Monthly Archives: October 2011

Ditch the technology and experience the real thing


Reporting from Flagstaff, this is my last post before heading into the Grand Canyon tomorrow where I will be leading a trip down the river and I will be rowing a 2000 pound, 18′ raft for the next 21 days and traveling 220 miles down the Colorado River. There is no connectivity there, so don’t expect any blog posts for awhile. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter (@davehabz) then you have already been following me on my journey.

Cheers,
-Commodore Dave

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Information leak about RIM and Lessons learned


As a BlackBerry Deployment Engineer for Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud service, I am sometimes privy to confidential information. In this case, I will leak to you that RIM had a huge BlackBerry service outage this week. OK, so maybe you already heard that.  While the root cause analysis (RCA) will take time to complete all the details, they did report that it came down to a network switch failed and the backup did not take over as expected. The result caused a cascade of system failures. Right now it sucks to be RIM. And it is easy to sit back and admonish RIM for not having been better prepared. I’m sure they will learn from this mistake. When I was growing up, as my parents sent me off to school, they would always say “Have a great day and make lots of mistakes!” Why? Because they knew that we all learn from our mistakes. Since then I have come to a new conclusion: I can’t afford to make all the mistakes I need to learn. So I have adopted a new philosophy:

If Intelligence is the ability to learn from your mistakes, then Wisdom is the ability to learn from the mistakes of others.

In this case, I really don’t want to make the same mistake RIM made. So what can we learn from RIM’s mistake? When it comes to the most critical systems, have multiple redundancies, not just one backup system as was the case at RIM. Cave divers always have 3 systems to keep them alive. Medical systems often have 3 redundant systems. Football teams have third string players for key positions. The space shuttle had 3 to 5 redundancies for those most critical systems! Murphy’s Law states “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” and one of the many corollaries states “Everything goes wrong at once.”

Take a moment to learn from RIM’s mistake. For your most critical of mission-critical systems, have multiple redundancies. If it is a hard sell to management, just point them to Black(Berry) Monday, October 10, 2011.

Going unplugged: Beyond the iPhone and beyond your imagination


Next Post: The Story Begins
(This is the first post regarding this Grand Canyon expedition)

iPhone 4s is about to become irrelevant.

Imagine a world without email or text messages.  No spam or viruses or pop-up ads.  No steady stream of status updates from Facebook or Twitter.  No television with presidential debates and reality TV.  No “who-shot-who” on the six o’clock news.  Imagine a world without rush hour traffic or smog alerts.  No sirens screaming in the night and no alarm clocks screaming in the morning.  Imagine if you can, a world without cell phones or cable TV or Internet. A world where the only connections you have are made face-to-face with the people and environment around you.

Your evenings consist of hanging out on a secluded beach and maybe going for a hike to see amazingly beautiful natural formations of rock delicately sculpted by flowing water.  Then you return to your beach where several of your friends stayed behind to prepare a gourmet dinner in an outdoor kitchen.  After dinner, you sit around the campfire listening to someone play the guitar while others talk about the great things that happened that day.  Then they talk with excitement about the amazing things they plan to see tomorrow.  The air is mild and dry.   As the sun sets you see Billions of stars in the sky.  With nothing more than the light of the campfire and of the moon, you discover you really can see at night and in fact, bright lights would only blind you.  Everything looks soft, subdued, restful.

Now imagine in this world, that you spent every night sleeping on that exclusive, secluded beach in a remote location with amazing views in every direction and bright, clear skies day after day, night after night..  You go to bed with only a dome of stars overhead for shelter.  Yet that sky makes you feel much more safe, free, and secure than you had ever been before; when you slept indoors in a bed that was pushed up against a wall in a room with the door shut and the blinds closed.  That cage is gone.  Nothing more than the light of the stars in the night sky to capture your attention, focus your thoughts, and put everything into perspective before drifting off to sleep.  Perhaps you wake up in the middle of the night and, without moving a muscle save the lifting of your eyelids, watch shooting stars trace lines in the black sky.

In the morning you are awakened by the gentle glow of the pre-dawn sky and are acutely aware of the absence of all noise save the constant flush of the river beside your camp and the musical melodies of songbirds greeting the rising sun.  You pack up your bedding and load it into one of the  rafts; eat breakfast with your friends as you discuss what exciting rapids are coming up today.  The only stress in your world is the thrill as you blast through waves big enough to flip your 18′ raft end-over-end if you don’t run it just right.  A few moments of Adrenalin sandwiched between long stretches of lazy, calm flat water carrying you downstream; parading you before colorful canyon walls over a mile high to either side.  Those walls shield you, protect you like a citadel from the noise and chaos of the world beyond.  Even a satellite phone would only get a few moments of connection while the satellite is high overhead between the canyon walls.  As evening approaches, you find another beach, set up camp, and do it all over again.  21 days, 220 miles.

Welcome to the Grand Canyon.

My blog has been unusually quiet lately as I am busy planning and preparing to lead 16 of my friends on just such a trip for the second time .  We launch from Lees Ferry October 25th.  When we do, I will leave this wilderness behind and step into a far more civil and peaceful world.  In fact, the moment I pull out of my driveway and start the drive to Flagstaff, the chaos will begin to fade and let the harmony shine through like the setting sun yields the night sky to the stars.  Though it will last a fortnight, the trip will feel as fleeting as the night and returning as inevitable as the Sun will rise the next day.

iPhone 5 is about to become irrelevant for me anyway.

So what are YOU doing for the month of November?

Next Post: The Story Begins
(This is the first post regarding this Grand Canyon expedition)

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