Tree silhouette in dark forest

IF

by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

Yet another inspirational poem for my post today. I hope you like it. I hope it helps.

Do you know of a poem conveying the same feeling but referring to a woman?

Which poem is your favourite? Share it in a reply.

Thanks!

White and black sailing boat.

Invictus

by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me, 
      Black as the pit from pole to pole, 
I thank whatever gods may be 
      For my unconquerable soul. 

In the fell clutch of circumstance 
      I have not winced nor cried aloud. 
Under the bludgeonings of chance 
      My head is bloody, but unbowed. 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears 
      Looms but the Horror of the shade, 
And yet the menace of the years 
      Finds and shall find me unafraid. 

It matters not how strait the gate, 
      How charged with punishments the scroll, 
I am the master of my fate, 
      I am the captain of my soul. 

This post is the poem Invictus by Willliam Ernest Henley. He was an influential British poet who died in 1903, at the age of 54. He wrote this poem in 1875 and 144 years later his words speak to us all.

I would love to read your thoughts on those words. Mine? I just needed to remember that I can be, and that I must be, the master of my fate.

Computer screen on and open laptop on the side.

New ways to protect data now and in the future

Hi friends!

This is a brief post dedicated to the most impressive news I have read in a while. As you know I’m interested in new technologies like the Internet of Things, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence etc. Boundless connectivity amazes me. It enables us to communicate seamlessly regardless of geographical positions. It makes existing technology far more efficient and cost effective.

But there is one risk: failing to protect all that data that new technologies collect. This is the main concern of all sceptics. Rightfully so. However, as an enthusiast and an optimist, I always felt that issues of security and privacy will eventually be adequately addressed. And they are. Even more so than I thought.

Today I read that researchers at Cambridge University  are successfully using quantum mechanics to protect sensitive information. Apparently they use particles of light, photons, to protect encryption keys from hackers. In case of an attack, their quantum state changes thus eliminating valuable information.

As if that wasn’t impressive enough, I also found out in the same article about quantum computers. They are like the computers we know but their function utilises quantum mechanical phenomena like superposition and entanglement. Quantum properties are used for the representation and structure of the data, and quantum mechanics for performing operations with that data. Google, IBM and others are already working on that.

Clearly the future holds many more impressive developments. Thankfully, for any risks posed on one end there is counteraction on the other to prevent fallout. I’m actually looking forward to seeing all this happening.

What do you think about it? Are you concerned about newfound threats or are you thrilled about human ingenuity?

Writing Atelier logo

Writing Atelier is here for you. Have a look.

Hi friends!

This is a post dedicated to my new mission: Writing Atelier. It is a new site showcasing the writing services I offer. In the Blog page you can find a portfolio of my work.

Gingerbread Houses and the Automotive Industry are two of the most recent subjects I tackled for my customers. Both gave me a 5 Star review on fiverr. I really enjoyed the variety!

I write articles, blog posts, website content and marketing emails. If there is anything you’d like me to write for you please let me know.

I would really welcome any ideas and suggestions you might want to share. I love referrals too!

Thanks!

Two pencils and white paper on pink surface

The best writing advice I got so far

In this post I want to share the most efficient writing advice I got so far. I started this journey in writing some time ago with the goal to write professionally. I want to write staff that people want to read. Don’t we all?

The more I write, the more I realize that professional writing isn’t about the writer. It is about the reader. It isn’t about self-expression, it’s about getting the message across. And getting the message across isn’t always easy. Often it means that what you wrote is unreadable, or useless. Writing for others needs to have a purpose, to serve their needs in some way.

As my tutor says, what we write needs to either inform or entertain or educate or even provoke. In any case it needs to have something to offer. But even if there is something useful to say, how do we go about saying it? Fragmented writing is my main pitfall. It’s so easy to make too big a leap in your paragraph. To imply things the reader doesn’t know – because I didn’t write them. To skip some parts of the event and throw the reader right to the end without taking it one step at a time. And those are just some of my shortcomings.

So, what do I do to improve? The one piece of advice I was given by all tutors is to read it out loud. That is a lot more difficult than it sounds. I still haven’t been able to do it. Breaking the silence in the room scares me. Although as time goes by, I realize this is going to be a necessary tool. But not my favorite.

You know what my favorite tool is? Copying! Yes, copying as an exercise. Copying great writers using pen and paper. I find this to be such a powerful mental exercise. It is based on the rule of input – output. As a writer you can create great output only if great input goes into your head. And great input can have many forms. One of which is reading great books. And copying parts of those books the old-fashioned hand-written way. The way that allows the brain to process that input.

