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Four examples of small comments that made a big difference:
A new computer :
In a room full of very intelligent people, occasionally the slightest comment makes all the difference. In about 1981, in a
workshop with about 50 people from one of the most important data center in IBM and about 50 people from the IBM
Washington System Center which was the pinnacle of IBM technical and marketing support, a slight comment
completely changed the outcome.
The meeting was to review and improve operations of the data center that ran the assembly line for IBM’s largest
computer. I suggested that they get one of the next computers off the assembly line and use it instead of tuning their older
system. After the laughter died down, they said they tried but the corporate management board would not approve the
change. I reminded them that they just said IBM was proud of sparing no expense to have the best state of the art
assembly line tools. Then I reminded them that the computer for the assembly line was an assembly line tool that was
not exactly state of the art so they are mistaken about sparing no expense. Three days later they had approval to get a
state of the art computer off their assembly line. Some of the time, the best solution is so simple that it is overlooked by
some of the greatest minds.
Electronic address on business cards.
In the late 1980s, in an executive luncheon meeting, I commented that in a few years electronic addresses will be on
business cards in addition to and instead of phone numbers. They all laughed then reflected that it might happen. Today
it is reality.
Cell phones vs wires in Africa
In the mid 1990s, In a briefing for country representatives from Africa, one of the representatives said their gaol is to get
to cellular but they can not get their telephone network running because people keep stealing the phone lines to sell the
copper. I ask why they needed to install copper when they could just quantum leap to cellular. There was dead silence
for moment then the conversation went to how to move directly to cellular. Naturally they adopted the direct to cellular
Point of sale electronic check clearing:
Many years ago, in briefing for bankers, one of executives said that point of sale check fraud was one of the biggest
problem. I suggested that a variation of the credit card system could be used to verify that funds were available in an
account before the check is accepted at the point of sale. The system could be used to clear the check electronically. It
did not take long for the simple comment to become a reality.
Some of the best ideas come from simple comments.
Don E. Sprague
Politics - Elected and served as Commissioner for the Town of Belleair Florida in 1996..
Served as the Commission Advisor to the Finance Board
Military - Air Force Reserves 1966 to 1972
very high marks on the Selective Service Examination. Was appointed the position of Rope, a designation of a
student leader in the training squadron. Attained the position of Class Leader as result of having the highest
grades in the class. Attained the position of Senior Class Leader as a result of having the highest grades of all
Class Leaders at the school at the time. Was offered choice of assignments as a result of accomplishment. After
Selective Service examination I was told that I had the highest test score they had ever seen and offered OCS if I
signed up to join.
2016 to today - Joint Planning Council member - Interfaith project
Ocala and Temple Beth Shalom. Considering formation of separate organization that owns a building to be use
by the two congregation of different faiths on their respective days of worship.
2015 to today - Board member Temple Beth Shalom Ocala Florida
2016 - Project manger - Merger of two temple congregations.
2017 - Enhanced Online Computer Access Cyber Security System patent application.
software access to system/network components through conversational mode human and computer to computer
exchange of information.
installs new code to establishes an access security system for human and machine software local and remote
online access. The access security system addresses business needs while providing enhanced security. The
invention enables user and business to see and verify information about communication partners. The invention
enables users and business to control the installation and activation of code or applications on their devices
when accessing web pages or clicking on links in email or files. The invention enables users and companies to
record common data then reuse it as needed.
2017 - Mobile Device Control System Patent application.
devices movement exceeds a selected speed above 3.5 MPH (average walking speed) regardless of the mode of
transportation. Moving vehicles span of control areas are defined to enable passenger override of the movement
disabling. A first responder override of the movement disable is provided to permit their full use of the device.
device use is span of control areas. The system enables creation of building span of control areas where cell
phone or other mobile device use is managed. Federal buildings, jails and schools are three places where an
enterprise can establish a span of control to manage cell phone or other mobile device use.
control device use in a span of control areas based on parameters installed on the device. The invention includes
stationary beacons installed in buildings and portable beacons positioned in open land areas that establishes a
span of control used to identify the exact location of mobile devices withing the span of control. The invention
includes access security controllers used to modify use parameters in cell phone or other mobile devices. The
invention includes databases that contain user and device information used to securely manage use parameters
and other device controls. The invention includes stationary beacons installed in moving vehicles to identify the
exact location of the driver and passengers.
2005 - New Internet Secure Architecture and Internet Business Model - Integrated Management functions Architecture.
01/1968 to 12/1998 - Worked for IBM - From Hardware/software support to Network Architect.
10/1996 to 12/1998 - IBM US HONE Owner.
