Thursday 17 December 2009

Do you have a job for me?

A call I received - Introduction

Yesterday morning, I got a call from a very enthusiastic recruitment consultant who found my CV on a jobs board and thought my experience and skills-set would be useful and suitable to his client.

This consultant had placed 37 out of a 100 technical staff with his client, so he probably had a good idea of who and what his client needs.

An hour later, he called me deflated stating some technical person had seen my CV and somewhat “trivialised” the context of it.

However, this consultant was not about to give up on my prospect, he asked me to write an email to him explaining how and why my wealth of experience should not fall into the pigeon-hole I had been placed in.

I have reformatted that email into my blog format and here it is.

What I am about

Below, you will find my cause and purpose, my views and drive, what makes my work-life exciting and in the end, it is a simple expression to any organisation to give me a job that can change your organisation for the better.

There are things in here, specific to my CV that I have left in place, parts of it might be a bit technical, but the thrust of it is that I try to put a fully human dimension on the use of information technology for the benefit of that organisation.

If you do have an interest as regards my being employed by your organisation, please leave a comment or send an email to forakin at gmail dot com.

Meeting that challenge

Dear Recruiter,

Thank you for our conversation yesterday and the enthusiasm you showed in my skills which unfortunately were not appreciated by the people who reviewed them. I have decided to take up the challenge of explaining why it is myopic to consider my activities in "Desktop Deployment" trivial and why it should be seen as beyond just the desktop or just deployment.

It is a bit of a long email, but it is difficult to put this kind of thinking in a CV or relate this easily without the convenience of an interview, I hope you will have the patience to read it through and let me know your views either by reply or a phone call. Thank you very much for your time and the challenge.

My experience

Now, it is quite easy with simplification to look at a person's career in terms of the tools the person uses to perform a job, but anyone can use tools, but it is a talented artisan that can produce objects of amazing value, worthy of commendation and admiration.

Indeed, for more than 13 years, I have used Microsoft SMS 1.2/2.0/2003 and now Microsoft Systems Center Configuration Manager 2007 to manage environments, the smallest being BT/Infonet with just about 1,500 users and the largest being over 40,000 users in ING Bank.

Seeing things from different ends

Whilst the Mission Critical vision appears to view things from the backend to the user and mission critical pertains to what keeps a business running from day-to-day, I have extended the vision of how I use my tools to understand how 1 user or 40,000 users can connect seamlessly to their organisation and access the mission critical applications they need to perform their duties to make the organisation competitive, profitable and leader in whatever field they are in.

Critical to this observation is that SMS (I will use this broadly to encompass all tools to do with software control & deployment) is used to deploy software, applications, utilities, tweaks, patches & updates to user's systems which might be online, offline, in-house or some remote place.

For this software to deploy consistently to achieve close to 100% success rates, you need uniformly configured systems, this boils down to understanding the range of hardware (desktops, laptops & devices) in your organisation, deploying a basic common framework of the operating system, handling the common and different software requirements of the user, streamlining your application pool and being able to manage that from the centre whilst touching each and every system in that organisation.

The power of position and responsibility

Just as downtime in the mission critical application systems can shutdown a business, I appreciate even more that as an SMS administrator; I can shutdown the business if a poorly packaged application is deployed to user systems which can be up to 40,000 users.

Hence, suddenly, my responsibility is not just being a plain postmaster of deploying applications, I need to know what those applications contain, who is repackaging those applications, what operating systems we have out there and if they are manageable - if not, find a consistent approach to the management of these systems.

Influencing the chance for good change

I cannot allow changes to take place in the back-end systems in the weekend that might affect the way users access those back-end systems on a Monday morning because the back-office people thought their change was minor, but we have a major situation because it is easy for the back-end engineer to think locally to their big-expensive systems (mainframes, enterprise databases), when I have to think globally about the effect on 40,000 employees who need critical access to these back-end systems.

