Showing posts with label TheHackerCIOHimself. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TheHackerCIOHimself. Show all posts

Monday, October 7, 2013

GrandMaster With A White Belt

TheHackerCIO's Karate Dojo is very traditional. The GrandMaster says that for him, the clock stopped 4 decades ago! My daughter will be testing for BlackBelt this Spring in Kyoto, and, assuming she passes, which I have every confidence she will, she will return to Silicon Beach wearing a White Belt!

That's a tradition. Whenever someone achieves Black Belt, for one month, they wear a white belt. This is a reminder that they are far from finished with their studies. On the contrary, they are now able -- at last -- to study real Karate! And they need to "throw away their ideas" and focus afresh on what the GrandMaster is doing to start their new learning.

I can think of a half dozen applications of this principle to technology.

One of them is simply the fact that good technologists are always very aware of the their constant need to learn. And TheHackerCIO is no exception. Even if he is GrandMaster at Codojo, the consulting boutique he is launching, he still views himself as a White Belt. His personal motto is that "I am always a white belt."

The classical Greek civilization had a similar motto -- which perhaps led to their revolutionary development of every branch of knowledge. In their version, they would say, "For the Greeks are always children." The meaning was that they were newcomers to the civilized world -- compared, for instance, to Ancient Egypt. And as newcomers, they had a fresh perspective on everything.

Let everyone put on their white belt! "To fill the tea cup, you must first empty it." Throw away your preconceived notions, and examine new technology from the perspective of how it can best be used, following it's own internal design principles.

Go now, and put on your white belt!

I Remain,


Saturday, September 28, 2013

How Can TheHackerCIO Be a CIO, if He's a CTOAAS?

CTOAAS: or CTO As A Service, means I offer early stage startups the ability to purchase a slice of time from an experienced CTO without having to hire me full time. This is increasingly important in the lean startup world we live in. My colleagues use other designations: John Shiple uses Freelance CTO, others use PartTime CTO or CTO For Hire, or Outsourced CTO.

I like CTOAAS, because I offer my services in an elastic fashion, on the model of Cloud Services! When demand ramps up, I can offer more time, for an elastically increasing fee. This give a great deal of flexibility to the lean startup: they can have me for a full day, for a conference, for example, without having to commit to a full salary package. It also allows them to ramp up their usage. I can only spend half a day a week at the beginning, keeping things on track. Then, as they get closer to launch, I can start spending increasingly more time.

And, as the clip of TheHackerCIO at the AT&T Hackathon shows me putting it: "I'm a part-time CTO for early stage startups. And an extraordinarily good one, I might add." TheHackerCIO has never been great at modesty, only honesty. That's where the "edge" comes in, which you might occasionally see here, in this blog. 

But, if I'm a CTO, then how can I be TheHackerCIO? Well, it's because I didn't always work for early stage startups. I worked as a senior Executive at many large companies: Merrill Lynch, AIG, Fannie Mae, BNP Paribas.

When I was at a Mixer for CEOs, one of them noted, "You're more than just a CTO," and he was right. Because I've worked at large Enterprises, doing Enterprise Architecture, for example, I'm able to bring a set of large-scale insights to the small Startup that they rarely can attain. For instance, At a major bank, I migrated and rationalized an entire datacenter from NYC to King of Prussia. And, we put in a Disaster Recovery center while we were at it. This involved months of planning and execution: thousands of devices were moved in hundreds of individually scheduled moves. I presented the move methodology to senior executives and communicated the risk to their systems. As one of the top traders -- a 20 million/year compensated executive put it -- "I've never seen a better facilitator." That's because there isn't a better one!

This is what raises me to the level of a CIO. But I don't find myself happy in those environments. And it's all about the pursuit of happiness, isn't it? Here is why I headed down the food chain to the level of CTO.

