Internet of Things – A Few Links

Ti enables Ineternet of Things (popularly known as IOT). Here is a white paper on the Evolution of Internet of Things from TI.

“The Internet of Things (IoT) is quickly growing with the expectation of 50 billion connected devices by 2020 to provide smart, invisible technology that works for you based on your preferences. With the industry’s broadest portfolio of embedded wireless connectivity technologies, microcontrollers, processors and analog solutions, Texas Instruments offers many cloud-ready system solutions for the IoT. From high performance home, industrial and automotive applications to battery-powered or energy harvested wireless sensor nodes; TI makes developing applications easier with hardware, software, tools and support to get anything connected within the IoT.”

Monetizing M2M (Machine to Machine) aka IOT.

“There is a burst of creative ideas emerging in the Machine-to-Machine (M2M) space or what has become more affectionately known as the Internet-of-things world. With so many opportunities around the globe to connect devices and assets, many companies are starting to stake out claims in the M2M space”

The Internet of Things is here.

Drew Turney of WA Today recently wrote, “Today your smartphone knows your location, so everything from the local weather to nearby Facebook friends is available. What about tomorrow when your jacket can measure your vital signs or a hat can extrapolate your mood from your brain activity? Connect it with information on your schedule (from your calendar), spatial information such as whether you’re running or at rest, the time of day and a hundred other factors, and machines everywhere can decide on, find and present the information they think you need.”

IOT is moving from Industry to Consumers – Sooner than you think.

Devices connected to the internet — everything from coffee makers to toys — are going to become awidespread consumer phenomenon sooner than you expect, even though Europeans and Americans for now regard the technology in different ways.

Until now, smart machines connected to the internet have largely been the province of industry and governments. In the view of two executives, however, such devices will soon become ubiquitous at a consumer level, and everything from coffee machines to toys will have at least a brief life on the internet.

What is this Internet of Things? What jobs will it create? What jobs will it destroy? What is the impact on your life or career? Is it good or bad? Do we lose more control as human beings and become hopelessly dependent?

These are a few of the fascinating questions. I know you probably have even more. It will be exciting to watch the developments, adoption rate and the accelerating change this technology and applications will bring into our lives.

Building Abstractions – A Book Link

From Structure and Interpretations of Computer Programs – A Classic (now in Javascript)

The acts of the mind, wherein it exerts its power over simple ideas, are chiefly these three: 1. Combining several simple ideas into one compound one, and thus all complex ideas are made. 2. The second is bringing two ideas, whether simple or complex, together, and setting them by one another so as to take a view of them at once, without uniting them into one, by which it gets all its ideas of relations. 3. The third is separating them from all other ideas that accompany them in their real existence: this is called abstraction, and thus all its general ideas are made.
John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding  (1690)
A fascinating description of  programs – abstract beings directed by a pattern of rules, manipulating other abstract things called data:
We are about to study the idea of a computational process. Computational processes are abstract beings that inhabit computers. As they evolve, processes manipulate other abstract things called data. The evolution of a process is directed by a pattern of rules called a program. People create programs to direct processes. In effect, we conjure the spirits of the computer with our spells.
A computational process is indeed much like a sorcerer’s idea of a spirit. It cannot be seen or touched. It is not composed of matter at all. However, it is very real. It can perform intellectual work. It can answer questions. It can affect the world by disbursing money at a bank or by controlling a robot arm in a factory. The programs we use to conjure processes are like a sorcerer’s spells. They are carefully composed from symbolic expressions in arcane and esotericprogramming languages that prescribe the tasks we want our processes to perform.
A computational process, in a correctly working computer, executes programs precisely and accurately. Thus, like the sorcerer’s apprentice, novice programmers must learn to understand and to anticipate the consequences of their conjuring. Even small errors (usually called bugs or glitches) in programs can have complex and unanticipated consequences.
I watched the original lectures (from MIT) a while ago and it was an amazing experience. Here is a Python version of this book.

Job Trends and Skills in Demand

From Dice – AWS and Devops Skills in Demand

An analysis of recruiter searches also showed two very clear trends: AWS and DevOps are at the forefront of industry needs
The top 10 cloud-adjacent requests reveal an Open Source trend, with key requests included everything from Linux to configuration management systems like Chef and Puppet to programming languages like Python, Perl and Ruby.
the “superstar coupling” of development and operations now has nearly 500 jobs posted on any given day.
Indeed confirms this trend. In fact there are over 1000 jobs paying more than US $90,000 from this job search as of Sep 14 (these figures may change if you are looking at it on a different date).
Salary Estimate

The TMI Problem

In the past two months, I have had two occasions to listen to several pitches and make suggestions for improvement ( I have been listening to pitches in one form or another 5-7 times a year for the past 3+ years).

The first was a group of student projects. There were over 30. We narrowed them down to 13 and did three practice sessions for each group before the final presentation.

The second batch was a group of entrepreneurs. We had to go through about 6 and pick 4 and did  couple of iterations for each presentation (one face-to-face and another over email). We had just one week to do it all.

The essence of a pitch is generally pretty simple.

