Where did my Internet Speed go?

It has now been over a year since I was on a plane visiting customers, colleagues and partners yet I have talked to many of them multiple times over the past year all via some form of video conference software or service. The largest challenge has been that while I am fortunate and my home internet had GB download there are still issues with contention and latency resulting in jittery video, audio failures and a general lack of a decent view. We have all experienced these issues and for those of us that are audio and video content creators it is exasperated. Lets take a little deeper dive into three of the things that are having the largest impact.

Shared Home Coaxial Networks

Many home users are using cable based internet services from the likes of Xfinity, these internet providers use a shared coaxial network strategy that means a single large line is brought into the a service group. These service groups can have hundreds of users in it. With the uptick of work from home users there is an influx of additional users on the same main line. Many of the providers have tried to shrink the size of the service groups but it is still an issue with contention, especially as users are utilizing more video conferencing and streaming services. These heavy video workloads used to be reserved for the commercial accounts that we in smaller service groups or dedicated lines to begin with.

Lack of Broadband

Many users these days take the high speed broadband we have today as a given, unfortunately there is still a large segment of the population that either do not have fast broadband because of economic conditions or locale. The locale situation is being addressed slowly with satellite broadband and new innovations like the Starlink from Tesla however the economic issues are still of great concern.

You may wonder why this divide makes it seem like your internet is slow, well its not probably your internet, it could be on the other end of your connection. With people connecting in from their homes instead of corporate locations there is no standard to the level of internet provided to every household and with costs in the hundreds of dollars a month in some places it is cost prohibitive. Looking at the Urban-Rural divide is just one way to examine this problem but know that it is real and isnt just impacting those with slow connections or no connections now.

Data Flow and Usage

Examining data usage is something we are used to for mobile phones but many of the largest internet providers have limits on the amount of data you can send from your house. These limits were often only hit by power home users that ran their own servers in the past but now the added data transfer from video conferencing, streaming, large file uploads and downloads can quickly make a home user approach a limit. The challenge with these limits is they either charge high rates for extra data or slow your speed. That slow speed is often what many users are experiencing.

So What Now….

The next logical question is probably how do we fix all of this, sadly we cant fix everything but what we can do is be cognizant of it. Look at bills like Virginia has introduced that will help fund broadband speeds for underserved students or look to invest in solutions like Starlink that could potentially provide internet to areas that don’t have cable and fiber lines. The other key thing to realize is that the size of data today is constantly growing. When the Apollo mission touched down on the moon the guidance system was able to store 2048 words, this article alone is 679 words long. As the world creates more data it has to travel the same internet lines that have been used for years, expect upgrades, expect innovation and expect increased access. If your vendor isn’t meeting those expectations and your internet keeps getting slower, then look elsewhere and vote with your wallet.

Step into my office…

70% more employees are teleworking since the pandemic began which is resulting in large empty office spaces. As corporate leases expire or are exited what should we do with the empty space? Here’s three thoughts on ways we can turn this institutional shift into a cultural boom

Upgraded space for schools

Many of today’s school building are either aging or have been renovated so many times that you can’t tell what’s new or old. This is especially true for many schools in urban settings where the land is at a premium. Office building often already have huddle spaces and conferences rooms that would allow for more intimate small group instruction. They also have a significant networking infrastructure to allow for remote learning. The cubicle farms of yesterday are very easily converted to individual student desks with privacy to work on their activities and still open enough to have supervision.

The new farm and farmers market

Farmers markets are often a seasonal thing because of weather but if you wandered around a open space that had stalls for local vendors and farmers but were protected from the elements there is no longer a weather restriction. Having a place to sell goods only works though if you have items to sell and high rise office buildings have more than adequate size and structure to support more urban farming techniques. Utilize the existing large power supplies or add more alternative energy and lighting can be added along with irrigation. Indoor farming isn’t new but could have a new rake in office buildings.

