Technology In Action—How Professional Sports Are Benefitting

Runner with digital graphicsI am always interested in where technology is making a difference in our jobs and in our lives. Lately my thoughts have turned to how technology has changed professional sports. In the U.S., we are heavy into football season and just winding down with baseball. Major league soccer and basketball will start within the next couple of months.

There have been many innovations in how sports are played, watched and officiated, some welcomed and some controversial. Some feel that innovations like instant replay slow down play on the field or court, but others tout the additional fairness and accuracy of officiating. Whatever your position, I think that technology in sports is here to stay and will increase in the future.

That Yellow Line

This is what originally caused me to ponder technology in sports. The trademarked “First and Ten Line” system by SportVision, launched in 1998, displayed a virtual line on a professional football broadcast to indicate the location of a first down. Over the years, other colored lines have been added to represent other things, such as the line of scrimmage. I turned to the very cool website HowStuffWorks.com to find out how it really works. It turns out that it takes four people, six computers, and a tractor trailer full of gear to paint one virtual line. They have to consider the position of all of the on-field cameras and track the movement (pan, zoom, fade) of each so that the line is in synch with the broadcast. The camera view can change at any moment and the virtual line needs to also change.  The size of the field and the slight curvature of the field (for rainwater run off) are factored in and the on-screen color pallet must be constantly recalculated so it is not painted over the top of a player or official and to adjust for changing weather and light conditions, like snow or darkness. These are very sophisticated algorithms that should make any technologist proud.

Hawk-Eye

Hawk-Eye is a ball tracking system first created by engineers in the UK in 2001 and used originally for cricket. It spread to tennis and European football and was used recently at Wimbledon to aid line judges in making calls. This product is mainly used in officiating but can also aid commentating and coaching. It employs sophisticated monitoring to track ball trajectory, impact, and landing.

Keeping Players Healthy

Technology in sports is increasingly being used to keep players healthy. Professional football and basketball teams, including the Dallas Cowboys and Mavericks, are using microchips worn under the jersey during practice to understand and limit injuries to muscles, ligaments, and tendons. They also help to refine performance by emitting real-time data on accelerations, decelerations, changes of direction, and jumping. This information can help a player understand whether they are favoring one side or the other and can be used to monitor a player in rehabilitation. Using GPS and accelerometers, teams can protect their players as well as seek a competitive edge through data collection and analysis.

Thoughts

These are just some of the ways that technology is being used in sports to enhance performance and entertainment. Many other professional and amateur athletes are using existing technology to track their personal statistics in the hope that the data will yield insights that will help them become the next champion.

Do you personally benefit from technology and data collection? How has it helped enhance your experience of participating in or watching sports? Let me know your thoughts.

About Kelly Brown

Author Kelly BrownKelly Brown is an IT professional and professor of practice for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

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Pervasive Computing: Lifelogging and the Quantifiable Self

shutterstock_215672077We recently shared an article on our Facebook page about a new mobile app developed to analyze and detect whether a person is stressed or even depressed. This app falls under the category of “lifelogging,” which is tracking personal activity data like exercising, sleeping, and eating. Going one step further, if you take the raw data and try to draw correlations to help you improve your life, you are entering into an area called “quantified self.” Personally, I like my life fairly unquantified, even though I am always trying to improve.

The app to detect depression was developed by a group of Dartmouth researchers, and their findings were presented at the ACM International Joint Conference on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing, held last month in Seattle. This is a fairly new area and one that interests me, so I went through the proceedings to see what I could learn. I think that some such apps and devices could be helpful to those willing to use the data they collect to work towards a goal, but other people might go overboard in data collection, with no plan to act on what they learn. Some of them are technologies to deal with other technologies that are already deployed.

Ongoing Research

Also at the recent ACM conference, there was a presentation titled “Promoting Interpersonal Hand-to-Hand Touch for Vibrant Workplace with Electrodermal Sensor Watch.” This uses a simple wrist-mounted thermal detection device to record high-fives and rewards the user with points for multiple touch encounters.  It is designed to encourage more touch in the workplace, which the researchers equate with higher employee satisfaction. Basically, this is the gamification of personal touch.

There was also research on methods for detecting public restrooms to automatically turn off the data-logging feature for devices such as Google Glass and other video logging systems. Apparently there are some areas of lifelogging that are still socially taboo.

