Monday, November 22, 2010

Apps - The Webs Librarians

Why is the iPhone so successful? I believe the most important reason are Apps.
Why are other Smartphones as Blackberry losing market share? I believe the most important reason, again, are Apps.
Why is Android generally only considered to be 'second choice'? I believe the most important reason is that the Apps are not of the same quality. No way its because of the OS - Android is fantastic. Also not because of the phones. Some of the HTC's may even be better than the iPhone.
The difference are simply Apps.

The slick User Interface and the unbelievable usability of the iPhone in particular and other Smartphones with Touchscreen in general are only the foundations for funny, entertaining, supporting and intelligent Apps and the full user experience.

This and the upcoming Mac App Store (eventually followed by an equivalent Windows market) are reasons enough to think about the role Apps play nowadays. By the way, I purposely call them Apps and not Applications or anything, because in my view, they are no fully featured Applications, but well, simply Apps. They serve a single purpose or fulfill a few very specific Tasks (Hotel Finder, Flight/Train Connections, Facebook, Weather). I don't think I use any App for more than 2-3 minutes per session (maybe some games, but by far not all).

The fact that, so far any mobile Web Browser sucks in some way (Surfing the Web on a Smartphone is horrible, all this zooming and scrolling and totally naked "mobile optimised" Websites) and the fact that I have around 100 Apps on my phone which are all little helping goblins made me believe that Apps are actually the librarians of the World Wide Web.

This is totally awesome, because instead of starting your notebook, starting your Web Browser and opening a few Tabs to look for a route or a restaurant near your girlfriends place you just use an App, what is just way more convenient.

Most (helpful) Apps work as follows:
a) They offer you a simple and clean GUI (sure, they are built around 1 main functionality)
b) They search for what you want, through the whole Web, through APIs, through everything
c) They neatly display you what you wanted

After that process which perhaps took around 40 seconds, you close the App and are enlightened. I think this is the same as a librarian is doing:

Most (helpful) Librarians work as follows:
a) They offer you a human UI (you should be able to get on with that)
b) They search the whole library for what you want, or give you further information on where to find your desired stuff
c) They give you what you wanted (Your books or at least a note with some further information)

I think Apps are the main reason why mobile internet is so exciting and popular nowadays. Simplicity and information rich, just a tap & swipe away. And Apps really are a driving factor of the semantic web (lots of stuff is communicating via APIs with each other) as well, because thats pretty much the essence of their workings, you tap search and the App is doing the rest.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Smartphones, Foursquare and the Long Tail of Real Life

As more and more people are owning Smartphones, such as the iPhone or any Android phone, and location based applications such as Foursquare gain more popularity, an interesting consequence results, which I like to call, the Long Tail of Real Life. In case you are not familiar with the principle of a Long Tail Economy, you should read Chris Andersons famous book on the very topic.

Essentially, a Long Tail Economy, which can be observed on the Web (e.g. at Amazon), can be described as the rise of the niches. For example, in a normal book store, only the most popular books are sold, as in a physical shop, there is limited space, and thus, niche products are only hardly to be found at a normal book retailer. The reason is simply, that only a few people buy those special interest books, whereas the large majority buys books, that are on the New York Times Bestseller list.

Amazon for example, has no retail shop. So every book they offer online is just another record in their extensive database. They are able to offer any book that is being published, because they are not restricted by physical shelf space. As having a special interest is not really unusual, we are buying those books on Amazon, as they are easy to find there. This is again resulting in serious sales numbers of large amounts of special interest books - many niche products that sell few numbers.

With handheld GPS devices, such as every modern Smartphone is, and with fun applications as Foursquare or others, this Long Tail behaviour also shifts to the real life in the sense of places. The more people you follow on Foursquare the more places you haven't known yet - even if its in the city you live in - you are likely to explore.

Also, as on Foursquare you have pretty much the same Follower-principle as on Twitter, meaning you are following people you haven't even met in real life, you are very likely to explore completely new places (as you perhaps know the majority of places your real friends visit). Thus, a simple Foursquare check-in at a nice little Cafe is a pretty mighty marketing tool, way better than, say, a poster in a train station near that little Cafe.

So a Foursquare check-in pretty much is like an oral recommendation, a word of mouth. As Foursquare is not only a location based service but also has gaming features, your are pretty likely to add a certain location to the map (say your little hidden Cafe), because you get points for it and because maybe, you are going to have another mayorship.

Of course you have to filter a the interesting places a little as many check-ins are at ones home, work or at train stations, but if Foursquare manages it to filter out the interesting places, such as shops, restaurants, clubs and cafes, the Long Tail of Real Life will be reality. So with this, the rise of the niches is also happening in Real Life, with the consequence of being able to explore many new places, in your own city.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

GeekTours - Bruges: Simon Stevin statue

If you are travelling with the Geek Atlas by John Graham-Cumming in your bags and are just visiting Brusselles or Paris, the beautiful flemish city of Bruges and the statue of 16th century flemish mathematician Simon Stevin is not far away from you.

Bruges is comfortably reached by train from Brusselles (about 1 hour, 12,90€ for 1 way) or from Paris with the high-speed Thalys train (2 1/2 hours, 25€ if you book early enough for 1 way).

Bruges itself is easily discovered by foot on 1 day. The Simon Stevinplein is a little way South-East from the market square (the large central square which is dominated by the Belfort), down the Steenstraat. Get the Google Maps directions here.

Simon Stevin (1548/49 – 1620) himself was a flemish mathematician and engineer who is perhaps most famous for his proof of the law of equilibrium on an inclined plane. Indeed this proof is also visible on his statue in his left hand. There are also other interesting scientific engravings at his monument.

Unlike the Geek Atlas, I won't, and can't 100% reliably respectively, provide you with a little science as I don't want to give you any wrong information on the subject. So just follow the Wikipedia Link to get some more information on Simon Stevin and his works.

The statue is dominating the Simon Stevinplein and is flanked by a nice alley, various shops and cafes. The Steenstraat is one of the main tourist routes leaving from the main square but the statue is, in majority, passed by the many "normal" tourists, so you can have a quiet view on his proof and relax a little on the square.

PS: Belgium is famous for its tasty beer and its special double deep-fried chips (see the picture of my special-chips with ketchup, mayonaise and a huge load of onions...).

GeekTours - Review: Eiffel Tower, Paris

Ok, so this is my first hands on review and its also a warning. I've only recently visited Paris, and of course, the Eiffel Tower is a must see for every tourist and, as John Graham-Cumming says in the Geek Atlas, also for every geek. He is right as the whole Tower can be seen as a monument for science, with the names of famous french scientists (Foucault, Arago, Fresnel,...) written around the Tower and a bust of Gustave Eiffel at its foot.

