Category Archives: passion

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On technology and lifestyle

About my father

Perhaps he and I are more similar than we thought. I know I am cross
and irritable when my computer malfunctions, particularly when I need
it most, and profoundly grateful to those who help me restore it to a
working state. Yesterday it was my turn to rescue a computer, and at
no time have I been more grateful for the opportunity to be of help. I
saw my father’s face light up when the Vaio slept and woke at his
touch. I heard him laugh appreciatively as the Vaio chimed to indicate
an increase or decrease in volume. I felt the life flowing back into
him, the accustomed excitement returning to his voice. He lived,
loved, _was_ – and I was no longer afraid.

About passions

It is important to me to find a friend with similar dreams. I need
someone I can compete and cooperate with, someone who will help spur
me to heights of greatness. Hacking on Emacs is so much more fun when
I can tell stories about it – another reason why open source community
is so important to me. Trying to improve my teaching is easier when
there’s someone who’ll be ecstatic when I have great class days and
sympathetic when I wonder if we really make a difference.

I want international prominence, and by that I mean I want to
contribute to major projects and get to meet people who are really,
really into working with technology. I want to help people mix. I want
to promote technology. I want to promote _social_ technology,
technology that helps makes people’s lives better.

I thought about crossing fields and helping Eric out, but my heart’s
not really into graphics. I am, however, into funky devices, so am
exploring gesture-based Linux. wayv looks potentially useful, although
still a little raw. Last active development was 2001. Might go into
alternative input and output devices; close enough to my wearables
interest.

A little note about gadgets

I am not into gadgets for gadgets’ sake, and personally I find it hard
to understand why people are into the latest phones “just because”. I
don’t see technology as a way of separating myself from other people.
In fact, I prefer to see it as a way of connecting me to others. I
guess that’s why I prefer my unassuming headphones+audio getup to that
visually impressive but technologically aloof head-mounted display
that people like focusing on so much. With a HMD, other people focus
on technology. When technology disappears into the background, they
can focus on me – and I like that. ;) That’s why I take notes with my
computer under the table. My focus is on the other person, not on the
computer.

Advocacy plans

I will be home in a month!

I am overflowing with ideas I want to share with people, and I’m
planning to go to different places in the Philippines in order to do
open source and computer science advocacy.

  • I want to show people that you can be passionate and enthusiastic
    about computing, and you can share what you know even if you’re just
    talking about simple things.
  • I want to help start geek communities so that people know who’s
    working on what. It’s important for people to know whom they can ask
    for help.
  • I want to find out what issues teachers face in other schools and
    how teachers deal with those issues. I hope to share thoughts on
    teaching introductory computer science and making computer science
    fun and interesting for university students as well as elementary
    students.
  • I want teams from the provinces to perform better in national
    programming competitions.
  • I want to help show people that they can do funky computing stuff in
    the provinces so that they’re not always envious of Metro Manila and
    its high concentration of geeks. ;) I want students to be able to
    consider their local colleges seriously. I want to encourage people
    to hold their own technical sessions and regular meetings.
  • I want to show people that computer science isn’t just about money.
    It helps you learn how to think, and that makes it really useful.

I don’t need to speak to large audiences, although I can do that if
I’m part of a larger event. If I spoke in front of a large audience
all day, I’d bore them—better to reserve that for smaller audiences
so that I can adapt to people better. I don’t need a grand event. I
just need to be there, meeting people, asking questions, exchanging
ideas…

I can start with a small thing. I can talk about computing on XTs if
that’s all they have. I can assume zero background on Linux or even
computing if necessary. It’s just that I’m mobile (aka unemployed) in
a position to do something cool, and I can’t let the opportunity pass.

Summertime would be best. That would mean I’d have to raise PHP 10k
for airfare or so. There’s a Cebu Pacific Air thing running until
March 15, but I won’t get to talk to teachers and students then, so it
might be better to spend that time with my family, use all March to
prepare really good presentations, and head off during April so that I
can talk to lots of people.

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Creating Passionate Users: The importance of seduction and curiosity

“The importance of seduction and curiosity” is another great entry from one of my favorite blogs, Creating Passionate Users. Kathy Sierra writes:

Part of creating passionate users starts with building curiosity. Inspire them to want to learn, know, and do more.

I love making people curious about things, whether it’s Emacs,
Planner, computer science, or even far-out stuff like street
performance.

Kathy Sierra gives these tips:

  1. Be passionately curious yourself.
  2. Be seductive.
  3. Make them curious by doing something unusual, without an obvious explanation.
  4. Offer a puzzle or interesting question… without giving them the solution.

Be passionately curious yourself. Heck yeah. I love learning
about things. When people give me feedback on my talk, the first thing
that usually comes to their mind is my enthusiasm for the topic. Even
when I can’t go into a lot of detail about something like Squeak, they
pick up on the fact that I think it’s really interesting and something
worth being curious about.

Be seductive. I often do my Planner help that way when the
person I’m talking to expresses interest in learning Lisp. I’ll take
them partway to a solution and leave enough for them to figure things
out. Even with the hacks we put together for Planner, there’s always
that tantalizing glimpse of what _else_ could be possible.

Make them curious by doing something unusual, without an obvious
explanation.
This is why I’ve taken to starting my Knoppix
presentations with a Windows display. ;)

Offer a puzzle or interesting question… without giving them the
solution.
Oooh, still have to figure out how to do this one
properly.

Fun.

私は1匹の黒猫がその家へ走り込むのを見た。 I saw a black cat run into the house.

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Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals

“Big, Hairy Audacious Goals” is a catchy and inspiring way to think
about things. If you don’t have this book yet, you might want to look
for it next time you’re in a well-stocked bookstore:

Built to Last – Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

Jerry Porras and James C. Collins, 1994.

Here are some links for more information:

http://www.inspired.co.nz/Reading%20Room/Built_To_Last.htm

Book review / executive summary

Big Hairy and Audacious Goals for Business! (interview)

http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/earth/stories/s218498.htm

“We found that visionary companies often set these incredibly challenging goals.”

Goal Setting with Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs)

http://www.cool2serve.org/tools/pdf/BHAGs.pdf

A workshop outline—great idea for training

My BHAGs are:

  • Revolutionize computer science education by making it highly
    individualized and experiential.
  • Become a world-famous expert on creating systems for planning one’s
    life. Instead of pushing a particular methodology, I’d like to work
    with people’s current ways of planning, suggesting improvements and
    software/hardware to support their life.

What are yours?

昨日は、私のコンピューターが故障していたのです。 My computer was down yesterday.

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Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals

My Big, Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs) are:

  • Revolutionize computer science education by making it highly individualized and experiential.
  • Become a world-famous expert on creating systems for planning one’s life. Instead of pushing a particular methodology, I’d like to work with people’s current ways of planning, suggesting improvements and software/hardware to support their life.

I’m at the 1st Philippine Blogging Summit right now with my BHAGs firmly in mind. It’s _amazing._

The first person I talked to was J. Angelo Racoma, an old friend from my BBSing days. After chatting about blogging, talk turned to what we’re both up to. He told me about his work at http://i.ph . I told him about my BHAGs.

It turned out that his wife is into tutoring, and one of the things they’re planning to do in the future is set up a tutoring portal to help students, parents and tutors find each other. Neato. That looks like a great fit for what I want to do. =)

As I explained my BHAG for teaching and training to him, I realized that one of the things I really, really, really care about is quality assurance for teachers and tutors. I firmly believe that it’s not just about technical knowledge, but it’s also about teaching and communication skills. I don’t think we’re paying enough attention to that, and I think that’s a compelling sales point.

I also got to meet Gabriel Narciso. He started by asking me if I was still into open source. Of course! He then asked me if there was a native version of OpenOffice.org for Mac OS X. I remember OpenOffice.org used to support the Mac, so I should be able to find one. =) Good deed! I told _him_ about my BHAGs too. It turned out that he used to work at Franklin-Covey (as in, _the_ Franklin Covey franchise in the Philippines!), and is now into executive coaching.

Wow!

Let’s say that again. Wow!

_That’s_ why you should practice talking about your BHAGs until you can squeeze it into a small-talk conversation. Joey Gurango told us how wannabe entrepreneurs would give him two-inch-thick business proposals and expect him to have the time or interest in reading them. He said that’s entirely the wrong way to do that. You start with your 90-second elevator pitch. You get people interested. Then you go for your executive summary—the shorter, the better. You get people hooked. When you get them hooked, _then_ you hit them with the business proposal.

BHAGs work the same way. Refine them until you get a sound bite. Say it with confidence and passion. Get them hooked. Explain the rest over lunch another day!

May 8, 2012
It’s interesting to see how much has changed and how much has stayed the same. I’m no longer focusing on computer science education, although I’m delighted to see that self-teaching resources are becoming more popular. I’m still interested in productivity tools and systems. I care a lot about teaching and tutoring, and the need is even more concrete for me now because we’re seeing what J- and her friends struggle with. I have new goals around writing, drawing, and tracking. I still have to practise explaining them, though!

People with a passion…

According to Kathy Sierra at Creating Passionate Users (another must-read blog), this is what passion looks like:

../pics/passion.jpg

I want to make Planner users more than just “satisfied and happy.” I
want them to get an “I totally rock!” experience every time they start up
their Emacs, and I want them to do that every day. How can I help Planner users become even more passionate about planning and life?

Connect Our mailing list at [email protected] (http://lists.nongnu.org/mailman/listinfo/emacs-wiki-discuss) is our greatest resource. =) If you prefer to use Gmane (a mailing list->NNTP/blog gateway), check out http://blog.gmane.org/gmane.emacs.wiki.general . I plug it shamelessly in the tutorial so that newbies discover what a wonderful resource it is. I should cross-post interesting Planner-related entries to the mailing list for further discussion. I should also review the archives and help people find other people who plan the way they do.
Evangelize I love it when people find Planner so cool, they can’t wait to tell other people about it. =) Emacs is difficult to sell because it seems intimidatingly complex, but if I make the tutorials easier, Planner users will have an easier time getting their friends to understand why they really like Planner.
Spend $$ Although people don’t pay anything for Planner itself, they spend _time_ trying it out and learning how to do new things. I feel responsible to people for the time they put into it, and I want them to get as much value as possible.
Spend Time Thinking too much about planning leaves you with less time for doing things. With the Planner community regularly contributing fantastic ideas you can just copy into your planner config, you can constantly improve your planning without spending too much time tweaking the code.
Show off We get that kind of enriching discussion because we have a culture of showing off our improvements, even small ones. I love hearing stories about how people use Planner and how they fit it to their way of working.
Improve You can use Planner as a basic personal information manager, but because there’s so many features you can draw on and because you can tweak it as much as you want, Planner grows with you as you improve the way you plan.
Learn … and modifying Planner not only teaches you more about Lisp programming but also helps you reflect on how you plan!

Try out Planner today!

そのコンピューターは最新式だ。 The computer is up to date.

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