Supplier Report: 9/24/2016


This week is Oracle World which means Larry Ellison is talking epic piles of trash against his competitors (IBM and Amazon). While Larry drops his truth bombs from his throne of garbage, Microsoft, SalesForce, and IBM take further steps in advancing AI.

In between sound-bytes, Oracle did manage to pick up a security automation company named Palerra. Google and Amazon both purchased companies to help develop and improve chatbots and even Apple grabbed a machine learning company named Tuplejump.

Blockchain was hot news this week as IBM secured paying customers in Japan to deploy their version of blockchain technology. As companies look to leverage blockchain for their own use, many early adopters are calling foul due to Accenture’s attempts to introduce the ability to edit transaction tables.


  • Apple acquires another machine learning company: Tuplejump

    We’re hearing that Apple was particularly interested in “FiloDB”, an opensource project that Tuplejump was building to efficiently apply machine learning concepts and analytics to massive amounts of complex data right as it streamed in. According to its github page, FiloDB was primarily headed up by Evan Chan; Chan’s LinkedIn page says he’s been with Tuplejump since August of 2015.

  • Oracle buys Palerra to boost its security stack

    Palerra’s business currently focuses on providing security automation for enterprise apps, covering not just data in the apps but as that data “moves across services and it offers several layers of protection across infrastructure and software services,” as we wrote about them last year. Given how many apps today integrate and exchange data by way of APIs, that makes for a significant business.

  • Google’s new acquisition makes building chatbots easier

    Google took a shot at Facebook’s chatbot-building services on Monday with its acquisition of, a company that helps developers build and improve conversational interfaces for their services. has more than 60,000 developers using its platform to create conversational user interfaces for apps like Slack, Facebook Messenger and Kik. Its tools make it easier for programs to parse human language and translate it into action. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

  • Amazon wants a piece of the chatbot action too…

    It looks like Google, which yesterday acquired, a company that helps developers build conversational interfaces, isn’t the only major tech company hoovering up chat bot talent. TechCrunch understands that (formerly known as GoButler) has, at least partially, been acqui-hired by Amazon.

    The e-commerce giant confirmed that co-founder and CEO Navid Hadzaad has joined the company. “I can confirm that Navid started at Amazon, and that his first day was yesterday. We don’t have anything further to share at this time,” an Amazon spokesperson told TechCrunch.

  • Cisco and IBM Both Evaluate the Security Company Imperva

    An analyst note penned by Mitch Steves of RBC Capital Markets says a purchase by Cisco would align with its stated strategy to boost their security portfolio. He said that Cisco’s portfolio is “maximized in terms of attacks from the outside.” Imperva’s technology would be a “next step” in boosting its portfolio with hybrid cloud security, writes Steves.

    Imperva’s flagship product is its SecureSphere Data Security Suite, which can protect on-premises data as well as data in private, public, and hybrid clouds.

  • Twitter shares spike on rumors of acquisition by Google, Microsoft, Salesforce or Verizon

    Twitter’s board of directors wants to sell, and a formal bid may come “shortly,” said CNBC, citing unnamed “people close to the situation.” But CNBC also said “no sale is imminent,” without accounting for the discrepancy.

    Negotiations are picking up steam and could be concluded by year-end, CNBC quoted one source as saying. The would-be buyers are said to be as interested in Twitter’s data as they are in its status as a media company.

Artificial Intelligence

  • Microsoft Enlists AI, Cloud in Battle Against Cancer

    Microsoft is exploring multiple approaches, including a cloud-based tool called the Bio Model Analyzer, which creates a model of healthy cells and compares it against cells that grow cancerous, evaluating the interactions in the genes and proteins, offering researchers a window into how cancer spreads. The technology could help detect cancer earlier and may help doctors design effective treatments, cope with rare cancers and determine when and if a cancer will become resistant to a given treatment.

    Another cloud-based system called Literome trawls through millions of research papers, enabling oncologists to spend more time easing their patients’ suffering and less time combing through thick volumes of medical research. “To build Literome, [Microsoft researcher Hoifung] Poon and his colleagues used machine learning to develop natural language processing tools that require only a small amount of available knowledge to create a sophisticated model for finding those different descriptions of similar knowledge,” wrote Linn.

