Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Why can't Sir Francis Drake report to me?

Sir Francis Drake set sail to explore the new world in November 1577.  His voyage was financed by Queen Elizabeth.  His mission was to return with treasure..  He returned in September 1580 and apologized to the Queen for being late. Queen Elizabeth's half-share of the treasure surpassed the rest of the Crown's income for the year.  In other words,  Sir Francis Drake, with zero supervision, wildly surpassed his goal for the year. 

Why can't I have staff like Sir Francis Drake?

Top Ten Reasons InterWorking Labs is a Superior Company Compared to Apple

#1  When a customer calls us about a repair, we listen to what she says about how she diagnosed the problem, and actually interact with her and give consideration to her findings.

#2  When we replace a defective unit, we do not provide a replacement unit with an obsolete version of the operating system.  We upgrade the replacement product to the latest version of our software. 

#3  When we replace a defective unit, we do not provide a replacement with an EARLIER serial number, meaning an older product, than the customer's product that needs repair.  Instead we provide an equivalent or later product.

#4  Most Apple employees could never get a job at InterWorking Labs because our standards are much higher.  Below is the equivalency table:

Apple Technical Guru (unstaffed) = InterWorking Labs senior engineer
Apple Genius Bar Worker = InterWorking Labs average employee
Apple Average Employee = would never be hired at InterWorking Labs

#5  Our employees do not use cutesy names for standard products; they never call a USB connector a "camera kit".

#6  Our employees know what a USB connector is.

#7  We do not make our customers who are covered by warranty, sign a document that describes the cost of the repair outside of the warranty period or service agreement coverage.  We are grateful for our customers and their business.  We believe our customers who are covered by warranty or a service agreement already understand the value of the warranty or service agreement and that's why they have it.  We fix or replace the product and return it to the customer without any editorial comments.

#8  When InterWorking Labs customers contact us with a product problem, we do not tell them that they can only communicate with us in a "positive" manner.  InterWorking Labs does not dictate the emotional tone of our customers' communications.

#9  When InterWorking Labs customers return a product for repair, we do not examine all the connector openings with an otoscope to see if there is water damage.  We do not believe our customers would use a network emulator or protocol tester in the shower or the bath tub.

#10  When a customer tells us that he needs to speak with someone with deeper technical knowledge to get questions answered, we find the appropriate staff engineer and arrange the communication.  We do not take our lack of deep technical knowledge personally and we do not tell the customer "you are not a very nice person".  

In spite of all of the above, I continue to use my replacement iPad.  

Thursday, December 08, 2016

How to Fix Wells Fargo Bank

By now everyone has heard about the “fake accounts” scandal at Wells Fargo. To recap, Wells Fargo employees opened sham accounts, forged customer signatures and sent out unsolicited credit cards. Why did the Wells Fargo employees engage in this unethical behavior? Because they were forced to meet aggressive sales goals with limited products and services to sell. The incentive compensation structure encouraged them to do so. And until just recently, there was no oversight or audits to make sure that Wells Fargo customers actually requested the product or service provided.

So while this mess winds its way through various congressional hearings, investigations, lawsuits, and so on, what can Wells Fargo do now to regroup and refocus?

The answer is that Wells Fargo can invest in expert systems. Specifically, Wells Fargo can construct an automated system to replace the decision making ability of expensive expert humans – in particular CPAs and accountants. Wells Fargo would then package this as a service to sell its customers.

I run a small tech company. I’ve been a client of Wells Fargo for more than ten years. Wells Fargo is our third bank, after the first two proved inadequate. Wells Fargo dazzled us with excellent back-end processes and systems, well-trained staff, and prompt error correction.

Occasionally, I interact with the Wells Fargo sales team, but:

(1) The sales team tries to sell me services I do not need – typically, a new service to replace an existing service for a tiny savings.

(2) The sales team never asks me the key questions they should ask:
  • What is the biggest challenge for your company related to your banking and financial activity?
  • What would it mean to your business if we could solve that problem for you?
  • What do you estimate that would save you in terms of time and expense?

