Good things come in sets of three — but so do disasters and remarkable deaths

The difference between competent business management and bureaucratic behavior disguised as business management manifests as profitability versus insolvency.

Unless you’re trying to get away with fraud, you want your employer to succeed. Your employer has a lower chance for success, though, if you or your coworkers behave like bureaucrats amid the artificial hierarchy which bureaucracy implies. Those firms which appear to succeed despite their bureaucratic tendencies do so only as a complicit corporatist component of an overarching bureaucratic fraud which Ludwig von Mises termed a zwangswirtschaft economy.

To achieve genuine success, entrepreneurs and employees and contractors must eschew corporatist siren songs coming from without, address bureaucratic fiefdom-building agendas coming from within, and acknowledge individual merit everywhere. Three things, each easier said than done.

Concentrate on the self, and the work environment will improve. Concentrate on the self enough that the work environment improves, and the very existence of markets guarantees that society itself will improve. Only bureaucratic intervention can preclude such progress, with the most totalitarian interventions actually undoing previous societal milestones.

Informational silos reflect insecure entrenchment more than self-assuredness. Personal insecurity engenders agendas. Agendas necessitate underhandedness. Learn to avoid the underhandedness by recognizing the insecurities and defying the concomitant silos. Again, easier said than done — you don’t want to compel yourself or your coworkers to think only in terms of some nebulous collective, or else innovation dies by committee (which is to say: the evil twin of an evil zwangswirtschaft economy is an evil command economy exemplified within the former Soviet Union).

What about digitized silos? Well, if your employer doesn’t have contingencies baked right in to its IT strategy, you and your fellow managers will founder within a shop filled with insecurities and their related agendas of butt-covering underhandedness. Monolithic IT infrastructures will become single points of failure. Employees and managers and owners will become lost amid all the finger pointing.

Even a microservices architecture can suffer from siloed information (e.g. insufficient inter-service communication or uncooperative members of one or another team building each microservice element of the overarching solution), although individual microservice failures tend to be easier to fix while keeping the rest operational. Learn some strategies for designing & maintaining robust microservices orchestration without depending too much on end users being okay with clicking a Retry button.

Business management prioritization means economizing to the very brink of cutting one corner too many

How’s the view from up on that organizational tightrope?

Despite all the rhetoric from politicians and bureaucrats and media pundits, times are getting tougher by the day. Such is the guaranteed outcome of socialism, whether it mutates into a command-style Soviet or zwangswirtschaft-style Nazi monster.

So, what happens when economic indicators are dire even as technological innovation races forward? Apart from missed opportunities for catching a figurative big wave, more than a few companies fail to keep up with the minimal security requirements that are necessary to brace IT infrastructure against a potential storm surge of DOS (Denial Of Service) attacks and phishing and data theft and cross-site scripting and related malware. For every $1 your employer declines to dedicate toward preventative IT security measures, anticipate a bill of $10 for correcting an error, a bill of $100 for rectifying a disaster (e.g. complete reimplementation), a bill of $1000 for settling with litigious clients/customers, or even the worst possible outcome: insolvency.

Like any analogous arms race, cybersecurity needs grow in lockstep with the capabilities of offensive hackers & crackers. As everyone and their sister scrambles to stake some e-territory, there has emerged a dangerous gap in the ratio of qualified cybersecurity professionals to web presences. While this is good news for cybersecurity professionals, those who can’t afford current rate premiums for such in-demand services remain liabilities to all surfing consumers.

Many aspiring internet tycoons/celebrities who find themselves with shorter shoestrings against which to budget will turn toward Open Source as a way to minimize direct costs. While commendable as dedicated entrepreneurs & artists, one problem with such an approach is that the proverbial everyone and their sister ends up using the same server-side components while dedicating almost nothing to pay-it-back code audits or to bug hunting or even to internal value stream contingencies. Such a lazy IPsec environment makes cyberscum salivate.

If your organization makes use of Open Source technologies, discipline yourselves to be conscientious members of at least a few of those Open Source communities. Automate testing and auditing processes to keep tabs on all exposed web services whether they’re Open Source or proprietary. Above all, keep on top of cybersecurity news and don’t let potential problems fester.

Alephnote: Never try to substitute PR spin for technical forethought — even if you succeed at staving off disaster & bankruptcy, you will come across as an organization of desperate liars.