Other research focused on Internet-connected, video logging home security systems and how receptive parents and teens are to them. Not surprisingly, the study found that parents liked the ability to remotely monitor their homes, while teens felt that it was an invasion of privacy for a parent to remotely monitor their movements.

We have the technology to perform pervasive computing, but I think that we will continue to struggle with the appropriateness of lifelogging, particularly when it involves others. There are issues of privacy and issues of personal space and freedom that we need to deal with as this technology becomes more prevalent.

 Thoughts

Socrates is reported to have said, “A life unexamined is not worth living.” I wonder, what is the value of a life TOO examined? It appears that technology is making that possible. Are we losing the mystery and surprise in life? Are we losing some of the spontaneity that makes life interesting when we plot and calculate and manage every twist and turn? The technology makes a hyper-examined life possible but the choice is still ours as to how or if we want to use it.

Have you used a lifelogging application or device? Did it help you, or was it more noise than value? Were you able to change your habits or behavior because of it?  Let me know. I would love to hear about your experiences.

About Kelly Brown

Author Kelly BrownKelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

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Educational Trends: MOOCs Revisited

shutterstock_100060127In the education community there was a lot of talk over the past two years about MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses. Some saw it as a panacea for delivering education to all at a low cost. Others believed it to be the next generation in online education. Many saw it as the beginning of the end of traditional universities and degrees.

There is not as much talk these days about MOOCs, so I set out to research why. Are they so mainstream now that they do not get press, or did they prove to be a passing experiment? Is the answer somewhere in between? I completed a MOOC last year and am scheduled to start another one in January, so I have an active interest in the trends.

Definition

A MOOC is an online college level course that is generally offered for free. Because there is no cost and no residency requirement they often attract thousands of students (thus, the “massive” in MOOC). There are three main providers: Coursera and Udacity, which are for-profit corporations; and EdX, a nonprofit organization founded by MIT and Harvard. There are also several smaller players. MOOCs are taught by college professors. There are usually no graded assignments and no college credit given, although this is changing. University of Washington started offering credit for enhanced MOOC courses in 2012. Enhanced means that there are additional assessments and a fee, in return for college credit. A press release from Antioch University in May 2014 announced that it will offer college credit for a Coursera MOOC, as the first school to purchase newly offered licenses. It will not be free, but Antioch officials say it will be less expensive than a traditional California university system course. Antioch is calling this a “facilitated MOOC,” so I suspect that they will be administering tests in a hybrid version of the traditional online course.

Detractors

Detractors of MOOCs point to the high dropout rate as evidence that this is a flawed experiment. In a recent online MIT physics course approximately 17,000 students enrolled but only 1,000 earned a certificate of completion. Interestingly, the research showed that students who completed the course progressed “comparable to what some MIT students showed when they were required to take the introductory course on campus.”

The argument against the value of MOOCs generally centers on the fact that because the course is free and no college credit is awarded there is no motivation to complete it. In other words, the reward of credit leading to a diploma is the only reason that students start and finish classes. The detractors claim there is no motivation to learn strictly for learning’s sake.

Supporters

Supporters point to the fact that college education is now available to anyone with an Internet connection. They say this levels the playing field between the haves and have-nots. To some extent this is true. There are many courses offered by Coursera, EdX, Udacity, and others, at little or no cost, that will enhance or replace a conventional college education for motivated students. The caveat is, as I pointed out above, the individual has to be motivated to learn and to progress for the sake of learning, knowing there will be no traditional diploma to show a prospective employer. There are certificates of completion, which may become currency in the future, but such credentials are not yet widely recognized.

Thoughts

Recent statistics compiled by Edudemic helped me understand the current landscape of MOOCs. This infographic illustrates who is enrolling in MOOCs and if they are getting a quality education. Here are some interesting statistics from the article:

Coursera now has 3.3 million students in 196 countries and sixty-two university partners.

  • 61.5% of students enrolled in a MOOC are from outside the US.
  • Brazil, China, India, Canada, and the UK boast high percentage of enrolled students.
  • 70% already have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • 80% take other courses online for credit.
  • 50% are age twenty-six years or older.

