Thursday, October 25, 2012

My technology has the flu

I think I have man-flu.  Given I am one of only 2 females in our office and 1 has been away on leave, I have been to Dr Google and apparently my symptoms show I have the man-flu, so this is what it must be.  I have tried the process of lying on the couch and ensuring both the cat and husband know I am on my death bed, but that did not work and I am still dragging myself up to the stove to cook dinner and dish out cat food. 

My voice has finally found me again after going on holiday for the long weekend to somewhere I was not.  I have found my sign-language and recently acquired gesture skills to be most useful when testing our new ASLO technology, however on the down side have found testing the Te Reo Maori Voice Controlled language teacher to have rather interesting results.  It seams I still have issues with the word 'Whare' no matter which way I pronounce things, voice or no voice!  I do find however I am able to still show-off the Back-Assessment module, thankfully I can use gesture control instead of voice only which I normally use to say "next and back!"

I've found an odd thing happen to me this week, my technology has the sympathy flu with me.  I went to a presentation 2 weeks ago and the presenter said 'when was the last time you had a blue screen'.  I had 2 that week on two different machines!  So in the last week, I've had 4 different laptops, yup four!  My technology has definitely got the flu like me.

So on machine 1, I managed to fry the hard-drive- this was the cause of the first set of blue screens.  So that got taken away.  The second machine was actually a rebuilt lightweight 1kg laptop I'd been given back.  Somehow, I've managed to destroy the graphics driver and now I have blue screens about twice a day on this.  So this prompted fast action.  I went out and purchased machine number three.  I don't normally purchase the technology in our office as its not my area, but with no machine and presentations in two days time, I needed to do something fast.  I was so proud of me, I think it may actually be the first laptop I have ever purchased from memory, as they have always been purchased for me.

So I did the usual thing, checked the processor requirement- I needed 2.66ghz to run ASLO and a dedicated graphics card- check (it was a dual processor 2.5ghz with turbo boost to 3.1 each- (I didn't actually know what turbo boost meant and decided anything I've ever driven with a turbo was worthwhile so why not?).  Memory- 8GB- check.  HDD- 750GB- check.  And the price....under $1000.  Oh my gosh, did I get the best deal.  I was so excited that I actually ordered two, one for someone else in the office.

The next day the machines turned up.  One of the technical services team walked up with the new laptop and said, "here's your new laptop, I've set it up for you, where would you like it?"  I turned around to see it perched on the edge of my desk.  My heart sank.

The laptop actually took up 1/3 of my desk.  It is possibly the largest laptop I have ever seen.  It reminded me of the laptops I saw in the late 80's or early 90's.  Huge.  My good deal suddenly took on a new meaning.  I looked longingly across at my dead 1kg laptop and looked back at 'the beast'.  Firstly, it was NEVER going to fit in my hand bag, or for that matter my laptop bag.  Not only did it have the flu, it had taken growth hormones!  I lifted it and it was more like 3kg.  I am a personal trainer and I think I could use it for training my clients for weighted squats- it would be a perfect size and weight.

Needless to say, the laptop was used the following day for a demo in Palmerston North.  I almost had to purchase an extra seat just for my laptop to sit on, but thankfully AirNZ fast bag meant I did not have to work out how the heck to fit a massive bag into a ridiculously small overhead airplane locker or somehow wedge the thing under the even smaller seat cavity.  I assure you, neither would have happened.

So this has now prompted laptop number 4.  After surviving 2 days with laptop number 3, my man-flu and I were begrudgingly dragged along to a computer shop in the weekend.  Don't get me wrong about this next piece as I do love technology, but I cannot think of any worse way of spending my weekend, especially with man-flu.

So as I entered geekdom, I was prayed upon before I'd even walked 2 steps into the shop.  This reminded me why I shop online!  I was surrounded by what seamed like a bunch of people who spend most of their life indoors and not in the garden or out cycling.  Most of them were in the gaming aisle so I guess this explains things.  Down the back of the shop in the laptop division were a bunch of parents and their kids.  Mainly kids taking pictures of themselves using the web cams and morphing their images- fills in time I guess.

So I'm starting to get head spins at this point, my man-flu is worsening and I now have to make a decision.  I ask the nice man in the shop to 'log me in'.  I said to him, all I want to use is email, office and browser mainly and Kinect for Windows to demo our new ASLO software to customers.  He said "Sorry Madam, we don;t have office on these machines, and we don't have them connected to the Internet so you'll be unable to use browsing".  So with my basic requirements not met, he then proceeded to ask me if I would like to purchase one.    

At this stage, my head is thumping and for some reason I heard my voice and had an out of body experience.  I was quite odd as I recall myself saying "Yes please" and then  turning to my husband saying- can you please pay the man.  And I then left the shop.

The odd thing was, I came home and sitting on the coffee table was a brand new Apple Mac Book Pro.  It was the oddest experience and I still think it may not have occurred as on my desk is my lightweight 1kg laptop with the blue-screen tendency.  Lets see what happens when I get rid of my man-flu with machine number 4!

Monday, October 8, 2012

The 60's have the money and the 20s the ideas?

Over the past week I've been exhibiting at a conference in Christchurch.  Our stand was positioned under a glass like conservatory area.  Isn't it odd how your inner wimp comes out and takes over and before you know it, you've made 20 trips to the little girls room.  Glass in an earthquake zone does make me nervous, more so when I was shown the place where the building had dropped heights compared to the one it used to be adjoined to.  If no one had shown me, I would have thought it was just a ramp!

What a sad sight the city is, we drove right around Christchurch over the week we stayed, thankfully we had a 4x4 as we needed it.  The roads are still very damaged and although there are signs of rebuilding, there are still suburbs which are now like ghost towns, a very empty and sad feeling for those having to drive by all day.  It also upset me to see the vast amounts of tagging and graffiti around these condemned houses.  These graffiti artists should be locked up, the city has already gone through enough without visual garbage being added to the city for no reason! Who-ever they are- shame on them. At least the container artists have found a better outlet for their creative skill and have added beautiful images to what is normally a huge eyesore. Kia kaha Christchurch.

So last week I heard an interesting comment which I don't totally agree with.  It was someone who had spent a great deal of time in the public sector and said, "The problem is, the 60- something-year-olds have all the money but the 20-something-year-olds have all of the ideas".

My first thought was how very brave to say this comment out loud to a nearly 40 year old ideas person who runs a technology company, who also has the money to make the decisions!

My second thought was, there was actually some truth in what they said.
Yes, in many traditional cases, management or the approvers, the people who sign the checks are sometimes older and yes, the new, younger, recently graduated talent coming through have a different way of looking at the world.  But isn't this just about risk taking?  The older you get, the less you want to take risks as you are older and wiser and know the consequences.  The younger you are, the more willing you are to take a risk as you have no clue what is around the corner.
I am still inspired by people like my father-in-law.  He came around to watch the rugby last weekend and we asked- how was your week? He replied 'good, had great Peking duck in China last week'.  So there he is, gold card in hand, yet still young enough to drop everything and fly to China with 1 days notice for a business meeting!  He knows about risk, gain, globalisation and ideas.  Who said you can't have both the ideas and hold the purse strings??

Myself, I like to think I sit in the middle of that sea-saw.  Old enough to know better, young enough to still take risks, and purse strings.....oh, I forgot to mention I have a great bank manager!

I did have an odd set of circumstances last week which relates to our bank which made me smile.  We launched our new 'ASLO' brand last week which is primarily a blue logo.  Our Business Mechanix colours have a lot of green.  I smiled to myself as we started the conference wearing our green shirts and for the ASLO launch put on our blue shirts.  The last day back to green.  The same but different?

It did remind me of the call from the National Bank, our manager saying- 'we're still the same- just changing from Green to Blue'.  I thought it was awesome that he gave us a personal phone call to take us through what was happening and to re-assure us the changes were not going to be an impact.  I did take the chance to ask for a discount in rates as a customer loyalty bonus, but I don't think that one got through for approval in this case!

So coming back to the original comment about the 20s having the ideas and the 60s with the cash, to be fair, I must add some context around the comment. The conversation was about public sector funding and how innovative ideas and products often got stomped on by those in power who had been in the same organisation nearly all of there life and had not been exposed to new ways of thinking. This then forced those in the organisation to do other, cheaper, easier things as it was just too hard to do what they originally proposed.

I came to the conclusion that what I learnt from the originator of the comment is that he ended up solving his own problem.  Isn't this what we all do? When times are tough, we innovate more.  No time to build a new website?  Just create a blog using a free blogging tool?  Need a CRM system but can't afford the hardware- go to CRM in the cloud.  Sometimes those who won't take risks encourage a deeper level on innovation and creativity.  So think about the next proposal you have there a way to innovate more with what you have or smarter ways of doing things?  Using technology to solve your problems?  I'm sure there is!