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The Actuator - September 21st

Level 17

We just finished THWACKcamp last week and now we turn around and head to Atlanta for Microsoft Ignite next week. If you are at Ignite please stop by our booth to say hello! I'd love to chat with you about data, databases, or tech in general. While at VMworld I found myself getting involved in a lot of storage discussions, I suspect that next week I will be in a lot of Cloud discussions. Can't wait!

Here's a bunch of stuff I thought you might find interesting, enjoy!

What Carrie Underwood’s success teaches us about IBM’s Watson failure

Until I read this I didn't even know IBM was offering Watson as a service. No idea. None. In fact, I'm not sure I know what IBM even offers as a company anymore.

Microsoft surpasses IBM's Watson in speech recognition

Years ago I worked in the QA department for speech recognition and Microsoft invested heavily in our software. So I'm not surprised that they continue to make advances in this area, they've been investing in it for decades.

The Internet knows what you did last summer

If you want to retain your privacy, don't use computers. Everything is tracked in some way, no matter what. Data is power, and every company wants access to yours.

The Rivers of the Mississippi Watershed

Because I love data visualizations and so should you.

Ford charts cautious path toward self-driving, shared vehicles

Another week, another article about self-driving cars. You're welcome.

Someone Is Learning How to Take Down the Internet

This could have been titled "Someone is learning how to make clickbait titles and you won't believe what happens next". Do not read this one unless you have your tinfoil hat on.

DevOps and the Infrastructure Dumpster Fire

Yeah, DevOps is a lot like a dumpster fire.

This one time, at THWACKcamp, I crashed the set to take a selfie with my favorite dead celebrity Rob Boss:

rob-boss - 1.jpg


Before I look at anything else here...crashing ThwackCamp for the selfie with Rob Boss was Greatness !

First and foremost, what I wouldn't give to take a selfie with Rob Boss. Great pic!!!  <boop>

As for the "DevOps and the Infrastructure Dumpster Fire" article. OMG! what a thing of beauty! The more things change the more they stay the same. Capacity, monitoring, resources, training, availability remain the constants. Gussy it up anyway you want: DevOps, HybridIT, Cloud... these constants remain the same.





  • Carrie Underwood and Watson's predictions:  Using a computer to predict outcomes and major future events will occasionally be right, or occasionally be wrong.  The public may or may not accept computer predictions.  The predictions may or may not influence peoples' actions.  This one underwhelmed me.
  • Speech recognition:  If we're going to achieve more great Star Trek wonderfulness, I'd go for much more accurate speech recognition.  But be prepared for the bandwidth & processing hit it will take.  I've seen corporations install voice transcription applications on campus and like them, and then assume those apps can scale across a WAN.  The result:  all WAN services down at remote sites that have WAN links < 10 Mb/s.  It's a bitter pill to swallow--that management won't check with IT about the propriety of a given technology across a LAN versus over a WAN.  Worse, Citrix users and VoIP users at the remote sites lose their telephony and desktops.  Uffda!  Any Speech Recognition sold through the cloud better come with amazing compression or huge WAN links and Internet pipes.
  • . . . knows what you did last summer:  I recall when documenting which grocery store aisles a customer went down, at what areas the customer stopped, and what items were placed in the shopping cart was something that was considered a gross invasion of privacy.  Yet stores did it to better design the flow to increase customers' exposure to products not needed every day.  Who's truly surprised that their browsing and shopping habits are tracked, and that other folks make predictions based on those browsing & shopping habits?  I hope no one.  Those who are surprised by this, wake up and smell the browser cookies . . .
  • The Mississippi watershed:  I'm pretty sure I covered this in my 1970 5th grade social studies class.  But the animation and detail in the link are nice..  I'm probably missing something, and remaining underwhelmed.
  • Self-driving Fords:  I think the success of this kind of vehicles requires we all use auto-driven cars, or dedicate parallel highways for them and use separate highways for human-driven vehicles.  Which will be more expensive and inconvenient?
  • Someone taking down the Internet?  Yep.  I see folks rattling the door knobs on my firewall every second of every day.  If you don't think the Internet is a massive vulnerability waiting for mal-people or Murphy, just study history.  A favorite example of Nature playing games on us is imagining how a modern day Carrington Event will impact your life.
  • DevOps:  Yes, although we try to buy & build the best infrastructure, a simple analysis of any network with an emphasized eye on D.R. or Security Vulnerabilities reveals we live in a house of cards.
Level 20

That IBM stuff we kinda weird... watson fail maybe???

