Thursday, December 27, 2012

Broad and deep

You can invest your time expanding deep knowledge or broad knowledge.

From a market point of view deep knowledge reinforce your position and broad knowledge expands your territory.

From a business point of view, deep knowledge is not scalable but broad knowledge is. (Few people can acquire a deep knowledge, but everybody can acquire broad knowledge)

From a marketing point of view, deep knowledge is about focused coverage (quality is better than quantity), broad knowledge is about broad coverage. (quantity is better than quality)

As an independant developer, I swear only for deep knowledge but as an entrepreneur I swear only for broad knowledge. A business that only require broad knowledge from its customers can scale, and a business that scale is easier to sell.

The broad knowledge needed for a product to spread is always created by deep knowledge.
Making things simple is only possible when you have both, the vision and the knowledge of the current deepest thing... If it is not deep, then it is already broad, and if it is already broad, you are not making life easier for anyone.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Personal and Autonomous Information System

This is an exciting time. As for now, you don't need any physical stuff to work, except a laptop and a wifi connection.

If you need a complex corporate network environment, cloud make it possible to move everything online. (Infrastructure As A Service, is yet an undervalued progress)

If you need people to do repeatitive tasks, you can create process (human process, or software process) so you can find people fitting your need more easily... everywhere in the world.

If you need to be notified when anything happen, you can use SMS, lightbulb, mails, twitter, facebook with tablet or cellphone or computer or whatever channel of communication you ever want.
Everything exists, the hard part is to decide which notification is important to deserve your attention, and which one should be kept out of your eyes, the technical part of the solution already exist.

You will certainly agree with this point. But like most people, you might not yet use it to your advantage. You might consume killer apps, or using killer website, or killer tablet, but the problem is that you consider it like a tool.
These are not tools, these are part of a personal information system that support your decision and extend your reach. This system should follow you and evolve through your life.
Nobody will have the same system, because nobody have the same life, so you can't expect someone to do it for you.

A business should be considered as an autonomous information system that will integrate with your personal one at the beginning. The goal is to reach the point where you can unplug from this system, without it dying.
An entrepreneur that sells or quits its business that just crash without him is a business failure for the entrepreneur.
With this definition Steve Jobs can be considered an entrepreneur failure if Apple can't stand without him. Whatever the genius in marketing or vision, the great business should thrives without someone holding its hand.

As I've not created any successful business yet, this definition will drive my choices, and is the ultimate metric I need will use to track my progress. Does it stand without me ?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Entrepreneur, self-employee, employee

A big misconception grows in France about the word Entrepreneur.
For the majority of people Entrepreneur is someone that work for himself. So one might argue that consulting and training is entrepreneurship.

Wrong ! This is not entrepreneurship, this is self-employment.

The goal and mind of an entrepreneur is different from a self-employer.
The difference is that : an entrepreneur build a business whereas a self-employer build its job.

So here is a clear definition of what is going on :

An employee is someone that consume a job, and the product of the job is consumable its creates.
The product of a self-employer is his job, and the product of his job is consumable it creates.
The product of an entrepreneur is a business, the product of the business are jobs, and the product of job is consumable it creates.

A business will live and grow without its creator : the entrepreneur.
An entrepreneur and a business are two different entities.

A job and a self-employer is a single entity. Without self-employer, the job dies.

That's a considerable shift in perception. And a hard one for me, because the majority of people does not know what enterpreneurship is, the more you stay at school, the more your environment push you to employement or self-employment. This clear definition was exposed to me thanks to The E-Myth Revisited from Michael E. Gerber.

This remind me what I have read in The Conspiracy of the Rich of Robert T. Kiyosaki about the power of derivative.

A broad definition of a derivative is a substance that can be made from another substance.  For example, orange juice is a derivative of an orange.  

The theory is : the more derivative is your product, the more money you'll get.
In one sentence : A business is a derivative of jobs that are a derivative of consumable.
That's why an employee gets less than a self-employee that gets less than an entrepreneur.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Community that leave the comfort zone

In an extract from Flow from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi , you will find a description given by Richard Kool, about how an Indian tribes of British Columbia lived :

     The Shushwap region was and is considered by the Indian people to be a rich place: rich in salmon and game, rich in below-ground food ressources such as tubers and roots -a plentiful land. In this region, the people would live in permanent village sites and exploit the environs for needed resources. They had elaborate technologies for every effectively using the resources of the environment, and perceived their lives as being good and rich.
Yet, the elders said, at times the world became too predictable and the challenge began to go out of life. Whithout challenge, life had no meaning.
     So the eldes, in their wisdom, would decide that the entire village should move, those moves occurring every 25 to 30 years. The entire population would move to a different part of the Sushwap land and there, they found challenge. There were new streams to figure out, new game trails to learn, new areas where the balsamroot would be plentiful.
Now life would regain its meaning and be worth living. Everyone would feel rejuvenated and healthy. Incidentally, it also allowed exploited resources in one area to recover after years of harvesting...

As most fear changes, and fight for status quo, they forget that growth is multiplied in the unknown.
As some fear the unknown, this is the only place that help to stretch the mind.
The mind is lazy, socially and genetically programmed.  Burning safety boat, and leaving comfort zone is the only way to make it grows.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Flow : the activity does not matter, purpose does

While reading Flow : The psychology of Optimal Experience of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (I'm lucky I don't have to pronunce it), I've had some of these "ah ah" moment.

As I often noted, when I was employee, I had good customer, good boss, good co-workers, and yet disatisfied.
In fact, the whole activity of programming has been boring from the very day I did it for money.

The book gave me the words for the reason of this problem : Autotelic and exotelic experience.
Autotelic experience is all activities that you do for its own sake.
But you can also do the very same activity for an external reason like example making money, which is an exotelic experience.

Flow, the state of complete concentration where you forget the self, seems to occur when it is composed of four parts:
  • Immediate feedback,
  • Autotelic experience,
  • Clear vision where to go,
  • Your skills match the task (ie,  you are not bored and not anxious)
This explains why current best practices from software development world works so well !
Unit testing, and iterative development, improve feedback.
Fast, and frequent shipping not only develop feedback but also add clarify your vision.

Coding is fun, I have an autotelic experience whenever I open Visual Studio, and I can speak with other coders about code during hours.
However, if I start doing it for money, it stops become exotelic.

If you want to know whether you have autotelic experience, just ask yourself : If I was millionaire, would I continue what I am doing ?

If you have autotelic experience, you keep procrastinating and that you know you have the skills to do the task, you lack clear vision. A clear vision is what a manager should give to his team, and when you are working by yourself, you need to use the manager part of your brain, so the worker part of your brain can achieve flow.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Flow and feedback

Nature is tough. Why does immediate gratification is seen as a bad thing ? And why should we always be patient for the good things ?

Why am I so tempted to check youtube now instead of developping my business ?

The reason is simple, our mind flow where there is the most feedback.
Youtube is immediate feedback, you click, you see the video.
A video game is immediate feedback, each action will cause a reaction.
Open facebook, and you see all these news on your friends.

Why these things are so addictive ? Because our mind search to attain flow.

Flow is the mental state you experience when you are so focused on something that time and your body seems to disappear.

Flow happens when your mind is too occupied to care about your environment, and it happen thanks to the constant feedback of the task.