Affordable housing for all

This one is really up to the same developers that chose to build for businesses because that’s where the revenue was. Now they have empty buildings that could be converted without too much work into multi family housing. This wouldn’t work for every space but office centric spaces could easily be converted to dormitory style living. The addition of more bathing space is one of the few additions really needed.

Combine them all

If you took all of these concepts with a single high rise office building you now ha e places to work (farms or good creation), places to learn and places to live all just riding an elevator or taking the stairs. Clearly a shangri-la but we are at an inflection point that we can reinvent the world we live in so why not…

Smart Cities: The Next Frontier of Data Management

It is projected that by 2050 over 70% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. Similar projections show a 25% increase in total population to reach almost 9.9 Billion meaning that almost 7 Billion people will live in urban areas in the next 30 years. As these urban areas grow so will the infrastructure systems that are needed to support them. These modern systems are often part of a grander smart city initiative, collecting everything from traffic data to water usage.

smart city is an urban area that uses different types of electronic methods and sensors to collect data. Insights gained from that data are used to manage assets, resources and services efficiently; in return, that data is used to improve the operations across the city.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smart_city
File:Smart City.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Smart cities merge technological and social aspects of urban life while attempting to make the environment safer and more enjoyable for everyone that lives there, but the question is how….

Imagine if the heavily trafficked thoroughfare through your city was able to monitor what cars were driving on it, what the weather conditions were like, and even monitor bicycle usage. You could use this data to determine if new bike lanes were needed to reduce traffic congestion and if they should be temporary to account for winter months. As a business you could get demographic data on drivers and determine if your local shop is servicing the right clientele.

All of this is a result of the data points that are collected. This data is going to continue to grow and impact the global data sprawl. It is projected that we will have 175 terrabytes of data by 2025 growing at a 61% CAGR. If we use the same growth rate out to 2050 we will have 27,000,000 terrabytes of data in 2050.

With exponential data growth, Smart Cities are just one of the area that need to be addressed to reduce data management and storage costs. How do we address it? Well that remains to be seen, but option like data tiering and archival will play a large role along with tried and true technologies like deduplication and compression.

New Year..Same Problems

As we move into 2021 as quickly as we possibly can I am reminded of the now standard comment of New Year..New You. Unfortunately for most this isn’t the case and when it comes to technology it’s actually quite the opposite. It doesn’t matter if you have changed jobs or titles the same problems persist across most industries. Let’s look at just five common issues you should make sure to address as you start out 2021.

1. Ever expanding data

Your users just came back from holiday with a bunch of photos and videos and the odds are high they will get sent through your email or stored on your storage. Add to that all the files that were earmarked per year that are now duplicated for the new version. It’s important to look at file type filters and quotas and make sure you have solid deduplication on your primary storage

2. Cyber security is a threat to us all

Ransomware and state sponsored cyber crime was on the rise in 2020 and isn’t slowing down. Check your perimeter for anomalies, make sure your end users are updated on protection and now is a good time to test that quick recovery backup solution you bought with end of year funds (or maybe with new year funds)

3. Change is hard

All the new product and solutions in the world need to be implemented somehow but let’s avoid making it harder on users. Make sure you review your change management process. Do you have a review board? Are the right people involved? Have people left and been replaced that were stakeholders?

4. Need more power!

Even as we move more items to the cloud we still have datacenters that are consuming power and cooling. Have you evaluated your own datacenter or your colo to make sure you are helping curb power consumption instead of adding to it? Do you need to look at updating your generator or cooling system to be more efficient in 2021?

5. People break things

I mentioned backups but it’s not just cybercrime that makes backups necessary. Users delete files and people corrupt systems, sadly it happens so make sure to take the time to look at a full business continuity and disaster recovery plan for this year. Yes they are two different things but that’s an article for another time.

These may be common problems but 2021 promises to have lots of positives as well and let’s hope it’s even more than last year!