These Enterprises lure me in with the promise of complex, demanding problems. Problems of scale. Recently, at a major Health Insurance company, Disunited Pathology, [names of Pathological Corporations have been changed to protect the guilty], they claimed they wanted a hybrid cloud solution that would scale to 200 Million Simultaneous users. Now that is a cool problem! But the bureaucracy of these Pathological Corporations is overwhelming, oppressive, depressing. They weren't serious about finding solutions to these complex, demanding problems. They simply wanted someone to work on them. They wanted to be able to point to a project and say, that's out "cloud POC." They wanted to avoid blame. That's why I found that I was really much happier working in a place with a lower Dilbert Index. 

I much prefer working in a Startup, because everyone is passionate about what they do. So, I've moved my sights down the food chain from CIO to CTO, or possibly even VP of Development. I want to remain in contact with technical problems. I want to hack. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Why the CIO Must Also Be a Hacker

I was shocked at a gathering of CTOs this year. In discussions about coding, I was the only one who still did so! I was visibly shocked and verbally unguarded about it, and it didn't go over to well with the gathering.

I asked them how they could stand not to code. They replied that there wasn't time to remain coding. I asked them how they could avoid making the time. They claimed that other pressing matters simply made it impossible.

One added that it had been five years since he last coded.

In that moment, TheHackerCIO was born!

Not physically born. That was many years ago. Not even born as a Hacker or coder or developer, for he was all of these thing from many years ago. But born in the sense that this moment crystalized a principle very fundamental to his approach, personality and career which is best encapsulated in the persona of TheHackerCIO.

It's also part of his boutique consulting firm DNA: Codojo; where the model is that of a "coding Dojo" approach, where people collaboratively work together learning, practicing, perfecting skills.  A Dojo, of course, is a "place where you learn the way," and in such a Karate studio, a decent Grandmaster will tell you that "basics," are of critical importance. You start off learning them. You perfect them. And you never stop. Never. Ever. No Karate master ever stops working on his basics.

Neither must a technologist ever allow himself to be drawn away from the basics. He must remain a Hacker even while he learns the skills necessary to achieve CTO or CIO status. To be a decent CTO or CIO you must be a HackerCIO.

If you stop Hacking, from that moment forward your career is already dying. It's just a question of time before you are completely irrelevant.

And so it is for this reason that I Remain Faithfully and Forever ...


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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Who is TheHackerCIO?

Who is this mystery man, TheHackerCIO? And what is he like? Once he asked a colleague, "Do you think I'm a pessimist or an optimist?" He noted, "You're an optimist about what you can do and a pessimist about what others can do." That's true: it makes me a realistic optimist. Another colleague said "you have an edge." True, too. It wasn't intended as such, but I take it to be a prime compliment! Any tool, to be of value must have an edge. And keep it honed. I don't struggle to keep my edge -- it comes naturally. And I hate falsehood, pretense, and euphemism. You aren't going to read corporate-speak here. No Political Correctness. No mission statements. No threadbare cliches. I keep it real. I keep it as close as possible to reality.

I Remain, Faithfully,


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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

In Media Res

TheHackerCIO is aways busy; on the move;  generally coding. No time to introduce him now, but he is known to have very strong opinions about technology  -- backed up by hands-on experience. A few months ago he was "Sensei" at the AT&T Hackathon: his teams came in First & Third place. One of the teams won 4K in prizes they would have missed out on, because they didn't have their eyes on the API-prize ball. That would have been a shame. Two months ago he constructed a Performance Engineering Environment for a major Entertainment client. His performance review of JVM problems led to resolution of an OutOfMemory error that had been around for  years. Last month, he installed a RHEL/DB2 subsystem for a major Casino client. A week ago, TheHackerCIO figured out the OAUTH2 API with Google Play Purchasing, to support client requirements in their Java backend server. Today, he's implementing Mobile APIs in a Java server. In two days he will be advising a Startup on Development tools, approaches, guidelines, and User experience flow. TheHackerCIO wears many hats. And he wears them all with style.....

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