Andre Durand

Discovering life, one mistake at a time.
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Archive for the ‘Life’

PingParty.Catalyst.2009

July 14, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

pingparty

Proactive Commoditization

July 13, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

Microsoft deserves a lot of props for how they’ve managed through some tight, tricky spots over the years. They are definitely disciplined in how they approach new markets, ensuring that they squeeze every penny out of a dying technology before moving onto the next big thing.

That said, timing markets and competitive chess moves is always tricky. Move too early, you may undermine your existing product sales too quickly. Move too slow, and you may lose an emerging market opportunity to a competitor.

Microsoft announced today that they are going to offer the online version of it’s MS Office 2010 (due next summer) for free. In no doubt a reaction to the threat of Google Docs.

But I can’t help but think that the announcement, which is no doubt in reaction to Google’s disruption, isn’t indicative of a culture that’s not as balanced as it might need to be to capture major potential threats before they are too late?

Clear Demise

June 23, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

This is a real shame. I used Clear regularly, and it was a very valuable service.

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Life, Inc.

June 18, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

Douglas Rushkoff has a new book called Life, Inc. I’ve not read it (it’s on the way), but Fast Company sat down with Douglas to discuss it recently.

In the book, Douglas claims that currency was invented to prevent transactions and put a brake on economic growth, corporations exist to stifle competition, and banks do not fund competition–they drain it. But he’s no communist: “A true free marketeer, actually,” Rushkoff says. “I’m just trying to point out that we’re not operating in anything close to a free market.”

Douglas goes into detail about how we find ourselves here, and what we can do to get out. I’ve never read Douglas before, but boy do I like him.

So what’s your solution?

DR: There are many. The first is to allow corporations to crumble under their own weight. When they really do get too big to work efficiently, our first response should not be to change the playing field to prevent their demise at the expense of all the great, smaller, more competitive and innovative companies that should be replacing them.

We tend to think of letting big companies die as being cruel to the workers – and this might be so. But these companies wouldn’t have gotten so big in the first place if we hadn’t regulated their monopolies in the first place. And unions are often complicit in this scheme as well.

The easiest ways through this are:
1. promote local commerce – of the sort Adam Smith envisioned.
2. break the highly centralized, bureaucratic liaison between government and big business for industries such as Big Agra, Big Pharma, and Big Oil. Undo protectionist regulations making it impossible or illegal for farmers to grow the crops best suited to their climates and soil.
3. develop alternative currencies (like the ones in Japan that were used to deliver hundreds of millions of dollars of healthcare to elders) and promote business-to-business barter networks (such as Itex.com , alone transferring over $100-million of b2b exchange annually).
4. learn to actually do something. the easiest way for a business to make money is by providing goods and services. since almost no one does this anymore, there’s a great opportunity here.

Do you think that’s realistic?

DR: Only as realistic as the survival of our economy on a geopolitical landscape that no longer accepts the expansion of our markets as given. We are getting significant “push back” from Asia, Africa and South America. They’re not willing to serve simply as expansions of our markets or World Bank debtors. So we may have to abandon an economic model that was based on the colonial expansions of Renaissance nations, and look towards a more sophisticated, less regulated and protectionist landscape. The rest of the world is no longer going to respect the monopolies our governments declare. So it’s time to compete again. This means America learning how to do something instead of simply outsourcing and creating debt.

It won’t be easy, but it could actually be fun. Imagine competence as a viable alternative.

PingFederate & Amazon Web Services (AWS)

May 29, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

Two of our customers have deployed PingFederate in the cloud on Amazon Web Services EC2. Here are the steps they used to deploy on AWS.

Setting up PingFederate 6.0 in AWS was a pretty simple affair, I’m using one of the public Ubuntu 32-bit instances for testing and followed the installation recipe fairly closely, just adapting it in places so that it fit with our deployment strategies. It is still a work in progress but if you are looking to implement a paid/public AMI with PingFed it should be a pretty cut and dry affair.

  • Setup pingfed user
    Install JDK 1.6
    Setup JAVA_HOME path for JDK
    Unzip PingFederate 6.0
  • Adapt init script to point at the pingfed directory and use the pingfed account. At the moment, I have it running on the stock port but will likely change that to use 443 when we go to production as these servers will likely be standalone instances.

    All Dogs go to Heaven

    May 24, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

    Two neighboring churches take their message to the street.

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    30lbs of Crawfish

    May 20, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

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    Bill Douglas of my EO Forum hosted a crawfish boil last night. Nothing quite like a full 30lbs of crawfish thrown out all over a table. Clearly some were more into the feast than others.

    Chuck Jones grubbing down

    Chuck Jones grubbing down

    A conversation with my shrink

    May 08, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life


    On Conflict

    Bernie: In a recent blog, you have written that it’s important to examine the chain of past events that have produced a current circumstance, and try to learn from them. Perhaps your forthcoming tour of NORAD will provide such an opportunity? The world has changed, and so has NORAD. But are we not still clinging desperately to other relics of the past? Is our current national priority to maintain special operations units throughout the world, spawned during the Vietnam era of distributed gorilla wars of national liberation, soon to become a relic of the past? And what’s next? We have to “do something” about global threats, right? Force is one part of the answer. If we just concentrate on that part alone, very complex part, really — what’s next? — Bernie Daina – Organizational Psychologist – go2daina@aol.com

    Andre: IMO, an imbalance in power and wealth, unfortunately, while as inevitable as recognizing that life isn’t fair, and some people are born tall, smart, famous or beautiful while others aren’t, is one of the root causes of confrontation. Life is not fair, the world is not perfect and there is a limited supply of many of our resources, making some of the basic needs of humans a sort of zero sum game, at least until we can figure out how to produce sufficient quantities of food, water, vaccines and education and deliver it where the people reside. Until nearly everyone is brought up similar production, capacity, efficiency & education levels, we’ll continue to have huge imbalances in wealth, and the corresponding confrontation that goes along people trying to balance the equation through force, or maintain their imbalance through force.


