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:
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.
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:
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…
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.
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.
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.