When it comes to work, there are a few principles that are important to me. One is to always be learning new things. A second, closely related principle, is to continuously improve. As part of living out these tenets, I like to read books that I can apply to my business. Because time is precious, I look to trusted sources and watch what other CEOs are reading and recommending to add to my reading list. I learned about the book Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland and J.J. Sutherland through Matt Blumberg’s Return Path blog. He had great things to say about the book. Since I run a software development business, it was a no-brainer to make sure I read the book during 2017.
It was just over a year ago – December 3, 2016 to be exact. We helped Amanda pack up her stuff and moved her to Santa Barbara. She wanted to be closer to the job she had just started there, and I’m sure that she also wanted to have her own place (and a bit of space from her parents). Living with the parents is fine, to a point.
I was happy for her. Officially moving out is a big deal. It was great to see her achieve a significant milestone.
On the other hand, parts of me were sad. We do a lot for our children and always want the best for them. It’s hard watching them go and not knowing what will happen when they leave. At some point though, we have to do it. As hard as it is, we have to let go.
I received the recommendation from a customer I started working with last year, who I would now consider a good friend. When we started working on a project together, he suggested that I read the book. My first thought was, “a book by a guy who runs restaurants, how could it possibly apply to my technology business?”
Turns out, the book is very applicable to my business. In fact, anyone running a business that deals with customers, meaning every business owner, can benefit from the lessons and experiences Danny Meyer’s shares.
This past Saturday, we had to make the difficult decision to put down our family dog, Blake. Needless to say, it’s been a tough week as we’ve worked our way through the grieving process. It’s amazing how much of a mark these silly, furry little animals make on our hearts and in our lives.
Dogs bring us so much joy, memories, frustrations, and sorrow. They teach us a lot, both about ourselves and about life. Here’s a look at what I learned in the 7-1/2 years I had with Blake.
One of my reading themes is health and fitness. And why not? What we do and eat on a daily basis has a huge impact on our quality of life. It affects how we feel, energy levels, quality of sleep and more.
My latest read in this genre was recommended by my sister Tricia, who has become more aware of and interested in learning how food affects health. She suggested that I read It Starts With Food by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig.
Given how much I got out of Wheat Belly and Grain Brain, adding It Starts With Food to my reading list was a no brainer. I was interested in seeing what other nutrition tips and ideas I could pick up from another source.
If you’re a regular visitor to my website, have you noticed what’s changed?
I’ll forgive you if you don’t see it right away. You need to take a look in the URL bar, usually found at the top of your browser. You’ll see a green lock and, if you’re using the Google Chrome browser, a ‘Secure’ indicator.
Yup. I did it. I migrated the website from http to https.
Making this switch sounds simple enough, but it can get a bit complicated. I self-host my own WordPress website on an Amazon EC2 instance. I also use the Cloudflare CDN service to front my traffic to make the website a touch faster and to provide a thin layer of security.
While I am aware of straight forward methods to secure a website using Cloudflare, I wanted to use the Let’s Encrypt certificate service. I’ve heard a lot about it and figured what better way to learn how it works than to use it for my own website. For those not familiar with Let’s Encrypt, according to their words it’s a ” free, automated, and open certificate authority (CA), run for the public’s benefit. It is a service provided by the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG).”
I took on the challenge for the following reasons:
- I wanted to do my part to be a good citizen of the internet. Everyone who has a website should be using HTTPS/SSL to encrypt their traffic and protect the privacy of their users. I wanted to stop being one of “them.”
- I wanted to establish a more secure connection between my website and the Cloudflare CDN. Using their Full SSL implementation would have worked and been good enough. However, I wanted to go all in and use the most secure option available – Full (strict).
- While I could have used one of the Cloudflare SSL services and certificates, I wanted to learn about and support the Let’s Encrypt service. Plus, it gives me the option to move away from CloudFlare in the future without losing SSL.
