Monday, February 3, 2014

My Top 5 Themes and Strengths

Cleaning and organizing old files in my desktop found this. Several years ago I went through one of those personality and strength finder tests, among the reports their provide there is one that shows my five most dominant themes or talents.

At that time I didn't look at it in detail. I have to admit the report it is pretty accurate and I don't mind to share if you like to get to know me better.



The report says ...

Many years of research conducted by The Gallup Organization suggest that the most effective people are those who understand their strengths and behaviors. These people are best able to develop strategies to meet and exceed the demands of their daily lives, their careers, and their families.

A review of the knowledge and skills you have acquired can provide a basic sense of your abilities, but an awareness and understanding of your natural talents will provide true insight into the core reasons behind your consistent successes.

Your Signature Themes report presents your five most dominant themes of talent, in the rank order revealed by your responses to StrengthsFinder. Of the 34 themes measured, these are your "top five."

Your Signature Themes are very important in maximizing the talents that lead to your successes. By focusing on your Signature Themes, separately and in combination, you can identify your talents, build them into strengths, and enjoy personal and career success through consistent, near-perfect performance.

Learner

You love to learn. The subject matter that interests you most will be determined by your other themes and experiences, but whatever the subject, you will always be drawn to the process of learning. The process, more than the content or the result, is specially exciting for you. You are energized by the steady and deliberate journey from ignorance to competence. The thrill of the first few facts, the early efforts to recite or practice what you have learned, the growing confidence of a skill mastered—this is the process that entices you. Your excitement leads you to engage in adult learning experiences—yoga or piano lessons or graduate classes. It enables you to thrive in dynamic work environments where you are asked to take on short project assignments and are expected to learn a lot about the new subject matter in a short period of time and then move on to the next one. This Learner theme does not necessarily mean that you seek to become the subject matter expert, or that you are striving for the respect that accompanies a professional or academic credential. The outcome of the learning is less significant than the “getting there.”

Developer

You see the potential in others. Very often, in fact, potential is all you see. In your view no individual is fully formed. On the contrary, each individual is a work in progress, alive with possibilities. And you are drawn toward people for this very reason. When you interact with others, your goal is to help them experience success. You look for ways to challenge them. You devise interesting experiences that can stretch them and help them grow. And all the while you are on the lookout for the signs of growth—a new behavior learned or modified, a slight improvement in a skill, a glimpse of excellence or of “flow” where previously there were only halting steps. For you these small increments—invisible to some—are clear signs of potential being realized. These signs of growth in others are your fuel. They bring you strength and satisfaction. Over time many will seek you out for help and encouragement because on some level they know that your helpfulness is both genuine and fulfilling to you.

Relator

Relator describes your attitude toward your relationships. In simple terms, the Relator theme pulls you toward people you already know. You do not necessarily shy away from meeting new people—in fact, you may have other themes that cause you to enjoy the thrill of turning strangers into friends—but you do derive a great deal of pleasure and strength from being around your close friends. You are comfortable with intimacy. Once the initial connection has been made, you deliberately encourage a deepening of the relationship. You want to understand their feelings, their goals, their fears, and their dreams; and you want them to understand yours. You know that this kind of closeness implies a certain amount of risk—you might be taken advantage of—but you are willing to accept that risk. For you a relationship has value only if it is genuine. And the only way to know that is to entrust yourself to the other person. The more you share with each other, the more you risk together. The more you risk together, the more each of you proves your caring is genuine. These are your steps toward real friendship, and you take them willingly.

Harmony

You look for areas of agreement. In your view there is little to be gained from conflict and friction, so you seek to hold them to a minimum. When you know that the people around you hold differing views, you try to find the common ground. You try to steer them away from confrontation and toward harmony. In fact, harmony is one of your guiding values. You can’t quite believe how much time is wasted by people trying to impose their views on others. Wouldn’t we all be more productive if we kept our opinions in check and instead looked for consensus and support? You believe we would, and you live by that belief. When others are sounding off about their goals, their claims, and their fervently held opinions, you hold your peace. When others strike out in a direction, you will willingly, in the service of harmony, modify your own objectives to merge with theirs (as long as their basic values do not clash with yours). When others start to argue about their pet theory or concept, you steer clear of the debate, preferring to talk about practical, down-to-earth matters on which you can all agree. In your view we are all in the same boat, and we need this boat to get where we are going. It is a good boat. There is no need to rock it just to show that you can.