Level 14

Great visual on the Mississippi watershed.

Level 14

Really enjoyed the comparison between IBM and Idol.  I have often had the same thought process about people who have earned their PhD in a given field of study.  Does the effort and monetary investment in achieving the advanced degree color the results of their research?

Level 12

I totally agree with the DevOps / Dumpster fire analogy. Posting the selfie is almost as good as watching you take it!

Level 14

Mississippi Watersheild piece was terrific..... Never realized it extended as far as it did...

What it did last summer.... you don't have to be paranoid... but it helps.

Watson.. going out on a limb here, but somehow I don't think Watson will earn the respect, admiration and status of HAL.

DevOPS and the Infrastructure Dumpster fire.... the basics are the basics....

The more I read on self-driving cars the more I think that the slightest malfunction will result in me being a crash test dummy...

Outstanding as always sqlrockstar​ !!!                My new mantra.... Wednesday is sqlrockstar​ day!


all those Rob Boss selfies were so funny - "my favorite dead celebrity"

Even funnier was Patrick's voice unconsciously changing to match Rob's

At least I can now say, finally, that I have actually met Rob Boss "in character"

Level 13

I remember watson...and watched it play was doing awesome until the final question...

Level 17

I just remembered a grocery store memory. One day I needed to find some fresh basil. So, i went to where ALL OF THE FRESH HERBS were. Rosemary, thyme, etc...they were all there, except the basil. No basil anywhere. I finally asked someone (and, as a man, you KNOW how painful that was for me) and they looked at me like I was a fool and said "Sir, the basil is right by the tomatoes".

WHY is the basil by the tomatoes? Because people buy them in a combination so often that store now locate them together, to make it easier.

Except for those of us that just wanted basil and expected the store to sort their inventory by any good data person would expect, I guess.

Uffda!  It's "challenging" to try to interpret how others believe inventory is best laid out when floor / shelf space is limited.  I have the same problems when going to big-box hardware stores.  "Will they have put product X next to product Y, since they seem intuitively sold together, or is X across the store from Y, due to X being classified as a "connector" when Y is classified as "Adhesive?"

Ideally (in my mind) similar products should be displayed near each other, AND complementary products should ALSO be displayed near each other.  Of course that's more expensive for the store, requiring more inventory duplication and more floor shelf space.

Worse is being trained by one store's layout to expect certain product to be together.  I can find distilled water with the laundry products in Store A, while newly-opened chain store B has distilled water next to the home appliances--irons, which are seven aisles away from the laundry products.

I  got over my "male aversion to asking directions syndrome" around the time I hit 50.  Wanting to be competent and self-sufficient, plus enjoying "the hunt", and also wanting to become more familiar with other areas and other ideas of how products or stores should be laid out--that was one thing.  Efficiency (wanting to make the best use of my time) propelled me to finally be OK with the idea of having to ask others for help or directions.  But until I got over that male ego thing, I drove my wife a bit to distraction.


Level 12

Really like that Mississippi River animation.  That was kinda cool.

Level 21

Agreed,the return of Rob Boss was one of the best parts of THWACKcamp this year!


One reflection on self driving cars...

Within a year of real, level 4 (fully autonomous) self driving cars being relatively common, if you have an accident with one you will have to prove you're not at fault.

The autonomous car will have all its logs and sensor data to back it up, so the chances of he said/she said are pretty darned remote.

For example, the last Google self driving car crash was when someone ran a red light and T-boned the google car.

Imagine the other driver trying to say "my light was green" when the car telemetry shows it wasn't

Sorry sir, the logs show you were mashing the gas pedal not the brake.....

Level 13

I too liked the Mississippi River animation..... 

About the Author
Thomas LaRock is a Head Geek at SolarWinds and a Microsoft® Certified Master, SQL Server® MVP, VMware® vExpert, and a Microsoft Certified Trainer. He has over 20 years experience in the IT industry in roles including programmer, developer, analyst, and database administrator.