    Balancing Short and Long Term Goals

    Bernie: When confronted with the dilemma of valuing short-term results versus longer-term investment — particularly in a cash-tight entrepreneurial environment where a team is struggling to gain a firm foothold and investors are spooked or pressured and clamoring for “results” — how does a leader transmit a strong and continuous sense of urgency to his team, while absorbing excessive levels of performance-crippling anxiety that often accompany the urgency?

    Andre: I believe it’s the leaders role to create an environment where the best in people can be achieved. The best cannot be brought out if people are fearful. Early in a business, the leaders role is to create operational runway which allows teams to focus on the business, mission and vision, rather than worry about whether or not they will have a job in 2 weeks. The leader has failed if they are not capable of creating this condition, as the organization begins to collapse in on itself. Creating realistic expectations both up (the board) and down (the employees) is part of this role too. Balancing execution, resource appropriation and near-term results with investments with longer term returns is also an important role for the leader. They must know when to make future trade-offs and when to return to longer-term thinking. What i object to is when the focus of the entire organization becomes so myopic, that they do forgo entirely the bigger picture. My point of all of this is, a leader must be strong enough to actualize a condition whereby a healthy balance between short and long term goals can be realized.


    Pursuing Value or a Buck?

    Bernie. What’s the difference between offering products or services that really matter, that are of high quality, and that anticipate and meet genuine needs, versus those that can simply be sold? If customers can be manipulated to buy handily-produced large volumes of obsolete cars, trucks, pharmaceuticals, or software, what difference does it really make to take the risk and plow our efforts into producing something more useful that will not be adopted as easily? Is this an ethical or a business dilemma, or both?

    Andre: There will always be ways to make (and lose) a quick buck. The difference is whether or not you’ll last. Long term sustainability is the difference.


    Acting under pressure

    Bernie. What are the rules for determining whether an impending action, in a pressurized environment, will achieve a desired outcome versus simply discharge the tension of needing to “do something”?

    Andre: If that action is rooted in a long-term view of sustainability and competitiveness. If that action does not create a future liability as a result of a current gain.


    Motivation

    Bernie. Traditionally, organizations are attack vehicles: Companies attack their markets and competitors; relief organizations attack hunger, pestilence, and natural disasters; educational institutions attack ignorance and illiteracy; America’s scientific, educational, technological, and process-control infrastructures were galvanized and enhanced by our impulse to compete with the Russians for the moon; social clubs attack isolation and boredom; and so on. People get fired up, and join together, when they have a common enemy. Is there any better way to energize and focus a group productively?

    Andre: Different people are motivated by different things and I think organizations and their motivations can change over time if the people, or their leadership changes. Highly competitive people are motivated by winning. Microsoft had this culture, Oracle has this culture. Other teams are motivated to ‘invent’ (HP), or to ‘be first’ or to ‘be visionary.’ At different stages of a company, the people, and how you motivate them will likely evolve. So, I don’t think it’s as simple of an answer as saying, ‘the best way to motivate people is to have a common enemy.’ I think it’s convenient when it exists, but when an organization lives to kill (or simply to survive), I view this as a situation where leadership hasn’t stepped up and rallied people to a higher cause. It’s like running a business where the only mission is to make money. It’s not wrong, but it’s empty.


    Educate or Train?

    Bernie. Training is extremely important to our society: training in basic and advanced skills, training in disciplinary and creative problem-solving, training in social skills and “emotional intelligence”, and so forth. How does education differ from training? Does it help us do any more than accumulate knowledge and appreciate things? In what ways is education, per se, of any practical use?

    Andre: I equate education with having elements of experience sharing, which in turn incorporates elements of wisdom sharing. To me, this is much more meaningful than showing someone how to do something (training).


    Making the ‘right’ choice

    Bernie. Is it really reasonable to assume that doing the “right” thing, by whatever economical, moral or subjective standards, will lead to an outcome that one can always look back on and think, “Well, I’m glad I made that choice!”? Is there some other standard that supersedes doing the “right” thing?

    Andre: Good question. “Right” certainly has many contexts. I believe in a sort of universal balance. Call it what you will, ying/yang, what comes around goes around, karma, wave theory, the candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long or E=MC2. The point is, you can “cheat” and create a temporal imbalance in reality for only so long, but sooner or later, your decision catches up with you. Even if you don’t see the consequences, somehow they are there. With this view, doing the right thing is nothing more than recognizing the future cost of your decision. No matter how hidden.

    SAML Endpoint Program

    May 06, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

    We launched a new SAML Endpoint Program yesterday designed to simplify how companies establish SAML Single Sign-On with partners. Just one of many new programs we’ll offer to streamline federation with partners.

    Tour of NORAD

    May 05, 2009 By: Andre Category: Life

    norad1

    I just received an invite to do a private tour of NORAD through my EO membership. This is one EO event I’m not going to miss. I suppose I won’t be twittering from within the mountain, but then again, I’m not sure what use NORAD actually serves today. It’s pretty much a relic from the cold war as best I can tell. But we’ll see.

    Killer.