I’m always fascinated by unintended consequences, especially when they are an artifact of trying to do something right.Ice Ramp

In moving to Salt Lake City from California, I’ve been reminded that good intentions and planning do not a perfect world make.

I live close to downtown, so I’ve started walking to work. It’s a nice walk, gives me a bit of exercise, and makes me feel I’m being a bit more “green” by not driving.

The sidewalks have those nice ramps into the crosswalk, which lets a wheelchair roll across. And they keep somebody who’s not quite paying attention from tripping on the curb …

It’s all great until it snows …

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Recently I’ve been seeing a lot of the annoying message about pages dying on Chrome. For the most part it’s just annoying, and clicking “wait” lets the page load.

Until this morning, when for some reason Chrome just stopped letting me get to any of my hosted web sites. Whenever I would go to http://www.accuweaver.com, http://accuweaver.com, http://www.cozybabycare.com or http://www.incdpc.com, I would immediately see a “No data received” message:

No data


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wordpress-logo-notext-rgbI was setting up a temporary WordPress site for a client as a placeholder for their business. All they wanted was their logo, a link to an existing product page, and a message about the site being under construction.

Since they were going to have some design ready shortly, I set them up with a WordPress site, and found a simple theme (Decode by Scott Smith) that their logo would work with.

The owner then told me she wanted to see the site running with SSL (aka HTTPS), so I grabbed a certificate and installed it.

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I was helping out http://www.pmi-sfbac.org whose web site was down.
The server was being unresponsive, and Larry Van Cantfort (the Director of Operations for PMI SFBAC) sent me this clue:
It appears that httpd has a lot of running processes and when I try to kill them I am unable to. THis is causing the server to sloooow way down. There are also error messages from mysqld with a corrupt table:

I couldn’t even get into the control panel to get things going, so the cleanest approach was to simply rebuild the server.
So I shut down the database and started to try and get it backed up so we’d at least save all the hard work of the volunteers.
So I tried to run the dump, with the following command that I got from the Parallels support site:

But that gave me the same error:

A quick Google search and I found the “fix” for this is to run a repair on the tables: http://www.daveperrett.com/articles/2009/06/18/mysql-table-is-marked-as-crashed/

That fixed the issue, and I was able to create the “dumpall.sql”.

Once I had ALL of the tables fixed, I simply rebuilt the server and migrated it into a new database as described in the Parallels KB article mentioned above (a lot more steps to make sure the backup was good, but once it was the newly imaged server was able to run without incident).

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Recently after an upgrade of my Plesk panel, my web site was down.

In fact ALL of the domains I host on that particular cloud server were not working. A quick call to 1and1’s server guys and it appeared that there was some step in the upgrade process that failed.

They had it fixed in a moment, and then went the extra step to send me the command to fix this myself in the future:

/usr/local/psa/admin/bin/httpdmng –reconfigure-all

That simple command reset all the server config files and got all of the domains working again.

A huge thanks to the 1and1 Server Support guys and Khristian Byrd specifically !!!

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Albert Einstein once said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

May 3, 2013 8-48-28 PMWhen I first came to the PMI SFBAC board, we had a serious problem with continuity: The entire board was elected every year, and terms were limited to two, which meant there was little chance of any vision longer than a year being accomplished. In addition, the board was a working board, meaning each of the board members also wore an operational hat, which led to some odd silos within our volunteer organization.

Every year, we’d have an executive retreat and work on what the strategic goals of the organization should be. And the next year, a new board (often with little point of reference for the prior vision) would come in and do the same thing.

The board would try to apply PMBOK best practices to the organization, and implement things like PMO’s, only to have to end up starting afresh as we experienced another complete rebuild every couple of years.

I know we recognized continuity as a problem, and had a few things in place to help mitigate that problem, but the reality was, we had no real fix until we were introduced to Policy Governance® and combined that with another brilliant concept for our key roles: triplets.

Triplets was a concept that came out of some work we did trying to solve the problem of human capital in a volunteer organization. The issue was that we’d find a volunteer who was really good at something, and then for various reasons they’d be ready to move on. We’d scramble to find a replacement, often leaving the board member to do the work left behind for some time.

We also had this odd arrangement where the President was also the CEO and chair of the board, which meant the direction of the organization often changed completely when a new president was elected.