Immediate gratification is not a bad things, you can use the same principle on any activity that make you grow.
If you want to stop procrastinating, just ask you this question : How to produce constant feedback when working on my task ?

In software development test driven development is a powerful method that will keep your from procrastinate.

If you want to be fit, how can you create more feedback during physical exercice ?
If you want to expand your knowledge, how will you use it for immediate result ?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Time and money are nothing

I'm free of my time, earn good money, do not depend on a single revenue stream, and I can earn money anywhere there is internet. And yet, life is not better because of this.

Most of people want to work so they can retire and do what I do now... They are wrong, their life will not be better.

My explanation is that we are very similar to ants : We are social worker, we need to work for communities.
My everyday joy is spreading knowledge to the developer community. My list of article on codeproject is my greatest pride.

When you rest and procrastinate, boredom will get you.
When you work for money, and not for a community, boredom will get you.

We are social workers, as ants are. Remove either the social or worker part and boredom will get you. This seems hardwired into us, and no amount of money, freedom, and luxury can change it.

That's why the culture in a business is so important. The culture transform business to community. Stronger the sense of unity, higher is happiness of members. That sounds like almost as a sect, but they are using the same ingredient to inspire their members.



Thursday, November 8, 2012

Conspiracy of the fear

Long time ago, I followed mass media. And since I trashed it completely from my life, guess what happened ? Nothing.

Except that now when I speak with people that continue with it, there always tell me about crisis, bad time, regression, political battle, suicide, murder, recession, instability and all that stuff.
And given all of this mess, they hold tighter on what they were doing every day, hoping it will stop by itself.
That's the definition of insanity from Einstein : Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Contrary to before, I am extra conscious about that, conscious about that insanity, and people just echoing what they are listening.

At the very same time, nowadays are the very best business days of my life, with lots of great customers, lots of interesting work, new contracts come everyday without searching, lots of free time and travel, and it improves every day.
The world I'm living in is happily sharing their brain, and impress me more and more everyday.
This knowledge gives me more freedom, and extend what I can do with my finger tips.

The only reason why my world is different, is because there is a conspiracy of fear that want to murder the mass. I'm lucky to be wierd enough to not be touched. That's the only explanation that my brain made up to fill the coherence gap.

I don't know why, I don't know who, but there is definitively a mass attack.
It's main vector is mass media.
And mass media is not only TV, but also include every website, in any domain that echo informations.

If your eye, your ears and your thoughts listens every single day about the devil, you will finish by believing he is here. This has nothing to do with intelligence and with willpower. It is just humain behavior, hardcoded in our gene, and we have to accept it.
We can use this behavior for your advantage : just mute the bad echo and volume up the good echo, the world will be better.

Monday, October 29, 2012

How to live 15 months per year

I like arguing with people about the usefulness of cars. That's because I have no permit, and don't want to have one, so here is my favorite argument.

-How much time in car do you spend per day to go to work ?
-2H
-Are you getting paid for this time ?
-No, but my company pays transport fees
-Ok so let's do the math. 2H per work day in a month is about 20 * 2 = 40H spent in your car, freely given to your company to go to work.  40H is approximately how much time you are really working in a week.

If you were using this time to do something else, you would earn 1 week per month. For 12 months, you earn 12 weeks, or 2 month, so in total you will have 15 months per year.

What can you do with 2 months, just for yourself per year ?

The problem with this argument is that few people is able to give a response.
So I ask, what will you do when you retire ? And most of the time, there is no response, because they never thought about it. This make me really sad, but I prefer to not talk about it when I'm arguing.

The best answer is : If I was in retirement, I would do what I do now.
Anything less is having a miserable life, anything less is delegating the important choices of your life to your boss or whoever will decide for you, and ultimately giving the key of your happiness to people that don't know you.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mastery is awareness

You might think that mastery on a subject comes from having massive knowledge in a subject.
That's wrong.

Massive knowledge is like local cached database. It is just pure information.

Mastery is about using this knowledge to maximize deduction while minimizing incoming information. In other word : awareness.

In an age where we suffer information overload, the true master is the one that percieve whispers and can tranform them into wealth.

I  finished Reversing lately, I see the same assembly code than the author, but he is capable of deduce lot more from the very same information. I might say : from less information, because he is able to filter noise better than I can.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Everybody and Somebody

Don't be like Everybody.

Everybody is mean.
Everybody is noisy.
Everybody is average in Everything.
Everybody wants to do what Everybody does.

That's not very interesting to be like him.
If you are like him, you can't change him.
If you can't change him, you will not convince him to give you his money.
Yelling stronger will not change Everybody. He talks a lot and louder than you, he won't listen.

Instead, be like Somebody.

He is generous.
He listens.
He has deep knowledge.
He does what Everybody fears the most.

Somebody is the one who shapes the road that Everybody will take.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Cross reading and scientific method

The first mistake that you can make is to take the wrong book.
Reading a book takes lots of time, reading only the best and brightest will save you time and neurons.

The second mistake you can make is to read only one book about the subject you want to learn.

The scientific method first makes hypothesis, test them, then review of confirm the hypothesis, turning it into a theory.
Our mind do exactly the same thing. It has a model of the world, experiment, and redefine the model.

Reading is an experiment, it challenges what you already know (your model) and redefine or confirm it.
Needless to say, only redefinitions make you grow. The more redefinition you make to your model, the more you learn.

When you are reading a book, you are copying the model that the author has.
The problem is that, once you read the book, reading the same book twice, will not redefine your model very much.

Mastery means that whatever you can read about the subject, it does not redefine your model very much.

The best way to keep redefining your model, is to read several of the best material about the same subject. That's what I call cross reading.
You know you get into mastery when reading more of these different material does not redefine your model.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Reading, Learning, Drawing

As my job is to assimilate lots of knowledge, play with it, and then share with people the cool things, I become more and more aware of how my brain works when I learn.

As I read, my brain is trying to draw a picture of the concept.
Even if the concept is not material, as software or mathematics.
Every sentence draws a more accurate picture or extends it.

When the picture is done, the text become irrelevant.

The picture is big, and it tell me the whole story. I can zoom in for details or zoom out, and move to parallel topics. As I browse, I recall the story that goes with the parts and explain it.
I know that I don't fully understand a concept when I can't visualize it.

However, I can't use the picture as is to transfer the knowledge. Some parts of it are interconnected with knowledge irrelevant to my audience.

Reading is a linear activity but learning is not it's up to you to decide when to zoom in, zoom out or move. The book can suggest you the order, but the real order will come from what you already know and which part of the picture you want to extend.

I am a big fan of mind maps, this permits me to remind me quickly all the image that come with a node and its transitions. My mind maps are irrelevant to someone else, because they relate to my own picture.

Some people suggests that note taking should be the process of drawing this mental picture down to paper. But I have a problem with paper : it is linear and my picture is not, it get extended on all side as I read books... not just at the end.

But computers overcome this limitation.
So I will give a try to graphic tablet as a tool for drawing my mind maps and images.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Income is the concept of the poor

In France, everybody focus on income.
The more income you get, the nicer people are with you.
A stable income means security, and the best way to get security is to be an employee.
If you don't have a stable income, you are unsecure.