- And last, but certainly not least, one of the reasons for self-hosting my website was to learn about running a server. What better project than upgrading a website from HTTP to HTTPS, especially a WordPress instance. It’s a perfect project to use as a learning vehicle.
Enough blabbering, let’s get started.
I’m a fan of Hugh Howey. Ever since reading Wool, I’ve enjoyed picking up both his long form novels and short stories. He has a way of building an immersive world and making you feel a part of it. In addition to the Silo Series built off of Wool, Shift and Dust, he did the same in Sand and Beacon 23. To put it simply, he knows how to tell a story. Every year, I do my best to have at least one Howey book on my reading list. This year, it was The Hurricane.
The Hurricane is bit of a different book by Howey. It’s not steeped in science fiction, it’s not a series or trilogy, and it’s not a short story. It’s a stand alone novel that is targeted more towards the teen / young adult audience. Still, the story telling does not disappoint. It’s written in that typical Howey style where he immerses you in the environment and makes you feel like a part of the story.
Compulsory education has existed for over 100 years in our country. The overwhelming majority attend public elementary and high schools. According to the Council for American Private Education (CAPE), ~10% of all US students attend private schools. According to the US Department of Education, around 3% are home schooled. If I do my math correctly, it means ~87% of our children our taught by the public school system. A system that is funded by our tax dollars.
Why do we spend the money and time to educate our children? We’ve determined that our society functions better and that people are more productive if they are provided a minimum level of education. And in today’s international arena, having an educated workforce is a requirement if a country and its business want to be and stay competitive.
Education carries such a high level of importance that every state has public funded institutions of higher learning. These exist as community colleges, teaching colleges, and world-renowned research universities. In my opinion, making higher education accessible and affordable is the cornerstone to a state’s growth. As a resident of California, I would content that affordable access to the University of California system was one of the primary elements leading to the growth of California in the second of the 20th century. It does not surprise me that California’s growth has stagnated in recent times as access to this system has been restricted through reduced public funding and higher tuition costs, but that’s a topic for another time.
If education is important enough to warrant public funding, shouldn’t the health and welfare of our populace be handled the same way?
It’s been over three years since I read One Second After by William Forstchen. In the book, the United States is struck by an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) generated by a high altitude nuclear explosion. Forstchen details how such an event would cripple all the daily items we have come to depend on such as computers, phones, cars, and most importantly, the infrastructure that delivers electricity and clean, running water. Society rapidly devolves into chaos destroying the fabric of the United States from within. Sure, it’s a fictional book, but given today’s situation with North Korea, it’s not an outside the realm of possibility.
One Year After is the sequel that, as you can rightly guess from the title, picks up the story one year later. The small North Carolina towns of Black Mountain and Montreat are still in disarray but doing their best to return to some sense of normalcy. The United States as a whole is struggling to get back on its feet and slowly trying to rebuild itself, which leads to the main premise of the story – the conflict between the goals of the local communities and the federal government, both of which who are trying to rebuild.
The Guardian has become one of my favorite news outlets due to the quality of its long form journalism. Last month, they posted an article about the dangers of smartphone addiction (click here to read). It wasn’t your standard, “we need to spend time away from our smartphones” rant. It was in-depth look at how smartphones have enabled a small handful of people in Silicon Valley to control the psychology of over a billion people around the world.
For me, working in the mobile software development industry, it was a warning sign. A foreboding of what could happen if we, as a society, don’t heed the warning and take action.
You see, many worry about the development of a superior, runaway artificial intelligence that will destroy humanity. They argue that it could happen within the next 25 years if sufficient controls are not put in place.
After reading The Guardian article, I’m beginning to think that future danger could already be upon us, and we don’t even know it. Instead of the AI confronting us head-on in a war-like manner, it could be destroying us from within by turning us against each other, and ultimately against ourselves.
In the past, I’ve written about privacy and warned how the internet endangers that fundamental right. I’m now concerned that the combination of the internet and smartphones may be one of the most dangerous inventions created by mankind if allowed to go unchecked.
Allow me to explain.