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The true Legend of Waltham’s Bear Hill December 4, 2009

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Flowers beside the road to the top of Waltham's Bear Hill

Flowers beside the road to the top of Waltham's Bear Hill

In 1637 Samuel Saltonstall was surveying land granted to him for grazing by the City of Boston. As he traveled to the area, he was sidetracked as he passed the area now known as Watertown. As darkness set in, Saltonstall found shelter in the caves in what is known today as Bear Hill in Waltham. During the night, a ferocious eight hundred pound Black Bear attacked Samuel, but with his bare hands alone he wrestled the bear. Saltonstall took over the bear as a pet, domesticated him, and named him Chief Cutstomach after a famous Native American tribe leader of the area. The due started to tour the colony, and henceforth the area srrounding Saltonstall’s legendary match has been known as Bear Hill.

Cliff face beside the road to the top of Waltham's Bear Hill

Cliff face beside the road to the top of Waltham's Bear Hill

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Structuring Venture Capital Deals: M.I.T. Enterprise Forum Panel Discussion (Video) December 1, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Conferences, events, Management, Startups, Venture Capital.
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Structuring Venture Capital Deals: M.I.T. Enterprise Forum Panel Discussion (2-Hr Video)

With Joseph Hadzima, Jr., Moderator. Jorge Contreras, Jr., Stanley Fung, Gregory Moore, Paul Severino

Hosted by The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Enterprise Forum

20 January, 2000
MIT’s Kresge Auditorium, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Although this presentation was given at a different era and time in the Boston venture capital ecosystem life cycle, nonetheless the august panel does a superb job of presenting the material concisely and throughly, to the point of making this video a must-watch not only for the methodical outlining of the step-by step preparations an entrepreneur must make before approaching venture capitalists for equity funding for their companies, but also for the exhaustive definitions of venture capital deal terms and deal points given and the illuminating perspectives offered by the various parties involved in a venture capital deal for a venture capital funded company.

This video lasts approximately two hours. I was in attendance at the conference, and if you look very closely, you can see me in the audience in one of the audience questions shots, during the questions-and-answers period after the primary discussions (I’m in a suit and tie).

Please leave comments as to how you think things may have changed in the time since this presentation, how things may have remained the same, and how perspectives and deal flows and volumes may have changed or stayed the same.

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You’re reading Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a blog stuffed with years of articles about Boston technology startups and venture capital-backed companies, software development, Agile project management, managing software teams, designing web-based business applications, running successful software development projects, ecommerce and telecommunications.

About the author.

I’m Paul Seibert, Editor of Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a Boston focused technology blog. I have been working in the software engineering and ecommerce industries for over fifteen years. My interests include computers, electronics, robotics and programmable microcontrollers, and I am an avid outdoorsman and guitar player. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, follow me on Quora, even friend me on Facebook if you’re cool. I own and am trying to sell a dual-zoned, residential & commercial Office Building in Natick, MA. I have a background in entrepreneurship, ecommerce, telecommunications and software development, I’m a Technical PMO Director, I’m a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of several ecommerce and web-based software startups, the latest of which are Twitterminers.com and Tshirtnow.net.

What is Theory Y? How is it used as a management style? November 29, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Agile Software Development, Definitions, Management, Project Management.
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What is Theory Y? How is it used as a management style?

As I have said on these pages before, I needed to write a few short pieces on some of the different management styles I have encountered in my corporate and professional travels. I want to define each of these management styles so that I can compare and contrast them, as well as serving as reference points for the longer articles on this topic which I am in the process of drafting.

As I have previously stated, the purpose of this litany of alphabetic management styles is not to promote one over another; in fact, I don’t recommend adopting any of these naively. But nevertheless, many individual team members and managers will exhibit some behaviors from one of the above styles, and it is helpful to know what makes them tick. Finally, certain individuals may prefer to be managed as a Theory X or Theory Y type (Theory Z, which I will write about at a future date, is less likely in this case), and it is good to be able to recognize the signs. Moreover, some companies might be implicitly based on one style or another.

The second management style about which I will write is one which will be perhaps less recognizable to many people than the aforementioned “Theory X“: “Theory Y”.

As opposed to Theory X, Theory Y holds that work is a natural and desirable activity. Hence, external control abd threats are not needed to guide the organization. In fact, the level of commitment is based on the clarity and desirability of the goals set for the group. Theory Y posits that most individuals actually seek responsibility and do not shirk it, as proposed by Theory X.

A Theory Y manager simply needs to provide the resources, articulate the goals, and leave the team alone. This approach doesn’t always work, of course, because some individuals do need more supervision than others.

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You’re reading Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a blog stuffed with years of articles about Boston technology startups and venture capital-backed companies, software development, Agile project management, managing software teams, designing web-based business applications, running successful software development projects, ecommerce and telecommunications.

About the author.

I’m Paul Seibert, Editor of Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a Boston focused technology blog. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, even friend me on Facebook if you’re cool. I own and am trying to sell a dual-zoned, residential & commercial Office Building in Natick, MA. I have a background in entrepreneurship, ecommerce, telecommunications and software development, I’m the Director, Technical Projects at eSpendWise, I’m a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of Tshirtnow.net.

What is Theory X? How is it used as a management style? November 27, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Agile Software Development, Definitions, Management, Project Management, Staffing & Recruiting.
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I needed to write a few short pieces on some of the different management styles I have encountered in my corporate and professional travels. I want to define each of these management styles so that I can compare and contrast them, as well as serving as reference points for the longer articles on this topic which I am in the process of drafting.

I will begin with some of the “Letter Management Styles”, of which there are several. The purpose of this litany of alphabetic management styles is not to promote one over another; in fact, I don’t recommend adopting any of these naively. But nevertheless, many individual team members and managers will exhibit some behaviors from one of the above styles, and it is helpful to know what makes them tick. Finally, certain individuals may prefer to be managed as a Theory X or Theory Y type (Theory Z, which I will write about at a future date, is less likely in this case), and it is good to be able to recognize the signs. Moreover, some companies might be implicitly based on one style or another.

The first management style about which I will write is one which will be recognizable to every person, regardless of professional or personal background: “Theory X”.

Theory X is perhaps the oldest management style and is very closely related to the hierarchical, command-and-control model used by military organizations (of which I am intimately familiar).

One thing I can personnally attest to in regards to the Theory X management style is that it maintains the military organizations’ faith in the fact of the necessity of this approach, as (in the view of Theory X proponents) most people inherently dislike work and will avoid it if they can. Hence, in the Theory X management style, managers should coerce, control, direct, and threaten their workers in order to get the most out of them.

A statement that I recall from a conversation with a prototypical Theory X manager with whom I worked (in a prototypical Theory X organization) with was “people only do what you audit”.

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You’re reading Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a blog stuffed with years of articles about Boston technology startups and venture capital-backed companies, software development, Agile project management, managing software teams, designing web-based business applications, running successful software development projects, ecommerce and telecommunications.

About the author.

I’m Paul Seibert, Editor of Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a Boston focused technology blog. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, even friend me on Facebook if you’re cool. I own and am trying to sell a dual-zoned, residential & commercial Office Building in Natick, MA. I have a background in entrepreneurship, ecommerce, telecommunications and software development, I’m the Director, Technical Projects at eSpendWise, I’m a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of Tshirtnow.net.

What is Scrum? How is it used to manage projects and teams? November 25, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Agile Software Development, Definitions, Management, Project Management, Software.
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As I continue to move in the Boston software development / high tech job market and talk to more and more people in the area, I not only come across the term “Scrum” in many job descriptions, but it is a word that is frequently bandied about by both recruiters and hiring managers. It is clear that there is alot of confusion in the Boston area about what “Scrum” really is, and how it relates to Agile.

There is no substitute for the experience of running Scrum daily for years, as I have done. My heartfelt advice to anyone looking to adopt Scrum in their organization is to be flexible, take it easy on the cutsey names, and keep the daily meetings very brief. If you are the “ScrumMaster”, stay organized and lead the conversation around the room, notating all limiting factors, as that becomes your to-do list. Drop me a line with your own insights or comments on Scrum!

Scrum, as some people already know, is a project managemnt methodology named after a contentious point in a rugby match. The Scrum project management method enables self-organizing teams by encouraging verbal communication across all team members and project stakeholders. At its foundation, Scrum’s primary principle is that traditional problem definition solution approaches do not always work, and that a formalized discovery process is sometimes needed.

Scrum’s major project artifact is a dynamic list of prioritized work to be done. Completion of a largely fixed set of backlogged items occurs in a series of short (many of 30 days duration) iterations, or “sprints”.

Every day a brief meeting or “Scrum” is held in which project progress is explained, upcoming work is described, and impediments are raised. A brief planning session occurs at the start of each sprint to define the backlog items to be completed. A brief postmortem or heartbeat retrospective occurs at the end of each sprint.

A “ScrumMaster” (my advice is to never call yourself this in actual human life in an office of programmers and IT personnel…but know the job well and do it well nevertheless if you are the individual who finds themselves in this role) removes obstacles or impediments to each sprint. The ScrumMaster is not the leader of the team, as they are self-organizing, but rather acts as a productivity buffer between the team and any destabilizing influences.

