Category Archives: Business

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Be A Good Patriotic American By Renting Sony’s The Interview

Recently I’ve read a lot of things about the attacks against Sony. I’ve read that they’re nothing more than extortion attempts by hackers that probably live in their parents basements (based on the fact that the initial demands didn’t mention North Korea at all). I’ve read they were orchestrated by China by people who felt North Korea was being picked on and couldn’t stand up for themselves. I’ve read highly unconvincing reports from the FBI that they were orchestrated by North Korea. No one really knows. I can send traffic to servers from anywhere in the world. Anyone can anonymize their web traffic as easily as using a ToR plug-in with Firefox. I’ve also spoken to friends at Sony that told me that they’re concerned about the future viability of Sony due to the business impacts of these attacks. I’ve also spoken with people at other studios freaking out about not wanting to “be the next Sony.”

But in all of it, there’s something kicking in the back of my head. You see, if someone tried to blackmail me, I’d go to the press (or government) and allow the public to judge me for whatever it is, not cave to demands that are only likely to recur. Not giving into extortion demands is the right thing to do. If someone threatened the safety of people to go to a movie, I’d pull it as well, so that’s the right thing to do as well. There have been enough shootings in theaters and while financially potentially devastating it’s not worth the loss of a single human life to show The Interview in theaters. Of course, now that the attackers have backed off their stance, The Interview will be shown in hundreds of theaters. And it will likely be viewed online by millions of people over the next few days. And if this was carried out by North Korea, they couldn’t visit all of our homes to pull it (although the awful remake of Red Dawn by MGM might indicate differently).

I believe that the good, American thing to do is show our support to Sony for all the brain candy they’ve given us in the past. More than that, our support for doing what’s right. And what’s more capitalistic of us than spending $6 on a movie (other than spending more)? What’s better for Sony than to make a little money? In America, we tend to root for underdogs. We love Rocky (which btw cost less than a million to make and brought in a breathtaking $225M – 1:225 ROI there). We wanted Rudy to score a touchdown for the Irish (TriStar – part of Sony). We practiced our kicks like the Karate Kid (Columbia Pictures – part of Sony). We watched Jerry Maguire (TriStar – part of Sony again) even though we couldn’t stand Tom Cruise and rooted for the guy who risked it all to do the right thing (Money, baby). We threw up in our mouth a little when we watched Dodgeball (Fox but a fun movie anyways). We adore Gandhi (Columbia – again part of Sony) because it won an Oscar and taught us the story of one of the greatest men of all time. We loved Charlie Sheen when he was Winning in Major League (Mirage). And we loved Kick-Ass (Lions Gate), one of the unlikeliest heros of all.

Sony made Bond great again. Sony brought us Spiderman to the big screen. Sony told us about The Social Network (and were still allowed to have Facebook accounts. Sony gave us Eat Pray Love. Sony killed zombies awesome sauce in Zombieland. Sony gave us Superbad. Sony taught us a history lesson with The King’s Speech. Sony brought The Da Vinci Code to the big screen. Sony made a great movie in the Lords of Dogtown. Sony brought us Hell Boy, Adaptation (as a writer, a movie I love), Ali, Black Hawk Down and countless other movies. Some great, some not. That’s the game.

Now, we have a chance to do a very small part by helping Sony escape financial ruin. And yes, they make more movies that suck than are awesome. Because that’s what all studios do. And yes, the film industry seems like a bunch of rich people being silly sometimes. But there are real people that work there. Normal people. With boys and girls and installations at burning man. Some of the best people I know. And they do great work. And sometimes the studio makes brilliant movies. And whether this was spearheaded (yes, bad pun on spear phishing) by a dictator with a bad fade, the remaining communist hardliners in China, another studio or something else, it’s up to the market to dictate the outcome. That’s capitalism. ‘Merica

PS – It’s hilarious.

