OR HOW TO BECOME AN ASTRONAUT IN 3 EASY STEPS
As a child, and like most young girls I’m sure, I wanted to be an engineer when I grew up and in particular I wanted to be involved in building space stations in some capacity. In particular, I had an interest in the systems that would be implemented for long-term human habitation, greenhouses and air systems for example. I spent many a night as a girl gazing up through a telescope and dreaming of someday seeing humans living on this or that planet, I always saw it as the chance for a fresh start, a new civilization. Understandably this would be influenced by human culture, but new forms would evolve from that given the different environment and survival conditions – the new space culture would adapt. So with this sort of utopian vision in mind, I felt that likely a sustainable model would be by that time not only desirable but a requirement of the mission.
Now, my goals have changed but we know dreams don’t die that easy. I still have an interest in what’s happening in outer space, I read the blogs and watch NASA streaming events live. I look up at the sky and pay attention. But let’s just say I don’t do things partially – either all in or all out. And I’m sure there are more like me who wish they could rekindle at least partially those childhood interests and passions.
Step 1: Personal Exploration of Space and Education
About a year back, I decided to take a more active approach to my own personal exploration of space. I discussed this recently in my office, and this discussion prompted a mobile app build for observers who wanted a digital helper to assist in their analog space viewing experience – just a pet project that is more about me testing out Sencha/PhoneGap and testing responsive design/UX principles. But that’s what I picked as the app’s raison d’etre and it has proven very challenging in a good way. I have been surprised at the data sources available for me and even feel that learning Fortran might prove helpful someday. Given that there is so much data out there available from NASA and the various world naval organizations, it really is amazing that it took me this long to find it all.
Step 2: Get Involved in Space Initiatives
But that is just where I started. Later, I came upon possibly the most exciting event of 2013:
For all the grown up kids who didn’t get to space camp but wanted to, I recommend signing up for what I expect will be an equivalent to space camp experience. They are looking for engineers, technologists, scientists, designers, artists, educators, students, entrepreneurs – anyone who has a passion for changing the world and is willing to contribute (that’s absolutely me they are talking about). There are plenty of challenges and so there is bound to be something of interest to everyone.
My project of choice: the Deployable Greenhouse
Step 3: Become an Astronaut
If this is not hard-core enough, you will soon be able to sign up for the Mars One mission. In 2022, you can go to Mars and never come back which sounds, well, awesome. My dream of a “Bear Island” (place where evil people get sent, lots of bears obviously, basically same idea as Australia but not for criminals, mostly politicians and big business) can be modified slightly – earth becomes “Bear Earth” as a new more exclusive society will be starting on another planet where evil people need not apply.
They are looking for “Martians” to be characterized by:
- Resiliency (Check!)
- Adaptability (Check!)
- Curiosity (Double Check!)
- Ability to Trust (To A Fault!)
- Creativity/Resourcefulness (Check Check Check!)
I think you would need to be doing this with a significant other however – I think it would be make it difficult to have a bunch of single people so as to mitigate “the drama” and to have a close and familiar support system. I likely won’t sign up for that reason but I think it would be an amazing opportunity for many people.
It turns out that the little space explorer in all us doesn’t need to die entirely. There are plenty of ways to be informed and involved in space and where space and technology intersect, even if you are not the most scientifically focused person in the world like me. So get to it.
Having a conversation with an acquaintance, not some I really knew that well but well enough that they knew my full name and could easily search on the internet to find it (that is so many people when I think about it), and they mentioned finding this old thing. I try to ignore the fact that people can read it on the internet, otherwise I am bashful. It had been a long time since I even thought about ‘my blog’ – can I call it that when I technically abandoned it? Well while working on the development for another website on this fine Pi Day Eve (I do odd jobs for extremely good friends only), I decided to pop in to moderate some extremely old comments because the dashboard of the other site made me feel guilty.
Well, a lot happened in blogland while I was away it seems: comments, linking, even some old draft posts that I’m quite sure I had nothing to do with. My last post was in May 2011. Almost 2 years ago. Most of the hoopla and traffic which maintained itself over the past few years was for my last post. Why you would almost think I had planned to leave my blog with a post guaranteed to maintain traffic a reasonable and continue to build links over time. Well I did. Because that is what blogs eat: traffic and links.
