Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Francis. Enigma.

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Kind to others, severe to himself - Thomas of Celano

The most challenging aspect of Francis of Assisi ... is the utter seriousness of his life.  - Spoto

His spiritual preference was towards prayer and contemplation, yet he dedicated his adult life to service and prayer. (Francis: Life and Lessons - Chris Park)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Monster Within

I believe there are similarities between the Hmong and Filipinos- rice diet, physical attributes and quite possibly, sleep paralysis deaths.  But as much as we Pinoys believe in many supernatural nighttime creatures, too, by experience, I honestly don't think it's the reason I suffer from sleep paralysis.

I've always had trouble sleeping. I'm just one of those who sleep lightly unless I just had a very intense physical workout.  Seems to me that my mind comes racing towards a lot of things once I am alone with my thoughts - not necessarily about creatures and such but about as many miscellaneous things as one can think of when inside a library.  It's as if time's a waste for the millions of things I'd thought I could do.

Maybe it was around 14 years of age when I first had my frighteningly awakening experience with sleep paralysis. I'd like to describe it as 'mind being awake and aware yet body not responding, a paralysis that also affects respiration'.  I've experienced it a lot of times to the point that it added to my sleep problem. In anticipation, I say my nightly prayers and try to keep as few pillows also as they could feel like huge boulders that add to the difficulty of getting through when the paralysis attacks.

And yes, I can say that I've learned to fight through them.  The paralysis literally comes like a thief, and you awaken to a darkness around you unable to move.  At first, I wasn't aware of the danger it posed.  Yes, I could not physically move but then I know I am conscious and aware that something strange is happening.  But this same consciousness also comes with the thought that to live is to breathe.  And with that realization comes the panic. 

With a Catholic upbringing, it's second nature to use prayer as first option. Not to say that I have strong faith but during the paralysis, I always felt that whatever happens there is nothing for me to fear.  I've always believed that I have plenty of loved ones who've pased away who, despite my imperfections, continue to watch over me.

Obviously, I've pulled through since I am writing this in a feeble attempt to shed some light on this phenomenon.  Well, to say I got through those difficulties through prayer is not the whole story. Yes, I prayed and during the course of it, I also learned to focus all my willpower in getting a small finger to move and eventually break out of the paralysis and wake up.  I do that everytime and luckily, it works.  Of course, the fear remains but it's not enough to bother me from sleeping at all more than I hate any small dint of light whenever I go to bed. 

In her new book, Sherry Adler points out to some cultural monsters that seems tied up to the Hmong's suffering from sleep paralysis.  All I can say is, it certainly doesn't seem to be the same for me.  I've discussed this with classmates back in high school then, to a few friends in college and with my wife now and the thought of a monster never did creep up in any of our sleep paralysis conversations. 

In fact, I'd still lay my case that this thing is tied up to the rice diet.  Maybe there's something about the kind of carbohydrate that makes both Hmong and Filipinos predisposed to this paralysis.  Thinking about it, I'd often suffer from the paralysis when I sleep after a full rice meal combined with more than regular type of physical activity. With regards to cardiac makeup, I once had an irregular ECG pattern back in college but then an expert said that it was typical of teens to have that so I just brushed it aside.  I am past my 4th decade already and proud to say that I can still mix it up with those half my age playing hoops so I can't say I'm in the wrong end of the health spectrum either.

May I also point out that it is not only during night time that I got to experience sleep paralysis.  I remember quite accurately that I had one bout when I took an afternoon nap on a weekend after a very sumptuous lunch prepared by my mum.  It was summer with the heat and full stomach combined to become very powerful sleep inducers.  Alas, I had an inkling that falling asleep back then was like a death sentence but still wasn't able to fight it off. And then it happened.  Mind awake and paralyzed yet again. 

SO I struggled to move a either a pinkie or a small toe.  Unfortunately, there were pillows placed over my hands and feet.  I'm not sure how long I tried but during these attacks time seems a measure of when you can breathe again and not some clock activity. It might just be a minute but it did feel like it was longer when all of a sudden I saw my body lying on bed and with the room in full view from above.  I was floating from the ceiling!  It lasted maybe a few seconds or just an instant but I swear I saw everything.  I saw how my brother was getting inside the room to wake me up for merienda (snacks), but in an instant I was back in my body before he (or was it my mum) was able to touch any part of me.  I awoke and immediately replied I don't like eating because I heard already what it was - when I was floating.  End of story.

I grew up in a small 3 bedroom house with 5 sibling brothers.  We started with bunk beds but then I had to move into my own room not as a privilege of being the eldest.  Yeah, we loved watching horror movies as kids and we still do so now. So imagine that I had to be brave to sleep inside own room and deal with scary monsters once in while alone by myself.  Heck, my brothers were scared too but nobody would admit, except the youngest who wouldn't sleep with lights off to the disgust of the rest of us so he had to sleep by himself on the sala or spend the night tinkering with PC or whatever.

But to this day, we still haven't seen or admit we to have encountered monsters.  Truth is, if there ever was, my brothers who sleep in the other room know perfectly well that even scarier than the horror movies and stories is being with me on the same room.  For back then, I would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night to what might be a boot or shoe hitting my door.  And for anyone who has heard me snore, they will tell you that it's better to room in with a real monster.

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Related:

The Dark Side of the Placebo Effect

 

We're now a family of three and our only kid is a big 6-year old.  I still don't get to sleep soundly and to add to the woe is that we 3 like to sleep together, not because it's comfortable but because it is a sort of family bonding ritual.  Well, it is not typical among Filipino kids to sleep with parents.  I often complain that I don't get to sleep soundly because I'd often get kicked in the nuts by the kid in the middle.  I am also a light sleeper so any movement is an interruption.  But I love being with my kid from the moment she was born and I'd probably just endure it for as long as I can.  Besides, a mattress is always ready at the foot of the bed when things just get too rough for me. Probably not the same nightmare monster, but seems only this is the very real one to me.

