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My Speculations On Open Hardware

Yesterday I attended a workshop on Tweeq – an open hardware platform from Singapore similar and compatible to Arduino. I was first surprised by how such powerful processor, memory capacity, sensors, mini display screen and communication hubs could be made possible at a total size smaller than a McDonald chicken nugget (apparently I am super hungry now :D). The second thing that blew my mind was that secondary school kids in Singapore are now being taught how to prototype using Tweeq / Arduino which stands as a testament of how easy it is to get started with these kits. Indeed, cheap components and an open community sharing their code & projects have brought some democracy to hardware innovation.

Current applications of Open Hardware are mostly for DIY hobbyists: drones, weather station, soil humidity sensor, 3D printers, robotic arms that can draw, etc. However, I believe it has the opportunity to exponentially increase our productivity in agriculture, industrial business and consumer hardware products. Here is why:

– The ability to attach a mini computer with sensor and bluetooth/wifi to almost anything at an affordable price allow for collection of much more data from the physical world. And when that data is combined with the software sophistication that we already have, we would be enabled to make smart informed decisions at much faster pace.

– The cost of entry into hardware business would be significantly lowered leaving us more bandwidth to think about design & applications. The next two values individuals and companies would be competing on is design and distribution.

This is where I think our next generation of unicorns would come from😉

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No one is sharing anything in this sharing economy

AirBnB was started in 2008 with the belief that it’s cool and economical to share an apartment with total strangers. 6 years later, its valuation reaches $20B and a whole slew of services spring up in AirBnB ecosystem. There is the key-drop box so hosts would not need to meet their guests. There is concierge service so you could be rated hospitable while not doing any greetings yourself. There is even a maintenance offering that does the admin jobs of updating AirBnB page and replying enquiries for hosts. AirBnB has become less of a cool way to meet interesting people and more of a convenient way to monetize your spare space. No one is sharing anything, they just purely transact. The same applies for Uber, Zipcar, Instacart and others. At some point, the term sharing economy has silently been replaced by the on-demand economy.

So if it’s more important to ask good questions than give good summaries, here are some open questions to end this post:

– Is ownership less relevant in the future where you could rent almost anything? If so, what asset class is next to be on-demand?

– Is on-demand the new labor force or it would be just for the marginal employee of today?

– Do we need more community, more sharing in this transactional madness?

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When kindness is not returned

Have you ever tried so hard to extend kind gestures to others only to be brushed off by them?

In the ideal case, kindness is the fruit of the giving. It justifies itself.

In the average case, kindness is an invitation for connection. Reciprocation suffices when a human sees the other person’s good heart.

It is in the average case that we would need to deal with the fact that make you realize not all good intentions are returned. Kindness could fail to bring us closer together.

When this happens, I would urge you not to blame your good heart. There are many things to blind people from recognizing good intentions:

– People are normally fixated on their way of life. Misers only see misery. They could refuse to see good deeds, often unconsciously.

– People have their own narrative of life and its characters. Unexpected kindness could be inconsistent with the internal narrative. And since changing opinion is hard, subconsciously they just ignore new information about your recently introduced ‘kindness’.

So do not give up on your kindness project, be patient with the returned connections, or better yet – choose to give with giving in mind so you never need to worry about reciprocation!

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Would you rather be happy or dignified?

I am borrowing the musings of Charlotte Bronte, who originally acclaims:

“I would always rather be happy than dignified”

We often take pride too seriously, holding it dear to our principles like a trophy of honour. Indeed, it is pride that keeps us motivated and capable human beings. But do you realize it is also pride that separates us in conflict? It is pride that condemns of to desolately live out our bad fortunes. It is also pride that leads people to walk away from love.

So would you rather choose to be happy or be dignified?

I have to be honest I am not always the wise type. Sometimes I like my proud characteristics a little too much. Although when I do sacrifice well-beings for dignity, I always make sure it is dignity being indexed according to my personal principle rather than externally defined merits. But even then, I could still see the dignified way of life as rather rigid. It ties us to our past and builds a wall between otherwise common beings. It is a less than optimal way of life.

I hope we would always choose wiser next time!

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Buy a happy day for just $2

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Someone says happiness cannot be bought. That is most certainly true. Your precious relationships are invaluable and an eternal source of joy no money could possibly replace. But there are exceptions to this. Some simple hearty moments of blissfulness could be bought at the counter. Let me show you how.

Step 1: Leave your thoughts at home and walk outside with just $2 in the pocket. Stop at the bakery, give the owner the most innocent happy smile when you cross the door. Now you want to pick up some bread for the small change you have in your pocket.

Step 2: Walk to the park, be careful to notice the summer fragrance emitted from freshly cut grass. If you could find the most peaceful corner in the park, you will notice the animals that always shyly living in flocks. These are the pigeons we are looking for.

Step 3: Have some fun with the little creatures. Give them the bread crumbles. Be sure to take note of the clumsy one always being slowest to get to the food🙂 Watch out for the holy moment when the flock of pigeons flap their wings to swoop down near you. Tip: you can always recreate this moment by devilishly scare the hungry pigeons to fly away. They will always fly back for the bread.

Here you go. This happiness purchase might last for as long as a day. Enjoy!

P.S. Be careful and watch out for the greedy pigeons like this “Impossible : Pigeon”. If you do come across them, the best thing to do is: Give up your food early😛

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Happiness Energy

All emotions, be it happiness, sadness, anger, envy or pain are energy in different forms. They come from the same energy source, just funnelled into different forms of expressions. If you imagine yourself a gas tank, energy is the gas fueling that tank. It can be of good use heating your room at winter, transforming to fire for your wife to prepare you the favorite home-made pasta, or alternatively, it can become the leaking gas that might burn down the house. No matter what, energy is finite. If too much energy is consumed for the uncontrolled emotions of frustration, there is not much left to fuel your joyous emotions of life.

Happiness is energy.

Sadness is energy.

Compassion is energy.

So, to feel happy you need to do too things:

1- Replenish your energy.

2- Limit the source that was leaking that energy.