If Wells Fargo posed these questions to its small and medium sized businesses, a pattern would emerge; all of us spend far too much time on accounting and tax matters. Yes we have bookkeepers and accountants and CPAs, but we are still dragged into these matters far more than we should be.

Our Company is not unique; Wells Fargo has 100% of our financial data – all of our bank accounts and all of our company credit cards. So …

  • Why do we have to transfer that data out of Wells Fargo’s system and into our accounting system?
  • Why do we have to massage the accounting system to classify the transactions and enter other details?
  • Why do we have to spend time answering questions from the bookkeeper, the accountant and the CPA?
Why can’t Wells Fargo just take that data, slice it, dice it, and package it up for our CPA and our investors?
They can. They should. This would be a new service that the Wells Fargo sales people could sell with confidence and enthusiasm. Just imagine how gratifying it is to sell a product that really helps people. What a great morale booster this could be!

Wells Fargo can take advantage of its unique position of possessing all its business clients’ financial data to prepare preliminary financial reports, that the CPA could easily review and use to prepare the tax filings required of small and medium corporations.

How would this be done?

Wells Fargo could create an expert system to analyze and interpret all of the financial data along with chat bots (or software wizards) to get answers to questions for financial processing.

For example, let’s suppose that the business owner purchased a set of office cubicles and related furniture for $15,000 to go into a new office area. She may have purchased via check or credit card. Ideally, the memo field on the paper check would state “Office Furniture” as a description of the purchase. When the check is presented to Wells Fargo for payment, the Wells Fargo expert system would transfer funds appropriately, read the entry in the memo field, and either classify the purchase as:

1420 – Furniture & Fixtures, a Fixed Asset, or
6552 – Office Expense, an Expense

Well, which would it be? It depends on the “Fixed Asset threshold”. At our company, purchases over $1,000 meet the Fixed Asset threshold. The Wells Fargo expert system would check this and then classify the purchase as 1420 – Furniture & Fixtures, a Fixed Asset.

Some areas, with extra complexity, would require CPA review. Fixed asset depreciation, for example, could use multiple methods, spanning multiple years. Pre-paid expenses spanning multiple years would also require CPA input. But so what? Just flag those areas for CPA review and let the Wells Fargo’ expert system handle the bulk of the accounting.

The office cubicles example is just one of hundreds of different types of accounting issues that businesses must track and record. Each one of these little nuisances results in the energy-sucking, time-sucking drag of accounting on small and medium businesses.

Occasionally, the system’s “chat bot” or software wizard would ask whether or not any fixed assets had been disposed of in the previous month (it needs to know this for the annual Business Property Report required by some government jurisdictions). The business owner or the office manager would think about this for ten seconds and then answer the question. No fuss. No muss.

The point is that the expert system is handling 90% of the work previously done by the business owner/office manager, bookkeeper, accountants, and CPA. Additionally, the expert system could produce a standardized report in a format easily scanned by a CPA for accuracy.

What would it take to implement this?

The project requires tax and accounting experts and software developers. Initial design and development could be accelerated by using expert system and machine learning technology.

The service would require extensive BETA testing. It would require frequent updates as tax and accounting laws change. In addition, Wells Fargo would need to address regulatory hurdles and liability issues.

Will the new Wells Fargo service eliminate bookkeepers, accountants and CPAs?

The service removes the drudgery aspects of the work, allowing financial professionals to contribute more value to the corporation by providing business advice like tax mitigation strategies and consultation about other business areas. The bookkeeper can negotiate better deals with current and new suppliers.

So what are we waiting for? Wells Fargo needs to engage with its customers, use technology to find solutions to customer problems, package solutions as services and deploy the services to its customers. And, Wells Fargo can start immediately on this expert system!

Friday, June 13, 2014

My Second DMCA Take Down Notice

For the second time, a Google Blogger account called "SW Test Engineers" has published a blog article that is a word for word copy of one of our company's web pages!

InterWorking Labs provides network emulation and protocol testing products. We educate prospective clients and the general public on issues related to network failures by writing technical white papers.

One of our white papers, "Network Protocol Testing Overview - InterWorking Labs" was copied word for word, along with the graphics and images!

