Sunday, February 25, 2024

Well, use the difficulty

  If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

Good for us!
We have been granted Tier 1 ELITE status to resell for an International IT vendor across North America! Such an amazing opportunity. Here we go!

Yesterday: DDoS attack from outside the USA. Not just a DDoS, a brute force attack. 

A brute force DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack is a type of cyberattack where multiple compromised systems are used to flood a target system or network with an overwhelming volume of traffic, aiming to make the targeted system or network unavailable to its intended users. 

In a brute force DDoS attack, attackers typically utilize a large number of bots or compromised computers to generate and send a massive amount of traffic to the target. This flood of traffic can overwhelm the target's resources such as bandwidth, processing power, or network connections, thereby causing the target system or network to become unresponsive or inaccessible to legitimate users.

The term "brute force" in this context refers to the indiscriminate and forceful nature of the attack, as it does not rely on sophisticated techniques to exploit vulnerabilities in the target system or network. Instead, the attackers simply bombard the target with an excessive amount of traffic, often using techniques like UDP flood, SYN flood, or HTTP flood.

Brute force DDoS attacks can have serious consequences, causing financial losses, reputational damage, and disrupting services for legitimate users. It's important for organizations to implement robust DDoS protection measures to mitigate the risk of such attacks.

So, at around 6:00 AM EST on a Saturday morning, no one can reach our websites - or they load SLOW. Like so slow that it looks like we are out of business. 

Now, I have been selling telecom and technology since 1983. I know some stuff, but I am not an IT / MIS / Engineer. I'm a selling CEO... 

And so at 6:04 AM EST on a Saturday morning I am opening up a support ticket with our vendor (normally I would not be the one doing this...). And now I am speaking LIVE with support. A real person. Not a bot, not a chatbot. No, I am working with a real human, Robert, in tech support. LIVE.  

The next 20 minutes or so, it was Robert and me, me and Robert - shoulder to shoulder - fighting off the attack. Looking at this, trying that. Rebooting the server, etc. Once the CASE was closed, Robert sent me an email to memorialize it all:

"Thank you for calling in. During the call you mentioned that you were have issues connecting to your websites. You provided access to your server and I immediately noticed that you had 63,011 failed login attempts in only a few minutes. I then checked your messages in the /var/logs directory. There, I found you had an IP, 115.204.XX.XX, that was brute forcing your server. I added that IP to the blacklist for cphulk and then rebooted your server. This significantly improved your website load times.  

As requested over the call this case can be closed out. We will set this case to resolved but if you have any questions or if we can be of any additional assistance a reply within seven days will open it back up."

So, it turns out that a COMPETITOR of the vendor that just awarded us North America was the bad actor. We were able to trace the IP address, and identify them. And, we have since alerted the authorities. Or shall we say, Robert did all of this. For me. For us. Within the hours of the incident, I went through a range of emotions. And then, I remembered something that I learned from Michael Caine, the actor. He would say "use the difficulty." 

Sir Michael tells us that any time we are faced with a difficulty or problem, we can use it to our advantage. He uses the story of a misplaced chair in his rehearsal space to illustrate this, doing so with his typical wit and self-deprecating humour. It’s complete mindset brilliance.

Here’s an excerpt where he illustrates the moment of his epiphany (the video is at the bottom):

“I opened the door, and I said to the producer who was sitting out in the stalls, ‘Well look, I can’t get in. There’s a chair in my way.’

He said, ‘Well, use the difficulty.’

So I said, ‘What do you mean, use the difficulty?’

He said, ‘Well, if it’s a drama, pick it up and smash it. If it’s a comedy, fall over it.’

This was a line for me for life: Always use the difficulty.”

Sir Michael goes on to say there’s never anything so bad where ‘using the difficulty’ can’t be applied. If we use it only a quarter of one percent to our advantage, then we’re ahead. We didn’t let it get us down.

Brush yourself off, pick yourself up, give yourself a metaphorical hug and ask yourself questions. In doing so, you’ll put into practice this “Use the Difficulty” mindset:

  • What’s this situation teaching me? 
  • What’s the useful lesson that I can glean from this scenario?
  • If this was happening to a good friend of mine right now (instead of me), what advice would I give to him or her? This can provide some perspective to a situation that you might be too close to. Take a step back and have a look from the outside-in.
  • How can I use this perceived disadvantage, set back or challenge to my advantage? 
  • What’s good about this situation? Come up with at least five things.
  • What can I do right now to move forward?