Now the warning: If you decide to go up, you spend 99,99% of your time with waiting. Waiting to buy a ticket to go to the first balcony, waiting to get into the elevator to get onto the first balcony, waiting to buy a ticket to get to the top, waiting to get into the elevator to get to the top, waiting to take the picture, you want to take at the top and finally waiting for the elevators to get down again.

Of course, the view over Paris is magnificent but there are other places from which you can get an equally good and cheaper view over Paris (e.g. from the Arc de Triomphe, the Pantheon or Sacre-Coeur).

The whole Eiffel Tower journey took me around 5 hours (with the majority spend in queues) and cost around 17€ (12€ to get to the first balcony, another 5€ to get to the top). My recommendation would be to either visit the Eiffel Tower in the coldest Winter (assuming that their will be less tourists, but it will have felt -50C° on the top) or to just enjoy the Eiffel Tower and the Park behind it from the bottom. I have to admit that it was more impressive to stand right underneath the Tower (the Tower is massive, around 326m in height) than on top of it.

Monday, August 30, 2010

GeekTours - An Introduction

The world is full of science, but places of scientific interest are sometimes quite hard to find. They are not always locked in museums but are often hidden in the oddest places. The Geek Atlas by John Graham-Cumming gives the geeky mind a treasure map full of red crosses where one has his scientific interest satisfied.

Since I bought the Geek Atlas I was looking forward to taking it with me to my next journey - and I was not disappointed. The book gives you a lot of background information about every place, along with some science on the subject and practical information on how to get where you want to go. It also opened my eyes, that there are many interesting places hidden somewhere in the world that want to be discovered.

So I decided to write reviews (including pictures) on every place of the Geek Atlas that I visit and will add some places to my personal Geek Atlas that I discovered myself. The feeling when I found my first scientific location, the statue of 16th century mathematician Simon Stevin in the old town of Bruges, Belgium, was thrilling. It was much like the feeling I felt at christmas when I was 3 years old.

So whenever you see the Prefix "GeekTours" in the headline, you will know that its about either a "hands-on" review of a place in the Geek Atlas or a place I discovered on one of my midnight wanderings...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

HowTo: Make Screenshots on Mac OS

Alright, shortly a small overview on how to make Screenshots on Mac OS (because I tend to forget it myself...).
  • Shift + cmd + 3: Screenshot of whole screen (Mac OS pastes the Screenshot on your desktop)
  • Shift + ctrl + cmd + 3: Screenshot of whole screen + the Screenshot is "saved to" the clipboard
  • Shift + cmd + 4: get crosslines to select an area for a Screenshot (Screenshot will be on your desktop)
  • Shift + cmd + 4 followed by [Space]: take a Screenshot of a whole window (Screenshot will be on your desktop)
Don't forget to warm up your fingers before taking Screenshots...

PS: You can change the default Screenshot format as follows:
  1. Open Terminal
  2. Type in "defaults write type
  3. Example: defaults write type jpg

Monday, July 5, 2010

Yet, another speculation on Apples antenna issue

So far, there has been quite an amount of fuss about Apples curious antenna issue, and, yes i know, i am a little late to the party, but anyhow I'll give you my never appreciated and surplus comments on that thing as well.

First, I'll give you a little summary of what we know so far and then I'll give you my conclusions, I swear I'll keep it short this time.
So we know, that if you touch your brand new iPhone 4 with your greedy fingers on the wrong spots (the Interweb calls it the 'touch of death', but I prefer 'cold grip of death'), you short wire your phones antenna, which is resulting in the loss of any carrier signal, what is leading to dropped calls. This is itself leading to a pissed off girlfriend and boss, what is inevitably leading to a broken up relationship and a lost job, in short, this antenna thing is straight leading to a ruined life.

So the main question is, why didn't Apple fix that prior to the release? Were they so much under pressure with the set release date? - Unlikely. Did they have not enough manpower or brains to fix it? - Nope, neither that one. My guess is, that Apple wasn't even really aware of this curious bug until the first load of flashy phones got shipped to their customers.

Let me explain: Apple is quite secretive about their new products, but of course something like a phone requires field testing. So what they are doing is disguising their gadgets. What Apple did to their 4th generation phone model in the field test was, wrapping it up, so it looked like a normal 3GS. This guess is supported by the lost/stolen prototype, which was completely wrapped up. So if it is wrapped, there is no antenna issue.

It is quite unbelievable to me that Apple spent such an huge amount of time in improving the speech and general phone quality (Quite every review says that the speech quality, even on busy streets, is really excellent) and didn't recognise that every 4th to 3rd call was suddenly dropped because of a connection loss.

So lets say, all phones that left Cupertino, where wrapped and therefore without the antenna issue. Remain the phones inside the holy halls of One Infinite Loop. I am sure, they did have some dropped calls there, due to the cold grip of death, but they paid not too much attention to it. This might have something to do with statistics. When we consider that the majority of phones where outside Cupertino (and therefore wrapped), say 100 phones, and only a small minority was inside the Apple Labs, lets say 20, there follows a picture like this:

In real life 25% - 30% of calls are dropped because of shortwiring the antenna. So we take this figure to our 20 phones inside Cupertino. When we say that each phone makes 10 calls a day (normally we would assume there would be a huge load more calls outside Cupertino, as this was real field testing, but for the sake of the sake we don't do that), then 50 - 60 calls (25% - 30% of 200), of a complete number of 1200 calls, have been dropped. Now this is a considerably low number, making only just around 5% of the total. When we add the fact that ALL dropped calls happened more or less in the same area (within Cupertino), then we might understand that Apple may recognised dropped calls, but didn't follow up this issue, due to statistical insignificance.

Now I am many things but NEVER EVER would I be a fanboi of anything, but it would seem reasonable to me if a company dismisses an issue because of these figures. Of course they made the error (if all my speculations are true of course) in thinking that all their tested phones where more or less equal, but a low number of failure, which all happened in the same place, are normally argument enough to dismiss something as less relevant or even completely irrelevant.

Now I wouldn't torture you, my dear reader, with all those wild speculations and boring calculations and then don't come up with a proper solution for all your pains, because there is a wrap for that. Check it out and tell me if it was worth the 10 credits. If not, I'll probably just put some tape over the hotspots, this gives the phone a nice vintage look :-).

Friday, May 14, 2010

Lego's Law

Lego's Law is the law of not finding what you need at the moment, finding it en masse when you don't need it and again any particular thing is disappearing should you need it again. I think this "Lego - Effect" is perhaps the same with anything on the world, so let us have a look on the logic and happenings of this curious law, where we will discover and observe the logic (and illlogic at the same time) of quantums and other weird things. I will use Lego as an example through the whole Post, but you could replace Lego, by anything else you like as it is a universal law (maybe even a universal natural law, who knows...).

