The mind palace is real.

 

Fans of  ‘Sherlock’  would have observed  the title character  used his ‘mind palace’  to   solve cases.  The mind/memory palace is memory technique not only used by Sherlock, but also by contestants  in memory championships. It is also a memory technique you can use as well.

The memory palace (Method of loci )  uses visualization to organize and recall information.  The concept is to memorize the layout of building(palace) that  you are familiar with, for example your house. When you want to remember a list of items you visual the items  at different locations  within the palace. When you want to recall the items, you literally ‘walk’  through your palace to the location your items.

 For example, you want to remember your shopping list- eggs, milk, butter,  sugar,  and coffee. With your house as your memory palace you imagine have walked to your front and have stepped  on some eggs.  You then walk to your  foyer and someone has poured milk on your head.You enter your kitchen and  slip of butter on the kitchen floor. You walk into your dining room to  see your  children pouring sugar on the dining table.You  walk into the living room to see your spouse drinking coffee.

I got inspired to use the memory palace after reading Moonwalking with Einstein. The memory palace is not limited to  shopping lists.I have used it to help me remember things like the Zachman Framework  or the Architecture Development Methodogy(TOGAF), to name a few.

Here are some things I have learnt while creating memory palaces:

  • It is best to use  memory palaces you are familiar with.
  • You can have infinite number of memory palaces
  • Walk through your palaces  periodically,this will help solidify your memory
  • There is no limit on how to use your imagination to store information in your memory palaces.

The IT Architect Mantra

I came across this Software Architecture Mantra  from IASA

  • Systems that aren’t deployed don’t matter
  • Systems that don’t work don’t matter
  • Systems that don’t appease the users needs don’t matter
  • Systems that don’t perform don’t matter
  • Systems that aren’t health don’t matter
  • Systems that can’t be measured don’t matter
  • Systems that don’t add business value don’t matter

In my opinion it should be entitled The IT Architect Mantra.

Virtually attending tech conferences

I do not get a chance to physically attend tech conferences;however there are various tools I use to virtually  attend and keep abreast of  tech conferences:

  • Lanyrd is an app  that I  use to keep track for  upcoming tech conferences. It is free for IOS. It interfaces with slideshare.net so you can view  slides of some conferences
  • Twitter allows me to follow live tweets of  tech conferences.
  • I  watch the live feed of some of the tech conferences e.g  e.g Google I/O  and WDC
  • Some of the tech conferences provide  on demand access to content. For example I am catching up on content from  the Software Architect 2013 conference.

I know nothing beats physically attending a tech conference;however with tools like twitter and Lanyrd you have the next best thing.

Chromecast,take 2

Is it me or did Google make some unknown updates to the Chromecast infrastructure?

Recently I have noticed a smooth playback when I cast videos from the Chrome browser that are not from YouTube or Netflix. In addition, casting videos from the Plex web interface also has a smooth playback. When I just got the Chromecast, casting non-YouTube and non-Netflix content was less than ideal.

It was also great to learn that Chromecast supports Plex. I am looking forward to additional support for other applications.

Google’s Chromecast

I was wrestling with the decision of whether to purchase an apple TV or a Roku box; however when I learnt about Google’s Chromecast, I was able to make a decision. I have since bought a Chromecast and although it is optimized for Netflix and Youtube, I see a lot of potential.

Unboxing

Included with my Chromecast purchase were:

  • An USB connector to power Chromecast. You have the option to power your Chrome cast on the USB port of your TV or plug it into your electrical outlet.
  • A HDMI extender, is to improve wireless connectivity. I must agree that this does work.

Setup

To set up Chromecast I went to a url provided on the Chromecast package. A PC (with at least windows 7) that was wirelessly connected to my your network was required . During the set up, my PC was temporarily disconnected from my network to connect to Chromecast. I received a DHCP error when my PC tried to connect to Chromecast; however Windows network troubleshooter was able to resolve the problem. Once my DHCP error was resolved I was able to complete the set up.

What works very well:

  • As I mentioned before Chromecast is optimize for Netflix and Youtube. I can cast Netflix and youtube to my TV from my PC and iPod Touch.
  • You can cast the contents of your Chrome browser (via the Chromecast plug-in).

What does not work well

  • You can’t play local file. There is a workaround as Chrome can play video files on your PC;however you can only play mp4 files.
  • Cast non-youtube/non-netflix video from Chrome sometimes lags.

What I am looking forward to

  • Chromecast for Plex. There have been some articles (e.g gigaom article) that we will soon be able to cast plex content. If this is true the issue with playing local content via Chromecast will be solved.

I must say that despite a few shortcomings I am thoroughly enjoying my Chromecast.


The Architect as the Innovator – a webinar review

IASA recently had a webinar entitled “The Architect as the innovator”. In my opinion it should have been entitled “The IT worker as the innovator”.

Here are some points I took from the webinar

  • Definition of innovation – think differently
  • Innovation is not only about technology
    • Processes innovation
    • Management innovation
    • Business modeling innovation.
  • Being risk averse is a hindrance to innovation
    • Innovative path – How much risk can we take and how can we manage it.

  • Challenges to innovation from an Architect (IT) perspective
    • We are more focus on projects and fighting fires
      • No time for strategic thinking
    • Architects work within rules/best practices
      • Best practices is what everyone is doing (innovation = think differently)
  • How to think differently
    • Strategic thinking
    • Creatively thinking
    • Reflective thinking
  • How can architects help in innovation (in my opinion how everyone can help)
    • Become a thought leader
    • Create a market place for ideas
    • Build collaborative partnerships
    • Build a plan/roadmap
    • Leverage other’s innovation
    • Think past technology
  • In the end innovation is about bringing value to your organization.