IT Manager Institute #59

We just finished the 59th IT Manager Institute in Dubai, UAE that included 14 IT managers from 6 countries – UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, and Nigeria. This was a special group that did extremely well on the ITBMC exam.

ITBMC_Dubai_March2014IT Manager Institute #59 – March 2014 – Dubai, UAE

History of external data storage

I’ve been in IT for longer than anyone can remember (over 40 years), and I’ve seen some amazing progress in computer technology, especially in offline data storage.

Got my IT start in the US Marine Corps way back in 1969. My first real job was 3rd shift computer operator for Marine Corps Base – Kaneohe, Hawaii.

USMC DPP-10 Kaneohe, HawaiiDPP-10    Marine Corps Base – Kaneohe, Hawaii – 1971
That’s me standing under the sign
We are in front of a “mobile data center” ready to be deployed to the field

Let me describe how far the technology has come in the last 45 years.

My computer operator job was to run daily, weekly and monthly reports for the air wing of MCB-Kaneohe, , , it included all types of reports concerning personnel, aircraft, equipment, parts, etc. , , , normal reports like you would expect.

At this juncture we used 80-column cards to store information about a record. A “record” might be a jet aircraft or helicopter, a Marine pilot or fireman, or a piece of equipment. At the end of the month I had to sort the cards and print several detail reports for Marines to manage the business.

In one application called FSA (Fleet Stock Accounting), the owners of the data brought me some 50,000 cards every month of all the detail records of their equipment and parts inventory. They were stored in some 15-20 metal trays that held approx. 3,000 cards each.

Here is the point to my story – to sort 5 characters of the cards to prepare them to print an Equipment List sorted alphabetically it would take me over two hours just to sort the card deck so I could then print the report, , , and the computer processing part to print the report took another 1.5 hours, , , that’s 3-4 hours just to print a detailed Equipment Report.

How long does it take today? Just a few seconds to initiate the report, maybe a few minutes to produce and print it, , , that is if you actually want the printed version.

Every end of month I would literally spend an entire weekend in our Data Center to create the monthly reports for this application.

External data storage has evolved considerably so I thought it might be fun to take a look at how it took place. I’ve actually worked with everything you will see in the discussion below.

The beginning
Paper is where it all started. Before computers everything was on paper. Do the images below look familiar?

storage_paper

The first computers used punch cards
The first was the 80-column card followed by a smaller 96-column card that allowed for smaller equipment and 20% more storage on a record.

storage_punched cards

At Kaneohe we used IBM equipment – the 1401 Computer System.

storage_IBM 1401 computer system

Punched card processing took lots of equipment to do very specific things like sorting, collating or merging card decks, interpreting and printing newly punched cards, etc. Lots of equipment and a very manual, tedious process, , , but it was light years ahead of pencil and paper.

storage_IBM punch card technology

Along came tape and “magnetic media”
At first, vendors like IBM simply added a tape drive to complement their card system like the 1401 processing environment below.

storage_tape

Do you remember the old tape libraries? Larger organizations literally had dedicated resources just to manage the tapes.

storage_tape library

Disk storage opens up new horizons in storage capacity, speed and reliability.
Initially there were removable disk packs that increased in size over time to hold more data. Then more versatile drives came along with considerable more storage and speed and built to be more sturdy.

storage_disk

The diskette era
Diskettes hit the scene with the IBM System/32 around 1976. This system used an 8-inch “floppy diskette” for backup and software portability. With the introduction of the minicomputer and emphasis on business applications software to run on them small and mid-size businesses could afford to computerize their business.

storage_diskette

You can see the trend – smaller media with more storage capacity plus they  are becoming more damage proof with simpler read mechanisms as the technology evolves.

CD and ZIP drives expand storage
The need for more external storage increases quickly as computing power increases with the PC and more software applications become available. CDs and ZIP drives fill the need for a short time.

storage_CD and zip drives

The race is on
Newer applications include more data, images, video and audio, , , applications that literally devour disk space. The need for more storage space, faster access times, and portable media is the new era of computing storage. As technology improves, the advances in these areas move forward faster.

storage_flash drive and backup drivesFlash drives started out with 16MB, 32MB and 64MB when they were first introduced. Now you see flash drives no bigger than your thumbnail that hold upwards of 512GB and there are plans to put up to 2TB of data onto a flash drive in the near future.

External backup drives like the one shown above are already storing terabyte levels of data with enormous growth expected in this area in the future.

Summary
Let me put some of this into perspective for you. In 1979 I had a tour of IBM’s General Systems Division (GSD) Headquarters and Data Center in Atlanta, GA.

I’ll never forget a sign that was in the front part as you entered the Data Center. Behind the sign were rows upon rows of disk drives followed by rows and rows of tape drives. The floor that housed the Data Center was probably around 30,000 square feet and much of it held disk drives for data storage. The sign said, , ,

storage_16GBYou have to understand, , , 16GB was huge in those days, , , but there was no graphics or video to contend with so a gigabyte of textual data was quite a lot.

Today, I carry a 64GB flash drive the size of my thumbnail with me wherever I go and my laptop has far more computing power and functionality than all of the mainframes in that IBM Data Center. Amazing evolution of computing technology, , , plus it becomes more affordable all the time. A terabyte of data storage in 1979 would have cost you over $1 million, , , today about $75.00.

The next 10 years will be an amazing experience.

Three items you may be interested in

blue ribbonFrom time to time I run across products or services that I think my readers might be interested in.

Here are a few that are worth mentioning, , , items B and C I discovered just in time to create a special Christmas gift for my family.

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A.  3 full days of free training on WordPress with Armand Morin – February 7, 8, 9, 2014.

GC_WordpressI use WordPress for all my web sites – primarily because of the ease of use, flexibility and the functionality. I highly recommend any IT manager become familiar with WordPress, , , if for no other reason to learn about some of the functionality it offers a company, department unit, or individual. There are two versions of WordPress – a paid version and a free version. I use the free version for my BLOG site (www.itlever.com) and the paid version for my two business sites (www.itmanagerstore.com and www.itmanagerinstitute.com).

Armand Morin is an Internet marketing expert plus he is also a heavy technical guy who likes to program. He has built several plugins for WordPress to add functionality. Armand is going to deliver a FREE 3-day live class on WordPress on February 7-9. I promise it will be one of the most comprehensive classes on WordPress you will find anywhere because in his WebCamp classes he walks you through every step and shows you how to do what he talks about. He also explains why, , , very important.

Take a look at his information video to gain a better perspective and register at:   http://webcamp.cc/x.php?af=905629

The schedule is organized nicely so you can sit in on whatever portion is important to you or your organization. Here it is:

WebCamp WordPress Schedule – February 7th, 8th and 9th 2014

Day One
WordPress Overview
WordPress Setup
WordPress Security
Must Security Plugins
Search Engine Optimization
WordPress SEO
Keyword Optimization

Day Two
Website Design
CSS Crash Course
WordPress Themes
Customizing Themes
Creating Your Own Themes
Using Child Themes
Advanced Page Customization

Day Three
WordPress Marketing Uses
Landing Pages
WordPress Optin Pages
WordPress Video and Audio
WordPress Video Sales Letters
WordPress Sales Letters
WordPress Webinars

Day-1 and Day-2 will probably be the best for most of us. Day-3 is primarily internet marketing oriented so I may skip this one and just watch parts of the first two days. I caution you that Armand is an Internet Marketer so he has things to sell but he uses an approach of teaching you how to do things to create interest, , , which is why I attend his classes. There is no obligation to purchase anything. I have always found his webinar classes to be full of helpful “how to” information and he is definitely an expert in his subject matter, both as an end user as well as a technical expert.

Plus, it’s FREE, , , so if you or someone on your staff needs to learn about WordPress, this class will be worth the time.

WebCamp WordPress Schedule – February 7th, 8th and 9th 2014

Learn more at http://webcamp.cc/x.php?af=905629

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B.  Converting VHS tapes to digital movies

Elgato Video CaptureI have been wanting to convert many of our old VHS tapes to digital for many years, , , both to preserve them because eventually the tapes will be no good at all, , , and also to be able to use them for special projects once they are in digital format. I was assuming you either had to purchase a conversion box that would read the tapes and convert them or send them off to a conversion services company. In my research over the years, both options looked to be fairly expensive at more than $400.00 to do what I wanted to do.

In November I discovered the perfect device, bought one, and converted excerpts of over 50 VHS tapes dating from 1988-1992 to create a Christmas video to share with my family. It was a huge hit, probably because they were all in it and are now able to share movies of our parents and grandparents with their kids and grandchildren.

I purchased the device at Amazon.com, , , it is an Elgato Video Capture Device 10020840 and cost me $79.99. Not only was it inexpensive, , , it works like a charm and is very simple to use. Just hook the RCA audio and video cables into your VCR and the usb end into your PC and you are ready to go. Convert the entire tape to digital or just the excerpts you want to use, , , step by step instructions make it very easy.

Fortunately, I still had a VCR that could play the tapes so I could record them to digital. You can use your VCR or your original video camera to play the tape while you record it to digital.

Another BIG benefit from this project is that my son, Eddie, and I worked on the project together. Eddie had a terrible auto accident when he was 16 (January 2, 1993) and suffered a massive brain injury. He has significant short term memory challenges but his long term memory is intact. All of the tapes were before his accident so he remembered them. The new video shows the progression of his golf game developing and many things we had forgotten. He and I laughed and had the best time watching old tapes and deciding which segments we wanted to put into our “new movie” to give my brothers and their families.