Delivering Lightboard Presentations from Home

Over the last few years I have been asked to give multiple different lightboard presentations, they have a very cool look of drawing on the screen while the presenter is speaking and I have enjoyed creating them, however there is a problem. The equipment to do a lightboard can be very extensive or one would think. My first one I did in a full production studio at the Lenovo US headquarters, and since then I have done them all in set up studios, including the ones that I have done for Cohesity.

Lets talk about what is setup for a true production quality lightboard, you of course need the board, in our case this would be the size of an old school chalkboard but it a large piece of glass, most likely no-iron glass also. Built on to the glass is a set of lights that make the glass “glow”. Then you will need a fully dark room, some stage or camera lighting, a microphone setup and a high end video camera. This is great when you can go to the office, but we can’t so how do you do a lightboard.

I created the lightboard you see in the video below to be able to work in my home office and simply sits on the back of my desk when I am not using it. Do you get the same fantastic production quality, of course not but is it good enough, I think so.

I created this entire lightboard for under $250 and you can use your standard webcam you already own or even your iphone to record. You are probably now wondering where you can get all the parts.. well here you go. Its rather easy to assemble but I will tell you the connectors for the LED lights can be a pain so be patient.

  • Led Light Strips – $14.99 Per Set (I used 2 sets so that I could control the brightness on me and the board separately)
  • Led Light Strip Connectors – $7.99
  • Clear Lexan Sheet 24′ x 24″ – $109
  • Desktop Whiteboard – $99.40 – You will only use the base but the glass whiteboard is very nice.
  • Neon Whiteboard Markers – $6.40
  • 3D Printer Lightboard Mounts – These were from a project done at Duke University and are great and really only need 2 of the sets of lights not 3 for the home usage. You will print these on any 3D printer, the default ones are 5″ long, I used 10 of them at 6″ and 2 at 3″ when I created mine. If you dont have a 3D printer and want to try these, I could make some more with the right offer. The do take a while to print on my printer, over a day per five pieces.

If you dont have access to a 3-D printer then you can switch out the printer light holders for the shower door liner and lights below, its does not light you up but holds the lights against the Lexan very well.

Once you have everything together, all you need is any video editing software that will allow you to flip the image, camtasia is probably the easiest but you can use any you want. Enjoy and comment on how it works for you.

Cars and Tech seems like a good fit..

I am a car guy, theres no denying that. Anyone who I have met knows that I love anything with an engine really with 2 or 4 wheels. Doesn’t matter if I am driving it, working on it, or just watching it I am in. So when my team at Cohesity started trying to come up with ways to interact more with bloggers, influencers and others around the world, it was natural for me to go the route of racing. After some back and forth with the team we all agreed and kicked off our Cohesity Circuit program for the year. It has two parts so far, and more to come!

The first is a contest that went live to start the year called the Cohesity Circuit contest (I know very original), but the prize is major, a full weekend at the Dutch Grand Prix with hotel, food and tickets paid for. All you have to do is write a blog or do a video about Cohesity and send us the link. All the details are on this blog

Cohesity Circuit Contest

The second Cohesity Circuit event is the Qualifying Lap Events. Five of the team members will be spreading around the world to do mini demo and training sessions as a way to kick off the release of the first ever Cohesity Community License. Attendees will be the first to get access to the community license along with a nice networking happy hour to follow the event. Make sure you sign up for the city near you for the first three dates in March, May and July. I am doing Chicago, NYC and RTP.

Cohesity Circuit Qualifying Lap

Houston 2019…Chains, Cocktails and Cold Beer

Valentine’s Day can be stressful for all parties involved. Regardless of how long you have been together, from young love to a well-burning flame, picking the perfect date for February 14th is not easy. The Valentine’s day gift guide below will help you plan a date and pick a gift based on the stage of your relationship.

relationship-stage-01

You two just met recently or just decided to take your friendship to the next level. If you are in the first chapter of your love story, make Valentine’s Day fun rather than trying too hard to be romantic, most of the couples enjoy a romantic and passionate night, check the hyper male force reviews for a better performance in your sexual life.

