tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:/posts Grind & Love the Process 2017-09-26T13:13:20Z Pedro Sttau tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1167592 2017-06-26T07:03:50Z 2017-06-26T08:01:19Z The Value of a Long life

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a video of Bernie Sanders campaign that really touched me during the elections, as I rewatched it  a thought occurred to me; Bernie Sanders is 75 years old, he has lead long life of activism, consistently standing by things he believed in never shying away from a battle no matter how hard it was.

So at a time when convention expected him to sooth down, he ran for the toughest job on earth, and nearly won! 

When I look at the way society sees the contribution of our senior citizens, I realise that we have a huge problem that is only likely to get worse as the life expectancy becomes longer. Its a widespread cultural problem that will inevitably lead to an almost greater economical disaster if things don't change.

This idea that the value a person can contribute as they become older declines is so confusing to me when experience it is essentially the most valuable trait in a professional. This line of thought defies logic, especially in industries like the one I operate in where for some reason youth is over hyped and experience is no longer seen as cool.

Here are two wonderful examples of a life with purpose that will probably make you fear old age a lot less.



Experience cannot be bought nor faked, at iCarAsia we value and welcome experience, if your a senior techie, we hire and value people like you.
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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/649148 2017-04-20T07:18:53Z 2017-05-19T05:30:55Z The unglamorous volatile nature of work

I always find it interesting how market demand for a specific job in a particular time influences the perception of how good a job really is. In the late in the 80's, before the World realised how twisted and fragile the financial market was, a job in Finance had a very different social connotation than it does today. 

As things evolved and people became more aware of how toxic that industry was and perception changed. Suddenly working as a broker in an investment firm was no longer viewed as something that was positive to society, over time this has not changed much and it is still common to hear that It takes a "especial kind of person" to be in Finance. 

Whether this is true or not is besides the point, what is interesting to me is how external circumstantial factors have the potential to impact and influence the perception of how valuable, respectful, or even worthy a profession is. We see this effect wide spread in every industry today. The evolution of software engineering as a profession is no exception. 

Currently, there is a high demand for software engineers, this is mostly driven by microeconomics; supply and demand, there is scarcity of a skill-set that the market requires that raises the value of the job resulting in a shift in the social perception of that profession. 

As with most things, this will change, and perhaps the moment will come when artificial intelligence is able to create mathematical paradigms without Human Intervention. If (when) that happens, the creative aspect of being an IT engineer will progressively subside and be replaced by a more "supportive" function, filling the gaps of the few things machines are not able to do independently. 

Creativity meets repetition

While this future is not too far ahead, we are not quite there yet, but more and more we are living in a time where the symbioses between Technology and Humanity is making one or the other indistinguishable, the need for an underlying "invisible" technological layer that is able to support the next generation of Human Beings is creating a high demand on Human brain power, there has never been a  better time to be an IT engineer. 

It is not that the profession has dramatically changed, but external circumstances certainly made a dramatic effect on what being an Engineer is all about and how valuable the profession is to Society. 

This is perhaps best illustrated by the perception of how much creative work is done by a software engineer, I will try and stay away from dwelling too much on the concept of creativity itself, as it is a highly subjective and debatable, so let's assume that in this context creative work is the process and the ability to creating things with little or no restraint and/or obstacles that are not directly related to the process of creation itself. 

Breaking Down Creativity

There is an image imprinted in our minds of an engineer sipping coffee from a cup in a trendy "cafe" changing the faith of an entire industry from his laptop. While it is not completely infeasible that this could ever happen, the reality is that as with most professions there is a certain conventional labour that makes up for most of the work done by a software engineer. 

It can start with the restrains imposed by a coding frame-work, to a set of conventional rules, tests and protocols that need to be followed in order to create something. More often than not, it is a tedious process that is more acquainted with the labour of a factory worker than the creative work of an artist. 

My Grandfather was a writer and I can still recall my Mother mentioning how he dreaded the process of writing, it took an tremendous amount of discipline and will power to get through the creative process. It is not a spontaneous feverish process born our of passion, creative work is a result of careful planning backed-up by a very clear vision and the means to deliver it. 