Belief

If you possess a strong Belief theme, you have certain core values that are enduring. These values vary from one person to another, but ordinarily your Belief theme causes you to be family-oriented, altruistic, even spiritual, and to value responsibility and high ethics—both in yourself and others. These core values affect your behavior in many ways. They give your life meaning and satisfaction; in your view, success is more than money and prestige. They provide you with direction, guiding you through the temptations and distractions of life toward a consistent set of priorities. This consistency is the foundation for all your relationships. Your friends call you dependable. “I know where you stand,” they say. Your Belief makes you easy to trust. It also demands that you find work that meshes with your values. Your work must be meaningful; it must matter to you. And guided by your Belief theme it will matter only if it gives you a chance to live out your values.

Copyright © 2008, Gallup, Inc.

Cheers
Jorge

Sunday, February 10, 2013

First visit to Geekdom, SA NewTech and San Antonio Make Meetup


Finally after over a year since its creation, last Tuesday I had the opportunity to visit Geekdom for the very first time. If I have to chose just a word to resume how the experience was, I think it would be elated.


I really had a great time, felt a little bit lost at the begging being now a 45,000 square feet facility full of geeks and cool stuff, and with an atmosphere of genius and creativity you can almost breath as soon as you step out of the elevators. I was really, really, impressed, I had somehow a good idea of what Geekdom was and what is going on there, but telling the truth it exceeded all my expectations and changed the wrong preconception I had that it was just another collaborative co-working space.



Geekdom goes way beyond of being just a co-working space, it is as I said before the atmosphere that their principal founders Graham Weston (@gweston) and Nick Longo (@NickLongo) where able to create that sparks innovation in the vibrant and future looking city of San Antonio, which has been recently ranked number three by Forbes on the America's New Tech Hot Spots List.

Geekdom is about community, entrepreneurship, innovation, making great things, exploring new ideas, developing new technologies, empowering creativity, opening young minds and inspire future generations.




Geekdom is like a gym for your brain !

SA New Tech Meetup

Talking about New Tech, that was one of the motives of my visit to Geekdom.

During the last TEDx San Antonio I met Cole Wollak (@cwollak) who is a Geekdom member and the organizer of SA NewTech, a monthly Meetup of people in San Antonio and around, interested and working in new technologies, startups, entrepreneurship, social networking, etc.

Calendar conflicts and other compromises didn't let me make the meeting before, but I was really committed to make it happen last Tuesday.

The meeting is very dynamic, every month three startup companies give a short presentation that gets followed by an open Q&A with the audience, that lets the companies receive feedback about what they are doing and how are they doing it, brainstorm on new ideas and discuss opportunities to help them succeed.




It is also a great opportunity to meet very cool and smart people working on exciting technologies right here in our great City of San Antonio. Thanks for the invite Cole !

San Antonio First Make Meetup

Last but not least, a very important reason while a I went to Geekdom to meet with Cole and briefly with Nick, was to get things moving to have our first Make Meetup in San Antonio.

I have to confess that I don't remember now how I got into this, but I'm very active in several on-line forums discussing electronics research and design, and following up a series of links related to the Raspberry Pi board, I ended getting myself in a page where I took the challenge of organizing the very first Make Meetup in San Antonio.

When I tweeted if Geekdom would be willing to host the event, Nick replied right away !! with the best response somebody like me trying to get things done can ever get, he said "Sure can... Let's do it"

What is the Make Movement ?

