Information technology is saturating world around us, so what are we going to do with it?
To be precise I should rather say: we are saturating our world with information technology. Lots of people have tendency to personalize things and ideas, like they got little hands and legs and are doing things for themselves. No, that's us! We are buying radio-regulated electronic clocks, plain cell-phones or smartphones, smart-TVs, laptops, talking fridges, car navigations, or even smart-home systems. The later one is the scariest – you come and say “Alexa, I'm home" and the jam jar sized box checks the list (that you personally had created or agreed on) and turns up the heating, turns on lights here and there, switches on your TV and beeps your daughter to come down and show you that her homework is downlo…, sorry, done. Our companies are buying mail and instant messages software, surveillance cameras, card access security systems and on-line help bot-software with nice but serious girl voice that unfortunately don't understand “meet for a drink" phrase. Our municipal governments are installing post-office automatic queues, cameras to monitor every street, voting machines, parking meters, talking city buses and very intelligent street lights that do nothing no matter how impatiently you push the button. Why? Because we want them, because we like them, because they make our life easier or funnier, because they make amazing things, like telepathy, a dream like fantasy of talking through space, now available to everybody everywhere with easily accessible device (and a small fee). Scandinavian countries' authorities (among many others) have intentionally invested quite a lot into covering empty mountains and far-north wilderness, where nobody lives except wolves and reindeers, with cellular network antennas grid. To make the world more electronic? No, more caring, because they really, really like to be sure that every unfortunate or reckless hiker in case of troubles can call 112 for help, share his phone GPS reading and be rescued immediately, not when he's stiff and ice cold. And what's inside of this IT flood? Half of IT devices' purpose is communication (yes, voting machines too). I do not know who invented the idea that people staring at their screens are alone, but the only lonely teenager these days is the one with overprotective parents forcing IT access time limits on him, cutting him off his social life.
That is just the beginning thou, as Artificial Intelligence is lurking by the corner, spreading panic among crowds. Really? What happened to good old fear of natural intelligence! Let's just take it straight to the extreme – how dreadful was Albert Einstein? It's not intelligence that sometimes becomes evil, these are intentions – and AI has no intentions of its own, why would it? Let's take a real life example. Small injustices happen to everybody from time to time: incorrect parking ticket, small frauds, being mistreated here and there. We all should have recourse to the law, but we have not – there's not enough judges for that and in half of such cases we give them up as it would need too much time, money and infinite patience to get what's fair. That is why AI court systems are being designed, which can take care of verdicts at first instance of well-defined cases, fairly and fast, like hundreds decisions per hour. One of them was immediately scrutinized by some human rights organization and accused (who would do that to a real judge) of discriminating testimonies of black, poor and female witnesses. The system was checked and it was found and proven, that being trained on a large set of current real-life cases, the AI behaviour reflected nothing else, but common attitude of human judges. I am sure, that it doesn't require much work to set the AI straight and then upload the upgrade to all involved courts to get much better results. In case of humans however, it takes years, if not ages, to set their attitudes straight and their natural resistance make impossible to update their minds.
So all that for what? For us or for these IT companies, not just five of them, but thousands, that we deservedly suspect of spreading this IT just for their profit, lately even accused of observing, noting and seizing our intellectual property in deceptive polls, quizzes, even innocently looking captcha tests to train their AI systems. It's Thomas Alva Edison that always comes to my mind then. Not quite a nice man, relentlessly pursuing others for his patents infringements. He has invented a lightbulb, among many other things and he did it entirely for his own profit. Now, when I buy such a bulb for one euro, I feel like I am the one to profit the most, looking forward to endless evenings with good books under his invention.
All information in this technology and all intellectual property there comes from us, people, and in the end it is coming back to us: to our homes, to our streets, even to far away wilderness – for us. Yes, we are going to make more of it!
There is an apparent renaissance of do-it-yourself both in private life and in the industry. In private, people build their own furniture and cook at home instead of dining out. In industry, companies increasingly insource IT operations, manufacturing, and everything else. The reasons to do this are largely the same.
First and very obvious, doing it yourself is less expensive. Not just in money terms, but in the overall resources including time. It probably used to be different some years ago, but has changed with the today's equipment and technology. Taking the very typical case of cloud computing, Michael Dell has correctly pointed out that automation of operations makes on-premise solutions now less expensive in almost 90 % of all workloads.
Second, it actually improves agility. This may sound counterintuitive, the usual narrative used to be that you are more flexible using external services, right? The reality is different. With the external service, you acquire its procedures and regulations, and those are designed to be the same for all the customers like you. Just think of GDPR as one example, where substantial volumes of highly standardized documentation work reach well into the substance of your core business. Yes, you would still have to do this in your own data center, but you would have the choice of doing it your own way.
Third, cloud providers are not obliged to continue serving us forever. Same as your favorite restaurant can just shut down overnight because of a multitude of possible legitimate reasons. You may be able to get back your data, but the effort of setting up a new solution will probably largely surpass all direct costs of the required hardware or another service (if you still prefer to not do it yourself). Even your own device that you bought outright can become unusable if it depends on a discontinued cloud service (see Microsoft Band, which cannot be factory reset after the end of May).
