Tuesday, April 24, 2012

8 Core Beliefs of Extraordinary Bosses

The best managers have a fundamentally different understanding of workplace, company, and team dynamics. See what they get right.

1. Business is an ecosystem, not a battlefield.

Average bosses see business as a conflict between companies, departments and groups. They build huge armies of "troops" to order about, demonize competitors as "enemies," and treat customers as "territory" to be conquered.
Extraordinary bosses see business as a symbiosis where the most diverse firm is most likely to survive and thrive. They naturally create teams that adapt easily to new markets and can quickly form partnerships with other companies, customers ... and even competitors.

2. A company is a community, not a machine.

Average bosses consider their company to be a machine with employees as cogs. They create rigid structures with rigid rules and then try to maintain control by "pulling levers" and "steering the ship."
Extraordinary bosses see their company as a collection of individual hopes and dreams, all connected to a higher purpose. They inspire employees to dedicate themselves to the success of their peers and therefore to the community–and company–at large.

3. Management is service, not control.

Average bosses want employees to do exactly what they're told. They're hyper-aware of anything that smacks of insubordination and create environments where individual initiative is squelched by the "wait and see what the boss says" mentality.
Extraordinary bosses set a general direction and then commit themselves to obtaining the resources that their employees need to get the job done. They push decision making downward, allowing teams form their own rules and intervening only in emergencies.

4. My employees are my peers, not my children.

Average bosses see employees as inferior, immature beings who simply can't be trusted if not overseen by a patriarchal management. Employees take their cues from this attitude, expend energy on looking busy and covering their behinds.
Extraordinary bosses treat every employee as if he or she were the most important person in the firm. Excellence is expected everywhere, from the loading dock to the boardroom. As a result, employees at all levels take charge of their own destinies.

5. Motivation comes from vision, not from fear.

Average bosses see fear--of getting fired, of ridicule, of loss of privilege--as a crucial way to motivate people.  As a result, employees and managers alike become paralyzed and unable to make risky decisions.
Extraordinary bosses inspire people to see a better future and how they'll be a part of it.  As a result, employees work harder because they believe in the organization's goals, truly enjoy what they're doing and (of course) know they'll share in the rewards.

6. Change equals growth, not pain.

Average bosses see change as both complicated and threatening, something to be endured only when a firm is in desperate shape. They subconsciously torpedo change ... until it's too late.
Extraordinary bosses see change as an inevitable part of life. While they don't value change for its own sake, they know that success is only possible if employees and organization embrace new ideas and new ways of doing business.

7. Technology offers empowerment, not automation.

Average bosses adhere to the old IT-centric view that technology is primarily a way to strengthen management control and increase predictability. They install centralized computer systems that dehumanize and antagonize employees.
Extraordinary bosses see technology as a way to free human beings to be creative and to build better relationships. They adapt their back-office systems to the tools, like smartphones and tablets, that people actually want to use.

8. Work should be fun, not mere toil.

Average bosses buy into the notion that work is, at best, a necessary evil. They fully expect employees to resent having to work, and therefore tend to subconsciously define themselves as oppressors and their employees as victims. Everyone then behaves accordingly.
Extraordinary bosses see work as something that should be inherently enjoyable–and believe therefore that the most important job of manager is, as far as possible, to put people in jobs that can and will make them truly happy.

Check it out here:  http://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/8-core-beliefs-of-extraordinary-bosses.html

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Your Smartphone Allows You To Be Tracked Wherever You Go


Navizon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
New technology by locations services firm Navizon allows anyone carrying a WiFi-equipped smartphone to be tracked without their knowledge or consent.
The technology, called Navizon I. T. S. (which stands for Indoor Triangulation System), uses WiFi triangulation to track any smartphone that has WiFi enabled that falls within an area covered by Navizon’s proprietary tracking “nodes.” The users isn’t given any warning that they’re being tracked and isn’t given any option to opt out.
Unlike technologies that rely on GPS signals from satellites, this tracking technology is just as effective indoors as it is outdoors.
Not only can the technology track a smartphone with pinpoint accuracy, because each device transmits a unique signature, it can recognize if a smartphone has been detected previously.