Well it took Wired Magazine Editor Chris Anderson an entire book to talk about it, for now let's say that it is driving the New Industrial Revolution, and if you are the type that enjoys inventing and making stuff like electronics, 3D-printing, etc, then you are a Maker and part of the revolution. I'll write more in another article.

In the twitter dialogue with the Geekdom folks, I learned that Mark Barnett (@Maker_Mark) is a Maker and a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education specialist in San Antonio, he is also a Geekdom member doing very cool things and is the founder of STEMivate Academy . Unfortunately Mark was out of town when I visited Geekdom but I'm looking forward to meet him very soon and get this Meetup thing rolling.


I'm not stranger about making things happen, my inner geek manifested when I was 10 years old and started tinkering with electronics and taking apart my Mom's appliances. From there my career took me from digital electronics to computer science and large scale networking. I was the culprit of establishing the first international connection for my home country to the Internet, I worked for small and large companies, public and private, well established and startups, government agencies and international organizations such as UNDP and OAS.

In 1991 I was in Denmark for the first Inet meeting where with Vint Cerf and many others we launched the Internet Society, later I was one of the founders and President of its Chapter in Argentina.

I led the Technical Team for the Fifth International Olympiad in Informatics in Mendoza, Argentina, where almost 300 students from over the world competed in Computer Science. I was also involved in the coordination of the first Latin-American Research and Academic Networks forum held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and many other events.

I'm pretty sure this Meetup WILL happen, now thanks to Geekdom we know where, we'll work hard to get to the when, what and who.

I'll leave the "why" for another post.

If you are a Maker, or you are interested in the subject and willing to participate and contribute, please feel free to get in touch with me and join the recently created Make Community in San Antonio, I'll keep you informed on how the planning goes and when the first Meetup will happen.

As always, ideas, suggestions and recommendations are gratefully welcomed.

BTW, my kudos to Graham, Nick, and the rest of the Geekdom staff and members for the great work they do and their constant contribution to our community. If they let me, I'll probably start to hang out very often around there ...

Cheers
Jorge
(@jamodio)
http://about.me/jamodio

Sunday, July 8, 2012

What is what you do ?


Once in a while I find myself in the situation of having to answer the classic question: "What is what you do?".


Is not rocket science, but not really easy for me to answer with a few words given that they won't convey the deep complexity, knowledge and dedication for what I do.

The simple and short answer would be "Electronic Systems Design", or when people may know what I'm talking about "Embedded Systems Design", and expanded answer would be "Research and Development of Embedded Microcontroller Applications with Networking and Intelligent Graphical Human Interfaces.

WOW, that sounds pretty kewl and geeky, IT IS !!, well at least for me :-)

To give you a more mundane and simple example, there is a lot of people talking about "smart" things like the nest thermostat, well, I design the guts of that kind of stuff.

Let me share with you how the process is, and as the saying goes, one image is worth a thousand words, but I'll add a brief explanation of each step.



The images above are for one of the products I developed and sell through my website, it is a small board slightly smaller than a credit card and that has a network interface chip, a simple microcontroller as the main processor and some non volatile memory.


The microcontroller is programmed with the "firmware" that implements the TCP/IP protocols used to communicate over the Internet, and it has sort of a small web server, that once the board is connected to the Net and powered, will let you access it from anywhere around the world to turn things off/on, check sensor readings like temperature, etc.

Like many ideas, a product like this may start as some gibberish block diagram on a napkin, the back of a store receipt, etc., but it then a more formal process begins using the right tools for the job.

The first step is to identify what components will be used and research how they have to be interconnected and what stuff is needed to make them work.

Then using a specific CAD program (Computer Aided Design), in this case Eagle CAD, I capture a representation of the component (called a symbol) and its package layout for later use in the design of a circuit board, and the schematics (shown as 1 in the picture), that show all the components, its values and how they need to get connected.

Not always necessary but a second step would be to put a rough prototype of the design to test its functionality, in some cases this could be done with a simulator on a computer, but there is no better test than the real hardware. In this case (shown as 2) I put together a wire wrapped prototype (components are interconnected on the bottom by thin wires that get "wrapped" on the pins of the sockets or the leads of the components.)