 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Friday, August 5, 2011

Congratulations, You Failed!

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                        " href="http://prezi.com/s2qtimep7cwl/congratulations-you-failed/">Congratulations, You Failed!</a> on Prezi</p></div></div>

Posted on by friarminor | 1 comment

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

How to teach kids to be innovators? Go Montessori.

School has always been top priority for my wife and me.  [Education is too big of a term] Though we both admit we never enjoyed it as kids.  Must be the reason we wanted to get it right now with our kid.

Here in the Philippines, sending a child to school can be quite expensive. In fact, you could easily say that it's number one reason why we need to earn, really.  Public schools?  Well, let's just say that it's bottom most in our list of options.

Anyway, here's food for thought if you who value learning and innovation as well.  

Montessori Builds Innovators

There are strident disagreements these days over every aspect of American educational policy, except for one.  Everyone thinks it would be great if we could better teach students how to innovate.

Full article by Andrew McAfee here.

Plus, ever heard of Monsieurs  Brin, Page and  Bezos?  They're quite successful now so you may also want to read 'The Montessori Mafia' and perhaps see your kids' names on this elite list in the future.

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After graduating Montessori preschool last year, kid said she didn't want to go back. We obliged but look, she made own shield.  Eat your heart out Mr. Starks, not vibranium but does the job!
Posted on by friarminor | 1 comment

Thursday, July 28, 2011

When Open Feels Closed

At OSCON, a new group was launched and calls itself the Open Cloud Initiative.

From Networkworld

The group is a “non-profit organization established to advocate open standards in cloud computing”. The OCI is modeled after the Open Source Initiative that helped define OSS and OSI accepted licenses.

The OCI says their purpose is “to provide a legal framework within which the greater cloud computing community of users and providers can reach consensus on a set of requirements for Open Cloud, as described in the Open Cloud Principles (OCP) document, and then apply those requirements to cloud computing products and services, again by way of community consensus.”

One word comes to mind.  Splinter.

And that is often is followed by 'ouch'.

[Might as well just call it CCCP.  Closed Cloud Computing Posturing. ] 

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Is that what you call open?

Posted on by friarminor | 1 comment

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Choice‬‏

It is never too easy -- when all I want is 'simple'. To believe that I am in charge of my own life, to stay true to values I hold dear despite the obvious rule of a consumerist society under the guise of freedom.

Posted on by friarminor | 1 comment

Monday, July 11, 2011

eCLOUD: Part weather, part computing wonder. All design genius.

Not only does it capture the essence of looking at clouds to evoke randomness such as when you're looking at actual ones and fuzzing about the shapes, eCloud is an amazing work of computing and design. Excellent alternative when you can't go to the roof because you're not a kid anymore.

Posted on by friarminor | 1 comment

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Persist

Email, Keynote or Powerpoint, they all have their purpose and have wowed and inspired us all plenty of times.  Call me sentimental but still, nothing compares to a simple, heartfelt written letter.  

Here's proof with extra that extra Pixar creative touch. Thanks to Letters of Note.

Bonus: For the Sprouties, Lions in my own Garden, handwritten by Paddy given to Lloyd Cole.

Posted on by friarminor | 1 comment

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Irony of a National ICT Month

You can still catch the celebration on the CICT website or at least the farce of it before it goes under the the banner of DOST.

"Let’s celebrate the National ICT Month this June! With the theme, “A Digitally Empowered Philippines”..."

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Paraphrasing US President Obama's statement during the appointment of Vivek Kundra as first federal CIO, we can now read the CICT demotion as stating the Aquino presidency's direction as:

"[Forget about] using the spirit of [Filipino] innovation and the power of technology to improve performance and lower the cost of government operations. [With CICT under DOST, we are] making sure that our government  [will NOT be] running in the most secure, open and efficient way possible.

Plus considering the results of UN's E-Government Survey of 2010, it seems our current government believes otherwise.

While technology is no substitute for good policy, it may give citizens the power to question the actions of regulators and bring systemic issues to the fore.  Similarly, e-government can add to public service delivery to help governments respond to an expanded set of demands even as revenues fall short.

No offense to DOST but I thinkyup.  ICT deserves an office all of its own.  After all, unlike the fairly tame DOST, technology has a way of exposing things that should not be named thereby biting the very hand that created and sustains it.

Oh, well.  For wishful thinking, we can just read this document and pray that e-nlightenment comes.

Posted on by friarminor | 1 comment

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Nation's Decline and Rebirth

Think many have always known that even the US suffers from a "special-interest" malady but from where I stand, it is depressing because in the Philippines, public interest has been and always is just an election slogan.

Been late to this great piece of work, "Can America Fail" by Dean Kishore Mahbubani of the National University of Singapore in which he lists and discusses the causes of US decline.

Here he lists 3 failures that were the cause of the decline.  

"The first systemic failure America has suffered is groupthink."

"The second systemic failure has been the erosion of the notion of individual responsibility ."

"The third systemic failure of American society is its failure to see how the abuse of American power has created many of the problems the United States now confronts abroad. " 

Curiously, he hasn't touched economic causes too much.  I'm guessing he attributes the 'loss of manufacturing hegemony' to that prevailing American ego enveloped by 'entitlement'.  Clearly without which, America wouldn't be the rich nation that it was before.  And with how things are cheaper everywhere else (and with the manufacturing skill and know-how found equally on foreign shores), innovation is of prime importance to be able to climb back on top again.

And while the US continues to struggle with their less than rosy picture, the Philippines, enjoys it's fair share of offshore contracts that boost the economy with plenty of reasons why companies should keep them here http://bit.ly/mjh5Svthan go some place else.

