Friday, 29 July 2011

Video: Bill Gates on Energy (from WIRED Conference, May 2011)

Each time I listen to Bill I learn a ton.  He is always able to get down to the core of the issues in whichever field he chooses to study - be it healthcare, education, or in this case, energy.

In this video, WIRED magazine editor in chief Chris Anderson (author of “Free” and “The Long Tail”) asks Bill on the issue of energy.  Some questions from the interview:

  • Why is energy an important issue?  (Because it impacts everyone in every industry/country.  Its impact on the poor will have a rippling effect on the rich as well)
  • How does the Japanese nuclear disaster affect your view on nuclear power?  (Nuclear power is 1 million times more potent per reaction, compared to coal and natural gas)
  • What are some of the future designs of nuclear power plants?  Why does it matter?
  • How we solve this energy generation issue has an implication on the climate as well.
  • What are some of the biggest challenges in energy farming? (This refers to solar, wind, etc…  One of the big issues is stability for grid scale energy)

Here’s a very short summary of the talk.  During the talk he recommended some books by Vaclav Smil.  It’s on Bill’s book recommendation page.


Wednesday, 20 July 2011

YouTube, Documentaries, and Podcasts List

Here are some videos I’ve posted about.  I’m also trying to post to my collections on Google Plus to see which is easier to share.

YouTube Channels (and memorable episodes)

Charlie Rose Show
    Magnus Carlson (Norwegian Chess Grandmaster)
    Harold Bloom (Yale Literary Professor)
    Lee Kuan Yew (former Prime Minister of Singapore)
    Masha Gessen (Russian Journalist)
    Steve Jobs (CEO of Apple)
    Jeff Bezos (CEO of Amazon)
    Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg (CEO and COO
          of Facebook)
    Mark Carney (Former Governor of Bank of Canada)
    Ginny Rometty (CEO of IBM)
    Ben Horowitz (Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist)
    Meryl Streep (American Actress)
    Masayoshi Son (Japanese Internet Entrepreneur)
    Jim Collins (American Author on Business Management)
    Bill Gates (CEO of Microsoft, especially from 2014)
    Isadore Sharp (CEO of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts)
    Danny Meyer (CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group)

Interview with George Stroumboulopoulos
    Jim Parsons (main actor from The Big Bang Theory)
    Marc and Craig Kielburger (Founders of Free the Children)

QTV by Jian Ghomeshi
    Stephen Fry (British TV host, novelist, essayist)
    Michael Buble (Canadian Singer)
    Josh Groban (American Singer)
    Barbra Walters (American TV Interviewer)
    Shane Smith (Canadian Cofounder of VICE News)

    A Guide to North Korea (3 Parts)
    The Islamic State (5 Parts)


Money, Power & Wall Street (PBS)
A PBS documentary about the financial crisis.

Empire of the Word
A history of reading and the written word (4 episodes).  It documents the how reading started (to account for contributions to the king), how it was forbidden for political reasons, and what the future of reading (electronic/digital) might look like.

The Machine that Changed the World
This is the history of computing (5 parts), and it is one of my favourite documentaries.  From Charles Babbage’s difference engine to today’s electronic computers and the various major inventions in between, this film outlines the significance of each event and development.

Guns, Germs, and Steel (National Geographic – 3 parts)
Based on the Pulitzer prize-winning book of the same name by Professor Jared Diamond.  It shows how geography gave some groups of people a leg up to acquiring the power of guns, germs, and steel, which dramatically shaped the world.

Big History (History Channel)
A 17 part series on the history of human and planet development through the lens of science.  It was developed with the Big History project which Bill Gates’ foundation helped to fund.

The Ascent of Money
A history of money (4 parts) – how it was invented and gradually played a dominant part of politics, commerce, and our daily lives in general.

Locomotion: the Amazing World of Trains
A history of trains – how one of the most important inventions of the industrial revolution changed the nature of war, commercial outsourcing, colonialism, and how its status changed as automobiles became more popular.

