Nostalgic Status Report

In a previous life I spent a few years doing strategic planning at a telecommunications company. One of my responsibilities was to contribute to the long term network evolution plan that would be the roadmap for key network investments and build outs. This was back in the late 1990’s.

One of the things we talked about way back then was a concept called IP Multimedia Subsystem, or IMS. IMS for us was the core of the next generation converged public telephone system. Creating it was our holy grail. It would allow you to build a network that would be access independent and support rich media communications. An IMS core meant that the cellular network, your home phone, and a soft phone on your PC are all using the same system. Not simply interworked through gateways but actually the same system. Applications created for one are available to all.

Without getting into the how’s (we’ll leave that the the phone companies) an IMS based network could allow you to do things like start a phone call, promote it to a video call, then as part of the same conversation open a window and transfer some files to a co-worker. How about being able to see the presence of your brother in Vancouver before you make the call and get his voicemail? Or selecting to simultaneously ring my home phone and my cabin phone? Better yet how about it the call follows me and rings the cabin phone automatically once I get the the cabin?

Many of these types of features are now available in today’s VoIP PBX systems. There is also a growing list of features like these in services such as Google Voice and Google+ and Microsoft’s Lync/Skype integration. It’s not hard to see why telco’s consider these guys as the next big competitors.

But as I said, that was the late 1990’s. At the time I don’t think I appreciated how far ahead we were looking. The Google machine tells me that IMS was developed by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) as a packet switched Next Generation Network for cellular networks in 1998/99. The dates elude me now by I am pretty sure we had it in our plan as early as 1997. If that is so then it must have been based on some pre-standard work.

Today I find myself working at the very same telephone company, but this time in the role of a unified communications consultant. Yesterday I sat in on a presentation by my successors in the planning department for an update on IMS. To my great chagrin I hear that the world is still in early days of deploying this technology. Some companies in North America and Europe have deployed, removed and redeployed systems trying to find the right mix of vendors. Others are just in their initial deployment stages. My employer is at the lab stage; testing and validating and developing fulfillment and assurance processes. Launch of commercial services based on our shiny new IMS core won’t be for another year.

Wow. Our network strategic plan has taken 15 years to come to fruition. A large part of that time has been waiting for the technology to mature; perhaps only the last couple of years could be blamed on other factors. Most of the people in the room have no notion that we talked about this so long ago. It’s all very exciting and they chomp at the bit to sell the new services. I do too, but a part of me is feeling maybe a little old that the others have no idea this isn’t “new” and maybe a bit proud too. Not too many arrows shot today will land as close to the target 15 years from now as our plan did. A little late and $3.5B in capital investment later, but right on the mark.

Creative Cloud is unCreative Robbery

I was very disappointed to find out Adobe had decided to end sales of Creative Suite in favor of a leasing model through Creative Cloud. Judging from a few minutes surfing the web the vast majority of web posters agree.

In my case I had looked at the option when I was thinking about upgrading to CS6. Based on the upgrade costs and frequency I calculated an upgrade to CS6 was more economical for me than moving to the Cloud. Since I had already made the big investment in the original purchase, upgrades were about half the price. Yes, some of the Cloud features interest me. I would like to play with Muse, but not at $180 per year. I also do not need to storage and collaboration aspect of Creative Cloud. I already have several cloud storage accounts and as a one man design shop I have no real collaboration requirements.

Frankly I don’t see how Adobe can claim CC is cheaper even if you include the original full retail cost of the software. It looks cheaper for the first 10 years but then the pendulum swings in favor of buying. Yes, 10 years is a long time but how long have you owned a copy of Microsoft Office? Designers who use the applications in CS are long term users. Career users. These are not typically consumer level buyers. No one I know would buy Illustrator over the other alternatives out there just to play around, not when Illustrator is 5 to 6 times the price.

The other big gotcha with Adobe’s plan and possibly the biggest one is when you quite paying, you have nothing. Going back to my 10 payback model, you would have spent $6000 and will have exactly nothing to show for it the day you let you subscription lapse. With a purchase model I would still have functioning copies of all of the applications in the suite.

I do like the cloud only concept though. I usually buy as a download if I can, and avoiding the packaging step does allow for immediate version updates as bug fixes and new features are developed. On this point I agree with Adobe.

