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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

TECHNOLOGY CLAIMS ANOTHER VICTIM

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 30, 2017

BRYCE ON TECHNOLOGY

– Farewell to the “Greatest Show on Earth.”

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

It was recently announced the legendary Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, “The Greatest Show
on Earth,” would be closing in May 2017. To fans of the circus, the news was devastating as it had become an institution after 145 years of operation. Like so many families, I took my children to see the circus at a young age. They were fascinated by the trained elephants, tigers, horses, and various other animal acts. The trapeze performers and high-wire acts were also a favorite.

My daughter particularly enjoyed “King Tusk,” a massive elephant, and the animal trainer Gunther Gebel-Williams. My son was more interested in the clowns and their shenanigans. The acts and names of the performers changed over the years, but the excitement of the circus seemed to go on unabated, until recently.

In a letter recently posted to the Ringling web site, Kenneth Feld, the Chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, the producer of the circus, broke the news to the public. Last year, the circus removed the elephant acts due, in large part, to animal rights activists who thought the animals were being mistreated. With the elephants gone, the circus started to diminish. To make matters worse, the attitudes of youth today are changing in terms of entertainment. They are now more imbued with the Internet and computer games than watching live performances, thus causing the death knell of the circus and other forms of live entertainment.

The average price for a ticket was affordable for families, but couldn’t sustain a traveling circus. Ticket prices were much less than Cirque du Soleil which are staged in fixed indoor venues, such as in Las Vegas, Orlando, and New York.

The passing of the circus into memory is another indicator of how technology affects the human spirit. It is sad to think that in the not too distant future, the only way we will be able to experience a circus will be through virtual reality glasses.

Another symptom of technology’s influence is in the area of shopping. Year after year, on-line shopping is said to be making great strides against shopping malls, particularly at holiday time. Unlike retailers in a mall, who have the overhead of renting space and paying for utilities and on-site personnel, on-line shopping has none of these concerns and, as such, can offer products more cheaply. The only time mall retailers have the advantage is when it is necessary to “touch and feel” a product, such as when selecting furniture, a major appliance, and automobiles. Even here though, on-line shopping is being strongly embraced by young people trained in the use of the Internet. If they do not like the product, they simply return it for a refund. Here again, we are losing the personal touch, our sense of customer service and basic salesmanship.

There are trade-offs for the extended use of technology; it may be useful to expedite a sales order or transaction, but at what price? The care of the customer? Or how about the decimation of an old institution such as the circus, where children of all ages sat and marveled at the abilities of man and beast? I, for one, will miss it greatly.

By the way, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus will conclude its tour at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, NY, on May 21, 2017. Be sure to see it before it fades away into memory.

Also published with The Huffington Post.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  WHAT HAPPENED TO THE TRAVEL EXPENSE REPORT? – Are your employees abusing travel expenses?

LAST TIME:  FACING REALITY  – People plain and simply don’t want to know it.

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Posted in Life, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

MICROSOFT DUSTS OFF SPEECH RECOGNITION

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 21, 2016

BRYCE ON TECHNOLOGY

– Company introduces new voice technology.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

On October 19th, 2016, Microsoft announced a new speech recognition technology that reportedly transcribes conversational speech as well as a human does, with an error rate of just 5.9%. As such, they claim this is an “Historic Achievement.” In theory, people will be able to issue commands to the computer and write text using voice commands to either your PC or smart phone.

Don’t get too excited just yet. This is actually an old technology. Back in 1996, with the advent of OS/2 Warp 4, speech navigation and VoiceType dictation was embedded in the operating system. As you may remember, OS/2 was IBM’s alternative to Windows on the PC. It was an excellent operating system, and I still have two computers running it flawlessly, but there was just one problem with it, IBM didn’t know how to market it and abdicated the desktop to Microsoft. OS/2 users, including yours truly, still recognize it as head and shoulders above anything Microsoft has produced, but that is another story.

