When Audible Meets Google: Cool or Creepy?

By Saturday, July 4, 2015 0 No tags Permalink 0

Last week, I finished listening to the audio book version of All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr.

The book is wonderful, and I warmly recommend it. In the book, we go back and forth between the stories of the blind french girl Marie-Laure, and the orphan german boy Werner, as they grow up with the second world war shaping their lives.

This is not a summary or a review of the book, so I will not go further into describing the story. I would like to show you a random digest email I got from Google+, a few days after finishing the book:

Oh, have I mentioned that a significant part of the story takes places in Saint-Malo?? 🙂

Take notice – I used Audible to buy and listen to the audio book, using my Amazon account. I got this Airbnb G+ post from Google+, urging me to explore a place I just “experienced” through a book!

Yes, I understand it was easy for Google to know that I bought the book, because I got the receipt to my Gmail. I’m not surprised that they knew. I’m surprised that they were able to time it so well with when I finished the book. I have many books in my Audible libraries. I don’t listen to all of them immediately after purchasing them…

Anyway, I thought it was cool. I believe many will find this more creepy than cool. I think it’s generally a good thing, if it allows Google to show me things that might interest me, when those things may be relevant for me. What do you think? Cool or creepy?

Weekly Review, March 14

By Saturday, March 14, 2015 0 Permalink 0

Today was Pi day, and this year was “super Pi day”. I already mentioned it this morning. I also mentioned Pi day is celebrated as “Aba day” in my family, thanks to my perfect wife. She’s not into the geekiness, but she’s into making it an awesome day! Today included lemon meringue pie for breakfast, Pi-decor and balloons with a bunch of Pi digits floating around the house, pizza-pie for lunch, and some Pi-centric fashion statements 🙂

The Weekly Review is a recurring (sort-of-)weekly summary, reviewing highlights from the last week.

Continue Reading…

Happy Best Pi Day of Our Lifetime!

By Saturday, March 14, 2015 0 Permalink 0

This “Happy Pi Day” post was published on 3.14.15@9:26:53.589 (at my local time, UTC+0200)!

Pi day is also known as “Aba Day” (or Daddy Day) in my family. You’ll see why in a later post… 😉

If I lived in the 16th century, I might have witnessed an ever cooler Pi day, on 3.14.1592@6:53:58.979. But back then I guess it was harder to geek out about it…

An even cooler Pi day will take place on 3.14.15926@5:35:8.979 (yes, I’m loose with the zeros). Only 13,910 years, 364 days, 20 hours, 8 minutes, 15 seconds, and 390 milliseconds to go!

Happy Pi Day!

Weekly Review, March 7

By Sunday, March 8, 2015 0 Permalink 0

Earlier this week, I finished listening to the audio book version of “A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas”, by Warren Berger.

In this book, Warren Berger explores the power of questions and the questioning mindset, and how it is used to ignite change in business and in our daily lives. Warren finds that although children start out asking hundreds of questions a day, questioning decreases dramatically as children enter school. He discusses the effect of the education and business culture that rewards answers, and barely tolerates questions. Warren analyzes numerous examples of successful startups (e.g. Google, Airbnb, Netflix, and more), and reveals how questioning is key in their culture, and the driver for innovation. Throughout the book, the author outlines a practical Why-What If-How framework of inquiry to facilitate the process of innovation.

I enjoyed the book very much, and recommend it whole heartedly! It resonated with my own lingering thoughts and concerns about the western education system, that keep growing as my own kids approach entering this broken and outdated system. When the day arrives, I hope I will be able to enroll my kids to a school that embraces and encourages the questioning mindset, instead of demanding canned answers and emphasizing compliance – a culture that served the industrial age, but is harmful at the information age. Are you familiar with such school? In Israel? Around the world? Please let me know!

I also completed today the Cloud Compute Concepts (1) Coursera course. This course was a 5-week MOOC from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, covering some basic technical concepts in cloud computing. The syllabus includes MapReduce, grids, peer-to-peer systems, failure detection and membership protocols, key/value stores (e.g. Cassandra), multicast, time ordering in distributed systems, snapshots, the consensus problem and the Paxos protocol.

I’m not seeking any “formal” qualifications on this subject. When I started my current job at Yowza](http://www.yowza3d.com/), it was the first time I worked with cloud technology at depth. I picked up lots and lots of practical stuff, but I felt I’m missing the background and underlying theory. To compensate for this, I decided to take a series of Coursera courses, whose syllabi looked comprehensive enough. This course was the first in the series, and I think I already produced value from it. For instance, we’re considering using Cassandra, and thanks to the course, I now know more about Cassandra then I knew before.

The Weekly Review is a recurring (sort-of-)weekly summary, reviewing highlights from the last week.

Continue Reading…

Weekly Review, February 21

By Saturday, February 21, 2015 0 Permalink 0

In case you missed it, Lenovo preinstalled an adware called Superfish on Windows laptops. Not only that this adware obnoxiously injects ads to your search results, turns out that the Superfish adware implements man-in-the-middle to do its thing!