Valentine’s Date ideas:

  1. Attend a cooking class. Learning how to make a meal will prevent a lull in the conversation and you have a meal to make for the next Valentine’s Day together.
  2. Have dessert and drinks. Avoid the serious dinner date all together and go straight for the sweet stuff.
  3. Hit a roller rink. You will have to hold hands to stay upright and you are sure to have some good laughs as you skate around.
  4. Have a favorite take-out contest. Each of you orders your favorite take-out meal and then decide whose is best. Loser buys drinks!
  5. Find a swing-dancing club. Check out the live music scene in your area and give dancing a twirl.
  6. Bundle up and look at the stars. Pack a blanket, some snacks and a bottle of wine for a low-key date that has plenty of romance.
  7. Go to a hockey game. Nothing says romance like being caught by the kiss-cam on a jumbotron.
  8. Show each other your favorite spot in the city. Visit it together and explain why it is so special to you.
  9. Go chocolate tasting. If your date has a sweet tooth, they will love you for thinking of this! Do not worry about the extra fat and calories that comes with a chocolate tasting afternoon, find out more from these resurge reviews.
  10. Try a wine and painting class. You can compare paintings and will have a sweet memento.
  11. Visit your local aquarium. It’s fun to get lost under the sea for a few hours

Valentine’s Day gift ideas:

  1. A simple bouquet of flowers
  2. A stuffed animal
  3. Tickets to see their favorite band
  4. A box of macarons or chocolates
  5. A bottle of champagne
relationship-stage-02

The two of you are officially an item and this may not be your first Valentine’s Day together. While he is definitely your sweetheart, the relationship still feels new! Feel free to get a little more romantic.

Date ideas:

  1. The classic dinner date at your favorite fancy restaurant. Celebrate old school, just remember to make reservations in advance!
  2. Try salsa dancing lessons. Even if you have two left feet this is sure to be a good time, plus you get to hold each other close.
  3. Go go-karting. Get your adrenaline pumping and laugh at each other when you spin into the wall.
  4. Play truth or dare. While you both know each other well, you can use this opportunity to get to know each other even better!
  5. Make fondue. You can do chocolate and cheese for all of your courses.
  6. Pack a picnic and enjoy the night skies. If you live in a cold climate, picnic inside and get the fireplace cranking.
  7. Go to the opera. No one goes to the opera anymore, let’s bring it back! It can be so romantic and moving.
  8. Visit your hometown. Show them around all of your own stomping grounds and really get to know each other.
  9. Make a custom-scent at a perfumery. Help each other create a smell, you both love.
  10. Make a dessert buffet. Skip dinner and indulge in all of your favorites sweet treats!

Valentine’s Day gift ideas:

  1. A bouquet of roses
  2. Nice headphones
  3. A silk robe
  4. A gift set from her favorite cosmetics line
  5. A custom name necklace

Barcelona 2019…Speakeasy, Alchemist, Cabaret and a private bar

November 2019 meant my 8th trip to the Spanish city on the Mediterranean all for work conferences but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t time to try to find places to enjoy the evenings. If you have not been to Barcelona you might not realizer that evening actually means about 9PM for dinner and after-dinner drinks don’t start till 11 at the earliest. In previous trips, we have ended alot of evenings at “super clubs” like Opium or Shoko but its not my favorite scene so this year I decided I would find some of my preferred establishments that are a little more laid back. So in no particular order here’s the list of places to check out next time you are in Barcelona.

Restaurants

Bars

(All of the places can be found on this google map as well with the exception of Tuxedo that its no fun if I make it that easy)

Restaurants

Cabaret Supper Club

Hidden in the basement of The Barcelona Edition, Cabaret is exactly what it sounds like a dark, swanky cabaret restaurant with cabaret performers Thursday-Saturday with live music most other nights. You will want to get a reservation if you are going to have dinner but the food was quite delicious and the venue is beautiful. We hosted an event here and rented the place out and the event staff were phenomenal, I cant speak more highly of them. The drinks were standard cocktails as you would expect but they also had a nice selection of higher end liquors if thats your poison.

