Posts categorized "Administrivia"

Disruptive Telephony... ... disrupted?

Disconnected handsetIt's been a while since I've written here on Disruptive Telephony... too long. :-(

It's not for a lack of topics ... my queue of things I would like to write about continues to grow and grow!

It's easy to say that my day job has consumed much of my writing time... and there's definitely a great bit of truth to that.

There's also the fact that I have two young children and a wife whom I adore and want to spend time with... as well as other priorities in life that have taken me away from writing as much as I used to.

I do, though, want to get back to writing here, and indeed across all my sites, a bit more.

Stay tuned...

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I know that the concept of setting up an email newsletter sounds so... well... 1990's... but as I outline on my Disruptive Conversations blog, I'm doing some experimentation with email management tools... and so decided to create a list as an adjunct to my online writing. If you'd like to join my little experiment, the form to do so is here:
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Over on my Disruptive Conversations blog, I do get into a bit more detail about what I'm doing (or think I'll be doing) with this...

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Returning from a blogging hiatus...

As you have no doubt noticed, my last post here was April 20th... what happened? Well, our second child was born April 24th, and as any parent of a newborn can tell you, you enter this wonderful yet challenging vortex where your time is entirely in the service of the wee one... ;-)

I'm slowly getting back up to speed now, though, and so you'll see more posts appearing here and across all the other blogs where I write...

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It's the End of The Year As We Know It - And I Feel...

... Fine, actually[1].

2008 turned out to be a great year on so many different fronts... despite all the larger economic challenges. I had hoped to write up a longer end-of-year retrospective post, but alas, here it is, the end of the last day of the year.... That fact, in and of itself, speaks volumes about what a year 2008 was - A blur!

I think the single biggest thing I want to say right now as 2008 draws to a close is simply this:


Thank you to all of you who have continued to read my various posts... who have provided comments... who have answered the many questions I've thrown out there... who have challenged my viewpoints and forced me to defend - and refine - my positions... who have commiserated and rejoiced... who have sent me email suggestions... who have met up with me at conferences... who have generally just participated in this larger community. I've met some amazing people throughout the last year, learned an incredible amount and had a lot of fun along the way.

Thank you.

The community around this wacky industry in which we work and play continues to awe and inspire me. It's a privilege to be part of it and I look forward to working with many of you even more in 2009.

Happy New Year to you all!

[1] And for those unfamiliar with REM, here's the song I'm referencing in my title.

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So many things to write about... so little time...

Whew... it's been a crazy couple of weeks... between the Voxeo announcement of the VoiceObjects acquisition on Tuesday... the launch of my Emerging Tech Talk video podcast... my traveling to Orlando this week... and, well, just the general craziness of the holiday season, I have gotten far behind in posts that I want to put up here... so there may be a flood of posts coming out in the next few days... (or may not, if the pace keeps up! :-)

We certainly do live in fascinating times...

Slight blog redesign underway...

Longtime readers may notice that this site looks a bit different today. The navigation bar you can see on Disruptive Conversations is gone. Some of the sidebar boxes have been re-arranged. The phone image in the header is missing... and I'm sure some other issues...

Here's what is going on - When I posted my last piece about the .tel domain, it had the unfortunate side affect of destroying my layout because the DNS entries I include in a <pre> section were far longer than my layout allowed. As a result my two right sidebars were overwriting the text and the article was basically unreadable.

So I had so spend a little bit undoing the kludgey way that I've done the 3-column layout on this blog. LONGtime readers will recall that I set up this 3-column layout long before TypePad offered it as a standard layout - and so I had to do some real TypePad-advanced-templates hackery to make it all work. Unfortunately it always had the fatal flaw that if my posts contained images or words that were too big, the sidebars would overwrite the text. Similarly, users forced to stick with Internet Explorer 6 complained that it didn't display correctly.

So what I had to do was to go back to TypePad basic templates and go to their standard 3-column layout in the form that I like. I don't know if this will fix the IE6 issue (if that's still an issue), but at least it will fix the sidebar issue for regular browsers.

The side effect, of course, is that I lost all my advanced template hacks like the cool navigation bar.

What I'll probably do is sometime in the next few days tweak this basic template to be sure I have everything in it the way I want, and then convert it over to TypePad Advanced Templates so that I can put my hackery back in. I was smart enough to save my original templates, so this transition hopefully won't be too big of a deal.

In the meantime, though, things might be a bit funky with the design.

Light blogging ahead - Selling our home in Burlington, Vermont, and closing on a home in N.H.

Just a note to readers: I expect that for the next 3 to 4 weeks I won't be doing all that much blogging here due primarily to our impending move to Keene, NH, and the collision in timing of three different threads of my life:

  1. We've now put up the signs and are officially selling our house here in Burlington, VT. Check out the website for more information, to see pictures, read the blog (yes, of course, it has one), etc. If you want to buy a house in Burlington, we'd love to hear from you. (And personally I'd enjoy it if the ultimate buyer found it through a blog. :-) We're going, at least initially, the For Sale By Owner route so naturally that will occupy some of our time (hopefully!).

