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As someone who’s worked with AI for the last 30 years (yes, it was a thing 30 years ago), I’ve often thought of its capabilities were overrated and used for the wrong things in many cases. Now that it’s cheap thanks to cloud computing, and much more effective thanks to the pace of innovation, AI as a solution is coming up again, including the use in cloud operations.
The idea is to replace people with AI to be both proactive and reactive to cloud operational issues such as outages, resource governance, security attacks, and performance. Cloudops involves largely repeatable problems, right?
There are of course some upsides and some downsides to this. Moreover, although the use of AI in cloud operations maybe a foregone conclusion, there will still be a learning curve that is required. As long as you understand that and know what to expect in terms of ROI for both the short term and long term, I’m okay with anything that that makes cloud operations more effective.
So, let’s look at the pros and cons.
The pros of AI for cloudops
The pros are that you can have a 7/24/365 monitoring and management program on the cheap. If you believe operational staff is expensive, try hiring them for shift work. AI-based monitoring and management systems never sleep, never take time off, and never ask for a raise. Once they are up and running, they cost almost nothing beyond their license fees and infrastructure costs. And they are self-learning at the same time; in other words, the more they run, the better that they get at the job.
Another pro is that these systems get smarter every day and share a common brain. People get smarter with experience as well, but they don’t do a good job sharing their experiences with others. People also retire and quit, with the knowledge and experience walking out the door with them.
The cons of AI for cloudops
One con is that the cost of rolling out these systems is high, even in the cloud. Vendors that have married AI and operational tools are going to charge a premium to get them up and running and in production. While the prices are all over the place, count on paying 50 percent more than for traditional tools, including consulting services for the first year or so to get the tools learning correctly.
Another con is that operations people don’t seem to like them no matter how well they perform. The number of passive-aggressive actions that I’ve seen over the years from people pushing back on AI-enabled operations tools has been huge.
They view this technology as not to be trusted, plus the fact that AI some day may displace their jobs does not make things better. Organizations that implement these tools need to have change agents, plus an understanding about the human factors with this technology.
Is the future AI-enabled cloud-operations tools? I don’t see how it won’t be. The pros will get better, and the cons will begin to diminish, like any other rollout of new technology. Hopefully, our new AI operations overlords will have mercy on us in a few years.
None of us are supposed to be static beings. We’re supposed to learn, to sweeten like wine over time into something better than we were yesterday. We constantly laud that idea. When we finally go to practice self-improvement, though, something quirky happens–people who once promised their support withdraw to the background or seem grumpier than a woodchuck with a toothache.
Why does this happen? Research led by Lydia Emery from Northwestern University might offer a clue, as summarized by Ashley Lyles in Psychology Today. Over several studies, individuals thought about how their partners had changed. They indicated how much previous or anticipated support or resistance they had to those changes. Researchers had the individuals self-assess how clear they were about their self-concept, as well.
The researchers found that, when people had lower clarity about their self-concept, they generally were not as supportive of their partner changing. The team concluded that this was because the individuals worried that changes in their partner meant they would have to change, too. Without a solid idea of who they were on their own, they were unsettled not knowing how the partners would redefine them.
While this work focused on more intimate, romantic relationships, it’s reasonable to believe that the same results could happen with anybody we feel deeply connected to. This includes family members who help with entrepreneurial efforts, mentors or team members you’ve bonded with. It’s human nature to cling to familiarity to some degree, and because we use external validation to form and confirm our perception of ourselves, it can be scary to see those we see as our foundation become willing to shift. We have to face the question of whether the changes we see somehow will alter our future or, worse, break the connection with the person who means so much to us.
So it’s not that people don’t care about what you want to do. In fact, they probably really want you to achieve and reach your goals. It’s just that they need to know who they are without you. You can help them figure that out by
- Encouraging them to try new things
- Asking for their opinion
- Inquiring about what they want or value
- Getting them more information or resources to explore their hobbies and interests
- Tactfully pointing out both strengths and weaknesses in a positive way
- Connecting them with new people
- Stepping back so they can take more control
- Encouraging them to try again after mistakes
- Taking time to listen about deeper experiences that can fuel fear and timidity
The more you build the other person up through these strategies, the more they’ll be able to stand on their own. And once that happens, you should see their support of your self-improvement go up, too.
