This is the second post where I detail my current setup under Windows, as a comparison to my previous Ubuntu Linux one.
It’s been a while that I was looking for some good modelling software to draw pretty pictures both for my software development & for my business process mapping. Visio is expensive for sure, but with a student license it is free! . Now I realise that means it’s not for everyone, but depending on the kind of job I will be doing, it might be worth the occasional couple of hundred £. It just makes UML modelling fun again, which goes a long way towards making my day a lot better.
I always loved the Gwibber client under Ubuntu and never managed to find anything similar under Windows, until DestroyTwitter. It’s exactly the same as Gwibber, with the difference of being purely based around Twitter (which is still a little bit of a pain, but better than nothing). I use it every day now and because it’s so lightweight, it’s a really good client to always have running.
Evernote Application & Plugins
I am getting so used to Evernote that I put more and more stuff in there. It has become my second brain and it’s really useful they have an official Windows client. On top of that, they have all sorts of plugins to easily store notes on any of my web browsing, which is enormously useful for future reference.
Under Ubuntu, I was using Revelation Password Manager and I needed an equivalent under Windows. Luckily there is a very good one (a better one than Revelation even) which is called “KeePassX”. It’s free to download and really does the job.
Microsoft Office & Outlook
One of the reasons of my switch was simply because I realised more and more of my time was spent with Open Office. Now I like Open Office a lot and I think it does a great job of providing a MS Office alternative. However, I still think MS Office is quite far ahead. As I am a student, I got a rebate on the price and am happy I went for it in the end. Put on top of that the way Outlook handles e-mail (compared to Thunderbird) and I must say I’m a lot more comfortable.
That was it for me. If you have any questions on how I made this switch, please feel free to ask !
Over the past couple of months, I had started to feel as if my phone was keeping me busy all the time. Being a technology entrepreneur / geek / developer, I had everything configured on my phone to be “wired in” 24/7″, this included :
- 3 e-mail accounts with push
- 2 e-mail accounts syncing every 15 minutes
- SMS / Calls
I realised that I was “drawn” to my phone every 2-3 minutes, as some sort of push notification popped up (mostly e-mail, with other services mixed in between). At first, I tried to cope with this and simply work around it. However, after a little while, I started to have the impression that I was actually becoming less productive because of it, so I started researching a little bit. I found a couple of articles telling me that turning off sync would really help my productivity, but I couldn’t really do that. Not having my phone sync at all didn’t seem like an option : I need my e-mails / feeds to be updated on a regular basis. It did, however, get me thinking.
Tasker – Switch auto-sync on for 5 minutes, every 4 hours
I had already heard about Tasker on Android before, but this was the first time I thought of it becoming really useful. My reasoning was as follows :
- During my day at work, when I am available to answer e-mails, I will be behind my computer – meaning I don’t really need to get e-mails on my phone
- After work, I want my e-mails available on my phone, to read, but will probably only answer them once I’m behind my computer again
It suddenly struck me that an idea situation for me would be to have auto-sync on my device enabled, but only once every 4-5 hours. This would mean that all my services got synced, but I wouldn’t be bothered by notifications every single time. This is where Tasker came in handy. I configured a task, to run every 4 hours, that switches auto-sync on for 5 minutes and then turns is off again. Now I get notifications only once every 4 hours and, if something is really urgent, people tend to call / send an sms anyways.
I have definitely noticed an increase in productivity, being able to more closely focus on a certain task and not get distracted by e-mails in the middle.
I spent half of this month in Spain and even though I had full internet available, the rhythm over there simply isn’t the same. However, that still leaves the other part of the month, so here is what I deemed interesting :
Working from home
Freakonomics had a very interesting podcast about the benefits of working from home. Not only does it reduce costs to business (no need for office space, etc.), but it also seems the average productivity goes up ! You can listen to it at : http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/freakonomicsradio/~5/plvU4eoPPKc/freakonomics_mppodcast082212.mp3
Is there such a thing as too fast ?
