Category Archives: Analytics

DNA in Action

I have seen many relatives in Finland.  Here’s a second cousin (whose name I’ll withhold for privacy).  What do you think….is there a family resemblance?

 

The trip was a very interesting one.  I saw my DNA in its many forms, but not obscured with American culture.  And I came away understanding a great deal about myself.  I met many people with whom there was a near-instant bond that transcended culture.  It was obvious within minutes that we were alike even though separated by 100 years and two different cultures.

I’ve always been one to think in contingencies.  Not only have a plan B, but a plan C and plan D.  And I found in Finland a culture that thinks the same ways.   And it became apparent that the climate is so harsh in the winter that failure to think that way killed off those who did not.  It’s no surprise that I have this quality; it’s not really luck, but rather the result of thousands of years of necessity embedding itself as a DNA rule.

If you have a unique heritage, I strongly recommend the experience of visiting the motherland.  You will walk away understanding a considerable amount about why you think the way that you do and what parts of you are from culture and what parts of you are hard-wired.

Thanksgiving Daybreak

It’s just another day here in Dubrovnik, but I know it is Thanksgiving in America. Daybreak was pretty, so I am posting a photo. I really enjoy opening the window to the sounds of the seagulls in the morning. They soon fly off to live their seagull lives and you don’t hear them until the following morning.

tdaybreak

Hike in Dubrovnik

We went for an hour hike up the hill behind Dubrovnik to the fort built by the Napoleonic army in 1810 (a relatively new structure). The Homeland War Museum in it was good, and discussed how the Serbs and Montenegrins attacked Croatia after they declared independence in 1991. The most unbelievable fact was that the Serbs actually dropped bombs on the old walled city of Dubrovnik. I think it might not be too strong to say that bombing an UNESCO world heritage site that is largely unusable as a modern military location is just about a crime against humanity in my mind, and right up there with the Taliban destroying ancient relics like the Buddahs carved in stone in Afghanistan. Fortunately, the damage was minor in the case of the Dubrovnik bombing, but it is stunning to think that military commanders could conceive that this was a reasonable military action. Anyway, the day was beautiful at about 65-70 degrees, with a light wind and sunny. Here are some photos taken as we came down the hill near sunset.

dubrovnikonhill

fortatsunset

Kate was having fun:
katelookingoverdubrovnik

Can we get back to business now?

I have decided to edit this piece. If you want to see the original, send me an email.

My candidate of choice did not make it to the finals, and, from a position of conscience, I could not vote for either major candidate. However, if you are a Trump supporter, then congratulations are in order as your candidate and your support accomplished a minor miracle.  If you were a Hillary supporter, please accept my condolences but don’t blame those of us who, for reasons of conscience, could not support your candidate. (In the spirit of nonpartisanship, I will not elaborate on my reasons.) Generally speaking, I do not discuss politics on this blog, but the situation in America has become extreme enough that some objectivity from abroad may be helpful.

If you want to watch some very funny, foul-mouthed John-Stewart-like commentary on the election, I recommend the following: British comedian Jonathan Pie. His analysis is quite good even if his language is not. Here are my thoughts, considerably less funny than his:

1. I experienced the Brexit vote while in Europe. It was obvious to me that the intellectual elites were underappreciating the level of dissatisfaction of the economically disenfranchised. If you were NOT surprised at Brexit, then Trump’s election probably came as no surprise. As of Nov. 18, I have seen numerous commentaries about the linkage of these events; they share globalization, economic dislocation, and fear of immigrant impact.

2. Lots of people in the world really like and hate the Donald. The break is usually along the lines of Western/Eastern Europe from my travels, with Eastern Europe supporting him. Those in Eastern Europe experience many of the same issues as the economically disenfranchised in the United States. The market economy has raised prices and globalization has lowered their salaries. Pensioners live in extreme poverty. These countries are being asked to shoulder the burden of refugees, and they refuse to do it. These concerns about trade, the global economy, and xenophobia appear to my eyes to be the same issues as in the United States. It comes as no surprise to me that the East Europeans like the Donald. On the other hand, the Western Europeans with great education and jobs and a social safety net find Trump to be unimaginably boorish if not frightening. This strikes me as the same tension with the rust/rural belts and urban(e) coasts in America.

