The Year of the Horse

As we approach a critical mass of the open source version of Tendenci, it is very fitting that it is in the Chinese year of the Horse. FromĀ http://www.chinesefortunecalendar.com/2014.htm

Horse is one of Chinese favorite animals. Horse provides people quick transportation before automobiles, so people can quickly reach their destinations. Horse even can help people to win the battle. Therefore Horse is a symbol of traveling, competition and victory. That’s why Horse is connected to speedy success in China.

Horses like to compete with others. They pursuit for their freedom, passion and leadership. That implies that people will have busy schedule for their goals in the year of Horse. Horse hour of Chinese Horoscopes is from 11 A.M. to 1 P.M. Sunshine generates lots of heat during the Horse hour. Therefore, horse is connected to heat, fire and red. Horses like the social activities, because horses like show off themselves. Since horse is a social animal and red is also connected to love, therefore. horse is treated as a Romantic Star in Chinese Horoscope.

and

Genghis Khan built the Mongol Empire by horses. The Mongol Horses were a smaller breed, they were bred for endurance, not for speed like stallions. Genghis Khan conquered Eastern Europe so quickly. Because Eastern European countries never realized Mongol cavalry can arrive their territories so fast and they didn’t have enough time to prepare the defense. They said each Mongol cavalryman had three or four horses. They will change another horse when one got tired. So Mongolian horses can take turn and get some rest. Mongol cavalryman even knew how to sleep in the saddle. That’s why they can travel long distances without stopping. We know horses can sleep while standing. Mongolian horses have a better sleeping skill. When they ran in a group, the horse in the center can sleep while running.

Horse is intelligent animal. Horses need to be trained to become useful to human. Human can make Horse famous. Without human’s guide, Horse just a wild animal. It doesn’t know where to go. There is no destination in its life.

Indeed there is destination in life. And it is worth fighting for. I’m in. I’m humbled by my mistakes. That is the past. We live in interesting times and the destination is what makes such a curse irrelevant. The Mongolian Horses know the way. Steady wins the race.

Decline in Crime 43% Since 1990 (yes really – so stop watching advertising shows!)

Serious crime has DROPPED 43% since 1990.

FORTY THREE PERCENT
43 PERCENT
43 PERCENT DROP IN CRIME AND THE MEDIA HAS CONVINCED YOU IT’S UP
BECAUSE THERE IS NO MEDIA, THERE ARE ONLY ADVERTISING COMPANIES. SORRY. #TRUTH

43% Drop in Crime in US Since 1990

See that HUGE decline since 1990. Those are the facts. Please Stop, just stop, stop being a tool to “the man.” Just stop.

I ask people. You should ask people to. “Is crime up or down in the US since 1990? They will say “up”. Then ask “by how much do you think it’s up?” They will say anything from 5 to 50%. They think crime is up. I ask “can you google it for us” (try duckduckgo for search too. Google isn’t God. Really people?) and I get nothing. Blank stares.

They look at the actual crime data and their minds can’t grasp it. The lie is so big we’ve all come to believe it to be true.

STOP IT!

Stop, just stop. Sorry to burst everyone’s paranoid bubble (insert pot-kettle cliche here) with facts. I know, we all hate it when someone drops facts on a good ghost story. Sadly it is true – you are safer now in the US than ever.

With a BS in Political Science (a BS in BS?) I frequently hear people parroting advertising companies that run search engines or web sites or TV shows or Newspapers. Note the first phrase – “ADVERTISING COMPANIES” – they need to sell advertising. Nothing more nothing less.

IF IT BLEEDS IT LEADS

If you sell advertising, how do you make more money? Simple, follow a very old formula and scare the life out of people. It boils down to, what if it bleeds less than before but nobody notices?

Gun Homicide Rates Drop 49% per 1000 people

What’s old is still new again – “If it bleeds, it leads.”

Stop, just stop. No more fear mongering to weak minds. And if you don’t have a weak mind, then educate and empower those around you. Advertising companies make money from page views, not from facts. They do not have your best interests at heart. But you know that. So tell your kids! Tell them! It’s not a conspiracy, it’s the system and it’s YOUR responsibility to educate your children and your community that what is in your best interest is different from what sells the most ads.

It’s all about the money….

Yes…

Example: “OK, yea, we are selling banner ads and we decided to just lie on our rate sheets that 5000 people picked up the paper in the Doctor’s office and it should be a 5000x multiple of subscribers.” (an exaggeration for the sake of drawing eyeballs… and no, the irony is not lost on money, but I don’t sell advertising and I’m not paid for this so wahtev…. )

Insiders Game

For those not in the Advertising Business, which thankfully despite the resolute ethical souls leading the Houston Advertising community (disclaimer: I was formerly a board member of AAF-Houston) the rate sheet dictates the “ad buy” rate. So the more people who view an advertisement the more you can charge. If you can convince people that your business journal is subscribed to once (1) and viewed by an additional twenty (20) people (um.. not on this planet anyway so unless aliens are spiriting it away in the night and buying online then I call BS (zOMG so (recursive(recursive(nerd-humor, *args, *kwargs))) then you can sell advertisements at a higher rates. Thus it sells ads (*cough* chron.com *cough*.)

I know, crazy, right?

Worst headline ever:

CRIME DROPS 40+ PERCENT IN LAST 20 YEARS REGARDLESS OF POLITICAL PARTY IN PWER

Facts and all that “stuff“. Those silly facts get in the way of our preconceived ideology.

Oh, and gun violence is down as well.

wolfram-alpha

It’s not all good news as death by gun is stupid. And a shame. We can continue to do better. One tragic fact not discussed in the media is that more people die from self inflicted gunshot wounds than are victims of homicides involving a gun.
Homicides vs Suicides

http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/05/07/gun-violence-in-america/st_13-05-02_ss_guncrimes_06_suicide/

As a true friend has been reminding me lately:

“When is the best time to plant a tree? 20 years ago. And right now.”

PROGRESS. It’s a journey. It will take time. But these are huge improvements the media has no incentive to tell us about because they don’t sell advertisements.

django can make some weird db schemas. just sayin.

When you have awesome people and less than awesome results, it is usually one of three things

  1. leadership (me),
  2. processes or
  3. design (in the global sense of project design patterns).

I set all three as CEO for our rewrite of Tendenci to the open source software platform for nonprofits. Thus no matter what, I take 100% of the responsibility for delays between 2009 and 2014.

To be clear, I’m pleased with the progress on Tendenci, self hosted or our hosted solutions. Basically the team kicked ass on Tendenci 5.1 and I’m proud of them. It was definitely a cumulative effort from many people, past and present, addressing an incredibly complex problem – people.

Tendenci is about people, it isn’t a shopping cart selling shirts (and shopping carts can be complex, just nothing as complex as human behavior).

Tendenci is designed to be as simple as possible, but no simpler. The “minimum viable product” of 2009 is not something our client base wanted to hear about in 2014, even if the new version of Tendenci does mobile and much more. People don’t like to go backwards from what is now called “agile” development.

Lesson 1 – if you want to get REALLY agile – only build what people fund.

Yes, only build funded modifications. (Or contributed pull requests as time is money.) It’s amazing how many people will suggest a great mod. Everyone uses the web so clearly they are experts sharing their wisdom of how it should be built. As if driving a car makes me qualified to build one. And when you say 4k for the mod suddenly the programming module they desperately need isn’t relevant and they find another way.

Why? Why charge for modifications? Priorities. It tell you what people value. And we did that very well from 2001 to 2009. Resulting in a stress tested solid product. But proprietary because 2001 was a bit too soon to start building open source web apps. We had to start over if we wanted to be open source, so I pulled the trigger.

Then I tried to simplify things a bit too much. Things got a bit too Web 2.0 with blocks and giant fonts losing all data density in the display. Upsetting our power-users and looking clunky on screen. My bad. (the good news is it is mostly fixed now.)

Why is oversimplification such a fail?

Think about your car’s dashboard and controls. Look at them when you next get in your car. Incredibly complex information, right? Vast amounts of it. Presented while you are going 70 mph. Just wow. If what is fundamentally a horse (staying with the horse/car analogy briefly) with no visual controls, has evolved to this level of complexity, then exactly how simple can you make Association Management Software? Well, it isn’t a simple problem. 20,000 users on a web application is much more complicated than a car. Or a shopping cart.

Tendenci – because humans are complex. Groups of humans are even more complex!

So why this post? I’d like to start sharing what I learned along the way. Why this is one step in a long journey. And hopefully our clients and employees and the entire open source community will benefit from it. If not, then those who prefer destruction over creating something, those who laugh at people still tilting at windmills, then they will have won and there will be written documentation of my folly.

All I can do is tell you a bit about the journey. Record it along the way. And schedule blog posts over time.

Disclaimers: For the purpose of this series of posts I make no apologies if I speak Geek or brutalize the English language with poor grammar and typos while using pseudo-code to express programming concepts, all mixed up together with abandon in horrific run-on sentences. It happens. Go read another blog if it isn’t your thing. This one is mine.

As for the database schemas – I’ll cover that in a future post…for now suffice it to say I have had to relearn the primacy of MVC is MODEL-CONTROLLER-VIEW in that order. And it takes discipline to do that with Django. More later….