First, when you look for a particular Lego part, you will not find it. When you think you already touched every part, you have still not found it. There is a particular reason why the quantums of each Lego Brick have that curious behaviour: You didn't touch all parts in the correct order. Only after you had every part in the correct order and the correct time in your hand, will the Lego quantums show sympathy and will reform themeselves to the part you are looking for.

After you finally found that particular part, the quantums start heavily laughing at you. You will recognise that when you suddenly find that one particular part in masses. Over and over again. About 80% of all parts are transforming into that one special part. Alright, when you look for the next part, this whole procedure starts over again. You know that quantums form very fast, uncatchable with a view, and any time one brick is hidden under another, the quantums are starting to transform. Are parts that are hidden under parts really there? Or are they just appearing when you dig them out? In what state is Schrödingers cat? The same question. The only one who may answer it is probably Chuck Norris. So you see that Lego is actually applied quantum physics.

Ok, so when you need that part, for which you have been looking for hours, and finally found out that almost ever part is that part, again (Lego is actually a searching task, not a building task, maybe Google will extend their algorithm to solve Lego's Law - I hope for it) you have no chance to find it again, as all Lego quantums are, once more, transforming themselves to different Lego parts.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Kill Copyright!!!!! and Open Source Everything

To warn you beforehand, this is not going to be an objective discussion on Patents and Copyright, but an emotional an polemic pleading on how Copyright and Patents are preventing Innovation and destroying new evolutionary business ideas. That Post was provoked by music DRM, Laws (eg. the new law in the UK), Lawyers, incredibly stupid ideas of the music, film and print industry that were directed to "take the step to the Internet era", incredibly stupid government officials, who have not the slightest idea of technology and are bribed by all industries (sorry for that wild blame, there are black sheep everywhere...) that claim that they are losing $1000000000 per second because of Intenet piracy, Patent Infringement discussion crap (sorry for cursing) and many other things.

The fundamental statement is: give a way the product for free and charge for services. That IS working, many SW Companies now Open Source their Code and charge for training, installation, maintenance, customisation. When something is free by default, you can reach far more people than with Software for which you need to pay a license fee. Just think of how innovation accelerating Open Source is! You develop a nice piece of Software and upload it to Sourceforge or Google Code. Now others explore your project and start using it as a central part of their project and Open Source it again. And so it goes on. But if you charge for your Software, it is pretty unlikely that this dynamic process will kick-off.

And don't think you get nothing out of your Open Source project, you'll at least get some credit, which is worth more than some money. You believe Open Source is only possible for Software right? - WRONG! Just take a look at the Arduino project or at the Make Magazine, these are prime examples of Open Source Hardware - you might also enjoy Chris Andersons article in Wired on the new industrial revolution. Ok, you might need to pay something for the wires, but thats more or less an insignificant amount.

I have a nice example: Think of, that you are a hobby engineer and that you are building stuff in your garage. As you think you are going to be a millionaire with one of your inventions you are not Open Sourcing anything. The problem, when you are not really innovative and fast, you are pretty likely to stay a frustrated hobby engineer in your garage, you may own a lot of Patents, but don't get any money out of it. Worst of all, as you want to be a millionaire and threat other hobby engineers to sue them over Patent Infringement, which we all know as one of the worlds worst crimes, you are preventing innovation.

The other side of the medal: You are a hobby engineer and building stuff in your garage. As you like Open Source stuff you document your work and put videos on YouTube, and Blog about it and you Open Source all your detail-plans and stuff on your Homepage. Now that draws a lot of attention of course, leading to that you have countless offers of Top Tech Companies. You eventually decide to accept one of those offers. Now you are a professional engineer in a company, you have a team and budget and top tools to create all your stuff. Thats exactly what Johnny Chung Lee did, you may watch his YouTube channel, he has done pretty cool stuff with the Nintendo Wii and is now working for Microsoft.

So now we know Open Source Software and Hardware is awesome. But also other forms of art can be Open Sourced. Just take music for example. You may won't get a Rock Star with your music, but as you put it under a creative commons license, other people are creating remixes and mash-ups, and through their work, your music may start to get really hip.

You may also Open Source a book. Just put it online in Blogs and let people discuss your work. I am sure you'd get inspiring comments and a lot of interaction is taking place. Writing a book completeley on your own is so 20th century, you need the discussion with your audience to create an even better book. You may give the e-Book Version away for free and let others discover your work for free. Those others may be really inspired, and thus, you are creating the same movement as with Open Source Software.

To be not completely polemic, I also want to state a bad example of Open Source, which is the GPL license, also known as the "Gnu Public Virus". If you write Software and put it under GPL, all further developments that are using parts of your Software in any way are also forced to be under GPL. I hate this, don't force people to do that, I think GPL is as bad as music DRM. I'd only create Software under a license, so that others may create another Open Source project out of it, or if they really want to they may create a commercial project out of it. That way you reach more people and if your Software is part of a Enterprise Business Suite, hey, good credit for your Software then!

In that sense, Kill Copyright!!!! and Open Source Everything!!!!!

Friday, April 16, 2010

The iPad and the Media Industry

No, this is not another enthusiastic I-love-the-iPad Review. Neither is it an enthusiastic I-hate-the-iPad Review. It is about the iPad and the Newspaper and Magazine Industry and about tablet computers and the Media Industry generally. Also I will be as visionary as ever to describe an idea of how Newspapers and Magazines will be consumed in the future.

It is and was often said, that with the iPad, Steve Jobs wants to save the Media Industry and that Newspapers and Magazines get a nice stage on the iPad to distribute their content in a modern way. But, I think, the Newspaper and Magazine Industry cannot be saved sustainably, in the form they now have. The Print Industry won't cease completely, of course, but will definitely transform particulary.

There are several reasons for this. First, the classic Print Industry has not yet found a satisfying Business Model outside of Print. Ads sell on their Websites as well (but to much lower prices) and people are attracted by the Websites of the NY Times or The Economist but they failed yet to establish a Pay-For-Content-Model that is working and satisfying for both sides, the Publisher and the Consumer.

Now suddenly, with the iPad, Magazines are creating Apps and want to charge again for the content. But I think one of the main reasons why this current Pay-For-Content-Model on the iPad won't work is, that the publishers are suddenly charging for stuff, that already has been for free. This Model might work for a few month, but as Chris Anderson wrote in his book "Free", in the Internet, free as in beer, is inevitable. There'll be a hard price competition between several Newspapers and Magazines, where at the end, we will be exactly at the point, from where we initially started: free. I don't see why I suddenly should pay for any news whereas only last week I still had it for free via RSS (Many Newspapers are already planning to stop RSS Feeds and want to charge you for reading articles on their Websites as well).

Second, Newspapers and Magazines are mistakenably perceived as Content Creators, which is absolutely wrong. Newspapers and Magazines are, exactly as Record Labels for example, Content Distributors, but not Creators. Content Creators are the Journalists and Authors.

