Prince was a Trickster

Prince was a trickster, the best kind of god for social scientists and apparently the verge agrees as well. There are numerous books on this, the last I read was called Trickster Makes This World: Mischief, Myth and Art.

Tricksters have always been with us

Are they tricksters or merely pranksters? That is up to you to discern, but that is the point, right? They stole the sun and the moon while we “took the time to watch the flowers in the garden” while doing yoga.

As one review of the book Trickster by Lleu Christophe points out

Hyde gives equal time to the Native American Coyote, the Chinese Monkey King and India’s Krishna. At first glance, these characters are merely pranksters; humorous, sometimes annoying and occasionally dangerous ne’er do wells who disrupt the normal flow of things. As the title of this book suggests, Hyde believes tricksters are much more than this. He makes a convincing case that tricksters are essential in both preserving and transforming societies. Without their disruptions, cultural stagnation would result. He points out that tricksters can either help to maintain the status quo or bring about radical transformation.

To quote two of my favorite tricksters, Pablo Picasso and DuChamp,

Everything you can imagine is real. – Pablo Picasso

Now to quote DuChamp, an artist who “refused to repeat himself”, now that is a challenge. Every quote is subjectively abrogated by another quote from the past or the future like the a religious text – was it situationally appropriate? DuChamp stated this himself.

I have forced myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste. – Marcel Duchamp

To ponder that, if a trickster’s response is situationally appropriate is in and of itself a huge trick. Did in fact the Raven steal the sun and the moon, one, or both? Perhaps more importantly, we all know that Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole.

As for DuChamp, you can reinvent, but it takes energy to constantly come up with a unique identity. DuChamp still needed a vehicle to wrap the thread around, a thread to follow back out of the woods if he got lost.

To begin to understand Duchamp takes someone way smarter than me. I choose to view his work like the bobbin of time.  We are just the blameless victim of observation. Maybe the thread broke, or maybe thread did not break. At least a cat didn’t die in the discovery process. right? Regardless like the genius before his time that he was, Duchamp gave us Rrose Sélavy to at least provide one example guide, like the math equations with odd numbers solved in the back of our calculus books, so that we might oddly enough, solve the evens.

marcel-duchamp-rose

These threads are strings. The strings are wrapped around bobbins of tricks and truth. And these bobbins are not the tiny bobbins that went in your parents’ sewing machines. These strings are the messy bobbins of someone working a weave. The bobbins are large with varied widths and inconsistencies from the vagaries of human behavior and therefore our resulting inconsistent craftsmanship.

bobbins for weaving
weaving bobbins

Damn the Industrial Revolution! Of course ManRay was there for DuChamp to accommodate the birth of the DuChamp’s trickster alter ego – Rrose Sélavy:

Rrose Sélavy, the feminine alter ego created by Marcel Duchamp, is one of the most complex and pervasive pieces in the enigmatic puzzle of the artist’s oeuvre. She first emerged in portraits made by the photographer Man Ray in New York in the early 1920s, when Duchamp and Man Ray were collaborating on a number of conceptual photographic works. Rrose Sélavy lived on as the person to whom Duchamp attributed specific works of art, Readymades, puns, and writings throughout his career.

Is the Trickster dead? Well one of the greatest tricksters of all time, we just lost in Prince.  I must point out the brilliance: Die Antwood, the collaboration between  “rappers Ninja and Yolandi Visser (often stylized as Vi$$er) and DJ Hi-Tek” (source)

To get a straight stand alone “test-of-time quote” from DuChamp I imagine would be like  trying to get a straight answer from Die Antwood, some of the most brilliant tricksters to emerge in years.. Their collaboration makes no sense, until you realize they’re fucking with you.

They. Are. Fucking. With. You.

 

And the most guilty of all, of fucking with us, is Prince. So let’s go crazy because he already predicted it. Partying like it’s 1999 was stolen from us by a bunch of computer nerds warning about the two-digit date big. We have NEVER partied like it was 1999.

You know what we can do? We can and should go crazy. If you aren’t already there yet, join us, because we look the same as you, act the same, obey the law and act ethically, but I am told there is an ethos that emerges when you “go crazy”. I don’t know, I’m not there yet, but it is a worthy topic of discussion.

