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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Strategic Technology Adoption Framework

Click below to watch the video

Strategic adoption of technologies, especially bringing in new ones as they become viable, is key to the success of every organization whether it’s delivering pizzas or launching a spaceship. It’s important to have a framework that enables the CTO or chief technologist to monitor and guide, what I call, the “technology intake” -- how new technology is identified, piloted, and brought into operational use in a slow, but steady manner. I call it a strategic framework for technology adoption.

To give you a concrete example of such a framework, let’s go with the pizza delivery business.  I am not an expert on pizza delivery, but I’d start by laying out a high-level view of the pizza ordering --> cooking --> delivery --> driver management processes, as you can see in the figure -- (if you stop and think about it, you can draw such a high-level process diagram for whatever happens to be the core business of your organization and it’s scalable from mom-and-pop operations to huge, multinational chains (just that the number of process areas may be more in a bigger organization).

Next I jot down the key technologies currently in operational use -- there is usually the information technology (IT) back-end systems and databases that span all process areas and then there are other technologies that are specific to the tasks being performed in each area. Most of these technologies also integrate with the back-end IT.

Finally, I lay out a technology timeline that goes through the sequence from (1) identifying new technologies, (2) exploring their use, (3) piloting the promising ones, and (4) putting into operation the ones that work.

As you may have guessed by now, the idea is to keep an eye on the technology landscape, relevant to your business, pick promising ones for piloting and implement those that are successfully piloted.

You can use the framework for allocating and managing the technology budget as well. You can look at budget allocated to each of the process areas.

On the “technology intake” side, you’d expect bulk of the overall budget to be dedicated to running current operations. Identifying and exploring relevant technologies should be a continuous, low-cost effort. Piloting will need some funds, and putting a new technology into operational use would cost even more.

Although it’s a simple framework, it can help you with the never-ending process of refreshing the technologies, including IT, that help run your business and keep it competitive.

Friday, May 16, 2014

How Bitcoin works?

No need to read, just watch this video :-)

Bitcoin is virtual money, but without any central bank or authority to maintain or vouch for your account. Instead it’s all done in a decentralized manner using cryptography.

It’s traditional to explain anything involving cryptography using Bob and Alice, so I’ll do the same. To send or receive bitcoins, both Bob and Alice will run a bitcoin client software on their computer and they will create bitcoin wallets -- each wallet is a collection of bitcoin addresses and each bitcoin address can hold some bitcoins.

Each bitcoin address is a unique public key that’s paired with its private key and you can create a bitcoin address for each transaction or use an existing address.

For Alice to pay Bob some bitcoin, Bob will send Alice a bitcoin address and Alice will use her bitcoin client to initiate a transfer from one of her bitcoin addresses to Bob’s. The client uses the private key associated with Alice’s bitcoin address to sign the transaction and sends it out to all the bitcoin miners on the network.

The bitcoin miners uses Alice’s public key to verify that the transaction is coming from a legitimate owner. They bundle this transaction with many others occurring within a 10-minute timeframe and try to add this new block of transactions to a public ledger, called “block chain”

.This step requires the software running on the miner’s computers to compute what is called a “hash” of the transaction block along with a number (called a “nonce”) so that the hash starts with a certain number of zeros. The more the number of zeros, the tougher the problem because the miners have to keep trying many, many “nonces” until they get a hash with the required number of zeros up front, that then has to be accepted by majority of the miners. As a reward for successfully adding a block of transactions to the blockchain, the block includes a transaction giving the winning miner a number of bitcoins (currently 25, but this will reduce over time).

Once a block of transactions is added to the block chain it’s computationally too time-consuming to alter it, which ensures that no one can double-spend bitcoins.

So, that in a nutshell, is how bitcoin works.

Here's some more information to help you...

The original paper by Satoshi Nakamoto: Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System

Dec 2013 Chicago Fed letter on Bitcoin: Bitcoin: A primer

To get started with using Bitcoin:Getting started with Bitcoin

To get started with Bitcoin mining: Getting Started from

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Wedding toast in English and Spanish (Un brindis de boda)

Note: This is a toast -- in Enlglish and then in Spanish -- to my daughter Ivy and son-in-law Arnau at their wedding reception in Barcelona at meeatings23   It was a great reception with friends and family and excellent food cooked by a chef in the kitchen next door to the room where we celebrated. By the way, my prepared text, shown below, does not fully match the video because I improvised :-)

English version

Good evening everyone. We are very happy to gather here today with our families and friends to celebrate the marriage of Ivy and Arnau.

I feel proud as the father of the bride to admire our beautiful daughter with her handsome husband.  

I remember as if it were only yesterday... when Ivy was 4 years old, one day she started reading a storybook to us and we were shocked because we didn't know how and when Ivy learned to read.  Ivy always loved reading and writing. When she was in elementary school, she liked to write stories and poems that I sent to the local newspaper where they would publish them. She is also very good with languages, which is coming in handy, now that she is learning Catalan and she already speaks Spanish quite well.

Ivy is extremely smart, creative, and talented, but what she lacked was confidence in herself. All that changed when she met Arnau during his visit the United States in 2011. After they got together, Ivy has blossomed into a mature, confident artist.

Which is why, we think Arnau is great for Ivy. He’s very considerate and thoughtful-- not to mention, extremely artistic and smart. Ivy and Arnau have been together now for over two years. They have embarked on a promising musical journey* together. 

With their love and friendship Ivy and Arnau can face anything that life may throw at them. And, if there are any problems, we’ll all be right there to help them through any difficult times.
* Anòmia -- a platform created by Arnau Sala and Ivy Barkakati in 2012 in Barcelona

En español:

Buenas noches! Gracias por venir aquí para celebrar la boda de Ivy y Arnau.

Me siento muy feliz mirar a nuestra linda hija y guapo yerno. Recuerdo como si hubiera sido ayer cuando Ivy tenía cuatro años y ella empezó a leernos un libro de cuentos. Nos ha sorprendido mucho porque no sabía cómo y cuándo Ivy aprendió a leer. A Ivy siempre le gustaba leer y escribir cuando era niña. Escribía pequeñas historias y poesías y los enviaba a un periódico donde los publicaban.

Ivy tenía mucha habilidad de aprender idiomas. Es bueno porque ahora está aprendiendo catalán y tiene mucha fluidez en español.

Ivy es muy inteligente, creativa y talentosa, pero lo que le faltaba era confianza en sí misma. Todo eso cambió cuando conoció a Arnau durante su visita a los Estados Unidos en 2011. Después se llegaron juntos, Ivy se ha transformado en una artista madura y segura.  

Por eso creemos que Arnau es genial para Ivy. Arnau es muy amable y atento, no por mencionar, muy artístico y inteligente también. Ivy y Arnau han estado juntos durante más de dos años ahora. Juntos han embarcado en un viaje musical** con un futuro prometedor.

Con su amor y amistad Ivy y Arnau pueden superar cualquier problema que les depara la vida. Y, si hay algún problema, todos estaremos ahí para ayudarles a través de cualquier tiempo difícil.
** Anòmia es una plataforma creada por Arnau Sala y Ivy Barkakati en el año 2012 en Barcelona

Toast -- Brindis:

Antes de terminar, quisiera proponer un brindis por la pareja más importante esta noche... si por favor me acompañad…
Before I close, may I propose a toast to the most important couple tonight... if you’d please join me...

Ladies and Gentlemen, here’s to a long and happy marriage life for Ivy and Arnau!

Damas y caballeros, brindemos por la felicidad y una larga vida juntos de Ivy y Arnau.

¡Por Ivy y Arnau!

Note: for more information on how I am learning to speak Spanish, please see: