Latest Read: Makers: The New Industrial Revolution

Makers: The New Industrial Revolution is the best book hi-lighting the impact Makers have established over the last five years. The Maker movement is growing due to the collision of powerful digital tools, the internet of things and cost effective manufacturing. As a child I always wished for these advanced tools to bring to life my ideas, inventions and the toys my childhood friends would talk about and dream about making.

Makers The New Industrial RevolutionMy ideas for creating art was always apart of my Saturday art classes at the Toledo Museum of Art. The drawings I kept of my inventions have all but disappeared.

This is where Makers: The New Industrial Revolution comes into focus for parents and educators today a generation later. What is making this possible? The industrial global supply chain has driven the cost of affordable powerful IoT including the new $5 Raspberry Pi Zero that will drive new innovations at incredibly efficient price points.

We should be careful at home because the world is embracing these technologies. Remember Anderson shares his belief that inventors and creative types are actually makers. Now this is happening on a truly global scale.

If the buzz of 3D printers and filament reels make your eyes glaze please remember that YouTube is the best example of Makers sharing their passion. Look at any dedicated YouTube channel – say woodworking- and you will find Makers creating and uploading passionate lessons regarding their craft. Look no further than Esty for a commercial success as a reseller of Maker’s crafts now listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Simply unheard of just 5 years ago.
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Latest read: The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail–but Some Don’t

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – But Some Don’t by Nate Silver is another great book that completely absorbed my attention. This book offers in sights to many audiences. From weather forecasts, the Wall Street financial crisis in 2007, playing poker to even understanding and identifying signal relationships regarding the attacks on Pearl Harbor and New York on 9/11.
The Signal and the NoiseThe Signal and the Noise offers readers Silver’s insights on Bayesian thinking. Actually the book applies Bayesian in all the books lessons.

He nudges us to remember this when applying predictions in our own professions. Actually Nate’s study of predictions affects just about everything we do in life.

The strongest lesson for me is about understanding data-driven models can lead to tragic outcomes. He warns us about noisy data and Big Data that can set off false readings with horrific consequences. This alone makes this book a pretty important read.

Silver’s chapter on baseball and references to Michael Lewis‘s bestseller MoneyBall actually reveals to the reader the best thing math geek and baseball scouts can do is collaborate together to make the game more accurate in evaluating talent. Great lessons in applied statistics. Take this as just one key book in helping to improve your job and your life.

Reading Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise

Wow just started reading The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – But Some Don’t and see it carries the strong reputation as a though provoking book about prediction.
The Signal and the NoiseHe continues to look at data including out of sample data to provide greater context to long held assumptions to credit default swaps that strangled Wall Street and the housing bubble.

Even in defining why the US depression following the wall street collapse was worse than projected, his appeal of Too Big To Fail proves he has a good foundation from Andrew Ross Sorkin’s great book.

The second chapter of The Signal and the Noise focuses on pro baseball. Its another look at America’s game from a geek’s perspective. He acknowledges the impact of Moneyball by Michael Lewis. Lewis is a respected writer for all things wall street and metrics.

Now lets see how risk takers in Higher Education can improve a campus by understanding and absorbing these lessons….just pushing into chapter three.

Dong Xoai and the required US shift in Vietnam

Moyar’s final chapter in Triumph Forsaken reveals his deep understanding of the 1965 Vietcong attack at Dong Xoai and the aftermath – yet another change in Saigon’s leadership. This closing chapter illustrates for Moyar the aggressive communist attacks taken throughout the central highlands as a synopsis for the war.

triumph forsakenWhat will surprise many unfamiliar with Vietnam’s countryside, the battle was just 100km (or 62 miles) from Saigon. One of the spoils of military victory is writing history. The NVA claims to have killed over 4,500 South Vietnamese and 77 Americans at the Dong Xoai battlefield. (via Google Maps)

Today this would shock Americans to think a massive Vietcong battle was fought less than a two hour drive to Saigon. As reference, the distance is shorter between Milwaukee and Chicago.