  • Salesforce thinks AI will help it beat Microsoft and Oracle

    At next month’s Dreamforce, Salesforce’s mammoth annual customer conference that takes over downtown San Francisco, the company will introduce technology called Einstein, which it’s describing as the “world’s first comprehensive AI for CRM.”

    On the company’s second-quarter conference call in August, Benioff called it “AI for everyone.”

    Salesforce executives on Thursday gave a group of reporters an early look at Einstein in preparation for the unveiling. The general idea, as the name implies, is that sales tools are getting a whole lot smarter.

    Powered by advanced machine learning, deep learning, predictive analytics, natural language processing and smart data discovery, Einstein’s breakthrough innovations allow models to be automatically customized for every single customer. These models learn, self-tune and get smarter with every interaction and additional piece of data. Einstein will automatically discover relevant insights, predict future behavior, proactively recommend best next actions and even automate tasks. Now every Salesforce user will be able to leverage AI capabilities to deliver more personalized and predictive customer experiences.

  • Microsoft surpasses IBM Watson, achieves lowest error rate for speech recognition

    WER, in case you are unaware of it, is a commonly used metric of the performance of voice based systems, including speech recognition or machine translation. Until now, the IBM Watson had the lowest WER of 6.9, although IBM had at a recent interspeech conference claimed achieving 6.6 percent error rate. However, Microsoft’s new systems are even better.

  • IBM Watson is just ‘an advertisement’ for AI while Amazon Aurora is ‘not very good’ – Oracle’s Mark Hurd was on fire today

    Nothing we haven’t heard before, perhaps, but then things got really weird, as someone brought up AI. Hurd said artificial intelligence is “nothing more than pattern matching” and called IBM Watson an “advertisement”.

    “I look through a bunch of videos and say ‘Those two images are the same, or those two pieces of text are the same, or those two numbers are the same’. The real trick to this isn’t where you see it with advertisements like Watson, but the ability to get it into my day-to-day work,” said Hurd, alluding to yesterday’s keynote, when Ellison used a chatbot to order some business cards and make a crack about no longer being CEO, as the bot spotted his “change of title”.



  • Falling flash prices are a boon to enterprise storage buyers

    That was the big trend in the second quarter of this year, according to IDC. Enterprise storage systems factory revenue was US$8.8 billion, flat compared with last year’s second quarter, but the total capacity that vendors shipped increased 12.9 percent.

    Much of the credit goes to the falling price of a gigabit of flash storage, IDC analyst Liz Conner said. It’s amplified by the growing popularity of flash, which enterprises are adopting for both speed and space-saving. Technology advancements help: Where enterprises last year were ordering SSDs (solid-state drives) with up to 3TB, now they can buy in bulk with units as big as 15TB.

  • EMC: King of storage needs to shore up defenses

    EMC (18.1 per cent) lost -5.5 per cent points of revenue share in the year, HPE (17.6 per cent) gained 8.8 per cent, Dell (11.5 per cent) a relative monster increase of 13.8 per cent, IBM (6.8 per cent) lost -15.6 per cent (recently-appointed storage boss Ed Walsh has a mountain to climb) with NetApp (6.7 per cent) losing -3.2 per cent. The market amounted to $8.83 BN, with ‘Others’ taking 30.3 per cent of that and ODM direct 9 per cent.

  • As Dell and HPE revamp, Lenovo sets sights on enterprise cloud servers

    Lenovo wants a bigger chunk of that market and is working toward offering custom-built converged servers targeted at specific tasks. The company is also looking for a larger opportunity with custom hardware for large-scale customers.
    I called this out on SourceCast Episode 38

  • IBM focuses on a hybrid-cloud future with latest hardware and software

    In support of its emphasis on the hybrid approach, IBM cited its own recent survey of 1,000 respondents, who said 45 percent of workloads will remain on the premises despite cloud growth.

    IBM also announced new or strengthened relationships with partners Canonical, Hortonworks, Mirantis, NGINX and Red Hat. In particular, IBM and Red Hat together said they plan to deliver offerings built on open-source products including Red Hat’s enterprise Linux, its virtualization and its enterprise Linux High Availability.

    Research firm Gartner last month put IBM in the lower-left corner of its most recent Infrastructure-as-a-Service magic quadrant, well behind market-leader Amazon Web Services and behind Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.


