WFH WTF: A Reality Check for Newbies

On Sunday, my son who provides specialized services to the US government and I were talking about WFH or work from home. WFH is now the principal way many people earn money. My son asked me, “When did you start working from home?” He should have remembered, since he was a much younger version of his present technology consulting self.

The year was 1991 (nearly three decades, 29 years to be exact and I am now 76), and I had just avoided corporate RIFFing after an investment bank purchased the firm at which I served as a reasonably high ranking officer. I pitched a multi year consulting deal with the new owners (money people), and I decided that commuting among my home in Kentucky, the Big Apple, and Plastic Fantastic (Silicon Valley) was not for me.

I figured I had a few years of guaranteed income so I would avoid running out an leasing an office. No one who hires me cares whether they ever see me. I do special work; I don’t go to meetings; I don’t hang out at the squash club or golf course; and I don’t want people around me every day. In Plastic Fantastic, I requested an inside office. The company moved the fax machine, photocopier, and supply cabinet to my outside office with lots of windows. I took the dark, stuffy, and inhospitable inside office. Perfect it was.


The seven deadly sins of working from home: [1] Waiting for the phone to ring or email to arrive, [2] eating, [3] laziness, [4] anger, [5]  envy, [6] philandering online or IRL, [7] greed. For the modern world I would add social media, online diversions, and fiddling with gizmos.

Why is this important for the WFH crowd?

The Internet is stuffed with articles like these:

The WFH articles I scanned — reading them was alternately amusing and painful — shared a common thread. None of them told the truth about WFH.

My son suggested, “Why not write up what’s really needed to make WFH pay off?” Okay, Erik, here’s the scoop. (By the way, he has implemented most of these behaviors as his technology consulting business has surged and his entrepreneurial ventures flourished. That’s what’s called “living proof” or it used to be before Plastic Fantastic speech took over discourse.)

Discipline. Discipline. Then Discipline Again

The idea is that one has to establish goals, work routines, and priorities. The effort is entirely mental. For nearly 30 years, I follow a disciplined routine. I am at my desk (hidden in a dark, damp basement) working on tasks. Yep, seven days a week, 10 hours a day unless I am sick, on a much loathed business trip, or in a meeting somewhere, not in my home office). Sound like fun? For me, it is, and discipline is not something to talk about in marketing oriented click bait articles. Discipline is what one manifests.

Read more »


Exclusive: DataWalk Explained by Chris Westphal

An Interview with Chris Westphal” provides an in-depth review of a company now disrupting the analytic and investigative software landscape.

DataWalk is a company shaped by a patented method for making sense of different types of data. The technique is novel and makes it possible for analysts to extract high value insights from large flows of data in near real time with an unprecedented ease of use.

DarkCyber interviewed in late June 2019 Chris Westphal, the innovator who co-founded Visual Analytics. That company’s combination of analytics methods and visualizations was acquired by Raytheon in 2013. Now Westphal is applying his talents to a new venture DataWalk.

Westphal, who monitors advanced analytics, learned about DataWalk and joined the firm in 2017 as the Chief Analytics Officer. The company has grown rapidly and now has client relationships with corporations, governments, and ministries throughout the world. Applications of the DataWalk technology include investigators focused on fraud, corruption, and serious crimes.

Unlike most investigative and analytics systems, users can obtain actionable outputs by pointing and clicking. The system captures these clicks on a ribbon. The actions on the ribbon can be modified, replayed, and shared.

In an exclusive interview with Mr. Westphal, DarkCyber learned:

The [DataWalk] system gets “smarter” by encoding the analytical workflows used to query the data; it stores the steps, values, and filters to produce results thereby delivering more consistency and reliability while minimizing the training time for new users. These workflows (aka “easy buttons”) represent domain or mission-specific knowledge acquired directly from the client’s operations and derived from their own data; a perfect trifecta!

One of the differentiating features of DataWalk’s platform is that it squarely addresses the shortage of trained analysts and investigators in many organizations. Westphal pointed out:

…The workflow idea is one of the ingredients in the DataWalk secret sauce. Not only do these workflows capture the domain expertise of the users and offer management insights and metrics into their operations such as utilization, performance, and throughput, they also form the basis for scoring any entity in the system. DataWalk allows users to create risk scores for any combination of workflows, each with a user-defined weight, to produce an overall, aggregated score for every entity. Want to find the most suspicious person? Easy, just select the person with the highest risk-score and review which workflows were activated. Simple. Adaptable. Efficient.

Another problem some investigative and analytic system developers face is user criticism. According to Westphal, DataWalk takes a different approach:

We listen carefully to our end-user community. We actively solicit their feedback and we prioritize their inputs. We try to solve problems versus selling licenses… DataWalk is focused on interfacing to a wide range of data providers and other technology companies. We want to create a seamless user experience that maximizes the utility of the system in the context of our client’s operational environments.

For more information about DataWalk, navigate to www.datawalk.com. For the full text of the interview, click this link. You can view a short video summary of DataWalk in the July 2, 2019, DarkCyber Video available on Vimeo.

Stephen E Arnold, July 9, 2019

Latest News

Microsoft Azure: The Reoccurring Blues

On a call this weekend, a person mentioned this explanation: “Microsoft Details Impact of Coronavirus on Cloud Services Usage.” The main idea is that “A 775... Read more »

March 30, 2020 | Comment

Great Moments in High School Science Club Management: Twitter and Zoom

Bird is a company with venture money renting scooters. One effect of scooteritis is the desire to throw scooters in ponds, dumpsters, and bushes. A string of Tweets... Read more »

March 30, 2020 | Comment

MiningLamp Technology: Another Palantir?

DarkCyber found “China’s Palantir MiningLamp Raises US$300 Million in Funding Round Co-Led by Temasek, Tencent” intriguing. Palantir Technologies, a company... Read more »

March 30, 2020 | Comment

TikTok, TikTok: What Does That Sound Mean?

DarkCyber noted “TikTok, a Chinese Soft Power Time Bomb in US Living Rooms.” The SCMP is, of course, an independent, real news outfit. The use of the B work... Read more »

March 30, 2020 | Comment

DeepDyve Offers Viable Alternative To Academic Paywalls

Academic paywalls are the bane of researchers even in the midst of the current health crisis. Why? Unless you are affiliated with a university or learning institution,... Read more »

March 30, 2020 | Comment

Big Tech: Adulting Arrives But A Global Challenge Proved Stronger Than Silicon Shirkers

Interesting item from NBC News: “Coronavirus Misinformation Makes Neutrality a Distant Memory for Tech Companies.” DarkCyber thinks the the write up should have... Read more »

March 29, 2020 | Comment

Duh Report: Smart Software Creates Change

Another report from the edge of the obvious: New technology changes lives. Duh. Not exactly a news flash. But some are surprised. Ali Jazeera explores how artificial... Read more »

March 28, 2020 | Comment

Rediscovering What Once Was Taught: Why Software Goes the Wrong Way

DarkCyber spotted a link to an essay called “The Expert Blind Spot In Software Development.” The write up states: I stumbled upon the theory of the expert blind... Read more »

March 27, 2020 | Comment

Cellebrite: Low Profile Outfit Shares Some High Value Information

Cellebrite, now owned by Japanese interests, is not a household word. That’s good from DarkCyber’s point of view. If you want to know more about this company,... Read more »

March 27, 2020 | Comment

Amazon AWS Challenge to Microsoft JEDI Win Reported

If you follow the grudge match between Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure, you may be interested in “AWS Charges Pentagon Wants to Give Microsoft a Do-Over on Contested... Read more »

March 27, 2020 | Comment

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta