Global Silicon Valley

The Global Silicon Valley Handbook
The Official Entrepreneur’s Guide to the Hottest Startup Scenes From Around the Globe
By Moe, Michael
Book – 2017

Can you tell by the kind of hoodie whether a startup worker is a founder or an intern? Read this to appreciate the ‘culture’ in the San Francisco area. What to do and what not to do when meeting Venture Capitalists. What to drink and … The book is hilarious for the first chapter, but slows down as it takes you on a tour of startup cities around the world including Waterloo and Montreal. After reading it you might find yourself content with your home in Ottawa.


Have you seen the MakerSpace yet? Cool, you can use professional grade 3D printers, laser cutters, and 3D CAD workstations at the library!

  • Laser cutter – Epilog Helix
  • Laser cutter – Epilog mini – The laser cutters are great for engraving on a sheet of acrylic, or cutting a complex shape out of a sheet of plywood.
  • ProJet 1500 3D Printers are typically used to create hobby objects, replacements for broken items and can be used for rapid prototyping. This is a resin printer, and must be operated by library staff. It creates a model with relatively precise proportions, in one off-white color only. The materials for a project can easily set you back $100.
  • Makerbot 3D Printer – This is more of a hobby printer. It deposits melted PLA plastic to build up your model. Several colours of PLA are available, but the completed model has less precise proportions with rougher surfaces.
  • David SLS-1 3D scanners are used to create digital versions of real life objects. The scanner works by rapidly firing patterns of structured light, and sensing the reflected light.
  • Arduino micro-controllers are small yet powerful micro-controllers can be programmed to run anything from robots to household automated devices.
  • Camera Tripod
  • Le Mac Pro est une machine cylindrique, de qualité professionnelle, qui permet la manipulation et du montage de vidéo, d’audio et de graphique de…
  • 3D design PC
  • Orion Starblast 4.5 Reflector Telescope – it is a fully functioning telescope, designed with the beginning astronomer in mind.
  • Green Screen is a tool for creating a special effect. By filming actors in front of a green screen, editors can superimpose the background image of…
  • Home Studio Lighting Kit
  • Sony Handycam
  • Sony SAL55200/2 DT 55-200mm f/4-5.6 Lens

Software (open source and commercial)

  • Blender is an artist-focused 3D design program. The software can be used to create 3D printed models, animated films, visual effects, visual art,…
  • Gimp is a 2D graphics and photo manipulation program. As a graphics editor it is used to create and edit images for art, icons and graphical…
  • Inkscape is a 2D model drawing application used for creating and editing scalable vector graphics (SVG). Use it to create professional vector art for…
  • Makerware is a product that allows users to prepare and modify 3D models for printing on OPL’s Makerbot Replicator 5th Generation 3D printers. It’s…
  • Meshlab is a 3D modelling and correction program used for processing and editing 3D triangular meshes. The software has the ability to import files…
  • Netfabb is 3D modelling correction software. It handles 3D data for 3D printing and has the ability to repair incomplete files in order to make them…
  • OpenSCAD is a program for creating solid 3D Computer Aided Design (CAD) objects. OpenSCAD reads from instructions and creates a 3D model from it. It…
  • Serif Drawplus is a 2D graphics program. You can see your drawings in 3D with its instant 3D tool. The software is suitable for creating documents,…
  • Sketchup is an easy-to-use general purpose 3D design program. The software can be used in architecture, film video, game design, and civil and…
  • Adobe Creative Suite 6 is a high-end digital editing suite. It includes software for special effects, photo editing, website design, and graphic…
  • Adobe Premiere is a powerful digital editing suite most often used in video production. It allows users to edit video clips together, and to add…

There is a charge for materials, but equipment bookings are free and the library staff are knowledgeable.

First, you need to enroll in a one hour familiarization (‘certification’) session. Then you can design a 3D model on the workstations. The staff will look at your model and estimate the material costs. Payment is expected before you can use the 3D printer. Printing can take hours, and you are expected to complete it before closing time.

There is a bookshelf of Maker type books.

Visit the Centrepointe branch and see it all for yourself.

Cracking the Coding Interview

Cracking the Coding Interview – 189 Programming Questions and Solutions, 6th Edition, Gayle McDowell, – 2015

Programmers, you will definitely want to read this book. It will help you get hired into a good programming job. Hiring managers will want to read it too, so they know how to conduct a better interview. Well written by a former Google employee. 500 pages.

About Face

About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design, 4th edition
By Cooper, Alan

Book – 2014

Many years ago in the mid-’90s, Alan Cooper wrote the first edition of this leading UI design book. Its revelation for me was the concept of automatic save. When you are using, say, a word processor, you normally want to save before closing. So that is automatic, and if you want otherwise then you have to ask for it via some menu or control. There are never confirmation dialogs saying “are you sure you want to …”. Instead, there is an undo function which can reverse any action when you want to go back.

Cooper got his ideas while designing the original Microsoft VB. But ten years later, users of Word still need to save their work manually. It brings to mind a horror story I witnessed when an inexperienced senior was closing a word processor and asking with concern why it was asking ‘do you want to replace your existing file’. For someone who does not know the difference between volatile memory and permanent storage, this is a hurdle.

Of course, Google got the right idea, so you don’t have to tell Doc to save your work.

About Face discusses all aspects of interaction design in great detail. It has advanced with the times and covers touch-screen tablet devices. But in a world which is rapidly moving to do everything in the browser, perhaps Cooper should devote more of the book to web apps. There is a great but short section on web search UI which I find to be the high point of the book.

This edition, at 650 color pages, is much bigger than the original. That is good because there is so much to discuss.

Cracking the Aging

Cracking the Aging Code
The New Science of Growing Old– and What It Means for Staying Young
By Mitteldorf, Josh
Book – 2016

Summary: get exercise and almost starve yourself if you want a long life.

Theories of aging have foundations in the thinking of Darwin, Mendel, Fisher, and Wright. The latter died in 1988, so why are we still struggling with understanding the causes of aging? This book, by an expert in genetics and evolution, explains how aging is not a weakness: it is programmed into our genes.

This is the most readable book I have seen on the topic. For example, it explains how an allele is a version of a gene, and the ‘selfish gene’ should really be the ‘selfish allele’.

The author teaches at MIT, Harvard, and Berkeley, and has research positions at these universities.

300 pages, hardcover, minimal graphs or charts, no illustrations.

JavaScript Ninja

Secrets of the JavaScript Ninja, second edition, By Resig, John (- 2016)

John is the creator and lead developer of the jQuery UI library, so I am not surprised to find that this is an excellent book. It is not for the beginner programmer, but if you have a bit of JavaScript experience then you will find this book rewarding.

It is essential reading for object oriented programming (I hope you are doing that). Did you know that there are four ways of invoking a function/method, and that only some of them are appropriate for object-oriented programming, with ‘this’ bound in the appropriate way? And the pitfalls in wait for the Java programmer who expects ‘this’ semantics to be the same?

The first edition was excellent. I am looking forward to reading this ‘completely revised’ edition.

Windows Into the Soul

soulWindows Into the Soul : Surveillance and Society in An Age of High Technology
By Marx, Gary T.
Book – 2016

The library’s barcode sticker on the back generally obscures some unimportant back-cover information but, in this case, it is troublesome: it covers Schneier’s recommendation. I wanted to read that so I found it on the web:

In a world punch-drunk on data, with both governments and corporations – not to mention private persons – increasingly recording and correlating our every move, Windows Into the Soul is an important and timely book

The author, Gary Marx, is / was an MIT professor who lives and breathes surveillance, in particular, the social and philosophical aspects. This book is not easy reading, but it is thought-provoking.

VR Book

Samsung VR Headset
VR Book : Human-Centered Design for Virtual Reality
By Jerald, Jason
Book – 2015

Learn about the design of Virtual Reality systems. This textbook format book is a bit like a university level textbook, but it is published by the ACM so it has some of the flavour of a scholarly research paper. But wait: it is readable, and takes you through all aspects of VR systems, from system design, hardware, content creation, health effects, to interaction design. VR is not a new technology: we progress from old historic systems requiring specialised lab hardware, to the latest Oculus mass market headsets.

Hardcover, 600 pages, many excellent illustrations.