Using your voice, Babylon or not

As part of my six-year anniversary of rsts11, I’ve had some time to reflect on why I do this, and why I do social media as well.

This blog post has a bit of a soundtrack… feel free to play it and then read on…

Every so often in my blogging and social media career, something happens that’s humbling. Being chosen for Tech Field Day about six years ago, being invited to leave my Cisco ears at home for another event, things like that. But one of the most humbling and rewarding things is when someone thanks me for speaking up or sharing things.

Sometimes it’s sharing a perspective that someone might not have considered before, whether it’s my perspective or someone else’s. Sometimes it’s answering (or asking) questions that are difficult and others might not have the leeway to ask or address because of work or family constraints. Sometimes it’s putting a contentious or infamous issue into context for friends and professional relations. And once last year was someone thanking me for inspiring them to speak up, to express their opinions even though they didn’t follow a particular pattern that the social media sphere was trying to enforce.

I’ve lost a few followers on Twitter and probably a “friend” or five on Facebook as a result of being open and occasionally noisy over the past two or three years. I’ve gained a few “friends” and doubled my twitter followers over the same period of time. And I’ve seen some “thought leaders” who outsource their twitter controls to third party block lists disappear from my scope of reference. (Me, I respect thought leaders who think for themselves.) All things considered, it’s not been a bad couple of years.

I don’t think I’m getting too full of myself here. I’m a lifelong technologist with a quirky sense of humor and a LOT of coffeemakers. No number of retweets and puns will change that.

But it does make me feel good to think that some of my friends and my “friends” will see things they might not see otherwise, and take a moment to think about them because I reflected them. Most of the people I interact with understand and accept that not everything I share is 100% my opinion, and the rest might figure it out someday.

I don’t have a bully pulpit and hundreds of thousands of followers hanging on my every word. With the number of typos I’ve made lately, I’m kinda glad. But if I can make a couple of people happier, more comfortable with themselves and their thoughts, or more aware of the world around them, I feel like I’ve gone beyond a tech blogger and done something good, however minute by proportion, for the world.

And maybe I’ll learn something more about you in the process too.

That’s all for now. Be excellent to each other.

Resource sharing, time sharing, six years on

Six years ago today, I hit “publish” or whatever it was called at the time on a blog post:

rsts11-first-post

With a goal to tie my technology, culture, caffeine, and gadget history, experience, and sometimes expertise together in something that was entertaining and useful to read, I launched rsts11 on January 28, 2011.

digital-microandmem

Over a hundred posts later, it’s still chugging along. Along the way, I’ve butted heads with some vendors about online behavior and firmware availability and the definition of the word “free,” shared my Tech Field Day experiences until I was no longer able to do so, announced my migration to the dark side when I retired from system administration to work in a sales organization at a vendor (which is why I was no longer able to be a TFD delegate), brought you coffee and gadgets, and most recently on New Year’s Eve 2016, spawned a travel-focused blog with a slightly less technical focus than rsts11 itself.

I’ve had a number of great experiences made possible by the blog, including participating in Interop, the Spectra Summit, Asigra’s partner summit, and a few other things here and there. I’ve managed to keep a bit of my independent presence despite working for a megalithic technology company, and it’s helped me keep my tech chops at least lukewarm in between fifty person WebEx calls to discuss whether to have another meeting with a different fifty people… you know how it goes.

So where do we go from here?

What’s ahead for the next hundred posts? I’ve decided that I really need to stop buying gear “to write about on the blog” until I catch up on the room full of stuff I have to catch up on already. Some of the next hundred posts will be on rsts11travel of course, including some hotel reviews (and some better photos, which might mean some return visits to a couple of hotels). And I’m still pondering the video blog or podcast idea, although I’d need to come up with a lot more interesting stuff to talk about off the cuff.

 

Do you have suggestions for upcoming posts? Weird gear ideas for me to investigate? A favorite post from rsts11 that’s helped you in your work or pub games? Share in the comments below.

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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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.

YOU CAN’T SEE MY HAT

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.

HADOOP IS OVER…

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

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