Another year, another book list

book-xmas-tree

Unlike previous years, I didn’t complete all the books below cover-to-cover. Instead, for most books I just picked a few chapters to read, and learn as much as possible. There are some good ones though (i.e. I finished the whole book) … and you can tell how the state of my mind changed, along the year, with the reading sequence.

  1. The Art of the Start 2.0: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything
  2. Beyond Measure: The Big Impact of Small Changes (TED Books)
  3. The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work
  4. The Lean Product Playbook: How to Innovate with Minimum Viable Products and Rapid Customer Feedback
  5. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
  6. Getting There: A Book of Mentors
  7. With Her Eyes (Short Stories by Liu Cixin Book 11)
  8. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
  9. TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking
  10. Magicians of the Gods: Sequel to the International Bestseller Fingerprints of the Gods
  11. The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks
  12. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It
  13. Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice

And there are a few I have yet to start … hope I can finish those in early 2017.

  1. Viral Loop: From Facebook to Twitter, How Today’s Smartest Businesses Grow Themselves
  2. The Road Less Traveled, Timeless Edition: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth
  3. The Art of Startup Fundraising: Pitching Investors, Negotiating the Deal, and Everything Else Entrepreneurs Need to Know
  4. Hard Landing: The Epic Contest for Power and Profits That Plunged the Airlines into Chaos
  5. From Big Data to Big Profits: Success with Data and Analytics
  6. Actionable Gamification – Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards
  7. Joy on Demand: The Art of Discovering the Happiness Within

Pick a few from above to read, and tell me which one(s) you like most.

Have a great Year of Reading ahead !!

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My 20 Kindle eBooks of 2014

books

2014 is a tough and rough year.

However it is also a good year, as I kind of picked up reading again (thanks to the Kindle Paperwhite II, my fourth Kindle), even though I am still a slow reader. Managed to only finish 20 Kindle eBooks this year, and my favourite ones are “Stuffocation“, “Lean Startup“, “Service Design” and “Pitch Perfect“.

The 20 books in reading sequence …

  1. Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think
  2. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
  3. Data Science for Business: What you need to know about data mining and data-analytic thinking
  4. Chariots of the Gods
  5. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products
  6. Stuffocation
  7. Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain: How I Went from Gang Member to Multimillionaire Entrepreneur
  8. The Fortune Cookie Principle : The 20 Keys to a Great Brand Story and Why Your Business Needs One
  9. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
  10. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration
  11. Difference: The one-page method for reimagining your business and reinventing your marketing
  12. Pitch Perfect: How to Say It Right the First Time, Every Time
  13. Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works (Lean Series)
  14. Service Design: From Insight to Implementation
  15. Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising
  16. The Giza Power Plant: Technologies of Ancient Egypt
  17. Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain
  18. Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace)
  19. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
  20. The Lost Empire of Atlantis: History’s Greatest Mystery Revealed

Still, there are a few books in the Kindle impatiently waiting … shall be good for the next three, four months !!

  1. The Orion Mystery: Unlocking the Secrets of the Pyramids (a reread)
  2. The FastDiet – Revised & Updated: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting
  3. Loyalty 3.0: How to Revolutionize Customer and Employee Engagement with Big Data and Gamification
  4. Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers
  5. The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users
  6. The 7 Day Startup: You Don’t Learn Until You Launch
  7. Flash Boys

Keep reading !!

5 Gadgets You Should Buy Now Instead Of Later

Everyday we have lots of news about the latest gadgets from Tech blogs and social networks, and everyday we tell ourselves to wait … wait until the reviews are out, wait until the better versions are out or the prices are dropped. Yes, it’s me; but of course, YMMV.

However, there are times that I cannot wait but go ahead to buy the overpriced, not-well-tested gadgets, then find out I should have bought those earlier because the gadgets are soooooo good. And here are 5 gadgets that I think you should buy now, instead of later.

