Taking a diversion from the usual technology-related topic to share a bit of what most people will never see, Sunday morning, 5:30 AM, the first day of Fall, 2014. My internal alarm clock wakes me up. It is still quite dark outside. Charlie, our rooster hasn’t even woken up yet. That reminds me of something I have wanted to do for a long time: watch the large flock of birds by UW Bothell leave their roost. Would there ever be a better day to do it than today? Probably not. So I got up, grabbed the camera and tripod and headed over to the bike trail by the UW Bothell campus.
I got there by 6:00 AM. The air was mild and very calm. It was still dark enough that the dark side of the New Moon with a brighter thin crescent edge was visible to the east, looking out over the roosting area.
I set up my camera and waited. It wasn’t long before the first birds start to fly, around 6:10 AM. It started off slow at first, but very quickly the sky was full of them – A Murder of many thousands of Crows!
I was able to capture the sunrise as they left their roost in rivers of birds flying out to greet the world. I noticed that they don’t just fly out in all directions. Instead, they follow flight paths as if Air Traffic Control were giving them instructions. The stream of birds went on for over 30 minutes. Since it was early on a Sunday morning, the traffic noise from the highway was quiet. The result is a very peaceful, almost meditational video. I can imagine leaving the video playing on one of my computer monitors for a calm white-noise effect to offset the chimes of meeting reminders and email alerts while I work. It is recorded in HD, so it’s worth watching in full screen.
Don’t let the conditioning of modern television’s 5 to 20 second long clips between scene changes make you anxious after a minute or two of this. Consider finding a time when you can sit and let the video play in its entirety as if you were there yourself, filming it. If you are looking for a moment of excitement, you will have to create it yourself. Count the number of times you see a lone bird flying in the other direction. Or count the number of times a bird flaps its wings as it passes by. Or count the number of times a pair of Canada Geese fly by. Or count the number of distinct caws you hear. Or simply count the number of birds that fly by. Or just watch the rhythm of the stream of birds as the sky gradually changes color. This far north, we have long sunrises. Enjoy.
The Bothell crows make up a murder of many thousands of crows that roost every night at the 58 acre wetlands restoration site sandwiched between I-405, Hwy 522, and the University of Washington-Bothell campus.
The restoration project was started 12 years ago. This is what it looked like back then:
You can learn more about this flock of crows at the UW website.
And their Facebook page.
You can also get a better idea of just how large this murder is from this footage of them gathering again at the end of the day.
The Like feature in IBM Connections is a great way to show you “Like” a file that has been posted. But don’t get caught up in the mindset of Facebook “likes”. This feature can also be a shortcut for a document review cycle. Instead of creating todos in an Activity and assigning it to each person, you can just send them all the link and ask them to “Like” it when they finish their review. Sounds almost too obvious, but I see people overlooking shortcuts like this often. This applies to the “home” edition of IBM Connections as well as in IBM SmartCloud Connections.
SmartCloud Tip #05: Problems for mail and calendar delegates. You’ll get tons of helpdesk calls if you don’t do this.
One of the points IBM stresses during your migration to SmartCloud is to migrate delegates of mail files, calendars, and contacts either ahead of or at the same time as the people who delegated them (delegators). This is necessary because a user cannot access databases on the SmartCloud servers until their own account has been added to the service. This is part of the security model. In other words, mail files in the service can only be viewed by users that are in the service. No problem. As you build your batches for migrating, the migration process alerts you who the delegates are for the people in a given batch and those delegates can be added to the same batch with one click.
But what is missed is that the delegates have bookmarks and calendar overlays pointing to the delegators mail or calendar. Those bookmarks point to the servers on-site, not in SmartCloud. So as delegators are migrated to SmartCloud, the old links that other people have to their mail don’t get updated. The end result is that delegates will continue to view the old data in the database on the server on-site even after the delegator has moved. The delegate gets no warning that the delegator has moved. The only clue is that they no longer see any changes that are made in the delegators’ mail or calendar. What makes this more insidious is that the problem begins when the DELEGATOR is moved, not when the delegate is moved. So an administrative assistant that manages many executives’ mail files has to constantly monitor when those executives are moved and then update their bookmarks.
That is why it is a best practice to be sure to promptly delete mail files from the on-site servers after their owners are successfully migrated. Life for delegates can also be simplified if all of the mail files that a delegate has access to are moved in the same batch. Then the delegate can update all the bookmarks at the same time. You could go a step further by creating database redirects as the databases are deleted from the servers on-site. If you do this, you don’t have to alert the delegates every time a delegator’s mail file is moved to SmartCloud. However, this can’t be done if you just approve the database deletions posted in adminP as part of the migration process. You need to create these some other way. One method is to delete the databases manually in the admin client where you can also add the redirect when it is deleted. You could also do this programmatically with an agent. I invite any developers to post a comment on the details for doing that.
