Grihapati Mitra

I recently learned that my college mentor, Grihapati Mitra, died. Even though his passing was last November, I only recently learned about it through an announcement from my alma matter, King's College, which will be holding a memorial service later this month.

Dr. Mitra was an amazing man for his family, his students, and his fields of scholarship: inorganic chemistry & philosophy.

I will only tell one of his many stories, that have stuck in my mind these past thirty years. He would tell this story totally dead pan, and then give this look of wide-eyed surprise and fear at the end. :)

When Dr. Mitra first came to the US, his peers called him by his full given name of "Grihapati". He left to return to India, and some years later, in a less formal time, he returned to the US, and friends called him "Griha". Once again he left and returned, only now, everyone, even students, called him "Gri" or even "G". He decided then to stay in the US, as he feared that if he left and returned again, he would have no name. "" 88|

He'll be remembered always.

Managing Distributed Workgroups

Since the earliest days of InterActive Systems & Consulting, Inc. we've been concerned with how to support and manage distributed workgroups, whether comprised completely of employees, or including "outsourced" team members, whether all members are "distributed" locally or globally. This was a subject of conversation at our first joint Board of Directors and Advisors meeting in December of 2000. [We celebrated six years as a separate corporate entity on June 16th.] The discussion ranged [and still considers] topics as diverse as tracking time spent and resource usage to making all members feel like a part of the team. Todd McGrath was a member of our Board of Advisors, and from that IASC meeting, the idea for ServiceCycle was germinated in Todd's fertile brain. We had some input into the early direction of ServiceCycle, and, I believe, some influence on Todd's decision earlier this year to open source the code for ServiceCycle. Recently, Todd wrote:

Reasons for my questions and thoughts relate to an application I've been developing over the years - a collaboration platform called ServiceCycle. Frankly speaking, a thing that has always bothered me about ServiceCycle is that is not focused on a particular industry or niche. The industries that use ServiceCycle are all over the board."

"Perhaps ServiceCycle could fill a void in outsource management? It could be customized to provide SLA management/enforcement, RFP distribution and monitoring, service contract templates, preferred vendor list organization and ratings, monitor and measurement of milestones, issue tracking, key dates, communication archiving and of course, tracking and reporting.end quotation
- Todd McGrath in Flat World Software Development ยป Outsource Management Software

Since it's inception, ServiceCycle has been a integral part of our TeleInterActive Lifestyle™ toolkit, along with open source, web based software for project tracking and certain MMORPGs for team building.

ServiceCycle can most definitely fill a the void in outsource management. In addition to its current collaboration capabilities, it could also help improve/archive communications, using XMPP, OPML and SIP. [Todd - remember that one joint proposal we did to a Sheriff of the realm?] Some of Todd's other ideas could be implemented by incorporating workflow engines and reporting or decision support tools. One challenge with globally distributed workgroups is the problem of asynchronous communications - different time zones. Problems can seem less urgent when they arose while you were sleeping. If ServiceCylce can help bring immediacy to these types of communications, it would plug a gaping hole in outsourced projects.

Open Source Effect

Recently, Clarise and I attended the Churchill Club Executive Roundtable "The Open Source Effect". The panelists were

It was the best panel I've attended, primarily because of the moderator, Sarah Lacy of BusinessWeek. She asked great questions, knew her subjects, kept the panelists going, and made the discussion very lively.

The Churchill Club podcasts its events, through ZDNet, but, if history serves as a guide, it will be several months before the MP3 file is posted.

The overall impression that I got from the discussion, is that Open Source is still waiting to happen in terms of real penetration into IT shops. Linux, especially Red Hat, and the Apache web server, are pretty much there. JBoss application server has a strong market share. Databases are likely the next infrastructure area that will open up to open source [for example, MySQL, has certain niche penetration]. Applications are still a long way from acceptance, and much of the penetration of open source into an IT shop is still by stealth. The CIOs are awakening to the fact that they have open source solutions as the underlying software for some of their infrastructure and some of their projects, but many haven't made a deliberate move towards open source solutions, and many don't have an open source strategy as yet.

Actually, a comment by David Roux, who spoke at a recent OracAlumni event, really struck home during the Churchill Club roundtable. David said that open source is simply the realization that savvy customers don't pay the large software licensing fees anyway, with 80% discounts being readily available, with 90% discounts being negotiated. David may be right, one can see this in the ever increasing percentage of revenue coming from services at IBM, Oracle, Sun and other enterprise software OEMs. From this, I would conclude that, with the barrier to entry for new enterprise software being so high [enormous cost of change over for the customer, or costs for development for a proprietary model OEM] the only new database and application software companies that have a chance to succeed, may need to use open source licensing and explore business models based on those licenses.

An interesting point of discussion centered around where the market for open source really segmented. Is it the large organization or the small and medium enterprise (SME)? Will it ever take hold in the US, as it has in other countries? One comment by Stuart was that this [open source] stuff is just too hard for the SME. But a counter by Kim, was that the VARs trusted by the SME really make the decision. The ability to implement open source solutions is the service that is most sought.