Breaking Point: Quebec/Canada – The 1995 Referendum
The sequences of events that led up to the Quebec referendum and the result of it.  It seems to not be sold anymore.  The Vaughan Public Libraries have this in its collection.

Freedom had a Price
Describes Canada’s first internment operation to imprison Ukrainian immigrants between 1914 to 1920.  This is in the Vaughan Public Libraries collection.

Bach: A Passionate Life
Sir John Eliot Gardiner explores the context around Bach’s life through his music and reveals the lesser known and perhaps more human side of him.

John Eliot Gardiner – In Rehearsal
Sir John Eliot Gardiner rehearses Bach’s Cantata BWV 63 with the English Baroque Soloists and Monteverdi Choir.

Frederick the Great and the Enigma of Prussia
The story of one of the greatest political figure in modern European history.

Nazis: A Warning from History (BBC)
BBC documentaries on Nazi party’s politics, social atmosphere, war, from its rise to its demise.

It Takes a Child
The story of Craig Kielburger, and how after reading about the death of a anti child labour activist, one of his own age, went to understand the issue and found Free the Children.

The Square
An Oscar nominated documentary on the Egyptian revolution from the perspective of its participants.

Living on One Dollar
A group of US college students spent the summer living on one dollar in Guatemala like the locals.

No Impact Man
A man and his family tries to minimize and eliminate their impact on the environment, reducing trash, stop eating meat, using motorized vehicles, cut out electricity, to examine how far one can go to save the environment.

The Life of Muhammad (PBS)
The life of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad.

Science and Islam (BBC)
An introduction to the important advancements in mathematics, physics, medicine, and astronomy in Medieval Islamic world.

Iran and the West (BBC)
A look at Iran’s past amicable relationship with the “west”, and how it changed after the Iranian revolution and what it means today.

Inside 9-11 (National Geographic)
A more detailed look at the events as it happened on the fateful day, and of its perpetrators and the American response.

The Story of the Jews (BBC)
A history of the Jews, by Simon Schama.

Israel and Palestine: a Divided Land
An introductory film about the conflict in the land of Palestine.

A Jewish director and explores another view on anti-Semitism today with a controversial humour.

The Russian Journey
Glenn Gould was the first North American concerto pianist to visit Russia in the cold war era. He had an impact through his artistry, musicality, and historical perspective that gave many Russians musicians a glimpse of what the musical world is like in the west.

The Japanese Bullet Train (BBC)
Richard Hammond explores the scientific ingenuity that gave birth to the safest and one of the most efficient high speed train systems in the world.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi
The story of the 3 Michelin star sushi master Jiro Ono.

The September Issue
The life of Vogue magazine’s editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, in the creation of the 2007 September issue.

NHK紀錄片: 中國文明之謎 (In Japanese with Chinese subtitle)
3 part documentary exploring the establishment of Chinese king’s legitimacy, the invention of Chinese characters, and the Chinese identity.

NHK紀錄片: 兩岸故宮 (Palace Museum - 中文發音)

大國崛起 (Rise of Great Powers - 中文發音)

中國門 (China Gate – 中文發音)

不老騎士-歐兜邁環台日記 (In Chinese – Mandarin/Taiwanese)


Gresham College Audio Lectures
Free public lectures on topics ranging from medicine to music.

Revisionist History
By Malcolm Gladwell, who revisits some past events to cast it in a new light.

In Our Time – History (from BBC)
Discussions on the various topics in history.

CBC Ideas
Ideas spanning all aspect of human and natural world for a curious mind.

Entrepreneur Thought Leaders (from Stanford University)
Talks by and for entrepreneurs and business managers.

A History of the World in 100 Objects (from BBC)
Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, tells the story of human history through 100 objects around the world through time.

Peter Mansbridge One on One (from CBC)
Mansbridge and his discussions and interviews with guests.