3. The elites with lots of education and marketable skills seem to have arrived at one of two places with respect to the economically disenfranchised: either “let them eat cake”, meaning that globalization does this sort of thing, or “vote for us because we have the kinder policies,” which is to say that life will be crappy, but less crappy than if you vote for my opponent. Neither of these are satisfactory for the heartland of America which encompasses 85% of the land mass in America. (Yes, you heard that right, 85% of the landmass supported Trump.) They built America, and now are being discarded or at least that’s the way it feels, and neither the social darwin view (“let them eat cake”) or the patronizing view (“my policies are less worse”) do ANYTHING to lessen the anger and resentment. Clinton desribed the Trump supporters as deplorables. Her supporters in the media characterized Trump supporters as a “burn the house down” kind of angry statement. From where I sit in Europe, these people no longer have a house. The elites do not appear to be responding to their needs with the kind of urgency that they feel is warranted. Donald is a vote for urgent change. Many of these people are the SAME PEOPLE that voted for Barack Obama’s themes of hope and change. But hope seemed to be in short supply and change was….shall we say…..going rather slowly.  People have kids that need education, healthcare; that can’t wait for 10 years. It needs to happen NOW. I am not saying that the Donald can or will deliver the change; I am only saying that there is a perception that Hillary could not and that Donald might.

4. I predict that a lot of Democrats will blame Hillary’s loss on: a) people who voted their conscience for a third-party candidate (i.e., Ralph Nader caused the Democratic loss in Florida and the Country) or did not vote; b) the FBI statements; and c) the Wikileaks materials. All candidates have flaws, and Hillary has hers. In many ways, her flaws are negligible, but, unfortunately for the Democrats, they bumped up against the issues identified in 1, 2, and 3 above. Hillary appears to be a sophisticated know-it-all with a great education who is leveraging her position for the benefit of her family’s trust fund (i.e., Clinton Foundation). She is politically correct, and has a message for the bankers and a message for the working class and so is viewed as disingenous. She’s for global trade, and the economic dislocation of the Clintons’ welfare reform seriously injured a lot of the lower class. Finally, the manipulation of events by the DNC and Hillary with respect to the primaries gave rise to a view that she was unworthy of trust.  These issues, and how they interplay with the issues of 1, 2, and 3 are why so many people got out and voted for the Donald. Yes, she SAID that she was for the working class, but she had a record that said that she was willing to sacrifice them (e.g., welfare reform, long-term incarceration, etc.).  This is the answer to Hillary’s question, “Why aren’t I ahead by 50 points?”  Donald was criticized for his lack of a get out the vote plan, and pundits predicted that he would lose as a result. But his candidacy ALIGNED with 1, 2, and 3 in a way that energized voters, and the message motivated voters. If the Democrats had presented an alternative candidate who had other weaknesses but directly spoke to the economic dislocation due to globalization, they would have won because Donald had serious flaws of his own.

If Donald is serious about being a great president, and he helps the poor and working class, then he will have done more for America than either party in the past thirty years. That’s the potential up side. There’s no point in rehashing the election any more than there was in 2000 or 2008, and this has been an instructive event for both mainstream parties. I only hope that Donald has a focus on the future as well as the past, and this is one thing that Ross Perot (that spoiler!) understood. America is falling behind in the skills of the future and is squandering its technological lead. Regardless of the deficit, we should spend a trillion dollars on improving the skills of our countrywomen and men; the net effect will be higher standards of living, a more competitive workforce, and less stress in the heartland. Yes, the heartland must also accept the need to do knowledge work if they are to improve their position in a globalized world where excess people push down the wages of the uneducated. In a global market-driven world, you are only paid for as much value as you can produce as assessed in the global marketplace. Even lawyers have discovered this fact as legal research has been moved offshore. We cannot forget the people in the heartland, but that doesn’t mean turning the clock back, it means bringing them forward with new skills. That is the sort of leadership that I hope the new administration is able to provide – making America great in the context of a 21st century world with many different challenges, competitors, and friends.

Feel free to send me your thoughts, but please be as polite as I have been.

MS Office 365 Exchange Email

After-the-fact thought: It occurred to me that some people might wonder WHY you might want to host your own email.  Simply put, if you register your own domain (e.g., hokkanen.com), then you can manage the emails and one is never tied to a particular provider (e.g., gmail, yahoo, etc.).  You can do more, your email addresses are always yours, and you can move your email hosting whenever you want.

Blog:

I have been administering email servers for twenty years. For the first five years, I downloaded and ran my own email servers. They weren’t so complicated in the early days, but the issue became one of open relays (spammers), hacking (spammers), and upgrades (spammers). In short, doing it yourself became tricky because the spammers were always trying to leverage your free box as their entry point to sending millions of spam. So I abandoned the idea of running my own server.

Over the past 15 years, I’ve used a few different Exchange hosting providers. I finally settled on Intermedia and used them for most of the past 15 years — up until yesterday. Now I use Microsoft’s Office 365 Exchange Service, for a number of very good and important reasons. I did not PLAN on making the switch this week, so I will digress momentarily on this topic. About 8 months ago, I heard that Amazon was offering Exchange hosting on its servers for about $7 or $8/month. Considering that I had been paying Intermedia $13 (or more) for each account, I thought this was pretty good. I cannot remember now why I did not pursue a switch, but there must have been a reason. However, this past Monday I happened to look at Intermedia’s current product offering, and discovered that my “account representative” had not been keeping me apprised of the offerings, and that now the company had an $8/month (per email account) offering available. (Sound like the typical cell phone plans?) This piqued me enough to ask “Who else is offering services, and how much are they charging?”