Allow Aleph Infotinuum Services to parse for you this external author’s five opinions regarding The Cloud

Allow AIS to also share a sixth thing: don’t allow anyone to condescend toward you about what you might or might not fear asking.

According to marketing legend, Eric Schmidt used the term “cloud computing” in 2006 as a Svengali-style mind control talisman, hoping to convince the world of a false indication that Google was cornering the market on all computer networking (which has always been depicted within graphical presentations as a kind of cloud-like ethereal entity). Now that the initial hype surrounding (*gasp*) The Cloud (*gasp*) has subsided, the billions of dollars worth of corporate chips that are on the figurative table make the Schmidts of the world both nervous and, as a consequence of the nervousness, desperate to corral managers of thousands of other companies into the murkiness of a clouded stable. Is your employer going to follow along like so much livestock?

  1. “The Cloud Is Actually Expensive”
    • By going straight toward the bottom line, the author of the piece at the other end of this post’s external link starts off well. While it isn’t always advisable to compromise quality or vendor relationships for the sake of negotiating some one-time introductory deal, being a spendthrift because of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) regarding whatever’s being buzzword-pitched as hip entails even more risk of bankrupting your employer.
  1. “You Don’t Need to Be Exclusive”
    • Indeed, never get locked into being someone else’s loyal customer or client, not even if the vendor trying to buy your loyalty offers you a deal on the cost of whatever it is you’re seeking from such vendors (see #1 above). The wisest business managers approach their supply chain with an attitude of non-committal coyness (important: please ignore this advice when you’re a client of Aleph Infotinuum Services — each of us here has six imaginary kids to feed).
  1. “The Cloud Doesn’t Negate Everything That Existed Before, But It Definitely Changes the Game”
    • This is another example of good advice. The Cloud is, at the end of the business day, just a network of processors and storage devices. If your employer values security and peace of mind over perceptions of affordable convenience, consider recommending a bare metal in-house solution or some hybrid with external servers dedicated to crunching & persisting non-sensitive data.
  1. “The Cloud Is More Than Storage”
    • Sure, but what of it? Computers have always been about more than storage, and The Cloud is little more than outsourced computing services. A wise business manager will perform due diligence and then decide that their employer can’t succeed without help from AIS.
  1. “The Cloud Is Adding Data Centers to the List of Endangered Species”
    • This is unimportant, as there will always be methods & mechanisms for delivering data-based services Don’t make the mistake of thinking that The Cloud has superseded all to become a forever thing, for it too is already endangered despite the marketing rhetoric you’re sure to hear from companies that are determined to get consumers using the infrastructure onto which their managers have placed a large wager.

As you measure the cost-benefit ratio associated with putting your employer’s data into the hands of strangers pretending to be family, keep in mind the axiom “Knowledge is power.” It’s an important axiom, because your duty as a competent manager of a slice of your employer’s slice of the eternal infotinuum is to yield in-house power to supply-chain vendors only after you’re convinced that you’re chasing after something other than marketing buzzwords (buzz being an element of hypnosis).

Setting aside shifting acronyms, this is likely to be the differentiator for firms whose managers want their employer to survive the unfolding economic calamity that socialists have wrought

Despite spurious rhetoric, socialists include both Soviet-style and Nazi-style authoritarians.

You might be confused by the dance of the naming convention combatants. Don’t sweat it — such combatants are merely trying to coin one or another term about which they can claim to be leaders in their made-up market sector. Information management, meanwhile, remains precisely that.

As a competent manager of your employer’s slice of the eternal infotinuum (itself a coined portmanteau which is now part of the infotinuum), your duties entail assessing which of numerous strategies is likely to bring the most organizational benefit at the lowest cost. This is not as simple as nickle-and-diming employees/vendors or conjuring hidden-in-plain-sight methods for squeezing more pennies out of consumers, but rather it requires a careful — and ongoing — assessment based on combining objective metrics with subjective opinion (the latter being most valuable when the opinions are those of existing or potential customers).

When times are tough and consumers are keeping a tight grip on purses, manipulating their behavior reflects the opposite of managerial competence. Likewise, morale among internal stakeholders is sure to drop whenever management tells them to stifle their creativity and forgo their professional development for the sake of battening down enterprise hatches. Although the ultimate fault lies with socialism, the effects necessitate a nuanced approach to staving off bankruptcy.