Here's the white paper:

SW Test Engineers has copied it and published it here:

This is the second time SW Test Engineers has copied our material! The first time they copied this page:

I submitted the notification of infringing material after searching for "Reporting copyright infringement on Blogger" and going to this page:

I followed the procedure. Last time it took two weeks to get it taken down. A few weeks later, SW Test Engineers infringed again!

According to Google:
"Many Google Services do not have account holders or subscribers. For Services that do, Google will, in appropriate circumstances, disable the accounts of repeat infringers.
If you believe that an account holder or subscriber is a repeat infringer, please follow the instructions above to contact Google's DMCA agent and provide information sufficient for us to verify that the account holder or subscriber is a repeat infringer."

Unfortunately, despite the language in the above paragraph, there are no instructions for contacting Google's DMCA agent.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

My first DMCA Takedown filed at Google

A Google Blogger account called "SW Test Engineers" has published a blog article that is a word for word copy of one of my company's web pages!

InterWorking Labs provides network emulation and protocol testing products.  One of our products, the Maxwell Network Emulator, has a set of protocol tests for the TCP, IP, UDP, DHCP, ICMP protocols.  A description of this product is here:

SW Test Engineers has copied it and published it here:

I submitted the notification of infringing material after searching for "Reporting copyright infringement on Blogger" and going to this page:

I followed the procedure.  I wonder how long this will take?

Also, just to drive home the point, I posted a comment on the SW Test Engineers blog that it was infringing material.

I believe that every occurrence of a registered copyright violation (and our web pages ARE registered with the copyright office) is entitled to damages in the amount of $20,000.

Just received the automated response from Google:

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [8-0250000002609] Your Request to Google
Date: Thu, 16 Jan 2014 21:14:26 +0000
To:  Chris Wellens


Thanks for reaching out to us!

We have received your legal request. We receive many such complaints each day; your message is in our queue, and we'll get to it as quickly as our workload permits.

Due to the large volume of requests that we experience, please note that we will only be able to provide you with a response if we determine your request may be a valid and actionable legal complaint, and we may respond with questions or requests for clarification. For more information on Google's Terms of Service, please visit

We appreciate your patience as we investigate your request.


The Google Team


It is interesting that Google takes this approach. I would prefer to have the contact information for the legal representative of the infringer, and then turn my lawyers loose on it and pocket the $20,000 times the number of page views.

Seems like some enterprising lawyers could make a nice business out of this.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Listening to "The Things They Carried" with Audible

I had heard of, but paid no attention.  Then when I heard Leo Laporte talking about it on, with some amount of passion, and offering a free trial, I decided to try it.

I downloaded an audio book called "The Things They Carried" by the writer, Tim O'Brien.  This is a novel and auto-biography of sorts, about a young man's life prior to and during the VietNam war starting in 1968.

Normally, I would have no interest in this -- just not my cup of tea.   HOWEVER, the actor Bryan Cranston, was reading it.  That got me interested.

Well... this novel is just fantastic.  I am loving it.  Bryan Cranston reads so well and prepared so well that he even pronounces the word Bemidji correctly.  (The name of a city in Minnesota).

The subject matter is very macho.  Having a professional actor who plays macho roles reading the book contributes to the overall effect.

Thumbs up for Audible!

Monday, September 02, 2013

Three Key Reasons Why UC Santa Cruz Inhibits Shakespeare Santa Cruz From Meeting Its Budget

By Chris Wellens, Treasurer, Shakespeare Santa Cruz Board

10 October 2006

Shakespeare Santa Cruz (SSC) is a non-academic department of the Arts Division of UC Santa Cruz (UCSC). Its mission is to produce a summer festival of plays that re-interpret and find a contemporary voice for the classics. SSC provides apprentice experience for theatre arts students to work along with professional, equity artists. SSC also provides an important link to the community through its outreach programs and schedule of plays.

SSC’s annual budget is $1.7 million. This sum represents the expense budget required to produce a summer festival with three professional major works and one student “fringe” show, in addition to a holiday show. To meet this budget, SSC obtains earned and contributed revenue. The earned revenue is in the form of ticket sales. The contributed revenue is in the form of major grants, donations, and contributions. SSC’s revenue split is approximately 45% earned revenue and 55% contributed revenue.

