Monthly Archives: March 2014

Is a Canadian team going to win the Stanley Cup in 2014?

Based on this logic, Why Can’t Canada Win the Stanley Cup? – NYTimes.com (and Nate Silver, 2013), the answer is No. Not only is the argument convincing, it is depressing if you are a Canadian, since as the post also shows, Canadians are avid hockey fans.

Anyone who loves hockey, the NHL or the Stanley Cup playoffs will enjoy this piece of writing.

 

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Robot Fast Food workers, automats, and food trucks: food of the future

Are low-wage workers going to replaced by robots? There are cases to be made for that happening, both here: The Shift From Low-Wage Worker to Robot Worker from FiveThirtyEight and from the recent book, The Second Machine age (pictured above). Indeed, some have argued that fast food restaurants are a form of manufacturing, and this makes the notion of replacing works with machines more plausible to me.

It is important not just to look at the future, but also the past, in particular, the history of the automat.

The automat was once the future too, and there are still vestiges of them around, but mainly they have died off. There were a number of reasons for this (see Automat – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia), but inflexibility was one of them. Right now fast food establishments thrive on inflexibility and low cost.That is also the way to compete with them.  I can see how people can compete with that and win, and the way to do that is portable food (e.g., food trucks, food stalls). Barring bureaucratic costs, portable food is cheaper to deliver than traditional bricks and mortar establishments (even fast food ones). And portable food vendors can be much more flexible than fast food places can ever be.

The other way to compete with them is by being human and offering better service. No robot in the next century will be able to do that.

For more on the book, check out: Amazon.com: The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies (9780393239355): Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee: Books

 

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Is the Dropbox DMCA takedown thing new? And can Dropbox even do that?

I’ve been seeing this showing up on Twitter alot lately:

And so I had two questions: 1) is this new? 2) and can Dropbox do this? I found the answers here: About that Dropbox DMCA thing … | Android Central. The short answers are 1) no 2) yes. (Click through the link for the details.)

Dropbox is a great tool for sharing files, provided they are yours. Always remember: the Dropbox folder is not “yours”, even if the files you place there are. (And if they are not your files, then you have another set of problems.)

 If your files are important, I recommend you don’t make Dropbox your one and only place to store them. The more important files are to you, the more backups you should have.

 

How to learn github fairly easily

It is easy to feel stupid if you are trying to learn how to use github and you are not a software developer. Many of the github tutorials are aimed at people who are software developers and who have used similar tools. What can seem obvious to them can seem bafflingly to you when you are trying to understand the workings of github. (e.g., if you are not used to source control, then getting your mind around what state your file can be in at any given time in the process can be confusing.)

Despite that, if you are committed to learn how to use Github and git (the basis for Github), I recommend you take the next four steps:

  1. Start with this two part tutorial: GitHub For Beginners: Don’t Get Scared, Get Started – ReadWrite (part 1) and GitHub For Beginners: Commit, Push And Go – ReadWrite. I really liked this series. It assumes that you aren’t a software developer and that you may have tried using github and gave up. I highly recommend you take an hour and walk through both parts of this tutorial. When you are done, you will have feel that you have a good start on being able to use git.
  2. If you still feel like you want some more practice and you want to try some new things with git in a safe environment, try this interactive tutorial: Code School – Try Git. It will also teach you some additional things that you will find useful that you didn’t learn in step 1.
  3. Now that you are more comfortable with git and github, this Git Reference site walks you some of the same material, but goes into detail and explains it more. By the time you go through this, you should be alot more confident about what you are doing with git and github.
  4. Lastly, I like this site:  git – the simple guide – no deep s–t! (It’s where the graphic at the top of this post comes from). It’s a great summary of the things that you’ve learned, and it has an excellent cheat sheet on the top left of the page that you will want to keep handy.

Some additional thoughts: your use of git and github can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. You could have a simple repo on github with one or more files that only you use. Later, you could start cloning other people’s repos, making changes, and making them into your own repo. From there you could get into working with teams of people, branching and merging your files as you go. During that time, you are learning as you go. Don’t be afraid to a) make backups and then b) make mistakes. Eventually you will gain mastery of it and be able to use it to your full advantage. Better still, the material you share can be used by others, and that’s a great thing.

 

Freedom 48 – how to retire early

My former colleague and all around great person, Annie English, has a book and a blog on how to retire young. The Toronto Star has reviewed it here: Here’s how this couple retired at 48 in expensive Toronto: Roseman | Toronto Star. Annie and her husband, Rich, were disciplined before retirement, and that discipline has paid off. If you want to learn how they did it, check out the Star article, or their blog, Retired At 48. If this is something you want to achieve, buy the book, too.

Why I think Microsoft Office for the iPad is a big deal

Microsoft is providing Office for the iPad, starting today (See this for some of the highlights: Microsoft Office For iPad Launches Today).

This is one of those milestone events in the history of Microsoft and Apple, and the computing industry in general. Back in 1997, after Steve Jobs returned to Apple, there was the big news of Microsoft investing $150 million in Apple (CNET News).  And not just money…

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates said today that the software giant will invest $150 million in Apple and will develop and ship future versions of its Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, and development tools for the Macintosh

Back in 1997, Microsoft was dominant and Apple was dramatically regrouping. Apple needed Microsoft, especially their software. Now Microsoft is trying to pivot from the PC market (which is rapidly declining) to the future, which is mobile and cloud based. A future where Apple is currently one of the dominant players, and Microsoft is struggling. Microsoft needs Apple’s hardware, just like once Apple needed Microsoft’s software.

It is hard to say if this is going to change things around for Microsoft. I never count them out, ever. In the meantime, this is another sign that their transition is still a work in progress.

If you want to get it, you can get it here: Buy Office 365 Home Premium – Microsoft Store

Negotiating tips: a good story about negotiating with Steve Jobs

Over at Operating Partner, DFJ, Heide Roizen has a great case study of how to negotiate with someone as tough to deal with as Steve Jobs. You may not be in IT, and you may never have to negotiate with someone as demanding and smart as Jobs, but check it out: you can learn something useful and read a great story too.