Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Holidays!

Click in the image for our Happy Holidays Message!

from the creators of the best free toy ever the rubber band :)
This guys marketing rocks!

[Thanks to Adriana for the fun link]

Monday, December 17, 2007

Accelerated genetic human evolution

This BBC article [Thanks to Ed for sending it to me] writes about a study that tries to demonstrate that the human evolution is accelerating in the genetic level. I find it very nice as a reality check for those who don't believe in evolution.

On the other hand it seems to me like we're past the point of natural genetic evolution. After watching a genetically modified mouse walk fearlessly towards a cat as a result of parts of it's olfactory bulb getting disabled, just to cite one of the recent wonders of genetic manipulations, you can see it coming fast ... Our pace with gene variations through genetic procedures will be so accelerated that we could say reproduction is losing its primordial goal in the human race (too movie like but not less true because of that).

Thursday, December 13, 2007

How to monetize a website?

These are the basic models of revenue I can think of analyzed from the perspective of a regular web site offering horizontal or mostly vertical content:

1. Subscription based services.
This is basically the membership approach. Members pay for a monthly or yearly membership. There are some options as far as the membership. There are sites that will provide free membership. Other option is the unique fixed membership fee. Another approach is escalated memberships with different benefits and fees (gold, platinum, make it simple ;). The fourth option, which I'm a big fan of, is a mix called freemium, which would offer a free membership providing basic services and a premium membership with a fee and exclusive services that only premium members can get. The freemium option usually gets nicely complemented by advertisement on the free areas of the service.

2. Pay per service. This is the model of the pay per view in the cable industry. Users pay as they consume a product or service. For instance, the member might have a free membership and pay to play one round of golf or one tournament, etc. As part of this model there's a new approach "it's up to you" started some time ago in the music industry by Radiohead. Also, an interesting approach to this model was eBays with commissions applied to services/product sold by others.

3. Advertisement based models. Users have great acceptance of non-intrusive publicity that finances their free services. It’s been a winner for multiple companies to make money where many others failed before (including Google).

4. Merchandise store. As you get traffic to a site, one revenue model usually used in addition to others is to have a merchandise store related to the site users' interests.

Then of course there are combinations of all of them, which I really think is the way to go.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Release software updates on Tuesdays, never Fridays

My uncle went to surgery recently here at La Jolla. When we spoke on the phone before the surgery he commented to me that the surgeon liked to make important surgeries on Tuesdays, so people could come in and get ready on Mondays and they would have many weekdays ahead before the weekend in case there were complications.

I thought there's something to learn from this surgeons for us in the software industry. So, from now on, unless something is totally broken and we need an immediate fix, our software updates will go out on a Tuesday. Friday they usually be ready, Monday we'll do the last testing and Tuesday out they go!

In reality we're doing it on a Wed this time, couldn't get to the Tues in time ...

Anyway, it looks like it'll save lots of worries to both our clients and our tech support department :)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Chimps beat humans in memory tests

Japanese researchers have revealed the results of a fascinating study in which chimps beat humans in memory tests:

If I had to find an explanation I'd think that humans added too many programs in a relatively short period of evolution which ended up screwing our memory in favor of other traits. I kind of was impressed with the memory my 2 years old had and it seemed to fade away as she "learned" more social and specific behaviors.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Communication evolution

Human communication is evolving, and it is evolving in an accelerated way.

I came across a post that summarizes the milestones like this:

Age in Years
(2007 estimate)
Homo sapiens~200,000
Language >50,000
Writing 5,000
Telephone 131
E-Mail 25
IRC 19
Texting 15
IM 11
Blogging 10
Twitter 1

Can you feel the acceleration? It really makes you wonder what is the next thing and when will we know about it? Also, it seems to be reaching some type of limit as no technology can be adopted in less than 1 year, or can it?

The article measures for each communication type three variables: immediacy, audience and lifespan and analyzes the holes trying to predict/invent the future new communication channels.

Once a paradigm is reaching a limit like this a new paradigm is born. We might soon see the beginning of a new paradigm: brain to brain communication through BCI (brain computer interfaces), something that is already out there ...

Saturday, December 08, 2007

One laptop per child

I just signed-up on the Give One Get One program of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program.

Sometime in early 2008 my daughters will get one laptop each and what's more exciting two little ones in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Haiti, Mongolia or Rwanda will get one as well in the same early 2008 timeframe.

Unfortunately they will not make it by Xmas, but any day can be Xmas with a laptop :)

What we eat in one week around the globe

Interesting pictures showing what families around the world eat in one week ...

The source is the book Hungry Planet: What the World Eats, you can see multiple pictures online on this forum.

Friday, December 07, 2007

If the web was a democracy standards would rule

If the web was a democracy (I don't want to say the world) we'd have standards for everything: openID, open social networks, open handset alliance, open source movement.