I have an example: When you buy a CD, you buy it because of the Band, not because of the Record Label. Similiarily you buy a book because of the author, not because it was printed by Random House. When we come to Magazines its getting a little mixed up, because you buy The Economoist or Wired, because its The Economist or Wired, but, when you are not sure if you should buy it, you may be convinced to do so when you see that Steven Levy or Chris Anderson wrote the Lead-Article of the Issue (in case of Wired). And finally when you buy a Newspaper, you buy it, because its the NY Times and because the NY Times stands for quality journalism.

This clearly shows how the perception of who the Content Creator is, changes with the medium. For books there is no discussion who the originator is, but when it comes to Newspapers, the perception of who created the content is suddenly the other way round. You may not know if the Journalist who writes Foreign Affairs articles in the Washington Post may not also write for any Gossip Magazine, yet you consider the Washington Post as a quality Newspaper and may consider any Gossip Mag as crap, although perhaps the same people were producing (some of) the content.

I believe the future of how we consume Magazines and Newspapers will be in a very personalised way (like RSS Feeds), but we won't consume it on our Notebooks but on mobile devices as the Kindle or the iPad. I am also not 100% satisfied with one of the existing RSS Reader, so my vision looks like this:

I have an (Personal Newspaper and Magazine-) Application on my iPad with a uniform layout, so that I don't recognise the source of the article in my Application (I don't care whether its from TechCrunch or the Time Magazine, but I don't want that all my articles have different Fonts, different Font-sizes and different layouts). Next thing is, I am able to subscribe for certain topics, subscribe all articles by certain journalists, subscribe the top news or events from my current location and subscribe all articles where certain keywords occur.

That way, I get domestic politics of my local newspaper, international politics of the Daily Telegraph and Economics from the WSJ (subscription by topic). I also get all articles written by Tim O'Reilly, published in any Newspaper, Blog or Magazine (subscription by author). Further, if I happen to be in Zurich or in Tokyo, I get a list of exhibitions and concerts (subscription by location). And finally, I get all articles, published today, from all Blogs, Newspapers and Magazines that are about Artificial Intelligence research and Gödel-numbering and its real life applications.

To get all this stuff, packed into one application with uniform layout and delievered to me on a daily basis, I would pay a monthly fee. Why should I subscribe for a daily newspaper or a monthly magazine when I don't read all the content, although I pay for all of it? I think sooner or later, such a central platform will be developed (maybe even by me), that also introduces a convenient charging model for both - the Consumer and the Publisher .

The Classic Publishing Industry has its greatest enemy in the Internet (the Internet is, by far, the biggest Content-Distributor, as it is actually distributing, the Classic Content-Distributors Content XD). I don't mean that all Newspapers, Record Labels and Magazines will die, but they have to change their business model to stay profitable. The iPad won't be the saviour of the Classic Print Industry, the iPad and other upcoming multi-funtional-tablets are tools that are able to transform the Media Industry. And on the end of that transformation, I believe will be a platform on which you subscribe to have free-content and pay-for-content, delievered to a tablet device in a uniform layout as a personalised Newspaper.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Talking about Privacy

Google, Facebook, Twitter and many, many other Web 2.0 Applications are in constant focus of one big discussion: Privacy. In this post, I am going to discuss what collecting data means, who is collecting data and to what purpose. Further we generally discuss Online and Offline Privacy matters a little and finally draw astonishing, exciting and frightening conclusions.

First to make one thing clear: I am not stating in any way that Google, Facebook, etc are not collecting any User specific data - of course they are! I also don't want to relativate this data-collecting-spree or put lipstick on that pig, in fact, I believe we should have had a real privacy discussion as long as at least 20 years ago.

So to make once more clear: Everybody wants and collects your data. Why? Because its Business! And further? Because Business means making money. Therefore:

collecting your data = doing business = making money

which unmistakenably simplyfies to

your data = money

So that we now all agree that, when any company is collecting your data, they are only doing their business and want to make money from their business - naturally.

The reason why the "Privacy Issue" is exploding, and even people like me are discussing it, is simply put, technological advancement. First, we use more mobile Gadgets like Notebooks, Netbooks, Tablets, Smartphones, etc. with cheap Internet connection. Second, the Internet itself is nowadays not any more a place only for Geeks, Nerds, Dorks and other creatures living in dark cellars but has become an absolute necessity and lifestyle instrument. Third, with Facebook, Google Search and Wikipedia, even absolute technological-deniers are spending more and more time Online. And finally fourth, as 1GB storage today costs less than a pack of chewing gums, it is now no problem any more to store all data (even for smaller companies).

This means all our data are, for sure, already stored somewhere, but whats not yet mature and advanced enough are data-mining technologies and statistical algorithms to make effective use of this enormously huge amount of data and to find specific informations (at least not in an acceptable amount of time). But, the time is already approaching where this disability to efficiently use the stored data is ending. Just look at Google Insights. It is an absolutely fascinating and amazing development and let me made 1 important observation: Google is able to store ALL search-adherent data since 2004 which is quite a long time back. They already have the ability to store Geo Informations to any search term, and they will indeed be able to do much more "magic" with our data soon.

But I don't want to participate in the popular "Google & Facebook Privacy Bashing" for now. Because when you take a look at the Offline-world (some people claim this really exists ;-)), you will find some more eager data collectors. Just take a look at your Bank for example. In order to open a bank account - what is an absolute social need - you need to give them a lot of personal data, and do you really think they forget your data after approving your account? Next, take a look at your mobile phone carrier, they also want a lot of your personal data before they approve your nice phone and data flat rate. And don't say a mobile phone is NO social necessity nowadays.

The first difference between Facebook and your Bank is, that you MUST give the Bank (any Bank!!) your data to fulfil a basic social need (a bank account), but you are not forced to create a Facebook account, or search anything on Google. This is a volunarily action. And don't think your Bank isn't storing any piece of data it can grab from you, we've already seen that storage costs more or less nothing today. Whom would you trust more - Your Bank or Facebook? Honestly, I wouldn't trust neither of them.

Now another important part begins, what you might not have thought about yet (at least I hope so). Google and Facebook are often compared to a kraken when it comes to discussing Privacy and collecting Data, but how might Google call it? How is your Bank calling it? And how are countless other Companies calling it? The answer are the 3 magic letters CRM - Customer Relationship Managment. CRM is nothing else but collecting data about your customers to address their needs better than the competition. To address their personal needs better. Does that sound familiar to you?

The difference about Google and your mobile phone carrier is, that Google shows you, how good it knows you and your interests when it suggests advertisments to you or when it might suggest a restaurant, similiar to the one you looked for on the Internet (see my last post "Location based Everything"). Your mobile phone carrier doesn't show you all the Information they have gathered about you. But in fact, they are no different, in fact, no company that you are customer of, is.

So the frightening, exciting and astonishing conclusion is, that collecting data already has its meaning and name in CRM. I mentioned twice already that nowadays storage costs as good as nothing, therefore it is an easy thing to store all data you can get. So when we discuss Privacy matters any further we have to take our Banks and all other Companies into account. Discussing this topic is good and very, very important (see the speech, "Making Sense of Privacy and Publicity" by Danah Boyd at this years SXSW), but it should not only be about Facebook or Google.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Location based Everything

Location based Services and Augmented Reality are and will be the hyping technologies for the near future. Its time to revise a little what already happened and to wildly speculate of where the journey is going.

First I want to make clear, what is meant by location based, because it needs to be said explicitely: it means that your location is registered, and the longitude and latitude of your current position are sent to the web and depending on which service you use, your position is further processed. I know its probably clear to everyone what I just wrote, but I did so because I and want you to consider for a moment, what that actually means, taking all the privacy issues into account.

Ok, so now that you know that everybody might see your location online on Google Maps, let us continue with the actual article :-).

Location based Services come in a huge variety of flavours, some guide you to the nearest italian restaurants, including a rating of it, others display the nearest tweets that have just been typed into Twitter and again others implement some kind of gaming and social networking features (Hi Four Square). Basically its the same, you, as the user, are in focus of whats going on around you. Also the technology doesn't really matter, but what matters is the application of it.

It was only until I checked out Google's Latitude that I completely and totally recognised what consequences occur, when you publish your location or let your location be processed by any service. Latitude probably is the most useless of all location based services (useless in the sense of the benefit you have from it - compared to apps like AroundMe or Eventful - except when you are a professional stalker), it is simply displaying your current location as a nice blue dot in Google Maps. Also, if your friends are online, you can check out their location as well.

When I first saw the dots of my friends, some where at work, some where at home, some where relaxing in a park, I only realised the full meaning of publishing your location. If you think that sounds like the words of a completely paranoid idiot, then try it out for yourself! It does indeed feel a little touchy when you know that you can be watched by others (Imagine seeing the dot of a friend of yours being at home and seeing on Facebook his or her newest Mafia Wars or FarmVille updates, you pretty much exactly know, what he or she is doing and also where).

Of course this goes on, Google is not really known as a company that doesn't care about valuable data, meaning that your positions are pretty likely to be tracked and stored in your profile, so if you've been twice to a chinese restaurant, Google might advertise you with a suggestion to try a similiar restaurant, only a few streets away from your home. So this leads us straight to the next point: location based advertising.

I've read an article (see TechCrunch article on a start-up raising $5Mio VC and a Digital Beat article on one of Googles newest patents) a few weeks ago, saying that location based advertising is probably one of the next big things (meaning that such start-ups are pretty likely to raise millions of VC funding and will be eventually bought by one of the big players). Think of starting any iPhone App that is supported by ads and these ads are about stuff you can buy in shops just around the corner. So this IS definetely an interesting thing. Now you might ignore any ads that come with your iPhone Apps, but when it says that you get a special deal just around the corner and probably you can even use that ad as a voucher to get another discount, many people will be tempted to do just that.

Taking all this location based stuff one step further would lead us to location and TIME based everything. It would be useless to be advertised at 1am for a nice discount at the next H & M, when you can't really make any use of it at that time, so perhaps it would be better to be directed to the next Bar or Club where you get free entry or a free drink.

Additionally to your local time, your current position will be mapped more accurately ("interpreted"), its nice to know that your latitude is 48.15678 and your longitude 16.22456 and that the Bar that you are seeking has latitude 48.15200 and longitude 16.22978, but its better to know that you are in Main Street 3 and the Bar you are seeking is in Main Street 34. By the way such a reverse GeoLookup functionality is already available in the Google Maps API and is astonishingly accurate (and easy to implement) as a friend of mine demonstrated to me (thx M.).

To again take this a step further, it would be fantastic to know the kind of your current address. Is it a Public Building? Or is it a University? Or is it probably an Office Building? With StreetView and Maps and Google Earth, Google already has the Tools to map the meaning or content of a building onto its address and its Geo location.

This now, is not only interesting for any Augmented Reality Apps, but also for Google's Search itself. A few days ago I was googling for "Levante" and meant the restaurant not far away from my office. To my surprise, the restaurant really was the first entry in the result list. I had rather suspected that the first entry will be the Wikipedia article or any other article on the geographical and historical meaning of Levante.

Why this observation is not useless? Well, first, because it is a restaurant just AROUND ME, which means near my current location. Second, it was araound 11:30am, so definetly time to think about where to spend the lunchbreak. And third, because I was in an Office Building. So with these 3 things added, current location, local time, and "interpreted" position, the odds where near 100% that I was looking for the restaurant and not for the Wikipedia Article on the historical and geographical details of it. If it would have been around 9am and my interpreted location would have been a University with the next Levante restaurant more than 5 miles away, then the odds would have been near 100% that I would not have been looking for the restaurant.

So if any location and time based App or the Google Search Engine, take all that into account, along with a personal profile of you, with all your previous searches and activities it gets quite clear why 1), Googles Chief Economist Hal Varian, called the Job of a Statistician as the "sexiest" Job for the next years (see the NY Times article) and 2) There might approach the day where all Apps are not one step behind you, in suggesting ads and stuff to you, but one step ahead of you.

I think it will be quite near in the future that Google is really implementing all these things into their search engine (what would mean an iGoogle for everybody, if you want or not; see the Wired article for how mighty Googles search algorithm already is, and how they are constantly improving it) and that also any Augmented Reality and Location based Services will be implementing everything into their applications.

I already mentioned some of my privacy concerns at the beginning of the article, but that was just about location, but taken, time, interpreted location and personal-history, into account the privacy issue is yet taken to another level, but which I am not going to discuss in this article (maybe in another one called "1985"....but wait....thats already the title of book by Anthony Burgess, so I'd perhaps take 1984^2). Its up to you to consider the pros and cons of it!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Social Network O.V.R.KILL

Google Buzz - yet another "Social Network". I think with Google's next attempt to get into the Social Networking Business (they already have Orkut, which isn't used anywhere but Brazil), it is now time to revise the rise of Social Networks and to review the jungle of different kinds of communities, networks and forums that is existing now.

Social Networking is one of the new in-words that were introduced along with the Web 2.0 hype, but Social Networks are nothing really new, although it is nowadays associated with Facebook or Twitter. Long before Facebook and MySpace a lot of Dating and Flirting Services were Online that are quite similiar to Facebook, with the difference that these Service had no additional value, they were merely for the Friendships sake but Facebook or MySpace made it to create that additional benefit to keep Users returning to their service.