  2. We are closing on our house in Keene, NH, on May 15th, although we are not planning to actually move down there until mid-June.

  3. A major new project landed on my plate at work that should be both fun and something in which I'll learn a lot... but it's going to be rather all-consuming and the deadline is also right around May 15th.

Add in some presentation deadlines, the ever-constant flow of email and generally the next few weeks look to be rather chaotic. I don't expect to be writing here or probably anywhere other than perhaps Voxeo's blogs (since writing there is part of my job). We'll see. I'm sure I'll still be twittering, because that's so easy to do.  Otherwise, I expect you'll see more here starting in mid-June. That's the theory, anyway!

Oops... challenges of using a new blog editor - I turned Trackbacks OFF by default

As I finished up my last post with additional thoughts on Skype and hotel networks, I naturally went to look for the TrackBack URI on my first post so that I could have the link show at the bottom of the article. However, when I went to look - there was no TrackBack URI shown! I went into TypePad's control panel and, sure enough, the checkbox for allowing TrackBacks was unchecked. In further investigation, I found it was unchecked for all my other recent posts! (Now, fixed... they all should accept TrackBacks.)

200709300638The reason was relatively easy to find. When I started using my new MacBook Pro about two weeks ago, I started using a new offline blog editor, ecto. Over in the options area, there is a checkbox for TrackBack's that I apparently had left in the unchecked state. I have now checked it and clicked the "Make Default" button so that it remains in this state. Details, details, details... (and my apologies to anyone who was looking for the trackback URI).

P.S. If any of you are Mac users and have opinions on what is the best offline blog editor to use on a Mac, I'm looking for opinions (in this other post).

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Thoughts on some of the roles that I could fill... (and slowly eroding my resistance to going the consulting route)

One of the most common reactions to my note last week about my impending employment change (outside of the truly amazing things people have said) has been some variation on the question - "so what is it you want to do?"  or "what kind of roles are you looking for?"

Fair questions.  And a bit challenging given that I have a diverse range of interests and abilities.  But since I'm trying out this experiment in being very public about my employment search, I'll list some examples of the type of roles I'm ideally seeking - along with the caveat that all of them are interesting and so a role that involved several of them might be even more interesting. So here are some thoughts:

  • Emerging Technology Analyst - A good amount of the work I did for Mitel was what I talked about in my note last week.  Standing up in the "crow's nest", staring out at the horizons to identify opportunities and threats - and then translating that into internal communication within the company about what it might mean to the business.  What's the opportunity with social networks? Facebook? What's the opportunity or threat with Skype?  Asterisk?  competitors?  partners?  Where do mashups fit in? I often created lengthy and detailed analysis which I circulated by email to senior management, heads of R&D and product management.  I also posted those to an internal blog, did numerous presentations, gave web seminars/webinars and had started created internal podcasts as well.  Similarly, if you look at the writing I do here and on Disruptive Conversations as well as the audio at Blue Box, so much of what I do is try to make sense of the changes that are happening as the ways in which we communicate are disrupted.  What do those changes mean to individuals? to companies/organizations?  Where is the business opportunity?  threat?    A role would be quite intriguing that involved continuing that ongoing exploration and translating that into reports (for internal or external customers), white papers, blog entries, podcasts (audio or video), conference presentations, etc., etc.  (Naturally you can imagine I've made some inquiries at a few analyst firms.)  I've seen some companies call this role a "strategist" as well. (A term which I fear is getting over-used.)

  • Social Media Strategist - The reality is that the social media of blogs, podcasts, wikis, and perhaps even moreso social networks like Facebook are changing the ways in which we communicate and bringing in different challenges in terms of transparency, openness, immediacy, etc.  There are tremendous opportunities for companies to engage in conversations with customers and partners with very little cost or technical infrastructure.  Amazingly simple ways to stimulate loyal and engaged customers, energize customers as advocates, build better products, build a community around your products/services, build your brand and potentially save on costs (such as in creating a self-help community that might reduce support costs).  But it's also a dangerous place if companies don't understand how to engage in that space.  There's any number of social media campaigns that have gone wrong.  Companies/organizations need a strategy... need to understand what their goals are, how to use the tools, etc. Jeremiah Owyang really outlines this best with his recent post "Applying a Social Computing Strategy to the entire Product Lifecycle".  I've been blogging since 2000, podcasting since 2005, working with communication/marketing/PR as a component of almost every job I've had and this type of role is one I would absolutely welcome (both of assisting with strategy and also with execution of the actual media, i.e. producing podcasts, blogs, etc.).