I have posted an idea in IdeaJam requesting an enhancement.
as well as in Greenhouse.
It’s Labor Day (U.S. Holiday) A great day to write about work. If you work in a computer-related profession you can never stop learning if you wish to remain employed. And that trend is spreading across professions like wildfire as the benefits of technology influence almost every profession. But not everyone is cut out for a lifetime of success through learning. In a recent article published by Salman Khan, the creator of KhanAcademy.org, he wrote about Learning Mindsets:
“Dr. Carol Dweck of Stanford University has been studying people’s mindsets towards learning for decades. She has found that most people adhere to one of two mindsets: fixed or growth. Fixed mindsets mistakenly believe that people are either smart or not, that intelligence is fixed by genes. People with growth mindsets correctly believe that capability and intelligence can be grown through effort, struggle and failure. Dweck found that those with a fixed mindset tended to focus their effort on tasks where they had a high likelihood of success and avoided tasks where they may have had to struggle, which limited their learning. People with a growth mindset, however, embraced challenges, and understood that tenacity and effort could change their learning outcomes. As you can imagine, this correlated with the latter group more actively pushing themselves and growing intellectually.”
In other words, as I often tell my daughter as I’m dropping her off at school “Have fun and make lots of mistakes!” Why? Because we learn more from our mistakes than our successes. This philosophy is a companion to “Turn your weaknesses into strengths.”
But back to my original point: lifetime learning. If you aren’t investing time in your professional development, then you are likely to become obsolete soon. Adopt a growth mindset and feed your mind. There are some fantastic education websites out there to cater to everyone from Kindergarteners to Post-graduates and every kind of special interest in between. Many of these are free, operating under the philosophy that knowledge should be free to everyone. Here is a selection of what I have found. If you know of others, please share them in the comments for all to benefit.
https://www.khanacademy.org Broad range of classes from math & science to business & entrepreneurship FOR FREE. Many public schools are integrating this free site into their lesson plans. (spell it right. There is an imitation out there that you don’t want.)
https://www.coursera.org A partnership of universities supplying a broad range of classes FOR FREE. Check out the wikipedia article.
https://class.stanford.edu/ Stanford University offers access to a variety of classes FOR FREE online. Not for the feint-of-heart. Check out the class on cryptography if you want a challenge.
http://www.lynda.com/ Drop the cable TV subscription and spend $25 a month being entertained and educated with unlimited access to thousands of courses. (Including classes on IBM Connections software taught by my friend Bruce Elgort)
http://www.w3schools.com/ Learn computer programming languages FOR FREE. Sponsored by a cool Norwegian web development company.
I know there are many others out there. Do you have any to share?
These are the terms of service you are agreeing to in your Google Apps Business account. See the text highlighted in RED. Does this agreement concern anyone?
(Taken from Google Business TOS https://www.google.com/intl/en/policies/terms/ )
Your Content in our Services
Some of our Services allow you to upload, submit, store, send or receive content. You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.
When you upload, submit, store, send or receive content to or through our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps). Some Services may offer you ways to access and remove content that has been provided to that Service. Also, in some of our Services, there are terms or settings that narrow the scope of our use of the content submitted in those Services. Make sure you have the necessary rights to grant us this license for any content that you submit to our Services.
Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.
If you have a Google Account, we may display your Profile name, Profile photo, and actions you take on Google or on third-party applications connected to your Google Account (such as +1’s, reviews you write and comments you post) in our Services, including displaying in ads and other commercial contexts. We will respect the choices you make to limit sharing or visibility settings in your Google Account. For example, you can choose your settings so your name and photo do not appear in an ad.
Remember: If the product is free, YOU are the product!
The maintenance window is over and SmartCloud Sametime chat now includes audio and video. Some details to know:
First, the feature is accessible only via a browser or via the mobile app. It is not available in the Notes embedded client (yet). Also, all parties in the chat must be logged into SmartCloud. That makes sense. If they weren’t, you couldn’t chat with them either.
Once logged into https://collabserv.com website, logged into Sametime, open your contacts list. You will see two new icons available, but they have a red box with a star in it. That means you need to install the plugin.
Just click the icon and it will take you through the process of installing. The first time I tried to install, I got some weird errors, but later I tried installing on a different computer and had no problems. I expect they found something wasn’t quite right after the maintenance and quickly fixed it.
I wouldn’t be surprised if they go through a few challenges as they fine tune the service now that it is available to the entire community. But it is certainly working!
