Silicon Valley State of Mind, a blog by John Weathington, "The Science of Success"
  • @SVSOM
    @SVSOM

    Welcome to a Silicon Valley State of Mind, thoughts tips and advice based on the consulting work of John Weathington, "Silicon Valley's Top Information Strategist."

  • bio
    bio

Silicon Valley State of Mind

Tips, thoughts, and advice based on the consulting work of John Weathington, "The Science of Success."

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that has been used in the blog.
  • Archives
    Archives Contains a list of blog posts that were created previously.
Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in prevention

Posted by on in Program Management

Being prepared for the obvious is not only a good practice, it’s just common sense. As I’m typing this, San Ramon is in another brown-out. That’s a delicate way of saying the power’s out, but we hope it will come back soon: unlike the devastation of the real black-out. Sometimes brown-outs last for only a few seconds, sometimes they last for hours.

Having lived in San Ramon for over a decade now, one thing I know for sure—I don’t care what you call it, the power goes out sometimes. I’ve been dealing with the effects of brown-outs from as long as I’ve lived here. Now, it’s not the end of the world if I’m not able to get this post to you this morning; however, it’s nice to know I can. I bigger brown-out irritant that surfaced when I first moved here involved my servers.

Since I do a lot of data crunching and analysis for clients, I have a a heavy-duty server sitting right next to me. Best practices learned long ago as a good, young Silicon Valley lad prevent me from loosing unsaved work because of a crash—that’s not the issue. The issue is that large servers really need to shutdown gracefully. You can’t just pull the plug out, which is basically what the electric company just did to me. If you do, it has a horrible time trying to recover, and there’s extra time spent making sure it recovered the way you want—it’s a big mess.

Fortunately, in addition to my server, I have a Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) sitting right next to me. It periodically issues a few loud caws to let me know the power’s still out. Even though I could easily figure that out myself, it’s a nice alert when a brown-out happens and I’m not next to my server. About a half hour ago when this happened, I was in the kitchen thinking about breakfast. When I heard the alert, I ambled into my office (there’s no rush, I had plenty of time), and brought the server down—gracefully. No muss, no fuss.

Preparing for times like this may be considered risk management by some, but not me. Looking forward to anticipate anything this obvious is actually part of execution planning. In fact, anything that has a better than 80% chance of happening shouldn’t be classified as a risk anymore, treat it like a certainty. For example, I didn’t decide whether or not I should buy a UPS on the chance that a brown-out may happen. I bought a UPS because I knew a brown-out would happen eventually—and here we are.

Uninterruptible power for me means uninterruptible productivity. So, instead of reading a good book right now, with nothing else to do, I’m sharing this wise advice with you. Plan for the obvious—that’s obvious, right?

Rate this blog entry:
0

Posted by on in Operational Excellence

It has been a couple of months since I purchased a LifeProof case for my iPhone, and I wanted to share some of my thoughts. I bought one for both my wife and me in the wake of an incident that happened some time ago. My two-year old niece accidentally fell in the pool, and my wife dove in to save her life. Thank God everything turned out okay with my niece; however, the iPhone she was holding at the time never recovered from the swim.

Since that time my radar had been raised for something that could protect the phone better. I eventually decided on LifeProof. After two months of using the case, I’m completely thrilled. To be honest, it’s overkill for what I need—I’m not exactly mountain climbing in the Himalayas every day. In my normal day to day activities, 9 times out of 10 I didn’t worry about the phone at all. I can’t tell you how good it feels to now not worry about the other 1 out of 10.

I have a healthy paranoia about mixing electronics and water, as any good Silicon Valley native should. Kim’s phone was only in the water for a few seconds, but as you know, that’s all it takes. I tried to resuscitate it with an overnight rice plunge (rice draws the water out), but to no avail. The LifeProof case changes all of that for me.

LifeProof claims that it will keep your iPhone safe from water, dirt, snow, and shock. So far, I have full confidence the case will live up to their claim. I can already attest to the claims on water and shock, and as soon as winter arrives, it’s off to Lake Tahoe for the snow test!