Under OS/2, the user wore a voice activated microphone headset. From it, the user could navigate the computer using the commands found on action bars and pull down choices; for example: File, New, Open, Print, Save, Exit, Close, Find, Undo, Ok, Cancel, Maximize, Minimize, Help, etc. Frankly, it was quite efficient in operation and freed the user from simple tasks used with the keyboard and mouse. The second part was VoiceType dictation which allowed the user to dictate text for word processors, e-mails, and just about anything requiring text entries. Before you could use it though, they provided a routine which allowed you to train the computer. This was done by reading sections of literature from Mark Twain and took approximately one hour. The VoiceType dictation was effective but many people didn’t believe the computer could keep up with them and lost interest. As an aside, I suspect people no longer possess the skills needed to dictate a letter, something that has been lost in time as well as the “shorthand” language.

Another software product that acted in a similar manner was Dragon NaturallySpeaking by Nuance Communications in 1997 for use on the Windows platform. It is still actively marketed to this day. Other packages are also available.

Microsoft’s announcement is welcome news if it can process text faster and more accurately. Unfortunately, their announcement didn’t include a video or sample application to demonstrate their technology. The company even admits in their announcement, “the technology still has a long way to go before it can claim to master meaning (semantics) and contextual awareness.”

For more information on Microsoft’s speech recognition project, click HERE.

It’s interesting, OS/2 users always knew the operating system was way ahead of its time. Now we know precisely how many years ahead it was: 20.

Also published with News Talk Florida.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  HOW NOT TO COOK A THANKSGIVING DINNER – No, this is not about cooking recipes.

LAST TIME:  FOR THE LOVE OF COFFEE  – How much do you consume?

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

 

Posted in Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

FACEBOOK’S WORKPLACE

Posted by Tim Bryce on November 14, 2016

BRYCE ON TECHNOLOGY

– The latest twist on collaboration software.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Project collaboration has always been a concern to managers. It is essential to keep everyone rowing in the same direction. In the past, this was accomplished by conducting meetings, preferably before the work day begins. However, due to our fast paced world, it can be difficult to get the project team together. To overcome this problem, we have turned to technology.

Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) offered one of the first ways to allow birds of a feather to discuss topics of mutual interest and share files. These were eventually phased out as the Internet grew in stature. By itself, the Internet became the de facto standard for people in the workplace to communicate and exchange files.

Then along comes Lotus Notes in 1989 (now IBM Notes). Originally a mainframe based system that has migrated down to smart phones, it represents a collaboration tool offering e-mail, calendars, and business applications. Actually, it was quite a good product for its time. Although it is not entirely dead, it’s market share has diminished.

However, with the advent of smart phones, instant messaging, social media, and VoIP, something was needed that is more in tune with how people today use technology.

One such product is Microsoft’s SharePoint which was commercially released in 2003. The product is typically bundled with Microsoft Office and is primarily used for document management and storage. Between Office and SharePoint, thousands of companies use it for collaboration purposes. As such, it dominates the marketplace.

Launched in 2013, “Slack,” a collaboration tool used by communities, groups and teams offers chat rooms, direct messaging, and group telephone calls. It also integrates with a large number of third-party services.

Now along comes “Workplace” from Facebook which is based on the popular social media which millennials are more familiar. Introduced in a press release on October 10th, the product has been described as a “buffed-up chat room and team management software.” Unlike products like IBM Notes, “Workplace” is primarily a communications tool, not a project management package or office suite, at least not yet. It currently includes Instant Messaging, e-mail, VoIP, and file sharing. In a way, it’s not too dissimilar than what the BBS packages originally offered except for a slicker appearance, portability, and greater ease of use.

Facebook claims “Workplace” was originally developed internally within the company, and has been testing it with other businesses. According to their press release:

“We’ve brought the best of Facebook to the workplace — whether it’s basic infrastructure such as News Feed, or the ability to create and share in Groups or via chat, or useful features such as Live, Reactions, Search and Trending posts. This means you can chat with a colleague across the world in real time, host a virtual brainstorm in a Group, or follow along with your CEO’s presentation on Facebook Live.”

As for me, I question the necessity of keeping workers plugged into smart phones 24/7. I cannot help but believe this will become an interference which will hinder productivity.

Pricing is based on volume of users within a company, for example:

Free 3 month trial, followed by:
$3/person – Up to 1k monthly active users
$2/person – 1,001 – 10k monthly active users
$1/person – 10,001+ monthly active users

“Workplace” is also available free of charge for Non-Profits and Educational Institutions. Both High Schools and Colleges should investigate this further, as should businesses with people who are smart phone savvy.

