54 posts categorized "Success Stories"

October 23, 2011

Steve Jobs Autobiography on 60 Minutes

Fascinating piece on Steve Jobs -- via Walter Isaacson's biography that is in stores tomorrow.


October 10, 2011

The 6 Killer Apps of Western Civilization

I must say I have seen this TEDtalk now several times. It frames very much what concerns me about Western civilization. If we turn off these 6 killer apps one by one, Western civilization may very well go the way of the dodo. And others (eg Easterners) may morph these apps, nay hack them, into something very, very different. At 8:40 or so into the video Niall Ferguson discusses the 6 killer apps, which are self evident but framed and contextualized very nicely in this 20 minute video.

  1. Competition: Europe was politically fragmented, and within each monarchy or republic there were multiple competing corporate entities.
  2. Scientific revolution: All the major 17th-century breakthroughs in mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry and biology happened in Western Europe.
  3. Property rights and rule of law (government): This optimal system of social and political order emerged in the English-speaking world, based on property rights and the representation of property owners in elected legislatures.
  4. Modern medicine: All the major 19th- and 20th-century advances in health care, including the control of tropical diseases, were made by Western Europeans and North Americans.
  5. The consumer society: The Industrial Revolution took place where there was both a supply of productivity-enhancing technologies and a demand for more, better and cheaper goods, beginning with cotton garments.
  6. The work ethic: Westerners were the first people in the world to combine more extensive and intensive labor with higher savings rates, permitting sustained capital accumulation.

They seem obvious in retrospect that Western civilization leveraged these killer apps to effectively dictate to the rest of the world their terms. Notice that "democracy" and "capitalism" are not really described in any way, short of property rights. Places like China and India may very well adopt some but NOT ALL of these killer apps, and introduce some new ideas that effectively make them more competitive than Western civilization (North America and Europe). And what happens when these killer apps are hacked and the idea of "work ethic" is turned on its heads and uses child labour to power Western civilization. What happens when we stop providing modern medicine to the needy? Western civilization must continue to continue to "rev" all these killer apps to continue to compete in the 21st century. It is imperative.


October 07, 2011

Save $700 per year - Get your own antenna and get free HD

UPDATE: Interesting article on the art of antenna installations and savings.

UPDATE 2: I have heard of people getting basic Rogers for $15.99/month + HST. To get HD you'd need the receiver so the best you could do is about $32/month! Also SunTV stopped HD broadcasting on November 1 2011, as Quebecor lost their over the air transmission license. We need an all day news channel to broadcast OTA - CP24 for example!

UPDATE 3: The Wall Street Journal describes the second wave of rabbit ears!

Rogers Digital Basic costs $36.01 per month. You must get an HD receiver at $12.95/month to actually GET the HD channels. So they're not really free are they as described: "Over 42 FREE HD channels and growing"? All Rogers is really doing is eliminating the physics of the physical world -- they eliminate the weird little issues that Over the Air (OTA) HD comes with (curvature of the Earth for example, and other physical obstructions like buildings).

To get OTA HD get a $20 aluminum outdoor antenna at any of the discount computer stores, or Futureshop or BestBuy. Or splurge and spend $50 for this one. The Clearstream 2 antenna for over $100 is a good bet in Northern Toronto. Of course, my friend S, tells me you will need a fairly long coax cable to plug into your coax cable plant or directly to your TV. This should cost you another $20 max. Note that many places you will find these items sold out, for good reasons, no doubt. Here are the pictures of my outdoor antenna connected to a "juliette" balcony about 50 ft off the ground. And a home made coax jack I made by stringing the coax from the antenna directly to this jack on the outside of the house. I did need to get a 12" masonry drill bit to make a hole on the outside of the house to get the coax into the jack. I also decided to ground this puppy to avoid lightning strikes killing my TV. YMMV.

IMG_2140 IMG_2139

Below is a grounding block connecting 2 coax wires. The black wire is grounding quality copper wire.


This picture shows the copper wire going to a 4 foot copper stake going into the ground. That's why it's called grounding!

Then make sure your HD TV has a digital tuner. Most TVs made in the last 3 years have a digital tuner, but make sure you ask before you buy your next flat screen. Here's the state of digital TV in Canada. And here are the channels you could get in Toronto.

I get 25% of the HD channels Rogers Digital Basic offers - FOR FREE. You're paying for free stuff, people. If I pointed my antenna south and mounted it properly as per tvfool.com indicates for my area, I'd get the American channels too! I'll do this soon and report back.