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Want to know more?

You’re reading Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a blog stuffed with years of articles about Boston technology startups and venture capital-backed companies, software development, Agile project management, managing software teams, designing web-based business applications, running successful software development projects, ecommerce and telecommunications.

About the author.

I’m Paul Seibert, Editor of Boston’s Hub Tech Insider, a Boston focused technology blog. You can connect with me on LinkedIn, follow me on Twitter, even friend me on Facebook if you’re cool. I own and am trying to sell a dual-zoned, residential & commercial Office Building in Natick, MA. I have a background in entrepreneurship, ecommerce, telecommunications and software development, I’m the Director, Technical Projects at eSpendWise, I’m a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of Tshirtnow.net.

Entrepreneurship and Innovation in 2009 and Beyond: Massachusetts vs. Silicon Valley (MP3) November 20, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in events, Staffing & Recruiting, Technology, Venture Capital.
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This is a Stereo MP3 audio transcription of the excellent presentation that was given this morning by Ronald Croen, Founder, former CEO and Chairman of Nuance Communications, who is now Tufts University’s Entrepreneur-in-Residence for 2009-2010. The talk was given at IBM’s Waltham Innovation Center, in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Ronald Croen, a co-founder of Nuance, has served as Chairman of the Board of Nuance Communications. Croen held the positions of President and CEO of Nuance from July 1994 – March 2003. Previously, he served as a consultant to SRI International, an independent research, technology development and consulting organization, for the commercialization of its speech recognition capability. From 1987 to 1989, Croen served as Managing Director of European Operations, and from 1983 to 1987 as Vice President and General Counsel of The Ultimate Corp. Croen holds a J.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a B.A. from Tufts University.

The topic of the presentation was:

Entrepreneurship and Innovation in 2009 and Beyond: Massachusetts vs. Silicon Valley

091120_004 [mp3 raw file – click to listen on most computers]

091120_004 – Ronald A. Croen [Imeem Hosted Stream]

(This mp3 Stereo Audio Recording is a large file, and you may want to save it directly to your computer’s hard disk drive for listening – you can do so by right-clicking on the filename, above, and using the ‘save link as…’ option)

I had a wonderful opportunity to meet and speak with Bobbie Carlton, the founder of Massachusetts Innovation Nights at the Charles River Museum of Industry in Waltham, and I want to take the opportunity here to thank her for her efforts in arranging this new breakfast Massachusetts Innovation gathering. I think some thanks also go to the gracious corporate host, IBM, whose Waltham Innovation Center is truly an impressive facility; I enjoyed their tour of the facility after Mr. Croen’s presentation.

There was a terrific question-and-answer session with the attendees at the conclusion of the presentation which featured a lively debate and brought up some fascinating points; I recommend you listen to this towards the end of the mp3 audio transcription.

There are some great videos of Ron Croen’s presentation available here.

Massachusetts Innovation Breakfast Friday, 20 November at 8:30am at the IBM Innovation Center in Waltham – Ronald Croen, CEO of Nuance, will be speaking November 19, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in events, VUI Voice User Interface.
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Massachusetts Innovation Breakfast kicks off this week with a Friday morning (8:30 a.m.- 10:00 a.m.) casual get-together at the IBM Innovation Center in Waltham.

There’s limited space so sign up now. (You must RSVP by the end of the business day Thursday to be part of the group.)

There will be a chance to look around the IBM Innovation Center, and there will be a special guest speaker, Ronald Croen, Founder, CEO and Chairman of Nuance Communications, who will be speaking on Entrepreneurship and Innovation in 2009 and Beyond: Massachusetts vs. Silicon Valley.

There is a Stereo mp3 audio transcription of this presentation, as well as the excellent question-and-answers session which followed, posted on this site below:

Entrepreneurship and Innovation in 2009 and Beyond: Massachusetts vs. Silicon Valley – Ronald A. Croen

There are some great videos of Ron Croen’s presentation available here.

How the Baby Bells got back together April 17, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Telecommunications.
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When AT&T agreed to divest its local telecom business in 1984, it was divided into Baby Bells that represented the seven major regions of the United States. Over the past 25 years, these companies have merged, and four of them are back under the AT&T umbrella. Briefly, here is where the original Baby Bells are now:

1995: Southwestern Bell changes its name to SBC.

1996: New England-based NYNEX is acquired by fellow RBOC Bell Atlantic.

1997: Pacific Telesis is acquired by SBC.

