Monthly Archives: February 2015

Breathing: You’re Doing it Wrong

“Breathe, Joe, breathe.”

I’ve noticed some clear body language in the IT people arround me when they have to wait for something. They might be waiting for their code to compile, for the result of a code test, for a database result or a million other things. And what happens is that people impatiently tense up and start to breathe quicker and shallower. You should breathe slower instead.

There is a lot of science that shows that good breathing has myriad health benefits and a lot of people who will help you breathe better. Most people don’t breathe properly, but if you work in IT, you’ll have many opportunities to practice good breathing. Every time you wait for something, concentrate on your breath and breathe deeply.

Maybe some day we’ll all be wearing self-trackers that will gently notify us when our breathing becomes shallow and ineffective. In the meantime, use any computer-generated delay in your day as an opportunity for a good drink of oxygen. Delays are good for your health if you use them wisely.

Little Big Data

I just hear someone from IBM talk about how they are analyzing posts on their internal social network to gauge the attitude of the employees. With some claiming IBM is about to axe 112,000 jobs, I think I can guess the result.

Automated sentiment analysis is an interesting area, and Oracle is doing something similar with their Oracle Social Engagement and Monitoring service.  But what struck me about the interview was that the engineer said “this is Big Data.” When asked, he admitted that he was analyzing only about 3 millions posts.

Sorry, IBM, 3 million records is not “Big Data” – most organizations generate more records every day.

But the misuse is telling – everybody is slapping the “Big Data” buzzword on everything they do. There are very few true Big Data projects out there, and fewer still that produce business value. Are you considering a Big Data project? The odds are 20:1 against it producing any business value.

Let There Be Light

Visiting some friends this weekend, I took my bike. This being Denmark in winter, it was of course pitch black as I was driving along a bike path around 5.30pm.

But where I was, there was light. Ahead of me, I could see light posts glowing softly, but the two right ahead of me were shining at full power. As I travelled, lights kept turning to full power ahead of me, and back to an energy-saving soft glow behind me.

This is technology that fits – unobtrusive, intelligent, and helpful. And what makes this possible is cheap sensors and computing power. Whatever you are doing, think of how you could improve it if computing power, memory, networking and sensors were free. Because that’s where we are going.

For more on intelligent lighting in Copenhagen, read http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/09/business/energy-environment/copenhagen-lighting-the-way-to-greener-more-efficient-cities.html

Don’t Upgrade to IOS 8.1.3

If you have Apple mobile devices and are considering upgrading to the latest version of iOS (8.1.3), don’t. If you have upgraded, quickly downgrade back to 8.1.2 before Apple makes that impossible.

The reason is that this version closes one of the loopholes that was used to “jailbreak” these devices, and there is one very good reason to jailbreak at least your iPad: To install the f.lux app.

Research has shown that reading on backlit screens like an iPad in the evening is very bad for your sleep, because the light from the screen has the bluish-white color of daylight. Exposing your eyes to this kind of light in the evening confuses the body and lowers the quality of your sleep. The f.lux app compensates for that by changing the color temperature to a reddish evening light when the sun sets.

Unfortunately, Apple doesn’t allow apps to control the screen the way f.lux needs, so you will have to jailbreak your device to install f.lux. I strongly recommend you do so if you have an iPad.