Although Sir Michael jokes his other philosophy is to avoid difficulties altogether, leaders are often faced with challenges on a daily basis. ‘Using the difficulty’ is a change in mindset that can turn a challenging situation into a positive experience for everyone.

I have been thinking about the AMAZING customer service that I received from super genius support engineer Robert yesterday. How we went from a very (very) bad situation to resolution - and how now, today, I am using the difficulty. We are a better company and organization now for experiencing this DDoS attack. We learned much, not only for how to protect ourselves moving forward - but how to protect our customers, our clients, our members. 

I am now 'using the difficulty' for everyone we know - for every single member of the DLA

Sunday, February 18, 2024

R2-D2 send an email to the CES Attendee List

  If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

One of the last major events that I attended LIVE before COVID was the AI Summit in NYC

Here is my December 2019 BLOG on that show. And that blog in 2019 turned out to be my most read blog post, ever. The folks who ran the show, reposted it on their website for all to see. Cool. 

In my blog I joked about how my 'Baby Boomer Brain' saw I Heart a Rotary Telephone in the T-Shirts that IBM was giving out at their booth. 

My friend Seth Godin, the legendary luminary in branding and marketing recently said "AI is the biggest thing in our world since Electricity." 

Alrighty then. 

The potential size and impact of artificial intelligence (AI) are difficult to predict precisely, but it's clear that AI is already becoming increasingly influential across various industries and aspects of everyday life. Here are some factors contributing to the growth and significance of AI:

Industry Adoption: Many industries are adopting AI technologies to streamline processes, enhance productivity, and gain competitive advantages. This includes sectors such as healthcare, finance, manufacturing, retail, transportation, and more.

Innovation: Continuous innovation in AI algorithms, techniques, and applications is driving the expansion of AI capabilities. Breakthroughs in machine learning, natural language processing, computer vision, and robotics are leading to new AI-powered products and services.

Data Availability: AI thrives on data, and the increasing volume of digital data generated worldwide provides ample opportunities for AI applications. With the rise of the internet of things (IoT), social media, online transactions, and sensors, the amount of data available for AI analysis and training is growing exponentially.

Investment: Governments, corporations, and venture capitalists are investing significant resources into AI research, development, and deployment. This investment fosters the growth of AI startups, accelerates technological advancements, and promotes the integration of AI into various sectors.

Automation: AI has the potential to automate repetitive tasks, improve efficiency, and optimize resource allocation in both the workforce and various industries. As AI technologies mature, they will likely play an increasingly prominent role in automating routine activities, freeing up human labor for more creative and strategic endeavors.

Ethical and Regulatory Considerations: As AI becomes more prevalent, there is increasing scrutiny regarding ethical considerations, including data privacy, algorithmic bias, job displacement, and the societal implications of AI technologies. Governments and organizations are developing regulations and guidelines to ensure responsible AI development and deployment.

While the exact size and scope of AI's future impact remain uncertain, it is clear that AI will continue to grow in significance and pervasiveness across diverse domains, fundamentally transforming how we live, work, and interact with technology.

If you know me at all, you know that I run the DLA (Distance Learning Association) - and you know that I have been a "Zoomie" since 2011. Zoom, like many modern technology companies, utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) in various aspects of its platform to enhance user experience, improve features, and streamline operations. 

Here are some ways in which Zoom is leveraging AI:

Video and Audio Enhancement: Zoom uses AI algorithms to enhance video quality and optimize audio during calls. This includes features like noise cancellation, background noise suppression, and automatic adjustments to lighting and contrast.

Transcription and Closed Captioning: AI-powered transcription services enable Zoom to automatically transcribe meeting conversations in real-time. Additionally, AI algorithms can generate closed captions, making meetings more accessible to individuals with hearing impairments or those who prefer to read the conversation.

Virtual Backgrounds: Zoom's virtual background feature, which allows users to replace their actual background with a virtual one, utilizes AI algorithms to accurately detect and differentiate between the user and their surroundings, ensuring a smooth and realistic virtual background experience.

Auto-Generated Meeting Insights: Zoom uses AI to analyze meeting data and generate insights that can help users better understand meeting dynamics, participant engagement, and productivity. These insights may include metrics such as meeting duration, number of participants, and interaction patterns.