Published on: Oct 18, 2018
Are you on Facebook? If you are, you’ve most likely received a repetitive, canned note (or 100) from your friends/family that is driving you into a fit of rage. If you haven’t, consider yourself lucky. However, there’s indeed an irritating hoax going around that has grabbed some serious attention. Here’s what the message says:
Hi….I actually got another friend request from you yesterday…which I ignored so you may want to check your account. Hold your finger on the message until the forward button appears…then hit forward and all the people you want to forward too….I had to do the people individually. Good Luck!
Spoiler: there’s no ‘clone’ account. This is just a hoax, so delete the message and be worry-free that an account or second-degree account is compromised.
We’re all familiar with this level of chain-like-mail, but what makes this time so different? The obvious answer could be any of the following:
- It’s coming from friends & family — so you can trust it
- There’s clear instruction on what to do
- It doesn’t contain a link
- You’re doing it through Messenger (it’s more novel), vs. a status update
However, it goes deeper than that.
We need to remember that Facebook has its fair share of ‘bad press’ (yes, there is such a thing) the past couple years, stemming from the Cambridge Analytica scandal which affected 87 million accounts. Then, all 2.2 billion Facebook users received a notice in an effort to inform them on how to protect their information. Add to this that on September 28th, hackers exploited a flaw which resulted in compromised data for 50 million accounts. Yikes.
And what do you get when you mix that all together?
A user constantly on high-alert due to the endless loop of security & privacy concerns
The decision to forward is almost an irrational one–and an innate reaction to Facebook’s shaky history and hyper-recent exploitation. All of that creates an uncomfortable level of ‘unknown’ when it comes to privacy and, at the end of the day, your friends & family are really just trying to help inform of a potential concern.
So, the next time you receive one of these messages, maybe take a deep breath and if you feel like a good Samaritan, let them know that they don’t need to forward the message out to anyone else–the clones aren’t here (yet).
Published on: Oct 7, 2018
The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis has provided some high-profile validation for a core premise of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency. A blog post this week based on an earlier Fed research paper said that “bitcoin units have no intrinsic value” – but added that currencies “such as the U.S. dollar, the euro, and the Swiss france . . . have no intrinsic value either.”
The post, titled “Three Ways Bitcoin is Like Regular Currency,” doesn’t precisely endorse Bitcoin or cryptocurrency. In another recent report, the St. Louis Fed was critical of Bitcoin’s inefficiency. Cryptocurrency has also become rife with scams since its surge in value last year, and may constitute a global risk because it enables clandestine money laundering, capital flight, and tax evasion.
But the St. Louis Fed has provided a credible rebuttal to one of the most widespread and misguided criticisms of cryptocurrency: That, because it isn’t tied to a particular real-world commodity, it should have a monetary value of zero. As Fed researchers point out, since decoupling from the gold standard in the early 1970s, almost all global reserve currencies rely on nothing but trust to function as a media of value exchange.
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In the case of the dollar, that’s mostly trust in the U.S. government and economy. For Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, it’s trust in computer code and, at least to some extent, developers.
Surprisingly, the Fed’s new statement also echoes one of the predominant arguments that cryptocurrency fans use to disparage government-backed currency – though in a rather roundabout way. The post argues in part that “there’s a limited supply” of both cash and Bitcoin. The libertarian boosters at the heart of the crytpocurrency movement have often argued that Bitcoin is better than government currency because central banks can devalue national currencies through inflation, while Bitcoin has a strictly fixed supply. Though the Fed’s post points out that it doesn’t actually print cash – in the sense of physical notes – it acknowledges its ability to expand the money supply.
Other than that, Mrs. Cannon, how was the flight?
A lot of things went wrong on Leighton and Merry Cannon’s recent trip to Europe on American Airlines. But, as Merry Cannon said in a phone call, the worst part was probably right at the very end: when she discovered a dead rat in her checked luggage.
Yes, a dead rat–“smashed,” as she put it–yet hidden, so that she wasn’t sure what was creating the “disgusting” smell that came from her bag when she picked it up at the airport. She brought it home unwittingly, despite the odor, hoping to clean and salvage at least some of her clothes.
