Book review: Kill Process

Kill Process by William HertlingWilliam Hertling is one of my favorite authors. When he sends you an email saying his latest book is available, and you have over 160 books on your reading list, what should you do? Of course, you put Kill Process at the top of it.

Kill Process is Hertling’s first book since he finished the Singularity Series last year, which is a series you must read if you haven’t already. The good news is that you don’t need to have read any of the Singularity Series books to enjoy Kill Process. Kill Process stands on its own. As Will put it in his email, with Kill Process:

I’ve returned to the present day to explore data ownership, privacy, and analysis, as well as social media, computer hacking, and the world of tech startups

The hook was very intriguing, and I was anxious to jump into his latest work.

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Pierogi – A Family Recipe

pierogiGrowing up, I can still remember when “the call” would come. Grandma had decided to make pierogi and my grandpap would call the house to tell us it was ready. It would usually be early evening when the call would come, and even if we had already eaten dinner, my dad would rush me out the door. We would speed over to grandma’s house, cutting the normally 5-minute drive in half. Somehow, my dad’s older brother, my Uncle Barry, would already be there working his way through the first batch. He lived 10 minutes away from my grandma’s, so how he got there faster than us is a mystery that remains unsolved to this day. My gut tells me he had inside information about when pierogi were being made, but neither he nor my grandparents ever fessed up to it.

My grandma’s pierogi recipe was a hand-me-down from my great grandma (my grandpap’s mother). She was an immigrant from the old country, Ukraine to be exact. My grandmother took over the recipe and mastered it, with a couple of minor tweaks. My mom and dad took over the recipe from my grandma, continuing the family tradition. Store bought pierogi are good, but they don’t come close to matching the real thing.

Someday, I knew that I should take over the recipe to continue the family tradition. I had procrastinated for years, but watching the Michael Pollan documentary “Cooked” inspired me to action. My parents visited this past summer, and I decided it was time to learn the recipe. I set aside an afternoon to spend in the kitchen with them. It was time well spent.

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Book review: The Hard Thing About Hard Things

The Hard Things About Hard Things by Ben HorowitzWhen I’m adding books to my reading list, I do my best to keep track of where the initial recommendation came from. It helps me to prioritize my reading list. There are sources I rely on that will move a book up my reading list, and certain sources that will advance a book to the top of it. For my latest read, The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz, I didn’t have a recommendation source written down. It’s not that book wasn’t recommended. It’s that it was recommended by nearly every source that I use. They all gave it good reviews, especially if you were starting up or running your own business. Needless to say, I fit that description, so I decided I should prioritize the book for my 2016 reading list.

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A peek into the future of tech

A couple of years back, I watched the History Channel series “The Men Who Built America“. I was blown away by the vision, foresight and determination of the people portrayed – Rockefeller, Carnegie, JP Morgan, Edison, and Ford. Looking back, it was impressive to see how they saw a vision of the future and made it a reality.

Well, I believe there are two such people in our generation who people will look back upon in the same way – Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. When you listen to them speak, their vision of the future is impressive. What’s more impressive is that they aren’t just talking about it. They are doing things that are enabling them to create and achieve their vision. I’m not talking about creating the next social network or iPhone app. They are working on items like space travel to enable colonization of other planets, artificial intelligence to improve human capability, sustainable energy to preserve our planet, and more mundane things like building better cars and improving media.

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Book Review: Q

Q by Ben MezrichI’m not 100% sure exactly how I came across Q by Ben Mezrich. I’m pretty sure that I first saw it via the Amazon recommendation engine. The description was enough to get it on my reading list, and then a positive review by Brad Feld moved it up onto my 2016 reading list.

Within the first few pages of the book, it’s pretty obvious that the ‘Q’ in the book stands for Quarantine. The story takes place in the near future where an aggressive, highly contagious virus is wreaking havoc. In order to prevent the spread of the disease, “infecteds” and those suspected of being infected (“probables”) are rounded up and shipped off to a remote island. The story focuses on the mental struggles of a cop on the front lines who is responsible for capturing people identified by the government.

