2012 in Review – Thanks to WordPress

It was nice of WordPress to send me this nice summary. I normally do some crunching of the numbers myself. I will still do it. But this report looks much better than the ones i would have prepared.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 37,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 9 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

The Invention of Telescope

The spyglass was the first scientific instrument to amplify the human senses, to make previously invisible objects visible. Ever since Galileo pointed it up to the skies, scientists have been tinkering with it. I wish he could come back for one day and see the views provided by that improved spyglass known as the Hubble telescope. Galileo would be even more amazed.

It is amazing how great ideas come out of simpler ones. If you read this article, you can see the connection between spyglasses, an invention for an entirely different purpose, inspiring one of much greater significance. But the invention of the instrument is just the first step. What you do with the invention, seems to influence, how it propagates.


BookLog: The Dip by Seth Godin

Here are a few quotes from this fascinating book The Dip. A few of my favorite quotes.

Every new project (or job, or hobby, or company) starts out exciting and fun. Then it gets harder and less fun, until it hits a low point-really hard, and not much fun at all.

And then you find yourself asking if the goal is even worth the hassle. Maybe you’re in a Dip-a temporary setback that will get better if you keep pushing. But maybe it’s really a Cul-de-Sac, which will never get better, no matter how hard you try.

I am sure you can relate to this.

If you’ve read Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail, this isn’t news to you. But I don’t care about long tail right now – I want to show you the short head. The short, big, profitable head. That is the juicy share of the market, that belongs to the top of the lis

Seth contends that the top few players (the short head) get disproportionate share of the market.

You may be sure that your product is the best in the world., but no one outside a tiny group cares at all. You’re busy pushing your new idea wherever it can go. Meanwhile most consumers wait fro something to be standarized, tested, inexpensive, and ready for prime time.

One of the most astute observations about new ideas.  If true, this is a bit depressing for startups with new ideas. It is not that they will fail. They just have to be ready to face a big steep dip.

Short term pain has more impact on most people than long term benefits do.

Seth talks about why people quit. Quitting is not failure, he says, especially if you decide the conditions under which you will quit well in advance of starting your initiative.

Influencing a market, on the other hand, is a more a hill than a wall. You can make  progress, one step at a time, and as you get higher, it actually gets easier. People in the market talk to each other. They are influenced by each other. So every step of progress you make actually gets amplified.

Influencing a market is difficult. A few support you and a few others reject you. But the biggest problem is that not many people in the market have heard of you. How do you fix that?

Three Podcast Links Worth Checking Out

I was listening to the podcast – Happiness. Todd Kashdan, Eric Lambin, Eva Hoffman. 22 Dec 2012.  Some ideas from the podcast:

  • Learn to be curious. When we are curious, we like to explore, discover things. Exploration helps us grow, evolve.
  • Happiness depends on the ability to tolerate pain ( it never occurred to me to link happiness to pain)
  • Invest in relations – having a sense of connection with other human beings increases happiness
  • Happiness is related to the way you experience time
  • Happiness is also related to the way you experience experience

While listening to the podcast, I heard two other links mentioned, which are worth investigating.

I hope you enjoy these podcasts as much as I do. Did you find others, you like? Please share them.

If You Can Analyze a Bunch of Tweets…

If you can analyze a bunch of tweets, what would you like to find?

I found a utility to back up my tweets called bmtu. It is a pretty cool python program and I have been using it for a while. If you are not into python and would like to get a Windows executable, send me an email and I will be happy to send it to you.

This program (bmtu) not only lets me back up my tweets but also save Tweet Streams of other people. So I picked a few influencers in the industry and saved their tweets as well.  Each tweetstream goes into an sqlite database. I have been doing this for a few months.

I have a few ideas on analyzing these tweets. I may build a few of these (if I can’t find other programs to do this).

  1. I would like to take my twitter stream, extract all the links and stick them in a social bookmarking site like delicious.com (I use Twitter as a bookmarking service. However, since it is not easy to locate tweets beyond three days, I would rather have them on a social bookmarking site where they can be shared and tagged by any one).
  2. I would like to parse the text in the tweets, remove the common words and create a vocabulary (this may require a couple of iterations to remove noise but in the end should give me a nice vocabulary of my tweet-o-sphere).
  3. Take 2 one step further and create a tag cloud and link them to the tweets (we have already built some kind of linked tag clouds and find them pretty useful).
  4. I would like to repeat 1-3 with the tweets of some of the people I follow – you can guess where I am going with this.
  5. I would like to create an ontology of topics in my tweets. It is easier said than done. Even though the starting point for this comes from 2 and 3, I need to process them a bit more and consolidate them.
  6. I would like to find out which topics get more retweets than others. This will give me a sense of what my readership likes.
  7. I would like to find out my own retweet patterns. What do I retweet most? Who do I retweet? What topics do I tend to favor? Are these the same topics that I tweet about?
  8. I would like to find some propagation patterns. For example how many people who retweet my tweets are not directly following me?
  9. What percentage of my tweets get retweeted? What percentage of links I post, get read?
  10. I follow some thought leaders like Tim O’Reilly who tracks alpha-geeks. I want to see a timeline of his tweet topics and get a sense of where he thinks the industry is moving.

What about you? What would you like to know about your tweets and the ones you follow?

If You Can Analyze Your Email…

If you can analyze your email, what would you like to see? This is a question that keeps popping up in my head.

