Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Projects, Tech PM's Sanity and Cthulhu [tf charts]

Everyone living as a technology project manager or in any job description where "technology project manager" falls into knows that there are both good projects and bad.  They also know that most of them, regardless of a "good" or "bad" designation, are only done at the cost of their sanity - and precisely how much sanity is dictated by the conditions outside of their control.

The type that's nearest and dearest to my head recently (but nowhere near dearest to my heart) is the type that starts with a tremendous delay.  Paperwork's done. equipment's in. Everything's good to go.  But due to other unseen forces, the start date is pushed a ridiculous degree back.  But then due to other unseen forces, the finish date actually moves forward.

Then the fun begins.  What am I saying here?  Listen to your tech PM and his or her army of project nerds.  Because one thing that isn't unseen is that something rushed like that is its own Cthulhu.

(click the chart for full-size)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Philadelphia Celebrates the City's Geek Elite

There's many reasons why I love the City of Brotherly Love. The place is filled with things to do and places to go from end to end, from museums and nightlife to education and history. The same city that houses the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall plays host to the Eagles, the Phillies, the Flyers and Sixers, not to mention a WizardWorld Comic Con every year.  You'll find the fiercest sports fans here, not to mention some of the fiercest geeks.

In the spirit of the man himself, Ben Franklin, over the last few years the Philadelphia geek scene has really started to grow.  Since 2011 we've seen events like Philly Tech Week and the Philadelphia Science Festival take over springtime in the city as proof of that, highlighting the best that Philadelphia has to offer in science, technology, entrepreneurship and art. And with all of the projects going on the city year round, not just during these celebrations, it's no wonder that someone somewhere thought that the best of Philly geekery should be honored.  So the fine folks at Geekadelphia and the Academy of Natural Sciences put together the Philly Geek Awards, taking place this year on August 17th.

The Philly Geek Awards are a spectacular, annual, one-night event celebrating Philadelphia's vibrant community of geeks. From the artists and the innovators, the programmers and the scientists, the authors and the do-gooders - this ceremony honors the outstanding accomplishments of Philly’s best and brightest.  The Geek Awards have been presented now for the past three years at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.

It's an awards show just like the huge ones you see on TV - black tie, red carpet (with a cocktail hour, of course) that will have the city's premier geeks in their finest trappings featuring notable and local presenters and nominees.  The only difference between this and the televised shows is that it's smaller, more fun, and features subject matter that's far more interesting whether you're a geek, a Philly person, or both.  Not to mention getting to hang out at the Academy of Natural Sciences with your fellow geek ilk with some owls and a T-Rex skeleton is a pretty fun time before the show.  But the best way to get a feel for what the event is really to watch last year's recap video.

So now that you're itching to go, tickets go on sale Monday, July 29th at 10AM for $25.  This will get you entry to the show and the cocktail hour at the Academy.  You better watch your clock and act fast when they go up, because the show has completely sold out two years in a row to a live audience of over 400.  And being featured on FOX News, Philadelphia Daily News (front cover, 8/20/11), CBS Philly, Philadelphia Weekly, Philadelphia CityPaper, The Philly Post (, Newsworks, Philadelphia Metro and more, it's an event you don't want to miss.

In the mean time, check out the Philly Geek Awards site for more info.  And take a look at Geekadelphia to get Philly geek cultured and the cool things happening at the Academy of Natural Sciences while you're at it.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Xbox Doesn't Just Want Your Living Room, It Wants Your Office

OK so Microsoft’s been through some interesting times since E3 to now regarding the Xbox One.  Seriously, I’m almost tired of typing the name of that console out anymore.  First there was the DRM.  Then there was the public outcry and backlash.  Then they rolled it all back.  Then some restructuring.  Oh right, and the petitions (most likely of trollish origin) trying to bring back the DRM that Microsoft promised as “the future of gaming.”


So suffice it to say there’s still a lot of people whose living rooms haven’t been won over by the Microsoft show this summer (including me).  If I do end up getting one of these next-gen consoles it’s going to be a PlayStation 4 and there’s a lot of people who agree with me.  Microsoft knows this though, and they’ve decided to try a different angle – So maybe they can’t have your living room. That’s cool.  How abut your office?

Recently on their Small Business support blog, The folks at Redmond are now marketing the Xbox One as the perfect unit for your small to mid-sized business.  They threw up sot me decent points in their defense on a number of things that small and mid-size business can sometimes have some issues with.  The first is videoconferencing.  There’s not a lot of small businesses that can really swing expensive videoconferencing equipment, and the built in Skype allowing for multi-user chatting could make it attractive for communication.  The addition of office web apps as well as plugging into SkyDrive for cloud storage has its draws too.  It means documents and media (especially those powerpoint presentations we all love to give) can be pulled up and delivered using gestures instead of clickers or pointers.  Given this, $499 isn’t a bad price point for a office machine.

This move and pitch makes sense if we go back to that Microsoft shuffle up for a second.  The house the Gates built used to have very separate and very distinct rooms, each covering a product offering  - Windows, Office, Mobile, services, etc.  As an excerpt from Steve Ballmer’s restructuring memo:
“We are rallying behind a single strategy as one company — not a collection of divisional strategies.”
And that all kind of goes back to the whole “ecosystem” idea that they were pitching a few years ago – becoming a hotel as opposed to houses as it were, if you’ll allow me to make a board game analogue.

Hmm, an interesting thought after all… maybe I can buy an Xbox One and write it off as a work expense?  Maybe multiplayer can count as team building…