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Just a Lane Change

W&OD bike trail in Arlington VA.  John Matel's commute to work on April 5, 2009

Above is my morning commute on the W&OD bike trail in Arlington, VA.  Notice that they are doing utility work in one of those big cherry pickers.  The rain was coming in behind me.  You can see it in the clouds, but I got to work before the rain did. 

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Robust.  That is what we want and that is what are getting with the new media.  A robust solution provides lots of options and achieves desired outcomes by whatever means work best and whatever path is easiest. 

During a program supporting President Obama's discussion with Turkish students, CO.NX provided a great example of how a robust system works in practice. 

CO.NX had an audience of hundreds of Turkish young people interacting over the internet while watching President Obama live on streaming video.   Unfortunately, the video pod on the CO.NX software broke down.   Disaster?  It would have been in an earlier technological age, but CO.NX is robust.  

The Adobe software gives users the ability to stream in video from other sources.   CO.NX staff just opened another link and viewers in Turkey seamlessly switched to watching video from the Whitehouse sources, or some preferred CNN Turk, which provided a local angle.  

What would have been an embarrassing program-killing crash is now as uneventful as changing lanes to pass a slow truck on the highway or pushing a button on your remote to get a different perspective. 

There is a greater lesson from this event about robustness. In order to achieve success, we relied on systems outside our own and that gave us several good options.  In the past, we would have needed to produce costly backups, which would have come with their own risk of failure and would never be as elegant as what we can get free.

I think an old saying fits well in this case:  why own a cow when you can just go to the dairy? The new media gives us choices.  Updating the old saying, why own a cow and get only milk, when you can just go to the supermarket and get yogurt, ice cream, Swiss cheese ...?

Robust.  I am making that my word of the day.

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Below is the front of our townhouse complex.  I planted those pine trees.   The one in front is an Austrian pine.  Behind is a white pine.

pine trees and pear trees in Vienna, VA on April 4, 2009


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