Here are a few things I can think of:

  1. I want a knowledge base created from my email. Ideally something like a wiki. I want to track various projects, initiatives, debates, decisions I was involved in, with my teams, customers, friends.
  2. I want to know how much of email I read, skipped, replied, engaged in long threads of conversation. I especially like the long threads of conversation, bit. Something important was happening there and I would like to know what it was all about. For example several years ago we debated a few features in our products intensely and made some decisions. It is all sitting there in the email.
  3. I want to know what I missed from the email I have not read. There are times I redirect certain types of email into specific folders (labels) and once in a while bulk delete them.
  4. I want to know the people I communicate with most – over a time line. It is not just who I communicate with. It will be nice to also know what I communicate about.
  5. I want to know how much of my email comes from my interactions on Social media like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Scoop-it and others? How much comes from my mailing lists and discussion forums? What is my involvement quotient in these (just read, read and replied, read/replied/talked about, read and forwarded to others etc.)
  6. I want names and addresses extracted from email. In fact, I would love to do different types of mining. It may differ based on the types of email.
  7. I want special processing on some email (like Google alerts). I would like put them through filters and analyzers. The analyzer may be as simple as link extractor, topic cloud creator or something more complex.

There are more geeky things I would like to do, but this list is a good starting point. What are your needs?

Book: Violent Python

From the Violent Python Book Overview

Violent Python shows you how to move from a theoretical understanding of offensive computing concepts to a practical implementation. Instead of relying on another attacker’s tools, this book will teach you to forge your own weapons using the Python programming language. This book demonstrates how to write Python scripts to automate large-scale network attacks, extract metadata, and investigate forensic artifacts. It also shows how to write code to intercept and analyze network traffic using Python, craft and spoof wireless frames to attack wireless and Bluetooth devices, and how to data-mine popular social media websites and evade modern anti-virus.

– Demonstrates how to write Python scripts to automate large-scale network attacks, extract metadata, and investigate forensic artifacts.

– Write code to intercept and analyze network traffic using Python. Craft and spoof wireless frames to attack wireless and Bluetooth devices.

– Data-mine popular social media websites and evade modern anti-virus.

Bionic Limbs – Some Reflections

I came across a Tweet by@InteraXon:

A growing need for bionic limbs, and affordable access for MEG brain research tools: this weeks’ News Roundup! ow.ly/g96TT

This market is growing rapidly.

It is expected that by 2017, bionic limbs (including ones controlled by the patients brainwaves) will be a global market of ~ $24 billion annually

I think the market can be bigger. In addition to augmenting humans who have lost their limbs, there is a big market for the elderly with back, hip, knee problems. For example, artificial lower bodies that start from hip and go down to feet,  may help elderly be more mobile.

We have over 5 elderly members of our immediate circles who are over 80 and have some kind of a mobility problem. My mother had 3 knee surgeries (twice in one). I know a lot of people in our family ciricles who are suffering because they have bad knees. A specialized version of bionic limbs will make their life infinitely better. I don’t know anything about prosthetics or bionic limbs. So the list is more of a wishlist. I would buy any variation of these to help out my parents/uncles/aunts.

  1. They should be inexpensive and made out of really light material (let me define inexpensive. They should cost less than a knee or hip surgery)
  2. They should be easy to configure  (for example the lower body system should come in multiple pieces for hip, thighs and legs) so people buy just what they need
  3. Some one like a physiotherapist should be able to fit them and train people to use them
  4. It should be easy to slip in and out of them (like moving to a wheel chair)
  5. They should take commands from brainwaves or very easy to operate 
  6. They should not require any surgery or modification
  7. They should have smart sensors that balance the use of power of human muscles with the augmented system (we don’t want muscles to atrophy due to lack of use).



Fresh Eyes vs. Experience – It Depends

This post is  a nice read.

Sometimes what you need to solve a problem is ‘0 years experience’ — not 10. I saw magazine people bring a lot of baggage to the blogging revolution: they wanted to be edited and wanted to write 1,000+ word pieces! TV directors with 10 years’ experience trying to shift into YouTube thought adding $10,000 in cameras and lights was the right thing to do, when they really should have focused on brainstorming creative ideas that could go viral and doing audience development.

Anyway, smart folks can debate the ‘fresh eyes’ vs. ‘experience’ all day long. The correct answer is ‘it depends on the situation.’

In my own experience in product building, ‘fresh eyes’ always helped mostly because developers with “zero experience’  did not know what cannot be done. A couple of examples:

  • Our first prototype of an SQL engine was built by two students fresh out of college. They learned about databases from C.J.Date’s book, learned C from K&R and built it on a PC-AT  using Lattice C
  • Our first database custom components were built by one intern and one year experienced programmer in 2 months. They learned how to write windows apps, build VB components and hacked together a prototype

While zero-experience was good for prototypes, real production products required people with more experience or took a bit longer (as the inexperienced team gained experience).


LinkLog: Clarity Paradox

I love this. It explains a lot of what happens to companies when they grow big. From The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.

Phase 1: When we really have clarity of purpose, it leads to success.
Phase 2: When we have success, it leads to more options and opportunities.
Phase 3: When we have increased options and opportunities, it leads to diffused efforts.
Phase 4: Diffused efforts undermine the very clarity that led to our success in the first place.

Thanks to Gopal Srinivasan for tweeting this link.