Latest Read: Blockchain Basics

The Blockchain Basics by Daniel Drescher. This is a very basic blockchain book. I would recommend this to someone completely unfamiliar with blockchain. Daniel hits his mark as he places a repeated template for each step. In this design, I felt the book had trouble flowing for anyone who has already read a blockchain textbook.
Blockchain BasicsDaniel pushes the elementary lessons through 25 steps.

There is a very basic outline to the security of the blockchain. Again this book has a specific target audience: Newbie.

I have to admit that I was bored reading the text. yet was impressed by the lessons and related topics that are presented.

Yet his lessons and related topics are simple to follow. For an overall tip of the iceberg, you can fly through this book and then move to Don Tapscott, William Mougayar and Melanie Swan.

Latest Read: Blockchain – Blueprint for a New Economy

When Melanie Swan’s book Blockchain: Blueprint for a New Economy written under the O’Reilly series was available I was eager to start reading. This is a thoughtful overview to the Blockchain. There is much to learn about the role of cryptocurrency and the blockchain but this is not the sole focus of her work.

Blockchain - Blueprint for a New EconomyMelanie, like Tapscott paints a wide brush across the Blockchain. Too similar to Tapscott perhaps? No. If the blockchain’s focus was just security then it would command a smaller, narrow focus on IT infrastructure. Yet Melanie provides a wider arena to learn how Blockchains especially in healthcare hold enormous possibilities.

My first book Don Tapscott’s The Blockchain Revolution was interesting. William Mougayar’s The Business Blockchain was better. My thirst for knowledge continues.This is possibly the best of the three at providing a deeper dive to the possibilities of a truly changing technology.
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Latest Read: The Business Blockchain

William Mougayar’s new book The Business Blockchain: Promise, Practice, and Application of the Next Internet Technology provides a blueprint overview that compliments Tapscott’s Blockchain Revolution previously reviewed. Mougayar is able to specifically touch on the Blockchain’s architecture. Tapscott painted with a wide brush addressing everything possible with the Blockchain’s decentralized trust solution.
The Business Blockchain: Promise, Practice, and Application of the Next Internet TechnologyMougayar moves slightly forward addressing v 3.0 aimed at audiences wider than banking. A key view is that Blockchain will not just be for the enterprise. This will create a new crypto economy. It will be interesting to watch this grow. Care to take a live look? Here is the blockchain.info site.

He views the blockchain will revolutionize the roles of existing financial intermediaries including PayPal. Blockchains will force change upon them. They can adapt or die like the dinosaurs. Blockchains will disrupt oldschool, imperial organizations as the trust boundary shifts value away from them after hundreds of years.

Banks are clearly the key target of the blockchain infrastructure. To no surprise even the Federal Reserve has been given a blockchain briefing in June. The focus byMougayar beyond another blockchain overview is a breakdown of trust, obstacles and challenges to the Blockchain technology. The issue is much stronger in the financial services marketplace as Wall Street and international banks are now testing blockchains. He touches briefly implementing Blockchain technologies and closes by pushing the message of decentralization as a key in moving forward.
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Latest Read: The Blockchain Revolution

Blockchain as a financial technology (FitTech) surged in late 2015. Wall Street banks and other international financial firms stress tested this technology and are investing in blockchain infrastructure. Even Janet Yellen and The Federal Reserve received a blockchain briefing within June.

Don Tapscott’s Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World is a worthy introduction to this advanced security ledger technology. This book is NOT about Bitcoin.

The Blockchain RevolutionTapscott paints with a wide brush across the underlying architecture. Looking for blockchain infrastructure, cryptocurrency or blockchain as a service than take a glance at the table of contents. O’Reilly’s Blockchain books are more targeted to tech folks anyway.

Hard to believe I have been a fan of Don’s writing for over 10 years. Just looked at my review of Wikinomics and MacroWikinomics, his previous books published way back in 2006. His follow up Macrowikinomics was released in 2008. It was interesting to me to understand Don lightly wrapped an element from Wikinomics called Ideagoras into The Blockchain Revolution. Sometimes you just cannot leave home….