MOOCs burst onto the scene in 2011 and the New York Times declared 2012 “The Year Of The MOOC.” In 2014, the number and range of course offerings, the number of students, and the quality of education delivered appear to have stabilized. Two questions remain in my mind: 1.) How do we engage students in a MOOC to increase the completion rate, and;  2.) What is the value of a MOOC certificate to a future employer? I will be watching this trend closely.

Have you taken a MOOC? What was your experience? Would you take another one? Let me know your thoughts.

About Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

 

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Technology In Action—Utilities

On occasion I like to feature a job or profession that makes use of technology in new and unique ways. Recently I highlighted technology in farming and today it struck me as I was walking down the street that a lot of cool innovation is in use by our utility companies. This seems like a fairly staid industry at first glance, but utility companies are deploying some technologies that make their products (electricity, gas, water) more cost effective and their delivery and monitoring more efficient.

Electric Utility

Utilities such as Pacific Power here in the Northwest are installing automated meters that can be read from a vehicle on the street rather than requiring a person to enter a customer’s property. The new meters are equipped with a radio module for transmitting data and are read by a roaming utility vehicle equipped with a radio receiver and computer. That information is downloaded to billing and accounting systems to generate utility bills. Perhaps driverless cars can take over in the future, or data can be transmitted wirelessly to the utility, thus eliminating the use of a vehicle. This is a way that IT can add value to the electric utility industry.

Water Utility

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection is installing automated water meters that  transmit water usage to nearby rooftop antennas. This eliminates the need to drive around reading meters, which in New York City is a big plus. The technology reduces the need for estimated billing based on prior usage, which was always a best guess and caused a utility to either charge too much or too little. Automated meters reduce the error and the need to adjust bills. This technology enables customers to view daily usage via an online interface and may inspire them to conserve water.

Gas Utility

Natural gas meters use the same automated devices as water and electric utilities. One of the benefits of these devices, particularly in places like New York City where data is transmitted up to four times a day, is the utility company can promptly detect and respond to a leak. Current data is compared to a known baseline or to an averaged norm and if there is a large anomaly the system can flag an inspector to investigate. No more dangerous gas leaks, flooded yards, or large gas or water bills. IT to the rescue!

Thoughts

I began thinking about this technology while walking down the street and noticing black mushroom-looking devices on the lids of pit meters embedded in sidewalks and driveway aprons. I had never seen them before and my curiosity got the better of me, and there was a utility worker nearby I could ask. Many cities have already completely converted to automated meters and enjoy the conveniences of accurate data collection and billing. In future blogs, I will continue highlighting technology in other sectors. Have you ever thought about unique applications of technology? Sometimes it can come to you out of the blue while you are walking down the street.

About Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

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Streamline Software Testing with Data Driven Automated Testing

Today’s post is written by Michael Grater, a 2005 graduate of the AIM Program and Quality Assurance lead at R/GA, a digital design firm that provides applications, design, and digital advertising for some of the largest companies. In this blog, we asked Michael to share his thoughts on his experience with the automated software testing process and provide methods on how you can improve your own testing and quality assurance.  In software testing, it is very difficult to anticipate all of the different actions that an end user might want to take. Large applications can often include a million lines of code or more and it is incumbent on the quality assurance professional to test all of the potential scenarios within the application. It is very cumbersome to test these paths one at a time, so it is common to automate the testing into a series of repeated scenarios.  This is much the same as employing a robot to test the new iPhone 6 to ensure that the customer experience is error free.  Often, a 100% success rate is impossible because of the complexity of modern applications, but the method proposed by Michael below will make the process quicker and more efficient and will uncover a higher number of errors that would have otherwise slipped into the final version of the software. 

shutterstock_162820130There are instances in the software testing process when in a shortened amount of time you either have a large number of scenarios to cover or a large number of features. These scenarios may also involve running the same tests repeatedly over a period of time. In cases like this, it becomes advantageous to use a method of test automation known as “data driven testing.”

 

As an example, in most cases, when viewing a login screen, there are essentially two fields and a button, and the steps would look like this:

  1. Open URL,
  2. Click on Login link,
  3. Enter User ID/email address,
  4. Enter password,
  5. Click on login button.