Lyrics to Prince’s Let’s Go Crazy from

 

Because people who have no hopes are easy to control

Gmork: Foolish boy. Don’t you know anything about Fantasia? It’s the world of human fantasy. Every part, every creature of it, is a piece of the dreams and hopes of mankind. Therefore, it has no boundaries.
Atreyu: But why is Fantasia dying, then?
Gmork: Because people have begun to lose their hopes and forget their dreams. So the Nothing grows stronger.
Atreyu: What is the Nothing?
Gmork: It’s the emptiness that’s left. It’s like a despair, destroying this world. And I have been trying to help it.
Atreyu: But why?
Gmork: Because people who have no hopes are easy to control; and whoever has the control… has the power

via Tiffany Imogen

brain malware – ars technica

The logos were repeatedly displayed, but only for milliseconds at a time, a span so short that subjects weren’t consciously aware of them. By measuring the brain signals at the precise time the images were displayed, Bonaci’s team was able to glean clues about the player’s thoughts and feelings about the things that were depicted.

https://arstechnica.com/security/2017/01/in-not-too-distant-future-brain-hackers-could-steal-your-deepest-secrets/

Completely possible in the near future.  Buy brain branding / influencing malware on the dark web. Coming to an AR game near you. 

Or reverse the sensors switch to UP and tiny shocks delivered for negative feedback to images as well. 

I don’t view this as science fiction. This will happen unfortunately. 

It’s a hack more insidious than the “infect two friends to get your data back.” Speaking of the infect-two-friends malware everyone says “I would never do that!” I point out that it’s really “infect two people you know” malware and not everyone you know is a friend. If a person is broke and they know their ex will open their email, and they can plausibly deny sending it, you know the rest of the story. 

Cindi Crigler – Celebrating the Life of a True Friend

Cindi Crigler is one of the most beautiful people I have ever known. Best friend to my wife, our families have been intertwined for 15 to 20 years, we aren’t even sure of the exact date of when we all connected. Cindi loves us so much she adopted our backyard chicken when we were looking for a home! I could go on, and have written three different tributes, and they all digressed into thoughts I can’t publish.

All I can say is that truly amazing people are still out there. They are humble and quiet and strong as hell. Because love conquers all. Cindi personified that. Words from her family are below the images. Please read them.

Cynthia Farlow Crigler
1958-2017

Cynthia Farlow Crigler,58, passed away peacefully at her home in Houston, surrounded by her loved ones on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017.

Born in Fort Worth, Texas to Frank and Clare Farlow, Cindi grew up in Houston with her siblings Julie, Allison, and Katherine. Cindi was a carefree spirit and a beautiful light that shone brightly on this earth. Her smile, laughter and gentle soul cannot be erased. Together with Michael Crigler, she had four children and 8 grandchildren. Her beautiful family was her greatest joy and proudest accomplishment. She had a love for all living things and always kept a menagerie of animals. Her life has been a tapestry that she has woven with different fabrics, full of vibrant colors.

She is survived by her parents Frank and Clare Farlow, her step-mother Jan Farlow, and her siblings: Julie Farlow Grote, Allison Farlow Simmons and Katherine Farlow Richardson. She is also survived by her children and grandchildren: Shannon and Mike Taylor and their children Zoe and Chloe; Jamie and Oliver Salgado and their children Vince and Lyla; Casey and Jeffrey Poche and their children Aidyn and Ali; and, Mikey and Taryn Crigler and their children Nate and October. Lastly, a special thanks to her loving partner Stephen Dean and all of her close friends who have supported her throughout her life.

A celebration of life will be held on Saturday, January 7th, 2017. In Lieu of Flowers, donations can be made in her name to TWRC Wildlife Center www.twrcwildlifecenter.org.

Published in Houston Chronicle on Jan. 6, 2017

See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/houstonchronicle/obituary.aspx?page=lifestory&pid=183374597#sthash.NESlitY8.dpuf

leonard

dance me on and on…..

And perhaps another take with Monica Bellucci reveals the song in another light.

And if we stay with the tango theme, well of course you’ve got a few that are must includes such as Francesca Gagnon.

And then of course Halie Loren does it, sways with justice, as well.

WordPress Configuration for Security

WordPress security is important. Because of WordPress’ popularity, because it IS A GREAT PRODUCT, it is also targeted more than any other CMS on the web.

What to do? Let’s keep it simple and look at three easy things you can do in less than 5 minutes to increase your security.

  1. Install Jetpack from WordPress https://wordpress.org/plugins/jetpack/ and then remove all of the other individual plugins that overlap with the functionality of Jetpack.
  2. Make sure your wordpress site is set to automatically update to the latest version
  3. DELETE any non-active plug-in and any non-active theme from your site.
secure your wordpress site
3 easy things to secure your wordpress site

To up your game a bit I would add a few more items as “highly recommended”

  1. Test your site now with Securi’s free scanner https://sitecheck.sucuri.net/ and maybe consider purchasing one of their security plans https://sucuri.net/website-antivirus/signup
  2. Install an SSL certificate on your web site. These can be purchased from a number of sources like godaddy, free but short lived ones are available from letsencrypt. Or you can get really serious about it and work with a security professional like my friend Jason Palmer http://www.jasonpalmer.com/ .