Unfortunately for the past few years, SSC’s revenue has fallen short of expenses, and UCSC has made up the deficit. UCSC has put SSC on notice that this cannot continue.

The purpose of this paper is examine the key reasons why SSC’s tight affiliation with UCSC makes it difficult to obtain revenue, control costs, and operate within a predictable budget, and to urge both parties to seek a solution that involves an organized plan for separation.

Here are the top three reasons:

  1. UCSC requires SSC to use an accounting system that has no real-time cost controls to manage the budget and spending.
  2. UCSC’s policies, practices, and procedures prohibit SSC from managing its operation like a professional theatre company.
  3. UCSC’s status as a state educational institution impedes SSC’s fundraising ability


Let’s begin with an overview of the major cost drivers in the theatre business.

Live theatre at SSC is a labor intensive business, requiring approximately 150 support staff and 40 artistic staff for the summer production. Unlike other businesses hiring seasonal workers, the theatre business has additional complications. Housing must be provided for those who are brought in from outside the greater Bay Area. SSC is required to hire a certain number of AEA (Actor’s Equity Association, a union) employees who are actors and stage managers. Those contracts require housing, telephone, internet and transportation.

The labor issues are further complicated by the fact that approximately six of the seasonal staff will have a huge impact on both the budget and the work assignments of the remaining workers. Specifically, each of the three plays in the season will have a director and each of the three directors will communicate an artistic vision to a scenic designer, a lighting designer, and a costume designer. These production-specific designers will then create a design for their area; that design is passed along to the production manager who will allocate the tasks of implementing the designs to the balance of the workers.



The diagram above highlights the work flow beginning with the initial designers to the Production Manager to the worker assignments. A major challenge of the work flow is the compressed schedule. The Production Manager must quickly evaluate the feasibility of the designs with respect to the budget resources and reject/revise/accept the designs. Furthermore, if there are performance problems with any one of the six key designers, there is no opportunity to regroup, replace, and replan. In other words, a bad hire cannot be terminated and replaced, due to the compressed timeframe. There is no possibility of slipping the schedule; all work must be completed in 90 days.

Even though the actual work flow occurs within a compressed 90 day or three month schedule, the planning for the actual season occurs on a twelve month schedule. In some cases, it is more than a schedule but a twelve month lead time to secure commitments.

Selection of plays Feasibility of production, cost of production, royalty and copyright issues, possible directors, possible equity actors, audience draw, marketability. Final selection of plays. (Time required: Two months)

Recruitment Discussions with possible directors, designers, key equity actors, negotiations and commitments. Final contract with directors and designers. (Time required: Two months)

Auditions Search for equity and non-equity artists, multi-city auditions, evaluation of actors, scheduling, offers. Acceptance of offers. (Time required: two months)

As indicated from the time lines above, six months is required for the beginning stages of the production. Once the play selection, recruitment, and auditions stages are completed, the design phase begins. Obviously if UCSC demands that SSC make changes to the budget 90 days before opening night for the first play, very little can be done to cut costs, as the materials have been ordered and labor contracts are in place. The only time that meaningful changes can be made to the budget is at the time the plays are selected, or 12 months before opening night.

Now that we have put forth the major cost drivers in the theatre business, let us turn our attention to the top three reasons that SSC’s tight affiliation with UCSC makes it difficult to obtain revenue, control costs, and operate within a predictable budget.


#1 UCSC forces SSC to use an accounting system that has no real-time cost controls to manage the budget and spending

The Production Manager must depend on the department heads (costume shop, set construction, etc.) to implement the design and stay within budget. The best way to do this is to create a budget and track “actuals to budget” on a daily basis. In a normal theatre operation, a department head issues a purchase order, the purchase order goes into the accounting system, the accounting system automatically tracks and records it. The Production Manager and all department heads can check their performance against the budget on a daily basis. If one department goes over budget, the Production Manager can respond immediately, come up with another solution, and control the cost overrun. Most small businesses incorporate an online accounting system with these capabilities. These systems are easy to use and available for less than $50 per month.

