High tech sales

With a tip of the hat to Brad Feld, here is Sales 101, an article about High Tech sales which seems funny, especially if you are not involved in the High Tech industry. Feld comments, in the post on his blog that brought this to my attention, "Yup - this pretty much sums up the dark underbelly of high tech sales." For industry insiders, however, Sales 101 is sure to be disquieting, and then quickly forgotten because that is a lot less discomfiting than admitting to its almost universal truth.
This is kind of like facing up to your own mortality for a moment and then deciding that "it won't happen to me".

A Sunday morning cornucopia

A few things to mention today, in lieu of more regular postings, I suppose... from theater to spelling to economic crisis to health care politics to the constitution.

Last night, Dorit and I went to see "We won't pay! We won't pay!" staged by the NORA Theatre Company in the new Central Square Theater (on Mass Ave in Cambridge, almost opposite Main St). We know one of the cast members, the amazing Stephanie Clayman (our kids are in school together), and because of that we got to hear about the show. It is great evening of comedic entertainment, mixed with a frisson of social commentary relevant (coincidentally) to our very recent times, but written in the early 1970's by Dario Fo, commenting on the parlous economy and fragility of the State in Italy at that time. It is playing for another week; more details at the CST website.

Did you notice that the play was staged by the NORA Theatre Company at the Central Square Theater? Living in Newton Centre (near Centre Street), and being a Brit in America, this stuff is either pathetic or laughable, or both.

With thanks to Ethan Fener, I got to read a great mini-briefing from the Freakonomics blog of the NY Times on what is going on in the economy and Wall St, and what does it have to do with me? I recommend reading it.

You may have noticed my ongoing interest in the US health care industry (and the IT angle in particular). Recently I have been challenged to think about why I am in favor of more government involvement in health care. Here is a thesis, and I welcome comments or challenges. No-one seems to argue against the fact that it is appropriate for government to "own" national defense, and spend large amounts of taxpayer money on the military etc. I suggest this is because we all agree that a key role of government is keeping its population safe against belligerent external threats. This also manifests in the local government provision, through taxes, of police, fire, and rescue services. I assert that the same logic should apply in health care. Germs, disease and illness are belligerent threats to my safety and well being. If the government spends so much on bullets to keep me safe, why not spend proportionally on another threat to the public safety and well being, perhaps just as pervasive and destructive, and get properly involved in health care? Is this logically consistent? It seems so to me, but I am just a Venture Cyclist and no policy maven. What do you think?

Finally, last night driving past the gun control lobby billboard on the Mass Pike prompted a thought on the constitution (and the second amendment). Prompted by the approach our friend Eileen McDonagh brings to complex constitutional matters, I wondered whether we (those, like me, who believe in gun control) should use some judo tactics here. I propose a constitutional amendment that specifically protects certain kinds of gun ownership, but allows for strong state regulation, and explicitly prohibits the crazy stuff (eg automatic machine guns and armor piercing ammunition). It would provide for state's rights to regulate usage, storage and licensing fairly strongly through the state legislatures or state ballots. An explicit protection (so much better than the ambiguity of the second amendment) would preclude the NRA knee-jerk "thin end of the wedge" opposition to regulation and possibly split off the all-guns-all-the-time nuts from a more rational majority. As above, I am sure there are logical fallacies hidden here but, what the heck, I am a Venture Cyclist, not a constitutional lawyer... help me out.

Finally, back to venture cycling; fall is coming, get out on your bike - it is the perfect time of year to ride.

Chrome is the new pink

Google recently announced and released its very own web browser, known as Chrome. The Economist wrote this up under the headline The Second Browser War.

The first browser war was Microsoft Internet Explorer vs Netscape. I was a close observer in that war, having been at Vermeer Technologies when Microsoft purchased us for our single product, FrontPage. That was at the leading edge of the Microsoft surge into the internet. They were late, and a little lumbering, but they won the first browser war.

At about that time I wrote a piece called "Microsoft and the Death of Groupware" which contended that Microsoft wanted to kill groupware (at that time embodied in Lotus Notes) because it was a network hosted application, in favor of its own suite of PC centric applications which could sort-of do the same things.

Now Microsoft is fighting another threat of a similar sort where Google (and many others) are providing web centric applications which threaten the same PC centric Microsoft world. The Chrome browser is recognized to be the latest shot in this war in that it pushes the browsers towards more speed and capability thus strengthening the ability for network applications that live "in the web" to usurp the position of PC based programs like MS Office. Many think Microsoft cannot win this war, being unable to cannibalize its own PC centric business to move into a web-centric world. This is the now conventional wisdom drawn about disruptive technologies from the classic Innovator's Dilemma by Christensen. I am not so ready to count Microsoft out.

Microsoft is a little late again, but is lumbering onto this field of war with initiatives like Silverlight and Live Mesh. Especially if Google stumbles, perhaps even (and ironically) into anti-trust problems, then Microsoft may yet retake the high ground.

Microsoft has never been the master of the future - it is always a follower, and not a very fast one. But Microsoft has often been the master of the now, with its no-longer voiced but ingrained notion of "embrace and extend". Don't count Microsoft out yet, whether or not Chrome is the new pink.

Recumbent riders do it lying down

Today on my regular 40 mile Sunday ride (fastest of the season), new riding pal Josh Elkin commented on the very comfortable seat on my recumbent bike. This reminded me that a couple of months ago the lovely EcoVelo blog posted a very worthwhile piece about Seats and Saddles.

For those who care to think about this for a moment, my recumbent bike seat allows me to sit on my sitting bones ... what does your upright bike ask you to sit on (especially guys!)? I also get to hold my arms and neck in a neutral position... unlike those racing bikes.

Yes, I am slower on the hills ... I can't move my weight forward (or stand up) on the pedals for those arduous grades... but that is something I am prepared to manage, and I certainly am more aerodynamic on the downhills and even the flats.

With all that said, if you are not happy with your bike saddle, or think you could be happier, you don't have to get a recumbent, although I am happy to encourage you in that direction. Check out that Seats and Saddles article ... you may find some of its suggestions useful.

Happy riding!

Killer Hills

I am back from my third annual Hazon NY Jewish Environmental Bike Ride. This year the routes on both days were very hilly. The route briefing on Saturday night for the Sunday route included the term "killer hills" ... and this is from an organization that likes to put a positive spin on everything.

Here is the elevation chart. The not-so-killer hills at 30 miles were before lunch ... I made it up those (thanks Elisa!)... after lunch, around 40 miles, I walked most of the "killer" hill (thanks Hannah!).

Unfortunately I was fighting a bug and after more-or-less successfully completing day one, and eating and drinking enough (I thought) I ended up completely exhausted. I woke up "wobbly" on day two and decided I should not ride. This was probably the right approach (day two was pretty hilly too!), as it has taken me another few days to shake whatever virus I was fighting.

Hannah rode much of the day two route with Elisa, Nigel and Sammy and got to enjoy the spectacular experience of cycling into Manhattan over the GW Bridge. I look forward to that myself in future years.

Despite the bug, I had an amazing time riding with many good friends whose appetite to try something new, and have fun doing it, is an inspiration. Thanks to all of you - you know who you are!

Many thanks also to those of you who sponsored me. I am getting close to my $10,000 goal and the fundraising remains open for a few more weeks ... please consider a donation to support Hazon's amazing work.

Click here to donate