Thinking Through the Design of a Product is Fun

I was talking to a student. He is fascinated with a robot that cleans pipes. He had a prototype and won some awards. He wanted to discuss it.

We sat with him and brainstormed many ideas for the design at a very high level. I encouraged him to think about a different cleaner robot – one that cleans water tanks. Our discussion lasted half an hour and it was one of the most rewarding exercises I did today.

Thinking through the design of products is fun. When you do it as a small passionate group, it is even more fun. One of the reasons I hang out with a lot of engineering students.

Mark Zuckerberg on Oculus Acquisition

Mark Zuckerberg on Oculus Acquisition

But this is just the start. After games, we’re going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences. Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face — just by putting on goggles in your home.

This is really a new communication platform. By feeling truly present, you can share unbounded spaces and experiences with the people in your life. Imagine sharing not just moments with your friends online, but entire experiences and adventures.

I am really excited by “studying in classroom of students and teachers all over the world” part. Will every MOOC recreate their learning material to take advantage of emerging technologies like this?

More about What is Oculus Rift and Why Facebook is Buying it. 

O’Reilly Solid – Disruptive Innovation As Profound As The Internet

O’Reilly Solid

Something big is happening at the intersection of software and hardware. O’Reilly Solid brings together the people and businesses accelerating the growth of a software-enhanced, networked physical world.

The programmable world is creating disruptive innovation as profound as the Internet itself. As barriers blur between software and the manufacture of physical things, industries and individuals are scrambling to turn this disruption into opportunity.

Topics include:

  • Intelligent systems and responsive networks connecting devices that used to stand alone
  • Technological trends and advancements that are about to make the jump to real-world devices and systems
  • Innovations in manufacturing that make it possible for anyone to build hardware
  • Software that jumps beyond the computer screen
  • Industries that are instrumenting their machines and controlling them in new ways
  • Business models that allow for lean innovation in the traditionally cost intensive realm of hardware and manufacturing

Conferences are indicators of activities in certain areas. The topics in a conference give you some idea about possible emerging trends and market segments. The speakers typically are poineers in this given space.  An organization like O’Reilly is a catalyst for jump starting new spaces. They did it with Web 2.0 and doing it with Strata and now with Solid.

No. I don’t work with O’Reilly. I am a big fan and I watch and benefit from this group of high quality leading edge experts. You should too.

Learning Programming

Here are a few suggestions if you want to learn to program, especially if you are a student.

The first programming language you learn should be fun. It should be something that is easy to learn, easy to create things with, easy to iterate and does not dumb you down.

This language should help you get your feet wet in programming and interesting enough for you to persist through early challenges. It needs to have a thriving community that is helpful and lots of open source projects you can learn from.

I suggest Python or Ruby to start with.
If you dig programming, then you can try to intern for startups. You will  learn from more experienced people, build stuff others can use. You will learn other important aspects of software development like testing and usability.

This is your skill development phase. You may end up with Java/Objective C if you are doing mobile apps. Or PHP/Python/Ruby if you are building webapps.  If you do web development you may be learning a bit of HTML/CSS and Javascript.

During this phase, you will learn to work with others and also learn to explore and do research. This best part of this phase will be your increased confidence.
If you decide to make software development as your career choice, you need to learn a language used by businesses. These tend to be Java, C and C#,  PHP, Ruby or Python. Don’t worry about learning multiple languages. After a couple of languages, learning new ones will be fun.

When you work for a company, the software you develop will be used by others. You will r have different set of responsibilities. In addition to programming, you may need to learn testing, estimating, maintaining code written by others and several other skills.

After you get your job and you are kind of settled into a rhythm, you may want to continue learning. Take a look at Programming competency matrix and decide where you want to be. 

Once you are confident and start enjoying programming please start a blog and share your discoveries with others. Participate in the community and help others who start. Find some time and contribute to the open source community in anyway you can.

Discussions on First Programming Language


Most Popular Tech Jobs in 2013 According to LinkedIn

LinkedIn Analysis of job activity in 2013.

LinkedIn took a look at the skills and employment history of over 259 million members to determine what the most popular skills were this year. Based off new jobs added by people with select skills and recruiter search activity, the company found that social media marketing led the way followed by mobile development, cloud and distributed computing, Ruby, Python and Perl coding languages, and statistical analysis.

Some thoughts on the analysis.