You begin to realise the kind of planning that needs to go into serious enterprise desktop deployment or rather, management, if it is work consistently and produce results that do really reduce the cost of ownership at the desktop and reduce the overall cost of IT from service calls and management costs and so on.

What I am about - again

That is the value of my 22 years in IT and my 13 years in enterprise desktop deployment, I am not just a technician, I am a facilitator, a collaborator, an enabler and an unquantifiable benefit to any organisation that entrusts that kind of job to me.

I was employed to do a quick and dirty job of desktop deployment in Canon in August 2006, I left after 2 years having changed that organisation in ways that no one realised till I pointed it out; in the process a whole new department was created to handle the issue of the "user experience" of connecting to the organisation with minimal issues.

The structures I put in place allowed for one of those weekend backend changes halting the business to be redeemed with SMS because we could deploy consistently, verifiably and successfully an essential patch that got everyone reconnected before noon on Monday.

Engaging all communities

In that two years, everyone began to realise any change was global; it affects something, if not everyone; communication is essential because people need to know how changes might affect them; technicians have to be customer friendly because the user satisfaction helps company productivity; architects need to liaise with administrators but user feedback is the best knowledge resource to determine if your solutions are really working; if not, seek advice and change the situation to a working situation.

In short, to be blind-sided by the simple concept of desktop or deployment is to miss the whole point that users are key to keeping an organisation running and whilst the mission critical team is critical, without users being able to connect to the mission critical systems [through their globally deployed but individually configured desktops, laptops, devices with the adequately distributed software] you have no mission critical solution.

Seeing things from different ends - again

I look up the organisation from the eyes and hands of the user, 40,000 of them in some cases to affect and effect change because I touch each and every system with my tools, others look at their servers and if they are up, they think everything is OK - welcome to a new perspective of what the desktop really should mean - managing the user experience with whatever tools, skills and abilities you might have.

If you have read this far, thank you for hearing me out, I do however wonder if this makes me suitable for your organisation, I'll say any organisation that wants the mission critical environment to be consistently accessible to the user environment should consider having me on board.

Thank you.

Connect to my LinkedIn Summary (PDF)

Friday 27 November 2009

Phone upgrades and iGadget digs

Trendy toys and business tools

The other day, my pastor’s son was showing off his phone and was all so excited about the features and things he could do with his phone. I did not really have an earful before I said; I used a phone not a toy.

He had an iPhone; now, I have nothing against Apple technologies, you need pioneers, mavericks and daring-do to change the marketplace – Apple does a good job with bringing innovative and sometimes technologically appealing products to the market, they create trends and force competitors who have been at the game longer to do better with their offerings.

If you get my drift, I do not want to be locked into proprietary products with monopolistic contractual agreements that make me stand out as trendy but almost foolish at the same time.

In prison and seeking solitary confinement

If my point has not be driven home about the concept of iPhones being trendy though conceptual toys whilst my HTC Touch Diamond 2 is a business tool, having a mobile phone contract is as hard enough as being in prison, then some smart people go to the governor, beg, queue up and the proudly show off that they have been able to obtain solitary confinement, yes, the iWhatever user is in solitary confinement.

Solitary confinement is indeed, independent, individual, and maybe incredible but an innovative way of separating the maverick of disruption from the pool of assumed conformity which in itself represents a kind of freedom many a Granny Smith eater never enjoys.

With the alliteration of I’s all over the place that cannot that will not gather with the We’s that make society in the quest for being different, in any country, if a network fails, my phone can roam, if your iPhone network breaks you have a very expensive iBrick, it is like having your glorious Bugatti breakdown on the motorway – who is showing off now?

I think I have made my point about why there is the well worn saying of the Mac being the best thing to wear to keep you dry in the rain. No funny comments will be entertained, if you have a counter-rant, put it in your blog and backtrack to mine.

Upgrades and charades

So, I decided after church on Sunday to upgrade the ROM of my HTC Touch Diamond 2 (codename HTC Topaz) phone from Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.1 to Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.5. Thankfully, I had a phone HTC was willing to upgrade, my old HTC P3600 (codename HTC Trinity) did not get a ROM upgrade from Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 to Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.0.

I suspect there were quite a few features in that phone that put a reliable upgrade beyond the engineering department of HTC, I am not bitter; the phone served me well for almost 30 months.

What I cannot understand about the provider agreements and contracts in the Netherlands is I cannot get anyone to give me a phone with English as the core language, but I can get an online mobile phone shop in the Netherlands to get me an English phone, negotiate the contract with my provider and still have it cheaper than if I walked into my provider’s shop on the high street.

That is how I got both my HTC Trinity and my HTC Topaz phones in UK English. When getting a phone like this I have always invested in getting decent programs for security, maintenance and backup.

Tools and utilities

For security, I use Carty Studio’s Ultimate Theft Alarm; it binds my SIM to my phone and if another SIM is inserted and not registered, it sends SMS messages of the SIM identity and of all calls made to a designated phone. Since my landline can receive SMS messages, I do not need another phone to make a trace of my mobile.

I also use a number of tools from the SPB Software House as SPB Pocket Plus and SPB Backup. The SPB Backup program is quite good, especially when you need to do restores. SK Tools is a good mobile phone maintenance utility that includes the ability to tweak components of the phone and edit the registry.

So, I first backed up my phone to the mini-SD Card in my phone which has a 16 GB capacity and then downloaded the ROM upgrade. I could not use the European version of English because my serial number was not accepted.

I switched to the UK HTC site and after keying in my serial number which was present on the phone packaging rather than having to dismantle my phone and look under the battery, I got the 170 MB file which was 10 times faster to download from Asia than Europe.

Where is my graffiti?

I hooked up my phone to my Microsoft Windows Vista system which was running the Windows Mobile Device Center application and started off the ROM Upgrade Utility. In about 30 minutes the upgrade was done and the phone ready to run on Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.5. (WM65)

The first thing I noticed was that the Block Recogniser stylus input option had disappeared, I have been doing Graffiti since the Palm Pilot/HandSpring days and some faceless apparatchik had decided to take it out of WM65.

After surfing the net and finding out that all sorts of tweaks were necessary to get that feature back, I almost repented of my folly, I was also not keen on having to reinstall a good 20 bits of software and utilities I had with WM61.

So, I upgraded my version of SPB Backup and started the restore, it noticed the ROM had been upgraded and offered the ROM Upgrade Mode option with a checkbox to Overwrite Existing Files.

I unchecked the box and restored, the phone came back up but with bit missing, some programs were restored and others crippled, so I returned to the Restore process and chose to Overwrite Existing Files.

On a resetting the phone, I had all my applications from WM61 restored and Block Recognition available as the default text input system without the need to change it each time I reset the phone as I did with WM65.

Online storage of phone data

I am still getting round the new features in WM65, but I can say getting SPB Backup was more than a good investment, it was a wise one.

Since mobile phones now contain more personal and social information than diaries and address books of old, backing up the data is critical, so not only do I synchronise the phone with 2 systems at home, it is now synchronised over the air to where with my Windows Live account I can store my address book and data, view that information anywhere without my phone and restore it to a compatible phone if need be.

Obviously, one needs to find a balance between the paranoia of someone accessing your data online and the self-importance of thinking everyone is really interested in seeing your data. I think in some ways Microsoft services are nominally secure enough and really phones are not for critical data like bank accounts, credit card numbers or such pertinent personal information.

In the worst case, you can decide what you want backed up and what should remain on your phone, however, the online storage of phone data is not only useful it is necessary for the times.


iPhone - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

HTC Touch Diamond2 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

HTC - Products - HTC Touch Diamond2 – HTC Topaz - Overview

HTC - Products - HTC P3600 – HTC Trinity - Overview

HTC Corporation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

HTC Touch Diamond2 UK - Online PDA shop where I got my deal for a UK phone in the Netherlands

Apple Inc. - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Windows Mobile - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Carty Studios - Ultimate Theft Alert v3.5!

