Why Do We Still Have Airplanes?

I’ve been listening to the Hyperion Cantos on my iPhone while I run/bike (it’s amazing – I’m almost done with book two) and I’ve been wondering why we still have airplanes.

We’ve already figured out how to go from analog form to digital form back to analog form. Consider the telephone.

We’ve already figured out how to go from atoms to bits to atoms. Consider the 3D printer.

We can transmit energy and information, so why can’t we yet teleport?

Who is working on this?

In Hyperion, the machines (the AI) ended up figuring this out for the humans. It feels like we are on the cusp of this as a species.

Ponder that as you board your next plan. Wouldn’t it be better to farcast to where you are going? Or would it?

DaaS – Directory As A Service – Finally …

Several years ago, I had to go through the process of disconnecting Active Directory and untangling it from a number of services that depended on it. One of these cases was a migration off of all Microsoft services. Another was a result of a company I was involved in acquiring another company that had Active Directory deeply integrated into its infrastructure.

I hadn’t paid much attention to Active Directory or LDAP since them, but I recently found myself in a conversation with Raj Bhargava, the CEO of JumpCloud, about why there was no “Directory as a Service” product. Raj and the team at JumpCloud had begun exploring the notion of a cloud-based directory, I was intrigued and remember the first conversation well. I was driving up to my place in Keystone and Raj was explaining some of the customer feedback they were receiving on their initial product. They were getting positive feedback on the user management capabilities and when they added the ability to execute tasks on servers, the feedback was just add desktop and laptop OSs and voila you have a replacement for Active Directory. Of course, it’s not that easy, but the feedback hit us all like a ton of bricks. Conceptually it was very interesting.

I worked closely with the team over the summer to dig in and really understand the feedback. Turns out, it was more than just moving Active Directory to the cloud. We regularly heard that it was time for a new directory approach as LDAP and Active Directory have been the two dominant directories for the last few decades and there has been very little innovation around them. While Google Apps is awesome for email and apps, it doesn’t really function as a directory, at least, not in the way that IT organizations have come to view them.

As we talked to more people, it was clear that they were looking for a directory that could handle cloud and on-prem systems, variety of operating systems / device types, and the move to cloud services.

So, the JumpCloud team went to work and started executing on that concept. Given the depth of their existing product, adding directory capabilities wasn’t too challenging. Two weeks ago, JumpCloud launched the first ever Directory-as-a-Service offering.

The initial reception has been fantastic. Clearly there are a lot of companies that don’t want to deal with Microsoft Active Directory or manage LDAP themselves. And this was exactly the thesis around the need for a new directory approach that Raj and team had developed from their customer conversations.

If you are interested is using the service, you can do so for free – 10 users are free forever, and then it’s a paid offering. Drop me a note and I’ll connect you to the JumpCloud team or just go on over to JumpCloud and sign-up!

I’d love to hear what you think of the concept and the product if you have a chance to use it.

Selfies With Chris Moody to Contribute to NCWIT

Chris Moody, the former CEO of Gnip (now VP Data Strategy at Twitter) is doing a fun fundraising drive for the National Center for Women & Information Technology.

For at least $20, you can take a picture with him. 100% of the money goes to NCWIT. He’ll then blog it.

Yeah – I know it’s a little silly, but that’s Chris. Delightfully silly and huggable Chris.

I contributed $500 to match the first $500 Chris raises for NCWIT. As the chair of NCWIT, I appreciate his, and your, efforts.

For those of you out there who have asked “hey Brad, what can I do to help you”, get your picture taken with Chris and make a contribution to one of the non-profits I care the most about in this world.

Book: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Amy and I both feel lethargic and a little sick yesterday, so neither of us felt like doing anything or going anywhere. It might have been re-entry from 10 days on the road, it might have been the tuberculous ward that was the cabin of our airplane, or it just might have been the Sunday lazies.

So I read Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Someone – maybe the publisher – sent it in the mail to me and I got it the same weekend that I read a review of it in the New York Times Book Review. Something about it appealed to me and even though it was a 400 page fiction book that felt pretty daunting in hardcover, it still felt manageable when compared to a David Foster Wallace epic. It sat on our coffee table for a few weeks until I picked it up and demolished it yesterday.

It was awesome, up until the last 50 pages. David Shafer, the author, has a magical way with words. Paragraphs unfolded in delightful ways, often ending with a surprise phrase that tied into something else. The three protagonists were deep and complicated, especially against the backdrop of the twisted, complex, and steadily unfolding plot. While it was predictable that their lives would converge and tangle, it happened suddenly, after what seemed like interminable foreplay, which in fact is how foreplay like this should feel.

The backdrop for the book is corrupt enterprise and government stuff, but with a subtle tone that sets it apart from the normal thriller genre. WTF (its abbreviation) is literature, not cyber thriller, espionage tale, or spy/government/mental floss. There are plenty of WTF moments, and then some more, and then things come together, and then they separate, and then more WTF happens.

The collection of all information in the universe is part of it, along with a parallel “non-Internet Internet.” Oh – and there are plant-based computers that grow in the midst of a pot farm. Well – not really a pot farm, but that’s the disguise. So there’s some sci-fi mixed with drug and hippie themes. And lots and lots of stuff that feels very real, right now.