However, it would be in the best interest if our national officials also examine and reflect on Dean Mahbubani's points which are clearly present here which manifests as corruption.   Because if not, then whatever economic gain we get from outsourcing will never be enough to lift the country out of the doldrums.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Of Modern-Day Rizals in our Midst

Every Filipino can certainly learn from Jose Rizal for showing the world that we are certainly capable of brilliance and service at the same time. Yet, heroes don't just have to exist in the past. They can be every bit as alive and successful today leading extraordinary inspirational lives. Thankfully, I get to know and work for one up close.

Lord knows there wasn't so much I wanted to do except take care of Zaki the moment her rare health condition was confirmed. Never had much passion to do anything else, certainly not think about work. But a news story here and a chance encounter there led me to this once in a lifetime opportunity. Knew him a bit back then while attending college. Somehow, appearances aside, there wasn't that much of a change. Until you dig a little further to find some stuff of silicon inside.

There are so many things I can say to describe Winston Damarillo.

Cool young entrepreneur, self-made in Silicon Valley, proudly-Pinoy (and LaSallian), passionately driven by the possibilities of marrying IT with almost anything plus a loving and equally brilliant, wife and kid. Oh and jet-setter, Filipino, WEF-named Young Global Leader and patriotic innovation advocate, too.

Let it also be said that here's a guy who's got plenty of ideas in his head, all going at full speed at the same time yet pragmatically-focused on a successful end result.

He's not just my boss.

Not just my friend.

Come to think of it, maybe he is one of those sort of modern-day Rizals in our midst.

Only this time battling oppression of a worse kind - that which keeps our collective national innovation spirit divided and in inertia while the rest of Asia grows forward.

And for the little things that I can do to help him succeed, those are something too valuable to pass up.

And I know Zaki and wife will understand.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Failure is Innovation's Apprentice

I wish I could put more on paper and talk about why I felt that PhilDev was the event of the year for the country.  Considering the line-up, I'd reckon that this was just like putting up a Filipino All-Star Entrepreneurial and Innovation team free of the political reins.  But, there I was, unexpectedly busy, doing things that were more 'back-end'.  [In any case, I did my part to contribute, however small again and now, that's two PhilDev events in a row with the one in San Francisco as the first one.  All credit goes to Winston Damarillo for giving me that bit part.]

Then again, I missed a lot of the talks and was too tired by the time Mr. Dado Banatao delivered his address.  That was not to say that he didn't exactly light it up because he did! His mere presence there alone provided all of us with the hope and the promise that putting proven innovation systems in place - like an emphasis on science and engineering R&D, the Philippines can also breakthrough out of it's third world rut.

That and among other things like energy efficiency, entrepreneurial spirit and innovation disruptions were the other highlights discussed during the event.  I honestly felt it was too much to take for one day but fully understood that it was the right place to seize the moment and put in everything.

Yet, if there was one point that resonated within - it wasn't the action points or things the country needed to put in place that would take us to the next development level. I'd say that it could be small and trivial but strikes a chord given our unspoken cultural bias against it, nonetheless.  After all, we do a lot of awful things just to save face.  And that goes for this dreamer, too.

And like a mantra, how to counter that is to say to yourself simply, "it's ok to fail".

Will keep that in mind.

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

TIME's Best Blogs 2011

Time2011BestBlogs.pdf Download this file

Picked out 5 from TIME's 25 fresh picks of 2011.  Check all 25 and see which one you haven't discovered yet.

The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates - As a whole, The Atlantic is always a reader's delight but just want to make sure you don't miss Ta-Nehisi.

Cool Hunting This is indie FastCo Design.  Design serendipity. 

Smitten Kitchen.  Real foodies always try to prepare the food at home themselves.  Push yourself and be one.  Photos alone are pure magic.  

A Hamburger Today.  So you want it simpler?  How about burgers?  But then, there's more hamburgers than your regular fast food variety.  My mouth waters just thinking about the possibilities.

OK Cupid.  Ed Tufte and sexy.  Data to make you blush.  

As parents,  we're suckers for kid learning tips and advice.  Wife found Paul Blogush online and gives us something more to think about and consider about becoming real parent-teachers.
Posted on by friarminor | 1 comment

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Seed of Creativity, Seed of Passion

It's great that there's a lot of premium on creativity nowadays but truth is, childhood holds the key.

Creativity is finally getting the recognition it deserves with more businesses discovering that in an almost flat world, it provides the difference between thriving and failing or merely traversing the 'average' highway.  Yet, examine all the advice you can find on creativity as well as read on famous creatives and what you'll notice is the importance of childhood and nurturing that spark that seems to die once we reach adulthood and presented with monetization and metrics.

That being said, isn't it reasonable to invest more in our kid's creative lives if we hope to see not just a better tomorrow but a infinitely better one to find solutions to centuries-old problems.  Sounds like too much to ask in reality but this may be the only way to stop a cycle of a conditioned life - to take the road less travelled.

Check this article on creativity to find your passion.

For today's aspiring entrepreneur, exploring avenues of creativity to find your passion is likely the quickest route to increase your chances of launching a successful business. 

If you're in Singapore this June, schedule a trip to  2011.  We'd love to see you there!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Life of Surprises

If there was one thing I miss about buying cds, it's the liner notes.

Been spending the week preparing for the company's anniversary celebration.  By some twisted reasoning, I find myself again part of the team tasked with creating celebration materials and by that we mean videos and other mementos.

Anyway, scatterbrained that I am, I was immediately reminded of the loveliest 'look-back' entry I've read as far as my limited memory now can recall.  Of course, I'm biased but man, the way he wrote the liner notes to the compilation, there's no other way of putting it. 

Like the album title, hope mine can also be a 'life of surprises'.