“It smells like a dead body.”
The story began early March 5, as Merry Cannon told it. Her husband had a business trip in Germany and France, plus a short visit to London to see family. Since his mother was free to come to their house in Arkansas to take care of their two small children for a few days, Merry decided to go along.
Travel troubles mounted quickly: delayed and canceled flights, missed connections, an unplanned overnight stay in Chicago after their flight to Germany left without them, while American tried to find room for them on any airplane to Europe. Ultimately they had to fly to Brussels, Belgium instead, forgo the German part of their trip, and arrange to drive a rental car to Lille, France.
When they arrived in Belgium, however, they found that their luggage had never left Chicago. It didn’t catch up to them until their last night in France, just before their morning flight to London to see family for the day before heading back to the U.S.
Eventually, they made it home to Arkansas, and Merry collected their bags. The smell now emanating from her luggage nearly knocked her over, she said.
“Smell this,” she said to her husband.
“It smells awful!” he replied.
“It smells like a dead body.”
“It smells so gross.”
Maybe it’s “just” sewage waste from a lavatory
Leighton tried to sanitize the handle with Clorox wipes. They brought the bag to a customer service agent, who speculated that maybe it had been left on a runway in the rain at some point during the five days it took to catch up with her, and the smell was from mold.
Merry said she was skeptical, as they hadn’t noticed a smell when the luggage caught up to them in France. Perhaps, the customer service agent suggested, it had been stored under a lavatory on the plane, and sewage waste had dripped onto it.
Disgusted by that idea, Merry Cannon asked for a garbage bag or something to avoid taking the bag. But the agent told her the airline would only compensate her for destroyed luggage if she first brought everything home, tried to wash it, and offered evidence that it didn’t work.
The Cannons threw the bag in the back of their truck, and left it on the back porch of their house when they got home. The next morning, Merry Connor opened it, pulled out a few articles of clothing, and held her nose. She dropped them in the washing machine with vinegar, bleach, Tide, and OxiClean.
It barely had an effect. Disgusted, she walked back to the porch. And then she saw the dead rat.
Her reaction: “I’m surprised the people next door, building a house–the construction workers–didn’t call the police. I screamed, ran inside, started washing my hands over and over. I was just crying.”
“Your biggest concern would be bubonic plague”
She called American Airlines. They told her to photograph everything in the bag, and to put in a claim. The person she spoke with at the airline was apologetic, she said, and promised that the airline would pay for everything.
Then she called the county health department.
“This is awful,” she said the health department official told her when she described the rat situation. “I’ve never heard of anything like this. Your biggest concern would be bubonic plague.”
“The plague? What am I, in a sitcom?” She thought about her two young children. Had she unwittingly brought a bubonic plague-infested rat into their home?
“Rats carry the plague,” the heath official told her. “Your other worry would be fleas. That’s what carries disease.” Later, he added, “Burning garbage is illegal, but that bag needs to be burned.”
Merry and Leighton took photos, and disposed of the bag and its contents. She said she hoped American Airlines would make her whole–at least for the actual value of the things she lost.
“I realize this is not the outcome you requested”
An American Airlines representative emailed her, saying the airline would pay her $ 1,648, “maximum liability set by the Montreal Convention … for a trip with an international flight.”
“I realize this is not the outcome you requested,” said the note, which was signed by a “specialist, central baggage,” in the Central Baggage Resolution Office. “[H]owever, I appreciate this opportunity to address your concerns and explain our position. We hope you will give American Airlines another chance to earn your business.”
I asked American Airlines for comment. Here’s their statement:
We have apologized and are not aware of any similar issues of a rat making its way into a checked bag before. While we are unable to determine if the issue occurred in the United States or overseas, we did apologize to the customer, and they were compensated earlier this month.
NOTE: Based on the Montreal Convention and applicable international tariffs, liability limitations for international travel are 1,131 Special Drawing Rights (SDR) per ticketed passenger. This applies to all airlines for international travel. SDR (Special Drawing Rights) is an International Monetary Fund unit of currency. SDR’s will be converted to U.S. Dollars using the rate in effect on the mishandled baggage settlement date. That is what was compensated. If you convert 1,131 to U.S. dollars, it is around $ 1,600.