Clearly FinTech sees the blockchain’s potential to disrupt their world. The focus for Tapscott is how to address Blockchain beyond Wall Street. The blockchain allows participants of public and private distributed systems to agree on a common view of a system and track changes across those systems with highly secure encryption. Security is also the core of healthcare blockchains with the focus on the crypto in cryptocurrency.
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Latest read: We Were Soldiers Once and Young

Joe Galloway and Hal Moore wrote We Were Soldiers Once And Young about their battle in the Ia Drang Valley. They reveal a deeper tragedy around the tipping point battle that would haunt America for a generation. As always the book is better than the movie.
we were soldiers: The battle in the Ia Drang ValleyThe battle of the Ia Drang Valley casts a long shadow over America’s role in Vietnam. It carries implications today. The ambush and loss of 155 Americans from a single battle (LZ Albany) was the largest loss of life throughout the entire American war including the siege at Khe Sanh and the Tet Offensive. Please recall Khe Sanh was a six month siege while the Ia Drang Valley was less than 48 hours.

America’s fast growing role in Vietnam was largely based upon the Ia Drang Valley. The White House would establish “body count” as the measured outcome. At the same time I somehow missed that Norman Schwarzkopf marched into Ia Drang at LZ X-Ray the day after the battle.

Galloway has written an excellent account of the Air Cav surviving LZ X-Ray and also the failures of command moving troops to LZ Albany on the ground. His attention to detail unique that every man in battle is identified by name and hometown…many times the following paragraph revealed that soldier’s death. Three cities where I have lived lost men in the Ia Drang Valley. One solider killed on the second day at LZ X-Ray lived 9 miles from our home in Milwaukee. Young men from greater Chicago and Northwest Ohio also died in battle.

As portrayed in the opening sequence of the movie based upon this book, NVA soldiers executed wounded Americans in the Ia Drang Valley. The history of war in Asian culture is much harsher than in Europe.
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Latest Read: Keeping Up with the Quants

Have been looking forward to Tom Davenport’s Keeping Up with the Quants: Your Guide to Understanding and Using Analytics for longer than I care to admit. I throughly enjoyed his book Competing on Analytics all the way back in 2008. His followup Big Data@Work provides the same scope for business regarding the emerging era of Big Data.
Keeping Up with the Quants: Your Guide to Understanding and Using Analytics Tom has truly mastered the role of business analytics for well over two decades. He is acknowledged as revealing the path of metrics and just as important how success can be defined by adopting a mindset of analytics over intuition. It should be no surprise that I am a big fan of Tom Davenport.

Seems like a lifetime ago in the competitive and fast changing world of analytics. Quantitative analysis with a side of regression is not a diner order but a key skill to identify patterns in data.

An easy read with great common sense approaches for leaders to understand and professionals to embrace it proves not only how business gains insights but how to defend Kobe Bryant.

On the heels of reading Nate Silver’s bestseller The Signal and the Noise, Davenport reveals how quants have not only broken down NBA basketball defensive measures to each quarter when playing Bryant and the Lakers but how to guard him in a last possession game scenario.
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Latest read: Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction

Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction by Wharton’s Philip Tetlock and Dan Gardner is another great read addressing analytics, human behavior and analytic technologies for establishing and sharpening forecasting abilities for any organization.

superforecasting the art and science of predictionThe book title is a wonderful attention grabber for me that demonstrates we live in the era of big data with business driving the age of immediacy.

Superforecasting acknowledges data lessons supplied by Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise as helping to define standards to data and how it misled the national media.

Yet just into the second chapter Tetlock and Gardner point to the research by Daniel Kahneman excellent work Thinking Fast and Slow to help determine behaviors shaped over time that have fundamentally changed how we predict success.
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FarmBot: Open­source precision farming

FarmBot is an open­source and scalable automated precision farming machine and software package designed from the ground up with today’s technologies. The world’s population is growing and is projected to surpass 9 billion inhabitants by 2050. As a result farms must increase production by about 60 percent to meet demand which is stunning since many believe we have reached the limits of traditional farming.
FarmBot

In comparison to desktop digital 3D printers and CNC machines FarmBot extends the idea of X, Y, and Z directions and applies it to plows, seed injectors, water and sensors in order to accurately and efficiently grow plants and soil. I think that I would like to try this out in my own backyard.
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Introducing the AWS IoT cloud

The emerging IoT developer community received a much anticipated jolt of news when Amazon finally announced new enterprise services dedicated to the AWS IoT cloud launch at their 2015 re:Invent conference.
AWS IoT Cloud PlatformThis new AWS IoT cloud service will permit web based interfaces to manage IoT events from various devices: sensors, wearables, drones, and of course mobile tools and apps around an established AWS ecosystem.