I traveled a lot and really like to have a pair of headphone that can play good music as well as cancel all the background noises. I have other noise cancellation headphones before, but the Bose QuietComfort 20i Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphone is really the best one. This in-ear headphone is lightweight, delivers excellent sound quality, and extremely comfortable. Many times I would turn on the noise cancellation mode in busy cafe or packed subway train such that I can have some quiet time to read. If you have lots of good songs in your mobile device and like to enjoy those even in a noisy environment, this is for you.

bose-headphone

So you have a good pair of headphone with noise cancellation feature, then it’s probably about time you shall get the Kindle Paperwhite (second generation) to restart your book reading project. The screen is simply stunning, and you can read it under bright sunlight or in the dark. Best of all, your eyes will thank you as the other non-ePaper digital readers really will hurt your eyes.

Kindle Paperwhite

Other than a pair of headphone and a good book reader, another essential travel companion for me is a good DSLR camera. I’m never a fan of Canon, Nikon and Sony, but became a big fan of Olympus about 10 years ago (I really love their E-1). So when they released their excellent OMD E-M1 last year, I bought it without skipping a heartbeat (note that I already got the E-M5, ooops). A solid, weather-proof, and responsive camera that will never disappoint you in terms of image quality.

OMD-E-M1

Another “gadget” that travel with me all the time is the Macbook Air. It’s my work computer, research tool, programming machine and social networking platform. That’s not much you can complain about the great machine, but for me I want one more USB port – to charge my iDevices and without syncing. Yes, I can get one of those power supply plug charger, but instead of getting extra bulk I bought the Twelve South PlugBug World. It’s an All-in-one MacBook global adapter with 2.1 amp iPhone/iPad charger – perfect. And the bonus is, this world edition comes with different plugs for different countries.

plugbug

The last gadget that I wish I had bought earlier is the MIO Alpha I. It is a watch and it is also a strapless heart rate monitor. Yes, you read it right, it is strapless (!!). In addition, it can synchronise the reading to the RunKeeper app with Bluetooth, such that the app can read out the heart rate to you during your exercise. If you like to track your heart rate while jogging or running. Get one, period.

mio alpha

So, those are my picks, what are your 5 buy-it-now gadgets ?

 

Unlearn, relearn and the AWS Summit

The American futurist Alvin Toffler once said – “The illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn”. I think it is particularly true to those of us working in the Information Technology industry, as every two three years we need to unlearn some buzzwords, and relearn some buzzwords.

However, Cloud Computing are not buzzwords. Therefore, it is important for us to unlearn the previous know-how and relearn the new new things – the new way to design, implement, test, operate and monitor Cloud based IT systems. And one of the best ways to go thru this unlearn and relearn this cycle is to attend the Amazon’s AWS Summit.

One of the key learnings of in the Summit is you can auto-scale the IT systems. In the past few years, no matter who you talked to – salesperson, developers, architects etc., they would all tell you how great it was that you could easily scale up your Cloud based IT system when the system was under heavy loadings (for example, in peak hours of sales period, or festive seasons). Seems to me all they need is to scale up, all of them are very optimistic about their businesses !!

However, the true beauty of the Cloud system is in fact the ability of scaling down, not up, the Cloud based IT system. In other words, we shall design our system that based on certain business and technical criteria, the system can scale up to cater for the extra loading, and scale down to save cost.

In other words, the Cloud system is no longer a fixed architecture, but it will grow or shrink the computing power in line with the businesses. And it will cost more when the business is good, and less when the business is slow. Finally IT becomes part of the business.

Another key learning is the product life cycle that encourages innovation and idea trial. Unlike previous IT set up, now you can implement a basic computing architecture in the cloud in minutes. And you can close down that same architecture in seconds. That flexibility helps us to test drive any idea with ease, and with low cost barrier.

Amazon proposes a life cycle of :

Idea -> MVP -> Scale -> Profitability

(where MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product)

In other words, start with your brilliant but untested idea, build a MVP with minimal computing architecture. When it is a good idea to pursuit further, scale up quickly. Then reap the profit with as little computing power you need as possible.

So, if you missed the AWS Summit 2013 Singapore, and want to unlearn quicker and relearn more … Don’t miss the next AWS re:Invent 2013.

Singapore

Kindle Price Disparity

We all hate price disparity. No matter it’s a scoop of ice cream, a can of soda or a set of computer, you sure want a good price. So what if you can get a brand new, legitimate Kindle Paperwhite much cheaper than in US ? Yes, not same price as in US, but in fact US$ 65 cheaper.  It’s due to the fact that Japanese Yen dropped (and still dropping) like a stone in the past few months. And of course in Japan, Amazon needs to compete with good Sony Reader and others.

Here is a picture from a Hong Kong online retail store, selling Kindle Paperwhite 3G + Wifi, and Paperwhite Wifi. It’s about US$ 268 and US$ 191 respectively.

Hong Kong

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And here are the same two models from US Amazon store – US$ 179 and US$ 119, note that you need to add another US 20 (i.e. without special sponsors screens) and shipping cost.

USA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And lastly, here are the same two models in Japan Amazon store. Again you will need to add in the shipping cost, but as of today’s exchange ratio (May 1st), the prices are just US$ 133.5 and US$ 82 (before shipping) !! No Kidding !!

Japan

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So, if you have an Japan Amazon account or friends from Japan, it’s time to buy the beautiful Kindle Paperwhite. It’s simply irresistible.

 

AWS Cloud Security

Going to Vegas for the Amazon Re:Invent event is one of the best ways to learn about Cloud Computing and Cloud security. And the second best of course is to just browsing the slide decks or videos of the event, from your office or home. So here you go, fresh from the Internet, the course 206 of the security track – “Security of the AWS Cloud”.

And don’t forget to follow up with the slide decks of “AWS Cloud Security” and “Security and Compliance”

Log My Life

Back in the early 1980s’ when I was a Fortran programmer, it’s a doctrine to document every programs with very detailed comments. Roll forward 15 years, then when I developed the very first homepage of my own in year 1995, I started to log down the changes of my own website and showed those in the front page, with an aim to inform my site visitors the details of the website changes. And gradually, the “logs” included not only website changes, but also news, jokes, events, photos, videos and opinions.

As you may all know, these change logs (Web Logs) later was named as Blog (coined by Peter Merholz, who jokingly broke the word “weblog” into the phrase “we blog”) in year 1999.

And now I no longer develop programs (except some twists on scripts and PHP programs), but more and more, I am logging my life within the Internet … like a lifelogger but without those geeky devices.

Like it or not, every single day we are logging our lives with dozens of modern day Internet tools and social networks. I did a check lately and found that indeed I am sharing bits and pieces of my life one way or the other, every single day. And treating myself as a use case, here are the tools and services you can use to log your life if you want to, insanely …

  1. Start your usual day with the app Zite (or Flipboard) for iPad and start sharing your selected Internet, eCommerce, Media and Security news to Buffer (Buffer is a service to schedule your social sharings, highly recommended).
  2. For some more important news that shall not be “buffer-ed”, immediately share to social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Google+.
  3. Throughout the day, browse your Facebook wall and Twitter tweets (with TweetDeck) to see what news you can further share to your friends and followers.
  4. For each place you visit in the day, check-in to FourSquare and take a photo with an aim to share it later to social networks, with or without touch-ups by Instagram. If time permits, record this in the beautiful app Path. In case you will forget where you’ve been, say two years later, you can subscribe to Memolane service to remind you.
  5. Whenever you see some good photos (food, pet, fashion, scenery etc. etc.), “pin” it with Pinterest tool. And for good articles and slides, save it to Dropbox for future reference.
  6. What about books ? Read your ebooks with Kindle and whenever you encounter a good line, share it to Facebook and Twitter again. Of course, don’t forget to tell your Linkedin connections what book you’re reading with the Amazon module.
  7. Then for the slides created in public speeches or presentations, share those though Slideshare. In addition, publish your own “social newspaper” thru Glos.si. And if you want your friends to get a printed copy of your sharings in Facebook, publish it through Yearlyleaf.
  8. With all these social interactions, closely monitor your Klout score to see whether your shall share, tweet and “like” even more …
  9. And about your work, document your career history in Linkedin, VisualCV and Vizify.
  10. Last but not least, keep your views and master pieces in your blog like this tiny little one

So, are you ready to log your life ?

writing