slow blogging for remainder of July & Aug

July 13, 2007

Will be enjoying the warmth for a while. Hopefully my golf game will make a comeback 💡

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OECD Communications Outlook 2007 Is Out

July 13, 2007

The annual OECD Communications report is out. Finding the link to download the 316 page “free browse version” is kind of cryptic. Here it is “download free version of OECD Comm’n Outlook 2007“.

Happy Reading 🙂

OECD Communications Outlook 2007: “The OECD Communications Outlook 2007 presents the most recent comparable data on communication sector performance and provides information on policy frameworks in OECD countries. The report also provides detailed time series data of up to 10 years for a number of key indicators. In addition, for the first time, the 2007 edition includes analysis of the communication sector in five large non-OECD countries: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.”

(Via OECD – ICT.)


Blast From the Past: Presentation Notes for “eng-fizz-mentor-night-030408”

July 11, 2007

I just came across my presentation notes for a talk with UBC Eng Phys Students back in ’03. It’s cool to me ’cause I still get good reviews wrt/ presentation ( and it is 4 years old ). Most people like the Sedin Twins association. It’s still very relevant.  It is in bullet form

——————— notes below ———————

Why am I here today? Fizz a Defining Point

My Eng Phys years were a defining point for me.

I really learned how to learn.

I lost my fear of the inside of a computer

Streaming CCD data to memory.  Hardware and Software.

I could apply the knowledge.  It was a break through for me.

I resonated with the other eng phys students who had other hobbies.  We weren’t all school and no play.

In the boom years I decided to give back in the form of the Eng Phys Chair

I’m really happy that I did.  I’d do it again.

Your Future – The Knowledge Worker

You might as well read Peter Drucker’s books.  He defined your future’s working reality decades ago.  

I find it eerie to read him. So often right & decades ago.

He says knowledge workers —“Get the right things done”

I like to think of this as “In school I wrote tests designed by others and in the working world I design tests and then write them.  

The designing of the tests or “determining what is the right thing to do”? That is the really new thing for all of you after school.

the Eng Phys degree’s breadth of theory and practical knowledge develops a basis for the “the what is the right thing to do” skill.

On My experience as knowledge worker

I started at PMCS in 1989 when there were 18 employees.

Licensed to print money. At the peak we had 1800 employees, $700M USD revenue, greater than 60 % gross margin, and 30% after tax profits. We had almost doubled revenue for 8 consecutive years. ( this is achieved by a handful of companies every decade )

An e-mail will hit a PMC chip a few times (most people say 5 times) before it gets to any destination on the planet.

this is a very cool point to me. Our technology is used by a large % of the planet.

I’ve worked in almost every department in our company over the years. 

Product engineering

Design and Development

Product Validation – ( lab testing of products)

Marketing

Business Development ( Mergers, Acquistions, Investing, Partnerships, etc)

Product Strategy — I’m currently a CTO-like guy who works in marketing.

I left for a few years to work at a Venture capital Start-Up in the US called “Packet Engines”.  The product was Gigabit Ethernet Switches.  Packet Engines was acquired by Alcatel.

I came back to PMC.

What did I learn over the past decade?

Choosing a path – Theory

Strengths, Performance, and Values.

Play to your strengths — acknowledge your weaknesses and move on.  

Focus on being a star and not mediocre.

You’ve got to like it and be good at it.  It is gonna be your life.

You’ve got more control than you think.

Money is not the most important piece of the equation.   But it counts.

Projects need money to exist.  Often the money that you are paid is proportional to the amount of money a project gets.  It is a big reality.

Choosing a path – Very Challenging in Practice! 

My mentee, Doris Tang, quickly reminded me of one of the challenges with the following question.  She asked,  “If you seem to be happy in almost any role, how do you know what you want to do and if it’s right for you?”

I remembered many co-ops asking the same thing.

I’ll defer to an expert.  Peter Drucker says, in the essay – Know Your Strengths and Values – ” This is not a decision that most people can or should make at the beginning of their careers.  But most people, and especially highly gifted people, do not really know where they belong till they are well past their mid-twenties. ( ie 27 at the soonest)”

People really do take this long. 

Canuck’s Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi as examples

Do you remember them in their early-twenties?  

They were very highly skilled people who knew hockey was their game, but took many years to find their specific contribution.

Choosing a Path – Is Your Next Challenge.

Determining your core Strengths, Performance areas, and Values is your next learning challenge.

You all are equipped with immense skills now you have to apply them to yourselves as well.

Patience and Perseverance are required.  

Just like in the Dr Seuss Book “Oh the places you’ll go.”

On School — Math Rules!

No one knows what is gonna be cool in the future, but we can be certain that math will be involved.

<<Humour>> — Math 400 ( or was that 10k) will never be cancelled.  

Sad but true.  Academic hazing will continue.

It is a rite-of-passage and a reality.   The real world is humbling.

Math Defines Fizzers

I’ve come tell people that I have an applied math degree.  It describes my skills much better than an engineering degree. Engineer implies builder of tangible things to me.  I build knowledge.

Fizz Degree — Short term vs. long term

Is great long term, but has significant hurdles in near term.

For example at PMCS we rarely hire Eng Phys new grads ( guess less than 5%) yet there is a high percentage of people with ( guess around 25%) manager, director, VP, etc titles who have a Fizz degree)

A look around Vancouver’s tech scene says Eng Phys is great

MDA’s CEO, Creo founders, PMCS’s 1st CEO, there is a long list of success. 

 Based on dollar value this is more than 90% of BC hi-tech.

the challenge is getting in the door.  

Getting in the door requires real experience.  It is a “catch-22”. 

Co-op has made this a lot easier than in my day 

( humour —-that was when we walked to school and used slide rules )

To complete the long term vs short term picture note that complete short term thinking is BCIT.  