Business personal public speaking

Minnebar Presentations Available On YouTube

I was supposed to give a presentation at MinneBar a few weeks ago, but I ended up having to be out of town. I was pretty bummed as I really wanted to see a few of the presentations. But, lucky me, MinneBar has actually started posting presentations to YouTube. Woohoo, they’re available at

The one I think I was most interested in seeing is available right here, and I can embed it into my own site and watch it from here.

I will try and make the next one to do the presentation I’d planned on giving. This is a community I am very supportive of and love contributing to (although the next time someone uses “serial entrepreneur” as their job title I might not be able to suppress the eye roll + flutter combination – sry).

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Apple's Customer Facing SystemStatus

Apple now has a new system status page for their services, available at This site goes through many of Apple’s services and shows an indicator light for when they are up. Additionally, you can scroll down to the detailed timeline and see a historical account of what services are online.

This is yet another step in Apple’s continued progress at providing more and more information to the community on, well, everything. This includes seeing Apple popping up at conferences here and there, most notably at Black Hat this year, publishing more kbase articles that detail problems and allowing more community involvement from some employees. A more open Apple is a more enterprise, education and consumer friendly Apple.


The Return of Dallas: 25 Business Tips Learned From The Ewings

JR Ewing (aka Larry Hagman) passed away this week. He was one of the stars of Dallas and the famed character from the “who shot JR” line. He also had a ton of great quotes over the years, such as “Say, why don’t you have that junior plastic surgeon you married design you a new face: one without a mouth!” and “”Revenge is the single most satisfying feeling in the world!” He also busted out with “A conscience is like a boat or a car. If you feel you need one, rent it.” and one that every NFL running back seems to bust out with in the last year of their contract “Contracts were made to be broken, honey, but a handshake is the law of God.”

"Never tell the truth when a good lie'll do!"

“Never tell the truth when a good lie’ll do!”

I was really too young to watch Dallas. But I did here and there. Later, I was way too late to watch it, but thanks to NetFlix, I watched every painful episode of every season of the show that I wasn’t allowed to watch ’cause I was too young. And looking back, there’s one thing you can’t deny: most of the basics about how to conduct business can be learned from this show, especially from JR. So here’s my top 25 (moved these up from back in July) in honor of JR, may he rest in peace:

