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Comment Typical (Score 2, Insightful) 364

This article isn't going to enlighten you or give you the secret to running a top notch IT organization. And neither are most of the comments that have risen to the top. There is no magic wand. Anyone that tells you otherwise is probably selling something. There's just hard work and a commitment to excellence with the acceptance that there are certain things which are inevitable:

1) You're in business to produce a profit. You're not in business to procure, deploy, or worship technology. Technology is a tool. No different than a screwdriver or a machine press or a clock. It helps the workers be more productive and capable of producing a profit. Nothing more. Nothing less. Used well, technology is power. Used unwisely, it's an anvil around your neck.
2) Organizations are groups of people. People in groups don't communicate well. People one on one usually communicate very well. Whenever you get a large enough group, there will be miscommunication and that thwarts most "techniques" or "methodologies" engineered to negate this effect. The sooner you realize that you can't engineer away humanity, the sooner you'll be successful in using one on one relationships to get most of your wins. ALL organizations will NEVER be in sync at any given time.
3) No matter where you work, there will be a bell curve of capability and skill. You'll have a few rock stars, most people will be in the middle, and there will be a few truly aweful people. It doesn't matter if it's Google or the Army or AJ's Nails and Hair. No organization can attract the best and brightest all the time for all needs. So even if you have good processes and good relationships, they won't always work and you won't always get good results. The best you can do is work hard to provide the best you can and accept the fact that not everyone you are working with is capable or motivated to do the same. Stop complaining and do what is reasonable to solve the problem. That will bring you the most success. And happiness. Read this again, and then lower where you think YOU are in the bell curve.
4) People are relying on you to guide them and help them to make informed and intelligent decisions. To them, what you do is scary and expensive and magical all at the same time. Keep the previous 3 points in mind on how they will present their problem to you and respond to the solution that you present to them.

I've been a CIO for everything from startups to publicly traded companies to companies I've founded. The principals don't change. Just the budgets and egos.


Submission + - How to teach programming, to a retired automaker 1

flynn23 writes: My father is 56 and newly "retired" after working for a Big 3 for over 35 years. He's still young and able and wanting to stay working and productive. He was a crack programmer while pursuing a CS degree in the mid-80s, and has good experience writing assembly language for IBM 36/360 systems as well as good CS principals (documentation, maintainable code, etc). What should he do to get back in the game? Buy a bunch of Ruby on Rails books and write the next Twitter mashup? Or should he stick with low level waterfall type stuff because it seems familiar? Many thanks for the community's thoughts and suggestions.

Submission + - GSM Decryption Published 3

Hugh Pickens writes: "The NY Times reports that German encryption expert Karsten Nohl says that he has deciphered and published the 21-year-old GSM algorithm, the secret code used to encrypt most of the world's digital mobile phone calls, in what he called an attempt to expose weaknesses in the security system used by about 3.5 billion of the 4.3 billion wireless connections across the globe. Others have cracked the A5/1 encryption technology used in GSM before, but their results have remained secret. “This shows that existing GSM security is inadequate,” Nohl told about 600 people attending the Chaos Communication Congress. “We are trying to push operators to adopt better security measures for mobile phone calls.” The GSM Association, the industry group based in London that devised the algorithm and represents wireless operators, called Mr. Nohl’s efforts illegal and said they overstated the security threat to wireless calls. “This is theoretically possible but practically unlikely,” says Claire Cranton, a GSM spokeswoman, noting that no one else had broken the code since its adoption. “What he is doing would be illegal in Britain and the United States. To do this while supposedly being concerned about privacy is beyond me.” Simon Bransfield-Garth, the chief executive of Cellcrypt, says Nohl's efforts could put sophisticated mobile interception technology — limited to governments and intelligence agencies — within the reach of any reasonable well-funded criminal organization. “This will reduce the time to break a GSM call from weeks to hours,” Bransfield-Garth says. “We expect as this further develops it will be reduced to minutes.”"

Comment Re:We've got along well enough without (Score 1) 330

Bullshit. Health care costs have spiraled out of control and there's every reason to believe this will be the next industry in line for a DC bailout. Don't you find it disturbing that you have more gages for performance/operation of your car than your own body? Maybe being able to see how choices impact your "vehicle" might be one of the keys to lowering costs of health care for yourself and society.

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