Data on why you need to secure your site from the Securi blog at https://sucuri.net/website-security/website-hacked-report . Some graphical excerpts below:

securi-website-hack-report-q1-2016

not-patching-causes-most-infections

Security starts with the basics – use good passwords, use muti-factor authentication, keep your software up to date and have a plan in place to restore backups.

Why Tendenci Chose Python over PHP

This blog is a WordPress blog written in PHP. And WordPress, when secured properly, is a great platform.

So why did our team choose to rewrite Tendenci Open Source and in the Python Programming language? It is a question I get asked a lot. We’ve never been a company that likes to talk in the negative if at all possible, yet it is important to talk about the megatrends going on given we work with associations and nonprofits.

which_web_programming_language_is_the_most_secure_

Source: https://www.upguard.com/blog/which-web-programming-language-is-the-most-secure

security-report1

Source: http://info.whitehatsec.com/rs/whitehatsecurity/images/statsreport2014-20140410.pdf

security-report

Source: http://info.whitehatsec.com/rs/whitehatsecurity/images/statsreport2014-20140410.pdf

Popularity of a language is a trend, and what you want is as many developers familiar and liking the language of your open source project as possible. This means you have a better chance to have a secure web site and therefore a more secure future.

To be fair – as Disraeli said – “lies, damn lies and statistics” – so there is no one perfectly secure language any more than there is a perfectly “safe” hammer. There will always be operator error and programmers make mistakes.

So we’re not saying Python is perfect, and all of us have used most of the other languages on those charts at some point. We’re just saying we are pleased so many other programmers also like Python and Open Source. THAT is the best that can be done to secure your future online. Secure code that you can examine yourself and even host yourself!

9-11 – the bad guys did NOT win

demdamdames-2016-08-eschipul-1158

To the fighters, the warriors, the first responders, the victims of a sucker punch, just know this. They did NOT win. You won. And we respect and thank you for that on the anniversary of 9-11. Grateful we are, and also powerful thanks to you.

.. A true veteran … 

“A true veteran might not agree with Colin Kaepernick, but a true veteran would fight to the death to protect his right to say what he believes.
You don’t like what Kaepernick has to say? Then prove him wrong, BE the nation he can respect.

It’s really just that simple.”

— Jim Wright

What is “x” competitor’s achilles heel?

tendenci-mobile-responsive-standard
In the course of owning a business you get a lot of phone calls from investors and venture capitalists. It’s a game, but a fair one if played correctly in that whatever your revenue, their criteria is just about twice yours. When we were 1M they were looking for 2M companies. When we were 2M they were looking for 3. When we were over 3 they were looking for 5, etc…. But they knew that when they contacted. So why?

Because knowledge is power. In an industry like membership management software there isn’t much transparency because so many companies are private. So they call. The calls are always polite. It’s important to remember they are frequently just due diligence by the firm as they negotiate to purchase a competitor in your space. Again, there is nothing wrong with this if knowledge is shared both ways.

Business Owner action item: as the business owner it’s up to you to ask the questions as well. Start with the simple stuff like “where do you see the industry going in 5 years?” etc. Trading information can be helpful, for both parties and if you are the smaller fish you better be more nimble anyway

How do most of the calls end? Typically the same and both parties knew it when the call started.

“well let’s stay in touch and touch base in a year.”

If you did your job and asked questions of them as well, then hey, that’s fair. In the VC world the “it’s not you, it’s me” breakup equivalent is “we are looking for someone a bit larger and with higher profits so call back”. But both parties knew that when the call started, it’s just the polite way to end the call. What highly profitable business owner wants to sell? Not many that I know of. It’s an attempt to be polite.

But, sometimes something interesting happens. Specifically I had someone ask me an interesting question recently about a competitor. It was a bit out of the blue which tells me it was on their to do list more than mine. The investor rep asked:

What do you see as company-x’s Achilles Heel besides being on the Microsoft platform?

I have to admit that I wasn’t expecting the question and I prefer to not say bad things about competitors. Usually they are good people trying hard in a competitive environment. We hang out together at NTEN, SXSW and for some of us OSCON. They really are good  people. So I didn’t answer the “Achilles Heel” question fully. This is me correcting the record.

