Feb 26, 2011

Mind controls, controlling car with brain

Possibilities to undestand brains and use those for controls seems to go fast forward. Here's an example of controlling car with brain sensors. Quite impressive.

I could already see numerous ways to use these brain controls. The first usage most probably isn't to use it for driving a car, but there's lot of things where having brains as extra pair of controls would offer much better possibilities to control machines.

You can check more on their website http://autonomos.inf.fu-berlin.de/  

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Feb 24, 2011

Certificate of this and that

World is full of certificates. Everyone is offering a possibility to get certificate of this and that. These papers don't really count a thing. It doesn't prove that you really have learned something. It just says you have participated and in some cases you might had to even remember something if there was a test on the subject.

I have couple of certificates lying in my drawer, but I keep those safely there, that no one would ever really think I appreciate those. Still many of the courses I've got those certificates from have been valuable. There's been some excellent guys keeping those courses and I've really got the boost on start learning more on those subjects based on those ones. But I couldn't have said after any of those, that now I'm good because I'm certified for this and that .

I'm wondering why those certificates still exist? Are there people and companies who still appreciate those? Do some employers really check from resumes that this guy is certified for this and that, he or she must be good in this. And do some people still think that these certificates ads a value to their future possibilities.

from www.says-it.com
Maybe there are some things in work life that you need to be certified to do before you are allowed to do it. I would definitely want electrician or my doctor to be certified to do their job.The problem is that these are actually degrees, not certificates. Electrician and doctor needs to do hell of a lot of work before getting that diploma, but you can also get a certificate of something with only couple of days of training.

Even a degree doesn't prove that you are good, but you have had to go through at least quite many gating to get that degree. For certificates you need to maybe go through one loose gate. Often having a certificate works actually the opposite way. It tells that these guys are just the beginners because they appreciate the certificate and don't yet realize that real life is the one that counts.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Feb 22, 2011

For the sake of humanity, be aware and share

People in middle east and northern Africa are fighting with their lives at stake for democracy and better living conditions. This year will be written to history as year for horrible violence happening there. Hopefully also as victory for freedom and praise for high technology and globalization.

Without internet, smart phones and computers we wouldn't have as good understanding what we have about what's ongoing in these countries. This isn't for sure first time there's unimaginable violence ongoing to smother protests against governments, but this is maybe the first time we don't need to rely only on official sources for information. People in these countries have the possibility to store and share their experiences as they happen.

The fact that we in other countries see what's really happening doesn't itself have any value to the people who are suffering there, if we don't take these videos, stories and pictures seriously. The best thing for the people in these countries is that we share and talk about the horrible things ongoing there. Increasing public awareness about these will have an effect on politicians and that will eventually affect on governments and organizations who really can step in. And by sharing we support the people to have strength to fight for freedom.

Go out there and check for example what is tweeted about Libya from Trendmaps or follow the Al Jazeera live blogs about what is really happening there. There will be rumors and incorrect information flying around also, but images and videos rarely lie. Use your self-criticism, but at least be aware of the things blogged, tweeted or videos shared from these countries.

I believe these weeks are really turning points in the world we live in. Helping these countries to get more freedom will change the world for better place much more than the military actions ongoing in Iraq and Afghanistan will ever do. Just don't close your eyes on what's happening in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Morocco, Bahrain and all over the middle-East and northern Africa. It only takes couple minutes.  

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Feb 21, 2011

Adults should be entitled to play

I've noticed that when I'm sledding with kids, most of parents out there are really excited to get to play. Under two years old kids are brought to sledding with snow-racers and couple of sleds, just that there would enough equipment for all the adults who come with. Many adults really seem to enjoy that time out there.

Playing really refreshes mind. That's something all adults should be doing once in awhile. Sad thing is that it often requires kids before people for example go out to sled or play with snow. Too rarely you see people without kids having real fun outdoors.

Great thing about being parent that you can go out with your kids and really play. You can free yourself to the play state of mind and go play in parks and everywhere else.

I guess one reason that game consoles have come so popular nowadays is that those give the right to play. Everyone loves to play and game consoles like Wii and Xbox with Kinetic gives the right to play and look like a fool.

I don't know what I'm going to do when kids grow older and won't want to come to sledding in winter or creating sand castles in a sandbox in summer. Maybe that time I need to buy one of those game consoles myself too. For now, I'm just enjoying all the playing I can.  

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Feb 17, 2011

Learning and school, how they connect

Learning is what makes us human. To be able to learn from others, books, tv or anywhere is the most important skill in the world. Learning is discussions with others. Learning is connecting learning's from different sources to one. Learning is about exploring the stuff that interests you to explore even more.

School is often about remembering. Remembering what was talked in the class or lecture, remembering what the books said and remembering what school project was all about. School is about proving that you remember.

Often learning and school are not going hand to hand. There are so many subjects students don't really care about but have to study anyway to get the grades. I'm not actually criticizing that, certain things in life are boring and just have to be done. You need to brush your teeth twice a day and the same way you need to get your grades to get in to the next challenge.