It’s important to note that while this system can track any WiFi-enabled device (such as iPhones, iPads, Android devices, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, Symbian and notebook computers), it can’t tell any more about you of your device other than where you are, where you’ve been, and where you’re headed.
Navizon claim the system can be used to track shoppers in a mall, employees in an office building, or medical staff at a hospital.
If this gives you the creeps and you don’t want your movements tracked by such a system, then your only defense is to make sure that you disable WiFi on your devices when you’re not using it.
It’s amazing how technology has the capability to leave you simultaneously amazed and creeped-out

Friday, April 13, 2012

Pebble: E-Paper Watch for iPhone and Android

Pebble is the first watch built for the 21st century. It's infinitely customizable, with beautiful downloadable watchfaces and useful internet-connected apps. Pebble connects to iPhone and Android smartphones using Bluetooth, alerting you with a silent vibration to incoming calls, emails and messages. While designing Pebble, we strove to create a minimalist yet fashionable product that seamlessly blends into everyday life. 


Apps bring Pebble to life. We're building some amazing apps for Pebble. Cyclists can use Pebble as a bike computer, accessing the GPS on your smartphone to display speed, distance and pace data. Runners get a similar set of data displayed on their wrist. Use the music control app to play, pause or skip tracks on your phone with the touch of a button. If you're a golfer, feel free to bring Pebble onto the course. We're working with Freecaddie to create a great golf rangefinder app for Pebble that works on over 25,000 courses world-wide. Instead of using your phone, view your current distance to the green right on your wrist. These apps will be the first, with more in the works!  



Pebble can change instantly, thanks to its brilliant, outdoor-readable electronic-paper (e-paper) display. We've designed tons of watchfaces already, with more coming every day. Choose your favourite watchfaces using Pebble's iPhone or Android app. Then as the day progresses, effortlessly switch to the one that matches your mood, activity or outfit. 


If you need to stay on top of things, Pebble can help with vibrating notifications, messages and alerts. Dismiss a notification with a shake of your wrist. Don't worry, it's easy to disable all notifications.
  • Incoming Caller ID
  • Email (Gmail or any IMAP email account)
  • Calendar Alerts
  • Facebook Messages
  • Twitter
  • Weather Alerts
  • Silent vibrating alarm and timer
Android users can also receive Text Messages (SMS) on their Pebble. Unfortunately iPhone does not expose this data. Have any suggestions for other notification types? Leave us a message in the comments! 



Want your watch to tell you when your next bus is leaving? Maybe you're jonesing to see your compile status or recent github commits.. Think push notifications, directly to your watch using the data connection on your phone. Want to check-in on your watch, or create an app that can monitor your sleep? Pebble can send data from the accelerometer and buttons back up to the internet. 
Pebble can receive simple alerts and notifications from if this then that(ifttt.com) or our web-facing RESTful endpoint. More adventurous developers can use the Pebble SDK, with its Arduino-like abstractions and simple C structure, to gain full control of the watch. Multiple apps can run on Pebble, along side watchfaces and regular notifications.
  • Load apps using Bluetooth 
  • 144 x 168 pixel display black and white e-paper
  • Bluetooth 2.1+ EDR
  • 4 buttons
  • Vibrating motor
  • 3 axis accelerometer with gesture detection
  • Distribute apps via Pebble watchapp store
Detailed SDK specs are available on our Pebble Dev Blog. 

How does it work?

Pebble connects by Bluetooth to your iPhone or Android device. Setting up Pebble is as easy as downloading the Pebble app onto your phone. All software updates are wirelessly transmitted to your Pebble.
  • iPhone 3GS, 4, 4S running iOS 5 or any iPod Touch with iOS 5.
  • Android devices running OS 2.3 and up. Works great with Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich)!
Unfortunately Pebble does not work with Blackberry, Windows Phone 7, or Palm phones at this time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

5 Tips to fix your meeting

I hate meetings for the sake of meetings, including "keeping people in the loop" meetings and regularly scheduled meetings of staff. But I also believe that meetings have great purposes for making decisions, hearing out disagreements and setting a course of action. A dear friend of mine recently sent out a list of guidelines for meeting management, which I am passing along here.
One of his key ideas is that meetings should be re-titled, "decision making tables." I like it.