Look for Facebook’s “Workplace” on the Internet at:
https://www.facebook.com/workplace
or
https://workplace.fb.com/

As for Microsoft’s SharePoint and Slack, they should be hearing footsteps.

Also published with News Talk Florida.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  FACEBOOK’S WORKPLACE – The latest twist on collaboration software.

LAST TIME:  A FONDNESS FOR GARAGES  – A glimpse inside the men’s clubhouse.

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

 

Posted in Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

PROOF OF TECHNOLOGY ADDICTION

Posted by Tim Bryce on October 14, 2016

BRYCE ON TECHNOLOGY

– Yes, it is a drug.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

When I learned of a new study warning of the addictive power of technology, I was pleased. I have been describing the adverse effects of technology since 2007, arriving at the conclusion in 2011 that Personal Technology is a drug with addictive powers.

Now it appears there is finally some scientific data to confirm my theory. The first is a report in the August 27th issue of the NY Post by Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, who contends technology raises dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with rewards, as much as sex. He goes on to say, “Recent brain imaging research is showing that they affect the brain’s frontal cortex – which controls executive functioning, including impulse control – in exactly the same way that cocaine does.”

Kardaras is also the author of “Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids-and How to Break the Trance Hardcover,” released August 9, 2016 by St. Martin’s Press.

He goes on to cite Dr. Peter Whybrow, a director of neuroscience at the University of California, and Chinese researchers, claiming screens are like “electronic cocaine” or “digital heroin” to young children, and once they have reached the addictive levels their personalities change, such as becoming increasingly depressed, anxious and aggressive.

I have mentioned numerous studies over the years which support this thesis, but three in particular are worth noting:

* In 2005, a King’s College London University study by Dr. Glenn Wilson found workers distracted by technology suffer a greater loss of IQ than if they had smoked marijuana.

* In 2010, “The World Unplugged,” was a global media study led by the International Center for Media and the Public Agenda (ICMPA), University of Maryland. As part of their conclusions, the report commented on how students in the study handled the lack of media (meaning electronic devices):

“Going without media during ‘The World Unplugged’ study made students more cognizant of the presence of media – both media’s benefits and their limitations. And perhaps what students became most cognizant of was their absolute inability to direct their lives without media.

The depths of the ‘addiction’ that students reported prompted some to confess that they had learned that they needed to curb their media habits. Most students doubted they would have much success, but they acknowledged that their reliance on media was to some degree self-imposed AND actually inhibited their ability to manage their lives as fully as they hoped – to make proactive rather than reactive choices about work and play.”

Like anything, if used in moderation, technology holds no ill-effects. However, we have turned it into a 24/7 extension of our lives and can no longer imagine living without these devices. Because it offers instant gratification, it has become a new form of pacifier which we scream for when it is taken away from us.

* Also in 2010, the “Digital Pandemic” was authored by Mack R. Hicks, Ph.D. which provided a fascinating thesis on the effect of technology on our youth.

In all of these studies, the authors concluded technology exhibits the same type of addictive powers as chemical dependency or, at the very least, gambling which also does not require drugs in the usual sense. Actually, the parallel between technology and gambling addiction is quite remarkable, and can be just as devastating. However, it appears Dr. Kardaras’ paper and book finally provides the hard data needed to prove the legitimacy of technology addiction.

In terms of technology, perhaps the biggest difference between the 20th century and the 21st is how technology has changed the pace of our lives. We now expect to communicate with anyone on the planet in seconds, not days. We expect information at our fingertips. We expect to be up and walking shortly after a hip or knee replacement. Basically, we take a lot for granted.

Let me leave you with one last thought; Life doesn’t emulate art, it emulates technology. Think about it, are we becoming more robotic in our thinking? Do we rely on technology to accommodate the thinking processes of the brain? If so, then researchers like Dr. Kardaras are absolutely correct.

“As the use of technology increases, social skills decrease.” – Bryce’s Law

Also published with News Talk Florida.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  TRYING TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT – Doing “right” requires perseverance and an intolerance for what is “wrong.”

LAST TIME:  PROACTIVE VERSUS REACTIVE MANAGEMENT  – We have plenty of time to do things wrong.

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

 

Posted in Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

MICROSOFT: WHERE DO I SEND THE BILL?

Posted by Tim Bryce on August 8, 2016

BRYCE ON TECHNOLOGY

– Losing time as a result of Microsoft updates.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Microsoft never fails to surprise me in terms of how it can waste my time. Recently I was working on my office machine, which includes Windows 7 Home Premium. I realize it is not their latest offering, but I have learned over the years to never rush into a Microsoft upgrade. Nonetheless, all was going well until Google Chrome for some reason became unresponsive. Having experienced such lockups in the past, I decided to reboot the computer and let it clear the anomalies. I figured it would be just a couple of minutes out of my day, but boy was I wrong.

Before I could power off, Microsoft took charge of my machine, displaying a message:

“Please do not power off or unplug your machine.
Installing X of 17..”

I had no idea what the updates were, but I suspect it was to download Windows 10 on to my machine. Of the 17 updates, #14 seemed to take the longest for some reason. After much waiting, I finally received the message:

“Shutting down…” RESTART

I thought, “Finally, I can get back to work,” but such was not to be. As the machine started I received the following message:

“Configuring Windows update
X% complete.
Do not turn off your computer.”

This too took a long time to complete. Following this, it said:

“Cleaning up…”

And at long last I was taken to my desktop where I could continue working. Elapsed time for this update: approximately one hour.

Now I don’t know about you, but I am not paid to be a Microsoft technician. Although I’m not too bad when it comes to computer problems, I prefer to tend to my own work. This caused me to become irritated with the boys and girls from Redmond as I was under a deadline to complete an article. Actually, I was ready to blow my stack, and, No, I do not mean the type used in programming.

For some reason, Microsoft thinks nothing of wasting the time of their customers. In a way, they remind me of dentists and doctors who lack regard for patients in their waiting rooms.

It would have been nice if Windows told me what the update was about and if now was a good time to apply it or schedule it for a later time, such as late at night, but this did not occur.

I am therefore preparing a bill for Microsoft for my time lost during the business day. I’m not asking for a lot, but a reasonable amount for time lost. Most likely, they will not pay it, at which time I’ll see them in Small Claims Court.

If enough people did this, perhaps we wouldn’t get such sloppy products from them.

Also published with News Talk Florida.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  BOOK REVIEW: “CRISIS OF CHARACTER” – How Hillary Clinton is perceived by the Secret Service.

LAST TIME:  CAN YOU SPEAK “DOG”?  – Who is better trained, the pet or the master?

Listen to Tim on News Talk Florida (WWBA 820 AM), WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

OFFICE DEPOT REWARDS

Posted by Tim Bryce on June 24, 2016

BRYCE ON TECHNOLOGY

– Another technology innovation gone awry.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

For years, I have been going to the nearby Office Depot store to purchase basic office supplies, mostly paper and computer printer cartridges. As many of you know, they have a recycle program for the cartridges which earns the customer cash rewards. For several years, I received reward coupons through the mail for use at the store. Recently though, this all came to an unexpected halt.

Last week I received a new coupon from the company. Frankly, I didn’t read it carefully, but I did observe that “You’ve earned $20.00,” so I figured everything was okay and I took it with me for my next purchase. This is where I made my mistake.

When I presented the coupon to the cashier, I was told I couldn’t use the document. She then showed me that it wasn’t a coupon at all, and to get my coupon, I was instructed to login to officedepot.com/rewards and register myself. After that, I could either print a coupon or have it sent to my smart phone, which I do not have (as an aside, people laugh at my tiny cell phone, but it suits my needs).

Basically, the company decided to save money by not mailing any more coupons and let the customer bear the expense. This has become rather commonplace these days, such as airline tickets, bank statements, newsletters, and now coupon generation. However, I suspect there is more to it than this. For example, people such as myself who do not want the hassle of logging in to obtain a coupon and, by not doing so, the company will save considerable money, not just from not printing and mailing coupons, but by people forfeiting their rewards. When I pointed this out to the cashier, she admitted I was probably right.

It is these little, seemingly innocent, technology foibles that get under my skin. No, I will not be returning to my local Office Depot store anytime soon. If they want me to go on-line, I will do so but will visit other web sites where I can find the same products at less expense. The only reason I stayed with Office Depot was because it was nearby and I could easily drop in to buy supplies. However, whenever I go in, it is like a cavernous barn with few customers inside. Perhaps their new approach to their rewards program will finally force them to shut their doors.