A lot has happened in real life too but nothing has changed. Mostly positive and enough negative to ensure that the really special moments in life would not be too indistinguishable from the others. Still loving what I do for a living, loving what I do the rest of the time, and loving who I do it with. I’ve got my health, and still not a single cavity. My long term goals, of which I am very secretive, remain the same.
I have not yet decided if the hiatus if off. Mulling it over out of sentimental feelings for typing in the WordPress post editor, but concerned that I might not have the time given my other commitments. Let’s just say I ate Nutella and toast every night last week for lack of time to do much more. Plus side: I finally out of necessity, over the course of 30 very late night hours in a few days, learned how to use a more robust wireframing tool (Axure) and, really, once you get over the hump, it really is a fantastic and useful skill to have if that’s your fancy.
Nice to stop in and de-junk the place, add a 2013 post to the Archives, delete a few pages that I didn’t even know were there. Nothing too substantive to say today, but I can’t just plunge in as that is how injuries happen.
The other day my friend Dennis told me about the Drobo – I was very intrigued and when I visited the website a contest offer came up. I am not much for contests anymore but this one intrigued me. What would I do with 100 Drobos? I had intended to go to the site to find out about 1 Drobo… imagine what I could do with 100!
If I had 100 Drobos I would find 100 uses to help my community and the world around me, and maybe give a few away to people who would find 100 uses for 1 Drobo which is in itself a feat.
100 Drobos – I would keep one Drobo for my very own – I know this is selfish but sometimes we have to be. And how can I really be expected to pass them along if I cannot speak from previous experience.
99 Drobos – I would give one Drobo to my father because I don’t want him to be jealous. He built me my first computer oh so long ago – I was the first kid in my class to hand in a printed report. Yeah – I’m cool!
98 Drobos – There are 22 high schools in London Ontario Canada – I would provide each school with a Drobo in the hopes that this would help improve not only potentially the school as a whole but also the more technologically inclined. This could be a great little toy for computer classes throughout the city.
76 Drobos - I would give one to my friend and coworker Dennis. He was the one that first told me about the Drobo so that is only fair. I would give another one to Nathan, another person I work with. He works so hard to keep our computer networks running and we always bug him with small problems. He deserves one and would likely find 100 uses for 1 Drobo.
74 Drobos – I would give 10 to London Ontario municipal government to distribute as needed in ways that would be of the greatest benefit to the community (not the mayor’s own personal Drobo). I would want to know what they were being used for to ensure that they were used wisely and not to benefit higher tiers of local government.
64 Drobos – I would give 4 Drobos to assist child welfare and street youth in my city – there are multiple organizations that work for the benefit of children within London Ontario and I would find 4 organizations that could make the most use of these and hopefully to assist in the training and education of street youth within the city.
60 Drobos – I would have a similar contest as yours asking people what they would do for 1 Drobo. I would promote this contest globally on my blog and also I would seek to promote for local organizations. I would be looking for the most feasible solutions to solving real world problems.
50 Drobos – The final 50 Drobos would be sent around the world. I intend to find 50 organizations that are doing positive things to improve education and training opportunities in “emerging economies”. I would seek to benefit the most amount of people I in the most positive way and especially organizations that promoted technology training and education. I would prefer non-profit but for-profit with a conscience would be good enough for me.
NO MORE DROBOS! I have given them all away, or I will if I win the contest. There is a lot we can do with these within the community and abroad so please help this entry win.
You can vote by emailing email@example.com with the code: 469476
I posted previously on the number of Canadians on Twitter which I calculated from reputable statistics but since they were written in my little paper notebook I did not note the source. This post should redeem me hopefully as I received several requests to provide further information.
What initially prompted my first post was that the only figure I could readily find on the number of Canadians on Twitter was 47% percent. I found it very difficult, if not impossible, to believe this number. Given that the results were gleaned from a survey by a Vancouver internet marketing firm I supposed that likely their database consisted of people who have a high likelihood of using Twitter.
- There are currently 200 million registered accounts on Twitter.
- 43% of users are True Twitter Users (More than 10 tweets, 10 Followers and 10 Followed)
- 80% have fewer than 500 tweets.
- Canada consists of 2.5% of the traffic on Twitter – assumption being that the ratio of web / mobile usage is the same across all countries.
- The population of Canada is 34,441,442.