Here are his other key rules for making meetings count.

Avoid pursuing a personal agenda.

You can still represent your interests or subject matter expertise. But if you look like you are focused only on yourself, you will be sniffed out and eliminated from the process quickly.   The agenda should be about what is in the best interest of the company and the collected minds–not just your priorities.

Don't lose sight of the meeting's purpose.

People that take meetings off track receive the one visible trademark of a dying personal brand: the eye roll.  When people begin to say (or think), "Here we go again, another train of thought that has left the station on the wrong tracks," you are dead.  Stay on the agenda, and make sure others stay on topic.

Avoid constantly agreeing or disagreeing.

Nobody likes either a "yes" person or a constant naysayer.  Consider your opinion and determine if you have something new or special to add. If so, speak up.  If you don't, stay out of the way.

Avoid losing on style points.

If you have been in meetings in which someone is constantly interrupting, or talking over someone, you have seen bad style.  Another meeting foul: Don't get so consumed by framing your own response that you never listen to the real point being made.

Don't comment publicly on matters that should be handled in private.

An open forum is not an invitation to commit political suicide–or to make the meeting leader look foolish.  Determine the right time to share truly contradictory information or opinions, so that you preserve both your brand and the person you want to correct.

It is the responsibility of the person who is chairing the meeting to keep the meeting on task, on topic and on time. Passing these ideas out in advance is not a bad way to make certain that people have the right mindset for their participation.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Quantum physics enables perfectly secure cloud computing: paper in Science

Extracted from: http://www.quantumlah.org/highlight/120120_blind_qc
20 January 2012
Picture of quantum researcher Joe Fitzsimons at the Centre for Quantum Technologies in Singapore.
Computer data processing and storage are increasingly done in the 'cloud', connecting clients over a network to a remote and powerful server. A challenge is to ensure that clients' data stays private. Researchers have now shown that perfectly secure cloud computing can be achieved with quantum computers, which exploit the counterintuitive world of quantum mechanics. The research, conducted by an international collaboration including CQT's Joseph Fitzsimons (pictured right) is published today in Science.
The team built a quantum computer that performed computations for a client while remaining 'blind' to the data input, data processing and data output. This experiment was performed in Vienna, Austria, and implemented a scheme thatJoe, formerly also of University College Dublin in Ireland, and his collaborators Anne Broadbent at the Institute for Quantum Computing, University of Waterloo, Canada and Elham Kashefi at the University of Edinburgh, UK, first described in a 2009 paper (arXiv:0807.4154).
Science highlights the result with an independent Perspective article by CQT Principal Investigator Vlatko Vedral, who is jointly affiliated with CQT, NUS and the University of Oxford. "Blind quantum computing is one of the most exciting ideas in quantum computing in the past ten years," says Vlatko.
Popular accounts of the new result appear on BBC NewsNew Scientist and Popular Science among others. Joe explains the work himself over on the QuantumBlah blog.
Blind quantum computing combines the power of quantum computing with the security of quantum cryptography. Quantum computers are expected to outperform classical computers on many tasks; quantum cryptography offers communication with security guaranteed by the rules of quantum physics.
Illustration for paper in Science 'Demonstration of Blind Quantum Computing'. Image: Equinox Graphics

Both the data and the program are encrypted in "blind quantum computing", which allows a client with no computational power to interact with a quantum server with perfect security. Image: Equinox Graphics.