Yes, they have a problem. Why? Because in one of my History classes while getting a BS in POLS from Texas A&M University we studied Carnegie Steel. Given I like history,  let’s look at it through the lens of “what would Andrew Carnegie do?”

In 1870 Carnegie decided that instead of being a “capitalist” with diversified interests he was going to be a steelman exclusively. Using his own capital, he erected his first blast furnace (to make pig iron) that year and the second in 1872. In 1873 he organized a Bessemer-steel rail company, a limited partnership. Depression had set in and would continue until 1879, but Carnegie persisted, using his own funds and getting local bank help. The first steel furnace at Braddock, Pa., began to roll rails in 1874. Carnegie continued building despite the depression—cutting prices, driving out competitors, shaking off faltering partners, plowing back earnings. In 1878 the company was capitalized at $1.25 million, of which Carnegie’s share was 59 percent; from these policies he never deviated. He took in new partners from his own “young men” (by 1900, he had 40); he never went public, capital being obtained from undivided profits (and in periods of stress, from local banks); and he kept on growing, horizontally and vertically, making heavy steel alone. From 1880 onward, Carnegie dominated the steel industry.

Still with me? Because from that dominance he sat at the top of the food chain. And then inexplicably they poked him. Why? WTF?

Carnegie had thought of selling out and retiring in 1889: his annual income was $2 million, and he wanted to cultivate his hobbies and develop the philanthropic program that was taking shape in his mind. But the threats that now came from the West as well as the East were too much for his fighting spirit and his sense of outrage, and he took the war into the enemy camp.

Sooooo… Carnegie then did NOT retire but rather took the fight to them. He took the fight to them with the advantages and business knowledge of his industry that he possessed. Now back to our story…

He (Carnegie) would not join their pools and cartels; moreover, he would invade their territories by making tubes, wire and nails, and hoop and cotton ties and by expanding his sales activities into the West. He ordered a new tube plant built on Lake Erie at Conneaut, which at the same time would be a great transportation center with harbors for boats to run to Chicago and a railroad to connect with Pittsburgh.

The competition surrendered, but at a much higher price than they would have otherwise.

Thus originated the U.S. Steel Corporation in 1901, through the work of J.P. Morgan. The point was to buy Carnegie off at his own price—as he was the only disturbing factor that held back “orderly markets and stable prices.” The Carnegie Company properties were purchased for almost $500 million (out of the total capitalization of the merger of $1.4 billion); Carnegie’s personal share was $225 million, which he insisted upon having in the corporation’s first-mortgage gold bonds. At last Carnegie was free to pursue his outside interests.

Why, how, could the competition have so badly misjudged things? They missed the megatrends/macroeconomics and underestimated their competitor. Realize one dollar of capital in the hands of experience is far more powerful than ten dollars in the hands of bankers.

It’s quite simple really. Carnegie had lowered his costs and built up his capital to the point that the competitor’s moves were an “event” and his response was simply a “choice”. A freaking choice. If that doesn’t make you nervous then I didn’t explain it well.

From the start Carnegie was willing to pay the price to win. Who knows, maybe he was just bored? Regardless the competition was in over their heads with a combined company run by bankers without the institutional knowledge of a steelman.

The bankers accepted their losses. But their misstep meant they paid a significant price for not researching the market, researching the trends, and especially for not understanding the machine Carnegie had built. It wasn’t just the capital, it was years of best practices developed by Frick and Carnegie that allowed him to win. A business is complex. Business practices are maintained by people, not Viseo flowcharts or Powerpoint.

Pick your fights.

Further – the only thing more complex than a business is communities of people like the open source community. You can’t buy them off or learn the social norms in a year or two.

[redacted]

Back to the phone call – in this case, the competitor the investor asked about is one we see occasionally in the sales process. They have some aggressive affiliates but I can’t say I’ve had a bad encounter with their CEO or one of their employees. So yes, I know them. I know how our product is differentiated with greater functionality. (having a better product does help – but they would say the same thing).

SWOT analysis if it got aggressive?

Well I can back into the competitors costs using the usual methods like salary survey sites and looking at their network. There are people who will research these things for a very reasonable price. Add to that the fact that they are proprietary AND require two year contracts just makes it easier. You wouldn’t want to sign your nonprofit up with a proprietary solution if you knew there was a better solution that was also open source, right? (data says 90% want use open source or “roll their own” – NTEN).

Maneuvering around their market positioning would be as strategically challenging as going around the Maginot line. Easy pickings – IF someone wanted a fight.