When it comes to shopping, I get the uneasy feeling companies want to only process on-line orders and close their stores. This might be good news for companies like UPS and FedEx, but what about the people who want to “touch and feel” a product before deciding to purchase it?

Oh, how I miss the twentieth century.

Also published with News Talk Florida.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  PROMOTING MORALITY – Some suggestions.

LAST TIME:  THE MAIN EVENT: THE TRUMP/CLINTON DEBATES  – Hold on to your seats, you won’t want to miss them.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific); and WWBA-AM (News Talk Florida 820). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

NO, I DO NOT WANT WINDOWS 10

Posted by Tim Bryce on June 20, 2016

BRYCE ON TECHNOLOGY

– Why do some look better than others?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

For the last few months I have been bombarded with messages from Microsoft asking, no begging me, to upgrade to Windows 10, the latest version of their operating system. Frankly, I am not interested. I am staying with Windows 7, both at home and at the office, primarily because we still have a couple of DOS based programs we regularly use and there is no effective support for them on Windows 10 (or Windows 8 for that matter).

Day after day, we see little pop-up boxes asking us to upgrade which we regularly ignore. I learned a long time ago to never use anything new from Microsoft as it is way too buggy and not properly tested. Microsoft is one of those techie companies who relies on its customers to test their products. This is like asking the customers of an automotive company to test their products. Er, ah, no thanks. Frankly, I do not believe Microsoft knows how to competently test their products themselves. This is why I have never thought of MS as “state of the art.”

The company was so persistent for me to upgrade to Windows 10 (or is it downgrade?), that they even installed it on my home computer over night. In the morning, I awoke to a new screen welcoming me to Windows 10. I began to panic as I knew I didn’t want it, yet they had the audacity to install it without my permission. Fortunately, as I started to go through the first few steps of using it, they asked me if I accepted the terms and conditions for using the product, for which I pressed the DECLINE button. I then heard my computer groan, or perhaps it was Bill Gates himself, as it removed Windows 10 and returned me to Windows 7. Wow, that was a close one.

I have some friends who, not knowing any better, accidentally accepted the terms and conditions, and now appear to be stuck with Windows 10 which they simply abhor.

Fortunately, after sniffing around on the Internet, I happened to find a way to return your computer back to Windows 7 and 8, and, No, it wasn’t authored by Microsoft. Evidently you have one month to reverse the process. After that, you are stuck with Windows 10. Click HERE. There is also a video on YouTube to walk you through the process.

Frankly, it is very disconcerting Microsoft pushes this upgrade down the throat of customers who do not want it. It’s intrusive and I wonder how legal it is to do so. You can nudge all you want, just do not push.

Also published with News Talk Florida.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE MAIN EVENT: THE TRUMP/CLINTON DEBATES – Hold on to your seats, you won’t want to miss them.

LAST TIME:  SIGNATURES  – Why do some look better than others?

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific); and WWBA-AM (News Talk Florida 820). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Computers, Technology | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

INFORMATION DRIVEN DESIGN

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 18, 2016

BRYCE ON SYSTEMS

– a return to basics in system design.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

PREFACE: A few months ago I made a promise to some of my techie friends I would describe the concept of “Information Driven Design” as used in our “PRIDE” Methodology for system design. This concept originated in the original version of our product in 1971 and was successfully used by our customers to build enterprise-wide systems. The reason I bring this up is that it appears to me people still have trouble defining information requirements and, as such, they are at a loss as to how to build total systems. Thereby, they are content building either a single business process or a program. Therefore, here is the conceptual foundation for all system design…

Information Driven Design begins with a simple concept:

INFORMATION = DATA + PROCESSING

Information is the intelligence gained from the processing and/or analysis of data. This means information is a product based on two variables, data and processing. We do not store information, we produce it based on these variables. Whereas data represents “what” is to be processed, processing (or systems) represents “how” it is to be processed, using formulas, algorithms or calculations. An invalid calculation is just as misleading as invalid data; both will produce erroneous information. From this perspective, both data and processing must be carefully designed and controlled as resources for producing information, and as resources, they can be shared and reused to produce information for other uses. In this way they should be identified and controlled like any other resource, hence the need for “Information Resource Management,” a concept very much akin to “Materials Resource Planning” as found in manufacturing.