It wasn’t enough, Merry Cannon replied. The bag itself was a Samsonite that cost $ 300, she said, and she had three pairs of boots that cost $ 200 each, “plus I had dressy clothes, and workout clothes.” Some of the things she’d brought were brand new, and stillahd the tags on them.
Cannon said she tried several more times to get someone from American to discuss her case, and see if she could get anything beyond the $ 1,600, but to no avail. Eventually, she posted the photo of the rat and her story on Facebook and Twitter.
“You could have just paid me for my bag, and none of this would have been out here,” she said. “I’m never flying with them again.”
I wear the same thing every day. My banking is 100% automated. Once a year, I go to Costco and stock up on an entire year’s worth of essentials. My wife thinks I’m a little OCD (and you probably do too!) … but I firmly believe systematizing my life has made me more successful.
I run my life the same way I run my company: with streamlined systems and processes to guarantee success. You can’t go in blind and expect to land in the right place; you need to be planful, create a vision, and establish actionable ways to achieve your goals. It’s not for everyone, but I believe we all can benefit from implementing systems into our day-to-day lives.
There’s a System For That
Entrepreneurs spend so much time building out processes to keep their business running like a well-oiled machine. These systems are the nuts and bolts of everything the business does; without them, the whole thing would fall apart.
Few of us apply the same mentality to our personal lives. Most people are insanely busy all the time — myself included. I run four companies, I have three kids, and I value my personal time, too. The more tasks I can systematize, the more time I have to focus on everything that matters.
Take packing, for example. Most people make a new list every time they pack, but that’s just not efficient: not only are you wasting time on a repetitive task, you also run the risk of forgetting something. I travel a lot so I have a ready-made list that I use every time. This way, I don’t have to overthink it and the process is more efficient. Systematizing my life is about being purposeful with my time and never wasting a minute.
Systems Are Reliable — and Fixable
I’ve always believed in Michael Gerber’s sentiment, “People don’t fail, systems do.” Systems are meant to function cohesively and to set you up for success; if something goes wrong, it can almost always be traced back to a glitch somewhere.
I schedule my working days down to the minute — from the moment I wake up to when I go to sleep. This allows me to maximize my time so there’s never a second wasted, not even my commute: my assistant schedules all my phone calls for when I’m driving, so I can be just as productive enroute as I am in-office. (Don’t worry, I’m always hands free!). If I tried to squeeze calls into my office hours, I’d never get anything done.
It comes down to your mindset: when you start looking at each aspect of your life as a distinct system, it becomes easier to identify, address and streamline for the future.
A Systematized Life is a Simplified Life
Over the years I’ve learned that the less complicated the system, the more likely it is to work. That’s why our systems for our businesses are incredibly simple — as in, they fit on one page. Anyone who reads our operations manual can run a successful franchise. I apply this same philosophy to my life.
How’s this for a simple system: I wear the same jeans, T-shirt and Chucks almost every day. It’s my way of removing an unnecessary step from my life. The less time I waste on decisions like what to wear, the more time I have for more important things like my family and the business.
Maybe it’s because I’m a minimalist, but inefficiency is one of my biggest pet peeves. I swear it’s not just an oddball quirk; being efficient lets you spend less time working and more time living. After all, a simple life is a happier life.
The last time and place you want to hear someone compliment your ski apparel is when you are in the bathroom, fiddling with the butt zip. As I started to examine the zippers in my general crotchal area, I heard someone exclaim, “Sweet onesie!”
I looked around and saw another woman giving me a thumbs up. I should’ve gone into a stall first. But such is the attention-grabbing nature of Airblaster.
Airblaster was founded in 2003 by pro snowboarder Travis Parker, with pals Jesse Grandoski and Paul Miller. As you might have been able to tell from the name (a slang word for “fart”), they decided that the sport of snowboarding was getting too serious. Airblaster’s wildly eye-catching “Original Fun Product” is designed to be visually striking and easy to use.
The company’s onesies are also affordable. The Freedom suit is a mere $ 350, and the classic Ninja is $ 110. That’s as much as a ski jacket and thermal top cost, without pants. If you’re just getting into the sport and don’t want to spend years accumulating gifts, hand-me-downs and sale items, the Freedom suit is the way to go.
