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IFX Group 2010 Web Log

2010 Blog Entries
  1. The Invisible Person. (January)
  2. Ball and Chain Relationship? (February)
  3. Good Pressure. (March)
  4. Riverbank Economy. (April)
  5. Time and Distance. (May)
  6. Is a Father Human or Hu-person? (June)
  7. After the Accident. (July)
  8. Meeting Place. (August)
  9. Moments of Discovery. (September)
  10. Found and Lost. (October)
  11. Ignorant Experts. (November)
  12. The Season of Humanity to Others. (December)

January, 2010 - The Invisible Person.

The more beautiful someone is, the more invisible they become. To the casual reader this may seem backwards, but think about it.

How do you define a person? Is a person their job? Who are they when they become unemployed? Is a person their looks? Who are they when those looks fade? Is a person their wealth? Who are they when the economy is down?

The only true definition of a person and the only true measure of beauty is who they are when everything else is taken away - who they are on the inside. Maybe this is why so many beautiful people feel like nobody knows them.

Looking past the things seen by the eyes allows the true beauty to become visible.


February, 2010 - Ball and Chain Relationship?

Ball and chain is a common derogatory label for a marriage partner possibly indicating a reason why that relationship will ultimately fail. Many relationships fail soon after the novelty fades and very few of the remaining ones survive to satisfy the marriage vows.

Why are so many people rushing into these relationships where failure is so likely? Maybe the cause can be found in the place before the relationship starts - the mental image of what a relationship should be. If that mental image is a fantasy with no room for human faults, failures and weaknesses then it is impossible for any human to live up to it. Eventually the human part shows through. On the other hand if the relationship bond offers support in times of weakness, there is a better chance the relationship will survive those weaknesses.

Does your relationship weigh you down or is it a connection that supports you when you fall?


March, 2010 - Good Pressure.

To create almost anything of value requires some effort or pressure that changes the natural state of something. The method of turning coal (a solid but somewhat disorganized form of carbon) into a diamond (an highly organized form of carbon) with pressure is a common example, but what if we could take almost any common and plentiful thing and make it valuable?

If diamonds were as common as sand they might be nearly worthless. In a way there are more potential diamonds than sand simply because there are more carbon atoms in our environment than grains of sand. In fact every breath you exhale produces even more carbon atoms. All we lack is a way to organize all that random carbon into diamonds.

The sand we find all around the world today is considered worthless by most people. But those worthless gains of sand, when refined under the right amount of heat and pressure, turn into useful things like glass and even the electronics you are using right now.

The same applies to people. One person can be made more valuable with a little pressure, like the pressure of a relationship. This is very different from the daily pressures of life because it comes packaged with the love and kindness that keeps the pressure from ever becoming more than we can bear.

Sometimes the pressure is used to reveal the value, sometimes it is used to create the value. Either way pressure is not our enemy when it is used to make us better.


April, 2010 - Riverbank Economy.

Every economy (personal, local, national or global) is like a river.

People gather by the riverside to use the water for different purposes. Some drink the water, some wash, some use the water to irrigate and grow food while others just use the power of flowing water to do other work.

This works very well when the river is full and flowing strong, but what happens when it is slow or even dry? How do you give drink to the thirsty while still allowing people to grow food and put the water to work? Obviously, it is not possible to supply the same demand from a dry river.

The wise people store some portion of their water for later. These people survive dry seasons without suffering too much from thirst. Depending on the quantity they were able to store and the length of the drought, they may even be able to grow a little food.

Why does the river dry up? That question can't be answered by looking at the riverside. The only place to find the answer is to look at the source of the river.

Every river in the world has more than one source even if it appears otherwise. The source always traces back to countless drops of water that collect and gather into tiny trickles of water, then streams and finally a river. It doesn't matter if it is melting snow, rain or an underground spring that ultimately also came from snow or rain. The important part is that every river is made from countless single drops that are gathered together and flowing in a common direction.

How does this equate to our current global economy problem? Simple, stop looking at the riverside and start looking at all of the tiny drops that make up the true source of our economy. And it has a lot less to do with money than you may think.

To illustrate the point, consider two people standing before you. One has a Dollar and the other has no money but the ability to create something worth a Dollar. Which person is more wealthy? Obviously the second because they can make as many Dollars as needed. In a very real sense the second person is creating value and the money is only used to represent that value.

Every currency in the world claims to have a face value, but in reality money can only be used to represent the value that comes from creative people. It does not matter if those people create a product, service or idea because it is the act of creation that brings value. This disconnect between face value and creative value became most visible when the USA copper penny had to be replaced with a copper-plated zinc coin because the value of the metal put into a different product was worth more than the 1 cent face value.

