Israel Nash - Jan 24, 2015
Life, Rock

2015. In with the Rock

Happy New Year! It’s that time of year where it’s out with the old and in with the new. For me, the one thing I’m going to do more this year is write about the music I’m experiencing. Here’s one tiny step forward.

Looking back on 2014, most of my writing was focused on technology and teaching endeavors. Things got a little lopsided. Throughout my adult life software and live music have been focal points for me. I’m increasingly adjusting to a growing family, growing career, teaching a class and life’s other responsibilities. Unfortunately time spent seeing, listening and writing about music has dwindled. Shutting down the Jerry Site last year after 16 years was a prime example.

Over the holiday break I had a little introspection time and realized this year I needed to get back into enjoying new music again. I need to get exposed to new artists and finding a better balance with my time. I needed to experience some new rock shows.

So the timing couldn’t have been better when my friend Mark of Three Dimes Down told me about another Paradise Garage show with 6 String Drag and Israel Nash last Saturday night. They are the latest in a series of shows that benefit Conner’s Heroes. Before diving into the music, it’s worth saying there’s a special place in live music heaven for the folks who come together to put on these shows. You can tell how much time and energy go into these events. Thank you Team Richmond and thank you Ed Trask for the wonderful poster.

Poster by Ed Trask


The show opened with 6 String Drag, a Raleigh band who recorded their first album nearly 20 years ago and have regrouped recently and have a new album coming out in February. 6 String Drag did what every opening band should do – get the crowd going. And they delivered. With a mix of short, up-beat songs that were fun and quirky (in a good way). Check them out on Spotify and give them a listen yourself – at the show I remember thinking how I was reminded of Elvis Costello and Los Lobos. Their latest single Drive Around Town closed the set and I’ve gotta admit its been playing in my head ever since.

In the break I re-fueled with some Two Hearted tallboys (I love those things – thanks Matt!) and checked out the cool old gas signs hanging in the Garage (my Dad would go crazy). Shortly thereafter the main act took the stage. Someone I’d only discovered about 48 hours before the show but now someone I’m completely immersed in: Israel Nash

Israel Nash - Jan 24, 2015

Israel Nash – photos by Asha Renee Kays


Per usual, I turned to Spotify to listen before the show. What I found was an hidden treasure. His latest album Rain Plans is a masterpiece that I’ve been playing constantly for the last week. At first listen it probably draws the closest comparison to Neil Young Harvest or Harvest Moon but after more listens you realize it’s completely distinct and original. And amazing. They are many instrumental and vocal layers blended together perfectly to create this lush wall of sound – all with a driving beat and Nash’s vocals sailing over the top. The album translates seamlessly from studio to live rock show, especially on songs like their opener Through the Door and first set closer Rain Plans. Do yourself a favor and spend a few minutes watching their YouTube live versions of these songs.

I won’t try and capture every detail of Israel’s show in this review. The setlist is below if you’re interested in the songs they played. All I will say is that you definitely need to check them out. Not only is the music wonderful but so is the band. Israel was a humble front-man who quickly connected with the wonderful vibe of the event in an authentically caring way. After the show I briefly chatted with pedal-steel guitarist Eric Swanson about their life in Texas these days. Eric lives in Denton and we shared some common Dan’s Silverleaf experiences, in fact they recently had Brent Best open for them. The last time I was at Dan’s was to see Brent and Slobberbone do their farewell shows nearly 10 years ago. Wow, how time flies.

So go check out Israel Nash when he comes to a town near you. You’ll be glad you did. And check out more live music this year to fill your soul and spirit. I know I will. Thanks to Mark, Paradise Garage and Team Richmond – I just took one tiny big step forward.


Israel Nash, Joey McClellan, Aaron McClellan & ’67 Caddy – photos by Asha Renee Kays






Mobius Canvas
Cloud, Life, Mobius, Teaching

Fall 2014 Recap: It sure has been a long, hard climb

Wow. December 22nd and for the first time in what seems like forever I have time to sit down and write a blog post. At least I have time to start this blog post…let’s see if my kids let me get enough time to finish it 🙂

In no particular order, major events from this Fall include:

Teaching @ VCU

My first class in the Graphic Design department of VCUarts, Problem Solving for Designers, turned out really well. It was a lot of work and I had to squeeze it into an already packed workload, but the 10 students and myself learned a lot over the semester. One of my unexpectedly-favorite parts of the course was reading the final exam essays – it really hit me what the kids had learned over the semester about solving complex problems.

I managed to write a few blog posts early in the semester before things got really busy. If you are curious about what the students did, wonder over to their blogs for RVA park’n probz, You-Lock and Inamora that shows off their work throughout the semester. We used the Mobius framework as a guide for the course and it worked out very well. We spent 1-2 weeks on each part of the framework and then completed the class with 5 x 1-week delivery cycles to build out their solution. The course also helped me create some content for the long-delayed Mobius book Gabrielle and I are working on.

Mobius Canvas

Mobius Canvas


Working @ SingleStone

The last six months have been amongst the busiest of my career at SingleStone (formerly Dominion Digital). As lead of our technology capabilities, my team of nearly 20 designers and engineers continues to grow and we’re doing some really cool work for clients. I’ve personally spent much of the last year focused on DevOps and Cloud consulting for large enterprises.

In between work I did manage to present DevOps DeMystified at Innovate Virginia in October and attend the AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas in November. The DevOps talk got lots of rave reviews…probably my highest rated talk ever…which was nice considering it really just came together the week before the conference!

Writing @ GigaOm

Due to my teaching and work load, I took a hiatus from writing research papers for GigaOm Research. I did squeeze in a few webinars that were fun. However, some papers I worked on during the late summer did get published this fall including Performance Testing: Balancing Agility and Quality. This was a fun piece of work that I collaborated with Apica on. Although not thru GigaOm, I also managed a guest blog post on DevOps and the Software Defined Enterprise for Loggly.

Well…my kids did let me get enough time to put this blog post together, thanks Indie and Luna!

Happy holidays to everyone and we’ll see you in the new year.

Life, Mobius

Teaching Problem Solving to Designers – Initial reflections

Last week started a new experience for me: teaching at a university

While I’ve trained for years in the corporate setting, this is the first time I’m teaching a university course. Over the summer the chair of the VCU department of graphic design invited me to teach a course “Problem Solving for Design” to undergraduate students. After some deliberation and with the help of my family and flexibility of my company I was able to accept the offer.

GDES-491 is an elective course that’s considered a studio class. I have pretty free reign in how I design the course, which is very nice. I knew I wanted the students to actually work on a problem to get some real-world experience. I also knew I’ve been wanting to get more feedback on the Mobius toolkit for problem solving I’ve been developing.

Embracing the principle of “and” I designed a 15 week course using the Mobius canvas as a guide. It took me a few hours to flush out the basic plan then a few working sessions over the summer to layout the course in more detail.

Week 1 – Let’s Pick a Problem

Week 1 which was a challenge for two reasons. The first is this is a brand new experience for me. I didn’t really know what to expect and wasn’t sure of what it was going to be like. The second was that by the end of week 1 the class was going to organize themselves into teams and pick the project that will be their semester focus.

As I was designing the course I knew that if the class were to go off the rails, it would be in week 1. I wasn’t sure if students could identify a meaningful problem to solve that’s not to big and not too small, present the problem to their peers, vote on the most interesting and organize into the teams they’ll work with this semester. It was a lot and I wasn’t sure if it was too much.

But now that we’re at the end of week 1 and the students made it through fine, I can relax. A little maybe, it’s still a long semester. But after last week I think we’re going to be ok and this is going to be a fun semester.

If you’d like to follow along this semester, head over to the Mobius blog where I’ll be posting our progress throughout the semester.





Agile, Cloud

After 9 months, I delivered a new report

What started last fall as my biggest research project to date was successfully published last week on GigaOm Research. For non-subscribers, I’ve added the report to my work. I’d recommend you read the Executive Summary and if anything peaks your interest, you dive in deeper.

Titled Survey: Enterprise Development in the Cloud, the biggest different between this report and others is that first I had to design a survey to ask the right questions to inform the report. Red Hat’s hypothesis was that business and technical leaders didn’t realize the costs of waiting on infrastructure (and thus the value proposition of cloud to reduce wait time). So I attempted to quantify that.

The other unique thing about this survey is that it targeted people involved in “enterprise development”, all 408 respondents worked within IT of large and very large organizations (10,000+ people). To date it’s the only survey I’m aware that has this focus (please leave a comment if you know of others).

I worked with a few folks at Red Hat to get the 13 survey questions designed and then ResearchNow rolled it out and gathered the results in December. Then the real work begin sifting through the data looking for trends and patterns. Some were a little surprising, for example only 21% of respondents are developing apps in the cloud – a much lower figure than in other published reports (e.g. RightScales’ State of the Cloud survey has a lot higher adoption rate). Writing the initial draft and the back-and-forth of reviews and editing process took much of the winter and spring. But after 9 months, there’s finally something to show for all the effort!

For me one of the more interesting aspects of writing the report was organizing it around the key themes that emerged from the survey. ResearchNow provided a web-base way of slicing and dicing the survey results, so I could compare the project time to market for those users who use the cloud and those who don’t. I could cross-correlate data from different questions to see how they compared.

I won’t steal the thunder of the paper, but the evidence is pretty clear that cloud is improving time to market and productivity for enterprise development. What’s striking is the lower adoption rate today, but based on my recent experience this is rapidly changing as even the most conservative organizations are beginning to embrace the cloud, albeit slowly.

Give the paper a read and let me know what you think. Does this match your experiences? What are some other interesting observations you take away from this report?

Finally, I’ve got two more reports coming out later this summer and a speaking gig at Agile Richmond on July 15th. More on these to come…


a pirate looks at forty

This year I’ll turn 40. It’s hard for me to even write that.

I remember my Dad’s 40th birthday, when I was 10. At the time I remember thinking how old 40 must be. Now 30 years come and 30 years go and all of a sudden 40 isn’t so old. At least I’d like to think my kids agree.

As with all new years, I’ve been spending the last few weeks thinking about the year I want to have in 2013. I’m pretty excited as I’ve got a few really cool projects in the works (more on that in future posts).

One of my themes for 2013 is organization. I realized after eight years of writing and speaking around the world, I’d never pulled a list together of my work. I also realized this web site was sorely needing an update so I spent a few hours this weekend digging through my hard drive of all my articles and presentations. I put all of these on a new page simply titled my work.

It’s funny – looking back on this list there’s a lot of stuff there. Putting it together was a trip down memory lane. I recall all the conferences where I presented and most of the articles I wrote. Must be the effects of aging.

I also included some of my earlier writing featuring rock show reviews for the Grateful Dead and Phish. Those were some great times. Touring around the world seeing music and living day by day.

It’s when I think this far back that I realize this pirate is indeed looking at forty. And it’s not so bad.


rock show in paradise…garage that is

Patterson and Cooley in Paradise

One of my favorite touring bands is the Drive-By Truckers. Ever since 2003, I’ve seen them whenever they come to Richmond and even travelled a few times to see them elsewhere. My ears typically hurt for two days afterwards because..well..they are very loud. But I’d never miss a chance to see them if I can.

Two weeks ago band leader Patterson Hood did a solo show at the John Marshall. I went to the show with my wife and friend Matt and during set break ran into an old friend I hadn’t seen in years. Mark was one of the first people I met when I moved to Richmond and is well plugged into the local scene and an especially big fan of the Truckers. It was good fortune I reconnected with Mark because he invited me to experience something I’d never done before: a private rock show.

Two weeks later myself, Matt and about 150 others go a chance to see Patterson and Mike Cooley (Drive-By’s lead guitarist) do a show at the Paradise Garage in Richmond’s Fan district. The setting couldn’t have been better: a working garage with a stage setup at one end and a ’66 Cadillac DeVille up on a lift. There were coolers filled with cold domestic beer in cans, including my favorite PBR. After a rocking opening set from Johnny Change (Johnny Cash cover band) the duo took the stage and played for a few hours. When a storm came through that nocked out the power, they took a break, then came back and played for longer.

I was introduced to a photographer Mitch at the show who snapped some great photos that he posted to his site – one of which I’ve stolen borrowed for this post.

As a father of two small kids it’s increasingly harder for me to make it out to rock shows like I used to. But for this special Friday night in late June (the day before my birthday), it was a special treat I won’t soon forget. Thanks to Mark, the Paradise Garage, Drive-By and all the fans who could made this an unforgettable experience.