As entrepreneur and independent worker you have always to fight against people from bureaucracy that don't like the way you are. The money can flourish in your company, if it does not move to your pocket, they categorize you as "poor".

Everybody focus on income as the source of status.

But income is the concept of the poor.
The rich controls income, and thus the psychology of the poor.
He can appear rich or poor in front of the poor, depending on the benefit he gets.
If he wants a personal house, he will decide to appear rich in front of his banker.
If he wants to pay less taxes, he will decide to appear poor in front of the national treasury.

The trick is that this money doesn't have to come from your bank account.
The money doesn't have to come from your own companies.
And this money does not have to come from your capital gains.

When money comes where you want, when you want, then you are rich.

The good thing with that is that french government are taxing at their highest level the income.
They say they are taxing the rich and make justice for the poor. They are not.
They are taxing the poor, and the middle.

Nowadays, only the poor and the middle will dress themself as rich in front of robin hood.

The rich have ultimate knowledge of moving money where he wants, when he wants.
Income is just a way to move money to his personal bank account... But does he need to, why does he need to ?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

It crashes... That's interesting

Nobody likes when your program crashes right ?
Well, sometimes I'm angry, and sometimes I find bugs very interesting.

If you don't  how things work, you don't want to touch it because you are afraid to make it crashes.

I have another approach : If I don't know why something is useful for, I delete it.
Why is that ? Because the program will then crash.
Why do I want to make it crashes ? Because I will figure out something new : for what the object I deleted why useful for.
Why do I want to know why it was useful for ? Because with time, every problem you encounter become easy to understand and better easy to explain.

With time, and inspecting crashes, as a developer, you can gain precious low level information. And then you'll find that most of the bugs have some common root causes.

This kind of thinking applies to all kind of crashes, not just computer one. And fixing crashes are always a lucrative activity, because all complainers become your customers.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Internship, Training, Mentoring

Mentoring, internship and training have the same output : Getting knowledge.
The difference only lies with the purpose of this knowledge.

If you search for an internship, you basically want to pass some exam, improve your curricula, and get a diploma and ultimately get a job. The reputation of the company is important to impress future employers and friends. (the business word for it is "credibility")

The downside of internship is that it cost lots of time. It cost money too, because even if you don't pay for it, it steals the time you could use for income.

If you search for training and you are in a company, your goal can be : having a raise, getting fast knowledge on a specific for immediate usage.
If you are not in a company, you are doing it to find a job.
Training are more efficient to acquire knowledge, it is dense, and, if used by practical people, it turns definitively into money. You can even have the benefits from internship with certifications.

The downside is that it cost money, but not so much time. I emphasize that this knowledge should be used for immediate purpose or your brains will forget as fast as he learnt.

If you search for mentoring your purpose is personal development. You want to acquire some parts of the brain of your mentor. The first step is to find this person, and then work with him.

The difference with internship is the purpose : you don't do it for credibility, you do it for your own development. You do it because you want specifically what the mentor has in his head, and you certainely don't want to deal with the brain of anybody else.

Mentoring should be a common practice among employees in the same company. For the mentor, sharing knowledge is awesome. For the mentee, it is the fastest way to not only get the knowledge but to know who you will become.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Rubber Duck Reflection

Whatever your job, I bet the following story happened to you :

You are in the middle of a work, but stumble on a problem. No matter how hard you try to think about it, no solution comes into your mind... Then you ask your coworker for some help.

-Ok, sure I can help you, what is your problem ?
-My problem is blah blah blah... Oh wait I know the answer thanks for the help !
-What ? I did not say anything ! 

This is a situation very familiar for a developer during debugging.
So familiar that now developers don't dare to waste their co-woker's time, and just explain out loud the problem to a rubber duck.

The cool thing about rubber duck is that he not only masters programming, he masters every domain, and can respond to almost any of your questions !

Why is that ? Simple enough. Your brain can only respond to a problem when your question is well formulated and constructed. The answer is always as good as the question.

By forcing you to materialize your problem with intelligible words, as if you needed to explain it to someone else, your brain notices that he already knows the answer.

Rubber Duck will tell you : If you want a good answer ask a good question... Now, what is your problem  ?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

I bagained with life for a penny, but it would have paid any price

I bargain with life for a penny.
And life would pay no more
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store.

For life is a just employer
He gives you what you ask.
But once you have set the wages,
Why you must bear the task.

I worked for a menial’s hire.
Only to learn dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of life
Life would have willingly paid.

Not sure where it comes from, found it from Think and Grow Rich.
But once fully believed and understood, it is the kind of thing that will kick you ass to grow.
You are what you ask and you have what you ask.

If you find you don't grow anymore, it is just because you got what you asked...
The question is : what's next ?

Monday, August 27, 2012

The fallacies of the old man

"I am old, so stuff is harder to learn"
That is what I call "the fallacy of the old man". That is a dangerous sickness, and it is contagious...

When he says that, it gives enough reason for another old man to stop learning, thus giving a second "fallacied old man".

This is the lamest excuse that someone would tell you to justify their ignorance, incompetence, and unwillingness to learn.

I'll tell you the truth :
Knowlegde is like money.
The more you have, the more it comes.
The more you know, the fastest you learn.

If you think your brain is slow, it is just atrophied by your inactivity. That's all.

The other side of this fallacy is this one : "I can't be a genius like them, life did not give me the chance"
That is the second fallacy. This is what someone who has no idea about how much time the "genius" spends reading books and practicing.
If they learn things 10x times faster than you are it is because they spend 10x more than you on it.

This is the excuse of someone that need to rest in front of the television, when the genius go back to work, read books, learn, repeat, note and practice his craft.

If you are incompetent, just admit it and accept it -that's perfectly ok, you can't know everything-, but please don't be lame.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

This is why I hate echo

When I was a student I wanted to become MSP (Microsoft Student Partner) for recognition of my contribution in the .NET community on CodeProject , Codeplex, and my old coding blog.

For Microsoft, MSP are useful for referencing, propagating their news and evangelize their products. For students, Microsoft is usefull for recognition and free software they give away.
So I took a try...

And then someone in charge of this program told me : I see that you never speak about our new and next hot things, that's what we need.

My response : I hate echo, and if it is what you search, go somewhere else.
So I did not end up in their boat.

And indeed, all the MSP I knew at this time had a blog with the new and next hot things from Microsoft.

But writing anything else that don't make me unique is like selling my own soul.

I would become the same as people I hate the most : popular magazine/news/news paper journalists.
They all speak with different voices the same facts.
They do not investigate but accept, do not research but believe, do not write but repeat. Their sole purpose is to amplify whatever message we give to them.  Their sole purpose lies to be the tool of something else.

I show no respect for this type of work and I will never work for anything less worthy than full pride in myself.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Persist your brain on the net

Do you have a bad memory and friends that make fun of you by telling that you left your brain on the net ? You are not alone.

But as our brain was the only portable information device with paper yestersday, now, we have internet and our cell phone is better than us for information storage and retrieval.

Yes, I use now the storage part of my brain to remember -or guess- what keyword I might have typed on evernote to store an information that already passed through my head.

Every time I read something that I might need tomorrow, it is on evernote.
Every time I read a book, every worthwhile sentence, I evernote it.
Evey time I read a technical book, rich of content to remember, I draw mind maps.