Standards always benefit users, I believe they do benefit all of us across the board as they allow technology to progress and become pervasive.

Take an example of a world without standards like the cell phone industry and you will only see stagnment and user restrictions and limitations. CDMA, GSM, TDMA restricting which phones you can use with which wireless companies or which country. Palm, Windows Mobile, OS X, limiting software mobile software development. Web browsers are not appropiate enough or strong enough in this platforms to fill in the standard gap for the industry.

On the other hand, there's tons of great examples as far as where standards can take us. What made the web what it is today? The web become a platform in itself and if you wonder what's the web after all? It's just a bunch of standards TCP/IP, HTTP, HTML, XML, etc.

What user on their right mind would deny the advantage of having unique identification (like OpenID)? In the wild world today the adoption of standards depends on some many factors. Mostly, what big players are doing according to their own interests. I know this might be controversial, there's many interpretations as far as what raises to the top, such as the hive mind. I don't want to get political with the W3C, but maybe some day we can have some type of organization that optimizes the way we think, create and why not? vote for our standards. Then, the industry would follow what is best for the users which again, in the end is the best for all of us.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

We don't know what a machine is anymore

I was reading a great post on important differences between brains and computers. It is very interesting as it summarizes the current understanding of what a computer is and what it can and can't do. As I was reading it, it reminded me of a wonderful story by Edgar Allan Poe. In the Maelzel's Chess-Player story (1836) Edgar Allan Poe gives all the arguments to detract a supposedly automaton chess player Maelzel was exposing. The really interesting part is that trhough couple of his arguments you can see how limited their current understanding of what a machine could and could not do was at that time. Specially the two things that were apparently true then, but not some ~150 years later were:

"1. The moves of the Turk are not made at regular intervals of time, but accommodate themselves to the moves of the antagonist ... The fact then of irregularity, when regularity might have been so easily attained, goes to prove that regularity is unimportant to the action of the Automaton--in other words, that the Automaton is not a pure machine."

"3. The Automaton does not invariably win the game. Were the machine a pure machine this would not be the case--it would always win. The principle being discovered by which a machine can be made to play a game of chess, an extension of the same principle would enable it to win a game--a farther extension would enable it to win all games--that is, to beat any possible game of an antagonist. ..."

Some years later we could all see a machine that would play chess and for some time we could see it both take different intervals answering and win as well as loose a game. Today that the chess game computers are more sofisticated we might not even see a chess computer loose a game anymore, and the answer eventually might become so instantly that might be perceived as coming at regular intervals, but, still, by the time I read this story for the first time, I could see clearly that the "current" notion of what a computer can or can't do might and most likely will be wrong.

That's why I loved also this post with the differences between the brain and computers as we understand them today. Apart from being a very good detailed article, I loved it because I think it might be the kind of story we (and note I'm not saying our grandchildren) can look at in the future (near future I'd think because of the law of acceleration returns or exponential growth of technology) and realize how technology is changing and our notion of what technology is needs to change accordingly.

On the differences themselves, I believe brains and computers are different, they will continue to be. Computers will have some abilities (specifically regarding memory capacity and possibilities) that brains will only acquire by merging with technology, that's why it's important to think on how we will merge and how we design intelligent technology sooner than later (although it might be out of our control some day).

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Will Genexus bet on android?

I'm just assuming and hoping that we do find in Android the standard mobile platform that was so long awaited in order to make mobile evolve into what it will become. That's just a bet so far, I wonder if Genexus will bet on that ...

I guess it shouldn't be too hard considering that it's only adding the Android SDK flavor to the existing java generator.

Imagining the 10th dimension video

I found this video that explains and builds up the dimensions starting from a dot to the 10th dimension in a pretty accessible way.
In the end it ties up with string theory, which confuses me a little as I thought they needed 11 dimensions to close up the string theory, although reviewing it now that seems incorrect, 10 seems to be the case.
Anyway, if you ever wondered how to imagine any dimension above the 3rd and 4th this video, based on the book "Imagining the tenth dimension" by Rob Bryanton (the book doesn't seem as promising as the simple video explanation), will help you close the loop.

What does yoga and project management have in common?

Yoga is a non-competitive sport. One of my teachers gives us for every pose three alternatives: the pose itself, modifications for beginners and the advanced pose. When I was thinking on what's the best way to give requirements to my developers I had this image of my yoga teacher's three levels and I thought it makes a lot of sense to apply this same concept when I give specs (specifications) to resources.

For any one feature we want to implement, there is the functionality itself we want to implement, things we might like to have but are just nice to haves and things that would make the feature implementation just outstanding. When I give specs to my developers I like to give them options. This way, if something is getting them stuck and it was not a total must to implement the feature I won't be waiting a long time for something that was not essential to the goal in question. On the other hand, if all goes super well, they are aware of what the cherry in the cake would be and they will tend to implement the optimal solution if it's not totally out of they way.