Answer these questions:

  1. Why there is a problem,
  2. What needs to be done
  3. How you are uniquely suited to solve it with your product.
  4. How big is the market and what niche you plan to target initially
  5. How do you plan to monetize (if this information is relevant to the audience)

For some reason all of us seem to suffer from TMI (too much information) syndrome. We want to dump all we know whether relevant or not on our audience.

Here are a few things I learned:

  • When left to themselves, presenters want to throw in the kitchen sink into their presentations – lots of text, pictures (some relevant and some not so relevant), diagrams and even videos.
  • They have so much to say and they want to say it all.  I don’t blame them. I used to be exactly the same. The eagerness to share all my research and finding with the audience and educate them is very compelling.
  • You can’t really teach people to listen to questions carefully and give the most relevant answers. This is not because they do not know. It is just that they seem too eager and read too much into questions.

I think this is what helps:

  • A format where diagrams and little text on each slide
  • 5-7 slides covering the essence
  • A set of backup slides to use during the question hour
  • Finish the presentation in the allotted time or earlier so that you can get more questions
  • Keep your answer to questions to couple of sentences. Avoid the temptation to give long answers. It is better to get more probing, deeper questions.

There may be different reasons for a presentation or pitch. I found that in almost all cases, it  is better to talk less and listen more.

It is not easy to talk less. I can share a lot of my own horror stories. But you can do it with practice.

Disfluency – Leads You To Think More Deeply?

One of the better talks I have had the pleasure to watch recently.  I was familiar with the term Fluency but was not aware of Fluency Research and Disfluency

The basic idea here is that when you have a thought, any thought, it falls along a continuum from fluent to disfluent. A fluent thought is one that feels subjectively easy to have. When you speak English and you come across a common English name, like John, or Tom, or Ted, it’s very, very easy to process that name. There’s no difficulty in reading the name and in making sense of the name. At the other end of the spectrum you might come across a foreign name or a novel name that you’ve never seen before or perhaps a name that you’ve seen before, but spelled very differently. In that case it’s going to be much more difficult to process the name. Then it will be disfluent or subjectively difficult to process. It will feel more difficult to process.

Adam walks through different examples about the impact of fluency on our thinking and even decision making.

“We’ve shown that disfluency leads you to think more deeply, as I mentioned earlier, that it forms a cognitive roadblock, and then you think more deeply, and you work through the information more comprehensively. But the other thing it does is it allows you to depart more from reality, from the reality you’re at now. ..”

The concept of cognitive blocks and their effect on your thinking is  worth exploring. It impacts learning, teaching and working.

In this talk Adam covers:

  • Cognition and meta-cognition
  • Fluency research
  • Cognitive Reflection
  • Superficial Cues (due to fluency)
  • Illusion of Explanatory Gap
  • Social Disfluency (and prejudices)
  • Disfluency and it impact on communication
  • Sarcasm in Email (and why it does not work)
  • Over Sharing (a Social Problem)
  • Familiarity and Fluency
  • Fluency and Society

I particularly liked the notion that persevering through difficulty helps you to deal with different types of difficult problems and your ability to reason through different tasks.

Unless You Actively Flex Your Neurons…

“unless you actively flex your neurons, nothing much happens in your head. A reader has to be motivated, engaged, curious, and inspired to solve problems, draw conclusions, and generate new knowledge. And for that, you need challenges, exercises, and thought-provoking questions, and activities that involve both sides of the brain and multiple senses.”

From “Head First” series of books. I love the Intro section where they talk about using an informal style, touching emotions and other ways to engage learners. 

If you really want to learn, and you want to learn more quickly and more deeply, pay attention to how you pay attention. Think about how you think. Learn how you learn.

We can use some of these ideas to engage students in face to face interactions in class as well. Instead of delivering long lectures that put them in a listening (or sleeping) mode, it may be good to provoke them into thinking and kindle their curiosity to learn more. 

Education and Innovation – Is There a Correlation?

How Finland, South Korea and Poland achieve such remarkably high scores on international tests:

This is the first hint of how Finland does it: rather than “trying to reverse engineer a high-performance teaching culture through dazzlingly complex performance evaluations and value-added data analysis,” as Americans do, they ensure high-quality teaching from the beginning, allowing only top students to enroll in teacher-training programs, which are themselves far more demanding than such programs in America. A virtuous cycle is thus initiated: better-prepared, better-trained teachers can be given more autonomy, leading to more satisfied teachers who are also more likely to stay on.

One thing is very clear (even from my own schooling experience). Great teachers make a big difference. In fact most of the subjects I developed liking for in school were because of great teacher.

Reading this review, however  makes me wonder  about the correlation between education and innovation. If American schools are so bad, how come there is so much innovation in America? From this latest Global Innovation Index 2013, US ranks 5, Finland 6, South Korea 18 and Poland, a distant 49.

You may want to glance at How Your School Compares Internationally an OECD report.

There is a lot to think about and connect the dots. We also need to gather a lot more data on school performance, innovation at a young age, percentage of high performing students in research. Some correlations with entrepreneurship would help too.

Revision History:

Changed the name of the post and the link as well.


Python Jobs in India

My visits to Quora are pretty infrequent and random. But something got me there this morning and when I go, I try to answer at least a couple of questions (and they get tweeted). Today’s focus was on finding out who is hiring Python programmers in India. You can look through the answers but I have a feeling that we have not even scratched the surface. Need to keep digging.