To get to the Cabaret you go into the main lobby bar at The Edition (one of 4 in the hotel), when you get to the host stand go away from the hotel desk and to the wine wall, the entrance is to the left and then you proceed down 2 floors into the space below.

La Central Hamburgueseria

This is the third time in trips through Barcelona that I have stopped at this burger joint near the Cathedral, they list themselves as the best burgers in Barcelona and I cant argue with them at all. Keep in mind the burgers are substantial. You walk in and fill out a menu card to select what type of bread, burger and toppings then one of the more interesting parts, you pick you side. Seems odd thats the interesting part but when you can choose between Patatas Brava, French Fries or Chicken Nuggets, it gets interesting. The nuggets are actually pretty good but come hungry and enjoy. They also have a nice selection of microbrews including some gluten free options if thats your desire.

Rossini Italian Restaurant

Rossini has been a staple for our group in Barcelona on multiple trips. Located just off the famous La Rambla in Placa Reial, this hybrid restaurant of italian, tapas and pizza is a great place to go for a group. We have been in their basement dining room and on the outdoor patio and its always a solid dining experience. The pizza is a nice crispy crust with good flavor we had the Diablo with a spicy sauce and sausage. One of our guys also had the Shrimp paella that he truly enjoyed although said ti could have more shrimp (but what dish couldn’t?) The house Nero D’avola is a solid red table wine for only €4 a glass.

Arenal

Just beside the beach including an outdoor dining area on the boardwalk between the marina and the superclubs Arenal is tucked away below street level. It’s just across the street from Hospital Del Mar but at beach level. We were here for a team dinner with over 60 people so I never expect things to wow me in that atmosphere and this was no exception. The tapas were solid but nothing to rave about, the paella three ways was interesting but that was about it and the desserts were lacking. Overall, I would skip this one unless you just want to grab a drink while walking down the beach.

Abirradero Brewery and Tapas

This one was a surprise, a microbrewery that we happened across while looking for someplace to grab dinner before our corporate party. In a neighborhood it appears to just be a street cafe but has an extensive list of their own brews along with a really nice food menu. We tried the pork belly and beef that they bring out semi-raw and you finish it on a hot lava rock at your table and the meat and cheese tray, enough food that we could not finish it. I reviewed a few of their beers on Untapped so go there and check them out.

La Fabrica Argentine Empenadas

In the Gothic Quarter this is just a little fast casual place I would say to check out for a snack for sure if you ware wandering around. I don’t think I have ever seen this many kinds of empenadas in one place and we tried a variety and they were all delicious. Keep in mind you are not supposed to eat them inside the shop, just take a step outside, you will want them to cool down for a minute anyway.

Bars

Punch Room

The second of the 4 bars in The Edition, Punch Room is a lounge with pool table and a small bar that opens in the evening and is a great place to find a quiet cocktail possibly before dinner or if you are back before they close around 2:30 am (3:00am on the weekend). Adorned in dark woods and leather along with a pool table this is one of the classier bars I have been in in a hotel and Carlos (the manager) will make sure you have a fantastic time. The liquor selection is a little limited with a smaller bar but still more than adequate. If you are a dirty martini fan I will warn that they make them very dirty so be prepared for briney.

Bobby’s Free Speakeasy

Before I left for Barcelona I knew this was one of the places that was on my list. I have been following Bobby’s for a while on Instagram after a referral from a buddy. If you are looking for a fun speakeasy vibe with a good classic bar feel once you are in then this is a good stop and even better is just down the street from La Central if you end there. The front of Bobby’s is a working barber shop but simply give the barber the password (on Instagram the first of every month) and you open the mirror behind the barber chair to expose the bar.

