Please Watch This Video

Standard

As the title of this blog says, “along with a few personal posts from time to time.”

I was so moved by this speech, I feel compelled to share it on this blog, even though it has absolutely nothing to do with IT.  It’s message is far more important.

This is Superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria, United States Air Force Academy. This man is a Leader! This man is a Hero! This man gives me hope for our nation.

Please watch this video.

Never Forget

Standard

repositorywall2

I will never forget that day.  Just two days prior, on Sunday, September 9th, we celebrated my Dad’s, my Aunt’s and my Son’s birthdays.  It was a special one for my Dad, his 80th, and we had a family gathering at Saunders on Rye Harbor, which is no longer there.  It was a beautiful day, as was that Tuesday morning, September 11th, 16 years ago today.

I was driving to work when I got a call from my wife saying that one of the World Trade Center towers was on fire.  She said the news was saying a plane hit it, that it may be terrorism.  I thought it was retaliation for the conviction of the blind Sheik behind the first bombing of the World Trade Center.  The fear in her voice was palpable and I turned around and headed for home.  After listening to a bit of the news, I called the office and suggested everyone go home to be with their families.  Something wasn’t right about this, but I had no idea what was already in motion.

I walked through the garage door and that sweet little two year old boy who had sat in his grandfather’s lap and stuck his hand right into the frosting on their cake just two days before, reached for me.  As I took him from my wife, the second plane struck.  He pointed at the TV and said “plane” and then buried his head in my shoulder crying as the flames burst from tower two.  We were in shock, like so many others that beautiful morning that was ripped away from us all in a senseless act of brutal hatred and mass murder.

Later that day, I would see a caravan of Crown Victoria’s speed past our home.  I hoped they were heading to the neighborhood elementary school where our two daughters were.  The school was on lockdown and parents were asked to stay away.  It was felt it would be best to let the kids proceed with a seemingly normal day to also allow parents time to grasp what was happening and figure out a way to talk with their children about it.  I feared those cars driving by for a worse reason.  Sadly, I was right.  The phone rang not a few minutes later, confirming that a neighbor around the corner was the co-pilot of American 11 that morning.  The shock and horror deepened.

That next morning was another beautiful clear day.  I was taking out the trash and realized the silence was surreal.  We live near an airport and under a major trans Atlantic flight path.  The sky was eerily quiet that morning until a dull rumble became the distinct growl of an F-15 as it came into view, heading north, making a large arc as it turned for the return south toward Boston.

This year, I had the opportunity to visit the National 9/11 Memorial, a small part of which is depicted in the image above.  I was there with my oldest daughter who was 10 in 2001 and is now a beautiful 26 year old woman and that sweet little two year old boy, who has blossomed into a handsome, strong and tall 18 year old man.  It was a moving, emotional, sad yet necessary visit.  We found the name of our former neighbor and a former professor from my alma mater.

Sixteen years feels like yesterday.  I know people who lost people and some who are still grappling with the post traumatic stress of being in Manhattan that day.  My children have grown into adulthood during a terrible time in human history.  Our middle daughter, now 21, is a rookie police officer, trying to help make the world a better place.  The divisiveness of intolerance and religious hatred have spread around the world and across the United States of America.  It makes me sad, but I refuse to lose hope.  Humanity has to be better than this and not just on days like today, when everyone talks about national unity and coming together for one another, whether in the wake of a horrible terrorist attack or in the calm after a pair of terrible storms.

Over seventy year ago, the world said we must Never Forget.  For the last 16 years, we have been saying Never Forget on this hallowed day.  Never Forget and take action to make the world a better place for all people, everywhere, period.

Be Prepared for Hurricane Season

Standard

bridge-hurricane-121029On the heels of Hurricane Harvey and the impending landfall of the powerful Category 5 Hurricane Irma, it appears we are in for a very active hurricane season.  Is your business prepared should a hurricane strike your location?  What about your family?  It’s important to plan now, before a hurricane is imminent.  As Irma is showing us, the path may be unpredictable and the warning time may not be as long we would like, to properly prepare.

I heard Harvey referred to as a once in a thousand year storm.  Some reports are saying Irma could be even more devastating, making that once in thousand look more like twice in three weeks.  Our weather patterns continue to change and unfortunately, are seeming to become more dangerous.

I have gathered several resources for your reference, to help you be as prepared as possible, should you find yourself in the path of hurricane this season.  While these resources are all focused on hurricane’s, they also lay out prudent steps to take, regardless the threat.  Hurricane’s, windstorms, blizzards, tornado’s…potential damaging weather events goes one.  Take time now to make your plan and be prepared.

  • The first resource comes from my friend and colleague Chuck Poole of PalmTech Computer Solutions in West Palm Beach, FL.  Chuck and his team are potentially right in Irma’s path.  Chuck has published a very informative checklist for his clients, which you may review here.
  • The Ready.gov website of the Department of Homeland Security has a great hurricane resource page at this link.  On the right hand side, you will also find links to all manner of additional threat resources you may need to consider being prepared for.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) together with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maintains a hurricane preparedness site here.  This site has several links that will take you to valuable information and resources.
  • The American Red Cross publishes an excellent Hurricane Safety Checklist that is primarily geared to families, but is useful for organizations as well.  You may download the checklist from the linked title.
  • Finally, FEMA also runs a program called America’s PrepareAthon! which is a community based campaign to raise awareness and help individuals and organizations be prepared.  This program has published a playbook titled Prepare Your Organization for a Hurricane, which you may download from the linked title.

It’s still too early to know for certain if Irma will hit the United States, though all indications are that it will.  The resources above are all excellent and I recommend you review them all and develop your plan, regardless of Irma’s final path.

As I’m sure you suspect, I have a personal plan in place that absolutely includes safeguarding my digital assets and critical equipment, as well as my family and home, to the extent it is possible to safeguard a home.  Onepath, the company I work for, also maintains robust plans for all manner of situations and assists our clients doing the same.  If your business needs help developing a robust plan, don’t hesitate to reach out to learn more about how Onepath can help you prepare, maintain and recover, should you be impacted.

As my mother always said, “Better to have a plan and not need it than need a plan and not have it.”

 

Beware of Hurricane Harvey Online Scams!

Standard

imagesMVIDJ004It’s disgusting, to put it mildly, but inevitable.  Cyber-scum are using the historic devastation of Hurricane Harvey to solicit false charitable giving to help the victims.  Don’t become a victim yourself!  It’s a very sad reality that we can’t even trust those seeming to be trying to do good for others.

There are fake groups popping up on Facebook pages and tweets being sent with links to fake charity websites.  Email phishing campaigns are ramping up.  In a truly sick twist of irony, as Texas grapples with the prospect of increasing rainfall over the coming days, we can expect to see increasing attempts to scam us in the name of Hurricane Harvey.

Some email phishing campaigns are reported to be using the hashtag #HurricaneHarveyReliefFunds that the hackers are actually pocketing themselves.

Bottom line, don’t click on any links in email or social media purporting to support charitable giving for those impacted by this terrible storm.  Instead, go to your favorite charities web site, something like the American Red Cross, which has setup a page to accept donation to help those impacted.

You didn’t just click that link did you?  I hope not, as that means you didn’t heed my warning, which is what this post is all about.  Please don’t panic if you did.  If you did click the link you know you went to a special page I setup on my blog, right here within this site, that tells you how you should actually go about contacting the Red Cross, if that is your preferred charity.

Remember, it’s always best to NOT CLICK!  Type in the address instead.  You’ll be safer for it.

My thoughts go out to all those impacted by Hurricane Harvey.  I have many friends and family in harm’s way.  So far, all are safe and hopefully everyone will stay safe until this storm fully passes.

Irish Environmental Technology

Standard

They say everything is bigger in the United States. Cars, food portions, the list goes on. In many ways, these are true statements.

One thing that has really stood out to me over the last week here in Ireland, is how much bigger and better environmental technology seems to be.  Especially compared to the US. As good as we are, at so many things, we also seem to lag behind many other countries in areas I would expect us to be better.

Here are some examples of prevalent environmental tech across the Emerald Isle.

Automobiles – By and large, they are smaller than in the US. Given how narrow some of the roads are, this is not a bad thing at all. However, more so than their size, it’s their environmental features that stand out. Most vehicles are diesel and diesel is generally less expensive. You find it at every petrol station. What I find most impressive is that the Diesel engine shuts down whenever you stop, saving fuel and emissions. As soon as you take your foot off the brake, the engine starts. It makes a ton of sense.

Hot Water – Hot water systems in many houses and apartments are optimized for utilization. For example, at the apartment we are presently staying in, the hot water system heats overnight so it’s ready for hot showers in the morning. It’s calibrated to deliver two hot showers a day. If there are more than two showers needed, you simply press a “boost” button to deliver enough hot water for one or more additional showers. It’s far more efficient than keeping a water tank continually heated 24×7.