We at Hypersoft have now a new product that is part of this big do-it-yourself trend. With Personal Files, you create and own your private cloud storage. Simpler than it would be with any cloud provider, less expensive, and nobody will be able to discontinue the service because of whatever reason. Works for business and at home, the only thing you need is your own Internet domain and a Hypersoft license.
Since enterprise cloud first emerged about ten years ago, it has been viewed
by businesses as a way to cut costs. This expectation has very rarely materialized.
Now, we start hearing more and more that even if cloud costs you more money, it
still makes sense because of the various other higher reasons. Those can be the
focus on core business, the flexibility to ramp up or down, and many more.
However, isn’t this logic fundamentally flawed? Do the higher reasons
still hold if they do not lead to a commercial benefit?
Here is an interesting comparison. Let us look at some public
utilities, which are heavily promoted with very similar justifications. You do
not need your own car, use public transit, free yourself from maintenance
costs, plan your costs in a predictable way, and only pay for the service
that you actually use. Sounds quite familiar, right?
The numbers show a very impressive cost aspect of it. In Germany (being
one of the most progressive places for public transit, other countries following
suit and not much different) the cost of public transportation grew by 80 %
between 2000 and 2018. During the same time, the cost of using a personal car has
only increased by 36 %.
Would you like another one? The cost of centralized heating increased
by 33 % between 2005 and 2018. It has been just 5 % for those who run their own
little residential oil boilers. Those who replaced their boilers by newer ones are
now paying less for their heating than they did back in 2005.
Coming back to the topic of cloud costs, the price per gigabyte of Amazon S3 storage is today 20 % of what it was in 2006. The gigabyte you buy on
a disk costs now just 4 % of the 2006 price. Back in 2006, the annual cloud
storage fee was 3,5 times the cost of outright purchase for the same gigabyte.
Now in 2018, this annual fee is 12 times the purchase price. Just let these
numbers sink: for the annual cloud storage fee one cay buy – permanently –
twelve times as much storage to own. Power consumption does not change this
calculation, it is well below 0,01 kWh per gigabyte per month.
All these examples tell us that owning your resources does actually
pay off. And the “higher reasons” to give it up do not apply today in the same
way they applied in the past.
The flexibility to ramp up becomes very relative if you remember that buying
ten times more storage is less than one year of cloud fees for the original resource
you had before ramping up.
As for redundancy and access from anywhere, with today’s new computers
and software one does not have to be a “storage scientist” to have that. And
this is where our new product adds a unique capability to simplify and
streamline operations. Deploy Personal Files, regain true ownership of your
data, and save costs.
On part 1, a few weeks ago, I tried to make an inventory of events which can interrupt your work for good or bad reasons. For each of them, I gave a description and I tried to estimate how many times a month they can appear. Obviously, this is a simulation and numbers depend on each of us. I hope this part 1 was a starting point for your own thinking. If not, I really advice you to start having a look at your own context and habits. This is also important to talk about this with workmates to have a better vision of yourself.
Reading part 1 main inventory pushes us to ask a simple question. How much events can interrupt me? Let's have a look at this simple table now.
First conclusion is it is almost impossible to spend a single hour without being interrupted, whatever your efforts are.
Also, most of them are very little event like, receiving a notifications, which is about a second. But this little second breaks your concentration, forces you to think about something else, and pushes you to spend energy to go back to your main topic.
Most of them depend on you and your habits. Modern electronic devices do not help. Start to tidy up your working context. Give up and forget what you prevent you from being productive.
Fortunately, OmniContext TM Personal Analytics provides some specific reports about this free time you can have, but considering simple electronic events (mails, communication, …) Indeed we have no way to know something about you and each time you put your headphones on your head. If you have bad feelings about your productivity, you can start having a look on our reports and you can make your own report. After that, try your own experiments to make things change. Use our reports again, and check progress you make, every day.
Make your life easier, use OmniContext TM Personal Analytics.
You know what that picture is about?
Your current day. Yes. Your current working day. On the left, easy day, on the right, bad day …
Everything is planned, organized and should be running more or less easily. You are fully equipped. Hundreds of little actions have to be performed. Unfortunately, often, they have bad impacts between them. Let's start with describing a common working context by making an inventory of the common and usual equipment for a modern professional:
Now let's make an inventory of the usual software set you can be using each day
We all have our reasons to use each of them for good or less good reasons. Anyway, we use them. This is how it works nowadays. Modern life comes with a lot of tools, devices and habits.
Plus, sometimes, you can have some activities potentially provided by your boss because he's so cool, just as we are
Without neglecting natural activities,
Until now, I did not mention any production activity. Work is about production right?
Now let's put some numbers by giving for each of them how many times they interrupt in a way or another in a month. It is a hard exercise but it has to be done.
Screen saver with password (forgotten?)
Receive calls, notifications, texts
Put them on, put them off again & again
Fix Bluetooth troubles
Receive mails, sometimes aggressive mails
Receive mails notifications, meetings as well …
Receive mails notifications
Eat or drink something
Whatever time they last, each interruption breaks concentration and makes you think about something else. At this moment, an effort is required to go back on tracks.
For now, you have a good introduction and a way to start thinking about your own context. With the next part of this blog post, we will go further and deeper talking about productivity and OmniContext Personal Analytics.