Gesture Recognition and Emotion Analysis: Some advanced AI features in development may include gesture recognition and emotion analysis, which could enable Zoom to detect and interpret non-verbal cues from participants, providing additional context during meetings.

Security and Compliance: AI-powered tools are employed to monitor and analyze user behavior for potential security threats or compliance violations. This helps Zoom identify and respond to security incidents, such as unauthorized access or suspicious activity, in real-time.

Content Moderation: AI algorithms can assist in content moderation by automatically detecting and filtering out inappropriate or offensive content shared during meetings or in chat messages, helping to maintain a professional and respectful environment.

Overall, Zoom's integration of AI technologies enhances the functionality and usability of its platform, contributing to a smoother and more efficient virtual meeting experience for users. There are around 800M+ Zoom users in the world. Most use Zoom BASIC (Free) yet enough people use Zoom PRO (or higher) to generate $4.39B+ for Zoom in 2023. 

2024: as a value-added member benefit, all members of the DLA now get Zoom PRO as part of their $25 paid DLA membership (a $15.99 value). Zoom PRO with Zoom AI Companion. Included. [

The Global DLA is improving the world through Democratizing Education just as AI is improving the world through Disruptive Innovation

So, let's all together - from anywhere in the world! But I think we are going to need new T-Shirts. 


Sunday, February 4, 2024

How Will You Measure MY Life?

  If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways. 

When I took over running the Distance Learning Association back in 2010 (it was bankrupt at the time) one of our first "big wins" was Clay Christensen. It went like this (via a cold email from me):

Clay, I just finished reading your new book, "How Will You Measure Your Life?" and it is amazing. Would you like me to promote this for you to the members of the DLA? 

"That would be wonderful. Thank you." 

That was it. Permission granted. 

We had Clay's new book 'loud and proud' on page 1 of our website as fast as our webmasters could work their magic. 

Karen Dillon is the former editor of Harvard Business Review magazine and co-author of 3 books with Clayton Christensen: New York Times best-seller "How Will You Measure Your Life?", Wall Street Journal best-seller "Competing Against Luck: the Story of Innovation and Customer Choice"; and "The Prosperity Paradox: How Innovation Can Lift Nations Out of Poverty", which was a nominee for Thinkers50 Breakthrough Idea.

She is also the author of "The Harvard Business Review Guide to Office Politics". A graduate of Cornell University and Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, she was named by Ashoka as one of the world's most influential and inspiring women and a ''top influencer'' by Product Management Review in 2016. She is currently a contributing editor to Harvard Business Review and Editorial Director of Banyan Global Family Business Advisors.

Last year, 2023, I received an advance copy of Karen's book The Microstress Effect: How Little Things Pile Up and Create Big Problems - -and What to Do about It. Amazing book. We did a podcast to promote the book launch - and our interview reached millions of DLA members around the world. 

2024: Just last week, I received an email from Karen's colleague Ann-Somers Hogg. Ann is the director of health care research at the Clayton Christensen Institute. She focuses on business model innovation and disruption in health care, including how to transform a sick care system to one that values and incentivizes total health. Her current research addresses why various organizations across the health care landscape are addressing “social determinants of health” and what enables success in this domain. She is tackling these questions through the lens of Jobs to Be Done and Business Model theories.

Next week we shall record a video podcast on Ann's research: Maternal health policy change won’t save enough mothers’ lives. Our video podcast interview will reach millions of people around the world. And maybe, just maybe, it will save lives.

And so, I met Ann-Somers Hogg via Karen Dillion. And I met Karen Dillion via Clay Christensen. And I met Clay Christensen via.... well, via Gmail.  

And here we are in 2024 - OUR DLA MISSION: we are all Living, Learning, Working, Playing, Teaching, Training, Coaching, Mentoring in the Global Cloud Economy. - Improving the world through disruptive innovation. - Improving the world through democratizing education. 

Sadly, Clayton Magleby Christensen passed away on January 23, 2020, at the age of 67. 

Clayton Magleby Christensen (April 6, 1952 – January 23, 2020) was an American academic and business consultant who developed the theory of "disruptive innovation", which has been called the most influential business idea of the early 21st century. Christensen introduced "disruption" in his 1997 book The Innovator's Dilemma, and it led The Economist to term him "the most influential management thinker of his time." He served as the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School (HBS). 

I think it is a good time for us reread all of Clay's books, don't you?