For example, these days I am reading Windows Internal from Mark Russinovich, here are what I learned on windows security (chap 6) and concepts and tools (chap 1).

That is for only two chapters from this book, I repeat the same process for every certification I need to pass.

The amazing stuff is that no matter how much you forgot about the actual stuff, you will always remember the place in the diagram where you persisted it.

Arrows that connect bubbles will refresh your memory with all the concept you learnt at the time you persisted your information.  Your subconscious will bring back the whole graph as if you did it yestersday.

Your brain remembers better where you stored information than the information itself... take advantage of it, and persist your brain on the net.

The only thing you will remember is that you already persisted in the past what you are looking for.
Let evernote's index do the rest. (Or whatever index you are using)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sleep hacking

Maybe some of you already know Phrack Magazine.
This is a magazine for hackers, I'm not one of those, but these guys are among the smartest you can find.
I have huge respect for their exploits, hacks and knowledge. And I read it for the same reason most of them find exploits : fun and curiosity.
I'm not smart enough to fully understand their hack, but I hope with time, I will be able to appreciate their work.

Most of these articles are written in C/ASM and something that looks like english but obfuscated with hacking dialect. If you are not a security/software professional, coder or hacker, forget it.

But this time, they talked about a subject I understand. A subject I already tried to hack. They call it brain hacking : projection of consciousness, I call it sleep hacking.

I am lucky, I already had lucid dreams : that is a dream where you are fully aware you are dreaming, and the world around you, and the people in this world appear more real than real life.
You have full power in this world, you can fly, run fast, create landscape, or just enjoy and talk to people.
The people you met there are as smart as the one in real life.
You have full power, so you can make them disappear too.
All of that consciously knowing that in reality your are in your bed. (or what you called reality before that)
Phrack's article talk about other higher level of consciousness, but these I never had.

The first time you have a lucid dream, you will become obsessed to get back there, and seriously throw in the toilet the definition of "reality".
This lead me to another experience on sleep I made some years ago : Polyphasic sleep, or, to be more specific the uberman sleep pattern, to get these lucid dreams back.
During 2 weeks I got 4H of sleep with one nap of 30 minutes, every 4 hours. I must say that the first week you feel terrible, then strange things happen.
  • you have more dreams, 
  • more lucid dreams, 
  • you fall asleep in 3 minutes, every time you want,
  • you never oversleep past 30 minutes,  (alarm clock becomes optional)
  • you don't differenciate days, 
  • time is just "continous",
  • you wake up with full energy, and clear state of mind you never had before,
  • you can sleep everywhere,
  • when you wake up you have the sensation to have slept one full hour,
Dreams and lucid dreams become part of your life, and wake time is sometimes seen as the necessary time until your next dream.
But if you can't take one nap, you are broke for the three three next one.

My work at the time and my friends did not get it and made me skip some naps, I could not follow a different schedule than the one in which our society works.
This led me to stop the hack. But the experience ? definitively worthwhile.

Why I am talking about that ?

Hacking is not limited to computer hacking, hacking is about experiences, and experiences are about curiosity. Hacking is about challenging the status quo, asking why, finding the response, use it for ourselves and share it. And, as always, if now, you are more curious, be it about Phrack or sleep hacking, I reached my goal.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

From industrialism education to world education

First of all, thanks Seth Godin to write freely about the school problem with Stop stealing dreams.
This post is inspired by this ebook, I fully read in one bit, as always Seth is one of my favorite author and speaker.

Ask a child or teenager the following question : "why do you go to school ?"
And they will automatically respond : "To get a job."

Here the response I would like : "I will become astronaut, president, big boss, math researcher, or whatever"

What is the difference ? The "Getting a job" put you at the place of the compliant worker praying his safety to government and big bosses.

"Getting a job" is for someone not knowing where to go, and if you don't know where to go, if you don't know where to focus your energy, be sure you'll end up somewhere else.

"I will become xxx" is the response of someone that will focus all its energy to the goal. He is the master of its destiny. This person do not beg his future, he just takes it.

What is the link between that and industrialism education and world education, you ask ?

School was promoted during the industrialism age, and the tendency was pretty clear : we will have lots of factory and we need compliant worker to work in it.
The goal of the school was to create compliant and disposable workers. For a worker to be disposable, you just need tons of workers with the same skillset. And so what the industrialist school does.
To be sure all the workers are the same, standard curricula is the standard tool.

Except that now, these disposable workers are in concurrence with India, and China.

At the same time, we are experiencing radical technological progress, and you can learn anything for free. The knowledge tree is huge, and if you want to be indisposable you better be at the leaf and not the root.

Here is the paradox with our education system : We continue to create disposable workers we don't need, even though most knowledge in the world is 3 clicks away.

We ask our teacher and child that they need to become information (trivia) gatekeeper, when internet replace this role in a much more scalable way.

What I call world education is when children will learn not to have a job, but to realize their dreams. When teacher will teach them how to have this burnable desire to learn out of curiosity. And then give the rest to internet. They will see a world where they can get all knowledge and contacts they need to be whatever they dream of. They will stop begging your dream, and take it.

The best teachers and universities in the world share knowledge freely their courses.
The first time someone see by himself one of these courses, not to pass an exam and not to get a job, is the first step toward independance, and creativity.
These services will change the world for the better. They bring tredemous leaf learning, thanks to them you will not become compliant and disposable worker, the knowledge volume is too high for someone to know everything.

Teachers are not information gatekeepers anymore, I think they will more and more become coaches that is : They will make people knowledge independant. (Depending on no one to get and assimilate knowledge)

A trainer will become the highway to be knowledge independant on a specific subject.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Self-engineering

Habits are formed by willpower and environment, if an habit was a car, willpower and environment would be engines.

But like an F1 engineerer would tell you : If you want to go fast, maximize the engine's power, and minimize frictions. (car's aero dynamic)
And if you want to stop, maximize frictions. (parachute, brakes)

Willpower comes and go, and seems limited every day for whatever reason.
But what I know is that I have ultimate control over my environment.

You want to stop a bad habit ? add frictions.
You want to encourage good habit ? remove frictions.
When you set your environment to encourage you to go where you want to go, you need less willpower to have the same result.
  • Why my facebook account is disabled ? Because I would use it if it wasn't.
  • Why does my email password is not saved in the browser ? Because I would check them it if it was'nt.
  • Why do I set the alarm clock at 7am ? Because I would stay in my bed if it wasn't.
  • Why do I program the coffee machine at 7:10 am ? Because if I stay in my bed, I would be punished by wasting the morning coffee.
  • Why have I not any video game at home ? Because I would play it if there was.
  • Why do I want to give money if I don't meet my deadline ? Because if I would not, I will miss it.
  • Why I don't close my stores ? Because if I would the sun would not wake me up.
  • Why do I keep an old phone ? Because if I would, I would never disconnect.
I am lucky enough to be the master of my time. And it is so easy to waste it.
Here some tips to add frictions to your digital life :
Block website : http://stayfocusd.en.softonic.com/ (Once blocked, they made it very annoying to unblock)
Crash the internet : http://macfreedom.com/ (Yes, I paid for that)
Block websites and apps : http://www.focusme.co/

For the physical life :
Program the coffee machine, use alarm, use the pomodoro technique, don't close your stores, improve or break the design of every day things.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Wake or give

Enough is enough, I wanted to be employee, I got a job.
Then I wanted to be independant, I got customers.
And now want to make business but I am stuck at the independant level... (Making a business means earning your life without trading your time)

Why am I stuck ??? Because I am lazy. Plain lazy, I recognize it and hate it. And I believe it is a dangerous disease that can kill dreams.
Or maybe, I'm just used to the carrot and stick.
So what to do ?
Seeing people around me getting closer than me creating a business is encouraging, but that is not enough. I am not jealous enough to stop being lazy.
So I will leverage my primary fear, to help me : I really hate loosing money.
  • I will set a measurable and verifiable goal,
  • I will set the deadline,
  • I will lend money to a project I want to support,
  • If the deadline is met, I get my money back,
  • If the deadline become liveline, the project I lent to will keep all the money forever.
I want to create a website for the wake-or-give.com and hope to heal lazy independant worker like me.
Having no boss, means that I am my own boss, if I am not though enough, seeing my money out of my pocket will seriously kick my ass off the bed.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cash pumps, cash machines, governments and investors

Government needs money.
Taxes are how government get the money.
Taxes are paid when money move from one hand to another.
In other words, the more exchanges there is, the more taxes are paid.
In other words, government wants high cash flow.
If you want to increase water flow, you buy a water pump.
The government wants to increase cash flow so they buy cash pumps.

The trick is that : Your president will support cash pumps, and doesn't care about profitability.

When you understand that, you understand how use leverage from your government.
In other words, you understand how to pay almost no taxes and maybe how to get money from them.

Cash machines are for investors, cash pumps are for governments.
If you want to pay less taxes, become a cash pumps.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Work and investment definition

-How much do you work every day in average ?
-3 hours
-Wow what are you doing after that, are you bored ?
-I read books, follow courses on udacity, and I code interesting things and write on it.
-So you work more than 3 hours  !

Where comes from this difference of perception ?

For employees, work is any activity you could do at your company's cubicle.
For me work is exactly that : Direct exchange of time against money.
On the other hand, I call investment an Indirect exchange of time against money. (Exchanging your time for something that will makes money for you)

Educating myself, coding for free and writing on codeproject is not working.
It is not investing either because nothing will make money for me after my new article is released.

Working and investing are not defined by activities, but by the end (money) and the method (direct or indirect).

Monday, July 16, 2012

Simple math for work security

I am an independant developer and trainer, and sometimes people tells me that I am lucky for now and I should have some job security.

I respond that even though I have no job, I have work security let's do the math :
If people spends in average between 10 and 20 years in their jobs, then it means that they have 5% chance to be fired every year.
If you are independant, chances are that you work for many customers.

 My question is the following : what is the most secure work between a secure job of 5% chance to get fired every year OR an insecure job with N customers that will fire you with a probability of 40% ?

Let's calculate "N" together:
N    %to get fired
1    40%
2    16% (40% * 40%)
3    6.4% (16% * 40%)
4    2.5% (6.4% * 40%)

In other words, knowing 3 differents customers will give you as much work security than a secure job. What is magic with that ?
  • Having one more customer is a linear problem. 
  • Having one more customer improve your work security exponentially.
In other words :
  • Having five customers is as hard as getting 5 times one customer. 
  • Having five customers improve your work security 16 times more than one customer.
Why so much people are attached to job security, when work security is what they need the most ?
It hurts me to see great people begging for a job when I see so much work opportunities waiting for them.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Invest in yourself


Someone asked to Warren Buffet :

“If you were 30 years old and had no dependents but a full-time job that precluded full-time investing, how would you invest your first million dollars, assuming that you can cover 18 months of expenses with other savings? Thank you in advance for being as specific as possible with asset classes and allocation percentage.”

Buffett let out a small laugh and began. “I’d put it all in a low-cost index fund that tracks the S&P 500 and get back to work…”

What is the most important part ? I thought that the most important part was  :
“I’d put it all in a low-cost index fund that tracks the S&P 500 and get back to work…”

Actually, the most important part of Buffet's response is : "Buffett let out a small laugh".

His advice makes sense, diversification is the wall against ignorance.
Ignorance is exactly what happens to someone that would have "30 years old and had no dependents but a full-time job that precluded full-time investing".

The advice of Buffet makes perfect sense.

"Buffett let out a small laugh" is the most important .Buffet knows that someone within this state of mind can't be rich. This person is a producer and given the current monetary system, the producer's fate is to dilapide his million to banks.

Buffet is right, given the problem boundaries, the solution is perfect. But the boundaries of this problem does not exist in the state of mind of the rich:
  • The rich does not have a full-time job .
  • The rich is financially literate and so does not use diversification.
  • The rich does not necessary have "the first million dollars". (Thanks to some some financial magic)
Become financially literate, stop your job, and  invest in yourself for real assets, might be the first step to be rich.

Diversification is protection against ignorance... but what if you just kill ignorance ?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Habit and addiction for productivity

As an independant developer working at home, I had the bad habit to procrastinate instead of working.
Until the day I learned how to leverage the power of habit and addiction in my advantage.

I took the habit to use a to-do list for all my work, every time I need to do something I put it in the list.
Every day the first action was to check the list, and for every tasks 3 actions are possible:
  • Doing it ,
  • Delegating with a new task for following up,
  • Defering it and sending calls or emails when I need more information
Now, this habit has become an addiction, and I can't stand seeing anything in my list... And as always, I have only 3 choices possible for every task.
Making it an addiction push me to work in the direction I set without willpower.

I learned this system with Getting things done, and people might think that you need discipline to follow these advices... Actually you only need discipline in the beginning... then it becomes an habit, then an addiction.

When it is an addiction, you need discipline only if you want to stop doing it.

Have you ever felt times when you know you need to do something but you actually did not because of whatever reason on earth ?
Now it does not happen anymore for me, when I feel the need to do something, I just add it to my list and then my addiction pushs me to cross the task out of my view.

Habit and addiction are powerful tools, with it, you don't need willpower and discipline to move forward. (... or backward if you don't use it wisely)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The story of data

I'm a big believer of Wikileaks, a publisher of raw leaked data about companies and government corruption.
Wikileaks publishes raw data and hands it to the press that sort and summarize it.

When data was scarse, the press could easily summarize data, write the general idea and spread it to the world.
Now, there is so much data that I believe the press should stop working on summarizing data, and concentrate efforts on writing the general idea and spread it.

From wikileaks on the Syria leak :
The database comprises 2,434,899 emails from the 680 domains. There are 678,752 different email addresses that have sent emails and 1,082,447 different recipients. There are a number of different languages in the set, including around 400,000 emails in Arabic and 68,000 emails in Russian.

How can you ask a journalist to summarize so much data and grasp the general idea ?

Data tells a story, but now we can't read the story without computers, there is just too much data.
There is a missing piece between Wikileaks and the press. The world needs data mining and data visualization experts.
These jobs were only accessible through research and big companies. They were the only place were we could find enough data and enough processing power.

Thanks to cloud computing advances, processing power is accessible to any independant developer. And Wikileaks give us the data to play with.
This domain will be a new play field for developers.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Opportunity cost

It might seems strange at first that freelancers are refusing well paid work ahead of time. But when you are billing every minutes of your work, it becomes clear that saying 'yes' can cost you more than saying 'no'.

With every 'yes' comes a commitment, and you might be tempted to think that you are doing a two way commitment. Actually, most of the time the commitment is one way, that is : if your customer does not need you after all, you will not work. That is the definition of freelancer : with time comes uncertainty.

The problem is that since you made a commitment you closed many doors that opened along the way. And if you are not aware, it might cost you a lot. (and not always in terms of money)

Commitment is not something to take lightly, and, as a freelancer you have to know that this is often a one way commitment. So protect your time it is your most precious asset.

The chinese way

I often advice people to learn things by the chinese way.

There is no disrespect about the chinese people, it is just that china is well known for their ability to take good idea and replicate them. And I think that this is the way the world should work without any shame. Too much emphasize is make to the inventor... whereas the most important should be to solve problems and make people life better, not to invent.

In .NET programming the best documentation is not the official microsoft one (MSDN). The best documentation is the code itself reverse engineered with tools like IlSpy.

And I think that the same process is true about entrepreneurship. We should spend less time reading book and more time talking to people that succeed, and reverse engineer what make them successful.

I have the chance to meet lots of smart people with my work, and even when I am the trainer, I always learn what make them amazing.

Too much time is spent dreaming being successful and getting the best idea, this time should be spent copying (or reverse engineering) what work and applying it to your environment.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Job security is insecure

In a previous post, I talked about the difference between freedom and dependency.

Internet works because it depends on lots of dispensable nodes.
While you are tempted to think that being dependant limit your freedom, it is the other way around.
You are free when you depend on lots of dispensable nodes.

Given this framework, job security is insecure.
Why ?
Because a secure job is not a dispensable node, it is a dependable node.
By seeking a secure job, you will find what IT guys call "a single point of failure".

What is the problem ?
The problem is that what control the node controls you.

"My boss would not do that", you can think...
You are wrong... he already does... controlling someone else time and space is a social norm and you are not aware of it, not even your boss.

If he wants you to work when you want to go on holiday with your friends, you will accept that.
If you want to work from starbucks and he wants you to be at the office, you will accept that.

You will accept because it is a social norm.
You will accept because your job is your single point of failure.

The safest thing to do is to consider every job as insecure, and having lots of them.
The best people you need to meet are the ones that will be thankful for not having your life in their hand.

All my customers and partners are insecure, and they are thankful for the freedom I give to them.
I don't want to hold someone life in my hand too, so, I am also the first to make myself dispensable...


That is why I like to introduce to my customers people with the same skills as me. 


That is my definition of social networking : building a network of dispensable nodes, and make sure you are also dispensable : the well being of your network depends on it.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The glass of opportunity

You know that "Is your glass half full or half empty ?" shows you positive people.
Yet, you never ask  "Is this person's glass half full or half empty ?" ... it shows you entrepreneurs.

Finding a person's glass half empty is an opportunity to fill it and win a friend.
Entrepreneurship is the ability to find and fill glasses.

You don't have to be self-employed to be an entrepreneur, you are one when you spot empty glasses and do whatever it takes to fill it... And it can be during your own paycheck full time job.

You are not entrepreneur if you are waiting someone else to see and fill it for you.

The glass of opportunity

You know that "Is your glass half full or half empty ?" shows you positive people.
Yet, you never ask  "Is this person's glass half full or half empty ?" ... it shows you entrepreneurs.

Finding a person's glass half empty is an opportunity to fill it and win a friend.
Entrepreneurship is the ability to find and fill glasses.

You don't have to be self-employed to be an entrepreneur, you are one when you spot empty glasses and do whatever it takes to fill it... And it can be during your own paycheck full time job.

You are not entrepreneur if you are waiting someone else to see and fill the glass for you.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Buy a car or house and get free they say

Don't confuse freedom with dependency.

Freedom is the ability to pivot at any time, in any way.
Dependency is working with other people for your goal.

You can be highly dependant but free.
You can be independant and prisoner.

When people talk about buying a house or buying a car, they are talking about decreasing dependency, not increasing freedom.

If you buy a house, and have a mortgage to pay, you are prisoner from your job.
Loosing your job become highly risky.
You are prisoner of the time you need to dedicate to maintain it.
You are prisoner of the place you need to live, you'll be reluctant to move somewhere else once you buy.

Same thing for a car, buy a car and you need to work more hours in order to get the same thing in your bank account because of the recurring fees.

Every $ you give, is time your need to give to someone else at some specific place. You loose freedom of action and the freedom of moving.

The bigger your network, the safer dependencies are.

Internet works not because every node in the network is dependable but because every node in the network is dispensable.

Dispensable means that putting down the node you depend on does not impact your freedom.
It does not means that your friends and partners are not important...
Dispensable only means that they can't take away freedom even when you are dependant on them.

Do not confuse freedom with dependency, it's two highly different concepts.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cutting the bridge

"Alice: Cheshire Cat, would you please tell me which way I ought to go from here? Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to. Alice: But I don't know where I am going. Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn't matter which way you go. (Alice in Wonderland)

I'm lucky, I work for myself, get paid well, live well, self-employed approximately 8 hours a week.

People work hard and then planify holidays here and there.
I rest, enjoy my day and planify workdays here and there.

New customers come to me without I search for them, and always give me interesting work.
And my trainee are happy of my course.
It is the life I dreamed for, I don't know why I am in such a good place.

And yet, as Alice when the roads are crossing, I don't know which way to take because I don't know where I want go. So, the urgent question is not what road to take. But where do I want to go.

I want to learn, to sell, to ship. I don't want to work for money. I want to work for something that make money.
I want to kick ass to schools telling to kids that the goal is to find a job.
The goal is to sow a seeds of passion and curiosity in their brain.
Passion, curiosity coupled with internet is what will move innovation forward and make the world a better place.

Finding a job and getting the paycheck should not be the goal.
Finding a job is a side effect caused by the curious mind.

For these goals, I decided that my time is not to buy anymore.

Monday, June 4, 2012

School's goal is to become useless

School is the beginning of education, and people think that its goal is only to give you knowledge.

But the goal of the school should be to become useless.
School meets its goal when you have a burning desire to educate yourself, and when you try to hack things you just learnt.

Once it happens, you don't need a school anymore, you need a community to learn from other and share for other.

The best sign of success for a school is when you finally drop out because you learn faster than they can teach. The next step is finding your community.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Big picture and focus

You may think that a software developer knows only to zoom in and that big picture is only for the architect, boss or customer.

The truth is that developers must constently Zoom in (focus), and Zoom out (see the big picture).
This take place first at the technical level : You know how to use high level package and framework to do your work, but at the same time you need to zoom in the details of the underlying protocol, and sometimes zoom in every bit sent on the network... Without loosing the big picture.

It takes also place at the business level : The responsibility of the developer is also to advice the customer about his decisions. Too often, not important features take most of the development time. It is his job to make development effort proportional to the importance of features.
It is also his job to advice on the prioritization of features : What can make money now and is fast to market ? What can be done later because technically challenging for now ?
For this, the developer needs to know the purpose of the product (big picture) as well as the economic impacts of  decisions (focus). For example he needs to be aware of products licence, maintainability impact, ease to find human resources.

I think the best way to teach something is to train the audience to switch back and forth from details to big picture.
Without big picture : you loose sense of purpose, the audience will feel that the course is useless.
Without details : you loose sense of practicality, the audience will feel that in theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is. And it will be suspicious.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Active and passible knowledge, the role of curiosity

There is two kinds of knowledge :
  • The one you find, acquire and use consciously , the active knowledge.
  • And the one you acquire  unconsciously from your environment, the passive knowledge

A trainer or a book gives you the first kind of knowledge : you consciously acquire the knowledge the trainer or book is sharing. This is "knowledge peak acquisition" for your brain.
This kind of knowledge is the fastest way to learn about something, but it is the most ephemere form of knowledge. Don't use it, and you will forget very soon.
A common trainer trick is to use and abuse repetition. After each repetition, your brain will remember a little longer.
That works, but as soon as the trainer is not here, you'll start to forget. The only thing the trainer can do is to make the process longer. 

The other kind of knowledge is durable but accumulate slowly, and it is the only difference between the expert and the novice. This is passive knowledge.
At some point, no trainer, mentor or book exist, in other words active knowledge is scarce. 
You can't control passive knowledge, it is entirely defined by your environment.
If you want passive knowledge, shape your environment.
If you want to be great in artificial intelligence, works every day with researchers or students in the field, setup your RSS reader on the best AI blogs, subscribe to newslists, read publications, find a job on AI subjects (even with low remuneration), listen everyday Udacity's course.
At one point, knowledge will flow every day unconsciously, it will be part of your habits, work, and way of life. And even during your bad days, you will not mind reading another article.

Why do I want my students to be curious ? I am a trainer, and I give them the active knowledge.  
Without passive knowledge they will forget and waste my work. 
Once he is curious, he will unconsciously setup his environment around his interests and acquire passive knowledge. He will not forget, and he will become the expert I expect to read soon !

In summary, the difference between active and passive :

  • The first is brutal, conscious, ephemere
  • The other one is incremental, unconscious, durable.



Saturday, May 26, 2012

Uncertainty and financial decision

Before seeing this ted talk, I always thought that the scariest thing was taking risk.
But it is not, when you don't give a damn about failing, you don't care about risk.

You are not afraid to die, you are certain about it. What you fear is the uncertainty about what will happen before and after you die.

Economically speaking, risks make no sense :

Imagine you have 5000$ in your hand, and you have two choices : Put it in a saving account, OR buy some stocks with it.

Have you chosen the saving account ?
But what if stock's value increases 100% in two days ? You failed to earn 5000$.
Your choice seems risky for me...

Have you chosen the stocks ?
But what if stock's value drops 50% in two days ?  You loose 2500$.
Your choice seems risky for me...

Failing to earn money, or loosing money are, economically speaking, the same thing.
From the psychology point of view, it is different, your mind prefer failing to earn than loosing.
But there is a second psychological problem with stocks : Uncertainty.
You don't know what will happen, how, when and why.
But there is a great things about stocks, when diversified with low volatility : Some day, it will be better than the performance of you saving account.

Certainty and no-loss garantee is what your money in saving account is paying for.
Neverthesless, for your financial situation and life projects, it might worth it.
Let your own goals and your brain decide, be conscious about your decision or your inaction, acknowledge the psychological and economical consequences, but don't let them choose for you.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sun Tzu on the Facile ground

"When he has penetrated into hostile territory, but to no great distance, it is facile ground."

"When your army has crossed the border, you should burn your boats and bridges, in order to make it clear to everybody that you have no hankering after home."

Sun Tzu wrote in the context of war... but I'm sure it happened to you in your personal or professional life.

You dream of what you want to be, you get to work and then opportunity rings at your door.
You then step in a world not familiar to you, you have just crossed the border.

Then change is harder than what you thought, and you just want to go back at home doing what you are comfortable with.

Sun Tzu acknowledges that the solution is not to become fearless, courageous, detached, and disciplined. The best solution is to give you no choice but moving forward.

What are the boats you can burn now, so you have no way to go back when times will be hard ?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Best choice and circle of competence

I like reading about Warren Buffet.
I like his investor philosophy. It made me conscious about the impact of every of my money action. (or inaction)


But I like even more his simple wisdom.


"Stick to what you know"
He doesn't have any regret about bad decisions he took that was outside his circle of competence.
The best choice is not an universal concept defined by the world. 
The best choice is limited by your current knowledge of the situation.


This means that nobody can decide for you that you could have done better.
If it was not in your circle of competence, you could not have done better. That's it. End of the story.


This philosophy places you at the command of your life. The best choice depends on your knowledge only. 
Who is better placed than you to decide what you want to know ?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

If information was food...

If information was food.
TV news and lolcats would be Mc Donalds.
There is not a production issue.
There is a consumption issue, we have to start thinking how to create diets and exercise.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Perfection versus usefulness

I started programming 10 years ago with C/C++ and turbo C++.
From these first day to my first programming job, I wanted my code to be always more extensible, more decoupled, more coherent and perfect.

Until the day I worked on many failed projects. Failed projects in some companies with great coders I learned lots from. Failed projects in some companies with bad coders.

And also successful project with bad coders.

Now I can tell you that the worse thing that can happen to me is not someone who points out a bug in my software.
What piss me of is when nobody use what I did. I'm grateful to someone reporting a bug, since it means he cares about the project.

I always like good code. But now I don't make it extensible, and I don't make it coherent everywhere by default.

That might piss off some purist, but every line of code I write, I ask myself : "Will it make the life better to someone ?".
"Someone" might be me, a customer or a team member.
I don't give a damn anymore about code perfection, except if perfection make a better life to someone.

That's what I learned from great products I've worked for : Do not make it perfect, make it useful.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The one hour rule

You want to work on an interesting project but you want to know if your partners are up to the task ?

Give them one hour per week, nothing more, nothing less, and no way to save it for later.

If this hour is not used by the end of the week it means that there is not enough motivation. Stop here.

If more than one hour is used it either means that the project's scope is wide, or that your time is wasted.

Three choices here are up to you :
  • Give more time
  • Narrow the scope of the project
  • Stop here

If exactly one hour is used, you found someone that value your time,

The next two steps are :
  1. Give more time
  2. Widen the scope of the project

That's my one hour rule... and it makes wonder.
Your time is the most precious asset your have, work with people that respect it.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Knowledge investor mind

I think every knowledge worker should have the investor mindset.
You are not investing money, you are investing your brain and time.

The output you might expect is exactly the same as the investor expects : money, making the world a better place, and making the best use possible of your input. (money/brain/time)

Accepting a project is not about convincing the customer or partner.
It is about making conscious investment choice.
Is it worthwhile ? useful ? profitable ? when are you going to have your first customer ? What is your team ?

These are the same questions as the investor. Your goal are the same, even though your resources have a different nature.

However be even more careful about the team : you're gonna spend long time every day with them.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The organic project

You can have a inorganic projects. It has a deadline, and once deployed nobody touch it.
Maybe some maintenance and bux fixes there and here but that's all.
The environment does not change it over time.

It happens, and the objective is to freeze the code and make it works perfectly for this specific date.

I call parts of the project fixed in advance by an architect a conscious architecture.

However entrepreneur must work on another concept : the organic project.
It have deadlines, but it cannot have a conscious architecture.