If this sounds arrogant, it isn’t. It is just me acknowledging how the future would put the very existence of our company in question if we hadn’t changed. I did what any self-aware responsible and knowledgeable CEO would do. We did a pivot. And WordPress and Drupal are great examples to follow.

The bigger question is why other leaders didn’t see open source coming?

Our competitive position – Tendenci has driven our costs down and gone open source in a group of competitors trapped with huge employee expenses, high proprietary licensing costs, shared servers which amplifies security risks, and constant turn over in their work force. Meanwhile hack attacks are sky rocketing and insurance and benefit costs climb.

Add to that programming isn’t something you can throw money at – it just takes time and adding more keyboard-monkeys just slows down the innovators.

To the person who asked the question – my answer is this:

Company X’s achilles heel is they exist at the whim of a better positioned open company with an aggressive strategy. You don’t have to win every prospect, you just have to force the competitor to sell below their cost. And wait.

The rest is details.

Tendenci will continue to rise because it is exactly what nonprofits and government agencies are asking for. Freedom. Respect. Dignity. Openness. Love.

Tools to help the cause first and our company second.

PS – if you are an investor in that company, don’t worry. I have no intention of implementing the above strategy right now as this is a case of “there is no spoon.” What is next is far more interesting to me. There is some amazing stuff on the horizon. I just wanted to come clean on how vulnerable some companies are. And yes, in a SWOT analysis or a prospectus, you should probably cross reference their technology with tech trends. I guess that is a question for the attorneys and IANAL.

A tribute to Stephanie Smither

smithersA tribute to Stephanie Smither who recently passed away. I met her doing volunteer photography over the years with the Orange Show and the Houston Art Car Parade. Normally I would say “we have lost a great one.” While that is be true, it seems far more appropriate to celebrate what she gave us when she was here. I’d rather say –

We have all gained and learned from Stephanie Smither. A person both kind and generous. A lady who was an example of how to carry yourself with grace but not be afraid to get your hands dirty building art and helping people. She had mettle. I am thankful for all she gave to Houston. A supporter of the arts in Houston, she was also a person you wanted to hang out with at the Orange Show Gala. She is a person who will be remembered for the good things she did. 

Yes Stephanie is leaving a great legacy in Smither Park.

smither-park-in-progress-schipul

As a photographer behind the lens, I can not say I knew her that well. My loss. Unless the saying “judge a person by their actions” is true. If so, then all of Houston knew her well. She even connected with my kids through Smither’s Park when we volunteered to do some aerial photography of the Orange Show when the Smither Park wall was first being built! She liked Oranges and Drones before drones were cool? Duuuuude.

smithers-drone-schipul-photos
Schipul Aerial photos of Smother’s Park at the Orange Show

I don’t think I ever saw Stephanie when she wasn’t smiling and laughing. I was usually hiding behind a camera lens, which sometimes is a great way to view the world if you are an active volunteer and have a history with an organization.

From the Chronicle:

About 400 people jammed the Menil Collection Thursday night to celebrate with donor Stephanie Smither the opening of an exhibition (As Essential as Dreams: Self-Taught Art from the Collection of Stephanie and John Smither) marking her gift of 50 important works of folk art to the museum.

Gift-from-Stephanie-and-John-Smither-to-Menil-Collection

Sunday morning, they were saddened by her death but also applauding her colorful life, lived passionately and well.

Smither, 75, died Saturday night at home in Houston, surrounded by her family. She had been in declining health since a double lung transplant two and a half years ago.

Paige Johnson, one of Smither’s three children, said her mother told doctors in January they needed to keep her alive until June 9 for the opening of the show, “As Essential as Dreams: Self-Taught Art from the Collection of Stephanie and John Smither.”

“It was her life’s dream to have her collection at the Menil, to have it recognized by such a beautiful and important museum,” Johnson said. (more)

From: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/houstonchronicle/obituary.aspx?n=stephanie-smithers&pid=180330773

Stephanie Kerr Smither    1941-2016

Stephanie Kerr Smither, “Nana” will be remembered for her beautiful smile, loving her family, the marriage to her childhood sweetheart, inventive cooking, and always being the last to leave the party! She surrounded herself friends and beautiful objects, was wildly adventurous, fun loving, gracious and a courageous lady. Nana will be remembered for her big hugs, which she gave generously. Nana passed away June 11, 2016 at home surrounded by family and wearing her favorite turquoise rings.