LifeProof is very diligent about covering all the bases. They exhort you to do a rigorous water test without the phone before you ever put your phone in the case. Of course I complied (with both phones), and I was delighted at the results—after an hour under water, both cases were completely dry. Then it was time for the real test. I carefully sealed up my wife’s phone, and threw it in the pool (you didn’t think I was using mine, did you?).

Voila! The phone worked completely fine underwater, just as they said. I was thrilled! Since then we’ve used our phones in and around the pool with no worries at all—what a relief.

As much as I like the phone, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share some of the areas I would recommend for improvement. First, the case is a bit bulky. It has a relatively slim design as far as protective cases go; however, compared to no case, or any normal carrying case, it makes the phone a little big. Also, it’s best to keep the phone in the case at all times. Because of the way it seals around the phone, LifeProof doesn’t recommend that you open and close the case too many times. A full water test is recommended every time you put the phone back in the case, so you won’t want to do this very often.

This makes the handling of the phone a bit cumbersome. There is a door at the bottom of the case that swings open so you can charge the phone. That’s fine if you plan to use the normal charging cable that comes with Apple; however, it presents a challenge for docking stations. LifeProof claims that if you buy a dock extender (like the one in the picture), you can use the case with any docking station; however, that’s not true. Shortly after I purchased the case, I purchased a dock extender and a Sinjimoru Sync and Charge Dock Stand. With almost 100 reviews and an average four star rating, I thought it was a safe bet—I was wrong! There’s nothing inherently wrong with the stand; I think it’s pretty slick. However, when you add the LifeProof dock extender, the unit becomes top heavy and it doesn’t take much to flip the phone over. This was driving me crazy, as when I’m in the office, I keep the phone in the stand next to me. This thing would dump over several times a day. I gave up on this idea, and after some research, settled on an iHome iD37GZC Dual Alarm Stereo Clock Radio. I don’t need an alarm clock in my office, and this doesn’t sync, but it does support the phone when it’s docked. As a bonus, it charges my iPad when I’m not using it for my iPhone.

Another minor thing about handling the phone with the case on it, is the headphones. Without the LifeProof case, it’s no big deal to plug-in and unplug headphones. I would do it all day long, as I only use headphones when I’m talking on the phone. With the case, there’s a screw where the headphones go. Every time you want to plug in headphones, you must unscrew the cap, and screw in the LifeProof headphone adapter (actually, you don’t need the adapter if you’re using standard iPhone headphones, but for any other kind of headphones, you need the adapter). This is a bit of a process compared to just plugging in headphones when you need them. I may adjust in the future to bluetooth, but I’m still not impressed by the connection quality.

Of course, I have a belt clip as well, which makes the bulky phone even more bulky. This might be appropriate for an athlete, but there’s no way I’m going into a meeting with an executive wearing this bat-phone gadget. Plus, the belt clip won’t work with the dock extender in the phone, so you must remove the dock extender, close the door, then push it on the belt clip. It’s all a bit clunky compared to my Belkin case that would just slide and snap into place.

Shortcomings notwithstanding, I love this case. The peace of mind is worth every penny I’ve spent and all the adjustments I’ve had to make. I just ordered a second dock extender to keep in my car, when I need to use the car charger. I’m also looking into waterproof headphones and an armband for when I’m swimming in the pool or at the beach.

All this is of course analogous to extra investments in risk mitigation. Even if you have some tolerance for risk, it’s okay to take a few more steps and spend a few more dollars once in a while for the extra peace of mind. As long as priorities are covered, it’s okay to splurge a bit on extras. That might be hiring a consultant even when you have capacity in house. It might be putting redundant controls in place even though the existing controls are working fine. It might be taking a process to six sigma even though five sigma is well within tolerance. It might be going after 85% market share when you already have 75%.

It’s hard to put a cost on anxiety, but it sure feels good when it’s not there. And if you have an iPhone, go buy a LifeProof case—you’ll see what I mean.

Rate this blog entry: