We had a very nice dinner at a local Peruvian restaurant, Machu Picchu Boston, on Friday. Really nice restaurant and live music too. Basically my PDD team were there and Cynthia also brought her boyfriend, Zhenya, Tracy and quite a few other friends. As usual, Ken showed up too. Not sure if anyone is hitting off with anyone though;). The live music was really good. It starts at 8PM every Friday. We got there 7:30, the place was practically empty;), but after that it was practically packed. I think they also perform at some other places.
Oh, it was also the first time I brought my wife and kids to any SDM related event. The kids basically slept on their mother's lap for 2 hours. Lessons learned: bring the gameboy next time. That will keep them awake;).
Oops, I haven't updated this blog for long time and spring break is almost over.
Anyhow, spring break was good. I was relaxing with family for the first few days, but then got really involved with Cognika b-plan. A lot market research at least. Boy, MIT has access to a lot resources. Anyway, Meet with Kristian and Shashi this afternoon. Hopefully, we have made some concrete progress, because, H2 will be extreme HECTIC;).
Let's see what I want in H2, tech strategy and system optimization. I also want to take on some sales, branding and leadership classes. Plus Cognika and GM competition. It would be so much fun;).
We had quite bit turn out at the Boston Beer Works last Friday (even with the looming of ERBA quiz;)). A lot of fearless people showed up. Oh, we got 3 visiting German scholars there too. I talked a lot with Michael Steinbusch (Technische Universität Dresden). A little bit of everything, such as how architecture building design show reflect company culture and encourage people to change (some extension topic from T. Allen's class). We also talked some other very deep history, such as WWII, German and US... We all got very drunk in the end. Ken was kindly enough to drive 6 of us home with his German-made VW.
Some pictures we have. http://www.flickr.com/photos/playingbarefoot/sets/72157604142455382/show/
Yesterday, we SDMers were fortunate to have a private talk with Lou Gerstner, the legendary retired IBM CEO & Chairman. Lou talked about issues such as cultural changes, why M&A rarely work, etc.
Culture changes: as Lou said in his book "Who says elephant can't dance?", is a big issue with any big company. Successful company tends to get stagnant. This is a universal problem: Change is painful; People resist change. People refuse to learn new ways to do old things. After you know how to program in C/C++, it will take quite a while for you to learn Java. When a company is successful, it will take quite something for the company to learn new ways of making money. As Lou said, it's always easier to change when in crisis, such as IBM in 1993.
How to get a huge successful company to change is yet another story. How to break people from their old cycle? In 1992/3, IBM faced enormous revenue decline in its major product line, S/390, but IBMers were still dong things the old way, such as charging enormous amount money for mainframes. What I think was missing was the change agent. You need to wake people up. Make them to innovate, accept the competition and ask them to look at the things at different perspective. Lou Gerstner, as he described himself in the book, is the change agent needed for the national icon.
This also applies to Merger & Acquisition. Making two cultures into one is enormous.
The question I raised was about being an outsider and needed to push a big change, such as Lou to IBM in 1993, how to find people you can trust? This might be the toughest thing, as Lou answered, and might be the important thing. One needs to work with people, to find if people have passion about what they do and be truthful.
Ok, this is getting too much. I do have ERBA exam coming up:(. I'll just list other points I got:
people do things you inspect, not things you expect;
Leadership skills: doing things with people you asked to do. Give them support;
You must have passion at what you do. As Lou said, in his and Andy Grove's case, passion to winning.
BTW: He is actually a very easy to talk to person.
An ex-worker of mine asked for a file from quite a while ago. After so many computers changes, I have obviously no clue where to that file. This made me think of backup software. A little skeptical with the existing paid services:
well, no free, or not free and unlimited;
actually, more important, how can I TRUST them with my files? especially those sensitive files? Even if they claim that they encrypt your files locally in your computer before upload, how can I trust them?
What if they went out business?
Even if Google offers the so-called gDrive, #2 above still remains.
OK, here's my dream backup solution:
First, people will say this is such a silly idea. If I were the receiving end, why would I backup other people's files? Well, look at this way, if you offer 10MB backup space, it will try to offer you 1000MB on the network for your backup. Why, look at how much free space we have in our computer? HardDrive is getting so cheap.
If enough nodes in this network and your files is spread across enough nodes, your data can be VERY secure (safe from computer crashes).
Strongly encrypts files locally before sharing into this P2P network.
In terms of implementation, prefer to built upon existing P2P protocol. Bittorrent, maybe? Why reinvent wheel?
This is actually interesting in that there needs to be a standard P2P protocol. This protocol definitely prefers to be: robust, decentralized, efficient...
It gotta to be open source. Otherwise, I strongly doubt anyone would install it.
How to recover? If password based encryption, what if the user forgot the password? If PKI based, where to store the private key file? Remember, the HDD just crashed:). Maybe store the key file in your gmail;). Need more thinking on this.
Of course, the risks:
how many people will sign up this P2P network? With MPAA/RIAA suing people randomly, people are worried about running P2P software.
This can be especially troublesome if this runs on existing P2P protocol.