At the same time, there are multiple scenarios when it is necessary to test such features as:

  1. Entering a valid user ID and invalid password,
  2. Entering an invalid user ID and valid password,
  3. Leaving the user ID field blank but entering a password,
  4. Entering a user ID but leaving the password field blank.

Using an automation test tool, the steps can be programmed once and consist of entering a user ID, entering a password, and clicking on a button. Then the test can be configured to run based on data in a file (spreadsheet, flat file, xml file). The data is imported into the test and the execution steps leverage the data to either enter values in fields, provide URL links to be opened, or code values that are equal to features such as buttons or navigation.

The logic behind the test would look like this:

Load data file (contains URL, User ID, and password data)

If

  • Open URL (variable, parameterize),

–      Pull value from data file—insert into test,

  • Click on Login link,
  • Enter User ID (variable, parameterize),

–      Pull value from data file—insert into test,

  • Enter password (variable, parameterize),

–      Pull value from data file—insert into test,

  • Click on Login button.

View page—confirm successful login.

Is there more data?

Then, go to the next record.

Although the test consists of approximately four or five steps, it is configured to loop and execute based on the amount of data stored in the file.

The benefit of doing it this way is that the test can be reused over and over again. If a particular feature has to be retested, the automation test can be executed, generating a report of whether the tests have passed or failed. This also frees up QA staff and allows them time to focus on other areas of the project to test, maybe in places where automation is not an option.

When working with test automation, having adequate time to plan, setup, and verify that the test is working correctly is needed. Test [R1] automation can become a very efficient way to test software but it is not always a viable solution.

This concept can be applied to any automation tool. In my current position with R/GA, we’ve used this technique on multiple projects with tools such as Selenium and Jmeter.

Michael Grater

QA Lead, R/GA New York

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How Safe is the Cloud?

padlocked cloud

A lot of attention lately has been paid to the security of the cloud, particularly Apple’s iCloud service. There have been recent high profile celebrity hacks resulting in the sharing of photos that were thought to be private. The question I have been reading in the last couple of weeks, even in my local newspaper, is this: Is the cloud safe? The answer, maddeningly, is yes and no. This blog post will cover the definition of the cloud and how you can make the answer to that question “yes.”

Defining the Cloud

The cloud is really just a term for offsite storage. It is a convenient place to store files, whether they are photos, contact lists, or e-mails, so that you can access them from multiple devices in multiple locations. Say, for example, you take a picture from your smartphone and wish to view those same pictures from your tablet or your laptop or share them with friends. Rather than carrying those pictures around on a hard drive to view them on different devices or show friends, those pictures are stored in a common place, in the cloud storage. The cloud goes by different names such as iCloud, Google Drive, Google+, and Microsoft OneDrive. It also goes by names such as Pinterest, Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter. Basically it is a common place to store, retrieve, and manipulate your files. The question then becomes: What if you want to take a picture but NOT store it in the cloud?

It’s All in the Sync

The key is to understand when your device is synchronizing with the cloud or with another device. In Android, for example, there is a Google Drive app that is an interface to help you download and sync files between your Android device and the cloud. You can also swap files between Android and your Google+ account or between Android and your Dropbox or Box account using a simple app.

Developers have done their best to make these apps intuitive and user friendly, but they have also masked the complexity of moving files back and forth to the cloud or to another device. As a result, some smartphone users just push the “sync all” button, which duplicates all files to the cloud. This is great for backup, but it also means that your files are now in a less secure area than just your phone. As recent events show, there are still some vulnerabilities in the cloud, and occasionally a cloud service is breached and personal data is compromised. One answer to this is to employ an application such as Encdroid for the Android OS, which encrypts your files and makes them more difficult to hack. Another solution is to understand where your files are and how they are getting there.

Thoughts

My challenge to you this week is to review your files and take an inventory of where you are storing everything. You may have signed up for a Google+ account and forgotten about it. When you get that new Android phone, however, you can bet the good folks at Google have a record of that account and would be happy to send all of your files to be backed up there. Be a savvy technology user and make sure you understand whether you are vulnerable and in what areas. In the end, that knowledge will make you and your data safer.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

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shutterstock_63935509I am a confessed optimist. I am not a realist, nor am I even a plain optimist. I am a flaming optimist. The glass for me is not just half full; it is completely full. Always. I go into every situation with eyes wide open, and I always expect the outcome to be the best. The focus of this blog post is to share my experiences and to show that a positive attitude can have physical and mental health benefits.