Cannot help but wonder about Moyar’s theme: South Vietnam was destined to collapse by 1965. Yes Johnson’s remark to historian Henry Graff “The worst mistake we ever made was getting rid of Diem” rings true. Regardless of Moyar’s short timeline American interests never groomed a worthy successor to Diem. Despite a series of aggressive communist attacks in the central highlands in early 1965 the role of the US military was still restricted by the White House at 72,000 Americans in country. At Dong Xoai a US Special Forces camp assigned only 20 Americans to support 400 local soldiers from two militia companies.

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BMW i3 Vorfreude

Vorfreude is German for anticipation. The BMW i3, their new new electric car will be announced this month.

University cloud computing contracts

Did you hear about the university professor signed up for a cloud service and unknowingly left his department on the hook for two years of service beyond his grant….or the university who had more than 500,000 student records (social security, addresses and grades) hacked? Cloud computing poses special demands upon Universities who can no longer employ the same procurement process used to acquire computers and software since the 1980s.

Are you aware that today many Universities (and K12 School districts) use a popular email marketing program that sells contact information of students to vertical marketing firms who in turn re-sell them to other marketing and product companies?

Today’s aggressive marketplace and the business of cloud services has radically changed the procurement process. Many of us have a fiduciary duty to protect data of our students, research and institutions.  Regardless of how students freely give away their data on Facebook, our institution will still be held responsible to  protect all of our institution’s data.

My views on the impact of Cloud Computing in Higher Education have been slowly evolving. This past May I was given an incredible opportunity to further my learning by participating in an Engineering & Technology Short Course with the UCLA Extension.
Remember those “must-take classes” in college?  UCLA’s Contracting for Cloud Computing Services is one on my list of those opportunities you cannot afford to ignore.  My advice: Find your way to UCLA.

Again, I hope this can help as many people as possible understand the lessons taught in class.  Due to the nature of the beast they are in no specific order. They are all top level concerns:

BACKGROUND
For over a generation traditional desktop PC vendors focused on features and price. Since the late 1980s schools established trust in vendor’s products to conduct business, educate students and store student data. From floppy disks to magnetic tape all data was stored locally on campus.

Today’s globalized internet marketplace is radically different when compared to the modem era of computing. The cloud computing model represents a number of fundamental shifts including Software as a Service(SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) are well established.

And although it’s a bit ahead on the radar we should not overlook the quickly emerging SuperComputer as a Service. While there is no  standard acronym, there are established vendors like SGI’s Cyclone, Amazon’s Cluster Compute, IBM’s Watson, and with forthcoming merge between PiCloud and D-Wave‘s quantum computing….more options for High Performance Computing will be available to many smaller, lean and aggressive institutions.

These new services are directly tied to the “consumerization” of technology: advanced technologies at affordable price points. As a result the new focus is around access.  The shift to mobile computing via netbooks, smartphones and tablets is well underway, yet many school’s do not have a sufficient wireless infrastructure. Students, faculty and administrators are today carrying a laptop, smartphone and probably an iPad. Schools are struggling to to handle bandwidth demands of so many devices in concentrated areas around campus, from the Student Union to the ResHalls.

IMHO the tipping point with Cloud computing and digital devices is the convenience of access. Today many diverse schools have a campus community that simply demands anytime/anywhere access to data. And it’s no longer just email and web.  Its BIG data from data base research to the delivery of HD media. For better (or for worse) society has become trained to demand mobile solutions that easily integrate into the app economy and their mobile lifestyles.
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Hot, Flat, and Crowded 2.0

Sometimes a 2.0 release is viewed as a fix for shortcomings in the initial release of just about any product….except this update from Tom Friedman: Hot, Flat, and Crowded 2.0: Why We Need a Green Revolution–and How It Can Renew America.
I quickly read version 1.0 as soon as it hit bookshelves and was just amazed at Friedman’s writing about the state of research, business and culture surrounding our planet. Missed reading this when it was originally released?