Creative thoughts lead to plans that may or not happen in the future, only actions are able to create things, getting the creative process from a thought to reality takes rigorous labour and structure, this is where great ideas come to die and where entrepreneurs tend to fail.

Software Engineers have the potential to create great things, but assuming that it happens overnight in an eureka moment is not realistic. I used to believe in sporadic moments of genius and brilliance until I came across Daniel KahnemanThinking, Fast and Slow publication. (also available in Audible)

Conditional Autonomy

And then there is the autonomy, the painful reality is that, the luxury of deciding on the end to end scope of a project is only possible when someone has no stakeholders to respond to, perhaps in the very early stages of a Start-up when there is no board or Angel Investors. 

The false perception that a person can determine its own destiny working for someone else creates a big problem; i.e. a wave of talented self-driven engineers are put in root of collision with a corporate industry that is not willing to be dictated to, in the end, the result is usually frustrating mess where expectations fail to meet reality from both ends. 

Now the problem is not the absence of autonomy, the main issue is around what autonomy really means in the real world. As with most areas in life, it usually means that unless funding is not a problem, the person that gets to sign the check is the person that makes the final call, this may seem as logical at first, but in the mind of a young passionate engineer or entrepreneur this usually comes as a shock. 

Great ideas need a spark to start but they also need money to run, and this is where a conditioned autonomy takes over. 

Fixing education

This of course has a much wider impact, as it will change the decisions students will make as they go through the education system creating a chain effect further down the line that leads to discrepancies between the talent available at any given time and what the market is demanding, purely because we are basing career decisions on perception and by present circumstances steered by a fragile and volatile market. 

So the speed in which things change know-days demands for a better predictability model in place to help understand what are the skills that the market will need in the future.

A good solution would be to focus on the foundations of learning and accept right from the start the reality that the market is always going to change and that education should be about giving the structure and the tools to embrace change, not fight against it.

This does not mean that we should ignore specific talents and desires of a particular individual, but it does put in question a tendency for an overly specialisation at an early age. Assuming that a teenager has enough data and experience to decide the career before having ever had an exposure to it on the first place is not logical. 

The bigger the impact of this investment is the less likely the student will be to change its major even if there is a realisation that it was a poor choice or that there may another opportunity that brings more advantages long term. 

We need to refocus on the basic foundations that enable flexible growth. The ability of a person to change career at 40 years old needs to be something that not only is possible but supported academically, accepting and embracing change is a principle that needs to be set in students early on as opposed to committing to a single discipline for 4-5 years and finding out that in the Word has changed.

Adaptability and the ability to learn and process information is the new discipline. I am not proposing we should turn everyone into the "jack of all traits", but specialization too early on without "learning how to learn" is not the right way to go. 

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/1147721 2017-04-20T05:41:17Z 2017-04-21T10:27:55Z Shared Risk Management

I wrote this post over 4 years ago while working for Laterooms. The idea was to publish it in Laterooms engineering blog but for some reason or another it never happened. The intention was to document the way we managed risk in an Agile environment and how the technique we describe and experimented with impacted delivery.

Problem Statement 

Our team was finding a great number of unmitigated issues mid-sprint that had not surfaced during sprint planning, not because the planning sessions were not being rigorous, but because risks were not being identified and mitigated ahead of time.

We needed to get a better understanding of what types of issues and to what degree they were affecting our progress. Up until this point, as a Product Owner I had owned our RAID, logging all of the risks and issues, qualifying them for impact and trying my best to mitigating them to the best of my abilities.

The more we got entrenched into Scrum, the more I realised this was an agile anti-pattern, no individual person is able to identify and mitigate a wide range of potential risks that affect a product team. Identifying and mitigating issues had to be made a collective goal, shared and owned by the entire team.

Qualifying Risks and issues

The first step was to make sure all of the risks and issues affecting the team were logged, by collaborating with the team, using our Systems Context diagram to map out all of the different systems surrounding the team we quickly realised that we had a lot more risks that we initially thought.