Stephanie was born in Jacksonville, Texas, to Frankie Zou Gaston and Stephen Austin (“S.A.”) Kerr, May 4, 1941. Raised in Huntsville, Texas where her parents founded Kerr’s Department Store; she spent her days helping to run the store with the daddy she loved. As a young girl she learned the piano, enjoyed baseball and fell in love with her childhood sweetheart – John Henderson Smither. Their favorite place to “park” was Pritchett Pasture, now Interstate 45, where she helped John feed his cattle. Her sister Zou said, “it is hard to remember her before John!” They married while students at the University of Texas at Austin. John was in law school while Stephanie taught at the Texas School for the Deaf. Upon graduation, they moved to Stuttgart, Germany with their two children where John served in the Army. These were fond memories traveling Europe, in their VW bug with kids in the back. They settled in Houston and raised three children. Stephanie was active in the Blue Bird Circle, The Houston Garden Club and Westminster United Methodist Church, though what she enjoyed most was staying at home supporting John and her children with their endeavors.

Stephanie, a “sophisticated hoarder” or (consummate collector), was always on the hunt for handmade and one-of-a-kind objects. She was known for her bright orange lipstick and big jewelry, without which she felt underdressed. She was also known for her creative tablescapes, beautiful penmanship, and famous Smither Salsa. With her East Texas accent, someone said, “Stephanie was the only person she knew who said ‘hush’ in four syllables”. At Christmas her house was filled with carved Santas, her tree covered in her handmade needlepoint angels and the smells of homemade fudge and peanut brittle on the stove. Nana stayed busy all year making the grandchildren’s Christmas stockings and their annual needlepoint ornaments.

She and John loved hosting dinner parties and she delighted in cooking scrumptious gourmet meals. They always ended the evening with Stephanie playing the piano barefoot while John and their beloved supper club of 50 years sang into the wee hours. Stephanie thought if people left her house before midnight it was a bad party!

Her favorite activities included cheering for her grandchildren at sporting events, being a “mean” liar’s dice player, taking her grandchildren to exotic places, playing Mah Jongg, and spending time with family and friends at Sunset Lake in Huntsville, Texas.
The family wishes to express their gratitude to her generous lung donor and his family, Houston Methodist Hospital, Dr. Scott Scheinin, Dr. Osama Gaber, Dr. Thomas Kaleekal, Sydney Bridges and the staff for their heroic effort over the last 2 ½ years. She was able to fulfill her lifetime dream of overseeing the creation of Smither Park, gifting her art to The Menil Collection and completing a documentary about her years as a collector of Visionary Art. In addition, she was honored as one of Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women of 2015 by Houston Woman Magazine and as the 2014 Texas Patron of the Year by Art League Houston.

We know Stephanie would also like to thank all the sweet supporters of Smither Park and the artists who were so dear to her. Thank you also to the staff at The Menil Collection who were so wonderful to work with on the current exhibition.

Stephanie felt blessed to spend her last two evenings at the celebration dinner and opening of her collection at The Menil. She was radiant and so touched by the public outpouring of support. Afterwards, family and friends returned to her home for her famous SmitherRitas. She had one last toast, retired to her room, and eased into her final slumber surrounded by family and friends with the joyous sounds of the party below.

She treasured her children and their spouses, John Kerr Smither, Ashley and Curt Langley, Paige and Todd Johnson, and her grandchildren who affectionately called her Nana: Amon Smither; Austin, Madison and Jack Langley; Wells, John David, Pierce, Hill and Blake Johnson; her sister and brother-in-law Zou Kerr and Boyd F. Cherry; sisters-in-law, Martha Smither and Trudie Smither, nieces and nephews, Robert Smither, III, Sallie Crotty, John J. Smither and Mary Kate Jefferies; great grand nieces and nephews Kate and Stephen Crotty and Cole Smither. She was preceded in death by her parents S.A. and Frankie Zou Kerr, her husband John H. Smither and two brothers-in-law Robert B. Smither, Jr. and Wilbur L. Smither, III.

The memorial service celebrating her life is Thursday, June 16th at 10 a.m. at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 3471 Westheimer Rd, Houston, Texas. The graveside service will be held at 5:00 p.m. in Oakwood Cemetery located at 9th Street and Martin Luther King Drive in Huntsville, Texas. It was Stephanie’s wish that everyone celebrate her life by wearing a bit of her favorite color, orange.

For those desiring, contributions in Stephanie’s memory may be made to: Houston Methodist Hospital Foundation, P. O. Box 4384, Houston, TX 77210-4384 (in honor of Dr. Scott Scheinin for transplant research; Nora’s Home for transplant patients and their families, 8300 El Rio St., Houston 77054 http://www.norashome.org, Smither Park, 2402 Munger, Houston, Texas 77004 http://orangeshow.org

Published in Houston Chronicle from June 15 to June 16, 2016

Here is to the power of the Orange Show, the people and the place, to bring people together. Thanks y’all. I’ll be back out there when I get a camera again.

orange-show-drone-photo-schipuls

My Final Thoughts – like so many other great people in Houston, I wish I had gotten the chance to truly know her beyond photography. Running into Stephanie, whatever the event from the Art Car Parade, to the Art Car Ball, to an Orange Show event or at an event commemorating her donations to create Smithers’ Park next to the Orange Show Monument. Smiling.