Yet as of late I have been reading so much about Wall Street’s clusterf*ck that I missed his update Hot, Flat, and Crowded 2.0: Why We Need a Green Revolution–and How It Can Renew America.

An overview to the version 2.0 release:Friedman explains how global warming, rapidly growing populations, and the astonishing expansion of the world’s middle class through globalization have produced a planet that is “hot, flat, and crowded.”  In this Release 2.0 edition, he also shows how the very habits that led us to ravage the natural world led to the meltdown of the financial markets and the Great Recession.  The challenge of a sustainable way of life presents the United States with an opportunity not only to rebuild its economy, but to lead the world in radically innovating toward cleaner energy.  And it could inspire Americans to something we haven’t seen in a long time—nation-building—by summoning the intelligence, creativity, and concern for the common good that are our greatest national resources.

In vivid, entertaining chapters, Friedman makes it clear that the green revolution the world needs is like no revolution before. It will be the biggest innovation project in American history; it will be hard, not easy; and it will change everything from what you put into your car to what you see on your electric bill. This is a great challenge, Friedman explains, but also a great opportunity, and one that America cannot afford to miss. Not only is American leadership the key to the healing of the earth; it is also our best strategy for the renewal of America.

Or consider the following accolades for his writing:

  • A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year
  • A Washington Post Best Book of the Year
  • A Businessweek Best Business Book of the Year
  • A Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year
  • A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year
  • A Business Week Best Business Book of the Year
  • A Christian Science Monitor Best Book of the Year
  • A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Best Book of the Year
  • A Booklist Editors’ Choice Best Book of the Year
  • Finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize

Latest read: On the Brink

A financial crisis is a terrible thing to waste. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson faced the largest crisis in our country’s modern history with a great opportunity.  His first hand account of the near collapse of our financial economy is detailed in On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System.
on the brinkHis strongest writing are the 20 pages in the book’s Afterward, written one year after his departure from Treasury with the opportunity to look back and reflect upon the events and the solutions including TARP and the role of the G20.

Paulson was certainly the right type of person for the job having served as the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs.  He previously served in the Nixon administration as an assistant to John Ehrlichman during the Watergate scandal.

Although reluctant to accept the job as United States Treasury Secretary under George W. Bush, Paulson acknowledged upon his arrival in Washington a credit crisis was on the horizon.  Clearly Paulson notes he was naive of regulatory powers in Washington and any suggestions of financial reform in an election year were all dead on arrival.

It’s worth repeating that between March and September 2008, eight major US financial institutions failed — Bear Stearns, IndyMac, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, AIG, Washington Mutual and Wachovia.  Six of them in September alone.
Paulson jumps right out of the gate on page 1 as all Americans would have wanted:

Do they know it’s coming Hank? President Bush asked me.  “Mr. President we’re going to move quickly and take them by surprise.  The first sound they’ll hear is their heads hitting the floor….For the good of the country I proposed we seize control of the companies, fire their bosses and prepare to provide $100 billion of capital support for each.”

Regrettably its not Wall Street but rather Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government backed lending institutions (GSEs) that Paulson is addressing.  Paulson should could have done the same for Lehman, Bear Stearns.and ALL the other institutions since they received taxpayer money to keep them afloat….on their yachts.
–When you learn that someone at a financial company made a 1 Billion bonus (yes a billion for one person) you can see where the ship was heading…right into the rocks.

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Google to build multiple fiber cities ?

Google may launch more than one “fiber city” in America.  This cyberinfrastructure project could will be a tipping point for a few lucky cities.

Tags: experimental network, Google, Network, internet access, Research, Internet2, Broadbandt, gigabit, high speed, trends,

Latest read: Remix

Regrettably the Vancouver Olympics interrupted my reading pattern and its been a slow recovery.  I blogged about this book as soon as I learned it was in production back in August.  Yikes!

Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid EconomyI have been following Larry Lessig‘s work on copyright and our digital culture for some time, reading his positions online, previous books and keynote addresses at TED, Wired and last week to Italy’s Parliament among others.  His work on Creative Commons is a direct action from the creative limitations of copyright.

