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My word for 2018 : Read

My word for 2018 will be “Read”

I started with this “word of the year” idea 2 years ago. This idea of replacing the traditional New Year’s resolutions by just 1 word is an idea I took from Benoit Curdy.

In 2016 the word I choose was  “Focus“, in 2017 “Learn“.

In fact, I realized that Focus + Learn = Read!

I love reading books as it’s a quiet moment during which I’ll have to focus on one single and simple task and at the same time it highly stimulates me, opens new horizons, brings me new ideas.

In 2016 I read 10 books, in 2017 16. For 2017, my objective is to finish 24 books which is 2 per month.

Around 1/3 of it should be fictional books that I listen to while running using Audible.

The other 2/3 will be non-fictional books I’ll read using my Kindle. For these, my objective will be to find a way to remind what I read.

When I read I often highlight interesting paragraphs or quotes. My track record in remembering what I read is very low, this is quite frustrating as one of my objectives when I read books is to learn things and to be able to share with others about these readings.

I’ll implement the method proposed here  A System for Remembering What You Read.

It seems to be a little bit too complicated and may put many constraints on me but I’ll give it a try and simplify it if needed.

I’ll publish my notes about books on this blog even if it may be a difficult exercise as some of the books I read are written in French and here I write in English. But let’s try!

I’ll also continue to use Goodreads.

Photo Credit: wuestenigel Flickr via Compfight cc


My word for 2017 : “Learn”

1 year ago I decided that my word for 2016 would be “Focus” and I’m very happy about it.
This idea of replacing the traditional New Year’s resolutions by just 1 word is an idea I took from Benoit Curdy and for 2016 it works for me. I really made progress, it helped me to be more efficient and enjoy life (1 tab in browser is quite challenging but I love it 🙂 )

It’s now time to decide what will be my new word for 2017 and it will be “Learn“.

I’ve always been in a “learning” attitude. During my career, I’ve jumped between different topics, businesses, jobs.

Learning new things is key to be able to invent, innovate.

In the tech area, many things are happening: block-chain, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, autonomous cars, chatbots, platforms, and also Arduino, raspberry, IoT, …
The world is changing very fast thanks to new technologies and it’s going faster and faster.

Looking back at what has happened in the last 10 years, is really mind-blowing.

What will happen in the next 10 years?

In order to really understand what is happening, be able to anticipate trends, and innovate I think it’s even more important to learn.


My objective for this year will be to spend the time to learn new things, especially in the tech area.
That will include

  • learn more about A.I. I know the theory of neural networks as I studied it in the ’90 but I need to learn how to use it now (could be with google Tensorflow or others)
  • learn new development languages (should be node.js and Angular.js)
  • learn how to assemble hardware to build simple automation in my house (could be this or that)
  • learn more about block-chain (not sure what I can do with that).

In order to learn I’ll have to :

  • Dedicate time to this activity (this means less time other things, I’ll have to make choices)
  • Read more and more: As Confucius said: “You cannot open a book without learning something.”. Last year I read 10 books,  I plan to read at least 15 this year.
  • Try things, experiment. I’ll try as much as possible to implement concrete things. Experiment means failure, and failure means learning.
  • Share as much as possible. Share with my friends, my colleagues, my family but also online. I’m a heavy user of Twitter and LinkedIn, I will be more present on Facebook to share and interact with others (especially to learn how it works )

I wish you a wonderful year!


About machine learning

Machine learning is changing the world.

In near future electronics systems (our phones, our cars, our watches, our smart home, …) will be able to achieve results that will bring us in another dimension.

Machine learning is a technology really rising for 2 years and creating huge business value. It’s pushed by the big ones as it’s at the heart of their business: Google, Facebook, Baidu, Tesla, … When Netflix recommends you a film, they use machine learning, when Gmail filter your spam, they use machine learning, and so on. These are “simple” examples, more important ones are coming.

First example: autonomous cars.

Soon ( Elon Musk recently announced it will be in 2 years from now) cars will be able to run autonomously in ‘normal’ streets.

They will be able to ‘drive’ better than normal humans.

Recently, George Hotz claimed he is building an autonomous car, by himself, and using a software he wrote made of only 2000 lines of code.

You should read the article and watch the video, very impressive: the software does not explain the car how to drive, but how to learn to drive. George has to drive kilometers (he even plan to be an Uber driver to gather more data) and the car learns to drive looking at George’s rides data.

Another example is image or speech recognition.

Google Photos is now able to search your pictures based on people, things or places.

Andrew Ng from Baidu Research presented a device (a simple camera plugged into a smartphone) that is able to analyze and describe what it sees. Baidu Eye.

There’s also a cool video with Kyle McDonald walking in an Amsterdam Street with his opened laptop and the software is describing what it can see throw the webcam, for example, ‘a man eating a hotdog in a crowd’ or ‘a person riding a skateboard on a city street’. It’s amazing to see in real timing the algorithm reacting to new real-life situations.

The business applications for these image recognition capabilities are huge.

For example, a user takes a picture of a something he’d like to buy and the application is able to recognize the object and propose offers.

