Bringing Sanity to Meetings and Con Calls – You Can Do It!

I’m sure all of my readers love meetings. If you’re like me, you wake up looking forward to people who forget they’re on mute, people who forget to go on mute before yelling at pets/neighbors/unpleasant BMs, and of course what I call Cisco Standard Time (“We’ll get started about 5 minutes late because everyone before us did.”).

But for those of you who want to make a difference, I thought I’d share some ideas to help you make the most of your meeting time, whether you’re running a meeting, participating in one, or thinking you’d rather get a few more root canals and maybe a vertebra replacement instead of going to another conference call.

Caveat: I work remotely (not to be confused with remotely working), so a lot of my recent thoughts on this topic are focused around Webex or other conference call methods. I hope they’ll help you with face-to-face meetings as well, but don’t count on hitting mute in a conference room to save you from your woes.

I’ll start with an anecdote. I worked for a search engine company about 13 years ago, and one of the CEOs during my time there made an interesting observation. He walked around our San Francisco office and saw meeting rooms full most of the time. Many/most of the people in the meeting rooms were disengaged, and people couldn’t justify the meetings to him in many cases. So a mandate went out, a decree from on high, telling people to cut back on meetings and trim down the attendees. It was one of the wisest admonitions from a CEO that I’ve ever been in the room to hear first-hand. And it seemed to work. (The company failed later for other reasons, but nobody who left the company thought “if we’d only had a few more meetings each day, we would’ve made it.”)
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Lowered Expectations – How Low Can Your Laptop Go?

[An Interop Aside: I visited with a couple of vendors at Interop who are sending some gear for me to explore. I’m holding off on their coverage until that happens, although another summary post may be forthcoming.]

I’m a big laptop fan. Afficionado, not cooler, mind you. It’s a problem, especially since my recent rebuild acquisitions and components are blocking the fireplace at the moment.

There’s been a disturbing trend over the last couple of years, whereby laptop manufacturers decide to move more toward the netbook specifications for memory (and often storage), rather than to the state of the art for the current generation of laptop processors. I was commiserating with my friend John Obeto about this recently.

For a couple of months now, you’ve been able to order a Dell Precision 7000-series laptop with 64GB of RAM. That’s twice as much as many desktops can handle today. And even if you don’t have room for four DIMM slots in your laptop design, DDR4 16GB SODIMMs are very affordable and readily available even at retail. So there’s really no reason for a 13″ or larger laptop to have an 8GB limit.

But it is the way of the world, for most lightweight laptops these days. Even Dell’s remarkable XPS 13 9343 maxed at 8GB – the 9350 model this year has a 16GB option but it’s online order only (and in the $2000 range as I recall). Continue reading

Belated Post-Strata Thoughts 2: Logs and Logistics in Ops Analytics 

This is the second in a short series around Strata San Jose 2016. If you haven’t read part one, you can check out Hadoop Is Finally Over here.

In our last episode, we talked about new tween Hadoop, which celebrates its 10th birthday this year. We also looked at the death of Hadoop, MapReduce, and visualization. If you haven’t read part one, go check it out!

Not to get too George RR Martin on you, but there’s another death coming. It’s not who you think.


[Disclosure: I work with Splunk in my day job, and have been a fan since the first t-shirt came out. These thoughts do not purport to represent Splunk or my day job.]

[Further disclosure: I’ll mention another company in this section, and I was a customer of the cofounder’s previous employer for many years. I worked with him in that role, and I think he’s cool. He did not pay me to say that. Yet.]

Splunk is also a tween now. They’ve been selling software for just over ten years, and I’d guess a fair number of their 11,000+ customers don’t even think of them as big data. But they are.

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This is NOT Buttercup. This is merely a lady horse working at a venue in Nashville, Tennessee

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Live from Interop 2016: Wireless Big Data, #interop4things, and hats #rsts11 #interop #bigdata

2016-05-03 16.56.25For the fourth year, I’m spending a week’s vacation in Las Vegas attending Interop. What started with Stephen Foskett inviting me to participate in a Tech Field Day Roundtable at Interop 2013 has become a tradition, thanks to the courtesy of Interop PR. I’ve experienced all four hotels in the Mandalay strip, learned the secret identity of airline chicken, and met some great people with great projects and products and the occasional interesting vending machines.


My coworkers were in large part confused that I would take vacation time, come to Las Vegas mostly on my own dime[1], and act like I don’t have a day job. When I did things like this during my employment with Disney, I’d “leave my ears at home,” as I did for the Tech Field Day events. Cisco doesn’t have iconic ears, and I don’t have a bridge hat (as Teren Bryson suggested yesterday). But I still leave work behind.

You’re not going to be able to leave your experience and expertise behind, of course, and there are enough folks out there who know who I work for, but my work phone, work laptop, work business cards, and work identity[2] are left behind for the duration of an event like this.

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Belated Post-Strata Thoughts 1: Hadoop is finally over…

[Apology: Formatting issues may have been resolved.]

Last month I managed to attend a big data event as an attendee, for the first time in nearly two years. One upside to being a big data storyteller is that you don’t get 3am oncall pages. Downsides at events like Strata include that you’re often working the booth, or preparing for and recovering from a presentation, or trying to convince vendors that your role doesn’t involve buying software and services for a Fortune 50 company personally.

Sure, I did give a brief booth presentation for my friends at MapR on both expo days at Strata SJ, but more time was spent catching up with the people in my ecosystem who I rarely see, learning what they’re doing new these days (or who they’re working for these days), and occasionally getting a no-BS perspective on a very rife-for-BS idea, product, or company.

One of the other upsides to not being a buyer anymore is that it is easy, and practical, to jettison the sales pitches and move on to the stories. I tell stories. I don’t deploy production environments anymore. And it’s refreshing to be able to look at things outside the sales pressure.


So the first point, which was teased at Strata NYC last fall, is that Hadoop is finally over…

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