Andy and Marc had many, very interesting opinions. I think that you'll need the podcast to really do them justice, though. :>> So, keep checking the Churchill Club list of podcasts to see when it gets posted.

Hosting of open source solutions for SME never came up, nor did open source BI specifically. The microphone never came my way, so I wasn't able to ask those questions. We did get to speak with Andy afterwards. He's very engaging, and was very supportive of our interest in OSBI and EnterpriseDB. We hope to have a podcast focusing on EnterpriseDB by the end of this summer. Stay tuned.

Brain Age for Elder Brains

For my Mom's 76th birthday and for Dad for Father's Day today, I got them each a Nintendo DS Lite and Brain Age. [WARNING: links are to our Amazon Store]

Mom has severe arthritis - since she was in her 30's - and Brain Age kept reading her one's as five's, even though they looked like one's to me. So her Brain Age came out at an erroneous 80. She got more right than it counted, but I'm sure it will improve.

Dad, who is 80 has a Brain Age of 61 - on his first try. Not bad. I'm glad. [Actually, he'll be 80 in August, but close 'nough.]

They are both still playing Soduku on it - I can here them yelling encouragement to each other. :D I've unleashed monsters, I think. And they're hooked, which is good.

Flaky Electricals Turn Solid

Tim Swillinger of Lighthouse Solar & Electric has been working hard over the past few weeks turning our flaky electricity solid.

He's given us better grounding, has brought the house up to 2005 code, checked and tightened all braids, joins and terminations, and even labeled all of the circuits in the box, as he did the safety inspection and replaced suspect breakers.

He's found and fixed all the oddities.

  • The receptacle in the attic wasn't working, not because it wasn't working, but because it had been tied into the circuit for the puck lights over the bars between the kitchen and living room, and kitchen and dining room. You had to have the puck lights on for the electricity in the attic to work. That's now been solved with the attic being on the un-switched leg of the hallway circuit, and now having not only properly laid out wiring and new receptacle, but having three new lights with their own switch.
  • The dedicated circuit in my home office for computer equipment, now has a companion in the attic. Noisy servers, such as the T2000, can be in a nice rack up there. And being on the Coast, the attic never gets hot, but the cabinet style rack is vented to bring in outside air to the bottom and exhaust away from rack. The attic has never been dryer. &#59;)
  • My parents now have a new, switched ceiling fixture over their dining room table. Dad and I still must patch the holes in their wall though. :| The light fixture was in our Living Room was one with burnt-out sockets, which HMB Electic repaired. Mom admired it, now has it, and we wanted to bring the style together upstairs with...
  • The new monorail low-voltage system that I installed, after Tim had checked out and tightened the ceiling fixture.
  • The custom low-voltage system that we had installed when we purchased the house is working again. It's transformer had burned out. The switch that controls it from downstairs is no longer in my parents' apartment, but at the bottom of the stairwell, where it belongs. It shares the switch box with a new switch to control a new outdoor receptacle just under the 2nd floor overhang - being switched, we'll be able to control decorative lights [Christmas, Hallowe'en, whatever] from inside.
  • Tim installed the new overhead lights in the kitchen and hallway.
  • He determined that the dedicated circuit for computer equipment was fine. APC replaced the Back-UPS and no more weird beeping as I'm trying to work. APC was great on the RMA too.
  • The exterior lights have all been replaced, and new locations on either side of the garage door have been installed. The lights we selected are motion sensing, photocell controlled fixtures in compliance with the new California Title 24 code. Unfortunately, they only worked when coming down on them from above, such as when walking down the stairs from the deck, the first floor lights will come on, but walking along the ground near them, they won't. Unfortunately, the factory has told us that ALL of their Title 24 lights are defective. We're still awaiting word on the manufacturer's remediation plan. /sigh
  • All the wiring in the garage is being replaced, as well as associated exterior receptacles. This will separate the garage from the rest of the downstairs, as well as replace the dead or dying long-tube fluorescent fixtures, and fix the dead receptacles.
  • The spots in the kitchen burning out were easily explained. The fixtures are only rated for 50W, and we were using 65W bulbs, as that is what was in them. We're replacing them all with 15W fluorescents. If those burn out, we'll replace the fixtures.

How much of this was caused by the demise of the holy cypress, associated power outage and subsequent power weirdness, or just the combination of living in the salt fog of the Coast and having a house built in the 70's, we'll never know.

Tim has done a great job. Now if I could only find other contractors who would show up [at all, let alone on time] or give the promised estimates, we could finish the bookcases/stairwell, windows and bathrooms. Then we'll repaint the outside. Maybe then I'll come close to believing Zillow's price appraisal for the place. :D

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The TeleInterActive Press is a collection of blogs by Clarise Z. Doval Santos and Joseph A. di Paolantonio, covering the Internet of Things, Data Management and Analytics, and other topics for business and pleasure. 37.540686772871 -122.516149406889

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