Monday, August 31, 2009

Off to VMWorld

This week, I'll be blogging live from VMWorld. The conference, which kicked off today and runs through Thursday at the Moscone Center in downtown San Fran, has gone from a niche offering to a major event that draws folks from all corners of the IT and storage industries. And no wonder, considering the transformative power of virtualization. Stay tuned for updates throughout the week. You might also want to follow me on Twitter. (Please do!) Or watch the endless scrolling #VMWorld hashtag on Twitter for everyone's take on this year's conference.

And if you're wondering where to go and mingle in the evening, there will be a Tweetup for storage folks Tuesday (Sept. 1) at B Restaurant and Bar in downtown San Francisco. To attend, RSVP here. There will also of course be plenty of other events--including, of course, some virtual ones. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Frankly My Dear ... Another Aptonym!

A video clip of a certain congressman has been making the rounds today that is a perfect illustration of an aptonym. An aptonym is a name that is all too appropriate for its holder. As readers of this blog know, I am a particular aficionado of this phenomenon, which is also known as "nominative determinism." I have posted on it several times, offering such examples as New York Times reporter Louise Story and Bernard Madoff who "made off" with billions in others' money.

But today's coverage of U.S. Representative Barney Frank being, well, completely frank with a member of the audience really takes the biscuit as far as I'm concerned.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Vacation for Success

Today's New York Times science section has an article reporting that the brain, when stressed, gets into a vicious circle that leads to repetitive behavior. That in turn leads to ... yes, you guessed it, more stress!

The study was performed on rats, which--as anyone who has ever worked in a corporate setting can tell you--have brains that are almost identical to those of humans. As the researchers discovered, stressed rats lose their ability to be creative and thoughtful in their actions, and instead begin repeating the same useless behavior over and over and over again. Sound familiar?

The good news is that the brain is highly suggestible and can turn on a dime. Once the rats were put on a "vacation in a supportive setting free of bullies and Tasers, the formerly stressed rats looked just like the controls, able to innovate, discriminate..."

If you stop and think about it, this is really, really good news. We all know that stress takes a toll on the body and the mind, and has been said to contribute to just about every known disease, from the flu to cancer. Yet if this study is correct--and my money says it is--what it's really saying is that we can change our lives and our health right away. Not only that, but we can put ourselves on track to be the kind of creative, flexible thinkers that are well placed for taking advantage of new opportunities in life. In other words, if you want to really succeed, relax.

Here are a few related discoveries that shed even more light on the potential to unleash success through relaxation and enjoyment of life:

A study at Yale University found that regular meditation didn't just reduce stress. It actually reshaped the brain in such a way that it was less likely to experience it in the future, by physically building up gray matter.

Our response to fear or stress could very well be strongly influenced by what we say to ourselves, according to new research on the regions of the brain that control the mind's "cross talk" and its connection with the emotional centers of the brain.

A study published in the Journal of Advancement in Medicine showed that feelings of compassion increased the body's production of disease fighting antibodies, while feelings of anger suppressed the production of those same antibodies.

What this all points to is the immense power that we all have within ourselves to change our lives on just about every level. Whatever you may think about the new age concepts around creating your own reality, there is no question that we create our responses to our own reality. And that, it seems, is what makes all the difference.

***Update: my friend Jake McGowan of Rolling Orange sent this site his company created: Stress: Portrait of a Killer, which covers research by Stanford's Robert Sapolsky. Very interesting stuff.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

It's All About You

I've been doing some thinking about the Facebook-FriendFeed acquisition, and I think just about everyone has missed the point. The tech press has been going ga-ga over the news of the $50 million acqui, announced last Monday and quickly picked up on Twitter, FriendFeed and across the blogosphere. We're seeing a slew of opinion pieces pop up in daily newspapers, tech rags, and just about everywhere else. Probably not surprising since August is a slow news month, but really, it's starting to get ridiculous.

Commentators--perhaps in an effort to outhype one another--are getting more and more het up about what this could all mean. Some say the deal is Facebook's bid to become a kind of killer app--the platform that replaces Google as most people's home page. Others take it to an even greater extreme, as for example this Washington Post contributor whose view is that this is Facebook's way of taking over the ENTIRE SOCIAL WEB (cue eerie music...).

Here's what I think is missing from the discussion. We can wear ourselves out wondering whether Facebook is going to become our de facto site of choice (which I very much doubt it will). But more interesting to me is what it says about how central social media is becoming to our working and personal lives--not to mention breaking down the barriers between the two.

What Facebook is attempting to do, I think, is to incorporate functionality that will feed our growing fascination with the social web. This seems like a good thing. Certainly, for those who enjoy social networking for its purely social elements, it could be a nice way to bring more cool stuff under one roof. Beyond that, I think it could be a positive boon for those of us who recognize its potential for creating a far richer and more rewarding work and business life for ourselves.

And now for some perspective. Mashable reported last March that social networking is now more popular than email as an online activity. In fact, it's been almost a year now that social networking has surpassed porn as one of the top online activities. So to me the question is, how can the enhancement of these tools help people build what branding expert Dan Schwabel has so astutely termed "Me 2.0"? And for the answers to that, I plan to sit back, relax, and enjoy the future as it arrives.

Monday, August 10, 2009

FriendBook? FaceFeed?

Some news broke today that was like the shattering of a thousand teacups in the hands of a legion of grandmas across the globe: Facebook is acquiring FriendFeed. What to make of this? Will we FriendFeed-ers lose our beloved insider's social network forever? Will Louis Gray end up dating Paul Buchheit? It's such a complicated situation.

The really worst thing about this, in my view is that the FriendFeed team is moving out of has already abandoned its Mountain View digs and is moving to the Facebook offices in Palo Alto.

It's been hard enough to find a table at the Starbucks on University Avenue as it is. Now with all those FriendFeed people in town, it will be that much tougher to find a place for me to sit down and sip a chai latte while staring blankly at my Macbook. OK so maybe I'm being a bit selfish.

Surely there are other downsides. Such as the fact that FriendFeed will probably cease to exist, and instead will be rolled into Facebook's functionality. Still, if I know the pace of these things, it will be another four years before this happens. Witness the fact that Google Video still provisionally exists, three and half years after the much ballyhooed YouTube acquisition. But mainly, I'm worried about the chai.