Unfortunately UCSC does not permit SSC to use this type of system. Instead, SSC must use the UCSC accounting systems which are the norm for all universities. These systems capture and record costs on a quarterly basis. University costs are highly predictable so there is no need for daily reporting as required by most businesses. Thus, if SSC exceeds its budget, it is not known until the end of the season and little can be done in the way of real-time damage control. To compensate for the shortcoming of UCSC accounting, the managing director and a UCSC business analyst attempt to manually capture the information in ad hoc spreadsheets and analyze it. This is of course, a major waste of manpower and resources, as the accounting is now being done twice. In addition, SSC may only make purchases from UCSC approved vendors. Vendors must complete a three page application. Often, vendors are not willing to wait 60-75 days for payment. These requirements make it difficult to choose the most cost-effective suppliers.

The inadequacies of the accounting system have a negative effect on other aspects of the operation, particularly planning for the subsequent season. Specifically, the financial reports for the Festival season arrive so late that the information (“lessons learned”) cannot be incorporated into planning for the next season. In other words, the planning and commitments for the next season are well underway before the financial results are received. This means that Total Quality Management (TQM), the process where a business relentlessly and systematically tracks, evaluates, corrects and improves its financial performance, cannot be realized.


#2 UCSC’s policies, practices, and procedures prohibit SSC from managing its operation like a professional theatre company.

There are several instances when UCSC has unconsciously and inadvertently made decisions that have a direct negative impact on the SSC budget. Let’s examine three of them.

SSC has a great relationship with the Santa Cruz community receiving “in-kind” contributions from many local businesses. Restaurants and wineries, for example, contribute food and wine to SSC fund raising events and enjoy the favorable publicity for supporting the Festival. However, UCSC changed its policy regarding food services on campus; UCSC introduced a new “list of approved caterers”. This meant that SSC now had to select a caterer from the list, and pay for food and wine that was cheerfully donated in the past. The negative results were twofold: (1) a budget overrun and (2) damaged relationships with many fine restaurants and wineries who had been great supporters of the Festival.

Another example of an adverse UCSC decision negatively impacting the SSC budget is the rental car fleet. UCSC decided to reduce the internal fleet of rental cars. SSC has paid UCSC for these rental cars to meet transportation requirements during the start of the festival season. When SSC learned about the decision to reduce the number of available rental cars, SSC had to cover. SSC was forced to obtain rental cars from commercial suppliers at the last minute. If SSC had known six months in advance that UCSC was not going to meet the rental car requirements, SSC could have made alternate arrangements. For example, SSC could have approached the rental car companies in Santa Cruz and negotiated in-kind contributions of rental cars, or at a minimum, reduced rental rates (based on the quantity of cars required and duration of the rental). Housing could have been adjusted to minimize the impact. Without any advance warning of this change, UCSC’s decision resulted in a cost overrun for SSC.

Another example is a UCSC policy that prohibited SSC from achieving its budget. In order to reduce costs, SSC made the decision to construct a semi-permanent stage in the Festival Glen, expected to last for five years. This new stage would introduce re-usability (an important aspect of cost control for all businesses) as well as positively constrain directors for future shows. A local builder, Barry Swenson, offered to build the stage as an in-kind contribution and his offer was accepted by SSC. However, UCSC only permits union carpenters to work on campus and Barry Swenson does not employ union labor. Therefore, the offer had to be rejected. The negative results were twofold: (1) a budget overrun and (2) a damaged relationship with one of the great supporters of the Festival. The union carpenters constructed the stage, with a schedule overrun of three weeks and a budget overrun of $20,000. This had a domino effect causing the balance of all the set design to fall behind, requiring more overtime hours and introducing more cost overruns.

These are just three simple examples of decisions, policies, and procedures introduced by UCSC without consideration to the effect on SSC and its budget.

Unfortunately, there are many other aspects to UCSC policy that interfere with best practices theatre operation and negatively affect the SSC budget.

Let’s look at modern business practices that could be utilized at SSC but are not.