Since the intent of an information system is to produce information, the more we understand about information requirements, the better we can accommodate its implementation. This is why we refer to this concept as “Information Driven Design,” a system design derived from the inherent properties of information.

INFORMATION DRIVEN DESIGN CONCEPT

Information requirements should be defined in such a way as to explain the Business Functions they serve, their Business Purpose, the Actions and/or Business Decisions they support, and the benefits derived from the use of the information. In this way, it a textual justification for the information. Now let’s take it further…

There are three types of information:

Policy Information – To implement executive decisions.

Control Information – To monitor policy and manage operations.

Operational Information – To implement the routine day-to-day activities of the business.

Information is a dynamic and perishable commodity. It only has value at the time it is required. Whereas the definition of data is constant, information requirements can change for a variety of reasons, such as politics, government, competition, economics, people, etc. Ultimately, corporate survival depends on providing users with accurate and timely information.

TIMING

In order to properly specify information requirements, it is not sufficient to merely determine what data is required to support it; it is also necessary to define the timing of the information (to support the actions and/or decisions). This timing will ultimately dictate how data will be collected, stored, and retrieved to produce information.

Failure to recognize timing as an important element of design will result in the data base being out of synchronization with the system. For example, consider a situation where data is collected on a routine weekly basis (just once a week). Daily analysis of the data will be inappropriate since the data will remain constant until the next weekly update. To resolve the conflict, data collection should be changed to at least a daily basis.

All information systems operate in time frames, such as instantaneous, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually, etc. If this is true, why not make use of this timing consideration during system design as opposed to discovering it afterwards while trying to correct the data base design?

There are three aspects to timing: frequency, offset and response time.

FREQUENCY defines “how often” the information is required, e.g., upon request, hourly, four times daily, once a week, twice monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, etc.

OFFSET defines when processing should begin, such as the beginning of the week, end of the month, etc. However, if the frequency is ‘upon request,’ then there is no scheduled offset; this is because the information can be requested at any point in time.

RESPONSE TIME defines how fast the information must be delivered to the user. For example, five seconds, two hours, one day, etc. This should not be confused with computer ‘response time’ or ‘throughput’ which is concerned with machine speed. Rather, response time is concerned with the maximum amount of time that will transpire between the request and delivery of the information, so the user can make the necessary decisions and/or take action. This implies that if the response time is exceeded, it is no longer information, only historical data.

Timing ultimately defines data availability and accessibility issues. Availability specifies, “Is the data there when I need it?” (a function of Input/Data Collection). And Accessibility specifies, “Can I get to the data when I need it?” (a function of Output/Information Retrieval). Understand this, you cannot access data (retrieve information) if it has not been made available (collected) in a timely manner.

DATA

Data comes in two forms, Primary and Generated. Primary data is what is collected and inputted into the system. Generated data represents calculations derived from primary values. To illustrate, suppose we need the generated data element, “Net Pay,” as used in payroll. It would be necessary to define all of the other data dependencies, e.g.;

NET PAY = GROSS PAY – FICA – CITY TAX – UNION DUES – (ETC.)

Other data elements used in the formula may also be generated, such as:

GROSS PAY = HOURS WORKED X PAY RATE

What this means is that in order to arrive at the correct value for “Net Pay,” we must be able to reach all of the primary values, such as “Hours Worked” and “Pay Rate,” in a timely manner. If we cannot do this, “Net Pay” will be incorrect.

Defining these data dependencies has typically defaulted to the programmer who redefines the relationships with each application and buries it in the program source code, making maintenance and change considerably difficult. Consequently, It is not unusual to find “Net Pay” defined differently in multiple applications throughout a company.

The timing nuances of the Information Requirements ultimately dictate the various sub-systems of the system (the business processes). Some will be used to exclusively input data (aka “maintenance”), some to produce information (aka “queries”), and some for both maintenance and query purposes.

The basic operations that can be performed on data include “create,” “update” and “reference” (“delete” is the opposite of “create”). In programming terminology, a “create” represents a “write,” an “update” represents a “read/write,” and a “reference” represents a “read” only.

The timing and data specifications resulting from the information requirements will ultimately dictate the type of sub-systems to be created. For example, if information is needed upon request and within a matter of seconds, this will probably result in an “interactive” type of process. However, if the information is required upon request but within a few hours, this will probably result in “batch” type processing (it may even be processable manually). These specifications are the basic building blocks for all systems and software design.