I know I have a long way to go, and this exercise really helps. It functions both as a technical guide – on sentence and paragraph structure – and as inspiration.  The book I’m using right now for this is Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner. Such a skilled writer. I am amazed every day by the way she writes long sentences. Her sentences can be five lines long and flow beautifully. I have to say, as I read them, I keep thinking: She must have read them out loud! Maybe even more than once.  

That is the best writing advice I got so far. If you are interested in any type of writing, go ahead and try this. Let me know what you think.

Is there some valuable writing advice you would like to share? Send me a reply and let me know.

White building with DATA HAS A BETTER IDEA signage

What is Artificial Intelligence really?

What does AI mean in real life, not in the movies? Science fiction loves to portray human-like super smart machines that take over the world. Reality is not quite so impressive, or scary.

Artificial Intelligence enables machines to process large amounts of data, to recognise patterns in that data and learn from them. Well known examples include the self-driving car and chess-playing computers. However, the way AI can contribute in health care and manufacturing is far more impressive.

As I was going through articles and videos on the subject, I watched a video from Microsoft depicting AI in practice. What struck me the most was the scene at the hospital with the patient recovering from heart surgery. AI technology can track the movements of the patient and notify the nurse in case he exceeds doctor recommendations. AI embedded in the security cameras can also locate the nearest wheelchair and notify the nurse so that she can get the patient seated as soon as possible. 

In a chemical plant, AI cameras can learn to recognise a dangerous incident, like the spillage of a chemical and alert the staff. A computer can notify the right person to clean it up and all others to avoid the danger. Impressive!

Would you like to know more about how this technology works? Are you willing to accept that technology works in mysterious ways or would you like to explore the realities behind it?

I would love to know your thoughts on this. Please put them in a reply below.

Black numbers on white paper signifying Big Data

BIG DATA IN OUR WORLD. WHAT ABOUT IT?

Do you feel like a stranger in your own world sometimes? Does all this new technology make you feel like an immigrant in a new country? You are not alone. Technology is moving so fast these days, even professionals try to catch up. After discussing the Internet of Things in my previous post, I feel its time to get acquainted with BIG DATA.

What is Big Data?

Lets just start with what data signifies today. Just data, not the Big Data variety. Data refers to information we put in our computer every time we write something or make entries in a spreadsheet. Pretty straight forward so far.

Today though, data is generated in many more ways. Every time we use our tablet or smartphone to connect with others, we create data. Every time we send an email, play a game or purchase something online we generate data. Same goes with liking a photograph, buying movie tickets, or using a smart watch. Tons of data is generated and stored about our health and life choices when exercising with our smart watch.

So Big Data, as you might have guessed already, is massive amounts of data. Today’s technology enables the collection, storage and analysis of mind-blowing amounts of information. According to Oracle, the volume of available data doubles every two years.

Three key concepts define the term Big Data today:

  • Volume, as in high volumes of structured, unstructured or semi structured data.
  • Velocity, as in the fast rate of collection and analysis. Today there is even products that operate on real-time information.
  • Variety, as in the many different types of data. Today they can even derive from audio and video files.

So we have Big Data. What about it? Why is it important?

According to the World Economic Forum, Big Data analysis will reveal patterns and connections that will vastly improve most human activities.

Big Data means more information, more information leads to better and more comprehensive answers. Better answers provide better solutions.

Often, better solutions lead to even better quality of data, so the circle closes and opens again leading to accelerated progress.

The significant question is what organizations are doing with Big Data. Analysis provides information that enables organizations to implement:

  • cost and time reductions
  • maintenance based on accurate predictions
  • augmented customer experience
  • smart decision making and innovation
  • new product development
  • optimized services
  • more comprehensive business strategies

What is really interesting is all the effort, imagination and creativity that is required in order make sense of all this and come up with something useful. I was surprised to read about the importance of asking the right questions. Behind all this technology there is highly skilled people involved in a process of discovery and innovation. All this doesn’t just happen automatically, which often comes as a surprise to non-tech people.

I am looking forward to finding out what you think about BIG DATA. Send me a reply below with your thoughts and questions.

What else would you like to know about Big Data?

What new development would you like me to write about next?

PC turned on with red image on the screen

What is the Internet of Things? How you can benefit

What is Internet of Things really?