  1. Do the right thing. JR’s dirty dealings never really won out in the end, because bad only begets bad. So be a good person. All the good things happen to Bobby.
  2. Don’t be too soft. But Bobby was too soft to really get the job done either. So don’t be too good a person. Oh who am I kidding, Bobby got it all no matter which way you slice it, be a good person already…
  3. California is where it’s at! The brother Gary moved to California and got his own show. The women in Knots Landing were way better (OMG, shoulder pads!!!). Therefore, California is a good place to run a business. Note: Every promo shot for this show had more women than men.
  4. Computers are awesome! Bobby had a computer and dated the hottest lady on the show, therefore computers are for business and getting ladies.
  5. Blood, sweat and tears. After JR got shot, the numbers on the show (and the millions the family gambled with) skyrocketed. That must mean that a little pain leads to more money. The first time over 40,000,000 people turned on the TV to watch something was to see who shot JR. Eclipsed by a teary Mash finale, and then the Super Bowl where the sweaty Saints were paid bounties to kick the crap out of the opposing team, the show that answered the question is still the 3rd most watched show of all time (OJs trial is 4th, speaking of blood).
  6. Be real. Bobby’s whole coma season was a dream. That means that you can do awful, terrible things, but you’ll wake up the next day and it will all be alright! Wait, that’s not the point. The point is that when Dallas stopped being itself and went into this weird place where entire seasons disappeared, things got lame and people stopped watching. Except me, thanks to NetFlix and a stubborn way about me…
  7. Business is best done by the pool. Watching them talk on those big old school cell phones by the pool about the millions on this and that, with women swimming in the pool reminds me, I should probably get a pool…
  8. Be yourself. Pamela Ewing was awesome and now notsomuch. So plastic surgery is very, very bad! Before that plastic surgery, she did in the BeeGees and was the 1980s version of Juliet…
  9. There can be only one. Maybe that was the Highlander. No, it was Dallas. Or college football: Mack Brown, Joe Paterno and other legendary football coaches can tell you, having two starting quarterbacks is just gonna’ muck things up. Someone needs to be the alpha, the CEO, the person who calls the shots. Rivalry leads to a negative form of competition at the top. Competition is good in games, sports (pre-season at least) and other places, but at the end of the day, life isn’t a game and someone needs the responsibility. While we’re on the subject of the highlander, the TV show sucked. Like really bad. But Sean Connery, he was pretty awesome.
  10. Listen. OK, I learned this from watching what they didn’t do, not what they did do. Even the good guys on this show didn’t listen. Bobby would get all sensitive ponytail guy and ask Pam how she was feeling and then run off to go hunting or something. That’s why she married someone else later, before coming back to him, then getting a nose job and shacking up with the BeeGees! The BeeGees are very much not from Dallas.
  11. Don’t hold a grudge. Cliff Barnes never really ended up getting revenge. He just kinda’ lingered on the show like a silly, bad comedic sidekick. Business is business, you win some and some you don’t. His feud with the Ewings basically killed his dad and led him to be one of the lamer characters on TV. If he’d of just let it go, or moved to California to be with Gary and chase ladies around the cul-de-sac he’d of been much happier!
  12. Old school FTW! Jock and Miss Ellie were some of the best characters on TV. Jock had a way with business, he’d tell it like it is, do what needed to be done but not take things too far. Sure, he screwed over Digger Barnes back in the day, but the guys name was Digger, what did he expect?!?! Jock made the show ’cause he was old school. Jim Davis had done westerns his whole life. Mostly B movies at that. How could you not be grizzled. I some day hope to be just like him. Well, minus the occasional leisure suit (he had just survived the 70s after all).
  13. Don’t be a hothead. Nepotism lives: just ask Ray Krebbs. He could have had it all. From ranch hand to big man on campus in about 2 episodes flat. But getting angry and going off never really helped anyone. Any time your heads about to pop you’re so mad about something, just think: “You just gotta keep livin’ man, L-I-V-I-N.” I know that’s Dazed and Confused, and has nothing to do with Dallas but it’s also set in Texas and it works…
  14. Stay Sober. Sue Ellen was an icon of the 1980s. She was JR’s wife, heiress to the family fortune and when she was bad, she was awesome. Then her character drank too much and became a caricature of her former self. When the booze impact the ratings, time to go to rehab.
  15. Teamwork builds ships. Maybe not ships, but certainly fortunes. The Ewing boys, when they worked together had massive pay outs. Problem is, after each one, they turned on one another (or at least JR turned on Bobby) in vicious not-very-brotherly plots that all but destroyed each successive fortune.
  16. Finding good people is hard. Practically every henchman JR hired ended up turning on him. Recruiting good talent is tough. When you find good people, hang on to them! One thing was they never drew a line between henchmen who were politicians and those who weren’t. JR hung on to these two even after the show was over… 
  17. Don’t go into business with bad people. JR screwed over all the other Dallas oilmen, over and over and over, and they just kept investing in his schemes… Look, assume everyone is out for themselves to some degree. But there are limits. If you know someone is bad, just don’t even get in business with them, no matter how lucrative they make it seem. When we were investing money in Enron, we should have realized, from watching Dallas, what would happen…
  18. Form good partnerships. The Texas oilmen always loved doing business with Bobby. He paid out, didn’t screw them over and was fair. They still went to do business with JR when he called, but that usually had to do with JR having pictures of them with hookers or something… Speaking of which, I wonder what he’s got on ‘ole Rick Perry?!?!?
  19. The key to negotiating is leverage. Back to the hookers thing. JR never left anything to chance. Hookers, blow, whatever it took. Bobby was the guy before the show started that made money flow into the politicians hands. But here, I have to disagree with Dallas. The key to good negotiations is having a solid product or service, not the dirt on everyone in town. Maybe back then, but these days the dirt is all over Facebook already… Wait, I forgot, I learned my negotiation skills from Oz. Either that or I just enjoyed watching the show. No, I seem to remember bringing a shank to a contract negotiation once… Or not. I think that was yesterday… Wait, nevermind…
  20. It’s never too late to turn it around. Sure, Sue Ellen was bad off, in jail, moved off to live with a rodeo clown and then got brought back in. But she was better and had an air of confidence and serenity that made you realize that yes, the 1970s were over, it was seriously the 80s and she was seriously wearing Hammer pants…
  21. Attitude is everything. Larry Hagman’s belt buckle says it all (I have one that says krypted in honor of it)… Have you seen the guy’s eyebrows?!?!? He was on TV for decades, first in I Dream Of Jeannie (where he taught me very different things) and then in Dallas and after trying to bring I Dream Of Jeannie back, is back in Dallas… How do you stick around this long? Well, some use a spell to become a lich. I suspect Hagman of such a trick… But really, with him, it’s all about the attitude. That’s why he was so believable as JR and the nation took to the show the way it did. 
  22. Have a purpose. The show finally ended because there wasn’t anything left in the tank. They had no purpose left in them. Not that they ever had a purpose other than making money by drilling the world dry of oil (which translates into the producers drilling the intelligence out of the audience, one train wreck of a season after another beyond the 4th season).
  23. Actually, come to think of it, Dallas didn’t teach me anything about business. I learned about business from playing Civilization. Wait, no, that’s politics. Either way, the French will always turn on you! Right, I remember now, watch Oz for business advice. Way better than an MBA… Wait, there is something, if you haven’t won after being off the air for over 21 years and on for over 10, after 30 years, just stop. No really, unless you’re in prison like in Oz. Then you’ve kinda’ got nothing else to do…
  25. Nothing is ever really over (so here’s the obligatory trailer embed)!

