to easy to imagine the features. Just think about a very big iPad. It needs internet access + Itunes + Applications + Local and Cloud Storage.
  • There are many “Smart TV’s” around. As usual, the hardware companies jut don’t get it. The user interface is boring, the CPU is too slow, the software is limited. Just like smart phone before iPhones and touchpads before iPad (think Window Tablet for example ).
  • The component prices are low enough that such an appliance can be reasonably priced.
  • It might have build in Camera, making consumer Tele Presence real, for the first time.
  • Apple has track record of selling large beautiful screens.
  • From the business side Apple can partner with one of the Big Cable vendors to handle the “boring” stuff. The same way it saved AT&T business it can save a cable provider. Instead of fighting the internet the cable provider would get access to a new exciting high premium market. Or they can just buy NetFlix.
  • Apple likes to take market away from Samsung and Sony 🙂
  • Big question mark is on user interaction.Might be something like PrimeSense or maybe “Just” smart usage of iPhone\iPad people already have at home. Or maybe a new kind of control which is a hybrid of iPad and iPhone.
  • I guess the stock would rise to $700 , if they do announce such an appliance 🙂

Here is an example of “Smart TV” from a company that does not “Get it”.

Why the F22 Crashed and the iPad Took Off

October 20, 2011

In the 20th century the majority of innovation started as evil nations wanted to destroy other nations.

As a result, the evil (and peaceful) nations devoted large chunks of their tax money to the defense budget.

The flow of research money was the following:

Public (taxes) -> Government -> Defense Agencies -> Universities -> Private Companies (implementation)

Research Budget Flow

Research Budget Flow

Many of the most important contributions to technology and science were created or commercialized through this path: the internet, GPS, atomic energy , satellites and plenty more.

The innovation flowed from the government to enterprises and only then into consumers.

Space and Aviation -> Military ->  Large Enterprises -> Civilian Government -> Small Enterprises -> Consumers

The early experiments or products were extremely  expensive  and sold in small quantities and required public financing.

In the 21st century the flow of innovation and new technology has reversed.

innovation Flow in a Consumer World

innovation Flow in a Consumer World

The recent launch of an iPhone into space with GPS tracking by civilians, is one amazing example.

The following stock chart provides more evidence. It plots the iShares Dow Jones U.S. Aerospace & Defense Index Fund compared to some major consumer oriented companies like Google, Sony, Amazon.

Chart of Defense Index Vs Consumer Companies 2006-2011

Chart of Defense Index Vs Consumer Companies 2006-2011

The new innovations are derived from consumer demand and consumer services or products : cellular phones, smart Phones, social networks,cloud computing, personal computers and online advertisement.

I believe this is the reason the Intel, Apple and Google are now the largest companies in the world, displacing companies like SUN, Nortel, Lucent, HP , IBM and similar companies more focused on enterprise and governmental markets. While IBM, Microsoft and Intel are still leading the patent table, one can claim it implies more on the inflation of patents , rather than true  innovation.

Top 10 Companies Patents ROI from MSN

Top 10 Companies Patents ROI from MSN

The reversal of innovation can be explained by multiple theories:

Moral – the global society has become more civilian and democratic. Individuals have more civil rights, more control of the public spend and therefore there are fewer wars, less dictators  and less weapons. Unfortunately , I’m not sure all of the facts support this theory. I have found some evidence. For example, from 1988 to 2009 the global military spending share of GDP has dropped by 34% from 3.5% to 2.4% , global average. The number of conflicts decreased by 40% from 1992 to 2009.

Share of Military Expenditure as Percentage of Gross Domestic Product 1988 2099

Share of Military Expenditure as Percentage of Gross Domestic Product 1988 2099

Armed Conflicts by Region 1946-2009

Armed Conflicts by Region 1946-2009

Economics – In the end of the day we are all consumers and individuals. Economics are driven by numbers and since there are about 1 Billion consumers with a high standard of living, it is the largest market for almost any product. Selling a $300 product to every consumer translates to $300 billion market, this is equal to the global IT market spend. Selling $30 of advertisement to one Billion people …. you can do the math on your own.  Compare that with the cost of design and manufacturing of a new stealth plane.