I just want to give an advice to all you students: don't let schools to kill your enthusiasm to learn. Being in a high school, college, university or what ever place, you have once in a life time opportunity to have time to learn. It can be something totally different that your school is about. It can be learning new languages, learning to play guitar, learning to create web pages or learning how people gets motivated. Just use the time you have to learn. You won't have this much time for it before you retire.

I'm speaking from experience. Already in university I lost my passion to learn stuff and after university it took many years to get it back. In university I just did what I had to do to graduate. Then at work, of course I got to know how to do my job, but I'm now talking about learning the extra stuff. Those things that no one is asking you to learn, but you want to learn because of your own interest and because it makes you better person.

Most probably none of students will take this advice seriously. I bet I wouldn't have taken. I used most of the extra time in school times to sports and partying. Everybody just needs to learn from their own mistakes. If I got even one person to think about this, it was worth it.

And if you're not a student anymore, I hope you have your inner desire to learn. You won't have the luxury to use all the time you want for learning. You just have to use your time wiser.  

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Feb 15, 2011

Considering options for the future

I guess you all already know that it's going to be hard time for all nokians in Finland. There most probably will soon be announced major layoffs and I'm under thread as almost everyone else. 

I've been thinking my options for some time now and one of the options would be running my own thing or co-running with some other guys. That's a long term dream and wish, but it's always so easy to find reasons why it's not suitable. Think of the following for example.

I would like to run my own business..
  • but I haven't made any code for some time and hiring external coders makes starting new business bit harder
  • but I have 2 small kids and girlfriend at home and I'm the only income for the family now
  • but we have big mortgage I need to be paying off
Even though these are real, these are still excuses. Couple a days ago I decided to again think on the way Dan Pink's book told me, "change the word but to the word and", meaning that realize the obstacles you have and think again what you could do to overcome those .

So I decided to start one by one checking if those obstacles could be overtaken. That would give me more options on what to do in coming year or so. So I started to learn to code again. I'll use at least one hour each day to code and see if I'm still capable. I'm not expecting to be a world class coder until summer, but at least it will be easier to think what creating SW from my ideas would actually mean. I have to admit that I've really liked it so far. I did start easy, just to motivate myself.

I've learned that worrying won't bring any solutions. Being positive, doing, failing and learning will. So I'm going to be positively looking whatever challenges there will be ahead in coming year or so. 

Quite a self motivating speech. If you got this far, you might have been the only one. I just had to write this for myself.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Feb 8, 2011

Cool way of using games for electrifying our Finnish heritage

Kudos to National Library of Finland. They came up with cool way to use crowdsourcing in electrification of old Finnish newspapers. They are using games in making sure some of the words are correctly documented. Also people will correct words when they are playing.

Here's introductions to two games that can be played:

I tried both of those games and those words are tricky. It's not easy to actually know what 19th century letters and words actually are meaning and saying. I twice out of 9 tries got all words correct. So it's not too easy, but maybe it makes it bit more interesting to play.

It's fun to see if they really get players and if this really works. These games do have this bit nerdish feeling and I'm not sure if people really like to play these, but let's see. At least it's a fresh way to try to use the help of everyone in documenting our journalistic heritage to be in more easily findable and readable form. Thumbs up already from trying this one.

More information about the project can be found from Digitalkoot website also in English.  

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen

Feb 5, 2011

Will increasing use of social media guide us for healthier self-image?

This Ted talk about Social media and the end of gender got me thinking more widely about social medias affect on desired body-image. Increasing use of social media might help us to move slowly from admiring of always perfectly looking, well shaped and well trained body image to healthier view of a person.

Time spent on internet and social media is increasing and cutting time from old TV and magazine media. This old media is doing everything they can to make people look perfect. Meaning that people wouldn't have any flaws. Models in these picture and videos have perfect skin, hair, body and they are always dressed to coolest clothes. On the other hand social media also reveals true persons. Most of people have photos of themselves visible somewhere in the web. At least in their profile pictures, but increasingly in videos and pictures of real life situations.

People do want to look good and cool in pictures and videos, but most of the pictures and videos in social media are not photo-shopped and taken by professionals. Those photos reveal the real people. I think this will slowly turn the heads of all to realize that everyone has flaws and don't always look perfect.

Media houses and admiring the models and actors in TV, movies and magazines will not suddenly disappear. Social media is lot about sharing and big part of content shared is still produced professionally. Fan culture will always be there and there will always professional models and photographers. Maybe media will still start to turn for more to realistic and amateurish looks with models and content just because of those which are done by amateurs are getting more and more popular. Already now, in some cases it's hard to tell from some of the videos or photos that are those made professionally to look like an amateur or are those really amateur ones.

Even though problems accepting your self-image are often considered as problems of young and teenagers, I believe that most of people have some problems with it. Think about constant diet, gym and other seasons, when there's lot of people trying to do some good about themselves. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but the driver for healthier body, shouldn't come from outer pressure, but from internal drive to feel better. That's the only way to make it last.

Maybe it's just me dreaming, because of two small daughters at home. But I genuinely hope that my daughters would live in a world where not only the slimmest and model looking people would get admired.

Written by +Henri Hämäläinen