Liner notes:

A LIFE OF SURPRISES            

How does the song go ? " Memories light corners of my mind. Misty water-coloured memories of the way we were. "*

As we all know, memories can be fabulous liars, and looking back over ten years since we released our first record, "Lions in my garden", I'm not unhappy to see that the day-to-day details of our legendary career have become smudged upon the canvas of time, forming some unbelievable misty water-coloured memories.

Did we really record all the backing tracks to our first album "Swoon" in an afternoon, believing upon its completion one month later that it would rival "Thriller" as a commercial proposition ?

Did we really audition 147 drummers over 5 days only to realise that applicant number one was the man for the job ?

Who was it that spent three expensive days in the Studio with medium Phyllis King in an attempt to record the voice of the late Elvis Presley - only to contact a troubled spirit identifying itself as Colonel Tom, who wanted 35% of any deal we were making ?

Did Johnny Marr appear in R.A.K.´s studio with a cassette player and tape of "William It Was Really Nothing" while we were making "When Love Breaks Down ?" And did we really release that single 5 times within 18 months before it finally became a hit - monopolising the U.K. number one spot for five weeks ?

Was it a dream or did we eavesdrop on Stevie Wonder as he rehearsed his harmonica solo for "Nightingales" - sat beneath a giant painting of Jimi Hendrix in Westworld Studios ? Do we treasure the photograph ?

Did we really not tour for five productive years ? Have we spent months arguing over tiny details, suppressing the bittersweet knowledge that they´re only records, they mean everything and nothing ? And we were really recording in a Los Angeles studio when the famous voice in the world - that a man from Hoboken - asked us if we´d like a slice of pizza on the occasion of his 69th birthday ? Do we remember that or has time rewritten every line ?

Ten years of making records may justify a Best Of, but it´s hard to feel nostalgic when you hope that the best is yet to come. And who knows ? It´s a life of surprises.

Paddy McAloon May '92

* Apologies to Alan and Marilyn Bergman

Johnny Marr with Morrissey created The Smiths and "William It Was Really Nothing" was one their big hits.

That Hoboken man was, of course, doobie-doobie-doo, Frank Sinatra.

Head over to PrefabSprout.net for more info about the band.  Excellent site. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

10 Thoughts Before You Hire For Social Media

Expert, guru or hack.  IS there even such a thing?  By the fruits of their labor thou shalt know but really, does brilliance really care about titles? 

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Not Guru Nor Expert But Ignore Social Media at your Own Peril

10 Thoughts Before You Hire for your Social Media

1.  Social media by itself will not take the place of Marketing.  Anybody who says so or tries to sell you the idea is a HACK.

2.  You can consult metrics and dollars ROI but there's more to measuring social media effectivity. It's honest to goodness brand-building that involves more giving than getting which can be very frustrating.  (But costlier to altogether ignore)

3.  Social networks are social media but social media isn't just social networks.  Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are like rooms in a very big online mansion.  That's where most people are and that's great for marketers.  But we're sure not everybody on facebook are your right targets and seriously, not even a few are on twitter to be sold at.

4.  Marketing's intent is to sell and social media, ultimately, wants to do the same.  If you are aware of the difference then congratulations, you're ready for social media.  If not, you'd be better of reviewing the marketing plan, make sure you have a very deep pocket and a can't miss, awesome product - like a proven height increase product in 5 days, if there's one.

5.  Social media supports marketing but way better if the whole company supports social media.  Not just for purely selfish and commercial reasons  and not because it won't work but it may take a tortuous route if your employees will see through the hypocrisy.  It will be better if you treat your employees with respect that they come up with great product and provide good service that social media will come naturally from within.

6. Social media is not too different with CSR so do not try to demonize social media marketing efforts.  Celebrate dollar deals you obtain with social media but more than that, treasure relationships.  Easier said than done.

7.  In the event you can find one who admits that he is one, hire that innovation expert and he'd probably drive you nuts with his demands for a whole lot of changes that you will only pay lip service to because without the sales, everyone is bound to dismiss him as a fraud.  Same with social media expert but instead of demanding changes, be prepared for a whole lot of data monitoring, listening and participating.  What happens next is a lot of work for the Marketing experts. 

8.  What do you think of lottery?  Do you still buy tickets even if you think odds are higher of being hit by lightning than winning?  Do you look at it as getting yourself an opportunity to win instead of  skipping thus you'd have no real chance at all.  At least you save  a couple of dollars instead of a losing ticket.  Getting social media, more like the same.

9. Observe and look around, compare buying trends.  See anything different or similar?  More than going online or digital, social media is not just some set of tools, service or fail-proof magic formula.  Honestly, I look at it as effective marketing evolving and doing it's homework in the new platform/marketplace.

10.  The real reason you should never hire a social media expert is that there isn't one.  Many will claim to be one for adding thousands of "likes" and followers to your brands fan page but they're no different from a celebrity endorsement - your 15 minutes worth of fame.  If you value something longer than that then you'd simply have to think it through and become the real expert - through learning, yourself.

Related:

Need a Social Media Strategy? Start Thinking Community… | Social Media Today 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011

Failure in Innovation is a Price Worth Paying

In 2007, Mario Capecchi was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for this work on mouse genes.  But as Tim Hartford narrates, it required stubbornness to beat a system designed to minimizing losses and maximizing gains.

The US National Institutes of Health is responsible for disbursing grants using government money to fund potentially life-saving research.  It involves huge sums, thankfully and with this comes the NIH's expert-led, results-based, rational evaluation of projects which is a sensible way to produce a steady stream of high-quality, can't-go-wrong scientific research. 

On the other hand, this is a system that was designed to stop Mario Capecchi on his ground-breaking research on mouse genes way back in 1980 that involved applying targeted change to DNA.  Quite simply, at that time, this was a ridiculous idea.