This brings us to an interesting place to consider.

Where exactly are the creative people? Are they in big corporations? Or are they your next door neighbor? In the historical view the best new ideas, products and services always come from the individual. In fact all of the largest corporations in the world started from creative individuals.

Unfortunately it appears that corporations are less able to create as they grow in size. Maybe this is simply due to the weight of the corporation becoming a burden on the creativity that may otherwise be found in their employees.

So how do corporations remain competitive against the creative individual? Sadly, they turn to stifling methods like effectively endless patents, copyrights and overly-broad legal protections that have the combined effect of squelching the flow of new ideas which directly translates into less value being created which directly translates into an economy that shrinks.

How can we fix this?

Simple. Change the rules of the game to always favor the creative people no matter where or who they are. Each one is a drop in the river. The more we individually create the more we collectively grow a stronger economy.


May, 2010 - Time and Distance.

To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is Newton's third law of motion. This is easily accepted when both the action and reaction are observable together in the same place and time, but what happens when they are separated by either time, distance or both?

Consider our actions and the connection to their consequences. Burning a finger on a hot stove has an immediate consequence for the action such that it is easy to learn not to touch hot things. What if it took an hour for the pain signal reach our brain? What if it were a week or a year between the event and the result? Would learning that valuable lesson ever be possible?

This is where we must learn lessons from others. For example, any child with the ability to see the cost others pay for long term over-eating can learn that lesson without paying the obesity price. Unfortunately very few children are taught how to notice and learn these kinds of lessons which may explain why so many of them repeat the mistakes plainly visible in their environment.

Why is it so hard for the human mind to connect the two events when there is any period of time between them? What are you learning from the long term lessons experienced by those around you?


June, 2010 - Is a Father Human or Hu-person?

Some people strongly believe every word that contains a reference to gender should be removed from the English language. What if this is a subtle spoken and written representation of our whole society?

Consider our society an hundred years ago when the English language was packed full of gender specific words and fathers felt a strong sense of duty to family and country. Now an hundred years later our common language is relatively devoid of gender and the male parent is reduced to little more than a source of genetic material, alimony and child support.

When do we cease to be part of the hu-man species? This is like the canine species becoming ca-number so not to offend the other numbers. It would be funny if it were not already happing.

How far will we go to de-gender (both masculine and feminine) our language and society?

Yes it is true that an hundred years ago there were strong divisions between men and women in nearly all areas of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Today the pendulum has moved to the point that this is much less so. But if we allow the pendulum to continue to swing too far in the opposite direction we again create divisions. What kind of equality is that?

What if the small inequality we see at a personal level has a purpose? Without something to overcome, where do we get our sense of accomplishment?

Happy Fathers Day.


July, 2010 - After the Accident.

In 1785 Robert Burns wrote in his poem; The best laid schemes of mice and men Go often askew, And leave us nothing but grief and pain, For promised joy!

In simple terms: accidents happen. This is part of life, even for the very large corporations. The important part is what happens after the accident.

My grandfather had a quaint saying for all the bumps and bruises (accidents) that are so common for boisterous children growing up. He called them knowledge bumps. This phrase was used as his subtle way to bring a little humor to an otherwise painful experience and more importantly to frame the situation in the light of a lesson.

My knowledge bumps have changed over the years. Lately they are more mental and emotional than physical, but they hurt just the same. Those lessons are still hidden right there behind the pain just waiting to be discovered if you look. And looking for the lesson in every painful experience is the start of learning how to avoid that pain next time around.

What do your knowledge bumps teach you?


August, 2010 - Meeting Place.

When any two people want to do something together they must first find something in common. This can include one or more shared things like language, history, location, interest, direction, need or goal. The actual list of things any two people can have in common is almost infinite, but that is not the really interesting part. It is amazingly easy for people to overcome barriers and limitations in some of these areas if enough of the rest are in common.

For example, the Ubuntu Linux operating system is the culmination of work done by a wide range of programmers working in different countries, with different political climates, sometimes even speaking different languages. They come together with amazing force when they are all working to meet a common shared need and to reach a common goal. This allows them to collectively do amazing things.

This also works in personal relationships. Two people that speak different languages can overcome that limitation to accomplish amazing things if they have enough other things in common. But that kind of connection is rare today. Many personal relationships are considered normal when they are built on only one or two things in common.

What happens to those relationships when the common things they share are no longer in common? Inversely, what happens to those relationships if they continually build more things in common?


September, 2010 - Moments of Discovery.

Life is packed with moments of discovery. They are everywhere just waiting and almost begging for us to notice. Every moment of every day brings more opportunities to notice something new, but only if we look.