200,000,000 Twitter Accounts > 2.5% Canadian Traffic = 5,000,000 Canadian Twitter Accounts = 14.5% of Canadians have a Twitter Account
or 19.9% of Canadians with Internet Access Have a Twitter Account
5,000,000 > 43% True Twitter Users = 2,150,000 True Twitter Users in Canada = 6.2% of Canadians are True Twitter Users
5,000,000 > 20% more than 500 Tweets = 1,000,000 Canadian Twitter Users with More than 500 Tweets = 2.9% of Canadians have in excess of 500 Tweets
This might not seem like a lot, but let me put it this way. In Canada you are more likely to have a Twitter account than…
- Have diabetes
- Own a pet other than a dog or cat
- Have voted for the Bloc Quebecois in the 2011 election
Now that we know how many Canadians are using Twitter, how are they using it? I have asked this question for a while, and I have had some people observe that Canadians use Twitter just like everybody else. But I am a firm believer that around the world people are using technologies in different ways that are most appropriate culturally. Canadians are no different and no less distinct.
The following are the results from my Twitter In Canada survey. The survey received 85 responses and it appears that many of the responses came from Ontario. This survey was shared from my Twitter account and was retweeted several times by many Canadians across the country, however I do believe that geographical proximity of followers was a constraint in distributing this properly across all provinces.
I am sure a few people will roll their eyes when I tell them I finally bought an iPad but all I can say is I had no choice. Literally, there are no other viable options presenting themselves and though I hear promises of late 2010 or early 2011 nothing seems to pan out. As a customer, I had reached the point that, despite my loyalty to other brands and my general dislike for how Apple does business, I needed a product that was not being offered elsewhere and I had to ‘cross over to the other side’. I had really been banking on the Microsoft Courier – but that fell apart. What does this mean for the brands I usually buy? Since I am loving the iPad it does not bode well. Though I will still need other devices, I am no longer monogamous. From now on my relationship status is “It’s complicated”.
Fittingly posted from my iPad.
I am not knocking the idea of Groupon – it is a great idea and a great company that has dealt well with hiccups along the road. As a concept, Groupon is a real life provider of promotions marketing using the power of social, which is a constant struggle for businesses. While companies are starting to get the hang of brand management and caving to the advent of social customer relationship management, promoting goods and services in a way that keeps true to the “spirit” of social media is a different ball game entirely and an area where a lot of companies fall short despite major efforts and investment.
I don’t wonder why Yahoo wanted to buy them, they have so little. And Google – well they are like Eric Cartman’s Trapper Keeper after it absorbs Rosie O’Donnell – not ugly like that, it just rolls around collecting everything around it and then the thing just disappears. But they could not sway Groupon who seemingly have it all under control. Then again, can it really last?
The competition is fierce, copycats are appearing and maybe the biggest threat of them all I could see – wouldn’t this be better achieved by reaching out to already existing loyal customers and fans online, give them the opportunity to share this opportunity with their networks on platforms that are already familiar. Without Groupon. I see this a far better solution and it will solve two problems I see with the Groupon model:
- Most people will not trust this site. Plain and simple – it will never fly. Right now there is a buzz, but unless they feature only the most reputable businesses or align themselves with a recognizable leader in online shopping, they are doomed to be a fad. Generally, I try to think of everyone in my large extended family – if none of them would use it probably not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things.
- Can they scale as they grow? I see it difficult to maintain not only the quality of the offers that are provided on the site as the reach their tipping point, nor can I see them being able to provide the same exposure as more businesses jump on the bandwagon.
I am sure that there are lots of naysayers out there, and I don’t want to be a spoilsport. I think this is a great way to socialize promotions online, but I would rather see businesses doing this for existing customers and fans who will reward them for the offer by raising awareness and with increased loyalty rather than show up once and never come again. Not that Groupon does not allow it, but at the end of the day did you get the deal from Groupon or the business? Will you go back to Groupon to find more deals or back to the business to be a loyal customer? So who does this benefit?
90% of ideas never go beyond idea generator’s desk; 3% of the remaining 10% obtain backing to become projects, with less than 1% being commercially launched
This year, LinkedIn listed “innovative” as one of its top 10 overused terms and I don’t wonder at why: anyone who works anywhere is likely being asked to “innovate” and so many would perceive the value of innovativeness in a potential hire as high. Why is innovation so important lately – it’s not a new term, but it definitely has that “buzzword” quality about it and like most buzzwords, the what is of innovation is often misunderstood and misused. Nonetheless, just because it is a buzzword does not necessarily make it a dirty word nor does it imply that the concept is fleeting, and especially in this case.