So what is machine learning?

Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that provides computers with the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed. Machine learning focuses on the development of computer programs that can teach themselves to grow and change when exposed to new data.


For an extensive explanation, there is Wikipedia.

The best and simplest explanation I’ve seen is recently is in the book ” Robbie the Robot Learns to Read” (by the way it’s a book for kids).

The story is about Robbie the robot that wants to learn to read.

First, Robbie is taught about syntax and grammar rules. This is not a Succes, Robbie is in fact not able to read books because he often encounters text that does not follow the rules he learned. This is “standard” programming. The second method is to simply let Robbie “read” as many books as possible (as he doesn’t know how to read, it means he will just parse texts). Based on all these “reading”, Robbie will be able to self-learn how a text is structured, how it works, and then learn how to read.

In this video, Andrew Ng from Baidu Research gives an example of how they fed a software with youtube videos for 1 week. After 1 week, the software has been able to autogenerate a neural network to recognize the most common image on youtube: a cat! (even if he even doesn’t know what a cat is). The beauty of machine learning is that the most it gathers data, the most it’s accurate.

Why is Machine learning coming now?

The theory behind machine learning is quite old. It’s about neural network type algorithms that have been established years ago.

The theory is nice but like a rocket in order to fly it needs 2 things: a big motor and a big fuel tank. A rocket with a big motor and small tank will not go very far, a rocket with a small motor and a lot of fuel will even not take off.

For machine learning, the motor is the computing power, the fuel is data.

Thanks to Moore’s law processors (CPU or GPU) are always more powerful, thanks to cloud computing a huge amount of processing are accessible for everybody, this is key to power the machine learning algorithm.

The fuel is data. 90% of world’s data have been generated over last two years. Because storage is cheaper and cheaper (people thinks it may be 0$ soon), and accessible easily thanks to the cloud, a machine algorithm can find fuel easily.

What’s next?

Today machine learning is just at the beginning. It’s often used as a buzz word, a lot is still to be done, but machine learning is changing the world and that’s a great news!


My only resolution for this year : Focus

I like new year time. It’s a time when business really slows down for few days and when I’ve time to think about long-term stuff. It’s a good time to take a fresh start and take some good new-year resolutions. For example, one of the best resolutions I took was back in ’12 when I decided to implement “Zen To Done” productivity method from Leo Babauta, it really changed my life.

Of course like all of us I’m struggling to find sustainable new year resolutions that I’ll not forget after few weeks or even few days.

For this year, I’ve been inspired by Benoit Curdy who proposed to make it simple and only take 1 word (he took “Quality” for this year).

For me, the word will be “Focus”. For 2016, in all my actions I’ll focus as much as possible:

  • in meetings, I’ll be 100% focused on what happen in the room (i.e. not checking my phone, browsing the internet or answering emails)
  • when I’ll be with someone I’ll focus on what he or she is telling me
  • I’ll keep only 1 browser tab open to focus on the action I’m currently doing (writing a document, answering an email, reading news, …). I took this one from a recent post from Leo Babauta, I already tried it, it’s not easy, but cool.
  • to create new habits, I’ll focus only on 1 per month (taking 30 days challenges)
  • every week I’ll choose which big project I want to focus on to make a move
  • when I run (I do it 4 times per week) I’ll listen to nothing and just focus on the run (not all runs, but maybe 1 / week)
  • I’ll read only 1 book at a time (I’ve currently 4 books in progress)

What I expect from this focus is:

  • be more efficient avoiding multitasking, and being really concentrated
  • be able to move on a big complicated project by focusing on 1 specific action
  • be a better manager for my team
  • be a better dad and husband

This word “Focus” will be always in my mind.
In order to change my behaviour, I’ll proceed step by step and implement changes 1 by 1, with focus! (not trying to do all objectives that are in the post starting tomorrow) .

I wish you a very good year!


The most important word today is “API”

These days I’m working a lot of Digital Transformation.

What does it mean? What are the opportunities? What are the challenges?

As an IT guy, my conviction is that all is about cloud (of course, and that’s not new) and APIs.

APIs are the real game changer that allows all IT systems to be open for interfaces and collaboration by design.

Part of Amazon’s success is a consequence of Bezos initial choice to go for 100% Apis back in 2002. He even wrote a memo about it :

  1. All teams will henceforth expose their data and functionality through service interfaces.
  2. Teams must communicate with each other through these interfaces.
  3. There will be no other form of interprocess communication allowed: no direct linking, no direct reads of another team’s data store, no shared-memory model, no back-doors whatsoever. The only communication allowed is via service interface calls over the network.
  4. It doesn’t matter what technology they use. HTTP, Corba, Pubsub, custom protocols — doesn’t matter.
  5. All service interfaces, without exception, must be designed from the ground up to be externalizable. That is to say, the team must plan and design to be able to expose the interface to developers in the outside world. No exceptions.
  6. Anyone who doesn’t do this will be fired.
  7. Thank you; have a nice day!