One and Done
The recent return of the ski onesie is a matter of heated debate. Some argue that ski and snowboard design has necessarily evolved since the ‘70s. Wearing a onesie is awkward and inconvenient. You can’t quickly throw it on to put chains on your tires while driving. You can’t pull the top off to chill out while eating lunch in the lodge. If you shred the butt out, you can’t replace just the pants. The drawbacks seem self-evident.
Layering is difficult, which is annoying because the Freedom suit isn’t insulated (Airblaster does make an insulated version and a Beast suit with more waterproofing and insulation). On a 30-degree day, the classic Ninja suit didn’t provide nearly enough warmth. I refused to put on more layers because even though both the Freedom suit and the Ninja suit have 350-degree butt zips, it’s still pretty difficult to go to the bathroom. The onslope Port-a-Potties were wet and slippery enough as it is, and I didn’t trust myself to maneuver around any extra items of clothing without falling in.
Speaking of butt zips: Airblaster’s waterproof fabric is a proprietary three-layer blend called Eco Vortex that is made from 38% post-consumer recycled material. The suit is also fully seam-sealed. However, the waterproofing is only rated at 15K. That rating seems pretty great—you can stack a one by one-inch square of water up to 15,000 millimeters tall before water starts leaking in—and it might work in places like drier snow, like Colorado or Idaho. But in heavy, wet Cascadian snow, it isn’t nearly waterproof enough. By lunch, I had a wet butt.
Finally, the hood wasn’t quite big enough for my helmet. It fit, but not with enough room for me to turn my head easily. Who doesn’t wear a helmet? Does your mother know? Go put on a helmet right now.
Fun in the One
But there are certain advantages to having a onesie. They are just so. Much. Fun. Especially if you are a gregarious, outgoing personality. Even in the tasteful, subdued storm blue of the suit I tested, I could not go fifteen feet without someone giving me a high-five, or screaming “Onesie!” from the other side of the taco shack. There’s just something about a onesie that makes everyone want to bop you on the shoulder and call you “bro,” even if you’re female.
The Ninja suit is even better. Airblaster does many special editions with snowboarders (this year’s is with pro snowboarder Corey Smith). Both the hooded and the unhooded versions come in a variety of colorful prints and patterns.
Your usage isn’t limited to snow sports, either. You could buy your friends matching suits and wear them all out while camping! You could wear them as Halloween costumes! For someone who has no reservations about prancing around in full-body stretch polyester-Lycra blend, the possibilities are endless. And the women’s-specific cut even includes a ponytail pass-through hole in the hood.
For snowboarders, onesies are great for powder days and in the park. You have to sit down in the snow to clip into your snowboard, and snow always gets in between your jacket and your pants. I didn’t realize how annoying it was to constantly bat snow out of the back of my jacket until I didn’t have to do it anymore. With a onesie on, you can flop around like a fish in a bucket and not worry about getting snow inside your pants.
The women’s-specific fit was trim, but freeing. Airblaster claims that the suit is designed to be roomy, so you can still backflip in it. I can’t do that. However, I did ride through the park to execute my signature move, which I call “The Dipsy Doodle.” I can report that the onesie is indeed loose enough to pop off the top of the smallest jumps while shrieking at the top of your lungs.
It’s hard to recommend buying a onesie. You’ll still need to bring an extra jacket on ski trips for scraping ice off your windshield, and going out to eat. I definitely would not buy the classic Ninja or Freedom suit. After five hours in Pacific Northwestern snow, I was pretty wet and cold.
But recommend it I must. It’s just…so much fun. I would shell out an extra hundred bucks or so for the insulated, 30K-rated Beast suit for warmth and waterproofing, and I should also probably own a printed merino wool Ninja suit for everyday shenanigans. In fact, I should probably be wearing it right now. You’ll never know how oddly constricting twosie life can be, until you try the alternative. Just be prepared for all the attention coming your way. You might want to practice a few warm-up high fives before you get in the lift line.
Last week, President Trump said no politician had been “treated worse” than him. The internet pointed out some presidents who might challenge that. The post While You Were Offline: Trump Says He’s Treated Unfairly. Abe Lincoln Like, ‘What?’ appeared first on WIRED.