So this might not be a complete guide to innovation, but some major ideas and theories to inspire your innovative endeavours.
What is innovation?
“To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.” Albert Einstein
Innovation is the transformation of an idea into a new product, service or process that is brought to market or implemented – if it remains an idea, it is not an innovation.
Joseph Schumpeter’s definition economic innovation:
- The introduction of a new good — that is one with which consumers are not yet familiar — or of a new quality of a good.
- The introduction of a new method of production, which need by no means be founded upon a discovery scientifically new, and can also exist in a new way of handling a commodity commercially.
- The opening of a new market, that is a market into which the particular branch of manufacture of the country in question has not previously entered, whether or not this market has existed before.
- The conquest of a new source of supply of raw materials or half-manufactured goods, again irrespective of whether this source already exists or whether it has first to be created.
- The carrying out of the new organization of any industry, like the creation of a monopoly position or the breaking up of a monopoly position.
Schumpeter attributed innovation to a process he called “creative destruction” whereby the old is ‘destroyed’ by the new causing free markets to continually evolve.
What makes a company innovative?
“When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.” Steve Jobs
There are a few companies that get mentioned in most conversation about innovation: Apple and Google are two of the more notable ones. So what is the secret ingredient that makes these companies come up with great products that change the way we do things? Both companies have a slightly different approach, but there are certain environmental factors that should exist within a company to make it easier for good ideas to come to fruition and an internal spirit of innovation to sustain the momentum to repeat the process.
Coakes and Smith suggest that organizational knowledge depends on the qualities of the relationships between people and I tend to agree. By providing places and opportunity for the creation and support of innovatory ideas, companies facilitate the organic formation of communities of innovation and the identification of innovation champions. Ideas are like anything, they need a champion, someone to believe in them, or otherwise they will wither.
Innovation champions can be found in most companies – management might already be aware of employees that are active in supporting innovation, but in some cases, they might be waiting, dormant, for the time when management they will be motivated and supported by management.
6 Things Champions Require In a Workplace
- To work within an innovative environment
- To work with other innovators
- To be challenged and to learn
- To be socially connected within and without the organisation
- To be recognized for their work
- To work for management that supports them
Thus armed with a strong community and leaders, companies need to have a game plan that will position them for success. An innovation is not just an idea, it must go to market in order to be affirmed.
How do you innovate?
“If you’re not failing every now and again, it’s a sign you’re not doing anything very innovative.” Woody Allen
Clayton Christensen propounds a “disruptive approach” to innovation relying on the assumption that companies innovate faster than people’s lives change and the resulting products are often too good, too expensive or too inconvenient (sort of like the iPad in Canada). The easiest way, then, to arrive at an idea that will move up market and displace established competitors is too look at focusing on ideas that:
- Scratch an unscratched itch – Look at ways that people are using existing products in ways they are not meant to be used for lack of better product. Do what the established competitor does not do and pick up where they fall short.
- Make an ugly business attractive – Find the market segment that nobody wants and innovate for them.
- Democratize a limited market - Make the product accessible to people who previously could not because of some prohibitive factor, most often cost.
Besides deciding what market you will compete in, you need to develop a playbook by a historical analysis of major failures and successes in that market to map your innovation strategy.
Read an article from HBR on Mapping Your Innovation
Innovation is not a new concept – humans have been innovating for as long as there have been humans, it is what sets us apart from the other animals. On the other hand, this new articulation of flattened hierarchies and collaboration as drivers for innovation should change the way companies look at idea generation and bringing products to market.
So what’s the big rush anyways? Before the buzz of innovation, were there no good ideas? Was every company just rehashing old ideas and sticking to the status quo all of the time? I think not (ahem, Fordism was a pretty big deal). But several factors, the biggest being globalization and technological/digital advancements, have allowed some innovations to reach people and places in ways most traditional companies could have only imagined. I am sure there were more than a few companies with billions of dollars at their disposal and countless employees look at innovations like Facebook and thinking: “What are we doing wrong that we did not deliver this first?” It is the age of the start-up (another buzzword IMO) and existing companies want to play too.