August 26, 2013

Mega Cities in Hong Kong

You can build a two-story house on a plot of land or you can build a 60-story house, but if you build 60 stories you can get 20,000 apartments out of it.

I went to Hong Kong was I was about 8 years old with my parents. I remember being completely amazed by the tall buildings. However, after all of these years I can only imagine what they look like in person. Amazing feats of human engineering.

Elon Musk creates “in-thin-air” gestural design process

Will post video next week of designing a rocket part with hand gestures & then immediately printing it in titanium.

Seriously? Elon is the real life Tony Stark. No Doubt.

If Steve Ballmer ran Apple Inc.

[Under Ballmer] Apple would give both China Mobile and NTT Docomo whatever concessions necessary to gain access to their customers, and Apple’s carrier base would double, perhaps even triple to Samsung’s level.

The revenue and profits would flow.

And yet, under Ballmer, everyone at Apple would be working so hard, and be making so much money, both for themselves and for Apple’s shareholders, that they would ensure that Apple never again reinvents consumer computing.

Ballmer would have ruined the “culture” that goes on at Apple Inc. on a daily basis. I am glad he never had a chance to.

One method Ballmer used to severely hurt Microsoft

At the center of the cultural problems was a management system called “stack ranking.” Every current and former Microsoft employee I interviewed—every one—cited stack ranking as the most destructive process inside of Microsoft, something that drove out untold numbers of employees. The system—also referred to as “the performance model,” “the bell curve,” or just “the employee review”—has, with certain variations over the years, worked like this: every unit was forced to declare a certain percentage of employees as top performers, then good performers, then average, then below average, then poor.

If your best talent are constantly worried about their rank, none of them would want to be on best teams, as their likelihood of being rated less increases. Having your team see you lose almost $1 Billion from the failure of the Surface RT makes the workplace even more demoralizing.

Nokia CEO Stephen Elop to replace Ballmer?

One could argue that Elop does have the skills to turn around companies who are seemingly set on a wrong course, though he doesn’t come without controversy either. Many former Nokia supporters have consistently called for his ouster since his famous burning platform memo, which called for drastic change within the company for it to survive.

I don’t think that Elop would help Microsoft at all. They need to bring back Sinofsky.

Google is already killing the Chromecast

Well, thanks to a recent update pushed out by Google, AllCast doesn’t work anymore. To hear Dutta tell the tale on Google+, this was probably a calculated move to ensure that only Google-approved content providers could play.

Almost too good eh? I saw this coming. I love AirPlay.

300 days with the iPad mini

 The main thing you need to know about my iPad mini right now is that it’s here next to me.

Personally, I still enjoy the size of the full-sized iPad 2. But if the next generation of the iPad mini has a retina display, I just might pick one up this holiday season.


Inspiring Photographers

Steve McCurry

“The photograph is an undeniably powerful medium. Free from the constraints of language, and harnessing the unique qualities of a single moment frozen in time.”

I am confident to say that Steve is my favourite photographer overall. He loves using colour and natural lighting. And his travel photographs are breath taking. You will know him mostly for the “Afghan Girl” in National Geographic magazine.

Jay Maisel

“If you can capture the element of surprise, you’re way ahead of the game.”

Jay is arguably one of the best street photographers on the planet. I really like how disciplined he is in the “one body and one lens” mantra. Basically, he just wanders the streets of New York with a Nikon D3 and a 28-300mm. Easy, simple with stunning results.

Sebastiao Salgado

“What I want is the world to remember the problems and the people I photograph. What I want is to create a discussion about what is happening around the world and to provoke some debate with these pictures. Nothing more than this.”

Sebastiao is actually one of my new favourite photographers. Even though he is well known and a Magnum photographer, I just recently discovered his beautiful pieces at the Royal Ontario Museum downtown Toronto. He makes fantastic use of black and white imagery and has been to all 7 continents too.

Doug Menuez

Mr. Menuez is famous for being Steve Jobs’ photo photodocumenter during the few years of NeXT’s existence.

Mattias Klum

“Art is a tool that isn’t used enough to effect change.”

One of my more contemporary wild life inspirations, Mattias is a highly regarded National Geographic photographers. He is also one of the most enthusiastic presenters and conservationists.


Data Only Please

I don’t want to be forced to pay for a cellular and data plan from my carrier. I just want a data plan. When Apple introduced FaceTime in 2011 and Google unveiled Hangouts and Voice, the notion of VoIP (voice over I.P address) became popularized. In essence, you could talk to someone face-to-face without using minutes from a traditional cellular plan. Instead, you would just require a data plan. Today, we have technologies such as 4G, LTE and 3G which can accommodate high performance communication.

Apple killed the SMS text messaging business with iMessages. This works with just data and wifi. It is very similar Blackberry’s BBM. And is also very encrypted and secure.

At Apple’s WWDC event, they unleashed iOS 7. While, they showed off many new features such as control center, parallax, improved multi-tasking and a new user-interface, they curiously left out one. One that I think is a another game changer. FaceTime Audio.

It’s exactly what you think it is. Starting September 10, 2013 (or when iOS 7 is actually released to the general public), you will be able to place a voice-call to anyone with an iOS or OSX device over wifi. It’s only wifi to start (just like FaceTime was initially) as the carriers are probably worried that it too will eat away at their profits.

Apple has around $200 Billion in cash reserve. I really hope they are planning to use that to maybe buy up some carriers, satellites, cell towers. It would be awesome to see them ultimately form their own network that worked globally. Imagine a world where you can just pay something such $40 USD a month for 10GB of data. You’d get one phone number on your data-only SIM card and you could travel to any continent and still receive high quality internet connectivity. That would be just fantastic.

But this is a very optimistic omen as to what is to come in the near future.


Start Investing Young

Melissa Yeong wrote a really in-depth piece in the Financial Post

“I am investing to build a sustainable and growing stream of passive income with the goal of it covering our household expenses by the time I am 45 years old.  We won’t necessarily quit working at that point; it’s just for the goal of being financially independent of others and being free to pursue our passions.”

With the recession going on, students are in debt from the lack of jobs and high student tuition.

While I won’t go into what I invest in. I do invest. I want to make my money work for me. Yeong interviews a handful of young Canadians about their various strategies. You will see the wide-range of different possibilities these clever folks are active in. These include stocks, mutual funds, GICs, bonds and real estate.

A lot of the time, children are heavily influenced by their parents. Especially for financial matters. It is so very important for parents to teach their kids about this because schools just don’t do a good job at it. This is where we will begin to see the gap in wealth start to open up. Obviously, children whose parents have experience with investing will teach their offspring more than those who don’t.

Basically, just start young. Even, if it’s just a little. Invest in things that you are comfortable with. For example, if you are a tech-savvy nerd like me, do some research in the companies you know about.