A very interesting podcast on how, in a world where information is available faster and faster, it might be worth it taking your time to make the right decision. They have a very nice example of an automatic trading system that did better by increasing it’s latency. For more information, you can download it here : http://traffic.libsyn.com/hbsp/314__In_a_Fast_World_Think_Slowly.mp3
I guess we’re here
Anyone who knows me, knows I am a pretty public person and that I am a fervent defender of most of today’s tracking technologies (as long as you get some benefit out of it). However, this article showed me just how far we’ve gotten and really rang the bell saying “yup, we really know everything you do, whenever you do it”. A scary, but interesting read : http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/15/new-totalitarianism-surveillance-technology
Star Wars hover bikes !
If I ever get my hands on this, it will be the end of my productivity : http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/video/2012/aug/23/star-wars-hover-bike-float-video?CMP=twt_fd :)
I thought it was time to actually write something down about this, as it is taking proportions that I really would not have predicted : Investing your money in shares is very risky ! If you didn’t know that before you invested, then you were simply reckless and if you did know it, then you do not have a right to complain.
Short term fluctuations in share prices are driven by speculation and not real company results. Facebook didn’t dramatically decrease their revenue over the past few days, nor did it release an amazingly bad feature that scared all of it’s users away. The only reason the share price is going down is because analysts are revising their optimism over the future of the business and their revenue potential.
In the long run, however, the share price will reflect actual results and the performance of the business compared to what people expected of it. If in the long run, Facebook under-delivers, you have a right to complain : they sold you a vision that was either wrong or badly executed. However, for this you have to give them some time : they have no control over the current fluctuations.
I bought a few shares in Facebook myself, simply for the sake of being “in the game”. However, I didn’t invest my life savings or anything I couldn’t lose because I didn’t want to risk it. If you don’t want to risk losing your money, then don’t invest but do not turn around and blame the company for a share price they only partly control.
A couple of weeks back, I made my way to my first user group ever. As I had attended some more business-oriented user-groups in the past, I was hoping it wasn’t going to be the same kind of boring network-only type of event. I went there because I had some spare time and I had heard a lot about these user groups and wanted to check it out for myself, but didn’t expect much of it : I was wrong.
I was in a period where I was considering the best routes I could take to further my career development (the famous education vs experience debate) and really needed some external views to help me decide. From the organizers of the events to the actual users, everyone was completely available. I found that the value of the events depend on your own actions, daring to approach person XYZ to simply have a chat with them.
After having attended 3 events, I can surely say that I have already benefited a lot from everyone present, their advice and simply their company. I will definitely turn up to many of them in the coming years and invite all skeptics to try it out at least once rather sooner then later !
I am currently at the airport, after a pretty intense weekend in Geneva : start-up weekend.
The idea is that for 54 hours, you do nothing but work on new ideas with a group. You develop them to get to a stage where you think they might be viable and you come up with ways to make them work. At the end of the weekend, you present your project to a jury through a small presentation and see what others think of it.
I ended up with a project that looks into last-minute hotel deals. I developed a prototype Android app (I was surprised I got this running within 2 days, but for some magical reason, it worked during our presentation), while others were working on the business model, the marketing plan and the development strategy.
The whole experience has been wonderful to me. You meet many entrepreneurs and like-minded people that want to make a difference and create their own jobs out there. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who thinks of him / herself as an entrepreneur !
The last couple of days, everyone I know of and anything I read on the internet is about “how great the iPhone 4s sales are”. People are taking a number of “4 million iPhones sold” and make it look like this is a huge number compared to the sales of the iPhone 4, implying some sort of improvement on apple’s side, getting peopple even more interested in it’s phone. However, people forget that it is so easy to lie or to fool with statistics and that, in economics (and any science for that matter) you can only compare numbers “everything else being equal” and that’s just what I’m going to do here.