SPB Software for Windows Mobile (Pocket PC, Smartphone, PDA), Symbian, iPhone

SKTools features

Graffiti (Palm OS) Block Recogniser - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Malevolent Twitter Rumours Trending Dangerously

Rotten trends on blatant lies

The usefulness of social networking or news propagation forums that allow for the free expression of thought, sometimes hopes there would be responsible usage in terms of what is shared and maybe some consideration or concern for community or personality when information is given out.

I opened up my Twitter home page this afternoon and had one glimpse of the trending topics, what came up first was RIP Kanye West [1], I was both surprised and shocked. I am not that much a Kanye West fan, I cannot say I know any of his music but some of his antics sometimes makes me hope he finds a low profile coordination consultant that could keep him out of the news.

Not too long ago, he lost his mother to an unfortunate cosmetic surgery incident, in a split second; thousands of thoughts had rushed through my mind, many already of sadness or grief.

Between relaying and confirmation

I was also busy chatting to a friend on Skype and as one would naturally do, mentioned this trend to her. Thankfully, she, just as I did not automatically take that as truth, we quickly checked on news sites to determine if there was any truth to this news before we became part of the herd.

Apparently, it was a hoax [2], some malevolent and rotten person had started a Tweet that Kanye West had died in a car accident and instead of readers of the Tweet checking first if there was any truth to that story, they propagated the rumour with their RIP messages or ReTweeted the messages of others trying to affirm that an untruth in its entirety from conception was fact.

The shame of it all is that there are some many lazy people in the herd, crowd and bandwagon movement who could have within 30 seconds checked and confirmed the lies but they would rather be part of a trend and rather not let the truth, the just, the fair get in the way of an atrociously machinated nasty rumour.

Praise for trends

In the process this became the top trending topic on Twitter and it does much damage to he credibility of Twitter just as false postings have benighted Wikipedia.

The more incredible thing to me is that I have not seen any clear condemnation of this malicious and hurtful rumour, rather I have noticed people commending the genius of a person who has been able to get their lie to the top of Twitter trends, no matter whose ox was gored.

This is a dangerous development, where scandal, controversy or blatant untruths can capture the unimaginative minds of the easily lead and lazy crowds who propagate the selfsame thing to create a major democratic truth of a lie, the pressure of numbers then gives some legitimacy to the lie which then becomes news – this is not good.

Generally, I do not trust Twitter, I always follow the links to and interesting Tweet that comes up and try to corroborate that with other sources before I respond or ReTweet.

Seeking originality

To be honest, I must say that I am not particular enamoured with people who cannot combine the news topic with the URL and a basic opinion in 140 characters. I will never Tweet on an issue if I could not add an opinion, it is like relaying the news verbatim in a blog. In fact, it is the height of arrogance to think you are the original source of a story in the news on Twitter, it only matters for me when you can also add a soundbite, a quip, an opinion, a comment, something that gives the story a perspective.

After a while of not seeing original stuff from a Twitter friend, that friend gets pruned from my list, I believe in 140 characters you can create a unique personality with good opinions rather than be a relaying robot and a conduit for trash and the brash.

Can it be policed?

I suppose we can put this down to human nature that there would always been a misuse of social networking facilities but there has to be some mechanism in place to prevent falsehoods, lies and issues inimical to community building from trending dangerously with the affirmation of numbers.

This cannot be by peer review but some logic that notes the trend, verifies its purpose and sometimes removes it completely from the public timeline with a comment on the matter whilst the purveyor of the falsehood gets a sanction.