In blind quantum computation, a client interacts with a remote quantum computer (a server), sending data encoded in quantum bits (qubits) and instructions for processing it. The quantum server carries out the instructions, which describe measurements to perform on the qubits, and sends back the results — but the server has no way to decipher the data or determine the net outcome of the calculation.
"Unless there is a fundamental mistake in the present understanding of physics, this 'blindness' is perfect," says Joe. "There is no way to attack it."
The 'blindness' arises because the user tailors each instruction to the particular state of each qubit, which is only known by the client. Even if the quantum computer or an eavesdropper tries to read the qubits, they gain no useful information. (According to quantum physics, there is randomness in the result of reading a qubit unless the measurement settings are somehow matched to the state of the qubit — which here would require knowledge only the client has, hence the data is protected). Without knowing the initial qubit states, the instructions to the server appear random, as do the results.
Joe and his theorist co-inventors collaborated with Stefanie Barz, Anton Zeilinger and Philip Walther at the Vienna Centre for Quantum Science and Technology at the University of Vienna and the Institute of Quantum Optics and Quantum Information to realise the scheme.
The experimental demonstration used data encoded in photons, the particles of light. Photonic systems are well suited to the task because quantum computation operations can be performed on them, and they can be transmitted over long distances. The researchers successfully carried out two quantum algorithms, each using four qubits, in the blind way. They also individually demonstrated the required building blocks for implementing such blind computation on a much larger scale.
Four qubits, of course, is few. Building any kind of large-scale quantum computer is still a challenge scientists are wrestling with in labs around the world. That means a commercial "quantum cloud" is not a short-term possibility. But the very hardness of building a large quantum computer may also encourage early adoption of the blind quantum computation protocol. The first large-scale quantum computers, like the room-sized first classical computers, would probably be rare, specialized facilities. This protocol could provide unconditional security to users accessing those facilities to perform the first large-scale quantum computations, as well as for clients on future quantum networks.
For more details, see the paper "Demonstration of Blind Quantum Computing", Science 335, 303 (2012)arXiv:1110.1381 and the Perspective "Moving Beyond Trust in Quantum Computing", Science 335 294 (2012).
Coverage in the media:

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Google Glasses (Pictures)

Google glasses get a preview (VIDEO)

You’ve probably heard the rumors about Google glasses — the specs that would, Terminator-style, give wearers an opportunity to enhance their world with the power of the Web as they go through their day.
Well, Google gave folks a preview of their “Project Glass” Wednesday, posting it on (where else?) Google Plus.The glasses, to be clear, are still in testing and not available for sale.
The team, which is working inside the Google X offices, posted the following to Google+ along with the video previewing what the Glasses could look like:
A group of us from Google[x] started Project Glass to build this kind of technology, one that helps you explore and share your world, putting you back in the moment. We’re sharing this information now because we want to start a conversation and learn from your valuable input. So we took a few design photos to show what this technology could look like and created a video to demonstrate what it might enable you to do.
The glasses, as seen in the design photos Google provided, could consist of a silverish band that wraps around the forehead and a slim white (or black) band that rests just over the right eye containing the small view finder. Nose pads also extend from the silver band, keeping the device in place. Unlike traditional glasses, they do not cover both eyes.
While the photos show what the device looks like, the video shows what it could potentially display, including Google Maps and turn-by-turn directions as you’re walking. The hypothetical user in the video tours a book store, asking the device where the music section is and to remind him to buy concert tickets (Siri, anyone?). The glasses could also allow the user to check in at various locations and serve as a meeting reminder. At one point in the video the user says, “Music, stop” to pause an MP3 player before taking a video call.
But, so far, this is all still Google’s vision. The company indicates that it is extremely unlikely the glasses will be sold before the end of the year.
Judging from the video, it looks as if these glasses could usher in a new world order for foot traffic — people stopping at awkward points in their daily commute as they assess the visual enhancement of their world. Then again, Bluetooth technology managed to make people look as if they were talking to themselves, so it’s not as if this sort of change is unprecedented. However, the New York Times’s Nick Bilton reports:
People I have spoken with who have have seen Project Glass said there is a misconception that the glasses will interfere with people’s daily life too much, constantly streaming information to them and distracting from the real world. But these people say the glasses actually free people up from technology.
On the flip side, if a large enough group of people at, say, the Bruce Springsteen concert in D.C. this past weekend, had these glasses and were all taking snapshots simultaneously and sharing them to Google+ that could create a pretty awesome crowd-source composite panorama.