You would have to read the whole article to find out how he beat the system and got it funded resulting in him getting the Nobel prize.  What is interesting though is figuring out how to make it easier for many of the other geniuses who do not have the same defiant character to be stubborn like Mr Capecchi so as not to lose precious scientific or technological advances.

What the NIH system does is sound and speaks of responsibility of using taxpayer's money.  We can all agree to that.  In fact, in these time, it is quite laudible.

Golden_ticket

Tim writes, "But it is exactly the wrong way to fund lottery-ticket projects that offer a small probability of a revolutionary breakthrough. It is a funding system designed to avoid risksone that puts more emphasis on forestalling failure than achieving success. Such an attitude to funding is understandable in any organization, especially one funded by taxpayers. But it takes too few risks. It isn't right to expect a Mario Capecchi to risk his career on a life-saving idea because the rest of us don't want to take a chance. "

Comparing the NIH way to a different HMMI program that pushes through with uncertainty and higher probability of failures, researchers found evidence that qualifications being almost similar to between the 2 systems, HMMI researchers were more likely to produce highly cited research articles and win awards.

More from Tim:

"The HHMI researchers also produced more failures; a higher proportion of their research papers were cited by nobody at all. No wonder: The NIH program was designed to avoid failure, while the HHMI program embraced it. And in the quest for truly original research, some failure is inevitable.

Here's the thing about failure in innovation: It's a price worth paying. We don't expect every lottery ticket to pay a prize, but if we want any chance of winning that prize, then we buy a ticket. In the statistical jargon, the pattern of innovative returns is heavily skewed to the upside; that means a lot of small failures and a few gigantic successes. The NIH's more risk-averse approach misses out on many ideas that matter."

So how does this idea sound to you?  

Innovation requires a great amount of courage.  Hopefully, it is something we can supply from our side so that the genius would not have to wrestle much with continuing or not.  Thus, he rewards us with a gift that we can only comprehend once he fails multiple times then succeeds even if just once.

Read complete Slate article here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Malcolm Gladwell to Steve Job-Wannabes: "Forget Being First"

Steve Jobs sees a mouse at Xerox and begins climb to being top cat.

It has been awhile since we've read something new from Malcolm Gladwell.  Fortunately for us, all it takes is a paid subscription of the May 16 issue of the The New Yorker to read The Creation Myth.   Yes, it begins with story of the mouse, of how a 24 year old Steve Jobs struck lightning after given a product tour of Xerox-Parc, then the top dog in Silicon Valley.  But again, in true Gladwell-ian fashion, he leads us to deconstruct the creative myth and asks us to re-examine not just innovation, but the more importantly, process that goes with it.

We didn't start the fire!

You don't want to be first.  Innovation process requires refinements
Gladwell argues that there is misplaced devotion to being first as if one invention is enough to cascade and create a powerful revolution.  He argues that essentially it takes a bunch of inventions, not just one, to create massive movement and see it come to fruition.  We think of creative innovators as people with original ideas. But Malcolm makes a distinction.  A true innovator may not be the one with a new idea but one that has a new take on an old idea.

Add constraints.  
Xerox had a $300 mouse.  Jobs wanted it sturdier, without clickable buttons and one that would retail for $15.  Now, how hard was that?
Think of constraints not as roadblocks.  What more constraints actually does is force you to be creative and come up with more practical (and more commercial) ideas.  

Invention is great  but innovation makes it work.  Don't be disheartened if somebody beat you to an invention, because to innovate is to persevere and to find angles which may or may not be different to what was the prevailing thought.  This would probably entail a lot of disappointments and even ridicule which you should leave by the wayside for every quality idea that emerges is a product of the volume of the failed ones. 

Related:
PARC responds and adds to the enlightenment.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

With Amazon's Public Cloud Reign Intact, Private Cloud Innovators Prepare For War

Private cloud market proves more appealing than playing public cloud runner-up.

HP, Cisco and Brocade all came up with product offerings aimed at carving out a private cloud market niche of their own in the last 7 days. To make things more appealing, all three are throwing networking architecture caveats that will allow enterprises to leverage virtualization, mobility and cloud computing much more flexibly.

Game_thrones
Game of (Cloud) Thrones

This doesn't mean that cloud computing on it's own lacks pizzazz. This just confirms the fact that besides the numbers, Amazon rules public cloud and there's not a lot of thing companies can do to surpass it. Maybe a couple more outages, perhaps.

Still, the private cloud market is no small fry as reported recently by Forrester. In fact, it should prove profitable -- yet also not cheap. Companies looking to salvage as much existing infrastructure like data centers would do well to capitalize on these private cloud offers to continue to gain a measure of profitability against the cloud onslaught.

Perhaps, shopping around, they need not lose hope of finding affordable cloud solutions to help transition into a cloud business.

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cloud computing: More Than Another Amazon Cloud Outage, Fear Complacency

Success hides problems and truth is, Amazon didn't know what hit 'em. Sure there was a man-made error to start with but who would've thought that a self-healing feature actually made things worse. Right out of a movie script if you ask me.

Plan for failure is good reasonable advice but certainly doesn't cover everything and vague for most to truly appreciate and apply. Important to remember that at this stage, there will be trickles about specifics before the fact. But then, this shouldn't stop you with cloud plans.

Be vigilant instead and continue working to get small wins. Much as we know a lot about the cloud, the things we're unaware of - problems that remain out of sight, actually hold the more valuable answers.

Wall-e-captain-mccrea-auto

To freeze and stop with cloud computing now is the real disaster.

Here are excellent blog posts covering the outage to get you moving in the right cloud direction from hereon:

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Friday, April 1, 2011

The Good Cloud (And Why It Matters More Than What You Think It Is)

If people were primed to think about height, researchers wondered, might people be more virtuous? Recent study shows it does and might also explain why the cloud in cloud computing would be a perfect metaphor as vehicle for social change.