Wind Farms – Many of the power plants I have seen also have wind farms on their grounds. Makes it hard to make the argument that the wind turbines are unsightly when they are standing alongside the large buildings and stacks of a traditional power station. I have also seen a number of free standing wind farms and they don’t look at all out of place or imposing.

Switchable Outlets – Every wall outlet I have seen has a switch adjacent to it.  When you plug something in to an outlet, you have to also switch the outlet on for it to deliver power to what’s plugged in. This helps conserve power by stopping the trickle effect where most devices draw even a small amount of power when plugged in, even if the device itself is off.

Solar – Many buildings have small solar panels on them to help reduce their reliance on the traditional electric grid. This is an area we are doing considerably better with in the US as well.

Food and Agriculture – Ireland has a rich farming history and that history has laid a strong foundation for continued local sourcing for the food supply. What I noticed, almost immediately, is that chicken is quite different from at home. My son loves wings and orders them whenever he can. The wings in Ireland are like they were when I was young, not the enlarged ones we see in the US now. That’s because these are truly free range chickens and there is considerably less fat and less waste because the portions make sense.

Air Quality – Other countries are generally considered to be far more accepting of smoking than the US, but I would contend that is not the case in Ireland. Smoking is clearly prohibited in nearly every building, private and public. Coupled with other initiatives around emissions and other air quality concerns, Ireland is a leader, not a follower.

Water Conservation – Most of the toilets in Ireland have two flush settings.  One that uses less water, for when there is only liquid waste to flush and second setting to use more water, when flushing solid waste.  I have seen this in the US, but very sparingly.  It’s fairly widespread in Ireland and keeps water conservation front and center and for everyone.

Advancing environmental technology is a national priority in Ireland. All aspects of technology seem to be front and center in terms of educational opportunity as well. I have seen numerous advertisements that encourage students to pursue technology education.  Ireland seems to be doing a much better job training their workforce in technologies for today and the future. As an example, I came across this government statement that seems to capture he national call to action: “The Government’s Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation (SSTI) has set out a vision to make Ireland internationally renowned for the excellence of its research and to be a leader in using new knowledge for economic and social progress.”

I’d say that’s not just an impressive vision, it’s a reality taking shape in a small country on an Emerald Isle that has called upon the entire world to embrace green technologies for a better future. Well done Éire!

There is No Substitute for Good Customer Service

Standard

If you regularly read my blog, you know I am a fan and a loyal customer of C&J. For those unfamiliar with the company, C&J is a bus company that runs regular commuter and traveler services from the Seaocast of New Hampshire to Logan Airport and Boston as well as New York City

I mostly use the service when traveling for business of pleasure, to get to and from the airport. The buses run hourly and with free parking, it makes for a very reasonable, convenient and stress free ride to and from Logan. The buses, which C&J calls coaches ar comfortable, with leather reclining seats, productive with WiFi and clean, complete with an onboard restroom.  There is always cold bottled water and daily newspapers onboard as well. I have found their staff, both terminal and drivers to be friendly, helpful and professional. It’s a great service to have readily available just 10 minutes from my house. 

I’ve also just taken the New York service, for the second time and can enthusiastically recommend it as well. The NYC coach is an executive class coach with 2 seats on one side and 1 on the other. It reminds me of jetBlue‘s Embraer 190‘s. These seats have plenty of leg and recline room.  Like the airport coaches, they also have power at every seat. In addition, there are pillows and blankets and a nice galley and rest room in the rear. The galley has a Keurig with plenty of blends to choose from, cold water and sofa, snacks, fruit and the USA Today. It’s a great way to travel from close to home to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in the heart of Manhattan. 

When I booked this most recent trip, I discovered that we were booked on one of the airport size coaches for the return trip. There was an error on the booking site that didn’t flag that particular departure as being a substitute run to accommodate the additional volume needs on this particular weekend. When I discovered this, I was not too happy.  I did not want to spend the five hour ride on th non executive class coach, with its numerous amenities. Especially as I use the time to get work done and the extra comfort and space makes it much easier. 

I sent an email to customer service and to their credit, they acknowledged the error on their site, apologized and offered to change our reservation to the one hour later departure, at no extra charge. Because the NYC service offers reserved seating, there is a change/cancellation fee and the fare can be different. I was once again impresssed with this company. Truly exemplary customer service and a concern not to let their customers down. I appreciate that and let them know. As did they, signing their message with their standard brand appreciation, “Thanks for riding with C&J.”  Something this loyal customer  will be doing and recommending whenever the opportunity presents itself.