Shabbat Risk

I haven’t played Risk in years. 


But my daughter and her husband came for Shabbat, and we sat down and had a great game. 


We distributed the countries. 


Placed our enemies. 


And went to battle, army to army. 


By the time it was over, my daughter had conquered Europe, Africa, and North and South Americas.


It was so good to see her taking country after country from my son-in-law and me. 


My son-in-law joked that he had underestimated her. 


We had a good laugh and nice time just sitting down at the kitchen table and playing a board game. 


Afterward, we went down to the pool and relaxed in the deck chairs and then my wife and I took off our shoes and walked in the grass in the garden. 


I laid down on the beautiful green lawn and looked up watching some planes jet over in the clear blue sky. 


It was absolutely beautiful weather and a marvelous day today with my family. 


In the morning we went to Synagogue and the sit-down kiddush with our friends.


I am grateful to G-d for all this and for the peace of the wonderful Shabbat! 


Also, what more can a man ask for Father’s Day. 😉

Daddy Long Legs Exposed

Spiders

Back in primary school, the kids used to call these “daddy long legs”.

Like everyone else, I’ve had the opportunity to see one of these, but never two in such a compromising pose.

The other day watching a action movie, one character asks another, “So which are you scared of–snakes or spiders? Everyone is scared of one or the other.”

The CIA lady says: “Spiders” and later admits, she lied.

The Army Ranger lady says: “I’m not scared of anything.”

Two different philosophies on defeating the enemy–do you overcome them with strength, courage, and bravado or perhaps you mislead them with deceit and cunning or with both approaches.

In any case, the other saying that this photo reminds me of from childhood is “bees do it, birds do it” and now I know that spiders do it too. 🙂

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

>Saved On The Battlefield By A BEAR

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Bear

The Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot (BEAR) developed by Vecna Technologies in collaboration with the U.S. Army’s Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Centre (TATRC) is no teddy bear.

The Economist (10 March 2011) says this it is “a highly agile and powerful mobile robot capable of lifting and carrying a combat casualty from a hazardous area across uneven terrain.” And when BEAR is not saving wounded soldiers on the battlefield, it can perform “difficult and repetitive tasks, such as loading and unloading ammunition.”

The BEAR is a tracked vehicle that can travel up to 12 mph and has 2 hydraulic arms for lifting and carrying. It is controlled with a set of wireless video cameras and joystick control either embedded on the grip of a rifle or with a special glove that can sense the wearer’s movements.

This is great concept and I imagine this will be enhanced over time especially with the advances in telemedicine, so that at some point we will see the BEAR or its progeny actually performing battlefield medicine.

One thing, however, in my opinion, the bear face on this robot undermines the seriousness of mission that it performs and it should be changed to look like a medic, it’s primary function.

>Newer Isn’t Always Better

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I love new technology as much or more than the next guy, but…

Last month, I came across an article in USA Today called “Army Ditches Velcro For Buttons,” which chronicles how after deploying high-tech, “space-age Velcro” in uniforms in 2004, the Army found that the good old button worked better on keeping pants packets closed. The Army is now substituting three buttons for Velcro on the cargo pockets of its pants to keep them from opening up and spilling out.

To me, the point is not whether we use new, newer, or even the newest technology out there (like space-age Velcro), but whether we are right-fitting the technology to our organization (in this case, the button met the needs of the soldier better).

I’m sure you may have noticed, as have I that certain technology enthusiasts like, want and literally crave the “latest and greatest” technology gizmos and gadgets, whether they fully work yet or not.

These enthusiasts are often the first to download a new (still buggy) app and the ones that line up (often bringing their own lounge chairs) the night before a new iPhone or other “hot” consumer technology product goes to market.

Similar, and perhaps well-intentioned, enthusiasm for new technology can end up in pushing new technologies before the organization is ready for them (in terms of maturity, adoption, change, priorities, etc.). In other cases, newer technologies may be launched even before the “ink is dried” on IT purchases already made (i.e. the technologies bought are not yet implemented and there has been no return on investment achieved!).

At the extreme, organizations may find themselves with proverbial IT storage closets full of still shrink-wrapped boxes of software and crates of unopened IT hardware and still not be deterred from making another purchase and another and another…

I remember in graduate school learning about shopaholics and those so addicted to consumerism that their behavior bordered on the abnormal according to the Bible of psychiatry, the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM).

This behavior is in sharp contrast with organizations that are disciplined with technology and strong stewards with their organization’s investment dollars—they tend to follow a well-thought-out plan and a structured governance process to ensure that money is well-spent on IT—i.e. it is requirements-driven, strategically aligned, ROI-based, and technologically compliant with the architecture.

In such organizations, responsibility and accountability for IT investments go hand-in-hand, so that success is not measured by whether new technologies get identified and investments “go through,” but rather by how beneficial a technology is for the end-user in doing their jobs and how quickly it actually gets successfully implemented.

This latter organization model is the more mature one and the one that we need to emulate in terms of their architecture and governance. Like the Army, these organizations will chose the old fashioned button over the newer Velcro when it suits the soldier better and will even come out saving 96 cents per uniform.

New technology is great–the key is to be flexible and strategic about when it is needed and when it is not.