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Generation Golf

Gregg, Dennis and Brad Borodaty - three generationsAs the last major golf tournament of 2016 wraps up, I’m reminded as to why golf is the greatest sport. Here’s why.

Earlier this month, I traveled back to the east coast and spent a few days golfing with my dad in Pittsburgh. From there, I headed to Detroit to visit my son Brad. He’s working at a golf course for the summer, so I figured I get in a couple more days golfing with him. When I told a good friend about my plans, he said “take advantage of generational opportunities.” I took his advice and invited my dad and my mom to join me on the trip to visit their grandson, and to play a little golf at the course where he works. It turned into an outing I’ll remember forever.

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Book Review: Short Stories by Hugh Howey

Hugh Howey is one of my favorite authors. I’ve read three of his series – The Silo Saga (Wool, Shift and Dust), Sand, and Beacon 23. There are other series he has written, but I’ve been having a hard time getting around to reading them. As a substitute while I clear some other books from my reading list, I decided to insert a few of Howey’s short stories to hold me over until I get around to another one of his long-form series. Here’s my quick take on Glitch, Promises of London, The Box, and The Plagiarist.

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The Arduino Starter Kit

Arduino Starter Kit BoardAfter judging the UCSB ECE Senior Capstone projects at the beginning of June, my fellow judges and Professor John Johnson had a spirited conversation about generating interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) subjects among younger students. One of the conclusions we came to is that students in late elementary thru high school aren’t exposed to enough hands-on electronics and computer classes. In order to get exposure, it requires parents to enroll their children in after school activities, which are dominated by athletics these days. We wondered if cost and complexity could be an issue, but Dr. Johnson brought up the Arduino Starter Kit he had been experimenting with. At under $75 on Amazon, he felt it was a great way to introduce electronics to young students. After our discussion, I decided to purchase an Arduino Starter Kit on Amazon.

Here’s a little more background on what the Arduino is, why I got one, my experience with it so far, and why it makes it a great learning vehicle.

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Book review – Primal Body, Primal Mind: Beyond the Paleo Diet for Total Health and a Longer Life

Primal Body, Primal Mind: Beyond the Paleo Diet for Total Health and a Longer Life by Nora T. GedgaudasI’ve been doing quite a bit of “body hacking” over the past year or so with my diet. My first effort was simply reducing the amount of sugar to see the effects on various weight and blood metrics. After sharing and discussing my efforts with my good friend Steve Hudson, he recommended Wheat Belly and Grain Brain, which encouraged me to monitor  my carbohydrate consumption, particularly with regards to wheat. While I’m still in the midst of this diet experiment, I decided to read another book that Steve shared and recommended to me – Primal Body, Primal Mind: Beyond the Paleo Diet for Total Health and a Longer Life by Nora T. Gedgaudas. I wanted to read this book to see if there were any additional recommendations and ideas that I could add into either my diet or activity/exercise routines.

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UCSB ECE189 Capstone Senior Project Day – 2016

UCSB ECE189 Capstone Senior Posters in the CourtyardThis past week, I once again had the opportunity to judge the UCSB ECE189 Capstone Senior Projects. It’s the fourth year that I’ve had the opportunity to judge the project presentations. It’s always a great experience, and each year I am amazed by the amount of work the students are able to accomplish in such a short amount of time.

The projects also seem to get better every year, and this year’s projects were especially impressive. My good friend, Dr. John Johnson did a great job working with his students and preparing them for the presentation day. Even though I’ve never personally been to a tech incubator or accelerator “demo day”, my instinct tells me that the atmosphere is roughly equivalent.

I’m extremely grateful the Dr. Johnson invited me again this year. Here’s a brief synopsis of the projects, my overall thoughts on the projects, and who we picked as best project.

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