Friday, 25 January 2008

Book review: 我是黎智英 (I am Lei Chi-Ying)

This is an autobiography about an entrepreneur who immigrated to Hong Kong at the age of 12 by himself and started with one HK dollar.  He is now worth 500 million USD.

I bought this book while I was in Taiwan, while craving for biographies.  The book was really interesting to me because he had no education nor money.  He literally started from the ground up working in the factory while still a child.  Here are some of the things I learned.

Mr. Lei believes that simplicity and focus is key to a successful business.  I believe that this notion can be applied to general decision making and how we go through life.  Furthermore, to focus on something means to love something else less.  This is the price we pay for focus.  What are our priorities and does our allocation of resources (time, money, etc...) really reflect that?  I'm working on this.

On the topic of creativity, Mr. Lei believes it is the combination of knowledge, experience, problem, and humility.  He believes that the problem serves as a trigger for our minds to form creative ideas from our past knowledge and experiences, acquired with open mindedness that comes from humility.  This implies that our creative minds are limited by what we have experienced.  As such, to be creative means to see more, and embrace more perspectives with an open mind.  Travel, read, and talk to others.  These will have long term effects.

These were the things I found most enlightening.  Although Mr. Lei can sometimes be vulgar, he has many valid points.  I recommend this book.  (feel free to borrow it from me)

Friday, 11 January 2008

"Hard Drive" (book) afterthought

This book is about the life of Bill Gates and how he built his Microsoft empire up to the year 1992.

This book detailed Gate's personality, how he came to build Microsoft, and drove it to the top and staying there.  Through this book I was able to see Mr. Gates through a different lens - as a person that has an incredible child-like drive to accomplish his goals while having fun.

The book raises interesting questions like "what is healthy competition", "what is wrong with monopoly", and "how can we create fierce competition while encouraging innovation".

The book was also very inspiring for me as it helped me to understand what "passion" is.  What is passion, really?  How do you know you've got passion for something?  How do you search for it?  How do others search for it?  Sure, Bill might be incredibly smart and somewhat lucky, but it is with his drive and passion that he got so successful.  It is incredible to see him changing the world bit by bit, starting from the ground up, toiling through hard decisions and exercising incredible discipline to execute those decisions.

What about us?  What are we doing to change the world?  What's our reason for not doing something we truly believe?  How much more could we do if we believe we can have an impact?

You can find the link to the book here.

Getting out while staying in

Ever have those moments that you just want to be alone?  You may have your room, but it's just great to be in a space that others can't disturb you.  But where to go?  Malls are crowded and too public.  Friends can't always accommodate you.  Don't worry, my indoor submarine is here to the rescue.

This indoor submarine has an interior size of a 1 bed room condo and is wirelessly connected so internet and cell phones are no problem.  When surfaced, it is only the size of a mall size garbage can.  You can go in there, and it submerges into the ground of your room, whichever floor you are on.  You can see the outside through the ceiling if you choose, but no one can get to you.

The submarine moves around as well, but only to places that has solid material.  So it can't move in liquid.  But, you can navigate it from a 19th floor condo to anywhere else.  Ever wonder what it's like to write under the stars of north pole?  A full night of sleep under the stars?  Looking at lake Ontario from its bottom?  With this, you can!

The ultimate grocery shopping experience

I wish that in the future, I can just walk into any store, browse, grab what I want, and simply walk out of the store.  There would be no line up at the checkout, and my account is deducted directly.  I won't have to carry receipts.  The records of what I bought would be all safely stored somewhere in my storage.  When I need to return something I only have to scan my eyes and the product.  No more lost receipts!

If I've thought of what I want, and is pressed for time, as I walk into the store, my glasses will show a 3D map/arrows of how to most optimally get thing to fulfill my list.  That means my meat doesn't get cold by me browsing for too long, and the I will only get the more heavy stuff later so I won't have to carry it through all my browsing, and I also won't have to walk too much to get all my food.

All the labels are shown clearly, with discount items glowing with colour.  When I have a question about the product, something would show up so I can dictate what I want and the question will be answered.  New items, discounted items are all explained to me as I walk through the store, and according to my habits of grocery shopping.  I can test out any product I want, and something will suggest what other products I might consider according to my eating habit.


Doraemon - a new section in my blog

After some thoughts, I've decided to start a new section in my blog called "Doraemon". It will have the corresponding label name. You can get to it by clicking on the corresponding label on the right.

The name came from a Japanese comic book I loved to read since I was a kid. Doraemon is the name of a robot from the 22nd century that came back through time to live and help with an elementary school boy named Nobita. Nobita is what some call a "loser". He gets bullied around, has crappy marks, lazy, and even a little perverted. Since his life is chaotic, Doraemon was sent from the future to help this poor guy out. He has all the fun and magical gadgets from the 22nd century to help Nobita out in times of need. You wouldn't believe some of the tools that he whips out. You can think of Doraemon as the eastern version of Star Trek.

So what is this section about? Well, I find that I go through many situations thinking "well, wouldn't it be nice if we had a tool to help me out?" What about a magic oven that cooks your favourite food and optimizes it by looking at what you have in your frige? What about a helmet that transfers knowledge from one person to another? This section will contain my dreams about the future technology, and I'd love to hear your thoughts as well!

Monday, 7 January 2008

Useful site: MIT/Stanford venture lab

The web site is here.  It has quite a number of interesting events you can read about on technology ranging from green technology to the next generation Internet.