  • Community Developer/Organizer - I started working with BITNET and then the Internet back in the mid-1980's and pretty much immediately looked at them as tools to connect people of common interests and build online communities. Back in those days I was very involved in environmental matters and spent a lot of time running around the Boston area evangelizing a service called EcoNet and looking to connect activists so that they could be able to combine efforts. I've been helping build online communities ever since.  The Linux Professional Institute grew out of a mailing list of a dozen of us into the world's leading provider of vendor-neutral certification exams really entirely through the online community we built, a whole lot of PR, speaking engagements at conferences, etc. (Yes, the $600K in corporate sponsorships we raised certainly helped, too.)  I moved to Ottawa to join e-smith (which was then acquired by Mitel) in part because they were building a strong community around their brand/product and I wanted to be part of that and to see what could happen if a company really embraced Cluetrain.  This is some of what I'm doing now to a limited degree with VOIPSA. Over the years the tools have changed (social media and social networking sites being today's version), but the ideas and benefits (if done right) are the same. Chris Brogan has written far more eloquently than I about this kind of role (largely because it's his role with VON): "Why Do Community Development",  "Understanding Community Development Strategies", "The Long Tail of Community" That's the kind of role I've done and would love to do again.  (UPDATE - See also Jeremiah Owyang's "Understanding the Community/Evangelist Role")

  • Product/company Evangelist - It's perhaps just a variation on "community developer", but a good part of what I did for Mitel was to travel around to conferences presenting on behalf of the company, meeting with customers/users, listening to their input, trying to pass that back into the company.  Being a voice for the company in some communities.  In many ways, not terribly different from a community developer... but today some companies call this position an "evangelist".

  • VoIP Security Lead/Prime/Head/etc. - Naturally roles that involve VoIP security are kind of an obvious one for me.  But from the roles already listed above, you can imagine that I'm really more interested in a role that involves communication about VoIP security issues than I am in, say, doing penetration testing against VoIP systems.  (Although there are certainly days when I'd love to just sit and try to break VoIP systems!)

  • Standards Monitoring/Participating/etc. - I don't know the precise title that would be used, and I think there are very few people who have this as their full-time position (usually more of a component of another job), but there's a huge amount of work that goes on within open standards bodies such as the IETF. Companies have a choice: they can either be involved in the standards process; or they can choose to not be and wind up implementing the standards that are defined by the companies that are involved.  If you are doing something in an area like SIP, it's really in your best interest to be engaged in the IETF process, to be monitoring the status of standards, attending the IETF meetings, engaging in the mailing lists, commenting on Internet-Drafts, submitting Internet-Drafts, chairing committees, etc.  It can be an all-consuming role but the benefit is that a company can help drive  "industry standards" in a direction that may be beneficial to the company. At the very least the company can ensure their viewpoint has been heard in the discussion.  It's not a bad thing from a PR/marketing point-of-view either.  But to do it right, you need someone who understands who the process works and can work well with counterparts from all the other vendors.

There's a handful of other roles of interest, but those are really the big ones.   Hopefully that is helpful to all of those who have asked me "what kind of role are you looking for?"  I should also note that in my ideal world, I'd like to find a role that let's me stay working virtually from Burlington, Vermont (and would presumably have some degree of regular travel to a headquarters, conferences, etc.).  We moved here two years ago, have older family in the northeast US and have a young daughter absolutely loving the second year of a two-year kindergarten program.  Our preference would definitely not be to move, although if the right opportunity were out there we wouldn't rule it out.

I had a bit of an epiphany, too, while out at Internet Telephony Expo this week in L.A.  I went down to IT Expo to give my presentation but also to make connections about full-time employment.  I had several positive discussions in that regard, but in the course of the days there, I kept having people who as soon as they found out I was available were very interested in engaging me on a consultant basis in one of the various areas I outlined above (as well as open source license compliance, another side interest of mine).  To date, I have steadfastly avoided the consultant route, primarily because the cost of healthcare in the US for a self-employed individual and family are fairly insane (but that's a subject for another rant)... but over the course of my three days there my resistance began to erode.  (Of course, the trick is to see how many of those expressions of interest turn into something real, eh?)  We'll see.  Right now I have another week of transition of my Mitel responsibilities and then we'll see what makes sense.

Thanks again for all of the support of so many of you who have left comments, emailed me, IM'd me, etc.  It's been a true testament to the power of joining in the social media conversation and the larger network of people.  Thanks.

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Thanks... (and I expect my 'light blogging' won't be so light)

MANY thanks for all the kinds words sent my way after yesterday's post, both publicly and privately.  I'll admit that aspect of it has been a bit overwhelming!  But it's VERY definitely appreciated.  Thank you.

As to this comment I made:

In the meantime, I may be blogging a little less here for a bit as I focus on what comes next.

The reality is that after seven years of doing it, blogging has become ingrained and is just part and parcel of what I do on a daily basis... already this morning I've started several posts.  I expect that I'll realistically just keep on posting because that's part of what I do.  Stay tuned...

And again... thanks!