It starts almost from birth with almost limitless opportunity to discover new things. At first it is simple things like the sounds, textures, smells and tastes of our immediate surroundings. Over time the scope expands to include less tangible things like our own emotions and the feelings of others. Eventually it may even lead to even greater things beyond this world.

The important part is to keep looking for things to discover. When we stop looking the world that we know hardens around us to create a shell that eventually becomes a prison, then a tomb.

Discover something new today.


October, 2010 - Found and Lost.

It can be difficult to recognize a friend at first meeting, but it is very easy to recognize one at last parting.

Life is built on a predictable pattern repeated on many levels and plainly visible to almost everyone willing to see. The pattern always has a beginning, a middle and an end with time as the only variable. This pattern is just as true for relationships as it is for life itself.

In the beginning everything is new, exciting and begging to be discovered. The middle settles into a comfortable routine where quirks are accepted and emotional bonds are strengthened. But only in the end when we see the void left behind is the true importance and value made clear. The most unfortunate part about this pattern is how easy it is to become accustomed to the middle part, to take things for granted, possibly even overlooking the parts we crave and need so desperately as we focus on unimportant trivia.

Everyone feels loss and sorrow at the passing of a friend. These tearstained milestones along life's path help us remember those we can no longer see face to face. And after the sorrow fades, the most amazing gift these milestones bring is the ability for us to truly empathize with others as they reach their own tearful milestones.

Don't wait until it is gone to recognize the value of what you already have.


November, 2010 - Ignorant Experts.

An expert is a person with a special skill, experience or knowledge about something. This makes every person an expert about something and ensures that no one can be an expert about everything. In fact all experts are clearly ignorant about a large number of other things.

A long time ago Robert Metcalfe (co-inventor of Ethernet) offered to help some trade show technical geeks solve their networking problems and was met with arrogant dismissal. Those clueless people didn't ask who he was or why he wanted to help and have become an anecdote in technical history. Mr. Metcalfe has a clear and demonstrated knowledge of networking but could not find anyone in that group to listen to his expert advice.

On the other hand Robert Metcalfe made a prediction in 1999 that the Linux operating system would disappear when Windows 2000 was released. He is even credited with coining the term open sores as a slight on open source software - the philosophy behind Linux.

Linux [is like] organic software grown in utopia by spiritualists [...] When they bring organic fruit to market, you pay extra for small apples with open sores - the Open Sores Movement. When [Windows 2000] gets here, goodbye Linux. - Infoworld. June 21, 1999.

This is an example of an expert in one field clearly showing a lack of expertise (ignorance?) in another. Had Mr. Metcalfe first contacted Linus Torvalds (creator of the Linux kernel and a demonstrated operating system expert) the Infoworld quote may have been less embarrassing in historical perspective.

Listening to an expert is very wise, but only when they are talking about what they know best.

Collecting the views of many different, and possibly conflicting experts, can give us perspective not possible any other way. But this only works if we are willing to listen to the expert when given the chance and if our experts are willing to recognize and admit their own lack of expertise.

Even experts need to listen to experts.


December, 2010 - The Season of Humanity to Others.

The difference between learning how to use a new tool and learning a new concept is the same difference between receiving training and gaining an education.

We have been promoting the Ubuntu Linux operating system to our family, friends and customers for years. In that time we found there are two main reactions; curiosity or resistance.

The curious are those that desire to see what else is out there waiting to be discovered. These are the people that want to see something, learn something or do something new. They are always rewarded simply because they are looking and listening when opportunity knocks. Their first reward is education. With this education they can go places and do things way beyond the reach of those armed only with training.

The resistant are those that desire the same thing they already know even if it costs them some combination of time, money and frustration. Oddly these people often accept drastic change when it is promoted as the same as is the case with each new Microsoft Windows version. Windows is Windows, right? Any hardware manufacturer can tell you Windows is often a moving target in places where change offers no real benefit. For example, after decades of creating operating systems that require hardware device drivers, why are the device driver specifications still changing so much between each Windows version?

So this holiday season we offer you a gift - the gift of Ubuntu (which means humanity to others). This is a very friendly operating system for Windows users because it runs on your existing computer hardware using a very comfortable and familiar user interface with small tweaks, like grouping programs by function instead of by vendor in the menus, that some Windows users think of as dream features.

The good part is this gift may be more than what you think. In addition to a flexible and safe operating system the real gift is a new perspective. By experiencing something different you have the opportunity to learn something new and if you feel like it, make a difference in an active community of people all around the world.

You can download Ubuntu now and freely share it with your friends which makes this the perfect gift that really does keep on giving.

Happy holidays.