She was consistent – she was generous of her time and money, she was true to her word, and by God she loved the color Orange! And the color Orange not only looked great on Stephanie, I am quite sure it loved her back.

I predict Orange will be very big this fall.

#peace

 

Thank you Bruce Lee Williams – You Made a Difference

We lost a truly great person on May 22nd 2016 when Bruce Williams passed away in San Jose California. Bruce was just awesome. He personified the quiet leader who spoke with actions and few words. I learned a lot from the little time I was able to spend with him. And I’m grateful and humbled that he shared that time, wisdom, advice, humor and a beer with me.

bruce-lee-williams-office-of-silicon-valley

The backstory – our company’s employees are mostly in Houston, Austin and California. As a virtual company when you expand you still need a physical space to “go to” and to “meet” when you travel. Coffee shops only go so far. So when April Kyle expanded Tendenci west to California she carefully chose just such a place – The Office of Silicon Valley in Sunnyvale.

It is easy to think of an office as a physical place. But they are so much more. And this becomes even more important when physical interchanges between employees are fewer because we’ve moved to Zulip (or Slack) and online ticketing system, github, gitlab, redmine, tendenci (we use it ourselves too), gmail, skype and a few other open source tools that hold our company together. And trust me, you still need a few trusted physical spaces.

And if those physical locations are run by a trusted and wise elder who is humble but wise, then you have truly found a diamond.

That diamond – his name was Bruce Lee Williams and he was welcoming and supportive when we expanded to California far far beyond what any typical co-working space that I have experienced is like. His depth of knowledge was astounding as were his connections, but you only knew this if you asked him as he was respectful to everyone and sometimes entrepreneurs are too knuckle-headed to ask for advice. Luckily our team isn’t like that.

Bruce helped me personally in so many ways, sometimes in a 5 minute talk, sometimes giving me 2 hours of his time on the spur of the moment. That time had value, which he and I both knew and, well maybe I’m repeating myself, but this is a man I truly respected. He was the real deal and while the world may not know his name like they know Steve Jobs’ name, I assure you this humble man had as much impact on Silicon Valley over the years as anyone I can think of. He spoke softly. And people listened. I listened.

Bruce – I appreciate everything you did to help my team, to help us continue to grow Tendenci. I appreciate the meetings you set up for me on a moments notice when I flew into town unannounced. I appreciate that you let my team bring their dogs to work. I appreciate the epic ping pong battles and the creativity of your own company. You are missed. You are legend Sir. Legend!

From: http://www.darlingandfischerchapelofthehills.com/obituaries/Bruce-Lee-Williams-2842612690/#!/Obituary

bruce-lee-williams-office-of-silicon-valley

Obituary for Bruce Lee Williams

Bruce Williams passed away surrounded by loving family and friends on the evening of Sunday, May 22. Bruce fought a valiant fight against the ravages of pancreatic cancer for 18 months. He fought hard and with his typical upbeat and positive nature, more worried about how his disease was affecting others than himself.

Bruce was born in St. Charles, MO on July 7, 1950 to Frank and Gladys Williams. He graduated from William Jewel College in Liberty MO and served his country in the United States Navy during the Vietnam War.

In the early 1990’s he founded Westminster Promotions and was the driving force in its success. Surrounded by a dedicated group of individuals, Westminster is the quintessential small business where its employees are family and Bruce loved and valued them all.

Bruce truly was “one of a kind” and he “never met a stranger”. He had the unique ability to make those he came in contact with feel like they were the most important person in the room, and it was genuine – to him they were! He loved people and was interested in their lives, hopes and dreams. He never saw himself as a mentor and yet that is exactly what he was. He mentored so many people and led by example, demonstrating a determination to succeed, a loving heart and an unparalleled zest for life.

