Stijn Christiaens’s Blog

15 minute Microsoft Tag

with 3 comments

Collibra's tag

Collibra's tag

Microsoft has come up with its Microsoft Tag, which helps you create your own “tag” for the real world. This tag is a special barcode, which you can customize yourself (using only a web browser and Powerpoint).

Following the easy steps at their site, I created a tag in 15 minutes, and made it run on an iPhone.

To try it out yourself in less than a minute, download the iPhone TagReader app (or get one for your own phone at http://gettag.mobi/), run it, and aim the crosshairs at the picture on the left to see wonderful things.

Try the one below to let me know what you think about this:

Comment

Written by stijnchristiaens

December 31, 2009 at 11:43 am

Why it is good to study…

leave a comment »


Unemployment for people without a high school degree

Unemployment for people without a high school degree

The New York Times made a nice graph that shows the difference in unemployment rates, which clearly shows that the recession is not an equal hit for everyone. The graph is interactive and allows you to tweak sex, age, race and education. You can play with it at the NYT website.

If your mothers did not tell you enough, maybe the newspaper can help:

  • 17.5 % unemployment rate at 09/2009 for people without a high school degree, versus
  • 4.5 % unemployment rate at 09/2009 for people with a college degree.

It isn’t very easy to change your sex, race or age, but upgrading your study is, especially in a world where studying can be cheap and accessible.

 

 

Written by stijnchristiaens

November 9, 2009 at 8:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The command line for the Community Operating System

leave a comment »

CLI (kindly borrowed from freedigitalphotos.net)

CLI (kindly borrowed from freedigitalphotos.net)

A recent RWW blog post on Ubiquity reminded me to write a short post on it. Ubiquity is a basic Firefox plugin, which shows you no fancy extra toolbar when installed, but serves as the access point to advanced functionality at the tip of your fingers. Take a peek at the plugin’s homepage for detail or stroll on over to the Wikipedia entry for an easy intro.

In a nutshell: a quick key combination (CTRL+Space on Windows or Option+Space on Mac) activates the plugin and offers you a good old command line interface. The older computer user or the more technically minded is instantly reminded of this basic but powerful user interface, whether from MS-DOS, one of its alternatives or any of the Unix or Linux variants. Read Stephensons’ “In the Beginning there was the Command Line” for an alternative perspective on the history of user interaction with a computer.

In the wonderful world of ever new and ever flashy operating systems, browsers and web applications, one might wonder how this is considered progress. Old wine in new barrels? Perhaps, but there is an important distinction: Ubiquity is no command line for ye olde operating system, instead it offers access to the Web as a real Community Operating System (COS). Forget the web as a collection of documents, and try to perceive at it as a collection of services or applications, many of which you use on a daily basis.

For starters, your COS does not feature boring “dir” or “ls” command to see what is in a directory. These are necessary when you are trying to arrange files on your computer, or free up some hard disk space. On the Web, you are looking for different things: think basic commands for easy googling (“g [search term]”) and twittering (“twitter “), quickly pop up a location on a map (“map [location]”), stumble upon interests (“stumble”) and many, many more.

CLI as the pathway through the Web jungle

CLI as the pathway through the Web jungle

In comes the community aspect, because next to the fact that many of the commands access social applications (like twitter), anyone can add commands. Anyone, anywhere who can master some basic javascript can post an entirely new command on a public website, ready for an easy install directly in your browser. Improvements to this command can be followed automatically, resulting in a zero-admin staying up to date of your entry point to the COS. The Mozilla organization lists a number of commands in the wild on their website, and the Ubiquity Herd even offers a search box. On the plus, they can do global analysis on what is going on the COS: how are people trying to tame the machine in the Web? Pick-and-choose your favorite command set, collected from contributors all over the world, offering access to unlimited functionality: if that isn’t a community approach, what is?

Unix is considered as a powerful and stable operating system, because it has been around for a while, the source is open and has been ogled a lot and by many, and it offers in-depth command line access through its shells. You wouldn’t believe what some people have automated through piping commands together and constructing staggering scripts. I’m sure somebody will roll exactly what you had been looking for all these years, and if not: roll your own. No doubt some people are already rolling new kinds of viruses out there, so expect to see these pop up, followed by free or commercial protection software…

Also note the difference with the multitude of Web or Cloud operating systems (e.g., eyeOS or G.ho.st) which are more focused at simulating your operating system online. Imagine going to your browser, logging in again and seeing a whole new desktop environment, with its own “Start” button and installed applications. They mostly offer some disk space and tend to bundle a lot of online simulations of desktop software (e.g. email, word processing, spreadsheets, even browsers …). These are the new Windows or MacOS’es for people who are online all the time, lug around a netbook and seek desktop operating system functions in the browser (or those that switch computer continuously and seek to avoid resynching and reinstalling everything all the time).