We now needed a way to qualify the risk and issues, so we decided to use a common scale that would allow us to overlap risks and issues with velocity, providing the a full picture of how RAID impacts the teams progress.

Improved Visibility

Our Risks and issues board is visible to the team at all times, we booked in a weekly stand up where the entire team goes through the risks inventory and assess the impact and probability of each risk.

When Risk Management becomes a shared activity, it is owned by the team and becomes part of the organic process. Teams get used to looking at the information radiator and begin to use it as an indicator of what is ahead.

We use our risk board similarly to what the Dashboard of an airplane, our dashboard gives us a visibility of any potential risks ahead of our journey giving us time and space to make informed decisions on what to avoid any potential obstacles/dangers that lie ahead.

We then surfaced the risk board in a burn down chart where X is the effort required to mitigate the risks, y is the estimated loss should the risk convert into an issue. The key objective is to use this tool to prevent risks from becoming issues that would inevitably hurt delivery. 

Observation

Unsurprisingly, shared risk management clearly showed that we have a lot more issues impacting progress than we thought. Most issues have dependencies that have been identified, since we now know ahead of time are, and how they impact velocity, we now know what areas we need to focus on.

Benefits

  • Made all of the issues impacting the teams progress visible,

  • Surfaced risks that would have gone unnoticed,

  • Able impact of issues and unmitigated risks on Velocity,

  • Highlighted recurring areas where dependencies emerge,

  • Improved sprint Planning – Less unknowns,

  • Increased the efficiency of the mitigation of risks as they are identified when the probabilities still low. 


I highly recommend that you checkout the Laterooms engineering blog, particularly if you are interested in the implementation of Elastic Search
For further reading Elastic, the iCarAsia Engineering team has a great series of posts that cover how use Elastic Search to improve our consumer experience.
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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/933134 2015-11-13T09:59:30Z 2015-11-13T10:00:31Z Portent

Portent - Short Film Teaser from Phil Arntz on Vimeo.

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/900916 2015-09-03T12:36:42Z 2015-09-03T12:36:42Z One Civilisation & One Species

It has been a long time since I have written anything worth while reading, but as I stare at a picture of a young little boy who's beautiful lifeless body washed up by the shores of Turkey I can't help it but feel a sense of despair and unbearable impotence. I have a son, just like him, he looks just like him, he dresses just like him, both loved, both with their entire lives ahead of them. 

They are the same

This can't be it for us as a civilisation, this needs to be turning point where we fundamentally realise that nations and countries are nothing but made up imaginary boundaries made by a pre-historic civilisation that fails to understand that evolution is not about technological progress but about the ability to destroy all things that make what should be one into many. 

Progress is understanding that what makes us different from one another is what makes us so similar. There should be no religion or country or boarder that makes any Human Being feel unwelcome in his own planet.

I feel such uncontrollable grief and sadness that needs to lead to something. 

I live in a Muslim country. I'm not Muslim, the friendships and bonds I have created with many people I have met and that have welcomed me into their country irrespective of our differences has made me a better person. The more I learn about the local culture the richer I am. 

How much richer would Europe and the World be if they did the same?

Action needs to be taken. 

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/686070 2014-05-11T02:11:02Z 2014-05-11T02:59:57Z Good old paper

I think old age may finally be starting to take over me; little by little all my digital gadgetry is having to live side by side with paper notebooks, magazines, post-its, sketch-books. My decision to go "full-scale" digital was made consciously last year, mostly driven by convenience and efficiency. It seemed so logical, as cloud computing took over with its wide range of fully synchronized productivity tools it did not seem efficient to keep using paper, so I progressively moved into digital and started using Google Keep for all of my notes, Google Draw for diagrams and sketches, all my magazine subscriptions moved to on-line, the only thing I did not do is give up books,  actual books, not that nonsense fakery you download into a Kindle device. 

A couple of months into the change  I started noticing that my ability to retain information seemed to be getting impacted by the fact that my mind had its own way of interacting with data on a digital device. It is as if my brain labels anything that is digital as something that is either temporary or unnecessary to retain and it makes sense if you think about it; the sheer volume of information coming in from a smart phone warrants some sort of an organic filtering, and not just for efficiency purposes it is also part of a defence mechanism, a logical consequence of the self preservation nature of our brains that do anything possible to retain energy and spend it only when strictly necessary. 