To my amazement, I found that Microsoft was now competing with Google by offering their Exchange Accounts for $50/year (about $4/month). I called Intermedia and, of course, my “account representative” was unavailable, and so I talked to another sales rep and asked him why the Intermedia offering at twice the cost was preferable. He responded with three items:
1) Up-time. Intermedia guaranteed their uptime, and I would be more satisfied than at Microsoft.
2) Customer Service. I can call and talk to a technical support person.
3) Control Panel. Intermedia believes their control panel to be much better than the Microsoft panel.

I told the sales rep that I had been a customer for over 10 years, and asked him how long he had been with the company (3 months). I explained that over those 10 years, I had encountered many issues, including down time, routing delays, migration issues, etc. So, I wasn’t convinced that the company that authored and sold Microsoft Exchange would implement their hosted exchange in an inferior manner. I had seen my share of rebates from the uptime guarantee, and frankly, most of us don’t want rebates, we want uptime.

Likewise, I was having a hard time believing that the control panel would be terrible. They have been hosting Exchange for a number of years. And so, I decided to try out the service, and so now I will tell you what I like about it compared to providers of the past.

1) Low cost/low minimums. $4 per month per user. BUT, MORE IMPRESSIVELY, a ONE ACCOUNT minimum. Intermedia has a 3 account minimum. I have needs for 3 accounts, so this isn’t really an issue, but Microsoft’s approach allows an admin to fire up ONE account for ONE month for $4. That’s what I call an inexpensive test. If you like it, then you can migrate ALL your email, ALL your accounts, etc. If you don’t, just turn it off. And so I signed up for one account for one month.

2) Having signed up, I had a chance to examine their control panel and set-up mechanism. Very, very good. Intermedia’s panel is a patchwork of different tools, and over the years you learn where to go to do different operations, but it is a patchwork that is glued together in an inconsistent way. Even their dashboard is a nightmare in some respects. Microsoft’s panel is straightforward, and since it is relatively new, it is consistent. The only slight comment on this is that their front-end user/group/domain administration tools are on one screen, and their Exchange server-specific administration tools are on another. Not sure why this is the case, but it looks like two tools glued together, but it was fairly obvious.

3) VERY CLEAR IMPLEMENTATION ADVICE. Because of their scale, they have detailed directions on how to implement your domain server changes and stuff like that. I’ve been doing this for 20 years, so I did not really need it for the basics, but they also step you through what to put for smart phone integration and other tools. INVALUABLE for the person who just bought a domain. Instead of having to try to learn from a manual, the tools step you through the process. IMPRESSIVE. (That isn’t to say that I violated some of their implementation due to my idiosyncratic needs, but for someone who is new, it would be hard to make a mistake.)

4) Capabilities. I have seen capabilities in the Microsoft Control Panel that are nowhere to be found in the Intermedia Control Panel. LOTS of them. Whether it is setting their service as Authoritative or Relay or setting spam response levels, there is much to be leveraged. The defaults, by and large, make complete sense. I deem this much improved over the Intermedia panel.

5) Customer Service. I will say that there is a differnt model in play here. Microsoft seeks to develop online resources capturing community information and then offering that up as support. This CAN be very useful, assuming you know how to search for the right answer. There is online help for Exchange Hosting as well, and I found these documents to be better. I resolved some tricky issues with this material. Finally, you can submit a customer service ticket. I’ll let you know how that works when I use it. Yes, it is nice to get a person on the phone, but I am skeptical that it is worth TWICE for EVERY SINGLE EMAIL ACCOUNT. If I were a complete ignoramus with a 3 accounts, then it might be worth the extra money, but this is thousands of dollars over the life of the account, and if you have 10 or 20 accounts, then I would deem it completely not worth it. You’d be better off hiring a consultant to help you implement the Microsoft setup.

So, within one day of testing on a spare domain, I deemed the Office 365 Exchange Hosting to be better and cheaper than the Intermedia platform. By the end of day 2, I had migrated over my three accounts and all of their email, contacts, etc. I’ll leave the Intermedia account (which is no longer receiving any email) in place for another week or so just as a security measure, but I think my relationship with them is doomed.

There is also a lesson to be learned for corporate vendors…. Keep your customers happy.  Don’t let them think you took advantage of their ignorance.  Intermedia, you “got” me and my money.  But it upset me a little, and caused me to look around.  And so you lost a customer of nearly 15 years.  Was that extra $100 worth it?  I’ll refer everyone to Office 365 now.  That’s something to think about if you are a vendor.