Automated information workflows & lifecycles represent proverbial low-hanging fruit. Any business can make a modest investment in process & technology to increase productivity and thereby sustain profitability. Be sure, though, to complete more than a half-witted assessment based solely on marketing buzz, or else you might fall victim to just-let-us-manage-all-your-vital-data grifters pitching The Cloud.

Are your employer’s development teams checking in fresh code which nevertheless becomes legacy as soon as it enters the SCM repository?

There are dependable ways to reduce an organization’s legacy code, and all it requires is fewer managerial panic attacks.

To be accurate, there will never be much managerial panic if those managers stick to best practice Continuous Integration/Delivery methodologies for design & architecture & implementation & delivery. One of the worst managerial mistakes is the underestimation of time & resources that a particular project will require, leading too often down the roadmap to panicky meetings of mostly finger-pointing insecurity after corners get cut and quality heads south.

Software professionals have diverse opinions about what constitutes legacy code, but a good rule of thumb is that it is any codebase which gets neglected because few want the responsibility of maintenance & upgrade. Procrastination begets workflow ossification, which in turn obligates marketers and consumer evangelists to rely more & more on hubris or even, amid their desperation, outright fraud. After that, organizational bankruptcy becomes all but guaranteed.

Among the cut corners of mismanaged software projects, inadequacy regarding documentation and unit testing appears to be the worst factor contributing to the figurative plate of spaghetti known as legacy code. Such code isn’t restricted to older stuff from (*gasp*) the twentieth century (*gasp*), because whenever any not-nearly-done project faces an impending hard deadline, haste makes for waste.

Documentation and unit testing can dovetail with each other to form a hybrid kind of “characterization testing” solution to legacy code procrastination within a development team. When your SCM has thousands or millions of lines stored yet neglected by just about everyone, try taking a less rigid approach to managing that particular slice of your employer’s slice of the eternal infotinuum.

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Perhaps this should be known as the decline of checklist-focused software development

Never consider any of your employer’s IT-related projects to be complete.

Incompetent business managers are predictable. They almost never want anything other than plausible a**-covering excuses, typically because their actions are more like those of a bureaucrat than they are like a competent business manager.

Fortunately, most business owners are starting to appreciate the need for competitive agility as opposed to intransigent entrenchment coupled with political activism aimed toward precluding upstart competitors through nice & legal regulation. Such competitive agility best serves consumers, while bureaucratic regulation serves only those who are willing to be corrupt and thereby defraud consumers.

Serving consumers is, of course, the only legitimate organizational response to the question “What is our objective?” Consumers will never, ever be “done” with demanding innovation from industry. If you believe that satisfying consumers of a released software product involves offering a knowledge base or a 24/7 support line, you will find yourself less and less employable.

Alephnote (as afterthought): Aleph Infotinuum Services staff has noticed that links to articles at the domain below appear to go semi-dead in rapid succession — the term semi-dead indicating that such articles, other than introductions the text of which fades into obscurity, get hidden behind a subscription wall. This will likely, therefore, be the last AIS post which offers a link to content hosted at that particular domain.

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Of all the IT management mistakes you could make, these eight might be the biggest potential threats to your career

The professionals at Aleph Infotinuum Services contend that there is one mistake which is even bigger: pretending that the bureaucratic programming one received from one’s childhood schoolmasters can pass as surefire instructions for qualified business management.

Businesses don’t exist to provide jobs or to satisfy owners (e.g. shareholders). Businesses exist to serve consumers — and the extent to which the employees & contractors working for a particular business are successful at serving consumers determines shareholder dividend as well as the quantity of available jobs.

Despite what your associates fresh out of MBB (Master of Business Bureaucracy) school might think they’ve learned, business managers don’t exist to grow their employer’s business. Business managers exist to serve consumers — and the attitude they bring to such consumers-come-first duties determines their professional legitimacy (if not their material compensation amid an economic climate of too many MBBs confusing guild credentials with actual qualifications) as well as the long-term growth of their employer (as opposed to MBBs focused on short-term quarterly reports delivered to the bureaucrats pretending in turn to be their managers).

That’s not to say that it’s only ever a one-way street. Consumers who nickel & dime their various vendors sometimes find themselves shut out of future opportunities for meaningful association. Supervisors who nickel & dime the coworkers whom they pretend are beneath them sometimes find themselves without anyone willing to work either hard or smart — and if they insist that pleasing them is the only means toward pleasing the employer’s customers or clients, they are unqualified to call themselves business managers.