You’ll get a job quick and be stuck there forever.

Manners & Etiquette – Your Mom is correct.

Manners are a big deal

This is a universal truth. ( One can’t hide from this. )

No one wants to work with a “jerk”.  

Honesty, Integrity, etc.  all these kind of words will make or break your career, and or life.

PMCS CEO Bob Bailey is an excellent example.  He is exceptional in his people skills.  Add an anecdote here.

Communication Skills are big

All work is done with lots of people. A PMCS chip involves over a 100 people over it development lifetime. 

Other Realities – Career, Family, and Etc

Overall, it is important to know that there is more to life than just a career.

I believe that most fizzers understand this.  But be careful not to forget.  It is very easy to get caught up in being successful.

I forgot for a while and was forced to find out again.

I caught a virus somewhere amongst my hundreds-of-k-air-miles a few years back and have been able to work part-time since.  I’m improving all the time.  In person most people can’t see my illness.

I’m very lucky that I found time for family during my intense years.  I really need them now.

Conclusion – You’ll do it.

You are going to find your role in the universe in 5 years or so.

You’ll be awesome.  

Just watch. 

Perseverance, discipline, effort, and Patience are required.

{ You’re like the Sedin Twins … they’re gonna be great when they’re 27 😉  }

Extras – Time permitting

Iain’s Brief CV.

UBC Eng Phys ’89, SFU MEng ’97, McGill BSc Physics ’85 

<<humour>> almost all of 80’s in University 

co-donor for Eng Phys Chair

co-founder PMC-Sierra

co-winner Nodwell Prize

Director, Product Strategy @ PMC-Sierra 

technical and marketing position

specialize in starting new products and programs

mentor to junior staff in marketing

Like reading and sports – golf, hockey, skiing, water-sports, more

Middle of pack – You’re still 0.000? % of population.

I was not near top of Fizz Class based on marks – middle of the pack

But what does middle of the pack really mean in a class where everyone was the brightest kid in their high school year.  If not many years.

I find the working world mix is more like high-school than university. 

 Even in a “highly educated place like PMCS.

 


Giving Xubuntu a Try

July 10, 2007

DSC03197-boot.gif

I’ve been wanting to try out Linux for a while now, but I’ve never had a compelling reason to dig in. Turns out that my kids are the compelling reason. We just don’t have enough computers that can connect to the Internet, do homework, Chat on MSN, play games, etc. I’ve decided to try to resurrect old laptops with Xubuntu for kid use.

DSC03195-main.gif

So far they think Xubuntu is very cool. It looks good and has all the stuff they want: Firefox, Chat, image editing, wordprocessor, and office. It took “zero time” for them to figure out the basics. Firefox just works. Chat (via Gaim) was configured in seconds. Word processors were tested. They set up their own user accounts. They like this account feature that we use on our Macs. Their mission this week is to find Linux games. I’m thinking they’ll have good success.

Installation Notes

So far I’ve installed Xubuntu on an ancient Toshiba Portege 3110CT. I chose Xubuntu because it has very minimal system requirements and can run pretty well on old machines.

Xubuntu — Minimum system requirements

To run the Desktop CD (LiveCD + Install CD), you need 128 MB RAM to run or 192 MB RAM to install. The Alternate Install CD only required you to have 64 MB RAM.

To install Xubuntu, you need 1.5 GB of free space on your hard disk.

Once installed, Xubuntu can run with 64 MB RAM, but it is strongly recommended to use at least 128 MB RAM.

Installation was fairly painless. I downloaded an install CD image of the “alternate install for old systems” (did this via Torrent … was very fast … came down at my max download rate of ~10 Mbit/sec+), burned it to CD (via Disk Utility… I’m a Mac guy at home), and then ran the install. It took a couple hours. The only tricky thing was that I had to hold down “Shift-C” to get the 3110CT to boot from an external CD Drive. I found the notes on these sites helpful


NPU Positioning – Where do they win?

July 9, 2007

I’ve had negative views of NPUs for over a decade and I can’t shuffle them off. A decade ago when I was supposed to recommend an NPU vendor to acquire I couldn’t do it. I put my vote on QED which was providing general purpose RM5k and RM7k MIPS CPUs. I posted negatively on NPUs again just last week. This viewpoint kinda bugs me because “programmability of hardware” is a key seminconductor feature that system vendors are looking for. Why can’t NPUs cut it?

Read the rest of this entry »


Home Networking Problems – Linksys WRT54G version 5+

July 7, 2007

Question for readers. I have a Linksys WRT54G version 5 which goes down every other day, and requires power cycling to get back online 😦 I’ve just upgraded the firmware, but I’m not holding my breath. This thing seems cursed. My old BEFSR41 was rock solid. Why did I give it away?

I’ve been looking into “open source firmwareDD-WRT for my WRT54G router. It was looking like a great option until I found out that version 5+ is “neutered” (ie half the RAM and Flash). which doesn’t have enough room for the Linux software ( where I have I heard that before )

My question is — have any of you tried DD-WRT? The Static DHCP feature looks useful in the home. How about the micro version that is supported on my “neutered” version? Does it work? Is it stable? Or should I just buy a new router?


Summer Albums

July 7, 2007

eMusic just published a list of The 50 Best Summer Albums ( in their library )

I like it ’cause it’s a good survey of my music collection. M. Ward, Josh Rouse, Dinosaur Jr, Black Keys, White Stripes (not in Canada 👿 ), Belle and Sebastien, Pavement, Bob Marley, Pixies, CCR, Of Montreal, Dick Dale, Yo La Tengo, and more.

From a Summer Fun perspective I’d add Desmond Dekker’s – Black and Dekker Purists may like other DD albums … I don’t care .. this is too much fun.