If everything goes well with the prototype, the next step is to design the printed circuit board layout (shown as 3), again with the CAD program this consists in placing the components and drawing the traces in one, two or more layers of conductive material that will interconnect them.

The CAD program will generate a set of special files that will be used for Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM), this includes the files to produce the circuit board, place and solder the components on it. Picture 4, shows another tool I frequently use to inspect the CAM files.

Again, not always but often, just a few printed circuit board prototypes get done for testing and verification, to save costs (shown as 5) this particular prototype has no solder mask (a green protective and non-conductive thin layer) or legends.

If everything goes well then, real production begins (6 and 7), and the boards get programmed and tested, put into antistatic bags and get ready for shipment around the world.

Being this simple board, or a more complex design like the nest thermostat, it may require lots of research to learn the specifics of each components, some of them like more advanced microcontrollers have hundreds or thousands of pages of documentation that I need to read and digest, and experimentation using development kits, others prototype boards, etc. 


The picture on top of this article shows a peek to my collection of development boards, evaluation kits and my own products and prototypes.


Besides what I do as an independent consultant and developing and selling my own stuff, I'm also Principal Engineer with Serious Integraged, Inc., in Chandler, AZ, where we are developing very cool graphic displays modules that let OEM equipment manufacturers add rich Graphic User Interfaces or Home Machine Interfaces to their products.


And soon we'll add a lot of connectivity features for the "Internet of Things."



So now that I was able to write this article, I'll get a URL shortener and print it on my business cards, so next time I get the question ... voilà




Cheers
Jorge 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Megaupload, Piratería y Cambalache Netero


Casi imposible en estos días abrir una página de web de noticias, redes sociales o chequear mi correo electrónico y no encontrar ninguna referencia, artículo o comentario sobre el tole tole con MegaUpload.

Pese a que no es uno de los temas de mi mayor interés, pero tiene que ver en parte con mi participación en distintos foros para promover el libre intercambio de información en Internet, y que no me gusta hablar por boca de ganso, me dediqué a explorar y leer un poco más sobre los detalles de esta acción por parte del Departamento de Justicia de los Estados Unidos, incluyendo la lectura detallada de las 72 páginas de la Acusación (Indictment) emitida por dicho Departamento.

Algunas aclaraciones de rigor. Me interesa poco o nada defender a las compañías disqueras, a las megacorporaciones, a los estudios cinematográficos, al DOJ, FBI o cualquier otra agencia o institución de tres letras. Sí, me interesa seguir promoviendo la libertad de expresión, el libre intercambio de información en Internet y la menor intromisión de los "manda más" de acá, allá y del más allá también. Así que comentarios o sanatas sobre el imperialismo yanqui, los malvados de la disquera X o distribuidora Y, están de más y al dope.

Para un dinosaurio de la red como yo, quizás situaciones y eventos como estos hacen reflotar viejas anoralgias (añoranzas llenas de nostalgia) sobre lo tranquilo que era la red y como podíamos dejar información sin preocuparnos de robo de identidad, o si algo no funcaba llamábamos a nuestro "amigo" al otro lado de la línea para resolverlo sin necesidad de pedirle permiso al Tío Sam o garparle a un abogado.

Claro, pese a que de alguna forma nos rebuscabamos para tener un dialogo interactivo vía IRC, Talk, o hasta video con CU-SeeMe, nada como las videoconferencias que puedo tener hoy en día con familiares, amigos y colegas alrededor del mundo o el inmenso caudal de información disponible en línea para mi trabajo o regocijo.

Internet ha crecido de tal forma que hasta muchos consideran el acceso a la misma un derecho humano, erróneamente en mi opinión pero sin restarle importancia a como Internet ha cambiado muchos de los aspectos de nuestra vida cotidiana, no solo la posibilidad de comunicación o comercio, sino también la forma en que socializamos.