I was about four hours into the book, with about 50 pages to go, and I suddenly had the feeling that the plot wasn’t going to resolve. There were simply not enough physical pages in my right hand. With 25 pages to go, I was certain it wouldn’t resolve and I started to get a little annoyed. When it finished, I said to Amy, “that was awesome, except the ending.”

In the light of a new day, I am now looking forward to WTF the Sequel. I don’t want to wait a few years for it, and know that it might never come. But I hope that’s what Shafer is working on.

If you like real fiction, that is well written, and contemporary, especially first novels, go grab a copy of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot right now.

What Helps You When You Are Depressed?

The comment thread on my post Founder Suicides is vibrant and full of lots of different things, including plenty of challenging stuff to read and figure out how to respond to.

My inbox was also full of private notes over the past few days. Many of them were thank yous for writing about this, some were suggestions, and a few were angry reactions to what I wrote. Regardless, I read them all and thought about them, what they meant, and what I could continue to do to be helpful on the topic of mental health, especially around entrepreneurship.

The suggestions were generally interesting. Some resonated with me and would be helpful when I’m depressed (which I’m not right now). Others wouldn’t have helped me, but might help someone else.

This morning, as I was reading through my email, I came across this one, which I decided to post as an example. It’s thoughtful, has several specific things I’ve done when I’m depressed (spend 1:1 time with friends, drink green drinks, stop caffeine, do little things that create joy for me), and represented the constructive tone of so many people that I interact with.

I hope it’s helpful to you. And – to the person who wrote it – thanks for sharing and taking the time.

———-

“I can’t tell you how much it has meant to me that you have openly discussed depression and suicide. I would like to share with you the following if you wanted to post it on your blog anonymously –perhaps it could be helpful for someone:

What does help someone contemplating giving up on life? Looking on my facebook notifications this morning, there were two posts –one from my daughter who survived an alcohol overdose as a suicide attempt five years ago, and who I believe is grateful to still be here, and another post from a family notifying their son’s facebook friends that he had ended his life on September 30th. There but for the grace of God go I as a parent. Furthermore, I have been at the door of suicide contemplation this past year myself. I feel like I know exactly what Robin Williams was thinking before he took his own life. My depression is not the gray, non-feeling that another writer described, it has been active pain. Pain so hard and awful that you just want it to stop. The universe is punishing you and it seems like it will never be any different. So what would be helpful to me at these rock bottom times? Not well-meaning platitudes, not “change your thinking, change your life”, not more words assigning responsibility to me for creating my reality.

There are a couple of things that I have actually found to help change my spiral. Engage me in small tasks, easy tasks; chopping carrots, washing dishes, some light bookkeeping on quickbooks, something that physically engages me, or lightly mentally engages me. Even if I don’t feel like doing it, get me actively doing some rote work with my hands.

Mention to me a time when I was happy- an actual memory of a good moment. Bring that picture back to my consciousness. Remind me that there have been good times even after I have been down, they do come back. Help me see the pictures in my mind of things that have made me smile before – my cat splayed out on a lounge chair like a drunken squirrel basking in the sun for example.

Ask me to fill my body with a deep breath and let it out, emptying my belly of breath several times in a row. And then to focus on a good image. The beauty of gorgeous fall leaves that I saw on my bike ride, for example. (From the book, Forgive For Good)

For the longer term, spend time with me. We don’t have to have deep talks, just companionship. Alone-time is obsessing time, spiraling down time, too much wine drinking time.

I heard the Dalai Lama’s longtime translator speak recently and he pointed out that depressed people revolve in their cocoon of self-obsession. Compassion is a way out. I used to volunteer my time a lot, and grew away from that somehow in my life. I used to get so much from hanging with the 3-5 year olds at my church’s childcare room. What natural joie de vivre radiates from a five year old! “Would you like to do the hokey pokey? Sure!!!!” I have signed up to look into volunteering in the play room at the Ronald McDonald house. Yes, even for busy people with important jobs and positions, make time to give of oneself where you can be in the moment.

And most importantly for the long term, look at your diet and exercise. Get a coach. Someone you have to report to. I found that I had been draining my adrenal glands from too much exercise, even though I didn’t think it was too much or too hard. The first thing my health coach did was to get me to drink a green drink every day (juiced kale, celery, apple, etc) and to get in as many greens in as I could in a day. Greens chase away depression. Her philosophy is to add things first, not take them away. Over time, I have on my own started to reduce the caffeine, which could be draining my adrenals as well. I had an incredibly happy day yesterday. I want more happy days like that, so it becomes easier to give up the things that could be causing me physically to slip into the bad space. Unfortunately a lot of us rely heavily on the substances as coping strategies, so it is baby steps at first. Add in the good stuff, maybe be a little lighter on myself on the exercise piece, and let me evolve to better choices.

Thanks, Brad. I realize that everyone has different experiences of depression and pain. My little suggestions could completely not work, but if they helped someone at all change the direction of a spiral, they were worth sharing. Perhaps, you have suggestions of your own, perhaps your blog readers do – and not the naturally happy readers trying to help, those of us who have been right there, at the door of ending it. I thought your sharing of your pact with your wife to share when you were thinking suicidal thoughts was powerful. Thank you.”