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IFX Group 2007 Web Log

2007 Blog Entries
  1. Lessons From Geese. (January)
  2. Biography or Novel? (February)
  3. Equality Degraded? (March)
  4. History Libre. (April)
  5. A Conversation of Actions. (May)
  6. The Gift of Failure. (June)
  7. The Gift of Collaboration. (July)
  8. The Gift of Persistence. (August)
  9. The Boundary Between Us and Them. (September)
  10. The Theseus Paradox. (October)
  11. Edu-Delusion. (November)
  12. Worth Measuring. (December)

January, 2007 - Lessons From Geese.

Dr. Patch Adams made the following observations. When a goose flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the birds that follow. By flying in formation, the whole flock adds a 71% increase flying range than if each goose flew alone.

People who share a common direction and a sense of community get where they are going quicker and easier by following on the thrust of one another.

The geese in the flock honk encouragement to those up ahead for them to keep up their speed and know they are not alone.

It is very important that the kind of honking we get is encouraging. In groups where there is encouragement, production is much greater. The power of encouragement, that is to stand by our core values and encourage others to stand by their core values, is the kind of encouragement and honking we need most.

Silence is not encouragement. What kind of noise are you making?


February, 2007 - Biography or Novel?

Imagine for a moment your whole life as a book where you are born in the first chapter, die in the last and everything you say and do is written on the pages in between.

Do you live your life as if it were biography or novel?

Are you simply collecting facts and counting milestones along life's path towards the final page? Or are you writing a great novel about a richly textured love woven deep into the fabric of your life to the point that the words desire to leap off the page with excitement and even the pages are sweetly fragrant like a garden basking in warm golden sunlight after a soft spring rain.

Sadly, it is all too easy to get caught up in the work-day world where pointless facts and trivial urgent things attempt to push the truly important parts of life to the side. If this is allowed to happen too often and continue too long, the pages of your life will become populated with emotionless and vain accomplishments that quickly become stale facts in yet another biography.

What if all these pointless, trivial and vain things actually serve a purpose with all their attempts to distract and woo us away from our love?

Love stories are not much fun to read without some trials and tribulations, but true love overcomes the obstacles and wins the ultimate prize. Some believe the love that endures grows sweeter because it has been proven. How do others know your love has endured if it can not be easily found in the pages of your life?

What kind of book are you writing with your life?


March, 2007 - Equality Degraded?

Beware of those promoting equality through the degradation of others. To borrow from a strategic saying, this is not a zero-sum game. Thinking the only way to win is at the expense of someone else may be missing a much larger reward.

Maybe it would help to consider some common team sporting events. Every competitive sport has the concept of us vs. them, but in team sports there is also the much stronger concept of individuals working together at the best of their ability to help the team achieve a goal.

The human race is a team sport that some attempt to add a false us vs. them component. All humans are actually on the same team but instead of encouraging all of the players to become their best, some of the players think they can appear taller by subjecting and degrading other team members. This action only hurts the team, even those doing the degrading, to the point the team is much less able to achieve any goal.

Think about any oppressed group (ethnic, sexual, religious, etc.) and how they try to achieve equality. Do they focus their efforts on directly breaking their bonds or do they focus on attacking and degrading the people that in some way represent the bonds? One of these ways brings more degradation and oppression.

Try something different by building up, encouraging and affirming those around you. Maybe then it will be possible to see how things automatically become more equal at a much higher level and the team becomes better able to achieve goals previously thought to be impossible.


April, 2007 - History Libre.

The only thing new in the world is the history you don't know.
- Harry S. Truman

How much knowledge, understanding and wisdom is lost just because some self-absorbed child felt his elders were impossibly stuck in the past with no grip on modern reality?

Consider life through the eyes of that teenager in ancient Egypt that refused to listen to the old man telling stories about how he moved solid blocks of stone many miles from the quarry to pile them up in a pyramid. That kid had one of the great mysteries of the world right there for the asking. Maybe he was too busy with his own daily life to take the time to listen?

It is impossible to know how many times this same scenario plays out every day with equally important and valuable information slipping through our collective fingers into the mists of forgotten history.

What wonderful knowledge and understanding is right in front of you for the asking? Are you taking the time to listen?


May, 2007 - A Conversation of Actions.

Almost everyone knows the saying that actions speak louder than words, but what if actions are more like a second conversation that either agrees with our words or contradicts them?

What do your actions say in contrast to your words? Are you always too busy working or playing to spend time with your family and your loved ones even though your words say family comes first? Are you more interested in a TV show or computer game than in the real person sitting next to you even though you say you love them more than anything?

If your words always say one thing and your actions always say something else, what does that say about you?


June, 2007 - The Gift of Failure.

In 1943 James Wright was attempting to create a synthetic rubber. He was unable to achieve the properties he wanted and put his creation, later to be called Silly Putty, on the shelf as a failure.

In 1970 Spencer Silver was trying to make a super strong adhesive. His creation ended up being the super weak adhesive we know today as the glue on Post-it brand note paper.

Sometimes there is value to be found in working toward a goal while allowing yourself to make mistakes. But there may be even greater rewards to be found by not blindly forgetting and discarding your failures.