When I write something on paper it somewhat materializes whatever I am doing into something palpable and therefore real, my eyes can see it, I can touch it, it is materially present. Its curious that even in my profession I see the same pattern where there is an ever so present need to materialize the intangible; for those of you familiar with scrum, the sight of post-its being moved and posted on walls by teams of people is quite a familiar sight. 

There is definitely something to be said about being able to get a hold of something is actually there, moving it around, writing on it or passing it over to someone else, one of my team members used to say that as he moved a ticket from "In progress" to "Done", there was a sense of accomplishment very difficult to obtain on a digital device where everything is transitory by design. 

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/686337 2014-05-04T14:06:54Z 2015-05-17T03:58:56Z The convention of time

Ever since I was a boy I have been interested in the concept of time. One of my favourite artists has always been Salvador Dali, I used to spend a long tie looking at the distorted clocks of "The Persistence of Memory" as if they were melting from the blazing heat of the desolated desert. Later as I understood Dali was portraying the effect of the passage of time in a dream state, where time is present in somewhat of a liquid form, without a definable shape form or structure.

Today I came across a fascinating lecture by one of my favourite philosophers Alan Watts  exploring the artificial social institution that is time and the way it impacts our lives. 



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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/643467 2014-05-01T13:46:53Z 2014-08-30T07:49:13Z Google+ does not understand context

Google Plus is a beautiful product, it was built exactly the way it should have, fully integrated with all of the other Google tools, effortless in removing all barriers from users to connect and share content, a logic approach from a logical company that does not do anything out of pure chance. 

In Google’s ideal world everything is interconnected, all systems are intertwined aware of one another very much like a living organism where separate parts of the system work together with the same end goal, the problem is that the principle behind the product is based on the assumption that Humans beings value convenience and utility equally on all aspects of life, after-all it worked for search, mail, and mapping, why wouldn't it work for social?

Human Interaction is not as linear as it may seem. Context is important. Once a user goes into Facebook he/she switches off work mode and the context changes completely, users are surrounded by people they know and care about (well most of the time) in an environment that does not resemble anything that can be connected to work.  

This is precisely where things turn sour for Google Plus as it is not recognizing that context affects the way users interact with a system, and so the biggest strength of the product, its close integration with all the Google ecosystem, becomes its biggest weakness. Work and leisure may be all part of who I am, it is important for me that a boundary between both parts of my life to exist.

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/680960 2014-04-27T10:32:10Z 2014-05-01T04:24:45Z Django is not Python

I have noticed an interesting phenomenon of young software developers that start learning a specific coding language from a Framework rather than mastering the language on the first place, to me, it's almost like knowing how to cook a recipe without having tried the ingredients first; it all goes well if the process is seemingless, but the moment there is an exception things can turn sour very quickly. 

Currently Django is my Framework of choice. Not only does it use Python, but despite all of its flaws it does a fantastic job in maintaining some of the principles that make Python so great (i.e. DRY) while speeding up the development process by adding structure: MVC, great DB handling and design. "The Web Framework for perfectionists with deadlines"

The problem is that convenience can be a dangerous thing; as with most Frameworks it is very easy to get lost in abstraction of all that magic that happens under the hood. It is terribly addictive, when I am developing on Django I don't really feel like I am coding at all, it feels like  operating a factory line joining parts together, by the time I a done its difficult to know/remember how I got there. 

For example Classes in Django have very little resemblance to Python Classes. From a configuration perspective, it is far from ideal, but if a developer is not fully versed on Python before dwelling in the "Merlin World" of Django, looking a the way that Django converts strings into objects for example may look like an act of Magic. 

Django is a fantastic tool used by Python developers to speed up the development process, I do not recommend it as a starting point to anyone wanting to learn Python. 