Many Forums where in the beginning equal to the pin board of Facebook, with the difference that there was only 1 public pin board ordered by topic. A lot of Forums then, tried to morph themselves into a Social Network, so what they did was keeping everything they already had and added the possibility for their Users to create a profile. The additional value they have or had and what distinguishes them is, that they are already specialised in one particular field of interest of subject. So when, from a real-life point of view, Facebook is the Cafeteria of a College, then these Forums build the different Clubs and Societies within a College.

One of the most popular Social Networking Forums, that recognised that a Forum is mainly about content and not about socialising, is the service Digg. With Digg, you can mark content ("digg it") that is then collected on their Host Page and categorised in the different subjects.

So we can summarise so far, that with the hype of the term Social Network, every Forum, Dating-Page and whatever else, redefined itself as a Social Network. That of course, led to the jungle and overkill that we now have. There are seemingly an eternal number of Networks, starting from the classics as Facebook over Business Networks like LinkedIn and Xing to content sharing or (micro-)blogging services as Digg, Yelp, Twitter or FriendFeed (bought by Facebook).

But whats the motivation of all this? Obviously the User Data, which are a fantastic business, although it is not (yet) really profitable. Look at YouTube or Facebook, each of them has an estimated value of more than a billion $, but both are struggling to be profitable. They are trying to refinance them a little over User-directed ads but that doesn't work too good, because the online-ad business is to "pay-per-click", so when you don't click on an ad on Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg gets nothing. So why are they so high rated? Because they have the Users content, which includes personal data such as birthdate and address as well as hobbies. These are things that have an enormous value, to this adds, that nowadays everybody is using Facebook and others on iPhones and Android Phones, that these services know your current location. New trends like location-based-advertising and other "augmented-reality" services are arising because of this. I once heard an interview with Tim O'Reilly who was saying that: "One day we will find out that we are living in the world of Big Brother, and that we will actually like it". Of course it was meant ironically, but somehow he is exactly right.

But how does Google Buzz fit into that picture? Well, Google is trying to create a community or a Social Network since quite a while, as already mentioned with Orkut. Google also is the major player when it comes to Online Advertising and Searching. But their goal obviously is, to create a more complete profile of a person as any other service could do. They are trying to link your Soft-Data (=your current interests), such as Tweets on Twitter (which can be integrated to Buzz) or searches on Google, to your Hard-Data which are the data that identify you (name, birthdate, address,...). Along with services like Google Maps they can create quite an exact profile of YOU as a human being and YOUR present behaviour and location.

To get back to our College analogy, I gave Buzz a quick look, and, I have to admit, was not really impressed. But being on Buzz created an awkward feeling, because it is integrated into your Gmail account. So when Facebook is the College Cafeteria, any Nerd-Forum is your College Chess-Club, then Buzz is somehow looking over your shoulder in your private room. That's how it feels when I see Buzz right under my inbox. Somehow it feels that writing a mail is not a private thing anymore, but you have someone who is looking over your shoulder, or to formulate it more paranoid " watching you".

So privacy is not existent on the Web anymore - that is already general knowledge - but Google takes it with Buzz to another Level. I also wouldn't be surprised if Buzz is going to be the first Social Network that fully integrates all other popular services into it. Having a single point from where you can Blog, Tweet, write on your buddies Facebook pin-board or share YouTube Videos, is probably a Key-Factor to success.

Whatever the future of Social Networks will be, sooner or later there will be a wild consolidation of different services and sooner or later there will be 1 service from which you can control all others and collect all the data you spread over the Web to 1 place. The funny thing on it is that we will see it as no threat but as "finally a service that serves all my individual needs". Got it? I think Tim O'Reilly was right.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Geek Literature

Maybe this is one of my most important posts ever. Literature for Geeks and Nerds. Wonderful books (books are those things made out of dead trees in case you forgot) on wonderful geeky topics. This list, of course, doesn't claim to be complete. I am sure I forgot some books, so I encourage the reader to add those books in the comment section (hey, I want some book recommendations as well). The range of the genres, however, will not only involve Sci-Fi stuff, but also some books on SW Engineering, Economics and, oh yes, oh yes, Computer Science with all that nice theory stuff like NP-Completeness and Cellular Automatons.

The books are in no particular order, they are written down in the order they entered my mind, so there's no grouping of books and using prime numbers as accessor keys :-)

Thats the initial draft of my List. PLEASE, if you read my post, add all your favourite geeky-nerdy-favourite books in the comment section.


    Wednesday, January 20, 2010

    HowTo: use a Mac as Wi-Fi Hotspot

    Have you ever worried how to crack your neighbors WPA2 Key to gain access to his Wi-Fi? If you are the owner of an Apple Computer and you have cable Internet or a 3G mobile Internet at home, you have no more need to spend your valuable time in trying to hack a WPA2 Key.

    Note in advance:

    • This tutorial has been tested with a MacBook using Snow Leopard.
    • After setting up the Wi-Fi Network I connected my iPhone and a another Windows XP Notebook to it, what worked fine for both.
    • I am quite sure you can do the same with Windows and Linux, but I didn't try it as it worked so smooth with the Mac.
    Setting up your Mac to act as a Wi-Fi Hotspot is simpler than taking a Screenshot on the very same device. I will guide you Step-by-Step through how to do the necessary Settings, documented with beautiful Screenshots (although I almost broke my fingers while taking Screenshots from my MacBook).