Paradiso Speakeasy

This one is on my radar mainly because of two lists I have been following, the Forbes Top 50 Bars (#20) and the Top 500 Bars (#11). Paradiso did not disappoint on their presentation. Hidden behind a pastrami sandwich shop, which smells delicious but we had just eaten so I didnt get to try. You simply ask nicely and they call back to have a table ready for your group. You then proceed through the fridge door and into another dimly lit beautiful bar. The presentation was their strength with drinks coming in hot air balloons, trojan horses and treasure chests just to name a few. While the presentation was good, I would argue they were not the best drinks of the trip but still work a stop for the experience.

Dr. Stravinsky

Another of the bars on the lists (#25/#27), I made sure to find this bad tucked down an alley just a couple blocks from the Cathedral. Dr. Stravinsky is an alchemy bar with bartenders that spend time checking out flavors or herbs and interesting combinations. My two suggestions are to go in with an open mind, one of the guys had charred broccoli as his garnish, and to get there a little earlier. We found unlike some of the other bars in Barcelona this one closed a little earlier. We only were able to grab a single drink but it is a very cool venue. Picture low ceilings, bartenders that watching them make the drinks is as fun as drinking them and a chill lounge vibe. Overall I might check this one out again on the next trip and would say to get by for one drink at least.

Tuxedo Social Club

This one was by far my favorite place on the trip. A members only social club that we were fortunate to be introduced to. I am not going to put much detail here to keep it as special as it is, what I will say is that this very hidden true speakeasy and it’s owner/bartender David will be a staple for any visit to Barcelona in the future.

Busy days ahead… Can I keep a balance through VMworld?

Most people I know realize that for the past 10+ years the fall has been one of the busiest times of the year for me as trade show season ramped up for the IT workers in the US. This year will be no exception. The difference being that I am at a new company and have lots of different responsibilities now, to the point where even playing my favorite new slots is kinda rare, including helping to organize our sponsored sessions for VMworld along with the rest of my team. This is where it actually got fun…

This year we were able to talk the powers that be at Cohesity into not taking the standard product pitch approach to VMworld sessions, nicely that also included community sessions that our team is involved in. This turned into 9 speaking sessions between full sessions and vBrownbag slots not to include the booth theatre. I am involved in 6 of the 9 and hopefully readers can come out to them.

I also am moderating a great customer panel with Wendy’s, Hyatt, Dolby and the San Francisco Giants all about their trials and tribulations around data protection from the days of tape to current backup and recovery solutions.

I have for over 10 years hosted the vExpert Daily which is a great panel discussion each day at 11am in the vBrownbag area. Thats has become a highlight of the week for sure. I also have another session in the vBrownbag area to talk about some Fraggle Rock.

The most important session I will be part of though is a full 60 min panel discussion on Work-Life Balance where we will present the results of a study we commissioned along with TechReckoning. If you haven’t filled it out, please do here. I am really looking forward to presenting the results, talking through the stories of burnout from the panel and the audience and bringing some awareness to something I know went through and still battle with and many of my readers have as well.

How much travel is too much travel?

Often people ask me how much I travel and if you ask my friends at home you will probably hear numbers ranging from 50% to 80% but is that really accurate? I found that without real data thats hard to calculate so when I started needing to make sure that a team was not traveling over X% throughout the year I needed a way to know what that really meant.

There are quite a few things to consider and this is just a short list of them.

  • Do you count weekends?
  • Do you count holidays?
  • Are you traveling on back to back weeks?
  • Are you traveling on weekend days?
  • Do those weekend days count as work days?

I tried to account for all of these items along with the ebbs and flows of the year. You may travel more in the summer and fall but not as much in the winter time so the percentage is really throughout the whole year.

I created this google sheet to help me calculate the real times for the team. Be careful there are a lot of formulas throughout that are very easy to break but you should be able to make a copy and use it to your hearts content. I left a bunch of larger events in the master event list just to make everyones life a little easier.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1PPdnEfpueTkmIc3Hzcp6vjTtF6Fit4M77jOOT6o1D8g/edit?usp=sharing

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