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/649481 2014-04-22T12:44:09Z 2014-04-27T15:37:51Z Mediacity Timelapse

This was the last Time-Lapse I shot while living in the UK, all of the footage was shot in Media City, most of it from my balcony overseeing the BBC Studio Complex. It was shot for about 3 months as it is somewhat challenging finding decent weather up in the North. All of the footage was taken with the Canon 550D with various lenses, from a wide angle lenses to my personal favourite the Canon 24-105 mm EF f/4L IS USM.

Moonlight Breeze from Pedro Sttau on Vimeo.

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/679782 2014-04-21T15:09:46Z 2014-04-23T02:42:45Z Kepler 186f

A clear sign that I am terribly behind on my usual readings is that I only came across the latest publication Kepler 186 today. As a reference point, Kepker 186f is the first planet with a radius similar to earth ever been discovered in a habitable zone. That is to say that the distance between the planet and the star that it is orbiting puts it in an area that could theoretically sustain life. It's worthwhile notinh that the concept of of life needs t be put in context to the environment that we are observing. 

"Being in the habitable zone does not mean we know this planet is habitable. The temperature on the planet is strongly dependent on what kind of atmosphere the planet has," Thomas Barclay

While Kepker 186f is close enough to its star to make it possible to have water in liquid form, nothing is really known about the atmosphere or composition of the planet at this point. This is a major milestone, not so much because of the discovery of the plant itself, but for what it means; It proves that planets of similar size to Earth in habitable zones exist, and considering Kepker is orbiting an M dwarf, the likelihood of other planets orbiting similar stars in habitable zones is very high. 

"M dwarfs are the most numerous stars," said Quintana. "The first signs of other life in the galaxy may well come from planets orbiting an M dwarf."


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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/679390 2014-04-20T14:23:51Z 2014-05-02T13:09:40Z The melody of long lasting organizations

Today I came across a fascinating talk by Keith Yamashita on what great visionary leaders and CEO's have in common, how they use their power to envision what does not yet exist, and how they create the culture for their organisations to succeed and endure. Keih worked along side some of the most prominent leaders in the Valley; during the early days at NeXT with Steve Jobs helping to materialize Steve's ideas and Vision, and later alongside Mark Zuckeberg on Facebook. 

It was so interesting to get the perspective of someone that was there as these leaders were making critical decisions that would affect the outcome of an entire industry. Keith has this special demeanor that makes it possible for him to connect with an audience at a personal level making his talk so captivating.

The process leaders use to set-up an organization to deliver a vision always captivated me. I like the idea that the Culture of a company sets the tone from which everything else emerges, creating this self-sustained organism that outlasts its creator. Keith made this brilliant analogy between a melody created by Tchaikovsky - The Nutcracker Suite first premièred in 1892, and its later reinterpretation by Duke Ellington in 1960. While the composition technically is different, there is a consistency to the tone of the melody that resonates the same tone as the original composition. "A Strong Character and well-defined essence can remain true even if their expressions change over time" Keith Yamashita 

All of this reminded me of a this really great talk that I listened to about what it means to build a long lasting company, and how setting the right cultural tone can make a huge difference further down the line. Recently I have had the pleasure of seeing this first hand in the organization I work for, the impact of having inspiring leadership in place is remarkable.

It is curious to me that Apple is often given as an example of a company with a very strong culture, however it does seem very much like the company's culture is still reliant on Steve Job's charisma and has not yet been able to move forward despite Tim Cook's efforts. One of the traits of long lasting companies is that the culture that was set by the founders tends to act as an independent organism that sets the environment for the organization to thrive.

I am not entirely sure this is the case for Apple, the fact that Steve Jobs felt the need to leave a product development plan for the next generation of products  lead by a leader that he meticulously chose is not very comforting. In an organization with a strong prevalent culture, the organism should be able to take care of itself. 

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/649150 2014-04-19T16:18:16Z 2014-05-02T13:09:43Z Candileer Overlooking Singapore

I can't believe how long it's been since I have added new photos to my portfolio. Last week I took my old Canon 550D for a ride and decided to take one of my favourite lenses of all time, the little plastic all purpose - 50mm canon L Lens

There is something so raw and slick about this lens, its fast, lightweight, but it outputs a real clear and nice image. Half way through my walk I regretted not having brought a wider lens, but it would not have done me much good without a full frame sensor behind it. 