Producing an information system design that correctly satisfies requirements is a vital part of Information Driven Design. If the information requirements are correct, the resulting system design will be correct. However, if the information requirements are wrong or incomplete, the resulting system design will be incorrect. With this approach, the emphasis is on business analysis as opposed to technical detail.

This approach to system design ultimately recognizes, “No amount of elegant programming or technology will solve a problem if it is not defined or understood correctly.”

Keep the Faith!

MB – “Est superbia”

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  UNDERSTANDING TRUMP’S ANTAGONISTS – The louder they get, the stronger the candidate gets.

LAST TIME:  JURY DUTY: A NECESSARY EVIL  – Why we hate to be called for duty.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific); and WWBA-AM (News Talk Florida 820). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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IS THE TAIL WAGGING THE DOG?

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 11, 2016

BRYCE ON SYSTEMS

– Do we have enough Systems Analysts or too many programmers?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Whenever I’m asked to discuss the subject of Information Systems in the corporate world, I am inevitably asked, “Where does the programmer fit in?” I think this is an odd question as I see programming as only a small part of the overall puzzle. People are startled when I mention this, particularly programmers, who tend to see themselves as the center of the systems universe. I counter by asking, “What exactly does a programmer do?” After much discussion, we end up with the same answer, “a programmer takes human understandable specifications and converts it to a machine executable program, either by writing and compiling source code or through some interpreter capable of generating the program.” This, in turn, leads to an interesting discussion as to what is meant by “requirements” (it seems everyone has their own spin on this). More importantly, it leads to a discussion as to what exactly a system is.

I like to follow this by posing the question, “How many programs make up a system? One? Two? Three? Is a suite of programs a system?” Again, after much discussion we conclude there is no finite number of programs in a system, it is as many as satisfies the system’s needs (and again we’re back to “requirements”).

I finally ask if a system can be implemented without computer assistance (without programs). The programmers typically balk at this one, but grudgingly admit an information system can be implemented manually or through the use of other equipment. Actually, information systems have been used for hundreds of years, well before the advent of the computer. As one of our more famous Bryce’s Laws points out, “The first on-line, real-time, interactive, data base system was double-entry bookkeeping which was developed by the merchants of Venice in 1200 A.D.” In other words, computer programming is but one way to implement an information system, but certainly not the only way. This premise implies information systems are much larger in scope than programming, and that systems have two dimensions, a logical side and a physical side. The logical side defines the various business processes comprising the system (aka, “sub-systems”). These processes can be implemented through manual processing, use of other equipment, with computer assistance, or combinations of all three. The physical processing changes more dynamically than the logical simply because technology changes.

To pull this all together requires a type of person more knowledgeable about the business than about computers. Historically, this type of function has been referred to as a “Systems Analyst” or more recently a “Business Analyst.” Regardless, the analyst is a precursor to the programmer. In the absence of an analyst, programmers must try to understand the overall system architecture, a talent they are not necessarily well versed in.

The day a company starts its business is the day when its systems are born. Even a company in name only requires systems support in order to report to the government on their activity (or inactivity). As businesses begin, a “natural” system is devised whereby work is distributed among employees, hopefully in a cohesive manner. Without orchestration though, there is a tendency for the natural system to develop inconsistencies and redundant work effort, particularly if the business blossoms. Data duplication is unavoidable thereby causing inconsistencies in information. If the information is “dirty” inferior business actions and decisions will ensue thereby causing an adverse affect on the company’s bottom-line.

The point is, no amount of elegant programming can solve a system problem without someone who understands the overall system architecture, someone who understands how the business works. Attacking systems development without such orchestration, such as one program at a time, will not produce the desired results. That would be like trying to build a bridge without a set of blueprints; it would probably be disjointed and one end would likely not connect with the other in the middle. I for one would not want to travel across such a bridge. Yet, this is precisely what is happening throughout corporate America today. If we built bridges the same way we build systems in this country, this would be a nation run by ferryboats. If you consider how counterproductive it would be to try and build a bridge without a set of blueprints, you get a good idea how counterproductive a lot of systems development organizations are. A lot of time and money is lost simply trying to deduce what is to be built in a concerted manner.