Bruce is survived by his loving and heartbroken wife, Kathryn Williams, his children Courtney Williams (Montique), Brian Brown (Kelly) and Matthew Brown (Kristin). He will miss the opportunity to watch his six grandchildren grow and thrive under the legacy he leaves – Jaelyn, Nate, Evelyn, Nora, Landon and Ethan. He will be missed by the “sister he never had” Diana Elizondo and brother-in-law, Larry Elizondo. He is survived by his brother Doug Williams (Elma), and loving nieces, nephews and their families. And finally he leaves behind the friends who weren’t related by blood, but by love, and were considered family members – you know who you are. He was pre-deceased by his brother Frank and they are probably up there somewhere sharing a thermos of gin and tonics and shooting a round of golf.

A Celebration of Life, followed by a party he Bruce would have loved, will be held on June 4th at 3:30 at the Williams’ home, located at 20890 Hidden View Lane in Saratoga. Because parking is extremely limited, a shuttle will be provided from Saratoga Elementary School, 14592 Oak St. Saratoga, beginning at 2:30. Return shuttle will be provided until 7:30.

Donations in Bruce’s name may be sent to The Helen Diller Family Cancer Center at UCSF.

——————-

From his bio on his company’s site at: http://westminsterpromotions.com/about/bruce-williams

bruce-williams

Bruce Williams

Founder, Westminster Promotions

As founder and CEO, Bruce has consistently led the company for the past two decades with vision and purpose.  His keen eye for talent has allowed him to assemble a strong group of professionals who exhibit their considerable skills to insure the client is highly satisfied with the end result.  His extensive background in sales has provided him with the ability to clearly understand the needs of the client and to guide them to the best solution.  Bruce brings exuberance and passion to the job and coupled with the seniority and wisdom of a Silicon Valley veteran, that makes for an unbeatable combination.  Clients have included AT&T Labs, TiVo, PalmSource, NetApp, National Semiconductor and many other Silicon Valley heavy hitters.

Mentor

With many years of experience, who better to guide this team of creative professionals?  Our fearless leader is in the office every morning by 7:00 and doesn’t leave until the job is done and done right.  Need advice?  Call Bruce.  Don’t understand a business acronym someone just threw at you?  Call Bruce.  Need a laugh?  Call Bruce.  There’s a reason the name Bruce is nearly always associated with “The Boss”.

Weekend Warrior

When he is not in the office you can find him wrangling his small herd of grandbabies or perhaps poolside playing bartender.  Bruce is ever the gracious host and makes a mean Cosmo although recently he’s been dabbling in the world of Margaritas.  He plays just as hard as he works and we love him for it.

I have no doubt this post does not give proper credit to the amazing man that Bruce was. Bruce was not only humble and very influential, but also quiet like many of us. He didn’t share his troubles and his passing caught me off guard. All I can say is, and I think he would agree with this statement, great people are all around you. Hug them now because life is short.

I am thankful for your positive influence on my life and for the help you went above and beyond on for our company. You rock Bruce. And you are truly missed already.

In closing, all I can say is what Bruce would say. GO SHARKS!!!!!

go-sharks

Win one for the Gipper y’all.

PS – once the Sharks win their first NHL Championship, which I guarantee Bruce is watching right now, then the ping-pong leader board in Heaven will have a new competitor. A soft-spoken, strong competitor and leader.  Rock on Bruce. Rock on.

don’t use .local as an internal TLD

As this VMWare security advisory reminds us, buy a valid top level domain name for use as your internal DNS name resolution to avoid a future TLD being issued which might allow MITM or DNS poisoning attacks. Examples to definitely not use are .dev and .local which directly contradicts years of best practices. Although .localhost seems to still be OK

Via https://isc.sans.edu/ which links to https://isc.sans.edu/forums/diary/Stop+Using+internal+Top+Level+Domain+Names/21095/ . Note the VMWare advisory isn’t zero day technically but it was released today May 25 2016 if you are unsure of the relevance and ongoing threat.

So what is the best practice for internal network routing? Reasonably I suspect .priv .localhost and .local may be safe for a while but they are not best practice. From wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.local

We recommend that you register DNS names for the top-most internal and external DNS namespaces with an Internet registrar.

Major take away – subscribe or at least check the Internet Storm Center’s site on a regular basis. https://isc.sans.edu/

Lastly note the anemic list of reserved TLDs from the RFC.  https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc2606

                   .test
                .example
                .invalid
              .localhost

Note that none of those make sense to any experienced devops or a client. So you’d have to map them to a valid TLD regardless as a client can’t grok that .test will be remapped to .com on golive. Just one more thing about the Internet that is broken IMHO.

Texas A&M Corp of Cadets Final Review

The Texas A&M Corp of Cadets Final Review from last year. It’s not a small gathering and this year’s review is coming up next weekend. Proud of these young men and women.

Texas A&M Corp of Cadets Final Review
Texas A&M Corp of Cadets Final Review