Expect the Best

Optimism comes from the Latin word “optimus” meaning “best.” Optimists always expect the best in every situation. It does not necessarily mean that they are perfectionists and get upset when things don’t go well. On the contrary, they are able to deal with adversity objectively, knowing that “this too shall pass.” If you always expect the worst, you will often get the worst. Conversely, if you expect the best, you will receive the best. Some dismiss this as a mind trick, but it does work.

Practice Gratitude

This may seem trivial, but regular practice goes a long way towards developing a positive attitude and optimism. Often, we have a tendency to focus on the negative things in life, but I challenge you to find something, however small, that you are genuinely grateful for. My wife often asks me what color the sky is in my world. My answer is always the same, “It’s blue, it’s always blue!” Even when it is raining, I try to think about the benefits of rain rather than focusing on my own discomfort. (This is not always easy to do when it is pouring). Once you develop a strong position of gratitude, you can then pass it along to others to help them on their journey. This has benefits for you and for others. Optimism is contagious!

Health Benefits

According to a recent article from the Mayo Clinic, researchers are finding the following benefits attributed to optimism and a positive attitude:

-       Increased life span,

-       Lower rates of depression,

-       Lower levels of distress,

-       Greater resistance to the common cold,

-       Better psychological and physical well-being, and

-       Better coping skills during times of stress.

Researchers are finding that a positive attitude leads to better health, which leads to a more positive outlook on life. It is a reinforcing cycle!

Thoughts

Are you an optimist? If not, I would invite you to try it out and see if it doesn’t improve your outlook. Find one thing that you are grateful for and focus on it. Gradually add other things in your life that you are grateful for and soon you will be expecting positive things to come to you. If you are already an optimist, let me know what you do to keep a positive attitude. If you are just starting your journey towards optimism, let me know how it is going! By all means, pass along your positive attitude to others.

About Kelly BrownAuthor Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program . He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

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Managing a Farm Today—Agriculture Uses IT Too

I occasionally research how technology is being applied to different fields. Lately, I have been thinking about how technology is helping agriculture. Obviously others have been thinking the same thing but with more of a profit motive in mind. In May of this year, there was a conference held in Palo Alto, California, titled “Silicon Valley Agtech.” Their tagline is “Silicon Valley AgTech is where technology meets agriculture, Silicon Valley meets the Silicon Prairie, and innovation comes back to the farm.” Their aim is to bring together agriculture technology startups and venture capitalists to try to accelerate the interest and growth of this industry in Silicon Valley. Here are a few technologies that are aiding farmers and ranchers now.

Telematics

Telematics is the combination of telecommunications and informatics. It has to do with sending information to and from a remote object such as a vehicle. The GPS unit in newer cars is one such example of telematics, but the agriculture industry is using it in unique ways. GPS technology in newer tractors and farm implements can tell the driver precisely where to plow, plant, spray, and harvest. Harvest yield information can be uploaded in real time so that a farmer can tell immediately what to expect from his crop. Of course, all of this information exchange is going to result in a larger amount of data to be processed.

Big Data

Information collected in the field will include a new array of data points and could easily move into the area of big data. Some farm service companies are already getting into the cloud services business, specifically to collect, process, and make sense of data points. You can either upload data from the tractor thumb drive or upload the telematics-collected data directly to the service provider. Either way, the service provider stores, analyzes, and creates visualizations to help you understand where you can improve your farming and your crop yield.

Robotics

Farm equipment is not quite to the point where it can drive itself (think Google tractor) but it is getting close. Sprinkler pivots in large farm fields are often computer controlled with a remote or an app and require little human intervention when set up properly. There are farm service companies, however, that are developing tractors and other equipment to operate without a driver. With the telematics mentioned above and smart cameras, they will be able to operate within the parameters and confines of a field. This will free up the farmer to do higher value work such as analyzing the yield report sent by his cloud service provider.

Thoughts

Technology can be used to aid efficiencies in fields (no pun intended) as diverse as agricultural production. This also represents new opportunities for entrepreneurs and IT workers who have a passion for farm production and want to work to increase yields and decrease waste.

Do you know of other fields that are increasing their use of technology in a unique way? Let me know. I am always interested in learning more. 