  • Skills and employment history – I can understand skills, but missing the point on employment history.
  • New jobs added – Probably from employment data? Or is it based on their own product usage patterns
  • Recruiter search activity – This is probably one of the most relevant indicators. Wonder what percentage of recruiters search on LinkedIn?

If you’re looking to pick up a new skill or job in the New Year, tech might be a good place to start. See the full list of LinkedIn’s most in-demand job skills of 2013.

If you are a developer, start investing some time on the skills mentioned in the article. If you are a company with a certain amount of IT, you may want to look at what your peers do. If you are an IT staffing company, you may want to build a knowledge base of some of these skills.

In addition you may want to proactively research some of the emerging trends.

Are You Looking for Interns? Can You Answer a Few Questions, Please?

I posted this in the facebook group but thought of putting it here so that it can reach a wider audience. Can you tell us a bit about your internship program(s)? Specifically:

  1. How many interns do you typically take in your location? How frequently do you look for interns (quarterly, yearly, all the time etc.)
  2. How can students qualify for internships? What prior knowledge or practical experience do you require?
  3. Do you offer unpaid internships (lots of students I talked to want to just get the work experience and willing to work without pay for a few months, initially)
  4. Do you take part time internships? For example, many students would like to work a few hours a week at their convenience.
  5. Do you allow interns to telecommute? (work from their home mostly but come to the location a couple of times a week)
  6. Do you allow students who graduated but looking for jobs as interns?
  7. What kind of work do interns get in your company?

Please leave your answers in the comments section. You can also point us to a page you have about internships (if you do).  Please answer as many of these questions as possible.

You may also want to check out the They have a more formal internship match making program.


Impact of Cloud Computing – Part 2

As Cloud Computing‘s adoption increases, it starts changing the way Businesses, Governments work. Here are a few links (one small sample) of how Cloud impact industries and governments. As it spreads, it will change the business models, IT delivery models and even the way governments (local and global) work together.

There will be a few outlier applications like Cloud as Brain which are now in their infancy but have lots of interesting future possibilities.

Cloud Computing Seen Cutting Into 2014 IT Industry Growth

Greater corporate use of cloud computing services will drag down revenue growth for information technology hardware and software suppliers, says Barclays in its 2014 global technology outlook.

“We believe the deflationary impact from the cloud ($1 spent on cloud infrastructure actually results in several dollars coming out of other IT end markets) should prevent IT spending from growing meaningfully in 2014 and 2015,” said the Barclays report. “We believe global IT spending will remain challenged in the lower single-digit growth range,” the report said.

but (the cloud) still creates opportunities for the next wave of tech companies

How Cloud Computing Will Help Your Small Business

Faster Testing for New Ideas

Since everyone has access to company documents, employees and teams can test out new ideas and models in real-time. There are no messy email chains, no stacks of copied documents, and no memos floating between desks. If you’re trying a new strategy, a new plan for a project, or new creative work, everyone in and out of the office is involved at once, increasing efficiency. Answers about whether the new implements are effective come much faster since ideas and results are there immediately for everyone to see.

Among the most promising ones are faster iteration of new ideas and easier IT.

Cloud as a Brain Platform

On November 14th, IBM announced it was opening up its Jeopardy-winning Watson technologies as a cloud service and development platform.

To enable these “Watson-powered” applications, IBM’s offering has three parts:

A Watson Development Cloud (which some are labeling the “Watson Cloud”) that includes tools and an API to attract application developers.

A content store that serves as an information clearinghouse for data providers.

A talent network of people with the skills for cognitive development.

Cloud Computing May Save U.S. Government $20 Billion A Year

A new study suggests that adoption of cloud offerings — particularly Platform as a Service middleware and application development tools — can cut the cost of U.S. government application development costs to the tune of $20.5 billion a year.

G2G and Cloud: Five Counties Work Together in the Cloud

Five southeast Michigan counties are collaborating using cloud computing. The chief elected officials of Oakland, Macomb, Genesee, Livingston and St. Clair counties announced Wednesday that they are utilizing G2G Cloud Solutions to improve services and efficiency while saving taxpayers money.


If you are interested in “Cloud Computing” you may also want to take a look a couple of my previous posts.

How Will Cloud Computing Impact Software Industry?

Assessing the Coming Impact of Cloud Computing on Outsourced Solutions

I track Cloud Computing and other similar topics using TopicMinder (one of our InfoTools). It aggregates several news feeds, filters them and delivers daily email alerts.