For example, having IT systems exposed throw APIs allowed Amazon to launch their cloud offer AWS for everybody even if it the software were developed for internal purpose (running their private datacenters supporting Amazon’s retail business).

In order to convince people and explain what all this is about, I’m constantly using this presentation :


Netflix culture in 124 slides

Netflix is an impressive company. I’ve already posted slides from them about their cloud journey (how and why they migrated their IT from internal to fully cloud at Amazon). The purpose of this presentation is to describe Netflix culture. I like the fact that it’s fully public (older versions are even available), this transparency shows that people at Netflix are very confident their values are the good ones and want to spread the word. One of my preferred slides is slide number 83 : Managers: When one of your talented people does something dumb, don’t blame them Instead, ask yourself what context ...



Summary of the book ” Reinventing Organization” in a 9′ video

I’ve not yet read the book “Reinventing Organization” , this video  proposes a summary in 9 minutes.

The main points I’d like to highlight are :
– the explanation on why implementing “Lean” can be a problem if the organisation is not at the good level.
– the idea that the world is not black & white and that all tipe of organisations can be useful based on the company history, challenges and objectives.

Lean and Agile Adoption with the Laloux Culture Model from Agile For All on Vimeo.


5 cool startups in Wearables

Last week I had the chance to attend the Wearable Technologies Conference in Munich (#WTEU2015)
It has been a great opportunity to have a view on wearables market and meet some very cool startups.

Bitbite : the first wearable device that helps you lose weight and improve your eating habits.

It’s a device that you put in your ear and listens to the way you eat (chewing sounds). The promise is that the device will be able to analyze your eating habit and will coach you to improve them. For example, you have the bad habit to eat a snack every day at 11 am because you’re hungry. To correct that, at 9 am, the device will just tell you “you should eat an apple now”. Funny.
What I like about this idea is the way they use an easily available data (chewing sounds) and get value from it.

Bragi : This device wants to know what you are doing.

It’s another device you put in your ear. It will have some sensor to monitor your activity (speed, heart rate, …) and will embed an mp3 player.
What interests me more here is the positioning of Bragi team about data privacy. Their view is that wearable should not store your data in the cloud, because of data privacy issue. No other speakers took this position.
“If you give your data to big companies they will use it. If they say they will not, it’s bullshit”
“I urge you not to talk about data, it’s your life. You do not share your life with everyone”.

I like the idea and agree with the concern, but I’m also convinced that sharing data brings value so people will accept to share…

Heddoko : a complete solution compression suit with sensors that gives feedback.

Heddoko from heddoko on Vimeo.

A very promising solution (by cool Canadian guys) based on sensors that record your movement and promise to help you to improve. For a start, they focus on Yoga, golf, and swimming.
The challenging part will be to develop efficient algorithm to analyze data and provide a valuable feedback to users.
I really love the idea of “personal coach”.

UPRight Perfect posture in just a few weeks.

UPRight is a small device that you put in your back and will vibrate if you don’t keep a good posture. The idea is to coach you for few hours for few weeks in order to teach you how to have the good posture.

Another good example of a device that promises to help us to stick to our resolutions.

Upright – Perfect posture in just a few weeks. from Oded Cohen on Vimeo.

Sensoria : smart socks for running

Sensoria Coaching Evolved from Sensoria Inc on Vimeo.

As I’m a runner, Sensoria is a dream for me. In order to avoid injuries and improve my running efficiency, I’ve read many books that describe the good running form. Then I try to use them and adapt the way I run. But I’ve to say it’s almost impossible to get results because of lack of feedback. My Garmin 620 smartwatch gives me some data (cadence, vertical oscillation, ground contact time) but these are just numbers and it’s difficult to improve based on this.
The promise of Sensoria is to really coach the runner and give him feedback to improve.
I’ll buy it as soon as it will be available!

All these 5 startups are at an early stage (not a product yet on the market, let’s keep an eye to see what they deliver.


Let’s fight the “conference call tragedy” !

Every day we are struggling to deploy new tools to collaborate better with remote teams (in my case using Google Hangouts but it could be skype or Lync or …).

What we try to avoid is the “conference call tragedy”.

This video explains perfectly what I mean by “conference call tragedy”.

Using a system like Google Hangouts mixing sound, video, document sharing is a strong help to improve this kind of meeting because :
– it’s easier to connect (no need for a pin number, …)
– every participant knows who is connected
– with some video, we bring some “humanity”
– we can share the document easily so be sure everybody is on the same page.

That said, switching from conference call  to Hangouts can be difficult because of some technical problems: you need a correct data connection which sometimes not the case, you need a correct earphone/microphone, people you are interacting with need to have an account or a piece of software, you also need to learn how to use it (even if it’s very easy, still some tricks to know…)
But the biggest barrier to switch is people resistance to change: we have been using phones for so many years…

The transformation is in progress, it will take some time, but companies who will be able to make the switch can improve dramatically the way they work!


[MUST SEE] Aaron Swartz – The Internet’s Own Boy

Tonight I watched the movie about Aaron Swartz.
This guy was a genius, I highly recommend you to watch it.