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at nigh

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IT Trends: How Will You Access Your Data in the Years to Come?

shutterstock_91611515I have been thinking lately about information technology trends and I want to highlight a few in the blog this week. This helps me to keep up on the latest in technology and I hope that it helps you as well.

The Cloud

According to a recent list from Gartner, one of the emerging trends over the next couple of years is that the cloud will become the most important data repository. This will have significant impact on IT organizations in the fact that devices such as PCs and laptops will be merely a window into the data and the applications. The computer will not actually house information; it will all be hosted in the cloud. Laptops could become simple terminals and more computing will be pushed to the tablet, which could serve the same function. With this push to mobile devices, the desktop PC could drop out of the scene completely. Device management will change dramatically, especially as employees become even more mobile.

Mobile

Another trend identified by Gartner is an increasingly mobile workforce. This includes not only telecommuters, but also those working in a progressively 24/7 world on company-issued devices as well as on personal devices. The line is blurring between the two, and IT organizations need to get a handle on who and what devices have access to their proprietary information. This goes beyond a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policy and enters into the area of network design with an eye toward mobile security.

Security

With the movement towards the cloud and mobile devices, Sophos—the network and server security vendor—predicts there will be more attacks on personal and corporate data. They also predict mobile devices will leave personal data more vulnerable to theft, particularly through the use of apps. With larger numbers of employees working remotely and passing corporate data across their mobile devices, this trend spells trouble for the IT organization. The spotlight will be on them to keep the corporate data safe on the inside and keep viruses and intruders on the outside. More emphasis will be put on security, particularly the mobile variant. The upside to all of this is an increase in opportunities for security professionals. According to Robert Half, the staffing specialists, security professionals are one of the technical specialties in highest demand. If the trend towards mobile and cloud computing continues, this demand will become even more acute.

Thoughts

One of the benefits of trend spotting is that it points to where future opportunities lie. There is a need now for security professionals, cloud computing professionals, and those that can integrate mobile platforms with enterprise applications. If you are at a crossroads in your career, I would explore one of these areas. If you are just starting your IT career or education, I think any of these will be solid fields for years to come, with options to branch out into the periphery. Have you seen any other IT trends worth noting? Let me know. I will highlight other trends in future blog posts.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.

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Beginnings

shutterstock_155422796As we prepared for summer graduation in the AIM Program, I was thinking about new beginnings. Our graduates now have a new degree in hand and the potential for a new beginning in their careers and in their lives. I believe that it is never too late to take on a new adventure and work to realize your full potential. As you read this blog post, I encourage you to examine your life and see if there is still something that you want to do to grow and stretch. If there is, then I challenge you to start the process now.

Examples

Examples of new beginnings could be a new job, a new college degree, retirement, moving to a new city, or the birth of a baby. All of these things move us out of our comfort zone and push us to do things differently. Often we talk ourselves out of starting the journey because we think that we are too old or maybe don’t have enough money or we have always done it the other way or we worry about what others would think. Take a hard look at each of the barriers that you have placed in your way to see if they are legitimate or if you can get past them and move on to your own new beginning.

A Plan

The Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu once said: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” An important aspect of creating your own plan is identifying that first step to a new beginning. This summer I decided to do the Seattle-to-Portland (STP) bike ride again after a gap of twenty-five years. STP is essentially back-to-back century rides, or you can do all 203 miles in one day if you are strong enough and fast enough, which I am not. As part of my plan, I had to make sure I could still complete one century and I found that I could do that. I learned by riding the STP that I could have a new beginning and finish strong. I dubbed this my “comeback tour.” Even more important to me were the stories that I heard from other riders. This was a new beginning for many of them and was often instigated by an illness or an urgent need to make a lifestyle change. Some were riding the STP for the first time and some for the twentieth. They all made the decision to change, and they all crafted and executed their plan.

Thoughts

If you have put off starting your new beginning, I challenge you to start today. Whether it is going back to school or making a lifestyle change, now is the time. The barriers may seem high but if you start with that single step it can lead to a lifelong journey. Have you recently started a new beginning? Tell me about it.

Author Kelly BrownAbout Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown is an IT professional, adjunct faculty for the University of Oregon, and academic director of the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at nigh

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