Articles and Books Business

Amazon Now Has Book Trade Ins

When I was in college, at the end of each semester we’d go to the book store (you know, that place that fleeced us with $100 used books) and we’d sell back those books for about one tenth to one quarter what we bought them from. We’d then use that money to help fund one of our books for the next semester (or beer). Well, Amazon is doing something similar now. Although it has to do more with when new editions of the book are released. Each edition of a book allows you to trade the book in for new editions.

Take Practical C++ Programming, from O’Reilly. Apparently I bought the chipmunk book at some point. In fact, considering the fact I can see it on my shelf from where I’m sitting I am certain of it (unless I am hallucinatin’ again – in which case I would really hope for something better than a freakin’ tech book). When I go to the page for that book on Amazon, they know I bought it (they sold it to me after all) and they’re kind enough to offer to buy it off me for about a buck and a half (about 1 / 20th what I bought it for) and sell me the new edition for about $25.30 (or $6.53 used).

I know I’m poking at this just a little bit, but that’s just because it makes me think of college. I honestly think it’s a really great feature. There are so many options for things like books and this is just another that will keep me going back to Amazon!

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My New Book on Time Machine Now Available

I have published a new book on Time Machine (Time Capsule, deployment/Managed Prefs and Time Machine Server as well). I wrote it months and months ago and it finally ended up getting posted (publishing is a weird world like that sometimes). It is available for Kindle (Amazon) for now and should be up on the iBooks store as soon as the good people from iTunes Connect get back from their holiday break. To quote the Amazon excerpt:

Time Machine is Apple’s built-in backup solution that comes bundled with Mac OS X. In this book, we will explore Time Machine, looking at how to enable Time Machine, configure what to back up and where to back up to.

Much of Time Machine has to do with the network environment that a computer is in, or the ecosystem. In this book, we look at using Apple AirPort and Time Capsule in such an ecosystem. We also look at using network attached storage and other 3rd party solutions, as most environments are heterogenous.