When you start your own project, you never know as a CEO how it will evolve once in the hand of your customer. The fog will dissipe with time, but now you are blind.

If you are a CEO, how can you expect that your architect/developer knows better than you what to fix in stone ?
If you are an architect, how can you know better than the CEO what to fix in stone ?

Consider your new project as an organic project, it will  move forever, don't set things in stone yet, ship, pivot and evolve, make your product grows organically.
Your architecture will emerge organically from environment's input.
I call it the organic architecture.

Facebook did not have a guy from the start that said : "Ok, we'll make things scalable for unlimited number of users."

It became scalable with an organic growth of the codebase, one problem after the other, one refactoring after the other.

Be smart, don't forsee, just improve a bit the life of someone. One line of code at a time.
When you start your biggest ennemy is not bad code.
It's wrong product.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Creative limits

You can go anywhere you want.
You can do anything you want.
... and when you want !

Sounds fantastic ?
Not quite,  the paradox of choice is going to hit you.
With too much choice, you become paralyzed about what to do next.
You end up deferring the important stuff, you can do it latter after all.
Break the paradox, use limits.

Place a deadline, "I have to finish it in 1H",
Place a frequency limit, "I have to work on it only 10 minutes per day",
Place a principle limit, "I will not do it, it does not help me to become as I want to become"
Place a money limit, "I have to use only 200$"
Place a physical limit, "Let's program the coffee machine for 7:05am, so I always wake up at 7:00am"

You feel stuck and not moving forward ? Use limits, you will become more creative and curious.

What if you always violate these limits ?
That's easy ! Combine any limits with a physical limit.

You want a money limit per month ? Burn your credit card, and every month make a wire transfer to a friend against cash.
You want to stop eat less at home ? Do not fill your refregirator.
You always buy more stuff than you need during shopping ? Burn your credit card, and go shopping with strictly the right amount of cash.
You want stop wasting time on this game ? Uninstall it, delete all your saved game, then give your account to a friend or on a public forum.
You want to stop wasting time on social network ? Unsubscribe and use software like StayFocusd or Rescue Time.

Your motivation and discipline are finite resources you spend every day.
Do not waste it, just setup your physical limitations.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Once enough time, experience is the most important currency

I don't really like giving too much time to Seth's blog... but there is always something to learn by speed reading his blog.

Consider: you're buying a $30,000 car and you have the option of upgrading the stereo to the 18 speaker, 100 watt version for just $500 more. Should you?...

In a surprisingly large number of cases, we take the stereo, even though we'd never buy a nice stereo at home

Why ? because we are bad with numbers, $500 seems nothing next to $30,000.
Stop comparing stereo with money, start comparing with experience :

You can have the stereo if you give up going to Starbucks every workday for the next year and a half. Worth it?

Seth's currency might be Starbuck's frappucino, mine is coffee, sushi and trip to japan. What's yours ?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Principle and aura

Principles are a truth of your world and that is true because you decided it.
Principles are never wrong.
A principle is a road you follow.

Whatever it might be keep it short, so you can make no compromise, no interpretation.
A short principle is a railroad with protection barrier.
A long principle is a blurry line in the sand.

People that violate your principles are wrong.
Yes, you can always find a point of view in the universe that can make them right.
But these point of view are only useful for diplomacy.

Your point of view is unique and is the one that matter.

That's what this guy shows :



That's why employees, customers, and suppliers love zappos.
That's how amazon (Jeff Bezos) won me as a customer for life by refunding transport fee because my article was 1 hour late. (Go to 6:26)



Their principles are a road graved in stone, and they will never deviate it.
It might have started blurry, but time forged it in stone... with an aura.

Their principles are so solid that it became contagious and people took them for
themselves.

Now I'm suspicous when I see a company without principle.
The principle of microsoft was productivity at work.
This become a blurry line though when I use windows 8 and metro UI.

My principle as a trainer is : The best course makes you curious.
As a developer : The best software is the one that you does not notice.
Overall : Time is the best currency.

No contract or policy will make me deviate from it.

What's yours ?

Loose your principles, loose your aura.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The best work is no work at all

At school they told me : Write at least 1200 words, 4 pages, 120 lines...
Solve the problem with the most work you can.

Developers told me : Look at what I have done with only 300 lines of code.
Solve the problem with the least work you can.

And smart developers told me : the best code is no code at all.
Does not solve the problem, eliminate it.

No code means no documentation, no bugs, less complexity, no maintainability.

I generalize : Given a result to achieve, the best work is no work at all.
Maybe the result is not worth it, maybe he will achieve itself, with or without you, maybe you already achieved the result and you are not aware of it.

No work is no blame, no documentation, no time lost, no paperwork.






Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The time account

If time is a universal currency, what is your budget with it ?
  • You can purchase money.
  • You can purchase sleep.
  • You can purchase goods.
  • You can purchase experience.
For most people, money has a budget of 8 hours.

Money is really good at giving peace of mind and security :
"If everything goes wrong, with a bank account full enough, I can always come back in the game."

It also does a good job at purchasing any goods you want if you can afford to give some time to pay change commissions twice. (conversion of the from time to money and money to good)

Another 8 hours of your time account purchase sleep, and that is a fixed cost...
I tried to make the budget smaller by giving a shot to polyphasic sleep but that work only if the world around you is also polyphasic.

Purchasing goods with time is very rare without changing it to money before. But you can get good offer since middle men don't take commission on currency change.

The time left is what is allocated to experiences.

Maybe it sounds obvious but you can't put time in a saving account and earn interests, you have to spend it today or never.

Most of you want to buy less money (working less).
But where will you spend it instead ? (remember, no saving account)

On what experience will you spend ?
Do you really need more of that experience ? a different experience ?

Be careful, spending on money is wiser than spending on junk experience...
And that is not so easy to avoid. Being busy is one tactic to escape such problem.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Time is the only true currency

Economics and mathematic tell you 8$ is twice 4$.

But it does not tell you that :
  • For the homeless 100$ is a bliss,
  • For the billionaire 100$ is a rounding error.
But everyone has the same amount of time (more or less). And nobody knows how much is left.
  • For the homeless 100$ is worth one month.
  • For the billionaire 100$ is worth one breath.
But, no matter how you look at it, for both, 5 min remains 5min.

That's why I use economics and mathematic rules on time, and not on money.

33cl or Coca-cola cost 2$, or for most people, 10 minutes. If you take the habit of drinking 1 bottle per day, your habit cost your approximatly 3 days/year.

If your car cost your 1 week per month, and you decide to sell it, how will you spend this new free week per month ? How will you spend the 2 whole month of free time it gives you per year ?

What about smoking Tobacco ? going to the Restaurant ?

Once you master doing it for yourself, change your mind about business and
stop asking : how much your customer value is time ?
start asking : how much your customer value his money ? (50 000$ might worth a breath)

A trade is a transfer of time between two entity.

Given this new definition :
A fair trade is not about receiving as much money as the value of time you spent.
A fair trade is about receiving as much time as the other party is giving you.

So when defining the price,
stop asking : how much money is it worth ?
start asking : how much time is it worth ?

(This is a not so new idea, used by the movie Timeout... but this movie is not worth 1H50 -price of ticket + time to see it-)