Once I got the segments I wanted recorded to digital format, I used Camtasia Studio and its editing capability to put them all together in the sequence we wanted, add captions, enhance the audio, insert transitions between segments, etc. in order to create a single MP4 movie. The final movie is about 1.5 hours made up of some 80 different taped segments. It was a big hit with my family and a truly unique gift I was able to give them!

I couldn’t be happier with what this little device does in converting VHS tapes or DVDs to digital movie formats I can use in a creative way.

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C.  Showing digital movies on a TV

MICCA Speck Media PlayerItem B above gave me the ability to create digital movies from old tapes but now I needed the ability to give these movies to my family easily. My answer was to put them on a flash drive, , , so the question became, “How do I show an MP4 movie on a flash drive with my big screen TV so we can all see and hear it together?” There are several ways to do this but the simplest approach I found was with another little box from Amazon.com.

The device is a Micca Speck 1080p Full-HD Ultra Portable Digital Media Player For USB Drives and SD/SDHC Cards. It costs only $39.95 at Amazon.com and allows you to play a digital movie on any TV from a flash drive or from your SD/SDHC cards you use when filming with a digital camera. Small, easy to use and includes a remote control.

I recommend you purchase an HDMI cable if you want to show your movie on an HD TV, , , even though an old VHS tape probably isn’t in HD the output to your HD TV will be as high quality as the original tape. Newer recordings with the newer cameras will be in HD so the HDMI cable will be worth the purchase if you don’t already have one.

The other neat thing about this little box is that it can hook up to any TV, , , even the old ones. I have a small 6-inch portable TV (vintage 1990 with only the RCA video/audio cable connections) that I used for the initial test and it worked great.

This box is great to watch downloaded YOUTUBE videos or home movies you create with your phone or camera. Just download them to a flash drive or SD/SDHC card and you are ready to go.

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I’m always looking for things (gadgets, technology, etc.) that I can use to do things in a creative way. The three items above are a few samples that may be helpful to you, , , if they are, send me a note to mike@mde.net and let me know. I would also like to hear of the neat gadgets or products you have found that you think are really interesting or helpful.

FREE Gift and Special Discount Offer from ITLever

Last minute “stocking stuffers”
and a FREE gift

I want to wish all my ITLever subscribers and visitors a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I hope you have had a successful year and will enjoy the holidays.

This is our 500th post so I wanted to do something special, , , read on.

Now is the time for giving so don’t forget your IT managers. Below are two ways to give yourself and IT managers you know a gift that will help them achieve more success.

Use both offers and tell others, , , good through January 10, 2014.

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OFFER #1  –  FREE copy of
21 Secrets Every IT Manager Should MUST Know

21 Secrets Cover4Download my newest e-book, print it and give a copy to your IT manager(s), , ,
or simply give them the url link to download a copy of their own.

Receiving a hard copy color version from you will make it more special!

I think you will find this book insightful, interesting, and fun to read.
The e-book sells for $19.95 on our web site but it’s free with this offer.

Sorry, this free offer has expired

CLICK HERE to Order the e-book

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OFFER #2  –  20% discount
on all purchases through January 10, 2014

We have offered discounts on specific products before
but never a discount across the board.

Any purchase on our IT Manager Store site
http://itmanagerstore.com
through January 10th, 2014 will receive a 20% discount.

— Practical IT Manager Resources —
Training  –  Books  –  Tools

itbmc_1To receive your discount, simply apply the discount code “jumpstart
to the Shopping Cart before checking out.

The system reduces item prices by 20% automatically.

Order 1 item or several, , , you will receive 20% off of everything.

Examples of what you can save through January 10, 2014:
IT Manager Institute and ITBMC class- save $590.00
IT Manager Institute Self Study – save $199.00
Practical IT Manager GOLD Series e-books & ToolKit – save $55.80
IT SUCCESS Summit in Dubai (May 6-8, 2014) – save $300.00

If you’ve been thinking of attending the IT Manager Institute
or buying the GOLD Series of e-books and tools,
now is the time to purchase to save 20%.
(Offer available through January 10, 2014)

Offer is valid for any item listed on
http://itmanagerstore.com
when you use the discount code “jumpstart

Our web site accepts the following:
American Express, VISA, MasterCard, Discover, and PayPal

If you have problems making payment or need an invoice,
contact our office at  info@mde.net

  Please feel free to share these offers with your colleagues.

I hope your holidays are wonderful and that 2014 will be your best year ever.