This book is written from the ground up for Lion. As such, tools like FileVault 2 are covered. We also look at getting more granularity in your backup configuration, as well as third party tools used to backup Lion computers. And of course, no book about Time Machine in Lion would be complete without taking a look at Time Machine Server, a way to centralize backups in an environment around the Time Machine solution.

Finally, Time Machine is more scalable than ever in Lion; however, mass integration may require centralized management (such as Managed Preferences) or scripting automations to configure backups. In this book, we will look at typical deployment scenarios and what else needs to go into moving Time Machine from a basic backup tool to a much more comprehensive backup solution.

This is my first foray into the eBook publishing thing, so if you see anything off, that I missed, etc please let me know. The book is available here or using the link below:

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MacTech Bootcamps Coming To A City Near You!

I’ve been watching the MacTech Conference and then Boot Camps for some time. After hearing of the resounding success of the Conference last summer I was then stoked to hear that the January Boot Camp went extremely well. A MacTech Boot Camp is a regional, single-track seminar designed specifically for consultants and techs. MacTech Conference is a multi-day conference for IT professionals with a focus on enterprise and development whereas the Boot Camps are for consultants and techs focused on home users and small to medium sized businesses. Both are going really well. is now a media sponsor of MacTech Boot Camps! This means I get discounts to offer my readers! There is a Dallas Boot Camp coming up on April 27th and a Boston Boot Camp on May 18th. You can get a discount ($200 off) by signing up at There is also one is Los Angeles on July 27th and one in Chicago on August 31st to round out the summer. You can get early bird pricing and a discount for those ($200 off) at

There’s a lot of information covered in the Boot Camps, with each city hosting about 9 sessions of 45 minutes each. For a list of topics, see The 2011 curriculum includes:

  • Building Your Brand: Marketing and Business Concerns
  • An Experts Guide to Working with Clients
  • Best practices: Hardware, Software and Network Deployment
  • Troubleshooting Hardware, Software and Network Problems
  • Integrating Mobility into Small Business
  • Windows Concerns in a Mac Office
  • Scripting, Storage and Protecting Oneself: Backing up, Archiving and Restoring Data
  • How to Make Remote Consulting Work for You
  • You Can’t Know Everything: Getting the Support You Need

Certification testing is also available the day before the Boot Camps start through third party testing centers. This lets you get a lot of education out of the way at once (and at a discount) so you can focus on other stuff for the rest of the summer! For more on certification options:

And let’s not forget that the second MacTech conference is going back to the Los Angeles area, from November 2nd through 4th at the Universal Sheraton! 3 days, meals included lots of very technical, enterprise oriented fun will be had by all!

Business iPhone

iPhone, NFC & A Few Hundred Billion Dollars

Many of us now use our phone to check our email more often than we use our computer. Our phones go everywhere with us (although please hang up when you’re in the can as few things are more disgusting than listening to someone talk to their mom when they’re droppin’ the kids off at the pool in the stall next to you or hearing someone you’re talking to dropping’ a deuce in the pooper on the other end of the line). Many no longer have land lines and some have even dumped desktop and laptop computers in favor of smart-phone or tablet based digital lives. Few skipped the computer altogether as pundits thought, but then the globe hasn’t fully been digitally meshed.

Technology has connected us to a wireless world. But it’s also changed how many of us view and use money. Many of us forgot what cash looked like a long time ago. We live on plastic. We use, Quicken or some other online aggregator to access our financial lives much as we manage our servers: using a single pane of glass. With our transactions securely accessible in the cloud and our bills on auto-pay we are able to realize how great, or how bleak, our financial picture is, both short-term and long-term.

Maybe we grab cash to pay for parking (less and less) or maybe we hit the ATM on the way to buy something we found on sites like craigslist (the final frontier of the cash and carry economy). But increasingly, people in developed economies are moving away from cash. In this scenario, banks charge merchants percentages of the transactions taken. Visa, Mastercard, Barclays, American Express, Discover, etc.