5 year assignment to move the applications from legacy VM to IP while managing day to day operation.
Completed conversion project in 2 years.
08/1982 to 10/1996 - IBM Information Network,
Global Network. Began as a Value Added Network and became an ISP when it converted to use IP.
- Project Manager, Consulting Marketing Representative, Service Manager, Inter-enterprise Security Manager,
System Engineer, Program Manager, .
12/1994 to 10/1996 - Project Manager
Support Plan Models.
presenters, organizing material and handouts along with hotel conference rooms and guest rooms, plus hosting
a hospitality event. Approximately 200 students attended the first session and approximately 75 students attended
the second session. The three day sessions required 15 instructors to present the different material.
document. The document included the planning steps and sample tasks to be included when developing a
Market Support Plan for a new service.
01/1995 to 10/1996 Field support and training for new services known as MDNS. Support aids including field tools
and Marketing Support Plan Guide.
01/1991 to 12/1994 - Consulting Marketing Representative.
Marketing Support Team Leader and Consulting Marketing Representative. Responsible for attainment of overall
E-Mail quota. Exceeded 100% of quota each year. Managed special requests through HQ, development and
to address overall and unique E-Mail needs.
for IBM. This project required special electronic mail services to be defined as well as special charges,
billing and customer contracts. The revenue potential was in excess of $10 million per year with
thousands of government users. A unique discount structure and special contract was developed and
used in other successful RFPs.
less for the PC Information Exchange trading partner software package. This was a cross industry
solution used by all of the IBM Information Network's EDI Sponsor account and the associated trading
partners (suppliers and vendors). Managed the risk and cost of the project. Used a phase process to
manage this project that required new customer contracts and billing processes as well as new work
processes for employees of several departments and contractors.
of the IBM Information Network and Advantis. Cross industry as well as individual customer proposals were
submitted. Generated proposals for large and small customers from all industries. Revenue potential from the
various RFPs ranged from as low as $6,000 per year to over $10 million per year.
05/1985 to 12/1994
One Email guide was for the Association of associations to introduce the advantages and how to begin using
12/1985 to 12/1991 - Service Manager
security gateway services between IBM and the world. Worked with all areas of the Information Network and IBM
corporate to address IBM inter-enterprise email security requirements, design, development, and delivery of
process. Responsible for ensuring that IBM's requirements as a customer of the Information Network were fully
addressed and included in the standard services offerings. The services included the telecommunication inter-
connectivity through leased or dial services. The systems and networks of the major companies in America were
connected allowing cross industry electronic commerce. Initiated the phrase: anything that can be recorded
electronically can be delivered electronically.
Telecommunication Strategy document published June 1987.
04/1985 to 09/1987 System Engineer
Symposiums awards. Supported all of the service offerings of the IBM Information Network.
requirements for any to any online services from the IBM Information Network. Managed special bids and drove
the development of standard products and services to address IBM Electronic Customer Support objectives.
Activities included managing the requirements for the IBM information Network delivery of IBMLink and
InfoExpress for IBM.
chairman of the board of IBM was a major push to accelerate the interconnecting of the major companies to the
IBM Information Network. We increased the number of major corporate network connection by almost 1000 in 6
months. This was before the Internet growth began and was considered to be extremely successful.
07/1982 to 03/1985 - Program Manager
Services marketing support, technical support, marketing programs, and education.
Network Services offering family of the IBM Information Network.
marketing how to manage the projects of installing Network Services for customers. Document included a
network diagram sample beginning with identify customer requirements to service is operational.
responsible for delivering Network Services education, initiated and managed project to define and deliver the
required class. Outlined the project, defined the tasks, identified the risk, obtained management approval to
allocate resources, conducted skills analysis, determined the existing skills of over 300 people in the IBM IN
marketing offices, determined what skills they needed, determined the class objectives, identified a source for
and recruited instructors and conducted the first IBM Information Network class for Network Services Marketing.
Network Marketing Branch Offices. Outlined the session, determined who would teach which portion of the
sessions, determined the city schedule, managed the walk through, and managed the delivery of marketing
material. Had responsibility for day to day progress and milestone attainment on schedule within budget.
Conducted training sessions in 7 cities for over 300 sales people in the IBM Information Network.
10/1980 to 07/1982 - IBM Washington System Center.