It is the Analyst’s job to understand the business, not the programmer’s.
It is the Analyst’s job to develop and maintain the system architecture, not the programmer’s.
It is the Analyst’s job to develop the specifications for programming, not the programmer’s.
It is the Analyst’s job to develop the data specifications for the Data Base Administrator, not the programmer’s.
And it is the Analyst’s job to test and install systems, not the programmer’s (although they should be performing unit and string tests of their software prior to system tests).

Programmers should be consulted to review the feasibility of a system design, but make no mistake, it is up to the Analyst to develop such plans. And if the Analyst performs his job properly, he will greatly simplify the life of the programmer, thereby making that person more productive. Regrettably, corporate management has little appreciation for the Analyst’s duties and responsibilities. Consequently, the Analyst is pressured to short stroke his work effort and turn it over to programming prematurely, thereby causing the programmers to act on poorly defined specifications which inevitably results in project delays and increased development costs.

So, is the tail wagging the dog in your company or the other way around? Do you have a sufficient number of Analysts to properly design systems before turning the specifications over to programming? Consider this, if done properly true programming should take no more than 15% of your development time and costs. If you are expending more than this, I suspect you do not have enough Analysts.

Remember this, anytime you have a systems development project involving multiple business processes, multiple people, and multiple programs, you damn well better design a system architecture first.

Originally published: Febraury 9, 2011

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  WHAT MAKES US HAPPY? – Is it how we act or how we perceive life?

LAST TIME:  MY LAST PUFF  – Quitting is not easy.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific); and WWBA-AM (News Talk Florida 820). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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TECHNOLOGY PENETRATION

Posted by Tim Bryce on March 7, 2016

BRYCE ON TECHNOLOGY

– Noting a shift in the devices we use.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

A couple of years ago I wrote about a study claiming 25% of two-year-olds possessed a smart phone. I received several comments afterwards from readers aghast at the statistic. I do not know what the stats are today for two-year-olds, but another study has surfaced describing our technology addiction. Last October, the Pew Research Center reported on “Technology Device Ownership: 2015.” In the report, the authors described the penetration of our favorite computer technology. Interestingly, there were both ups and downs.

In terms of smart phone use, the Pew study claims 68% of American adults have a smart phone (up from 35% in 2011). This is eclipsed by 86% of younger people, aged 18-29, and 83% of those ages 30-49. Cell phones have gone even farther, from 65% in 2004 to 92% in 2015. This means we are near the saturation point for communication devices. Back in the day of the landline, a telephone in your room was a prized luxury when you became a teenager. Anyone remember the “Princess” phone? Now, nearly 100% of all family members have their own personal phone of one kind or another. Yet, we still cannot seem to answer any of them.

The study also noted the decline of certain devices. For example, portable gaming devices have plateaued and are starting to subside, going from 41% penetration in 2009 to 40% in 2015. Likewise, MP3 devices peaked in 2010 and are now declining to 40% penetration. The one device that surprised me though was the e-Book reader which started in 2009, peaked in 2014 at 28%, but experienced a sharp decline in 2015 to 18%. In all likelihood, these devices are being quickly replaced by smart phones and tablets which are showing steady growth. Either that or people are losing their interest in reading.

Desktop computers and laptops are also starting to decline, presumably because of smart phone and tablet technology. As Pew reports, “Today, 78% of adults under 30 own a laptop or desktop computer, compared with 88% who did so in 2010.”

Frankly, I cannot live without a keyboard. The touch screen technology of the tablets is simply not for serious typing.

So, what can we learn from these statistics? Simple; our technology addiction grows unabated even in spite of a major shift in devices, away from desktops, laptops, and traditional devices, and moving towards smart phones and tablets. Understand this, the technology we’ve imbued our two-year-olds with will likely be obsolete in five years, replaced by something else. Experts have already predicted the demise of the smart phone. I’ll be curious to see what it is replaced by.

Related articles:

“Is Personal Technology a Drug?”
“Our Smartphone Addiction”
“More Evidence of Technology Addiction”
“Bed Bugs & Our Changing World”

Also published with News Talk Florida.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2016 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE NEXT PATTON – Donald Trump possesses many of the same attributes as our famous WW2 field commander.

LAST TIME:  WHY WE EAT  – Please, do not tell us it’s “good for you.”

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific); and WWBA-AM (News Talk Florida 820). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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