1999: SBC acquires Ameritech, making it the dominant phone company throughout the midwestern United States.

2000: Bell Atlantic acquires GTE and changes its name to Verizon; the company is now the dominant player in the Northeastern united States. Qwest Communications acquires Baby Bell U.S. West, making it the major phone company in most of the western United States.

2005: SBC buys AT&T

2006: AT&T buys BellSouth, the last of the original RBOCs

2008: FairPoint buys Verizon’s landline ILEC operations in the northern New England states, first ever takeover of a former RBOC territory in the continental United States.

What the Heck is a MPLS NGN? April 14, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Fiber Optics, Telecommunications.
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Ever since I heard of MPLS NGN, I have been excited about the potential for the latest backbone networking technology and wanted to find out more about it. After reading through several books on MPLS NGNs, their architecture, the advantages, and what their potential for ILEC provisoners as well as CLEC access providers truly is, I think I am ready to outline the definition of a MPLS NGN, describe in an extremely non-technical way how they work, what they do, and what kinds of services they will enable in the future. I also try and expand just a bit on why I think they are so important, and what kinds of traditional weakness and deficiencies is the networks that have gone before they are able to address. And addressing on the fly is really at the heart of what a MPLS NGN does so well: 

General Architecture of a Multiprotocol Label Switching, Next Generation Network

MPLS is an acronym for Multiprotocol Label Switching. A NGN is a Next Generation Network. 

MPLS was created to address the weaknesses in traditional IP networks. Please recall that IP was designed to support “best effort” services. In other words, routers contain no inherent perception of the existence of or proper functioning of connections or rings; they see the ports and addresses that are available to their discovery via priority cues and routing tables. Simply put, IP routing lacks intelligence. So-called “Least cost” routing was designed to conduct traffic along the network using the shortest possible number of hops, which means traffic on the network could potentially take shorter, congested paths rather than the potentially more efficient longer, uncongested paths, leading to network “hotspots” and degrading network performance.

The MPLS environment, which has been gaining increased attention, was born out of Cisco’s tag switching. MPLS was originally proposed by the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) in 1997, with the core specifications being finalized in 2000. MPLS’s ability to plot static paths through an IP network gives service providers the traffic-engineering ability they crave, and the capability for provisioning (in the telecom sense of that word) VPNs is greatly strengthened. In fact, MPLS provides a very solid base for VPNs – and with increased capability for traffic engineering, service providers are able to tightly control and maintain QoS as well as optimize network utilization.

Although technically not an IP network, despite the fact that it can run in routers and uses IP routing protocols like OSPF and IS-IS, MPLS is one of the most significant developments in IP. To truly understand why this is, you also need to know that although it can also use repurposed ATM switch hardware, MPLS is, again technically, not an ATM network. 

MPLS is another type of network entirely: MPLS is a service-enabling technology. Think of MPLS like a general purpose, tunneling technology. As such, it is capable of carrying both IP and non-IP payloads. It uses what is called “label switching” to transport cells or packets over any data link layer throughout the network.

Much like the inband and out-of-band signaling on the PSTN, MPLS separates the forwarding, or transport, plane from the control plane. By so doing, it enables the capability to run the control plane on devices which cannot actually understand IP or recognize the boundaries of incoming packets. MPLS itself is an encapsulating protocol that has the ability to transport a number of other protocols. These protocols are encapsulated with a label that at each hop is swapped. The label is a number, or UID (Unique Identifier) that identifies a set of data flows along a particular logical link. They are only of local significance and they must change as a packets follow along a predetermined path – they literally switch.

MPLS’s potential to untie IP and optical switching under one route-provisioning umbrella is of great benefit, but it was designed to address two problems inherent in IP networks: IP sends all traffic over the same route between two points, and it cannot absolutely guarantee network resources, because as you will recall, IP is a connectionless protocol. These two shortcomings, in times of heavy network traffic, lead to some routes becoming underutilized while others become congested. Lacking control over the routing assignments, the provider cannot steer traffic from congested to less busy routes. So one key differentiator between IP and MPLS is the simple fact the MPLS networks can steer packets between two points along different paths depending upon their switching MPLS labels.

What I’m here to talk about April 13, 2009

Posted by HubTechInsider in Uncategorized.
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Some of my first entries that I am in the process of composing will cover these topics:

* Agile in Practice

* The Mind of the Programmer

* Saving Money on Space May Be Costing You A Fortune

* Beginner’s Luck in Ecommerce

* Contract Driven Market

* Hire Great Programmers Even If You’re Not One

* The Hidden Risks of J2EE

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