OK, you’ve seen my article giving a detailed review about how bad Passport Advantage website was for many years. It took awhile to get fixed. But for the most part, much of that has improved dramatically since – and at least partially because of – that article. But downloads are still a bit of a pain. That is, until now!
If you subscribe to SmartCloud Notes, you can get to your downloads in Passport Advantage directly from the Apps – Downloads and Setup menu. It’s almost as good as the days before IBM, when it was just Lotus. This feature is exposed only to SmartCloud administrators, as it should be.
There are many more features about to be released, but I was asked not to publish them in social media just yet. Yeah, right. like giving your teenager the keys to the camaro on a Friday night and telling him to drive slow. It seems every month there are new features surprising us in SmartCloud. Cloud is really the wrong word. It is such a breath of fresh air to see such dynamic, rapid deployment of software. I have seen so many features that I personally suggested, getting deployed so quickly and frequently, you would think I was the Product Manager. But why would IBM hire me when I already do the job for free?
OK, so I won’t break my oath to be quiet about the new features. I will let IBM do that: https://apps.na.collabservtest.lotus.com/help/index.jsp?topic=%2Fcom.ibm.cloud.whatsnew.doc%2Fll_wn_whats_new.html
Don’t miss the upcoming webcast showing the latest news on IBM Mail Next. Register here: https://ibm.biz/BdFES3
Personally I’m interested in the Notes web plugin and how this may make its way into SmartCloud.
Bothell City Council exposed for avoiding due process to build a new $47 Million City Hall without a Public Vote
If you live in the City of Bothell, you will definitely be interested in watching what happened at the City Council meeting on May 20th
It is long, but you need to watch the first 20 minutes and again at about time stamp 2:54:00.
After watching it I am certain you will be motivated enough to visit the next City Council meeting in person and let them know how you feel about what they are planning to do with your money. The next meeting is Tuesday, June 3rd at 6:00 PM at City Hall.
In summary: First, they are planning on spending $47 Million on a brand new city hall building. Without a public vote and, as you can see in this video, without even spending an extra hour to review the 200 page document after getting the final price quote.
They already spent about $1 Million to get a design for it. Now they are discussing moving forward to close on a deal to pay Vulcan Real Estate to build this new city hall. The new building will be 66,000 square feet versus the current 11,000 square foot building. While we may need new facilities, do we really need something 6 times larger? They don’t even know what to do with the 4th floor. It will be vacant! Do we need to build a brand new facility when there is ample suitable real estate readily available at a much lower cost? Are there other things of a higher priority that we should be spending our money on first?
Of course, if you were a council member and received campaign funds from Vulcan Real Estate to help get elected to Bothell City Council, then I suppose you would be pushing very hard to award Vulcan this $50,000,000 deal. Fortunately we have due process that should protect us from conflicts of interest like this, yes? Well apparently not this time. Normally when the city is considering spending such a huge capital outlay, they put it to a vote by the public as will be the case for the other big item they are planning: a $42 Million bond measure they are going to ask for in the fall to pay for “parks and roads improvements”. Why? because we won’t have enough money after they buy this new city hall. But that’s another story.
THERE WILL BE NO PUBLIC VOTE on spending this $47,000,000 of our tax money, which, when you divide it up among the 33,000 residents (correction, 39,000 including those annexed earlier this year who were not informed about this measure at the time they agreed to the annexation) within the City of Bothell, amounts to about $1,500 for every man, woman and child in the city. Since my daughter isn’t paying taxes, I guess I’ll have to cover her share too. This is crazy. They haven’t even found where they will get the funding to cover all of the costs of the current project to revitalize downtown. And now they are talking about spending an additional $50 Million on one building. AT THE SAME TIME they will ask for a public vote on a bond to raise $42 Million for additional downtown revitalization projects including turning Hwy 527 through the downtown area into a boulevard (bi-directional traffic in the middle with separate one-way streets with parking on either side). And those improvements won’t even cover the costs to finish the plans for the park at Bothell Landing.
All of this while our road maintenance is already under-funded by somewhere around $70 million and our existing roads are crumbling and without adequate pedestrian access such as this article describing 195th St / Hollyhills Dr behind the Seattle Times building.
The Call to Action is simple: Attend the next Bothell City Council meeting Tuesday, June 3 at 6:00 PM. Sign up for the Visitor Comments which come at the beginning of the meeting. Speak your position. Stay for the agenda topic where you will be able to voice your opinion further. Make your voice heard. Remember that you elected them and they work for you. Be sure to watch the May 20th meeting to fully prepare yourself.
Last meeting Former Mayor Lamb also received a gavel in honor of “amazing service to Bothell”. Read this article to learn more about the truth of his character.