Simply put, it is things connected on the Internet.

What a surprise!

And by things, I mean devices. Already more devices than people are connected to the Internet. According to research by Cisco 50 billion things will be connected to the web by 2020. When world population is around 7.5 billion.

Just to impress you even further, it is estimated that IoT will add 1,9 trillion dollars to the global economy over the next 10 years (Cisco). Interesting, huh?

IoT is here and it is already affecting the way we live our lives and the way businesses function. It is about time we all understand the term, grasp the challenges it poses and appreciate what the future brings.

I believe it is important that all citizens of our world know about the recent technological developments, understand their basic functionality and make the most of them.

It is through this technology that our world is going to become even more efficient and even more rewarding.

How does it work?

Internet of Things is not about devices and data. The main aim of this technology is the collaboration of elements with a purpose: to find a solution to a problem. An IoT strategy offers a holistic approach to problem solving.

This web of things involves three main elements:

  • devices for collecting data
  • clouds that store data
  • software that analyses data and turns it to meaningful information 

What is Internet of Things used for?

As depicted in the graph below, the top three markets are smart city, industry and buildings. Not far behind we see cars, smart energy, agriculture and health services.


Graph: IOT Analytics 2018

At home IoT applications include:

  • light bulbs
  • smart-fridge
  • security
  • per feeding
  • energy monitoring

In buildings there is applications in:

  • lighting
  • security
  • structural integrity
  • energy consumption
  • occupancy
  • emergency alerts

In transport there is applications in:

  • smart parking
  • public transport
  • shipping and supply chain

In health IoT offers applications for:

  • monitoring the elderly
  • caring for patients more efficiently
  • remote diagnostics
  • bio wearables
  • hospital hygiene

Not to forget the smart cities and the general industry where applications include:

  • waste management
  • maintenance
  • utilities smart grid
  • augmented emergency services

What are the benefits?

IoT is expected to add 1,9 trillion dollars to the global economy over the next 10 years. How is that going to happen?

The potential of this growth is driven by four parameters:

  • Improved performance of existing processes
  • Reduced costs for energy and maintenance
  • Innovative services
  • New revenue streams

To be more precise and give you a better idea of the IoT potential here are some examples:

•         In smart buildings it is expected that huge savings will be generated simply by lowering operating costs and reducing energy consumption.

•         In smart cities, savings are generated through efficient waste management as well as innovative management of parking spaces. Citizens will be able to find and reserve the closest available space and local authorities can implement demand-based pricing.

•         In the health sector there are devices for monitoring patients, people with disabilities and special needs. There are motion detectors and sensors that can immediately notify for help if someone has had an accident.

Challenges posed by Internet of Things

As with every significant development, this technology poses challenges both to organizations and governments. They include:

  • Technological standardisation which is still fragmented
  • Rapid innovation which poses significant challenges to governments
  • Appropriate governance of holistic approaches
  • Security, privacy and compliance

According to Samsung’s Open Economy document, more than 7.3 billion devices need to be made secure by their manufacturers by 2020.

Organisations have valid concerns about security, privacy, transparency and compliance. This is a challenge for businesses that function within IoT but one that is addressed by technology giants such as Microsoft, Cisco, Amazon Web Services and others.

Human creativity

Hopefully I was able to convey the meaning of the term Internet of Things without the use of overpowering terminology. I really do admire the fact that IoT is created with intention and that each application serves a specific purpose. Each time it is tailor-made to provide a solution.

The scale of the benefits is mind-blowing, and I am most impressed by the potential for change in our world. Positive change.

I feel it is our duty to learn as much as possible about those developments, to be prepared and make the most of them at home, at work, in our community.

It is for our collective benefit that we have to make the most of all those technological advancements.

Human creativity has been moving us forward for centuries. This is yet another step!

I would love to know your thoughts on this. Are you also excited about IoT? Send me a reply and let me know.

Happy and blushed large emoticon bright yellow

Can we really find the right balance in life?

Everybody talks about work – life balance. It is a popular discussion with numerous answers and different approaches all over the public domain. It is addressed both practically and spiritually.

“Everything in moderation” or “Pan metron ariston” said Cleobulus, one of the Seven Sages of Greece. He talked about finding balance in the 6th century BC. Today we still struggle to achieve this. Can we ever achieve the perfect balance? What is it all about? Is it about the destination, or about the journey?