  • Microsoft is shutting down Skype’s HQ in London as part of large-scale terminations

    Surprisingly, the Financial Times also reported an insider working in the Skype HQ stating that the move was not a surprise. Many in the office anticipated the same and had been leaving the company since the past few years. The layoffs so far have been attributed to the Microsoft’s struggling smartphones business.

  • Cisco and Salesforce join forces for sales, service and IoT solutions

    The two companies will tie up on both Salesforce and Cisco products to offer enhanced capabilities in Salesforce’s Sales Cloud and Service Cloud, Salesforce IoT Cloud and Cisco’s Unified Contact Center Enterprise.

    Helping organisations collaborate better, Cisco and Salesforce’s first announcement will see Cisco Spark and WebEx integrated into Salesforce’s Sales Cloud and Service Cloud via the Salesforce Lightning Framework. It will help colleagues communicate better via chat, video, and voice without leaving Salesforce.


  • Employees, not outsiders, are responsible for most cyber threats, IBM says

    Sixty percent of all attacks in 2015 were made by insiders – employees, contractors, consultants and third-party vendors – with malicious intent or inadvertent actors. Inadvertent actors are initiated or instigated by trustworthy people within an organization.

    Two-thirds of these attacks were fueled by malicious intent and the rest were the result of inadvertent actions.

  • Silicon Valley layoffs beat any bust records

    An additional 62,917 jobs were lost in June 2016 from Silicon Valley alone. And then there were veiled threats from Apple, Google, Amazon and more that use Ireland as a tax haven.

    Tech recruitment company Challenger commented, “Companies that do not adapt to changing trends will be left behind. Nobody knows this better than technology firms, where the very nature of the business means constantly evolving and shifting resources. We are seeing this play out with Cisco, just as it has played out with Intel, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and several other tech giants in recent months.”

  • HP printers block third party print cartridges

    HP printers are no longer recognising unofficial and cheaper printer ink cartridges after a firmware update, according to third party Dutch printer ink vendor 123inkt.

    HP admits that as a result of the update, settings had been changed so HP printers would only communicate with cartridges with HP chips.
    Translation: HPI doesn’t make any money on the printers so they are doing everything they can to make you buy their ink.

  • Oracle Receives Favorable Ruling, Awarded $100 Million

    The United States District Court for the District of Nevada not only granted Oracle’s motion for a permanent injunction but also ordered Rimini and its CEO to pay more than $100 million in punitive charges.

    The favorable ruling is quite a breather after Oracle’s recent litigation setbacks against Alphabet Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise

Photo: Peter Lobozzo

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News You Can Use: 9/21/2016


  • Salesforce announces new role: Chief Equality Officer

    This move, while notable for its diversity efforts, reflects Benioff’s continued contribution to community. TechCrunch noted Salesforce’s 1/1/1 charity program, which has over the years given “over $128 million in grants” and allowed employees to volunteer more than 1.6 million hours in their communities.

  • Is Technology Making Procurement Professionals Lazy?

    More astute procurement professionals may be compelled to move towards more sophisticated technology which may be overly complex for the issue you are trying to solve. If you are trying to get adoption across your organisation versus a subset of power users, then make sure your specification is fit for purpose in order to maximise the impact across the organisation. Broad adoption is highly correlated to ease of use and buying a “spreadsheet on steroids” will likely mean you need an analyst to answer every executive’s question about your procurement spend.

    One of the great challenges procurement leader’s face is that they are often compelled to use procurement tools affiliated with their ERP provider. Most of these tools were born during the days of “Feature Wars” where more and more complexity was added to the tool until it became almost unusable without heroic manual effort. Where leaders have the influence to pull it off, they should explore best of breed, built for purpose tools.–guest-blog/is-technology-making-procurement-professionals-lazy-639415

  • How Long Until Hackers Start Faking Leaked Documents?

    Forging thousands—or more—documents is difficult to pull off, but slipping a single forgery in an actual cache is much easier. The attack could be something subtle. Maybe a country that anonymously publishes another country’s diplomatic cables wants to influence yet a third country, so adds some particularly egregious conversations about that third country. Or the next hacker who steals and publishes email from climate change researchers invents a bunch of over-the-top messages to make his political point even stronger. Or it could be personal: someone dumping email from thousands of users making changes in those by a friend, relative, or lover.
    This is a great question, I have to imagine it has already happened. 