    1. Navigate to the Sharing Tab in your Mac's System Preferences 
    2. Select the Internet Sharing Option (last but one in the list) - don't activate yet - and set the options, "Share your connection from" to "Ethernet" (for both, mobile 3G Internet devices (except it is listed explicitely) and cable) and the option "To computers using" to "AirPort" (marks that the outgoing Signal is Wi-Fi) 
    3. Click the Button "AirPort Options" to define a name and a password (hey, your neighbor isn't sharing his Wi-Fi with you either) 
    4. Now activate the Internet Sharing Option and click "Start" in the upcoming Dialog 
    5. The magic is done, your Mac is now a Wi-Fi Hotspot and you can connect other (Apple) devices to it 
    6. To share the magic with your Windows PC there are some further steps necessary. First Open your Internet Sharing again (Step 3) and set up the  Security to a WEP 128 Bits Key. Important Hint: Enter a password with exactly 13 Alphanumeric characters if you can't establish a connection with your Windows PC. 
    7. Then turn on your Internet Sharing again to transform your Mac into a Hotspot again (Step 4). Now lets set up the Windows side of life. I am still using Windows XP, so this is what the Screenshots are about. In Windows Navigate to the Wireless Network settings and try to connect to your Mac Hotspot which is displayed in the Available Network List. Also note that I changed my Wi-Fi Name from the passive aggressive "NoAccessForYou" to the simple "MacBook" ;-) 
    8. Right-Click on the Wireless Network Entry and select Properties. On the upcoming Dialog choose the Tab Wireless Networks and in the frame Preferred Networks, click add. No it comes down to set up the Wi-Fi according to the Settings with which you set up the Mac Host Network. Enter the Name you have given the Wi-Fi Network on your Mac, select "Shared" for the Network Authentication, "WEP" for Data Encryption and enter the Password you defined on the Mac. De-select the checkbox that the Key is provided automatically. Then press Ok.
    9. Now the "MacBook" Network (the Name I gave the Wi-Fi on my Mac) is set up as a preferred Network, press OK again and navigate back to the Wireless Network Connections. When everything is set up correctly, your Windows Computer should already have started to connect to the "MacBook" Network. 
    10. Finally enjoy your new Home Network :-) 
    11. Things with Linux (Note: This example has been done on openSUSE 11.2) are about the same as with Windows. We'll shortly revise our Mac's Host Settings: Internet Sharing enabled with a 40/128 Bit WEP Security enabled Key (See steps 2 - 4). Important Hint: Again the Password, with 40 Bit must consist of 5, 10 or 13 alphanumeric characters, with 128 Bit I only tested the 13 character variant. The reason for this is restrictions on Windows and Linux are, that you are trying to connect devices running different operating Systems. 
    12. On the openSUSE Tasklist, select the Network Connection, where you should see your Network. Select your Entry where the Authentication Window should pop up. There, select WEP 40/128 Bit Key Security, enter the Key and, important, select "Shared Key" as Authentication. 
    13. Finally the magic is really done, you now have a Mac as Hotspot and Internet Connection and you can connect all your devices like a Windows PC, a Linux Notebook, your iPhone and your iPod Touch to it  
    14. ENJOY

    Monday, January 18, 2010

    The Unix Inheritance

    This Post is about nothing else as the future of Operating Systems. Heavy announcement, I know ;-). But with the rise of the Cloud and the new fashionate term "Software-as-a-Service", we are at the beginning of a fundamental change of technology.

    Further I will discuss the big 3 Players in the Operating System World, Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS, Linux and the dawn of Chrome OS, including the advantages of the Cloud itself and probably a small view on what applications are going to be important with the rise of the Cloud (That word already lost all its sense to me...)

    The Big 3 starting with Microsoft, who is in an interesting Position. They are the clear market leader in the Operating System market and will probably stay the leader for quite a while, but they will inevitably lose some of their market share to competitors. Why that? Because the Windows System IS so popular, so wide spread and that for such a long time. The same, by the way, is true for Windows Mobile as well. Windows is carrying such a huge backpack with legacy code and backwards compatibility. The problem for them is, they cannot just start something new. They cannot tear down everything and make a brand new start. Just think if Microsoft announces that their new Operating System Windows 8 will not be backwards compatible with any of the older Versions (not Win 7, not Win Vista and not Win XP). What will happen? Their stock price will drop quite close to 0 overnight if they make such an official announcement. They are bound to their customers, not so much to private users, but to all the Companies that have Windows running (and thats quite a few).

    The development of the Windows Azure Wave will probably bring some fresh wind into Windows (gosh, am I poetic...). Windows Azure Wave seems to be a tackle to Googles Chrome OS, as Microsoft announced that it will be more or less their Cloud OS for which applications can be programmable using the .NET platform. What Microsoft, in my humble opinion, has to do with Azure is, integrating into Windows as soon as possible and as good and smooth as possible. I don't think that it will be a good way to place Azure Wave as an own product next to Windows. The goal must be to merge them into one System within the next, lets say 3, full Windows Releases.

    Due to the fact that more and more applications will take their way to the cloud (with the obvious advantages of being everywhere available and the obvious disadvantage of having your secret data lying on some Serverfarm somewhere nowhere), Windows will inevitably loose market share, unless they are doing the right things with the Azure Wave. They will suffer from the biggest losses on the private consumer side. More and more people will start buying Netbooks with Chrome OS or a Linux Distro. Companies will stay on Windows, what may lead Microsoft to meet the IBM destiny.

    Apple, I think, won't suffer too much from Cloud Operating Systems too much. Macs and Macbooks are the premium-product class and I don't think Apple will do much to participate in lower cost classes with their Desktop - PCs and their Notebooks. Apple also has the advantage that they are more an end-user product, There are hardly any Companies that are using Mac OS as their main Operating System. But Apple also has to be careful with radical changes, as their products are, thanks to iPod and iPhone, quite widespread now and now also technically unsavier Users are now using Apples products.

    Linux, my dear child, Linux, how are we all hoping for your rise and how are we all knowing that your rise, at least on desktop PCs and Notebooks, will never take really place. Their are many reasons for that and I will discuss some of them. I don't know where to start, so all reasons are in no particular order. First some words pro Linux: I like Linux, I have openSUSE running on one partition of my Notebook, and yes I admit, I really, really like it. It's great for Techies like me, you can do almost everything on a Linux System and I simply like using the mighty, mighty Shell.

    Alright now to the dark side of the moon. There are countless different distributions that are offering Linux. Why that? There's only ONE company that is offering Windows and there is only ONE company that is offering Mac OS, but there are 124 that are offering Linux. How will a normal User who only wants to surf the Web, write Mails and do some scribble-scrabble in Spreadsheets and Documents know what to choose? That leads me direct to the next 2 points: There is no real Office Package standard in the Distros. OpenOffice more or less is a standard and also should be the ONE AND ONLY standard, but there is still the old stuff from the 2 different desktop engines on every Distro. Why?? Who needs 3 different Word Processors??

    And wait, did I say 2 desktop engines? You have KDE and Gnome and you can choose between them. Its fun for people like me, weighing up the now not existent differences and then choosing one (I chose Gnome by the way, because it was simply cooler looking and faster at the time I set up my Linux). Hey, most normal Users don't even know what a damn desktop engine is, so why let them choose? That's useless, they are only confused. Next thing marketing. Why would ever any standard User install a different OS from that, that is running? Hey Mr. Shuttleworth and Mr. Novell CEO, if you really want to spread your Linux Distros, make some deals with those guys that build the PC's as Microsoft is doing. It's a really effective way to force Users to their luck.

    The final problem is probably that the slim and fast Linux Kernel is nowadays a huge, ugly and unmaintainable Moloch. There's another problem, too many people who were working on Linux since the 80s are still leading the Development and still working on Linux with the same Tools and the same attitude, but hey, the world changed. Those guys did a fantastic job and Linux wouldn't be Linux without them, but they simply need to let it go. Linux hasn't so many Users, so there is the chance to make a complete new start without causing too many problems.

    Now to Chrome OS. I said it before, and I say it again, announcing an OS is NOT innovative but I think Google will make a fantastic job on Chrome OS. Every day I am more convinced that this is going to be the perfect merging between the Web and the Desktop. Do you know why there is yet no G-Drive Online Storage from Google? Although Microsoft has its 25GB Windows Sky Drive and countless other Companies are offering Online Storage (including some really cool ones like Dropbox). G-Drive will be an essential part of and fully integrated into Chrome OS. Local storage no longer required. Everything else would make no sense.