If you think that’s bad enough, the certificate they use to do this was easy to crack… This means that anyone can use this to implement man-in-the-middle attacks against machines with the Superfish certificate installed… 🙁 In case you’re curious, the password is “komodia”.

Scared? Rightly so! Go ahead and check yourself, and clean it up if you’ve got it!

Interesting to see claims that the adware poses no risk… O_o

The Weekly Review is a recurring (sort-of-)weekly summary, reviewing highlights from the last week.

Continue Reading…

Weekly Review, February 7

By Saturday, February 7, 2015 0 Permalink 1

The twins had their first birthday yesterday! I’m glad to let you know that we all survived their first year of existence! I wonder if this surviving thing was harder for them or for us. ^_^

I finished “audio-reading” I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi last week. I realize that the title sounds like crappy self-help, but I thought I’d give this book a chance. I got several positive recommendations, and Ramit’s personal finance blog is pretty good.

Unfortunately, after reading it, I can’t recommend it to any non-US readers…

I agree with the principles that are at the essence of the book:

  1. Invest aggressively, invest early.
  2. Spend responsibly on what brings you the most value.
  3. Be as frugal as possible with everything else.
  4. Automate financial processes whenever you can.
  5. Don’t be stupid with debt, fees, tax advantage opportunities, etc.

These are great messages, worth passing on. My problem with the book is that 95% of the content delves into how these principles apply to the average 20-something american – which I’m not. Three examples from the top of my mind:

  • Going into the details of credit score at length.
  • Detailing the different types of US bank accounts.
  • Reading out phone numbers of US banks?! Seriously?!

Bottom line, if you live in the US, this book may be valuable to you. Otherwise, save your time.

The Weekly Review is a recurring (sort-of-)weekly summary, reviewing highlights from the last weeks.

Continue Reading…

Weekly Review, January 10

By Saturday, January 10, 2015 0 Permalink 0

I thought I’d skip this weekly review too, but if I can get away with a minimalistic one, it will save me from a single-post week!

The reason for the relative silence is a rare combination of approaching DayJob milestone, and being sick for the entire week… Be warned that these conditions are expected to exist during the next week as well!

So I will leave you with the Google Analytics stats of this site from September 1st through December 31st 2014, while I go tend to my Sinusitis. Maybe next week I’ll try to analyze it a little.

The Weekly Review is a recurring (sort-of-)weekly summary, reviewing highlights from the last week.

Continue Reading…

Weekly Review, January 3

By Saturday, January 3, 2015 0 Permalink 1

For the first time since starting this weekly review, I skipped a week! Did you notice? 😉

Anyway, I just finished “audio-reading” The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution. It was a long one! At 17:30 hours net play time, it took me about 4 weeks to finish it at 1.25x rate, but it was worth it! I followed a recommendation by Jamie Todd Rubin, and enjoyed the excellent stories laying out the evolution of the digital age. I always thought that “historical subjects” can become interesting easily if told through stories of actual people involved, as opposed to dry facts and numbers. This book proved that point for me. As a common geek, I admit that it isn’t hard for me to find interest in stories about people ranging from Ada Lovelace through Sergey Brin, but I really think also non-geeks will find this book interesting.

The Weekly Review is a recurring (sort-of-)weekly summary, reviewing highlights from the last week(s).

Continue Reading…

My Favorite Blog Feeds, 2014 Edition

By Tuesday, December 30, 2014 0 , Permalink 2

I like being up-to-date on topics that interest me. The main tool I use to do that is RSS feeds. I use Feedly to subscribe to RSS feeds of information sources that I want to follow (mostly blogs).

While Feedly is available via web and mobile apps, I use the Android app almost exclusively. I might use the web version to organize my subscriptions from time to time, but I do the actual reading on my Nexus 5.

I made it a habit to catch up on my Feedly Must Read list as a filler, whenever I have “down time” (commute, waiting for something, coffee break, etc.). Much better than burning time on Facebook and such, in my opinion 🙂 . I religiously clear out my Must Read queue at least once a week (I estimate it’s currently around 1,200 items per week).

This post lists my favorite RSS feeds, as of December 2014.

Continue Reading…

My Favorite Podcasts, 2014 Edition

By Monday, December 22, 2014 2 , Permalink 0

Podcasts are a great way to consume information and entertainment. I use BeyondPod Pro to track, download, and listen to my favorite podcasts.

I listen to podcasts on my Nexus 5 during commutes and when I go running. I estimate this accumulates to around 12 hours per week. The total time is randomly divided between podcasts, audio books, and music. I estimate podcasts get about 5 hours per week. I usually listen to podcasts at 1.5x speed.

This post lists my favorite podcasts, as of December 2014. The list is taken from the BeyondPod Smart Playlist, which reflects the order and precedence of listening.

Continue Reading…