My Jams

I have just figured out the best of all ways to listen to my favorite music. A tiny 32GB USB drive loaded with MP3s. The drive works on my computer, in my car and my home amplifier – everywhere I would want to be listening to music. A simple, very low-upfront cost, free from monthly charges, elegant solution.

Remember when you’d spend hours in a record store picking out and discovering new music. Weather it was vinyl, cassette or CD, all of us (of a certain age and older) have a music collection. Even if it is collection of MP3 files is on our computers, USB drives or cloud storage – its still a collection even if there is no album art nor liner notes. It is something we can actually interact with, hold in our hands, and loan to friends or bring on a road trip.

I think this sense of owning something tangible seems to be something we are learning to do without. Why “have” something when you can get it just when you need it, and not have it take up space when you don’t need it – some would say a “dust collector”

But I really like having my own things. Call me “old-school”.

In my teems I was very proud of having amassed a my music collection of 200 or so albums (using the term “album” generically so as not to giveaway my age). I remember the experience around discovering the music and the store where I found it. Listening to the music brings me back in time to a particular “phase” of my life. I recall listening to the album, digesting each lyric from the liner notes and learning something new about the band.

So what’s the difference between my music and the plethora of options we have today to listen to music? Think of streaming services like Pandora, Tidal and Spotify; or broadcast radio XM and music channels from your TV provider.

The difference is that it is mine. I can transport myself to another time of my choosing when I want to. I can listen to the story of an album, in track order, as the artist intended for it to be heard. The difference is that I am listening to the studio edits and not the live versions Pandora plays. I am not listening to music that Spotify’s algorithms say are like my favorites. Another big deal is that I am not paying money every month and still not being interrupted by commercials.

I use Pandora, occasionally receive XM Radio’s during promotional weekends, and a Plex server loaded with my own music and videos. All nice to have, but nothing as simple, cheap and elegant as a 32GB of MP3 files the size of my thumbnail.

by: “My Artsy Side”

IT Projects – What’s Most Important

I just finished a project to upgrade a state university to Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops (formerly XenApp & XenDesktop) v7.15 LTSR CU5 and Citrix ADC (formerly NetScaler) v12.11.55.

We follow a engagement methodology we refer to as A.D.I.M.E.. An acronym for Asses, Design, Implement & Evolve. Obviously some engagements are heavier on some of these phases, and lighter in others; however EVERY engagement will have each one of these phases to some degree.

Our customer came to us with this project stating their business need to upgrade their entire Citrix deployment. They are a returning customer to us so naturally we’re glad to work with them.

As we do with every engagement we start out with the “A” for assessment around the customers stated business need and put a Statement of Work (SoW) document specifying some engagement milestones. At this point we have a good idea of how much work (and perhaps product) will be needed and the customer knows how much the work costs and can schedule around it as needed.

Great! Everyone knows exactly what to expect and is getting what they want out of the engagement for agreeable consideration. All is fine right?

Except in the real world, the customer says :

“we think it should only take half the time”

WHAT?!?! I thought we were in agreement!

OK, regroup, perhaps we had differing pre-conceived notions. Go back to the customer and find out which milestones the customer can do without in order to cut the time in half. after that conversation the customer comes back with :

 “we still want to get it all done, just in half the time”

Ah. I get it now. the customer has time constraints or a deadline to meet. No problem, we can work with that. We’ll assign a second resource or another person to get twice as much work done in the same amount of time. OK! we’re all good with that. Now in this third exchange the customer gets to the point with :

“we only want to do this for half the price”

Grrrr….. regroup, perhaps we again disconnected on proprieties here. We like business, we like to keep busy, heck we certainly like to have customers. We can make this work. After all, half of something is always better than all of nothing. I got it. let us push out the schedule to a time when we’re slow anyway or have resources sitting on a bench – unutilized. Lets get back with the customer and see how flexible they can be. Of course, guess what we get back in return :

“we need it done right away”

What the…!?!?!? We started out so good with everyone in agreement – didn’t we?

So let me summarize. We have to get everything done in half the time, for half the price, done right away – right? That’s not too much to ask is it? no mention yet of the quality of the work. No worries if we deliver on time and on budget, but the system falls apart in 10-days.

Naturally our quality is our reputation – so we cannot compromise on that. Even if no one has considered it once in the course of this conversation.

So how did this engagement go for this university? We got it all done on time and it will last.

So what was lost? A) a lot of hair (as it was pulled out from stress) – both for the customer and the consultant. Moreover the assessment, design & evolve in the A.D.I.M.E methodology was stricken from the list – no time for it.

Foraging ahead to get this done meant working with blinders on. Ignore anything not directly related to the objective. See a misconfiguration, determine relevance to the objective and ignore it if none. Documentation, knowledge transfer – skip it. Recommendation for improvements – no time.

Even when you know exactly what you are getting for your money, you will never know what you’re compromising with the savings.

– by “The Resource”