There's quite a lot of talk nowadays of bunking and debunking the role of IT as change catalyst. On one side, we've got plenty who argue about the power new tech tools particularly social media has afforded us. One can look at how it has affected the concepts of power and authority, from the workplace to the fate of countries in light of what is happening in the Middle East. Then there are those who argue that IT tools are over-hyped, that social revolutions will happen with or without these tools.

And what about the cloud? For those in IT, it has moved past from just a meteorological term to what is undoubtedly, a meme for a sweeping technological phenomenon tied up with things that are "web service delivery-enabled" and even social media. Would any term, other than cloud capture this wave of disruption?

Interesting how a recent research again shows the power of metaphors to shape our thinking particularly the effect of 'heights'. In a series of studies - involving escalators, auditorium stage and film clips of scenes taken from an airplane above the clouds, or through the window of a passenger car, it is quite surprising to note that participants exhibited:

"remarkable consistency, linking height and di
fferent prosocial behaviors -- i.e., donations, volunteering, compassion, and cooperation. While we may be inclined to think that our behaviors are the product of comprehensive thought processes, carefully weighing the pros and cons of alternatives, these results clearly show that this is not always the case."

Again we ask, would any other term beside cloud be as highly adopted to describe this form of computing? Common sense says this might be irrelevant - miniscule compared to the importance of understanding how it works and the resulting value.

Yet, it does seem that not only does the cloud represent innovation and disruption but many other good things that has meanings that are more personal - small aspects of our psyche we often take for granted but collectively can be such a force for good.

As this study shows, little things matter and in this case, as in most of life, the effect of metaphors often loom large.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Page View

Who doesn't love books?  Who hasn't been touched by an author's remarkable insight, storytelling skills and carefully chosen words to form strings of thought?  And yet, starving artists most of them remain.

And they will remain as such.  No thanks to widespread piracy.

Irony is when 'don't be evil'  seems cut from the same page out of the commercial tactics books.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

SXSW and Preaching the Cloud Gospel

It's not exactly Krishnan's nor John's fault that the Cloudy Awards didn't turn out as much fun as expected. At least for them, and for those who do care about the impact of cloud computing, not for the SXSW audience.

You go to SXSW for the sheer awesomeness of the event that spells fun in all caps. What's not to like? There's music, a chance to get up close with web creatives and possibly be among the exclusive few to "sneek a peek" before the idea goes web big and of course, the schwags that scream "I'm genuine web because I'm attending SXSW! " Hey, it could be Spring Break 2.0 for all I know based on the comments, except with more brains.

Fortunately or not, cloud and internet are closely intertwined. As hyped as it is, the cloud gospel still needs a lot of preaching to dispel myths, encourage experimentation and discuss the impact especially on privacy concerns. And what better way than to dive in with influencers who make up Austin at this time.

But alas, oftentimes as is this case, the message seems to get lost, crushed under the weight of popularity. Looking at the result of the awards poll, one could not help but question if this was a good idea in the first place. Based on what he wrote, Krishnan doesn't seem too thrilled, least about winning but with the disparity of votes he felt should have elevated other respected luminaries in the cloud sphere.

He's got quite a point but one that we hope is not to appease the bottom drawers of whatever the folly of the results tally. I'm sure James, Simon and Lori understand the limitations of it all and wouldn't mind, really.

U2 and REM never did sell-out, did they? Flickr

In their right mind, they, like all the others who get far less votes, understand that this is all transitory and part of the growing pains which eventually would lead to better understanding of the values of the cloud as it goes mainstream. They, as would Krishnan, would still continue to do what they do best - write and share their thoughts unencumbered by the influence game and the analyst tag that most bloggers put a high premium on nowadays.

While others just see the cloud as vapor, true cloudies believe that underneath, there's something else - both dark and silver linings and they're committed to ensure that the latter will time and again come through.

Related:

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Company Culture

Unlike in microbiology, it's not easy to identify the kind of company culture that exists within minutes of observation. Whereas in the lab, a Gram stain may not give the complete picture but at least it is a valid step towards finding cause that would be a factor in finding the proper course of treatment.

Neither would closer inspection be as helpful as evidenced by the series of company audits that often would fail to unmask the truth behind a week-long front. It is obvious that social behavior cannot be easily replicated in a lab setting. (Remember Enron and Anderson Consulting. Trust fail!)

But then, more often than not, a miscue or misstep would reveal more insight about the company and the prevalent behavior and personalities within it. The immediate responses and succeeding turn of events would provide enough feel on where the company stands in the spectrum of group dynamics and relationships. As they say, nothing is a illuminating as a problem.

Even better is the growing interest and developments in the field of analytics where supplied video is as objective as you can be looking through patterns and not just one-time occurrences. It's a big thing now with team sports as it supplies coaches and managers with analytical data.

But to see it being done inside offices and organizations is another matter. People have enough anxiety with big brother and cloud to worry about paranoia-inducing analytics even if with intent towards achieving not juts productivity and efficiency but healthier work environments, too.

With that said, a great alternative would be to spread awareness of the importance of a company culture that ties the company mission with staff morals and values. Bringing such to the fore,would be a brilliant step that announces how a company values it's staff and would go to great lengths to ensure success will be both a personal and group thing. Plus of course,how to build a strong one is always often easier and better.

Company culture is not just one elephant in the room.

Related:

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Friday, March 18, 2011

Alien Cloud

In the quest for invisibility and putting more spotlight on devs, apps, and core business, isn't it strange that the cloud is fast becoming the most abused and poked around technology since Roswell.

And what does it tell us really?

Either we're paranoids and cynics or

Really hoping to find alien life-form!