Es ilógico el argumentar o insistentemente apuntarle el dedo a Internet como el medio o causa principal de muchos males. Si bien es cierto que en cierta medida facilita el crimen, no significa que sea la causa, y la confusión y zona gris que genera este tema, complicado con el hecho que en Internet no existen fronteras, motivan acciones desmedidas (como incautar cientos de servidores a lo bestia) o propuestas de ley - como SOPA - que intentan poner control por medio de interferir con la arquitectura y funcionamiento de la red. (SOPA proponía algo así como borrar los nombres de las calles en los carteles de cada esquina para que los chorros no supieran como llegar al banco para afanar.)

Algunos parecen ver la piratería en Internet como una causa noble, leyendo los comentarios en un sitio de noticias me cruzo con un tarado (con nombre y apellido) que afirma tener más de 7 Terabytes de películas y música pirateados, y ahora se la pasa distribuyendo por varios lados incluyendo Facebook y Twitter, enlaces para generar ataques a varios sitios en Internet. Verdaderamente, a tipos como éste aparte de pedirle el documento, deberían hacerle un análisis de sangre y orina antes de darle su cuenta para poder acceder Internet.

Julian Sanchez publicó un artículo muy interesante en ars technica sobre SOPA, Regulación en Internet y la economía de la piratería, donde afirma que a la industria de contenidos seguramente algo le cuesta la piratería -sino no meterían tanta guita en el Congreso para promover legislación como SOPA. Pero realmente la reducción en piratería que esto puede generar seria mínima y con un alto costo para todos.

Ahora la operación de MegaUpload era legal o no ? A primera vista el negocio sonaba como bastante legal, simplemente un megarepositorio público de archivos en la red. Pero eso es lo que se veía de frente, ahora empiezan a saltar en detalle como operaban estos quías, realmente al borde o más allá de la ley.

Varios argumentan que el accionar de la justicia fue una movida para promover legislación como SOPA. En realidad el argumento va para el otro lado, este accionar es clara demostración que la justicia bien o mal no necesita de SOPA para tomar acción. Por otro lado los de MegaUpload estaban bajo la mira y el microscopio bastante antes de que se escribiera la propuesta de ley.

Es Pepe DOTCOM culpable ? Realmente no soy juez para determinarlo, lo que sí creo después de ver unas cuantas fotos, el hacerse llamar DOTCOM, en las chapas de su vasta colección de autos poner cosas como GOOD, EVIL, GOD, STONED, GUILTY, MAFIA y otros detalles más, resulta muy sospechoso. Muy boludo no es, porque en el 2010 encanutó algo así como 42 palos verdes. El que sí parece ser medio boludo es el pobre programador que estaba en Turquía que en el mismo año se conformó con solo 100 lucas.

Lo que sí es perjudicial para Internet en casos como MegaUpload, es que en primer lugar ponen en movimiento a las autoridades para tomar medidas extremas que con el afán de hacer justicia y aplicar la ley entran como elefante en un bazar arrasando con todo.

También afecta que empresas que actúan de esta manera le dan más motivos y combustible a quienes quieren forzar y promover más regulación en la operación y uso de la red.

Lamentablemente también pone en duda el desarrollo y adopción de ciertas tecnologías como el almacenamiento remoto de información en "la nube."

Mi esposa es artista, y yo hago desarrollo de sistemas electrónicos, la piratería nos afecta cotidianamente.

Después de leer unos cuantos comentarios defendiendo la piratería como algo noble me pregunto si al final Discépolo tenía razón y seguimos en el Cambalache, y "El que no llora, no mama, y el que no afana es un gil!".

Atentos Saludos
Jorge (el gil que sigue garpando por música y películas)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

And One More Thing ...

I just finished reading Steve Job's Biography by Walter Isaacson.


I'd describe it with just one word "fascinating."


Sorry Steve, I've got my copy of your Biography on my Amazon Kindle, but as I went from chapter to chapter, and through different stories, I had my iPod Touch on the other hand reviewing old documents, keynote speeches and product launches on YouTube.


