and You – An @IOUG IT Project Perspective

How Lucky Do You Feel today to be working on lesser-known web projects instead of

(photo By Charles Dharapak, AP) Would you care to be in Mr. Jeffery Zients shoes as the latest consultant brought in to fix a website application that has garnered the attention of world-wide press, and has the public chattering about a mis-fired IT project implementation? — boss for fixing the balky health care website

(ed – nevermind that spelling and grammar checks appear to be missing from the AP News articles in light of getting the story out expediently…)

How about being in the place of Quality Software Services Inc.(QSSI) owned by a unit of UnitedHealth Group (, with the original role as lead web application designer, now being directed to become the equivalent of a Construction Manager, to orchestrate the other subcontractors towards a viable and scalable solution?

A big data back-end powered under Metropolis ( which is a Hadoop extension set. Thought this was far away from your own sphere of knowledge?  Nope – it’s Oracle-based, in a lot of areas.  Notice the Platinum Partner status on QSSI’s page?

I’m quite sure that all of this will be closely watched by the IT public community at-large as a primary example of watching our federal government, normally not known for subscribing to AGILE and RAD practices in its projects, suddenly become responsible for a monster of a custom web application with a zero-defects requirement due-date of 12/15/2013 .

All of you have been part of post-Go-Live (10/2/2013) projects wherein the defect lists soar, and post-implementation patches, data changes, and no-bounce needed updates get immediately Sev 1 prioritized. But how many of you have had to deal with the public skewering your work through dozens of daily news articles and political representatives posturing to ensure “the person to be blamed will be fired?” —

How about having your User Experience testing shot at by the general public, when your UAT instance was never allowed to see the light-of-day by end-users (public) prior to Go-Live? —

Of course, back a month earlier were some buried stories wherein the major software and service contractors were already expressing guarded caution for what would be a “rocky launch” based upon compressed delivery schedules, and mitigated test plans foreshortened to tighten the Go-Live date.  And even though there were plans for alternative sign-ups through call-in centers, in-person, and by-mail application, the one that got 100% of the public’s attention was: the website ( —

So, how lucky do you feel not being a software consultant like QSSI, or CGI Federal (, now being brought in front of congressional committees to explain why a lack of appropriate IT project management by the end-user customer (the Office of Management and Budget) caused two otherwise operationally-compliant application systems (one a e-commerce website, and the other a commodity trading center/cafeteria application) to be unable to scale to demand when combined together for the first time, without adequate regression testing (plus a pushed Go-Live date, of course)?

How would you solve this project debacle – you’re in IT, and an Oracle expert aren’t you?


2013-10 Shinnyo-en Buddhism Podcast – On

2013-10 Shinnyo-en Buddhism Podcast – On Breaking Bad (Precepts)

2013-10 Shinnyo-en Buddhism Podcast – On Breaking Bad (Precepts)

2013-10 Shinnyo-en Buddhism Podcast – On Breaking Bad (Precepts)

  • The Five Precepts (Rules of Engagement)
  • Why Learning from Others Comes First
  • Extending the Awakening Universe

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A precept is a rule of conduct originally developed as standards for monks and nuns to know when their behavior had strayed from following the proper path of conduct. Depending on which text you examine, monks have about 250 precepts and nuns somewhere between 348 to 500 by which they must abide during their practice.  Lay Buddhists (you and me) within the Nirvana Sutra were given eight (8) specific ones to apply in daily life.

  • Refrain from killing.
  • Refrain from stealing.
  • Refrain from sexual misconduct.
  • Refrain from lying.
  • Refrain from becoming intoxicated.

(and 3 more that Shinnyo-en interprets as historical)

  • Refrain from self-adornment.
  • Refrain from song and dance.
  • Refrain from observing song and dance.

Magnificently and often simultaneously, Breaking Bad’s storyline (an AMC series created by Vince Gilligan) manages to violate every single one of them. The same is true of the entire world around us, every single day. But the difference between a fictional TV show and the real world, is that the show is comprised of actors performing scripted lines and not making active decisions to do a certain thing or commit a certain act. And skillful writing ensures that the outcomes of negative behavior does not have automatically positive results, particularly in the overall storyline, lest the audience become bored with predictable endings. But in the real world, people are making decisions, to break a law, or to abide. And we live in this same real world, alongside all the others, whether breaking precepts or not.

A core belief in Buddhism, just as in nature, is that other beings will only follow or emulate those who are successful, as the contrary makes virtually no sense at all. And if you attempt to admonish others without demonstrating the embodiment of success through pursuit of a path of truth, then why would anyone bother to listen to your words?

This concept is paraphrased in a number of different ways:

  • We first learn from others, and then we can step forward to practice on our own.
  •  Only when you put yourself on the right track will others follow after you.
  • Guide the troubled by standing in the same shoes.
  • Learn what we need to learn from others.

And strangely enough, all of these principles were also part of Breaking Bad’s storyline. The gift from the writers was to see that lead characters had no influence until they found their own self-truths and understood why others acted the way they did.  And akin to the way karma works, deaths and destruction did not lead to conclusion – they were only transformations of one person’s life or property to lead to another person’s greater greed and envy.


September and October are months leading up to the year-end period of purification and refreshing the mind and body to prepare for another year’s efforts. The ceremonies within this period (Saisho Homa) are conducted to re-purify entrances to this earthly world for welcoming the revisitation of the spiritual deities and return of Buddhas. As we individuals serve as the “vehicles’ for this visitation in-spirit, we too in the presence of ritual cleansing fires (which bring forth “light” to see the path in front of us) take time to reflect on our conduct in regards to the precepts and examine how our thoughts, actions and speech can be further improved to continue extending a world of harmony and peace around us.


From HH Keishu Shinso this month:


“…It is up to us to reach out and embrace others in the spirit of friendship to make harmony amid diversity a reality that is indestructible like a diamond.

Likewise, to create a world of friendship means to create a way of seeing the world based on friendly relations rather than adversarial ones that are very often filled with difficulties and setbacks. At times, we may encounter a challenging reality beyond our control that prevents us from building friendships. But by drawing on the resources of wisdom and compassion—which is the nature of buddhahood… —we can move forward.”