The Change Function

Why some technologies take off and others crash and burn?

This book was released in 2006. The big idea is that people are only willing to change when the pain of their current situation outweighs the perceived pain of trying something new.

Ideologically this book is somewhat  related to lean startup movement. It’s a reasonably good read. But that’s not the main point. Instead this book was staggeringly interesting, because it so clearly showcases how much the world and technology really has changed in ten short years.

 

Platform Scale

platform-scale-bookSangeet Paul Choudary explains platform thinking very well in his various books and online articles.

The Platform Scale book gave me new insights into Centibel. Reading through the book I tried to understand everything in the context of Centibel. This proved to be quite fruitful approach indeed.

Now one key Centibel platform property has been clearly identified. Realizing this property would drastically assist in Centibel growth and scaling. First this seemed impossible to achieve, but now I believe otherwise.

There and Back Again

Napoleon_Guard_Tirailleur_and_Voltigeur_by_BellangeWildfires are a common and costly phenomenon in warm climates. On the island of Sardinia alone there are 3,000 wildfires every year. On worldwide scale dozens of lives are lost every year while the infrastructure damage is counted in billions of dollars.

At World in a Box we have been creating a new wildfire simulation model with a special focus on fire perimeter evolution. The model is simple, fast and reversible. Our hope is for the new model to better assist communities in reducing the risk and cost of wildfires. We call our perimeter model Tirailleur, a shooting skirmisher in French, as it closely reflects the nature of our model.

Together with our academic partners we presented Tirailleur research poster in the 2nd International Conference on Fire Behaviour and Risk. It was well received and our work on fire simulation is continuing with application deployments to Southern and Central Europe. Our core perimeter model is open sourced and available on Codeplex.

 

Email = Power

Email in Fire. Computer Graphics.Email remains the main tool for many organizations. You can drastically affect your career by having excellent email and communication skills. Too few really understand how important such skills are. For me this is an infinite journey of improvement. Far from drudgery I consider this journey a privilege and an immense source of enjoyment.

 

Please take my gift of tips from below and use them well. May your journey of improvement never end.

  • Always be improving your email skills
  • Email is not good for complicated or emotional discussions
  • Clear and direct subject line. There are so many who haven’t reached even this simple level.
  • Try to understand your message from recipient point of view. Change your message so that the few core items you want to highlight are immediately crystal clear for the recipient.
  • Send your message only to those who really need to know or decide
  • Write your message so that maximum number of people can stop reading as soon as possible
  • Unnecessary participants in the discussion? Just drop them out. Please.
  • Divergent discussion? Split to child discussion so that each has less participants.
  • Reading about X while wanting to discuss about unrelated Y? Give each a fighting chance. Give each their very own discussion. They deserve it.
  • Too complex discussion? Too many participants? Consider using something else than email. Become a hero and invent something new which massively improves life for everyone.

And finally….

  • Have an actual email process. It really doesn’t matter much which process you use. Just make sure you never drop or forget the important balls which are constantly given to you. Whatever method works for you is OK. It really is. But you must use something or you will forever remain a child in the land of email giants.

Smart and GTD

joelsmartgetsthingsdoneOnce again Joel is fun and engaging in his communications. His blog was an inspiration to me for well over a decade and this book continues on the same vein.

Joel is clearly stating that you should only hire the best technical talent. In this book Joel describes why this is the only sane approach. He talks about identifying the best and doing whatever necessary to hire them. One can disagree with some of his methods, but I do fully agree with his main argument.

 

 

 

The book includes the famous Joel Test. If you work with software I do strongly recommend you to take the Joel Test. Best companies have score of 12. Ten years ago our company Nepton had a score of 3. Currently Nepton has a score of 10. Still ways to go but we have definitely improved a bit 🙂

TechEd 2014

Microsoft TechEd2014TechEd 2014 in Barcelona – Good weather, nice city and interesting tech sessions 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

CLOUD

Everyone is investing massively in their cloud platforms. Amazon is still the market leader, but Microsoft Azure is growing fast. Ultimately there will only be few big cloud vendors – likely Amazon, Microsoft and Google. Azure is soon crossing 1M servers milestone which is quite mindboggling number. For the Titanfall game launch day they used 25K servers. New Azure G-series virtual machine instances are quite nice with 30 cores, 448 GB of memory and 6 TB of SSD. All vendors are investing on fast SAN/NAS/EBS storage technologies and one can now get up to 60 K IOPS from standard cloud architecture.

 

CLOUD HW

Azure Pack allows you to install Azure on your data-center. This allows hybrid scenarios and configurations. Based on sessions I saw it’s quite clear that Microsoft will integrate all possible server products they have closely with Azure. There is a new (quite expensive) offering “Dell Cloud Platform System” which is basically an Azure appliance on top of Dell hardware. There are specialty PCI SSD configurations &  appliances allowing you to have 700 K IOPS with very low latencies in micro-second range. One server was bench-marked as 1+ M SQL transactions per second.

 

DOCKER

This was new technology to me. Pioneered by Google, Linux and Docker. Now coming to Windows. Virtualized “bubbles” or “containers” running on top of one OS without hypervisors. Allows very lightweight virtual containers to be isolated while sharing resources. Bootup times of few seconds compared to several minutes for full VM images. Sizes are also much lower as no need to store full guest OS images. Massive cost savings possible on cloud scale architecture.

http://channel9.msdn.com/Blogs/Regular-IT-Guy/Docker-High-Level-Whiteboard

 

DEVOPS

Azure has automation APIs to set up and configure your environment. Powershell is very powerful indeed! New technology “Desired State Configuration” allows one to describe the runtime requirements for the server platform and it automatically applies and maintains all relevant software versions.

 

SIMD

New upcoming Intel  CPUs have much improved SIMD support. Upcoming NET JIT supports these and allows one to write SIMD enabled code directly on .NET languages. See RyuJIT CTP3 for more details.

 

.NET FUTURE

Roslyn compiler framework coming to all aspects of NET framework. Native compilation targeting specific CPU architectures, now for store apps and later likely everything, 20% performance improvement or so. Ultimately allows us to stop execution, debug, change any code and continue execution. Enables very high level of customization and extensibility of the Visual Studio IDE – practically the language itself is soon programmable.

 

XAMARIN

This was very impressive. Develop logic core with C#, UI core with C# and small Windows/WinPhone/Android/iOS UI adapters all written 100% with C#. Runs natively on all target platforms with native look and feel for each. Very good tools and emulators for Android etc. No need to learn Objective C or any of that stuff.

 

ASYNC

Use Tasks for CPU bound work and Async for IO bound work. Async is NOT parallel programming, but allows much better utilization of threadpool if you are working with IO resources. This is quite difficult subject but might be worthwhile to learn.

 

SECURITY

Participated on live demos about security. Quite horrible to see how small mistakes in application level coding can leave you 110% open to total security breaches.

Solution is simple:

1) Employ good developers

2) Patch servers

3) Give minimum possible access rights everywhere

4) IMPORTANT: Use firewalls to disable outgoing connections from servers as much as possible so hacked beach-heads are unable to phone home

 

VISUAL STUDIO TIPS &TRICKS (availability depends on version you have)

  • CTRL+Q opens a quick launch. Write any class name, function name, variable name and press enter to search. Write any visual studio IDE functionality (ie. Just My) and see the correct window popping straight up. Quite nice. Very nice!
  • ALT+SHIFT+ENTER puts VS to full screen
  • Right click on code tab, float to other screen so your VS is now on 2 monitors.
  • Right click on breakpoint, define criteria and logic, can print debug messages without stopping code execution
  • Use “Productivity Power Tools” -addin
  • As always the CTRL+dot allows IDE to help you
  • Colored warning so module/API authors can guide users away from improper usage patterns
  • Null propagating operator. Quite nice. http://davefancher.com/2014/08/14/c-6-0-null-propagation-operator/
  • Debug visualized has TXT/JSON/XML/HTML formatting built-in
  • Debug variables can be “pinned” to any area of the screen. Actually even class/function comments defining the variable can show the variable state. And you can actually write comments like //X+Y+Z which calculates automatically on the debug breakpoint hit and mouseover.
  • Parallel debugging with watchers can track value across all layers of stack. Somehow. Looked nice but I’m uncertain how this works in practice J
  • There are many C++ debug improvements. I’m not into this so did not get many details.

Hidden Gems

hiddengemYears ago I avidly read many good blog posts written by Marc Andreessen. Bit later  Marc restarted his blog to exclusively follow his VC firm a16z. All his earlier writings were lost.

Today I stumbled upon an archive of his earlier writings. Many of these are still excellent posts and I highly recommend them. In case the archive later would go down I also made a ZIP backup just in case.

I made this post just to make sure that Marc’s writings can be found as they are so useful to entrepreneurs everywhere. If Marc wants me to remove links to his old writings I would reluctantly do so – hopefully this will not happen! 🙂

Heartbleed

heartbleedHeartbleed was a truly epic security defect. Full impact of this is still unclear, but countless number of servers, applications and devices were vulnerable. Repercussions are still ongoing through the entire IT community. Impact on certificate providers has been massive.

I was however amazed by Heartbleed for quite another reason. Finnish company Codenomicon actually *branded* this defect. They crafted the story, name, domain and logo for it. They did such a good job that journalists just ran with the story and spread the message to the global audience. Buying this kind of publicity would have cost tens of millions for the company, but they got it almost free by being in the right place at the right time and taking the clever action. I’m amazed and humbled by this. Salutations to those in Codenomicon who made this happen 🙂