A Brief History of Mathematics (from BBC)
History of mathematics through the lives of past mathematicians.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Video: Hilary Hahn – a Portrait

Hilary is a world class violinist.  I got to know her and subsequently liked her playing through her Bach album.  Her sound is very clean, lively, and very sensitive.  This is a documentary about her (5 parts).


Part 1

Part 2


Part 3


Part 4


Part 5

Monday, 18 July 2011

(Chinese) Video: documentary of 潘建成

Below are the clips of Mr. 潘建成, the founder and CEO of PHISON Electronics Inc.  The company came up with the world’s first single chip USB flash drive IC that made portable USB key drives possible.  It is now a world leader in this market.

Mr. Pan started the company in 2000 in his 20’s.  In 2009 its revenue reached USD $750 million.  This documentary highlights his journey thus far, and how his business philosophy and a team of 20 somethings helped to create the first USB drive we know of today.  It’s in Chinese and has 3 parts.


Part 1


Part 2


Part 3

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Reading List and Online Courses

Here is Bill Gates' General Reading List, and here is his list for science and innovation

In addition to the books posted, below is list of books and magazines I’ve found helpful. If you’ve found any to be useful to you, let me know. : )

Online Courses

A History of the World Since 1300 (from Princeton, on

English Books

The Power of Habit
By Charles Duhigg

Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China
By Ezra Vogel

The Better Angels of Our Nature
By Steven Pinker

A History of Modern Computing
By Paul E. Ceruzzi
(For those short on time or want a less technical account, there is Computing: A Concise History)

How We Got to Now
By Steven Johnson

Tuesdays with Morrie
By Mitch Albom

Spare Parts
By Joshua Davis

Walden on Wheels
By Ken Ilgunas

The Promise of a Pencil
By Adam Braun

Steve Jobs
By Walter Isaacson

John A.: The Man Who Made Us
The Life and Times of John A. MacDonald
By Richard Gwyn

The Google Story
By David A. Vise

Beyond the Internet
By Larry Smith

Moonwalking with Einstein
By Joshua Foer

The Spark
By Kristine Barnett

The Perfume (Fiction)
Patrick Suskind

The HP Way
By David Packard

A History of the World
By Andrew Marr

The Information
By James Gleick

Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson

A Cultural History of Modern Science in China
By Benjamin Elman

So Good They Can’t Ignore You
By Cal Newport

The Shallows
By Nicholas Carr

Pride and Prejudice (fiction)
By Jane Austen

The Dream
By Gurbaksh Chahal

Talent is Overrated
By Geoff Colvin

Delivering Happiness
By Tony Hsieh

Free the Children
By Craig Kielburger

Now, Discover Your Strengths
By Marcus Buckingham & Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D.

By Niall Ferguson

Why Nations Fail
By Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson

Good to Great
By Jim Collins

The Big Switch
By Nicholas Carr

The World is Flat
By Thomas L. Friedman

Turing’s Cathedral
By George Dyson

The Happiness Advantage
By Shawn Achor

The Rickover Effect: How One Man Made a Difference
By Theodore Rockwell

Shift: Inside Nissan’s Historic Revival
By Carlos Ghosn

David and Goliath
By Malcolm Gladwell

The Facebook Effect
By David Kirkpatrick

The Second Machine Age
By Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew Mcafee

Four Seasons: The Story of a Business Philosophy
By Isadore Sharp

Getting Organized in the Google Era
By Douglas C. Merrill

Getting Things Done
By David Allen

The Age of Turbulence
By Alan Greenspan

Where Good Ideas Come From
By Steven Johnson

By Malcolm Gladwell

The Element
By Ken Robinson, Ph.D.