    I believe that Google is fundamentally changing the way Computers and the Web is used. Google won't take much market share from Apple, as Chrome OS is probably aimed at Netbooks, but they will steal Microsoft a part of their cake. The cool thing is, that every service Google offers is - of course - a potential Chrome OS Application. You are having your Desktop in the Web then, with a nice integration of all the Twitters and Facebooks we all like to use. No more Browser required (sorry Mozilla, but I still like you and will keep you on Mac OS). I know I sound like a cheap advertiser of Chrome OS (which I am not, otherwise I wouldn't write a Blog that no one is reading), but with Chrome OS the Desktop and the Web will be one and the same things, the borders between them are not recognisable any longer.

    So to end this pretty long Post, what cool stuff will we have running in the Cloud? First, when I store my stuff in the Cloud, I want it to be safe, so Crypto Services will be essential (I hope Chrome will have that). The automatically integrated Crypto Service needs obviously be fast and safe. Next, I want to stream my music and my videos direct onto my mobile devices or my other Notebooks and PCs I use. So, there's already a service (currently invitation-only) which seems to be a really hot thing. When you have only Apps on a device that is Online all the time (like the iPhone), there will be many other changes, where (useful) location based (Notebook-)Services will only be the beginning.

    Final word, if you wonder why this Post is named, "The Unix Inheritance", I have to answer that I wanted to write about something entirely different first, but kept the Robert Ludlum like title (the title is still true in a broader sense, though) ;-)

    Saturday, January 16, 2010

    Epic Failure as a recipie for success??!!

    Can Epic Failure really lead to success? I think it can and does. In this Post I will discuss how epic failure can help you being successful in the future and why failing big isn't a bad thing and sometimes just the right thing at the right time.

    Two more reasons why I am writing about failing, going down and getting up again. First, in the current Issue of the Wired Magazine (18.01) are the Cover Stories (eg. The Neuroscience of Screwing up) about failing and success. And second, what is the main reason why I am writing about epic failure: I am just suffering from one myself. It doesn't matter in what I failed, I just say that it was a highly important goal I wanted to reach and I failed - what sucks.

    Failing is something you simply can't avoid in your life. Some people say that life actually is only stumbling from one crisis to another - and they are right. So what should you do when you can't avoid failure?

    First thing is, to include the possibility of failure in your initial plans. Don't ignore failure and never treat it as something entirely bad. Second thing is that when you failed at something, you actually learnt something, be it the thing you failed at or just something about yourself. We tend to learn less from success than we do from failure, thats a simple fact every high-paid Business Consultant will tell you.

    Back to the first step you should take when you want to reach a goal: including failure in your plans and calculations. When I bought my overpriced black Moleskine Notebook, I took a green (such a positive colour) felt pen and wrote 3 big words, which mark the beginning of 3 short paragraphs: Imagine, Create, Learn. These 3 words have become a personal motto to me. These 3 words mark not only the beginning of 3 paragraphs but they mean much more. Imagining new ideas, creating and developing your ideas and learning from errors (there you have it) and successes equally.

    Of course I won't keep the the full 3 paragraphs hidden from you:

    Imagine your success!!
    How does it look like?
    How does it feel like?

    Create an Environment that allows errors,
    failing is ok as long as you

    Learn from your errors.

    Imagining your success is easy. Before you live your dreams you need to dream your dreams! Think positive in what you want to achieve and apply SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attractive, Realistic, Time-based) goals. When you start working for a goal and you think that it is unachievable and it is likely that you fail then you will fail. Imagining your success is essential for your success, it not only motivates you to reach your goal it also reminds you how good you will feel when you finally made it.

    Creating an Environment that allows you to fail might be harder. The way I am doing it (and currently really applying it) is to have a Plan B. That sounds easy but it isn't. It shouldn't be any Plan B that is an unattractive and ugly option. No, it needs to be a Plan, that is almost as attractive as Plan A (if you find out after some time that it is even more attractive, there you go, then you have a new Plan A). Plan B needs also to be thought-through in advance. Not really planned yet, as you still have enough to do with Plan A but carefully thought-through and checked if it meets the SMART requirements. When you are a really careful planner then you might already have 1 or 2 options for a potential Plan C in your sleeve.

    Learning from your errors is probably the hardest part. First thing you need to do when you fail is to make an exhaustive Reflexion of your work. Don't look for cheap excuses like "I was sick" or anything. Failing isn't just because of one reason. When you fail in reaching a goal, then there were several reasons not only one. Try to find the crucial points in your decision and preparation process that ultimately influenced the final outcome. Failing also allows you to reconsider your whole target. After you failed at something and before your get up to try it again, ask yourself the questions: Do I really want this? Is all the work really worth it? If your answer to both questions is a clear "Yes!!", then you should go for a second round.

    When you go for a second round, you have a few advantages over the first round, because you already know the way, you gained more experience in whatever you did and you, yourself, are more mature. You already have a new Plan A (your old Plan B) and you are ready to go for it.

    In order to digest my initial failure from which I still suffer ;-), I decided to develop a proper Plan B a little later. I also built a fallback-solution into my (now) Plan A which can be considered as Plan B. I already started my preparations for achieving my final goal and I found out that I like Plan B actually better than I liked Plan A, because due to the additional time that I now have, I can do a lot more things, for which it was too late when they came into my mind at the Plan A preparations.

    I also see my failing as an epic failure just at the right time. When you had a lot of successes you may think that everything works automatically, which it doesn't (Yes, again a case study of myself) and you might need to do some more work to achieve your goal (What an epiphany).

    Finally I want to remind you that a failure, a disaster or whatever is never a step back, but at least one step forward. Not necessarily into the right direction but obviously it was a step forward. Also keep in mind that not only taste is in the eye of the beholder but also success and failure.

     - "Success is, getting up once more, than you fell down."

    Saturday, January 9, 2010

    A new year and yet again, a new Post

    Alright, alright, due to the load of Mails and Comments I received (exactly 0) and due to the load of People that must have therefore read my Blog, I will try to be not that visionary in my Posts and Insights to attract a few more people to my Blog (Maybe its just because of the Name of the Blog that no one is reading it, but hey, I know its a stupid name, but I like Douglas Adams and I couldn't think of a better Name at the time I created the Blog...).

    What will be new on my Blog is, that I finally found out how to type UPPER Case Letters, finally I know whats that 2 keys with the arrows pointing upwards are good for.

    In that sense I wish my regrular readers (I hope that number exceeds 0) a good new year and will promise to regularly blog about my thoughts and ideas on the Computer Industry, specific Developments and Computer Science in general.