Here's a super deluxe installation with $200 worth of parts -- this install most likely is over $1000 to do professionally. Most people though will be fine with just $100 worth of parts and $250 worth of labour.


The 15 HD channels I get for free, in bold and red based on the Rogers HD lineup below the break...

Continue reading "Save $700 per year - Get your own antenna and get free HD" »

October 04, 2011

Eric Schmidt at Zeitgeist 2011 - A word on economic creativity

The web is a platform for millions versions of vision and innovation from all of us. And that is why it works to make the best solutions win. Not suppositions, or worse - lies. Eric's advice - "Take the long view, not the short-term."

September 08, 2011

Los Altos School Board Administrators talk Khan Academy


I wish other school boards tried this approach that Los Altos has taken. And you don't need expensive Macs to use Khan Academy. It's really a revolution in education. My son has been using this site for the last few months and we've developed a reward program called "Homework Happiness" from the points he gets on Khan Academy. He can redeem the points for prizes of various levels, and he can save up for the really really big prizes too. It's clear that in our technologically immersive culture, that learning like this and having teachers use technology to help can help not only the smart kids but also kids that need help to get ahead. Khan Academy lets each child have a personalized experience, assisted by their parent(s) or teacher(s).


May 19, 2011

Reid Hoffman is my Hero

And here's why:

This man is Reid Hoffman.

Reid Hoffman at LinkedIn

His Facebook-for-Business LinkedIn.com went public today. The stock price popped to 2x on the opening day.

If a company that:

can go public, then anyone can do it! LinkedIn and Reid gives hope to all us slightly overweight, not so good looking geeks and nerds all around the world. Congrats Reid and the LinkedIn crew!

April 13, 2011

Alex Sirota is new Chapter Chair of Democrats Abroad Canada - Toronto Chapter

I'm happy to take the lead as chair of the Democrat Abroad Canada - Toronto Chapter. We're working hard to get President Obama re-elected. If you are an American living abroad please check out www.democratsabroad.org.

March 13, 2011

Family from Japan Stay in Canada?








状況が改善されるまでの数か月間、被害に遭われたご家族にカナダでの住まいを無償で提供することにしました。私たちはトロント郊外の街に住む4人家族で、家には十分なスペースがあります。もし興味がおありの方は遠慮なくご一報ください。また、興味があると思われるご家族をご存知でしたらぜひ紹介してください。トロントはたくさんの日系人や日本人 (その他アジア人) が住む国際都市で、とても暮らしやすい場所です。ぜひ私たちに協力させてください。




アレックス・シロタ (alex@newpathnetwork.org, skype:asirota)

オンタリオ州ソーンヒル (カナダ)


PS. メールは日本語でも受け付けていますのでご安心ください (Google 翻訳を使用します)。



Hello Japan!

The citizens of Canada are astounded by the awesome natural disaster that has struck your beautiful country. Things will be back to normal sometime soon. On our television, radio and electronic media we see, hear and read about older people and children sitting in shelters in cities like Sendai and many others. This makes our hearts and minds ache -- we cannot imagine how hard it is for you in this time.

We want to help -- directly.

We are looking to host a family in need in Toronto, Canada while the situation in Japan improves. If you are a family or know a family that can use some time to recover in Canada, please let us know. We will be happy to host you, at no cost, for several months. We are a family of 4 with plenty of space in our house in the northern suburbs of Toronto. We have many people of Japanese descent (and other Asian countries) in Toronto.

We want to help.  Let me know if you are interested via email or skype (asirota).

Alex Sirota

Alla Gubenko

Aaron Sirota

Liana Gubenko Sirota

Thornhill, Ontario, Canada

ps. We will use Google Translate to translate your emails into English. So don't worry!

March 11, 2011

Electronic Voting - Not a Success Story

I've been talking to Barbara Simons about the problems with electronic voting. It looks like many computer scientists are against it entirely -- under ANY circumstances. Here's a video documenting a case of problematic procedures and just plain old errors in an election in Laredo, TX in 2006.


January 28, 2011

Google Science Fair, Arduino and Open Source Everything

My son is thinking about competing in a science fair this spring. I can tell you one thing -- science fairs are not what they used to be in the 70s and 80s. Just look at what's out there now.

Google Science Fair


And then there's this gadget called the Arduino. It hails from the land of Italy and over 100,000 have been sold already. You can get it in Toronto at Creatron on College/Spadina. Can you imagine your own 3D Printer to make your own, well, anything? Download a coat hook design and print it yourself in any colour or size. Yes, Virginia, possible. Today.

Hardware Libre -- I like the sound of that.