- System Center Representative in the System Management program department.
branch had a problem, they turned to the region. When the region had a problem, they turned to the
of System Management Controls in a Systems and Network Control Center. Had full responsibility from
initiation to end results. After initial workshop success, the Problem Management and Change
Management projects were merged with the SNCC project to form the Branch Systems Management
Implementation Program. The SNCC executive module was lifted and made a standalone module of the
branch program and SNCC work shop became a module of the overall branch program.
detail samples. I conducted a series of over 50 customer workshop sessions throughout the country over
a one year period. Some sessions had one customer while other sessions had up to 40 people
representing many customers. A joint skills transfer session was conducted to train 750 Systems
Management people from regions and branches throughout the country.
going to move their data center from one location to another. Managed and developed task detail sub-
project. Used mission, objectives, and tasks methodology to develop the workshop material and conduct
training sessions for customers. Identified workshop structure and material content. Developed initial set
of material and conducted pilot sessions. Conducted a series of over 70 workshops for individual
customers and groups of customers. Some sessions had over 50 people in attendance.
Security data center move team. At the completion of the session , the project manager for the
Social Security move team estimated the worth of the workshop and planning session to be more
executive to the Chairman of the Board of IBM. Approximately 45 people attended the review
including three levels of management from sales and service divisions. This move was the
second of two major moves and covered about half of Boeing's systems. Reported back to the
Chairman. The move was very successful
attended this review including sales and service from the sending and receiving location as well as
the customer including a director of data processing. The plan was used for a successful move.
Processing. About 30 people attended this review including the VP of data processing from Exxon.
A new building was constructed to become the new computer center. A successful move resulted.
12/1977 to 10/1980 IBM Education Center.
- Systems Network Communication Problem determination curriculum.
through the systems and telephone network to the host application and back to the display. Lab consisted of
networks with terminal location devices, telephone company simulators and host location equipment. In each
lab, students had to determine the location of problem installed by instructors. Responsibilities included
scheduling all instructors, students, class rooms, and lab facilities.
part of the overall curriculum upgrade. Each system network consisted of hardware and software required
to simulate separate systems and networks with two terminals and modems through simulated telephone
service. The lab upgrade project included adding floor space to accommodate the additional hardware.
The project had multiple sub projects covering the hardware, software and telephone company simulator
upgrade. Identified tasks and assigned instructors plus reassigned as necessary to complete project
while still conducting classes. Identified and managed risk and cost components of the project. Project
included definition, requirements gathering, gain executive approval, external and internal design of
configuration, development, installation, testing and delivery.
intermediary class and a 10 day specialists class. Project included skills analysis to determine the
requirements for all three levels of training. Steps included definition, requirements gathering, external
and internal design of curriculum, gain executive commitment and approval to proceed, development
testing and delivery. This resulted in the ability to meet significantly increased student loads with improved
higher level skills delivery over a reduced time frame to an optimized number of students. Used a phase
process. defined and documented tasks and work breakdown plus managed work assignments.
Identified risk and managed cost of the project. Was responsible for day to day progress and for meeting
stated milestones within the defined budget. Prior the project there were two types of specialist training
and one intermediate level class. After the project three coordinated classes with logical skill progression
were delivered. A new three day lab based self study class was delivered. I performed the complete
development of the three day lab. A new intermediary support level lecture and lab class was developed
and delivered. I developed a portion of that class. A new specialist level class was developed and
delivered. I developed 16 hours of lecture for that class.
01/1968 to 12/1977 - Field hardware and software support
through years of training in IBM classes and experience working on IBM hardware and software products. A large
part of that work included many projects to install IBM equipment at customer locations. Worked on many team
projects of various size. Took Data Processing Aptitude Test In Atlanta Branch office and was told that I had the
highest results they had ever seen in the branch.
location branch and region and the terminal location branch and region were convinced that the problem
was at the other end. I was assigned to resolve the problem. I did my thing and determined the problem
was software in the host. A special conference call was setup with host location branch and region
management and software support along with the customer executive and programmer. The customer
programmer stated that the software correctly sent a command to the terminal to display the correct data. I
asked the programmer to go back a few commands to make sure that the prior programming steps were
correct. The programmer stepped back a few commands and found that they sent a commend to get
ready to display a lager field of data. They corrected that command and the problem was fixed. This is just
one example of support situations.
06/1963 to 01/1968 - Vernco
- Engineering department 3.5 years. All kinds of engineering work. Invented process to make a solder tip with
three strikes of a press. Worked on electric cooling for cars. Invented part of vac attached saw guard.
optimum design. Life testing required the invention of robotic process that used the shop vac to fill the
container with water. Then the water was drained automatically through a special process.
model, tested and redesigned. Pictures and test results were sent to the client who approved. Model was
sent to drafting who made the product and tools drawings for production.
- 9 months in tool and die department. Rebuild all kinds of dies. Installed repaired dies in presses.