As described in the previous section, the Production Manager and his Department Heads are responsible for the purchasing of all labor and material for the Festival. These four individuals should be properly motivated and supported to achieve the goal of high production quality within the budget. For example, the head of the costume shop should create the very best costumes, meeting the highest artistic standards, for the lowest possible cost, but at all times operate within the budget. That should be the goal for the head of the costume shop. His compensation should reflect that goal. This is typically done with an MBO (Management by Objective) or “Pay-for-Performance” system. A very simple implementation could be a $5,000 bonus for meeting the objective. To get the Production Manager and his Department Heads to achieve the desired performance, they need to be specifically compensated for the desired performance. Unfortunately, the UCSC compensation system prohibits commissions, bonuses, and pay-for-performance. This prohibition comes at an enormous cost. Consider that if the proposed bonus system had been implemented during the 2004 and 2005 seasons, bonus checks of $40,000 would have been issued and a $400,000 deficit avoided.

Another modern business practice is asset utilization, tracking, and management. This is measured by most businesses through RONA (Return on Net Assets). In other words, RONA is a method for making sure that all assets are fully utilized. When running the business you want the managers to make good decisions about when they should rent, when they should buy, what inventory should be maintained and capitalized, and so on.

Unfortunately, because universities do not measure their performance with RONA, UCSC does not support or allow SSC to do so. This results in erroneous financial reporting of the SSC operation. For example, the new, semi-permanent stage in the Glen is an asset with an expected life of five years. This asset should be capitalized, not expensed. Each year for a period of five years, the budget should show $4,000 of expense for the stage. Taking the entire $20,000 cost of the stage in one year is incorrect business accounting and artificially inflates the expenses of SSC by $16,000 for 2006.

Unfortunately, this incorrect business practice creates a negative effect on other aspects of the SSC operation. Because everything is expensed, there is no incentive or reward for the staff for the proper treatment and tracking of assets. All the costumes, light instruments, and other items that are truly assets could be RFID tagged and inventoried. However, these items are not tracked and there is no incentive for the production staff to do so or to make an effort to reuse these assets. Recall that in a previous section, we explained how re-usability is an important aspect of cost control for all businesses.

To summarize, UCSC is preventing SSC from using modern business practices such as MBOs and RONA to effectively manage the operation and meet the budget.


#3 UCSC’s status as a state educational institution impedes SSC’s fundraising ability

First, SSC enhances and supports UCSC’s Theatre Arts program.

SSC was founded by Audrey Stanley and had its first production in 1982. The goal: to foster links between modern scholarship and contemporary theatre practice. As a result, there are three UCSC Theatre Arts programs connected to SSC: Shakespeare To Go, the Intern Program, the classes “151 Studies in Performance” and “50 Fundamentals of Production” All of these programs offer students practical training in theatre arts. In addition, there are many indirect connections between the UCSC Theatre Arts department and SSC. For example, Professor Michael Warren, a Shakespeare textual scholar, works with the equity actors before the start of rehearsals to help them understand the meaning of the text.

It is possible for SSC to become a separate organization from UCSC, and through a series of contracts, continue to work in concert with the UCSC Theatre Arts program by supporting and fostering the link between modern scholarship and contemporary theatre practice. Indeed, student exposure to the business aspects of contemporary theatre would be far more realistic, if SSC was a separate entity.

However, the reverse is not true; UCSC does not enhance SSC. In fact UCSC’s reputation impedes SSC, particularly with fundraising.

Even though SSC is considered one of the top ten Shakespeare Festivals in the United States, this is not widely known to potential audiences. As a result, there is an impression and expectation among those who have never attended, that the Festival is “student theatre”, meaning amateur theatre at a level below community theatre. Unfortunately SSC’s association with UCSC implies or connotes student, amateur, unprofessional, etc. This is a deterrent to many potential Festival attendees who dismiss the Festival because of this association without further consideration. It is an expensive, uphill battle to promote and market the Festival against this built-in perception.

In addition, since the performances take place on the UCSC campus, there is an expectation that SSC is supported financially by the UC system (indirectly the State of California). Thus potential donors have the impression that since they pay their taxes, there is no need to contribute to SSC.