  • Why Supply Chain Managers Are Psychopaths

    A study of 261 corporate professionals working in supply chain management found that 21 percent of those individuals had clinically significant levels of psychopathic traits, such as insincerity, lack of empathy or remorse, egocentric behavior, and the ability to be both charming and superficial.

    The study found the supply chain management professionals had similar levels of psychopathic traits to the broad prison population.
    Difference Spin on the same study:
    One out of five American CEOs might be a psychopath

    “A really interesting question is whether psychopathy can be a positive thing. Some psychologists would say yes, that there are certain attributes like coolness under pressure, which is sort of a fundamental positive. But Robert Hare would always say no, that in the absence of empathy, which is the definition in psychology of a psychopath, you will always get malevolence,” Ronson told Forbes.

    “Basically, high-scoring psychopaths can be brilliant bosses but only ever for short term,” he added.

  • Do You Have A F*cking Problem With Swearing At Work?

    But be careful who you swear around. The Wrike study revealed that of the 43% of those who do not use profane language in the workplace, 36% are bothered when others drop the F-bomb, and 20% would consider filling an official complaint in regards to their colleagues’ language. On the other hand, 33% of respondents would not consider a position at a workplace that strictly banned swearing, so you can’t f*cking win either way.

Photo: Ian Schneider

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SourceCast: Episode 41: Know thy Enemy


When market conditions change and two companies that have never interacted with each other find themselves as competitors, how does the rest of the market react? Should a company reinvent or go big?

Photo: Andrew Branch

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Supplier Report: 9/17/2016


It is a dynamic time in the world of IT. Nothing is assured, nothing stays the same.

Dell Technologies announced a sell off of their enterprise content management unit to help pay off the massive debt incurred purchasing EMC. What does this mean for Documentum and the other products? Some experts think OpenText will invest in the product, more seem to think it is DOA.

As artificial intelligence becomes more wide-spread, IBM and Google, who at the moment are not really in competition with each other, will most likely find themselves as rivals. Not only in AI, but also in cloud hosting and blockchain solutions.

HP Inc had themselves a good week.  They purchased Samsung’s print division for $1.05B and also switched to a Microsoft CRM solution which the press can’t seem to stop talking about. How will Microsoft reward HPI for such an act?



Artificial Intelligence

  • The Growing Rivalry Between Google And IBM

    Today, IBM and Google are very different businesses. While Google offers products directly to consumers, IBM mostly designs powerful systems for enterprises. Google makes the bulk of its money through advertising, while IBM has a large and highly qualified sales force that can service demanding customers.

    To be sure, in many ways, IBM and Google are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to focus, business model and operational structure. Still in conversations with both companies, I can’t help but feel them eyeing each other somewhat warily. After all, while their businesses may be far apart, they are both competing for the same technological high ground.

  • War for Artificial Intelligence: IBM’s Blockchain Push May Anticipate Google’s Ambush

    The vocal advocacy of IBM in the Blockchain space stands in stark contrast to Google’s almost complete silence on the subject. Prussian military theorist Carl Philipp Gottlieb von Clausewitz in his treatise ‘On War’ wrote that “surprise plays a much greater role in strategy than in tactics,” and of course the famous 孙子 (Sun Tzu) is remembered by the words “when the enemy is close at hand and remains quiet, he is relying on the natural strength of his position.” To assume that Google is doing nothing in the Semantic Blockchain space is naïve. Let us look forward with anticipation, and, for some, perhaps dread, to what eventually Google plans to roll out.

  • AI can make your money work for you

    Advances in AI will create a robo-accountant that knows your spending better than you do. By analyzing your purchase history, it will constantly move money between your checking, savings, investments and credit cards. This way, your checking account’s balance is always in the narrow “sweet spot:” high enough to avoid fees, but not so high that you miss out on investment yield.

    Right now, finding that sweet spot is time-consuming and anxiety-inducing. In time, the robo-accountant will know when you’re likely to splurge. It will know when your car will need a repair, when your electric bill will spike. It will know when you’re actually better off carrying a balance on your credit card than paying your bank’s minimum-balance fee.


  • Blockchain: Transformational Technology for Health Care

    Take a standard health plan/provider agreement, or in risk-based relationships, provider/provider  agreements, where each provides the other with a paper contract. Each entity loads the agreement into their separate systems, and it defines their relationship. The payor also has a contract with each person who has purchased a health plan. Using Blockchain, the health plan and provider could translate the wide variety of agreements needed to contracts on the Blockchain so everyone has visibility, and clarity exists for both the provider and the member. So when a transaction is processed, the Blockchain checks the authorization, and everyone can view the status, history and next steps. This transaction payment information could also be connected with the clinical service details to provide a holistic view of the patient’s interaction. Storing the information to create this holistic view in Blockchain would create a foundation that enables interoperability and innovation across the industry.

  • How Microsoft Is Winning the War in the Cloud

    In fact, it’s Microsoft’s forays into the cloud that will continue to generate its profit growth as things like traditional software and computer hardware sales fall by the wayside. The company has made big investments — as much as $10 billion on a data center for the development of its Azure cloud system. And these investments are going to pay off as the cloud continues to redefine how the world does business and stores its data.

  • Comparing Cloud Vendors: A Primer For IT

    But the Forrester authors, without commenting on the nature of the Google cloud (which launches two billion containers a week), said most enterprise developers “are not yet ready to ‘run like Google.’ They need more packaged data and database migration services, and more confidence that their core business apps are ready to run on the Google Cloud Platform.”

  • Does Oracle’s Cloud Growth Come at a Cost?

    On the flip side of the strong growth in cloud, the company has been seeing a slowdown in its software licensing business. So the question in investors’ minds that management will have to answer is whether the company is sacrificing the higher-margin licensing business with the focus on growing its cloud business. If so, will cloud margins down the road be sufficient to offset the declines in licensing? If not, why is licensing slowing as cloud picks up? Tough spot for Oracle management, any way one looks at it.


  • Oracle Killer, New Threat Face Database King

    Oracle was initially slow to jump into the cloud industry because it contradicted what it was doing, which was offering businesses the hardware and software solutions to manage their own IT infrastructures. Cloud is essentially antithetical to that business model – even antagonistic, one might say. But after it realized its mistake it quickly ramped up its cloud business and is now strongly in the SaaS and PaaS segment, although not as much in the infrastructure game where Amazon is the undisputed leader.

    But Amazon was having none of that. Consequently, it launched Amazon Aurora in late 2014, also known as the Oracle Killer. Aurora is a relational database engine that directly competes with Oracle’s database products. If Oracle is the king of databases, then Aurora is the mysterious assassin whose only job is to take the king’s life.

    To make Aurora’s job easier, Amazon structured the service so no upfront license fee needs to be paid. In effect, it made it a pay as-you-go service.

  • Chinese Giant Huawei to Attack Server Market

    To be fair, Huawei is not “new” to servers: it’s been building them for years and is ranked as the fourth largest server provider as measured by units sold by Gartner IT . What’s different now is that, on August 31, the company said it will build servers targeting the public and private clouds, as well as telecom-focused data centers.

  • Dell Technologies ‘to cut up to 3,000 jobs after $67 billion EMC deal’

    PC and cloud vendor Dell will reportedly slash between 2,000 to 3,000 jobs after acquiring data storage company EMC.

    Most of the job cuts will be in the United States and will happen later this year, according to Bloomberg, which cites people familiar with the company’s plans.

    Dell did tell sister site Channel Pro this week that it would merge its sales channel with that of EMC’s. Tim Griffin, VP & GM UK at Dell EMC, said: “Today we have two channel programmes. The intent is to have a single channel for February 2017.”

    Dell is hoping the cuts will help create cost savings of about $1.7 billion in the first 18 months after the transaction, but is largely focused on using the deal to boost sales by several times that amount.

    The new company has 140,000 employees.

  • Cisco exec churn: Enterprise chief Soderbery out

    Soderbery said he has no current plans and Cisco said of his departure: “We thank Rob for his important role helping Cisco identify Enterprise needs and address them with world-class networking products and solutions, and we wish him all the best for the future.”