I feel that Isaacson did a superb job to portray Steve Jobs as many of us imagined he was, it was really interesting to read the histories behind some of the products, the birth and rebirth of Apple as a company, the creativity and inspiration from Pixar, but the most interesting part was to get to know Steve in a more human plane, as a partner, a friend, a husband, a father, a dreamer, a human being.


I've always been a geek, a technology lover, and I may had some instances when I probably got in trouble to voice my opinion when I thought something was really a piece of shit.
I really took the time to read the biography enjoying every paragraph and reflecting after each story or event.


But one of the things that kept floating on my mind while I was reading and now that I just finished it, is: Why we don't have more people like Steve Jobs ?


And this question intersects with some reflections after reading another of my favorite authors, Sir Ken Robinson on "Out of Our Minds: Learning to be creative."


I strongly believe the answer is very simple: we don't let them be.


It is not something personal, as "we" I mean "the system", particularly the educational system and how we react when we notice that some kids are "different". Hellooooo, we are all different !!, but the system has been designed and ran as we were all equal and it is focused on moving the kids through it following a standard and fixed process. Yes there is such thing as "gifted and talented", but people like Steve Jobs probably would have never passed the test.


One of the typical reactions when "we" find that a kid is different, instead of having a system that can adapt to her/him, we try to force the kid to fit into it.


I think you should listen at what Sir Ken Robinson said at one of the best ever TED Talks.


I went through situations like this personally, we didn't know what it was and that ADHD even existed, and since it is on the genes, now being a parent I'm going through it with my kids.


It struck me when I read about Job's fourth grade teacher who challenged him to solve math problems with a giant lollipop as a reward, but later the challenge was most interesting and motivating than the reward. He was one of the lucky ones to have that teacher. I was lucky too when I was in secondary technical school and the priest that was the school's director saw me so enthusiastic and motivated on the electronics labs and other activities that he let me be on the labs all day. By the last year of school I was teaching my own classmates about digital electronics and microprocessors.


I feel that my kids are also lucky, because so far we've got teachers that can see beyond and recognize their natural talents, personality and creativity.


But it can't be that way, it can't be that by "luck" our kids have a chance to be what they naturally were born to be.


One of the things that I really regret about Steve Job's early departure, is that he recognized that we need a revolution in education, and that technology can play a big role on it. He was poised to do great things about it.


I just hope somebody follow on his legacy and we keep trying to create a better future for our kids and their kids.


Cheers
Jorge

Thursday, October 6, 2011

So long Steve Jobs

It feels somehow strange writing about somebody I never met in person but that had a substantial influence in my professional career and on my personal and family's life.

Sure, we all knew that Steve Jobs was going through a challenging fight and his resignation as CEO of Apple, Inc. was a clear signal that his health was rapidly deteriorating. 

But many of us always wished for the iGenius to stay with us for much longer.

After reading some of the many testimonies, anecdotes, histories and messages when I learned about the sad news of Steve passing away, I started reflecting how much he influenced me and my family, and changed our habits and lifestyle forever.

I was about half way through of my career in electronics at a technical school when Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple. I was already fascinated by digital electronics and microprocessors crunching code for a Motorola MC6800, entering every byte by hand on a hexadecimal keypad. In those days programming was kind of and art of black magic and 512 bytes of RAM were a lot!!. I didn't pay much attention to Apple until they launched the Apple II, which at that time I couldn't afford but loved the design and how they put it together.

It took me a long time to have the first Apple product in my hands, and old Powerbook laptop with the trackball, provided by the company I was working at that time. I really liked MAC OS, it was simple, intuitive, easy to use and reliable. I really regretted when Steve Jobs left Apple, while they continued to develop some interesting products, they lacked the WOW factor that Steve was so good to inject on them.

Meanwhile Steve was getting busy at Pixar and NeXT, Inc. About that time I was already deep into Unix and drooling to have a workstation with a Graphic User Interface, so I started following very closely what NeXT was doing in hardware and their NeXTSTEP operating system derived from Unix. After establishing the first international connection to Internet for Argentina via SURANet, in 1991 I had the opportunity to visit Glenn Ricart who was in charge of the Computer Science department of the University of Maryland and Principal Investigator at SURANet. It was a great visit, when we arrived at his home where he invited me to stay, I almost had a heart attack when I saw he had a NeXT computer on his home office !!! What a marvelous piece of hardware, the animated GUI was fantastic, the resolution of the screen, even black and white was formidable, and best of all, it was running Unix !!. So bad that commercially was a product that was way ahead of its time and to expensive to grab market share trying to compete with PCs and the other jewels of that age from Sun Microsystems.

What about Pixar?. If you didn't like Toy Story you are from another planet. Besides the history that was entertaining not just for the kiddos, the technology and creativity behind it was amazing.
Even at the end of the movies, one of my favorite things from Pixar, this original idea of adding bloopers for an animated film. Did you cry with Toy Story 3 ?

And then he got back to Apple, the iMac was born and NeXTSTEP mutated into Darwin and then on MAC OS X. Now with a good paying good and anxiously to have an iMAC I got my first generation iPod and the half dome iMac G4, which became our family preferred tool for managing pictures and videos. It later became the machine my daughter Veronica, not yet three years old, learned how to use a computer.
It was a lot of fun for her and also for my son (he is on the right on a Windows PC, bummer), MAC OS X was so intuitive and easy to use that they didn't have any problems using it.

Veronica always enjoyed using this computer, that we still have and still works. Five years later and few MAC OS X upgrades and she is having fun creating her own music with Garage Band.

Meanwhile I was listening to other music on my first generation iPod, which later got company of the first iPod Nano I purchased for my wife to avoid getting mine hijacked.

And then came the new iPod classic, my home office got the new iMac G5, and the iPod touch. When I purchased my first iPod Touch I was blown away, I did like it as a music player but much more as a small portable computer. I quickly installed ssh to have remote access to my Linux servers, and later the new generation with camera and Face Time, I was feeling part of the Space 1999 crew with an improved Commlock on my hands.

I truly believe that being able to run so many applications on the iPod Touch (currently I've more than 150 installed), particularly the Apps for Twitter, Facebook, etc., got me more involved in Social Networking. My son has his own iPod Touch and it is almost an extension of his body, it is his preferred gaming platform, his window for searching on the Internet (parental proxy in the middle) about subjects he is reading, news and school homework, and sometimes he also listen to music, including the Beatles !!

My wife loves Angry Birds and some other games like Glass Tower, several nights I went to bed to find her sleeping with the iPod on her hand with angry birds flying around.

With the iPod and iTunes I enjoy much more buying and listening to music, what a great deal being able to buy the track I like and not an entire album with songs I don't like, the music industry had it wrong, Steve Jobs was way ahead of the curve.

We don't have iPhones yet, not because of Apple, just because we are tied to our existing phone contract and I'm not willing to pay the exorbitant rates phone companies pretend for the data services. We are planning in the near future to add an iPad to our collection of iDevices, it will be a great tool for my wife to have her portfolio and presentations of her work and classes on an iPad.

We got sad when we heard the news, but my eyes got really wet when I saw this video of "The Woz" talking about his friend and partner.




So how much Steve Jobs and Apple have impacted our lives ?

Much more than I expected and ever thought, he was truly a visionary, a doer of things that never being done before, a true believer of "Think Different", a genius.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” 

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

So long Steve Jobs, God Speed and Rest In Peace, God bless your soul and your family and friends, you will be missed and remembered.

Sincerely
Jorge

Monday, October 3, 2011

Books and more books ...


Lets see if this works ... It has been a while since I wrote my last post and the Blogger UI changed, kind of nicer than the old one but I've to get used to the new one now.

In our family we love books, actually we are book freaks, if there is something we anxiously want to know or understand what do we do ? we buy, get it from the library, read at the bookstore, or steal a book !! (just kidding).