There is good news: after you come to terms with the big picture business management stuff, day-to-day pitfalls such as the ones outlined within the article linked below start to seem more like temporary annoyances than chronic pain points.

Be thankful that some researchers are discovering early vulnerabilities within Smart Contracts

There is no such thing as a real-world building that is burglar-proof, and there is likewise no such thing as a computer-based technology which is 100% protected from hackers & crackers & malware.

Researchers have discovered what they are calling trace vulnerabilities within blockchain-based Smart Contracts (a trace being the electronic version of a paper trail containing a list of every instantiation of a particular contract). They created three explanatory categories for such potential vulnerabilities:

  • Suicidal — there exists a theoretical possibility that any arbitrary intruder (e.g. a hacker/cracker) could destroy a Smart Contract altogether (note that it is possible for a creator or similar trusted administrator of a contract to execute a SUICIDE bytecode instruction on the blockchain’s virtual machine for purposes of voiding that contract)
  • Prodigal — there exists a theoretical possibility that any arbitrary intruder (e.g. a hacker/cracker) could leak details of a Smart Contract, including “coin” payments for services rendered, to arbitrary parties
  • Greedy — there exists a theoretical possibility that any arbitrary intruder (e.g. a hacker/cracker) could lock parties within a Smart Contract (i.e. make it impossible to execute a SUICIDE bytecode instruction on the blockchain’s virtual machine for purposes of negating that contract)

As a concept, Smart Contracts remain immature yet promising. They are still difficult to test, or to revise once established within a blockchain’s public ledger. Current trace vulnerabilities appear to crop up after multiple invocations of this or that contract, although this might be due to the relative obscurity of contracts which have not seen much use. (PDF)

Back to basics: starting a new instructional design project

Getting answers to these questions will save you valuable time and money.

A lot of hard-earned expertise in instructional design involves juggling information in the analysis and design ADDIE stages. Although the first three stages Analysis-Design-Development appear linear, they often aren’t, and instructional designers have to manage unknown and vague information even before starting a needs assessment.

Here are some tips on information to gather before starting, why it’s necessary, and how it feeds into analysis and design.

  • The “who” includes the project client, SMEs (Subject Matter Experts), and end users. Don’t assume that the person requesting the training is the client. The client pays the bills and has authority over the project. SMEs validate the content with instructional designers and often have valuable information on end users to feed into a needs assessment.
  • The “why” is the business goal or need that creates the training request. The client is best able to answer that question. If there’s isn’t a business need behind the training request, training may not be required at all.
  • The “what” is the proposed training content. If the content is unstable, or not known, you’ll need to account for that in an estimate as that often requires more SME time and effort. You’ll also want to consider the resources to apply to a short-term or temporary solution.

System crackers and malware malcontents prefer windows & apples to penguins

If your employer is selecting a desktop operating system for employee use, consider the security bonus of Linux’s relative obscurity.

Many people resist change. That is why there is an entire service industry dedicated to change management.

Change is still necessary, because healthy economies feature plenty of market-based competition among producers for consumer loyalty. Sometimes, competition leads to misguided attempts to differentiate. Sometimes, it transforms the industry itself. Business managers who can ignore the vaporware to focus on the business imperatives will always be in high employment demand.

IT security is, of course, one of those business imperatives. Not many enterprises can avoid having an IT infrastructure, even if it amounts to a single PC connected to the internet. As more things go online (to borrow a term from the emerging Internet of Things), there is a corollary increase in opportunities for cyberattack.

Linux is a mature kernel, and its various graphical desktops (e.g. Gnome, KDE, etc.) provide users with productive experiences which are as intuitive as any from Microsoft or Apple. As a security bonus, fewer crackers & malware distributors target Linux-based systems precisely because there are fewer Linux-based systems out there.

Still, switching is not a simple decision. Better security comes at a price of greater possibilities that your customers and supply chain vendors will be unable or unwilling to view some of the files that you create on your Linux boxes. Open Source projects try to maintain compatibility with other operating systems, but a key to their differentiation is their owners’ ongoing attempts to make it difficult to work with anything other than their product. Fair enough — the bottom line is that you as a competent manager of your employer’s tiny slice of the eternal infotinuum must evaluate the risks versus the rewards of business imperatives like security and productivity.

Alephnote: Some of the worst security out there, regardless of the operating system you might choose to run, happens within The Cloud (but is sure is convenient for business managers who emphasize such things).