I do believe that finding balance is not limited to the dipole between the personal and the professional. Finding balance is relevant to all aspects of our lives, anything that involves decision making and relations with others. No event is ever all black or all white, hardly ever is someone completely right or completely wrong. We constantly need to find balance and peace in our relationships with friends, colleagues, family, even with ourselves. Perhaps most importantly with ourselves.

Balance is about peace and fairness. A state where all elements have been considered; all the different facts and opinions and feelings.

There are so many opposites to consider:

  • Caring for looks VS caring for education.
  • Working towards goals VS watching TV all the time
  • Being a fashion victim VS not caring about image
  • Being hysterical about how things are done VS being without concern, care, interest
  • Being a liar and a hypocrite VS being brutally honest
  • Being superficial VS taking everything close to heart, being super sensitive

Considering all of the above, it is so easy to give the answer: find the golden rule, the happy medium, the middle ground. Who would disagree? But what does this really mean?

It is so important that we are in peace with ourselves. I strongly feel the need to be in peace with myself, in my effort to be a good person.

  • I want to eat the cake, but be thin as well
  • I want to party all the time, but read all the books as well
  • I want to have a killer career, but never get out of bed
  • I also want a super healthy body, but never set foot in the gym

Easy, huh?

It took me years of conflict, to realize that yes, I can have it all. We can have it all; it’s all about balance. Give and take.

  • Eat cake ever so often and not with each meal
  • Stay in bed longer during weekends and not every day
  • Visit the dreaded gym twice a week, not every day
  • Read the self – development book with all the wonderful tips about time management – even if it is for 15 min in the evening. By the way, 15min is still a lot more than nothing!

Wouldn’t it be great if we could be in peace with our inner demons and the unfulfilled dreams and expectations, we all deal with? Let’s just be realistic for a moment, understand and respect the choices that led us to where we are today.

All we want is to be better isn’t it?

I cannot really decide which is more difficult:  peace with ourselves or peace with the others? Peace inside would probably be a good starting point, I think.

We need to explore the middle ground that leaves enough room for both sides.  When others are involved, we need to leave them room to breathe and maintain their self-respect. By all means, set a boundary but be equally prepared to respect the individuality of the other person – no matter what their role in your life.

I believe that the main idea, the underlying principle is to find our own personal position, our own personal happy place, the perfect analogy for our identity, our personality, our choices, our circumstances. To define the person we want to be and treasure it.

I would love to read your thoughts on this. Send me a reply if you would like to share.

Various colourful books in bookcase

In how many ways can you say something?

Have you ever tried this?
Expressing the same idea in many different ways.

Writing down the same idea in many different ways is a first for me. Each time with a different aim in mind. This was part of a learning exercise for an online writing course, and I found it very interesting and very revealing. I never thought I could say the same thing in so many ways. Let’s begin.

The original viewpoint

Self-discipline: the ability to make yourself do things you know you should even when you do not want to. However difficult to achieve, it is an important attribute of successful people.

Moving towards the reader

Making yourself do what is needed, even if you don’t feel like it, is commendable. Self-discipline is definitely aiding you in your road to success.

Moving away from the reader

Self-discipline is a commendable ability. Doing whatever necessary despite not feeling like it is difficult, yet necessary to succeed in any field.

Moving against the reader

Self-discipline is not exactly your strong-suit, is it? Well, no surprise there! It isn’t easy to do something when you don’t really feel like it. Success in life can come without this self inflicting discipline. I get it.

Push: suggest, advise, reason 

Self-discipline is the ability to make yourself do the things you should, even when you don’t want to. It is often difficult but it is widely recognised as one of the main attributes of successful people.

Push: state expectations, evaluate, reward and threaten

Self-discipline is clearly expected of you at this stage. Your performance is clearly depending upon that and high marks will only derive from such an approach. Failure is imminent without this type of commitment.

Pull: listen, disclose, empathise

I know it is difficult. Self-discipline can be such a challenge, I know. I’ve been there. But I also know that it is necessary. It really makes a difference at the end if the day. It’s the only way to become the best and succeed.

Pull: identify common ground and create a scenario

Self-discipline is the way. I know, I’ve been there. Within this predicament it is absolutely necessary I’m afraid. Only by doing what is needed, even if you don’t feel like it at all, you are going to excel and succeed. But it’s worth it. Joining this team is going to be an amazing experience.

What did you think of this exercise? I’d love to read your thoughts on the different types of expression. Do send me a reply below.

I would like to thank my tutor Philippa Davies for this course and for all the feedback she sends me.