Besides loving books, I really love my Amazon Kindle (I'll write a separate article about it), what a great device and awesome service, and we the new Kindles, Ohhh My. My son is anxiously waiting to get one, and he already gave me the speech that at school the Kindle is an exception on the electronics gadgets policy (good try son!).

Adding to the real tangible dust collecting old fashion paper books, we have started our digital collection of eBooks. Over the past few days I spent some time (and a some bucks) taking advantage of a great offer from O'Reilly and Associates. If you own one of their titles on paper, for some of them they offer you to get the eBook version, DRM free, for few bucks, so I did it.

Given that our digital media library is getting hard to manage, iTunes became our default tool to manage our Music titles. Couple of weeks ago I finished to suck up and digest into iTunes more than 400 audio CDs, that together with the tracks and albums we purchased on iTunes, take about 50GB for about 6,200 songs.

That took care of one part of my digital clutter.

I'm not quite sure how many books in total we have in the house, the easy answer is A LOT. My son has a bookshelf on his room, but also shares with my daughter another two bookshelves upstairs, my wife has her own large bookshelf in her studio with art and jewelry books, and obviously I've my own collection in my home office. Add few more in the family room, our bedroom, here and there. and I'm sure we may be able to start our own little library for the neighborhood.

On the digital side the current number is much lower. I've a directory in my desktop machine where I drop all sorts of stuff, the current count for eBooks is about 160 taking 1.5GB, but that's very small compared to a total of about 98,600 files taking more than 43GB, which includes manuals, application notes, papers, reports, electronic components datasheets, schematics, journals, brochures, catalogs, etc., etc., etc.

Sometimes it gets hard to find something and most of the time I rely on my memory and doing search of directory trees. So I started my quest for tools to help me getting all this sea of knowledge and digital clutter somehow organized.

I always like to share with my friends what I've been reading, both in paper and electronically, I've been trying to keep the Reading List on my LinkedIn profile, but that application is really ugly and hard to maintain, so early this year I switched to Shelfari that now is part of Amazon, and lets you embed the code to share your bookshelf on your blog or web page.


It takes time to update, but since now it is part of Amazon it is quite easy to transfer your Amazon purchases to your Shelfari collection, still does not have a lot of integration with other Social Media tools besides Facebook, and I'm a little bit pissed-off with Facebook to re-enable the connection.

For local management of my digital library and keep track of what I send to the Kindle, I been relying on having things organized on directory trees but it was getting out of control, adding that for the same eBook I may have different formats such as PDF, mobi, epub, etc. Searching for how to organize collections on the Kindle I stumbled on Calibre. At first I was kind of hesitant to install it, but after reading some reviews and comments and decided to give it a try,

It is a free and open source eBook management application, it's still under development and may have some glitches but so far seems to be working fine for me. It creates its own directory structure and database of objects you add to its library, nice feature is that you can download and edit the metadata for each object including the image of the cover, and for pdf files it takes the first page of the file as the cover.

Another nice detail is that you can browse your library collection as you do in iTunes with coverflow. I recently organized a large number of papers and reports related to "Internet of Things" and took this shot of how they look on Calibre.



An extra plus for Calibre is that it recognizes when you connect an eReader device such as the Kindle to your computer and lets you quickly find what objects are in the Library and in the device. One thing I don't know how to handle efficiently is creating and managing collections on the Kindle from the PC, there is a plug-in for Calibre but since the collections file is part of the "system" for the Kindle, every time you make a change you need to restart the Kindle which makes it a cumbersome procedure. So for now after I send the stuff to the Kindle then I manually organize it into collections on the Kindle.

So far I'm happy with this new way of keep things organized, for sure there is room for improvement and it is subject to change in the near future as new tools pop up and I try different schemes, I can surely say that my productivity increased since I don't have to spend too much time to find articles, books, etc.

For those guys looking to develop application to increase integration, it would be very nice to have something where you can add your notes, comments, references, etc., I didn't spend any time yet searching for a tool that provides that functionality.

Time now to stop writing and start reading !!!

Cheers
Jorge