BestofSuccess

2013 Sisco Family Christmas Letter

We mailed our 2013 Christmas cards and letter to family and friends last week. It is the 21st year we have sent a letter along with our card.

xmas2013_p1xmas2013_p2

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I hope 2014 will be your best year ever!!!

BestofSuccess

2014 IT Manager Institute Training Schedule

To date we have delivered 58 IT Manager Institutes since 2003 with 100% positive feedback. We are very excited about 2014.

2014 IT Manager Institute Training Schedule:IT Manager Institute eagle coin

  • March 3-6, 2014 — Dubai, UAE
  • April 1-4, 2014 — Columbia, TN (US)
  • May 26-29, 2014 — Dubai, UAE
  • September 16-19, 2014 — Columbia, TN
  • October 13-16, 2014 — Dubai, UAE

Details are at:  http://itmanagerinstitute.com/training/training-schedule

ITManagerInstitute58_Dubai_October_2013IT Manager Institute #58 – Dubai, UAE – October 2013
Click photo to see more Institute photos

Hope to meet you at a future event.

BestofSuccess

Coping with STRESS

stressIT managers have difficult and challenging management responsibilities. In fact, you have arguably the toughest management role in your company because:

  • Technology is changing so fast
  • Users are demanding more from IT
  • IT employees are challenging to manage
  • Usually no one is around who can help a struggling IT manager

With these challenges comes stress which can be both costly and bad for your health.

Here are a few numbers from 2012 and 2013 studies worth considering:

  • In 2012 the World Health Organization estimated that stress cost the US over $300 billion in lost productivity.
  • UK workers lose 105 million days a year due to stress related issues and costs the UK over 1.2 million pounds a year
  • 40% of job turnover is attributed to stress by some studies.
  • Australia loses about $10 billion a year in lost productivity due to stress.

stress_1Stress is real and creates expensive health costs, periods of disability, absenteeism, job turnover, and poor productivity.

I know how real it is because I’ve seen stress take it’s toll on workers and I’ve even experienced it myself. Stress can be debilitating to a point it becomes hard to get out of bed in the morning. It can literally “lock you up” to the point it is difficult to function.

Left unchecked stress can be dangerous to your health, , , even to a point of life threatening from some of the health problems it can create such as high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.

Warning signs
Stress indicators show up in several ways including:

  1. Cognitive – memory problems, difficulty in concentrating, poor judgment, and focusing on the negative
  2. Emotional – moody, short temper and feeling overwhelmed
  3. Physical – headaches, backaches, frequent colds, and can’t sleep
  4. Behavioral – change of eating or sleep patterns, isolation, increase in drug or alcohol use

I don’t know about you but I don’t see anything positive in these elements, , , it’s all negative.

What causes stress?
IT employees can tend to cause their own stress. You will see what I mean when you read the list below:

  • IT employees are high detail people who can be perfectionists. This need to be “perfect” creates stress.
  • Uncertainty abounds in IT with technology changing rapidly and users wanting flexibility and needing more technology.
  • Perfectionists are “their own worst critic” so they sometimes put unrealistic pressures on themselves.
  • You can’t control everything like IT people want and need to. Networks and systems will break at some point and any type of downtime creates stress for IT workers.
  • Technology users sometimes have unrealistic expectations of IT.

Reducing stress
There are ways to reduce stress, but it takes a concentrated effort. Here are a few ideas:

  • Avoid unnecessary stress – learn to use your senior management team and avoid battles that can be avoided.
  • Alter the situation – Compromise where you can, manage your time better, or express yourself and “get things off your chest”
  • Accept things you can’t change – Let go, , , you can’t control everything. Talk about it and look for positives in stressful situations.
  • Try to avoid your tendency to procrastinate on important work; be proactive and get ahead of the game as opposed to waiting to the last minute.

One of the things I do when stress hits is find a time where I can go to a quiet space and free up my mind.

stress_2I let my mind go to a special place in my life that helps me calm down, , , for me, this is the 6th hole of the Kaneohe Marine Base Golf Course. It’s a perfect 6-iron shot into the wind, my favorite shot.

I play this par-3 hole in my mind and when completed I go to the first tee and play a whole round of golf, , , in my mind. Before you know it, a lot of the stress has dissipated, , , believe me, it actually helps.

Your enjoyable space may be looking at a sunset, listening to the ocean breeze, or that special time you spent on one of your favorite vacations. Whatever it is, the point is to allow your mind the opportunity to “free itself up” from the pressures you are experiencing.

Be aware that your people experience stressful times as well so be on the alert for stress signs and do things that helps them feel appreciated, to eliminate uncertainty and reinforce the positives of what your IT organization is accomplishing. Appreciation does much more than you probably think.

Pay attention to stress, , , left unattended it can be destructive to your progress.