The Community Operating System is controlled or created by no single entity: it is just out there, evolves with the Web, lives through contributions and … has its very first Command Line Interface called Ubiquity. It will be interesting to see its evolution, identify its parallels with history and be surprised by its novelties. I am quite curious to figure out how the Semantic Web (or perhaps its more pragmatic Linked Data sibling) will play a role, and whether business semantics (or rather community semantics) could help…

Written by stijnchristiaens

June 25, 2009 at 9:00 pm

“Secrets” of success

leave a comment »

Secrets of success

Secrets of success

I recently came across Richard St. John‘s TED presentation on the “Secrets of Success” (which he also appears to have described more extensively in his books). Summarizing his already brief presentation (invest your 3 minutes and 30 seconds for his video, you’ll like it), the key “secrets” are the following:

  • Passion: you gotta like what you do;
  • Work: you gotta work hard to get there;
  • Focus: you have to focus on what you are good at (be a laser, not lightbulb);
  • Persist: you gotta keep going, through all sorts of obstacles;
  • Ideas: use and implement ideas;
  • Good: be very very good at something (which means practice, practice, practice);
  • Push: whatever you do, push through;
  • Serve: serve value.

I like the image he uses for the pushing: you have to push yourself, you have to be surrounded by people who push you when you are feeling low. And for the ultimate push, they invented mothers:

Picture 7

Ultimate push

Written by stijnchristiaens

May 25, 2009 at 10:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

Learning from others

leave a comment »

More than a year ago, I had the opportunity to meet with Walter De Brouwer, who is an extremely seasoned enterpreneur. Very recently, I was reminded of this meeting when reading an article in Datanews on the one laptop per child project (OLPC). A quick google lead me to one of Walter’s works called “101 Things I Really Wish Somebody Had Told Me”. Controversial material, with a guarantee to spark discussion.

It contains advice on how to do things in business and in life (more than 101 tips), delivered through a wide and interesting variety of anecdotes and literature references. I recommend reading this as the content is pleasant to read and it describes extremely valuable advice which should help you avoid some pitfalls when it comes to the game of life. Better to learn from the experience of others than to have to go through some nasty things yourself (or what Walter refers to as Robert Allen‘s OPE: Other People’s Experience).

An example: the advice “Success is not an accident” describes how Thomas Edison worked and tried again and again before he succeeded in creating the light bulb. With over 1000 patents in his name, it is clear that it wasn’t just luck. Walter uses this as an example and adds his own “from the trenches” experience to show how you have to tackle things “especially when you are fighting down in the dirt with bare knuckles“.

Of course, the question remains: “101 Things I wish somebody had told me … would I have listened?“. I choose to listen, and aim to act upon the advice, but sometimes no matter how many people tell you there is a wall ahead, the only way to learn is to hit your head…

Written by stijnchristiaens

May 24, 2009 at 10:56 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

Visual appeal

leave a comment »

After learning about the economics of standardization from some pointers by Martin Hepp, and encountering such inspirational quotes such as:

Our economic system rewards genius, and international standards committees are not renowned for that… The future will belong to proprietary systems created by entrepreneurs who refuse to be bound by logicians’ schemes. These systems will encompass ideas and functions we can scarcely dream of and no standards architect can prepare for. They will generate wealth that would make Bill Gates blush.

From “Open Systems: a Bad Idea Even If They Were Possible” by T. Prince (dated 1993, which might make it outdated … or not)

I decided it was time to finish the day by trying out a service I stumbled upon earlier: Wordle. This service works on any kind of text (copy/paste or via url) and generates a sort of word cloud from the text. While the use of it is obviously questionnable, at least we can agree that the aesthetics are pleasing.

Worlde on stijnchristiaens.wordpress.com (May 23, 2009)

Worlde on stijnchristiaens.wordpress.com (May 23, 2009)

Written by stijnchristiaens

May 22, 2009 at 10:08 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Parent’s 30th wedding anniversary

leave a comment »

Petit château à Grandpré

Petit château à Grandpré

Last weekend we celebrated the 30th anniversary of my parents’ wedding. The location for the event was a tiny village in the French Ardennes called Grandpré. My parents rented a small castle in the village, which was big enough to provide shelter for part of the family.

Inside the castle seemed enormous with rooms and stairs everywhere. Outside it had a large terrace overlooking the forrest and a lake-like pond. The domain around the castle was large enough to get lost in (according to the castle’s caretaker). At one point during the walk we stumbled on another pond filled with mating frogs, each of them trying their best to make the most noise. Other highlights (next to catching up on reading and sleeping): an entertaining quiz, a lot of good food (including a wide variety of excellent home-baked bread), a quality family time.

Four generations captured in time

Four generations captured in time

I didn’t take a lot of pictures myself (we seem to have misplaced our battery charger). One picture taken is definitely worth showing (to the right). It features the entire group (not yet the entire family) consisting of four different generations (including boy- and girlfriends). It will be interesting to see a picture like this taken every year to see how the community evolves :-).

Written by stijnchristiaens

May 21, 2009 at 7:10 am

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.