WTF – What’s the Future

WTF – What’s the Future and Why It’s up to Us,
By Tim O’Reilly, 2017

This book redefines the unicorn concept to be not “a $1 billion startup”, but a rather a technology innovation which is surprising but affects the whole world.
An inspiring book, I will have more to say on this soon.
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100-year Life

The 100-year Life – Living and Working in An Age of Longevity,
Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, Bloomsbury Business, 2017

The three phase life (education, employment, retirement) is history now: gone forever. Maybe we will have (learn, work, rest, learn, work, rest…).
Or (learn, work/learn, work/learn, ..). I hope resting time can be in the mix occasionally. This change is due to the gig economy and longer life expectations. This book shows how to rethink your finances, your education, your career and your relationships and create a fulfilling 100-year life.
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Hardware Hacker

The Hardware Hacker
By Huang, Andrew “bunnie”
Book – 2017

Bunnie is a talented computer engineer who studied at MIT. He is is expert at designing hardware and setting up manufacturing processes. And he can write so well!

He talks of the difficulties in getting a product manufactured in China. He was tasked with helping a Chinese company manufacture a product. The people there were so friendly, and so skilled at assembling the components on circuit cards, but the design needs to be completely detailed. If there was a vague detail in the plans, the workers would do their best work but you could end up with 1000 non-functional devices and the cost is on the shoulders of the American client. The solution to this problem was to test the first devices as they came off the production line, and to prepare a test jig so the factory could verify that it was producing working products. With that done, you could expect high quality work at very reasonable prices.

He was in China for weeks on end to set up the testing. This could not possibly be done by email, he had to be in the factory. When there, he got great results.

He talks of how good the Chinese are at working with the CAD plans for devices, possibly adding features, and getting low cost devices into production. The plans get shared in social networks with no consideration for western notions of IP or patents. A factory can be producing a device for a western client during the day, and have a “ghost shift” at night where a very similar product is produced with similar quality levels and possibly a few added features, for sale in Chinese or Indian markets.

Bunnie decided after a few years that he wanted to quit and start his own company. He decided to design a laptop PC with very unique qualities. He describes his designs and the experience of running a crowd-funded business. The company was successful in a quiet way, but he says he much preferred the technical work to managing a company.

Most manufacturing engineers are content to get good at some process or other, but bunnie went a step further. He designed a new manufacturing process, using a flexible substrate for the circuits. He talks of how he came up with the new process, and validated that it was workable. He used this to create microcircuits which hobbyists could work into clothing.

A fascinating read!

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.

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.
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