Lexus: The Relentless Pursuit
By Chester Dawson

The Last Lecture
By Randy Pausch

By Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the Making of the Microsoft Empire
By James Wallace and Jim Erickson

English Magazines

The Economist

Bloomberg Business Week


Chinese Books (中文書)

余英時  著

龍應台 安德烈 合著

大江大海  1949
龍應台  著

卡洛斯‧戈恩 自傳

大前研一 著

迪奧多‧洛克威爾 著

劉軒 著

鈴木敏文 口述

郭泰 著

乙武洋匡 著

黎智英 著

最尖端武器: 核子潛水艇
讀貴新聞社 著

劉墉 著

杏林子 著

白倉正子 著

杏林子 著

劉墉 著

新 知識生產術
勝間和代 著

蘇昭旭 著

Monday, 11 July 2011

Book: Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Score: 4/5

The book, Rework, was recommended to me by my friend Seungchan (thanks) and I liked it. It’s a collection of short articles expressing authors’ views on various business practices such as hiring, marketing, innovation, and starting up a business.

The authors are the founders of 37signals, a company that started as a web design firm, but now has a product line up includes various collaboration software tools (such as project management application Basecamp) to help businesses be more efficient through software.

I liked many of the book ideas, such as eliminating meetings for programmers, and how to truly connect with customers through personal touches. (probably because 37signals isn’t your typical 9-5, in-the-office type company)

Below I have quoted one of my favourite sections in the book. I’ve often fallen victim to it. The words might be a bit harsh, but I do find truth in it.

Hopefully you will get a sense of the style and type of book this is. Enjoy:

Our culture celebrates the idea of the workaholic. We hear about people burning the midnight oil. They pull all-nighters and sleep at the office. It’s considered a badge of honor to kill yourself over a project. No amount of work is too much work.

Not only is this workaholism unnecessary, it's stupid. Working more doesn't mean you care more or get more done. It just means you work more.

Workaholics wind up creating more problems than they solve. First off, working like that just isn’t sustainable over time. When the burnout crash comes-and it will - it’ll hit that much harder.

Workaholics miss the point, too. They try to fix problems by throwing sheer hours at them. They try to make up for intellectual laziness with brute force. This results in inelegant solutions.

They even create crises. They don’t look for ways to be more efficient because they actually like working overtime. They enjoy feeling like heroes. They create problems (often unwittingly) just so they can get off on working more.

Workaholics make the people who don’t stay late feel inadequate for "merely'' working reasonable hours. That leads to guilt and poor morale all around. Plus, it leads to an ass-in-seat mentality -people stay late out of obligation, even if they aren’t really being productive.

If all you do is work, you're unlikely to have sound judgments. Your values and decision making wind up skewed. You stop being able to decide what's worth extra effort and what's not. And you wind up just plain tired. No one makes sharp decisions when tired.

In the end, workaholics don't actually accomplish more than nonworkaholics. They may claim to be perfectionists, but that just means they’re wasting time fixating on inconsequential details instead of moving on to the next task.

Workaholics aren't heroes. They don’t save the day, they just use it up. The real hero is already home because she figured out a faster way to get things done.

Book: Seven Years to Seven Figures by Michael Masterson

Score: 3.5/5 (I haven’t found the career listed in the book very appealing personally, but some people might)

I learned about the author, Michael Masterson, through a friend.  My friend’s original recommendation was for the book “Ready, Fire, Aim”, but I thought to read this book since it’s in the library.

This genre is a bit out of my typical reading path and I first got interested in the book out of curiosity – on how this can be achieved.  After reading the book, though I’m not convinced it’s what I want to do, I do think if you really follow the book’s direction you can become pretty healthy financially.

Masterson is a successful entrepreneur himself and wrote the book to help people build wealth quickly.  His background in sales and copywriting makes the book a refreshing perspective for me.

The book is mainly a collection of stories of high net worth individuals, and their stories have a recurring pattern:

      • They all earned high incomes.
      • They all had equity in a business.
      • Most of them invested in real estate.

On top of that, I’ve learned that being a copywriter has a lot of leverage.  A great copywriter writes a sales copy once, and can have its message replicated digitally for virtually no cost, and each one can generate a handsome profit.  Oh the wonders of the internet and nature of information.  : )

There are some good tactical advice as well but I won’t list them here.  If you’re interesting in the field of copywriting, sales, or just general wealth building, have a quick look at this book.

Happy reading!