Learning from mistakes is a good place to start. Knowing that mistakes can have their own value is a big step towards a richer life. Allowing others to see value in our failure, even when we can't, ultimately enriches the world.


July, 2007 - The Gift of Collaboration.

In 1950 Bell Laboratories employees Gerald Pearson, Daryl Chapin and Calvin Fuller, all working on different projects, literally saw over the shoulder of their co-worker and ended up combining their efforts into what became the first photovoltaic solar cell to get electricity from light.

The modern corporate philosophy pushing to protect trade secrets and isolate information even from different departments inside the same company may be robbing us all from dramatic new discoveries that only come from collaboration. It is possible the rush to protect ideas is actually hurting the whole human race.

Maybe this is one reason why the open source software (OSS) world with its strong culture of collaboration is making such amazing advancements. This becomes even more amazing when considering that this advancement happens daily in the face of closed hardware technical hurdles and false FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) campaigns from fearful closed-source software providers.

Are you collaborating and allowing others to do the same?


August, 2007 - The Gift of Persistence.

In 1969 Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, Douglas McIlroy, Joe Ossanna, the last members of the failed Multics project at Bell Laboratories, went against management's desire to cut their losses. They ended up creating UNIX and have directly influenced all modern operating systems.

Imagine what would have happened to these rogue efforts if today's work ethic and business practices were more common back then. The world would be a very different place for sure.

The world we know today is built directly on the efforts of countless people left holding an unexpected gift when they failed to reach their original goal. They were allowed to look over the shoulders of others and fought to do something in spite of opposition and lack of funding. This is the open source software (OSS) world.

The open source software community is well populated with people all fighting to do something in spite of opposition and lack of funding. They freely publish their source code so anyone can look over their shoulder to see how things work and make improvements. Most importantly, they allow anyone to make mistakes while watching for the valuable lessons and results each mistake uncovers.

The IFX Group has published the source code to many of our tools and maintains a list of our favorite open source software we think you will like.

You can help keep ideas flowing by telling others about the open source software you like too.


September, 2007 - The Boundary Between Us and Them.

There are over 6 billion people on this planet and what sometimes seems like two or three times that many different religions. The only common theme with most of the more vocal religions is a strong belief that it is the right one and all others are wrong in some way.

What if all of them are part right and part wrong at the same time?

An odd thing about people is that almost from birth they like to gather together into groups of us and them. This is no different with religious groups. People in the us group are accepted while everyone in the them group are on some level adversaries to be converted or conquered.

The reality is that all of these things only serve to further divide us into smaller and smaller groups. The sad part is that we won't be able to see it clearly until there is something to create a boundary where the us group is the whole planet Earth.

It seems only then will we be able to see past the imaginary borders of the artificial and petty groups we have formed.

Hope that them come in peace.


October, 2007 - The Theseus Paradox.

According to Greek legend, the ship in which Theseus and the youth of Athens returned from Crete was preserved by the Athenians for a great many years by replacing decaying planks with new and stronger wood. This ship became a standing example among philosophers about the logical question of things that grow; one side saying the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it did not.

Along similar lines Dr. Jonas Frisen, a stem cell biologist, has published landmark findings that almost every part of the adult human body including bone is in a state of continual replacement. He claims most cells are less than 7 to 10 years old even in a middle-aged person.

The Greek historian Plutarch questioned whether the ship of Theseus remained the same when entirely replaced piece by piece, but the same question holds true for our bodies that are replacing cells piece by piece throughout our whole life.

Are we still acting and thinking the same as we did a decade ago even though virtually all of our parts have changed?


November, 2007 - Edu-Delusion.

There was a time, not too long ago, when any higher education degree guaranteed employment if you wanted to work. Today many schools appear to be more interested in keeping their test scores high than in keeping the quality of their education. To be fair, this is a direct result of how performance is mistakenly measured by a standardized test (showing only rote fact memory instead of true understanding) and how funding is connected to those test scores.

If this trend is allowed to continue, the average college graduate will no longer be able to pass early elementary school tests from a few years ago and our world sinks back into the dark ages of ignorance and superstition. Some say this has already happened.

What can you do to fight this? Take matters into your own hands and educate yourself first! Seek out knowledge and understanding everywhere you go. Look at the history behind everything and consider the lessons that can be learned from both mistakes and successes. Then do everything you can to pass this on to others.

Your effort will be richly rewarded.


December, 2007 - Worth Measuring.

Is your value based on dead things or live things? In the event of a natural disaster like a storm, flood or fire hitting your home, where does your mind go first? Are you thinking about all of the dead things in your house that will be lost? Dead things include all of the electronics, clothes, and other valuables. Or does your mind go first to the living things like your family and pets?

Take it one step more and consider your first thought if you hear news that all of your savings and investments are worthless or gone. Does this news significantly change who you are? Do you suddenly become a different person? And most importantly, what happens to your self worth?

If your personal value is only found in the dead things you own or the money you hold, then you can be destroyed in a single moment by someone else taking the value from those things. Instead if your value is clearly based in who you are, what you do and the living things that put value in you, then every dead thing you own can be taken away and your value does not change. You will still be the same you.

How do you measure your own worth?