Furthermore, among those who have contributed, there is a concern that the contribution dollars may not actually reach SSC, since the administration of the gifts is handled by University Relations. (This problem was very well documented by Laurie MacDougall in her July 2006 report “Development Audit: Shakespeare Santa Cruz”).

Although it is quite clear that UCSC would like to assist and support SSC’s fundraising efforts, because of the implied financial support of the University and the impression that SSC is offering student theatre, both contributed and earned revenue are negatively affected by the association.



SSC’s tight affiliation with UCSC makes it difficult to obtain revenue, control costs, and operate within a predictable budget for the following reasons:

  1. UCSC requires SSC to use an accounting system that has no real-time cost controls to manage the budget and spending.
  2. UCSC’s policies, practices, and procedures prohibit SSC from managing its operation like a professional theatre company. Standard business management practices such as TQM, real-time accounting, re-usability, MBO and pay-for-performance, and RONA are foreign concepts to UCSC.
  3. UCSC’s status as a state educational institution impedes SSC’s fundrasing ability. Unfortunately, UCSC’s status connotes “paid for by taxes” and “student/amateur productions” and works against SSC’s ability to fundraise.



This paper has been circulated among the administrators at the UC Santa Cruz campus.  The author was told that there were factual errors, by Marcus Cato, the former Managing Director. The author requested (three times) an enumeration of the errors. No list of errors was ever produced. The author stands by her work.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Roberta Donovan, 1940 - 2013

I first met Roberta Donovan in 1982.  We had done some business together over the phone, and in one phone conversation discovered we were both going to a trade show in Dallas.  We decided to meet for coffee in Dallas.

At our coffee meeting, Roberta and I had a very unusual conversation. We talked about the lack of spiritual growth and development on the part of the (mostly) men in our industry.  This was not the type of subject matter one usually discussed in the computer industry in the early 1980s.  (Believe me... no one else at the trade show in Dallas had a conversation anything remotely like this  :-)

I discovered Roberta was a big believer in spiritual growth and had read extensively on the subject.  I promised to read Wayne Dyer and eventually read "There's a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem" and "How to Get What You Really Really Want".  We had long discussions about these books and our own experiences putting the ideas into practice.  Then we were on to "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl.  More discussions, more applications of the ideas.   Then Caroline Myss "The Anatomy of the Spirit".   Then, of course, no spiritual journey is complete without M. Scott Peck's "The Road Less Travelled".   These were just some of the books we read together and discussed ... Roberta was extremely well read on this subject.  Roberta was a very "spiritually evolved" human being.   Sometimes I felt like her puppy, running after her, trying to keep up.  It was a challenge.

Roberta and I went on a cruise to Mexico together and had many mini-vacations together.  She was always up for an adventure, meeting new people, and learning about them.  In fact, Roberta was a virtuoso at communication -- in a class far above everyone else.  Roberta could have a conversation with someone and learn so much about them from her questions and her gentle, non-threatening manner, and walk away from that conversation knowing far more about that individual than they knew about themselves.  It was awe inspiring!

Roberta was a big believer in "dealing with your feelings" as she would put it.  She was often disappointed in people who lacked the courage to examine their deepest feelings, identify those feelings, acknowledge the feelings, examine the source, and then take action on the feelings.  Personally, I found this very hard to do, but with her prodding me on, over time, I was able to do it. Painful?  Yes, but the inner peace at the end was always worth it.

I think that Roberta  must have been very good at this herself.  In our 31 year friendship, we never had a fight, she never got mad at me, there was never a problem.  I am sure I must have done things from time to time that would have made her angry with me, but I think she was so good at dealing with her feelings and extending forgiveness that I never even knew about it.  I cannot say this about anyone else.

Finally, I have to say that Roberta was the most unusually expressive person I have known.  When she first moved into her place on Elmhurst Circle, I was completely floored that she had decorated her powder room completely in black with an Egyptian motif.  Then, on one occasion, at a dinner party, she had an elephant as the table centerpiece.  These are just not the kinds of design choices the average person makes.  The elephant was a fitting symbol for Roberta.  The elephant, in its most global and universal meaning, symbolizes strength and power, not only physical but also mental and spiritual.  That was the Roberta I knew.