It really comes down to the pricing. Adobe has just doubled my future cost of ownership and I have received very little in return. Practically nothing. Certainly nothing worth more than $5 per month for some storage.

I have to agree with the posting populous. It a straight out money grab. I am going to hold off for as long as possible. Maybe they will get enough of a backlash and change their mind, just like they did with the Touch app Kuler.

Sans Wha?

Ever wonder where the fonts you use today came from? No? Well, you should. Here is a nice short clip telling the history of typography.

A short nothing

I started to write this post several times, and each time about half way through I delete it and start again.  Shine On You Crazy Diamond just came up in the playlist, the lights are turned down, and it’s just me and the dogs.   I am going to turn up the music, lean back with my cup of tea, close my eyes and float away.  Sorry, this is all you get tonight.

Enough Already

Crap crap crap crap crap.

It snowed again today.  Snow is forecast for tomorrow and Sunday.  Tuesday marks the six month anniversary of snow this winter.  Winter?  Cripes, it’s almost MAY!

This is SO my winter of discontent.  Work is suffering multiple personality disorder.  It is either going to be my best year every and I will break all sorts or revenue records (for me anyway) or I will lose my biggest client.  I have five projects in a holding pattern for the last 2 months that represent my next 10 months of work.

This week I learned a software vendor I used for different project lied to me.  Seems that no, they can’t do what they promised and after two weeks screwing around and installing patches it is just not going to work.  “Wait!” they say.  “You’re out!” I say back, “alternate provider is already holding on line 2”.  Problem solved but I still have to back manage the client and figure out how to cover a couple grand in extra cost.  Shite.

Let’s see, what else…oh yeah, I also learned this week that the infrastructure cost for a three site project is going to be 40% higher than previously estimated.  I still have the best fit solution but the ROI just went out the window.  I fully expect to lose this one now.  I have already received a nasty email from the client.  Not a big contract but one of those that pays the rent – long term recurring revenue with little maintenance.

Wake Up!

You have to read this, corporate malfeasance definitely suggested. Once again Europe is leading the charge, trying to save us from ourselves. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has studies that prove bee colony collapse is definitively linked to pesticides.  There is something to be said about the different regulatory regimes in North America versus Europe.  Here in North America corporations hold sway.  Despite an abundance of evidence that the fox is in the hen house govenment regulators continue to lay down and let themselves be bought to approve the purely short term and avericious desires of multi-nationals.  By far the worst offenders in my opinion are the chemical companies related to food production.

Montana bee researcher Dr. Jerry Bromenshenk, had originally signed up to be an expert witness on behalf of beekeepers who brought a class-action lawsuit against Bayer in 2003. He suddenly dropped out—and immediately received a significant research grant from Bayer to study bee pollination, which has continued in recent years. It should come as no surprise that Bayer pesticides were never mentioned in the study as a potential cause of CCD …

….Beelogics, a company whose primary goal is to control colony collapse disorder, has just been bought by Monsanto. That means any research from Beelogics may now be compromised.

Pesticides Definitively Linked to Bee Colony Collapse
ANH-USA

According to this article nearly one-third of US cropland is planted with crops treated with neuroactive insecticides which are known to be highly toxic to bees.  Similiarily roughly one-third of crop species in the US are pollinated exclusively by honeybees, including fresh vegetables and fruits.  Half of the food supply is at risk if bees die off.

Just as in the GMO crop debate, you need to get involved.  Start by getting educated.  You need to know the extent to which chemical companies are spinning the truth and suppressing facts.  In Canada we need to speak and and demand the return of appropriate levels of oversight.  Restore the government labs, the testing facilities, protect the scientists who speak out.  Over the past 20 years we have an abysmal record. 

Food science not your thing?  Try big pharma.  Ask yourself what company, in a purely capitalism based ecomony, will purposely take action to put itself out of business.  Then ask yourself why we have not progressed in the search for cures. All we get is symptom treatments.  See all these TV commericals for prescription drugs? Want to really scare yourself sometime? Research how drugs get to market, you will find lots are invented first then the drugs companies go looking for an ailment.  Then we end up talking about pseudo-ailments like fibromyalgia and treating them with anti-depressants.