His latest book Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy is a very easy read for anyone who has also known his work.  He tells an important story about how new technology is clashing with old money.

Lessig illustrates how copyright’s old money (the big media empires) are clashing with today’s society and technology.  Old money is winning financial amounts here and there, but ultimately they are cutting their own throat as they can no longer control content.  Their motto: since we cannot have it our way anymore (due to the easy distribution of digital content) we are going to sue as many people as we can and take outrageous amounts of money along the way.

Lessig simply points out the two different camps: Read-only versus Read-Write.  Look at popular consumer phones and computers.  Today anyone can create a short video and post it to YouTube.  And by today’s “standard” in social networking — your somewhat expected to post multimedia content on Facebook and YouTube for example.

But post a 29 second video of a baby dancing to Prince’s Lets Go Crazy and Universal Music (they own Prince and his music) files a lawsuit claiming copyright violations.  Its old money trying to control society and Lessig points out it clearly no longer works.

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Latest read: The Age of Turbulance

I finished Alan Greenspan‘s book The Age of Turbulence Adventures in a New World and learned it was more than I expected from the former Chairman of The Federal Reserve.  And with the recession still in high gear it was also good timing.
The Age of TurbulanceBeyond his sheer volume of knowledge regarding the economy, global markets and international finance I was most impressed with Greenspan’s simple yet immense observation: America needs an overhauled K12 educational system for our country to have a strong economy in 2030.

The impact of Technology, Globalization & Innovation as he outlines should not be overlooked regarding educational reform.  I must admit the real interest for most readers would be to jump the chapter that addresses the recession.  Its worth taking the time to read the book in full.

Greenspan’s impact in Washington, the economy and Republican politics spans Presidential administrations from Nixon to W. Bush.  Greenspan has enjoyed a pretty interesting life.  I was most struck not by his interest in music but rather his high school music partner Stan Getz.  His comments about his role in Y2K for the government and financial markets and the impact of fiber optic networks were welcoming for any geek or fanboy.

There is just a huge amount of economic learning you can pickup from his 25 chapters.  My favorite chapters surprisingly fall in a row:

19. Globalization and Regulation
20. The “Conundrum”
21. Education and Income Inequality
22. The world retires. But can it afford to?

There are some amazing things you can learn from an economist.  His view of W. Bush’s administration and their loss of focus on the economy was eye opening.  Bush never changed any economic plans beyond what he promised during his election campaign.  W. Bush repeatedly ignored The Fed’s view of the sliding economy and needed changes over the close of his Presidency and handed his successor an economy with financial, housing and automotive markets in crisis.

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Latest read: Free The future of a radical price

Just finished reading Free: The Future of a Radical Price by Chris Anderson.  I very much enjoyed his previous book The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More. (review here)  The first time I read about this idea was an article he wrote in his 2008 Wired article.  Have to admit I was skeptical.  Free invites you to learn about new “radical sales techniques” that have actually been around for some time, but could not take off without the influence of the global internet economy.

And YES you can read his book for free online at Scribd and at Google Books.  You can also download a full unabridged 6 hour audiobook for free — or purchase a 3 hour abridged copy.  Get it?

Like me, if you have not been paying close attention to the Free Economy, there is much to learn from this book.

Anderson traces the history of “free” products (Gillette razor blades in 1895 and even Jello) and services and intelligently outlines how “free” is driving sales in our culture today.  Even in our current economic recession.

He introduces the idea by recalling a famous announcement from Monty Python, who’s pirated movies were already on YouTube.  They decided to establish their own YouTube channel, place higher quality clips online with links to their DVD products….and placed a hilarious insult letter to all their fans.

Even though they were placing movies online for free, fans purchased their DVDs at Amazon, driving them to the #2 sales rank with an increased sales volume of 23,000%.  That’s no typo: a 23,000% sales jump!  Clearly Free can work.

Anderson has done great research to help explain (he calls them “sidebars” in the book) to help you see where you have already run across “free” in your daily life including radical ideas including air travel, cars, silverware, textbooks and even a university education.

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