There are multiple factors we should take into account to really compare the launch sales of the iPhone 4 and those of the iPhone 4s :
- The growth of the smartphone market
The smartphone market grew by between 50% and 70% from mid 2010 to mid 2011. For the two launches to be compared, this has to be taken into account (there are more people interested in smartphones in general, making it a lot easier to sell them). This number becomes even more impressive if you combine it with point 2 -> it didn’t take a year, but 16 months to get the new iPhone 4s, so the smartphone market grew between 66.5% and 93.1% in that time.
- The gap between the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4s
When the iPhone 4 came out, it was 1 year after the iPhone 3s. The iPhone 4s, however, came out 16 months after the iPhone 4. This means that 33% more people came to a natural end of their 2 year contract. These are people that naturally waited for the new iPhone to come out before signing a new contract.
- The countries in which the phone was available on launch
The iPhone 4 was only available in Britain, France, Germany, Japan and the U.S. upon launch. This is a total population of 641M people. The iPhone 4s, however, was available in the same countries plus Canada and Australia, adding another 56M people (8.7% more)
Now that we have all of those factors that have nothing to do with the iPhone 4s itself, we can go ahead to really compare it’s sales with the iPhone 4.
- Sales of the iPhone 4 on launch (first weekend) : 1.7M
- Taking into account factor 1 (smartphone growth) the sales, if they were to be kept equally popular, should be : 1.7 * 1.665 (I am playing it safe here, going with the smallest estimate) = 2.83M
- Taking into account factor 2, the additional people with a new contract to sign : 2.83M * 1.33 = 3.76M
- Taking into account factor 3, the additional people available due to the fact the phone got launched in more countries : 3.76M * 1.087 = 4.09M
This means that, if you factor in all the external developments of the smartphone market development, the iPhone 4s sales were actually less then what they would be if the iPhone 4s was as big a success as it’s predecessor. By taking into account all of these factors, we can easily define that the iPhone 4s was definitely less of a success then the iPhone 4 on it’s launch and that is without waiting to see what the sales numbers are in the first months. If the pre-orders are this much, but people are not buying them directly in the stores anymore, the total sales might be even worse…
I really don’t get why nobody has taken the time to actually analyse these numbers and blindly take the fact that “the iPhone 4s was such a success, it sold more then doubled the iPhone 4 sales”… Yes, it’s mathematically true, but economically, the picture is a very different one…
A few weeks ago, I went to see the movie « Green Zone ». The film itself is very nice and makes for a good night out, but it touches on some very important topics. The one I want to elaborate here is the illusion of transparency and information in today’s society
As a « tech geek », I grew up with the Internet (first generation). I am used to Google, Wikipedia and, as a programmer, spend most of my day behind a computer and on the Internet. When I need an answer to anything (and I really mean anything), I simply Google it or look it up on Wikipedia (depending on what kind of information I am looking for).
This kind of research has helped and taught me a lot. I have completed my school reports, read book summaries (instead of reading books completely) and even learned how to program (I did not take a single class in programming to date, everything I know comes from the web and some books). The fact I was able to do all this on the Internet created a very strong image in my head : I can do and learn anything on the Internet.
However, after seeing the movie “Green Zone”, I got a wake-up call back to reality. If you think about it, all the essential information today (the critical kind) is as inaccessible as ever. Do we know exactly what happened September 11th ? Do we know what the real reason was for America to invade Irak ? Do we know if company X knew of toxic components in their product Y ? The answers aren’t that simple. Of course everyone has their own fair idea about these questions, but only a few have to privilege of actually knowing what is true.
The problem today is that we have the impression everything is accessible and transparent. Movies like “Green Zone” do a good job of reminding us that we should think a little more and not totally rely on information that is given to us (in this case, the Internet in general).
What do you people think ? Are we coming closer to a “transparent society” or are we practically at the same level as 10 years ago, the only difference being the quantity of information exchanged on a worldwide level ?