According to the latest numbers from the Department of Commerce, $300 billion in consumer transactions occurred on the internet in 2008. Not a lot compared to $3.7 trillion total going over the internet (the other $3.4 trillion were business to business transactions). But a lot considering that telco companies in the US combine to rake in about the same at $300 billion.

The US economy is worth around $22 trillion a year, meaning that there’s still a little more than 83% of the economy that we computer nerds would just love a piece of. We have our phones with us, and like a Widespread Panic song we’re more and more fond of Travelin’ Light (MacBook Air, smaller iPad, etc). So it makes sense that our phone would be able to act as a credit card. And if that happened then there would be a cut for someone. Banks want that cut, but then, so do the wireless companies. And of course, the makers of cell phones wouldn’t mind a taste too while we’re at it. I can understand why they’re arguing over a piece of the action as it will result in more fees than the entire amount of money spent on products online.

It seems as though momentum is picking up for Near-Field Communications (NFC), which allows for phones acting as wireless credit cards. NFC runs on the 13.56 MHz frequency and allows vendors, such as Starbucks, who have support for NFC to swipe your card without it ever leaving your hand (by the way, companies like IBM won’t mind selling their clients all new cash registers). Google is pretty hip to NFC, with the Samsung Nexus S, with Nokia and RIM on their way with products. And NFC is accepted about 200,000 locations in the US already. Oh, and most banks are testing it out now (but then they’re probably testing a lot of other stuff too)…

The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council sets rules for both (e.g. PCI compliance). Up until earlier this year, they had approved a few applications that allowed people to make mobile payments using phones. These included VeriFone for iPhone. But with VeriFone leaving the table there is nothing else for the iPhone. Therefore, many project that the future of the iPhone will include NFC.

I don’t like to prognosticate, but something is going to happen with this whole use-your-phone-as-a-credit-card thing. If Apple jumps on board with NFC (both AT&T and Verizon are on board with Discover under the ISIS banner so wouldn’t be a surprise) then NFC will truly be the next big thing. If all (and I mean all) of the other wireless carriers do this without the iPhone they’ll leave Apple behind and Apple will have to play a little catch-up. Or Apple will bring out something cooler than NFC as “one more thing”. Or of course it could all be a crock of crap and no one will actually care about replacing their credit card with a phone. I remember when RFID was supposedly going to replace credit cards according to pundits. That hasn’t really happened, so maybe this won’t either.

PS – Don’t forget to charge your phone before you head out to dinner or you might spend the evening washing the dishes!

Business Mac OS X Server

Active Announcement in the Morning!

For those who haven’t yet seen it, or who almost forgot due to crossing too many time zones, Active Storage, the makers of the Active RAID will be announcing their new product tomorrow morning. From what you see on the web site it looks to be some sort of rack mount device. Given their fantastic development work in the past, it’s sure to be a good addition to the bat-belts of the MacIT crowd. 9am Eastern, see ya’ there!


EMC + Isilon = ?

EMC is buying Isilon for $2.25 billion. They want the video market, which seems to just be growing and growing. EMC stock dipped a little on the news, which is not surprising because Isilon isn’t worth what EMC is paying for it. What does this mean for the video market? More uncertainty. EMC has been an acquisition marathon runner since 2002, buying up Avamar, Documentum, Epoch, McData, Iomega, Archer, Greenplum, Bus-Tech, Kashya, Dantz, Mozy, Data Domain and even VMware (not to mention a bunch of other companies).

So what does this mean for Isilon’s product line moving forward. If you look at how the acquisition of Dantz and Iomega sparked the Insignia line at EMC and how profits from those lines jumped well over 60% it isn’t hard to think that Isilon will almost instantly become more profitable. Of course, the Mac Retrospect software was sold off and now has an uncertain future… One would like to think that the combination of EMC’s wide variety of technologies and Isilon will result in even more environments that Isilon can play and even more technical advances to the product line. But I guess we’ll see what happens there…