The R&D alone would cost Billions  of dollars, and each airplane would cost $336M million dollars , if it the project is not aborted during the 20 years of development. Programming an amazing computer vision system for smart missiles would only be relevant to 20-40 customers. Delivering an amazing face recognition for  facebook generates access to 750 Million customers. The OCR domain is one example I already bogged about.

Sociological Open source software has allowed sharing of innovation and technology with zero cost of patents, licensing and removing many anti-competitive habits , either explicit or hidden that were common in past years. It also allows sharing of development costs across organizations. Younger generations are used to great user experience, and would not “go back” when entering Enterprise office. Cloud computing is also helping to build start-ups in 50 dollars.

The fact that Google and Amazon are hosting funding challenged public database of bioinformatics, that used to be funded by the government is rather  provocative.

To summarize, while there are still huge budgets in defense and commercial enterprises, there is strong trend driving innovation from the individual. Do you believe the trend is real?

Dissonance and the “Shin Gimel” effect

October 15, 2011

Imagine that every day when you enter your office building you have to wait 20 minutes for the receptionist to let you in.

She is busy talking in her cell phone about last night’s episode of Dexter, smoking a cigarette or looking for a temp badge in the computer.

She is quite hostile all along in a passive-active-aggressive manner, forgetting to use “Thank You”, “Excuse me”, “How Can I help you”, and relevant phrases.

Once you pass the guard, you have to look for parking. The old, large, parking area is now closed off ,because the logistics department wanted to paint some barrels a few months ago.

As a result you end up parking in an illegal parking spot, wasting 15 minutes for the parking search and ten minutes walk to the office.

The implicit message is clear – your time is not valued here , the “chiefs” do not care about wasting your time.

While this story comes from a governmental faculties (“Shin Gimel is the hebrew acronym for an army  guard ), some high-tech companies send a similar message.

In one company I know the guests had no access to the restrooms or a proper sitting place  in the lobby. There are many companies without a proper parking arrangement or validation, even for customers.  In some cases the guards have lost the Israeli ID, that was given to them to vouch for the guest badge …

To contrast, having a courteous receptionist, well designed lobby, easy parking and efficient process send a clear signal to employees and customers.

Your time is important and we value your presence.

Confused Parking - Fail Blog

Confused Parking - Fail Blog

Branding Humus in Tel Aviv

September 16, 2011

Last Friday I had a craving for Humus. I decided to try Abu-Ahdm which is about 800 meters from my house. It is a Tel Aviv branch of the original location in Yasif village at the north of Israel.

Abu Adham Humus  Sign

Abu Adham Humus Sign

Something seemed strange , as all the signs were gone, but the place was still operating and serving Humus. I suspected they lost the franchise and walked away to Humus Badunas , which is a franchise of the original location next to Check Point original headquarters in Ramat Gan.

It is a nice example of the power of the Brand. Not all Humus is created equal, the owner has to wake up at 4AM to get things done properly. The Pita has to be soft and warm. A good franchise monitors its franchisees , to make sure they are not destroying the brand.

The Humus was quite nice, by the way and checking at the web it does seem I was right regarding Abu Adhm in Ibn Gvirol.

And here is an interesting post(Hebrew) about Humus and Social resistance.

Rock Wercther 2011 Pictures

July 6, 2011

For a real detailed summary by another blogger look at this Rock Werchter post . Click pictures to enlarge.

White Lies in Rock Werchter 2011

White Lies in Rock Werchter 2011

Arctic Monkeys in Rock Werchter 2011

Arctic Monkeys in Rock Werchter 2011

Coldplay in Rock Werchter 2011

Coldplay in Rock Werchter 2011

Coldplay in Rock Werchter 2011

Coldplay in Rock Werchter 2011

Hotel is better than camping

Hotel is better than camping

Bikes in Rock Werchter

Bikes in Rock Werchter

Rock Werchter Cars in the Park

Rock Werchter Cars in the Park

Rock Werchter - Iron Maiden Shirts

Rock Werchter - Iron Maiden Shirts

Elbow and a Doll in Rock Werchter 2011

Elbow and a Doll in Rock Werchter 2011