"Better be careful with that ... I'm not sure they're friendly"

Because why else would these guys be involved? :)

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wishful Thinking About Design

The whole business of education and learning at this time continues to move away from the traditional that it is still a surprise when some esteemed brand still fails to comprehend how meaningful inter-disciplinary studies are fast becoming the norm even as there are plenty of evidence to support it. 

Although, maybe, this really wasn't much of a surprise, Mr Nussbaum but glad you didn't let this slide by.  

Score one for Design.  And the whole business school thing, too even with shrinking enrollment numbers I guess.

Here's one school that probably gets it.  Dream school gig if ever there was one for one who is design-enamored.

And knowing how tight (especially to fork out hard-earned cash) it must be to gain entry to any design-infused business school, one can settle for this free resource: Designing Media

Not a lightweight by any means.  

And no certificate but then again, good design learning, nonetheless.

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Pwn3d: Applying lessons from hacker threat to cloud computing risks

OK, so cloud computing risk as an issue is a misconception since these risks are addressable.  Yet, what we should be worried about is false sense of security because from now on, it will always be a never-ending game of creating and sorting through codes to outwit or out-hack each other. 

No arguing that for conferences, Cloud Connect is one of the better content events.  So whenever they have something to say (or haven't said), it may very be good for us to listen.  But this time last week, have you noticed something that wasn't on everybody's mouth.  

Yeah, noticeably absent was all the blabber about security

But of course what is a cloud discourse without any mention of security but a yawner, don't you think?  Fear not for Cloud Connect hasn't completely abandoned it but instead addressed this, albeit in a slideshow entitled, Five Massive Cloud Computing Misconceptions - specifically;

Pretty reassuring if you ask me.

Now contrast this with the riveting story detailing what happened with cyber-security firm HBGary and how it was reduced from top-notch  to objects of ridicule by hacktivists bent on exposing the firms Team Themis machination that was supposed to infiltrate Wikileaks.

"As if getting pwn3d by Anonymous and having sensitive information compromised wasn't bad enough, the content of the exposed e-mails uncovered a larger scandal involving an HBGary affiliate--HBGary Federal. Apparently, HBGary Federal was involved in an ethically dubious plan to use fake social networking profiles to discredit groups that criticize the US Chamber of Commerce."

Moving on he shares his pearls of wisdom derived from this sordid tale which you might very well learn a lot from.

1. Protecting data is a complex and difficult task.
2. Skilled hackers are a formidable force and security measures are more like speed bumps that breaking in is more of a matter of when not if.
3. Ethics and moral code matters in IT!

I'm not sure about you but I think that anyone who is interested in cloud computing ought to know this well enough to form his own conclusions on implementing security measures.   

Can they secure their cloud by themselves privately or does the public cloud do a much better job than they ever hoped to build?

This is to say that cloud computing nor security has no silver bullets and unless you approach and treat both using due diligence - monitoring and implementing strict methods of control, you haven't got a prayer.

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Cloud PH: Philippines' Bright Future in Cloud Computing

Speakers and panelists are all praises and bullish about state of Philippine IT and its potential in the age of the cloud computing.

At the inaugural event aptly titled, Cloud Computing Now organized by ITProsAsia held at Duhit Thani Manila last Friday - March 4, speakers and panelists all agreed that despite the fears and security issues, there is no stopping cloud computing. Cost savings aside, there are lots of opportunities that open up with the use of the cloud, one of which is innovation which in effect leads to more potential gains.

"Cloud computing not only brought technological but also economic innovations which will create more jobs" , says Michael Mudd, Regional Representative of the Open Cloud Computing Alliance.

True enough, one by one, every speaker went on to extol the virtues of cloud computing across all spectrum - from companies and developers to benefits for users.

This is not to say that the cloud is without manageable risks. Anthony Lim, Asia Pacific Advisor of (ISC)2 explains that "IT systems are moving so fast that humans can barely cope; this human element is what makes them vulnerable and remains the weakest part of security".

Cloudph

Fortunately, says Mr. Mudd, there are at least 3 things that work in the country's favor and it is clear that taking full advantage of these can thrust the Philippines to the top of the cloud computing adoption heap in Asia and even the world.

1. Language. As much as it is changing, the language of computing is still primarily English which works well for Filipinos. And with an IT skill set that ranks within the 20s, the Philippine IT workforce enjoys a good base already.

2. High interest. Unlike some countries he has been to, he has observed that majority of young Filipinos still believe in IT as a future and that this desire for learning is a strength in itself that will drive IT a long way.

3. Chaotic mentality. There are plenty of news about Vietnam getting a lot of foreign investments and they probably can become one of the top countries for IT if they put their minds to it, much like what they've done with coffee production.

Except that IT isn't just like any production industry. And the Philippines isn't like Vietnam or China that is governed by some form of authoritarianism which might help explain why Filipinos are among the best in network management and as well as hacking.

As Roger Strukhoff, the event moderator, opines, "At their core, Filipinos will always break out of rigidity; a trait that has big potential innovation values when paired with technology that levels the playing field - like cloud computing".

Mr Lim further adds, "In Asia, you go to India for software development, or Korea if you want the best gaming technology but Philippines is where you go to get those who in a good sense, hack best. In this age of the cloud, that is a good thing to have!"

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Gem: Frank Chimero to a Graphic Design Student

Anonymous asked: What advice would you give to a graphic design student?

Design does not equal client work.

It’s hard to make purple work in a design. The things your teachers tell you in class are not gospel. You will get conflicting information. It means that both are wrong. Or both are true. This never stops. Most decisions are gray, and everything lives on a spectrum of correctness and suitability.