  • Why Meg Whitman is breaking the one-time symbol of Silicon Valley into pieces

    These spinoffs have provided needed capital as Hewlett-Packard Enterprise realigns itself with a narrower focus. Last year it bolstered its hardware business by acquiring for $3 billion Aruba Networks, the second-largest provider of company Wi-Fi networks behind Cisco. And last month HPE announced a $275 million purchase of Silicon Graphics, which sells fast servers and storage systems.



  • Despite all the trash-talking, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff says he still loves Larry Ellison

    “Business is a lot like tennis. You get on the court with your friends, you play as hard as you can, you get really upset, you say crazy things, you go off the court, you go and have lunch and have a glass of wine and remember how much you love them.

    I love Larry Ellison, he’s a great mentor to me, he’s been a great friend, and probably there is no one in the industry who has done more for me than Larry Ellison, and I’m very grateful to him.”

  • It is official: HP buying Samsung Electronics’ printer business for $1.05B

    HP Inc. said Monday that it is the largest print acquisition in the company’s history and will help it go from traditional copiers to multifunction printers. HP also said the deal will strengthen its position in laser printing, which it established with Canon.
    Samsung had a printer unit? And does HPI really need to buy their 4% market share?
    Oh wait… CRN has an answer for me:

    An HP acquisition of the Samsung printer business would take out a competitor and give HP strength in different geographies, said Martin Wolf, president of martinwolf M&A Advisors of Walnut Creek, Calif., one of the top channel investment advisory deal makers.
    And then there is this news…
    HP Inc. Goes Old School With Plans to Sell Copy Machines

    Still, Enrique Lores, HP’s president of imaging and printing, voiced optimism for the initiative. Copy machines still account for $55 billion in annual sales, which could be lucrative if the company gained a sizable share.

  • Wells Fargo fires 5,300 employees for opening 2M fake accounts in customers’ names

    Wells Fargo says that it has been rooting out employees who ran this con for the past two years, having caught 5,300 of them so far (the bank employs 265,000 people). The fake accounts — savings, checking, credit/debit cards — were opened in the names of existing Wells Fargo customers, who had their accounts raided to create balances in the new accounts, and were then hit with fees that cleaned them out.

Photo: Ryan Johnston

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News You Can Use: 9/14/2016


  • 5 Tips For Sourcing Success When Your Employer Brand Is Poor

    Instead of: providing a generic pitch to candidates of what a great employer you are, what great benefits you have, how much people enjoy working there, when you know you can’t do so with any real enthusiasm,

    You may try to: accentuate the positive aspects by speaking glowingly of the hiring manager and how dedicated he is to mentoring his direct reports. Also, you may try to highlight how much the specific division the job sits in has been outperforming the rest of the company, the unique culture of this particular team, division, and office, and how much this specific position, with this specific hiring manager, in this specific division, in this specific office, presents an exclusive opportunity for the right candidate to advance his career.

  • The jobs we’ll lose to machines — and the ones we won’t
  • To avoid supplier disputes, VW reconsiders procurement strategy

    The Irish Times explained that it is a popular practice within the auto industry to try and steer clear of relying too heavily on a single supplier. This decision, the source noted, is fueled primarily by the dispute that occurred between VW and Prevent – the parent company of the car maker’s two suppliers, Car Trim and ES Automobiluss – when Prevent licensed Car Trim to manufacture parts for luxury brands of vehicles. People familiar with the matter, the source explained, said that Prevent “retaliated by moving some of Car Trim’s financial claims against VW to Automobilguss.”

  • GE buys supply chain software provider ShipXpress

    ShipXpress provides cloud-based software solutions, which allow transportation, industrial, and commodities businesses to effectively operate and collaborate with their supply chain partners.

    The deal is said to expand GE Transportation’s portfolio of solutions into the logistics value chain, helping to deliver information and transaction services for railroad customers across the globe.

  • If You Work From Home, Do This Every Day

    The art of not working requires discipline of a different sort than working. You have to discard the entrenched belief that being present at a desk is the same as being productive. And you have to become intimately acquainted with your mental needs. When it’s time to rest, you need to learn to do so without guilt. As a native New Englander raised with the classic Puritan work ethic, I can attest that this is harder to do than it looks.

Photo: Ian Schneider

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