Because we’re a volunteer organization, accomplishments are a bit more difficult than they are in a commercial organization. Work is done on a part-time basis by people who have other more important things to do (like make sure the bills are paid). And since they work on something only occasionally, it often actually takes more person hours to accomplish (since setup tasks often have to be repeated, and simple tasks like turning on the computer are a larger percentage of time spent when you only have a couple of hours).

So the triplet idea was to assign three people to every job. This didn’t necessarily resolve the problem of losing key people, but it did at least ensure we had a candidate when one of our volunteers suddenly found  a new job and could no longer do what they’d been helping with.

Moving the operational work to the CEO, freed the board to focus on guiding the organization. It also separated the volunteers from any turnover in the board, since they no longer reported to a board member directly.

Athens KoliasAs of our last official board meeting, your PMI San Francisco Bay Area Chapter Board of Directors has a new Chief Governing Officer: Athens Kolias agreed to accept the appointment to lead your board and guide us in our journey toward leadership excellence.

When we adopted Policy Governance®, we learned that it was important to have a Chief Governance Officer to keep us on the track as we began the shift from working board to leading board, and that was the role to which I was appointed.

The CGO has two main roles: acting as the chair of the board which requires being assertive holding the rest of the board accountable to policy in order to speak with one voice, and secondly to interact with the board’s one employee (the CEO).


This video of an interview with John Carver will give you some idea of what we needed to consider in naming someone as CGO.

Please join me in congratulating the new board on a great choice for the new CGO, and congratulate Athens on showing the type of leadership that inspired her to be the clear choice.

In our first years with Policy Governance® we’ve managed to rewrite the bylaws, expand the size of the board, and create a more sustainable organization. With the help of our owners (the membership, the legal and moral owners of PMI SFBAC), we crafted our global ends statement (our guiding policy):

PMI-SFBAC members, people who live and work in Northern California, and virtual beneficiaries experience a continually improving standard of living, stability, a sense of community, self-esteem and self-actualization. These Ends will be achieved in a sustainable manner that represents value for the resources invested.

With this in mind, we’ve been able to focus on making the volunteer work more meaningful and useful in your professional life, and continue to build on sustainability. We’ve managed to increase what we are delivering, while driving down costs AND making our programs more accessible and valuable.

Thanks to the hard work of our CEO, Malika Malika, and her staff of volunteers, we have a growing volunteer operation and a sound financial statement, and solid reserves to carry us into the future.

In the coming years, we will continue the work of making sure the goals we are working toward are the right ones for the membership (you, our legal and moral owners), refine our policies, and continue to improve on what value that we can deliver together.

So here’s the board’s ask of you: take a moment to consider volunteering. We always have needs at all levels of the organization, the board is looking for people who want to learn more about servant leadership, and Malika has a variety of opportunities where you can help out and stretch your skills.





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Serenity (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


A project manager has to be able to be in the moment and calmly react to any situation in order for a plan to succeed. Reacting to everything that might go wrong, or things that don’t help to achieve the goals of the project doesn’t get us to the product of the project (our “ends” or project goal).


Because a project manager’s biggest job is keeping everybody communicating, it’s easy to get distracted with all the chatter and worries of everybody on the team. You have to weigh the value of the cries of the Chicken Little‘s on your team in order to figure out whether the sky is actually falling or not, and if so, what to do about that fact.


For me this is a bit like the Serenity Prayer (written by American theologist Reinhold Niebuhr):


God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.


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Screen Shot 2013-06-08 at 10.35.06 AMIf you read my previous post (WordPress Recovery), you know I’ve been writing some code to recover my old posts. It occurred to me I could take a small segment of what I’ve been doing with that code to demonstrate my approach to TDD.

Since I’m a hacker from way back, and also because I was in semi-panic mode about losing the content, I didn’t approach this task with testing in mind. Now that doesn’t always result in bad code: I’ve been doing this long enough that I can usually think through a fairly good model and code something that isn’t one long method full of inline code.

In this case however, once I had started coding, I realized again that this was an opportunity to practice coding the “right” way. I had already begun with a Maven project, and generated unit tests as I went through the process of starting to build the code, so I had at least some good functioning unit tests.

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Well, I have the basics of my blog recovered now, so almost all of my posts going back several years are once again available.

In my last post titled Lesson Re-learned: Backups !, I admitted that I had committed the cardinal sin of making changes to my web site without doing a backup first (walking the tightrope without a net).

Luckily for me I had installed the WP Super Cache plugin, so all of my content actually still existed as static files, and being a bit of a hacker, I was able to throw together some code to effectively recover my posts.

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