Always check before relaying

Inevitably, you can trust nothing but only by review and diligent research from authoritative and respected sources, it takes time and a bit of work of information management, but that better than joining the stampede for trends like swine running to destruction over a sheer cliff into the sea.

For all who contributed to this rumour, you should be sorely ashamed of yourselves, you have really let yourselves down, I do hope there would be a greater sense of awareness when next something like this happens again, just don’t give it oxygen if you have not confirmed from reliable sources that you have received in a Tweet.


[1] Twitter Search from trending topic

[2] Kanye West Is Not Dead, Just Victim Of Latest Internet Hoax - News Story | MTV News:

Friday 11 September 2009

Nigeria: A case of undignified self-importance

Self-importance and rage

It was strange to pick up news of an egotistical megalomaniac politician who had apparently become a law onto himself and committed an assault for which he might not get charged.

The dishonourable Chinyere Igwe a representative of Rivers State in the volatile Nigerian Niger Delta region was asked for his identification when he tried to enter the National Assembly Complex by the Sergeant-at-Arms rather than show proof that he had authorised access, he felt affronted and proceeded to slap the official twice [1].

Mr. Chinelo Nwolo, the Sergeant-at-Arms was eventually rescued by bystanders before he suffered grievous bodily harm.

Checks not nods

Whilst, it would be nice for security staff at the National Assembly to recognise and identify on sight any and all members of the assembly, the purpose for issuing identity passes is to ensure that the person holding a pass is validated by inspection of the relevant access material.

In fact, there are some members of the National Assembly that can be nodded through for the fact that they are well known, but without trying to be pedantic, the job of security personnel is to identify by inspection of identification documents or material before allowing the visitor into the complex.

Where that is not done, the security personnel would be derelict of their duties. The man was only doing his job.

A case of puffed-up arrogance

The dishonourable member however exemplifies a state of affairs in Nigeria where those in power believe they are above the law and should not to subject to basic house rules. To be challenged by a somewhat security agent would be to attract wrath, uncontrolled temper and rage leading to assault by reason of their view that they can be police, judge and jury exacting justice and proper retribution for the affront to their distinguished status.

It ought not to be so, a politician representative should be conduct himself with all manner of courtesy, comportment and dignity whilst appreciating that he is there to do a job and the security personnel have a clearly defined function that interfaces with their when it comes to security, security of access and safety.

In one other report, the representative referred to the Sergeant-at-Arms as a boy, a very derogatory epithet coming from an ill-disciplined man who by ways probably does not know how to reflect and make amends for wrongs he might have done.

Just doing his job

The Sergeant-at-Arms is an official of the Federal Republic of Nigeria whose office is well recognised in the constitution and it carries responsibilities and authority to which people especially lawmakers should defer without rancour.

On a very basic level, the assault should be seen as criminal and be reported to the police that should then take steps to prosecute the representative, referring him to the House of Representatives’ Committee on Ethics and Privileges is all well and good but it is hardly due process.

It goes without saying that if a man authorised to perform a duty in the centre of our legislature cannot freely do so without harassment and threats of violent conduct from the legislature, what hope do Nigerians have in other places of work when leadership provides no examples?

The Serjeant-at-Arms deserves more than just an apology from the representative, the leadership of the legislature should do well to ensure that the representative is properly upbraided, sanctioned and disciplined if necessary.

Overhaul security

In the end, it brings the security arrangements at the National Assembly into sharp focus, rather than have hapless men at the risk of unwarranted menace, the security access system should require all staff produce their passes that can be read electronically by some automatic access system and human beings should only get involved when that access fails.

In a perfect world, brutes like Chinyere Igwe should be in a correction facility where they should be intensively rehabilitated to recognise basic civility and good manners without too much self-importance. I do hope he gets his just desserts, as for the Sergeant-at-Arms, Mr. Chinelo Nwolo, I am all sympathetic and sorry about the incident, it must never happen again.


[1] Rep slaps Sergeant-at-Arms | Daily Trust