Look people in the eyes when you are talking or listening to them. The best teachers are the ones who treat their classrooms like a workplace, and the worst ones are the ones who treat their classroom like a classroom as we’ve come to expect it. Eat breakfast. Realize that you are learning a trade, so craft matters more than most say. Realize that design is also a liberal art. Quiet is always an option, even if everyone is yelling. Libraries are a good place. The books are free there, and it smells great.

If you can’t draw as well as someone, or use the software as well, or if you do not have as much money to buy supplies, or if you do not have access to the tools they have, beat them by being more thoughtful. Thoughtfulness is free and burns on time and empathy.

The best communicators are gift-givers.

Don’t become dependent on having other people pull it out of you while you’re in school. If you do, you’re hosed once you graduate. Keep two books on your nightstand at all times: one fiction, one non-fiction.

Buy lightly used. Patina is a pretty word, and a beautiful concept.

Develop a point of view. Think about what experiences you have that many others do not. Then, think of what experiences you have that almost everyone else has. Then, mix those two things and try to make someone cry or laugh or feel understood.

Design doesn’t have to sell. Although, that’s usually its job.

Think of every project as an opportunity to learn, but also an opportunity to teach. Univers is a great typeface and white usually works and grids are nice and usually necessary, but they’re not a style. Helvetica is nice too, but it won’t turn water to wine.

Take things away until you cry. Accept most things, and reject most of your initial ideas. Print it out, chop it up, put it back together. When you’re aimlessly pushing things around on a computer screen, print it out and push it around in real space. Change contexts when you’re stuck. Draw wrong-handed and upside down and backwards. Find a good seat outside.

Design is just a language, it’s not a message. If you say “retro” too much you will get hives and maybe die. Learn your design history. Know that design changes when technology changes, and its been that way since the 1400s. Adobe software never stops being frustrating. Learn to write, and not school-style writing. A text editor is a perfectly viable design tool. Graphic design has just as much to do with words as it does with pictures, and a lot of my favorite designers come to design from the world of words instead of the world of pictures.

If you meet a person who cares about the same obscure things you do, hold on to them for dear life. Sympathy is medicine.

Scissors are good, music is better, and mixed drinks with friends are best. Start brave and brash: you can always make things more conservative, but it’s hard to make things more radical. Edit yourself, but let someone else censor you. When you ride the bus, imagine that you are looking at everything from the point of view of someone else on the ride. If you walk, look up on the way there and down on the way back. Aesthetics are fleeting, the only things with longevity are ideas. Read Bringhurst and one of those novels they made you read in high school cover to cover every few years. (Of Mice and Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby.)

Stop trying to be cool: it is stifling.

Most important things happen at a table. Food, friends, discussion, ideas, work, peace talks, and war plans. It is okay to romanticize things a little bit every now and then: it gives you hope.

Everything is interesting to someone. That thing that you think is bad is probably just not for you. Be wary of minimalism as an aesthetic decision without cause. Simple is almost a dirty word now. Almost. Tools don’t matter very much, all you need is a sharp knife, but everyone has their own mise en place. If you need an analogy, use an animal. If you see a ladder in a piece of design or illustration, it means the deadline was short. Red, white, black, and gray always go together. Negative space. Size contrast. Directional contrast. Compositional foundations.

Success is generating an emotion. Failure is a million different things. Second-person writing is usually heavy-handed. All of this is too.

Seeking advice is addicting and can become a proxy for action. Giving it can also be addicting in a potentially pretentious, soul-rotting sort of way, and can replace experimenting because you think you know how things work. Be suspicious of lists, advice, and lists of advice.

Everyone is just making it up as they go along.

This about sums up everything I know.

Life by Design.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011

Anchoring (and the Davos connection)

"A lot of what we decide is influenced by what’s going on around us" explains Legg Mason Capital Management's Chief Investment Strategist, Michael Mauboussin.

I'm sure we think we are all logical and rational but again some observations point to the contrary.

On a bigger scale, those around us shape the way we think and live - skewing our decisions to a particular direction without us being conscious that it's happening.

I'm guessing the only way to fight is awareness. And the most valuable - self-awareness.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

All Eyes On Davos 2011

AT Davos 2011, can we at least consider a humanitarian solution on top of an economics one - a focus on empathy and the sciences of human nature rather than dependence on intellectual, sage-advice benevolence?

More affected by growing connectedness and inter-relation of effects and events across the globe, leaders and leading minds seek to find consensus on how to deal with the inequality of an economics model that has been a boon to the talented and skilled but has not addressed why the poor remains as such.

Coverage
NYTImes: Davos 2011 Dealbook 
Journalists from The New York Times and The International Herald Tribune reporting on the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland

In this package of new and recently published content, McKinsey experts and practitioners offer insights and ideas on key topics attendees will discuss.

"[A] dense collection of some of the major threats to the world’s security — from asset price collapse to weapons of mass destruction — and the interconnections between them. And they’re all carefully mapped in terms of their perceived likelihood and perceived economic impact." James Ledbetter, Reuters

Lead-off Posts
Challenging the WEF Risk Report for answers

A rejoinder piece to Reuters post; Includes glimpse of available discussions for the week

Related
In the information age, brainy people are rewarded with wealth and influence, says Robert Guest. What does this mean for everyone else? 

Rules and institutions are often rigged in ways that limit competition and favour insiders at the expense both of growth and equality. Viewed from this perspective, the right way to combat inequality and increase mobility is clear.

Proud to share that our Morphlabs' CEO WInston Damarillo is making the journey to Davos and doing his part in "Shaping the Future" as a WEF Young Global Leader.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

A New Culture of Learning

Doug Thomas & John Seely Brown

"By exploring play, innovation, and the cultivation of the imagination as cornerstones of learning, the authors create a vision of learning for the future that is achievable, scalable and one that grows along with the technology that fosters it and the people who engage with it."

If this is what they say it is, then we've got ourselves a winner in education here.

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