The AWS IoT cloud emerges as Amazon’s long term platform following the SalesForce Thunder platform announced last month. Both vendors look to establish key IoT cloud solutions in the corporate enterprise space. They join Cisco’s IoT, Microsoft’s Azure IoT, Oracle’s Movintracks along side GE’s energy launch of Current IoT. The race is now on to process millions of data events from light bulbs to dishwashers and cars over the MQTT protocol and process those messages in their respective clouds.

Amazon is leveraging 11 services around their IoT Cloud strategy to include existing AWS services: Kinesis, Redshift, S3, SNS, SQS, ML, DynamoDB and Lambda. A key investment to this strategy was the recent acquisition of 2lemetry, a IoT enterprise company tuned for transforming raw data from IoT devices onto their ThingFabric platform.
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Latest read: The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires

Tim Wu’s second book The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires is wonderful examination how American information empires were established and stifled innovation at the same time. This is my second book by Wu following his brilliant Who Controls the Internet.
The Master SwitchWu identifies long business cycles surrounding the birth of information systems. While they begin open over time they were consolidated and driven by the market to become closed.

We displays how they become open again following amazing innovations force a business change in order to survive in the new marketplace.

The Master Switch opens with the birth of the Bell AT&T telephone monopoly. This is a facinating story when held against the garage startups of Apple and Google.

There is an amazing look at how countries and cultures also view information empires differently. The case for Wu is the capitalist, independent market approach to radio vs the UK’s BBC dominated by the royal family.

The Master Switch reveals how four key markets actually hold government infrastructure: telecommunications, banking, energy and transportation. These four and their capitalist owners for generations established control over any citizen’s attempt at challenging their monopolies. The lesson Wu establishes is corporate control by closed technologies. Yet one cannot help but understand they magically protected the country from the devastating affects of revolution leading up to and more importantly the horrific aftermath of World War I that forever removed Paris as the hub for film entertainment.
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Reading Lewis Sorley’s A Better War

Lewis Sorley wrote A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and the Final Tragedy of America’s Last Years in Vietnam taking a position that the US won the war in Vietnam. This is proving to be a different twist to the war from the American point of view. His focus is only on America’s efforts after Westmoreland departed.
A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and the Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in VietnamThis book has been viewed as an attempt to portray America’s great success led by Creighton Abrams against the Communist NVA and the Vietcong. The suggestion left to the reader is the US actually won the Vietnam war.

This has proven controversial to say the least. The early chapters lay out the shifting role between Westmoreland and Abrams, the role of LBJ and the emerging leadership of CIA’s William Colby and Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker.

To Sorley’s point by switching quarterbacks at the beginning of the fourth quarter the US was able to score a great number of touchdowns. Yet the score after three-quarters was already too deep to overcome. This will prove to be a very interesting read nevertheless.

Latest read: Learning with Big Data – The Future of Education

Big Data has changed education forever. Learning with Big Data reveals If your school has not fully embraced big data you should consider moving your child’s education elsewhere. In higher education its fully integrated across the institution from the admissions office all the way through the office of alumni relations.
Learning with Big Data – The Future of EducationThis short e-read builds upon the success of Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think released in 2013. This book is not about MOOCs, but does dedicate pages to the background and success of Khan Academy.

Authors Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation from Oxford and Kenneth Cukier from The Economist introduce Learning with Big Data by way of the role of machine learning at Stanford. The course is taught by Andrew Ng, cofounder of Coursera.

Ng has brought to the globe the ability to teach a world class curriculum in machine learning from California to students in Tibet. In many ways this very idea is threatening to close minded administrators sitting in their siloed office.

The focus in this special book is how big data, which reveals to educators what works and what does not is reforming education. The ability today to interactively track the performance of each individual student in real time throughout the semester can make a big difference because the data drives how focused, dedicated administrators can more effectively budget extremely tight dollars in guiding a campus forward.
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