I only managed to take a couple of shots, but had lots of fun with the old Rebel 550D, what a fantastic camera!

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/647922 2014-01-30T02:25:35Z 2014-04-18T11:59:09Z The Reunion

Since I have moved to Singapore I have been falling in love with the Asian culture again. Interestingly, while I lived  most of my youth in Asia,  I may have been too young to appreciate the subtleties of life, because this experience has been so much more fulling and rewarding. 

Singaporeans truly understand what living should be all about, and while it is true that they work extremely hard, perhaps even more so than in most European countries, there is also joy, a lot of joy. Locals seem to have this distinct ability to appreciate the small things in life, I see this everywhere around me, from enjoying a simple meal with friends to just appreciating a walk around the beautiful City, whatever they chose to do, they seem to be in the moment making the best of it.

There is also friendship, honesty and family values . In Singapore, people still believe in all of these things, and one can't help it but wonder whether the reason why the city has flourished the way it has is really down to it being a business haven, or that the people that make Singapore what it is created an environment for any seed that is planted to grow and flourish.The more I am exposed to Singaporean culture, the more I believe the later is the true reason why Singapore is so special. 

I was talking with my friend Clarence Lin about what the Chinese New Year, and he sent me this video that explained that the Reunion meant for Singaporeans. There is something so genuine and and moving about this video that I could not resist sharing with you, it truly resonates the way I see Singapore and how magical it is. "kung hei fat choy"! 

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/599439 2013-09-06T06:30:17Z 2014-05-02T13:10:02Z Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden park

Very short video of what it felt like living in Didsbury. I had this material to process for ages, it was never meant to become a short visual film, but going though some of the shots, it felt wrong not to share them. Also, as I was going though the source footage with my editor, everything started coming together rather nicely. I feel the end result is a very good representation of how wonderful and magical Didsbury is. 

Blissfull Didsbury from Pedro Sttau on Vimeo.

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/596537 2013-09-05T13:40:07Z 2014-04-18T11:59:20Z The Bliss of Didsbury

A year and a half ago, I had the pleasure of living in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been in. Didsbury is a pitoresc village/small city part of Lancashire, about 5 miles away from the City Centre of Manchester. There is a blissful harmony that is difficult to explain surrounding Didsbury. It does not have the downsides of a of city, but has everything that modern life has to offer; shops, restaurants, parks, hospitals and schools. 

The entire area is surrounded by nature, giving it a sense of serenity and tranquillity that stretches deep down from the parks to the main road. Of all the wonderful places Didsbury has to offer, the one that probably marked me the most was the Fletcher Moss Botanical Garden park. Natural parks around the UK are renowned for their beauty and how well they are preserved, but this one is something else. 

A perfect balance between Man's craftsmanship and what happens when it is aligned to preserve and protect nature. I will never forget my long walks in the park after work, feeling that cold smooth breeze in my face while looking at a crispy golden sunset in the background.

I really regret not having taken my camera out more often, but I had just moved to the UK and had too much going on. I still managed to get the camera out of the bag in a few afternoons, and below is the result. 

Click to download/view this photo. 

The above shot was taken deep inside the Fletcher Moss, a solitary carving in a tree facing the sun rise, almost as it was carved intentionally in that place, with the initials facing the sun rise, letting the sun smoothly strike the back of the tree during sun-down. The photo is slightly over exposed, but that's exactly how it felt when I was shooting it. 

Click to download/view this photo. 

This shot was taken right at the entrance of the Park, entering from Parrs Wood Road, probably my favourite shot of all of them, not just because it was a gorgeous sunset, but because it was taken instinctively; camera in full manual, almost got the exposure right on the first click, barely thinking about settings, that's how photography is supposed to be, instinctive, raw and visceral! It turned out slightly underexposed, but looking at it, its exactly as it should be.

Click to download/view this photo. 

The location of this next shot is only a few meters away from the lake, a huge field that surrounds the park with tall leafy trees around it. A narrow pedestrian path circumvents this area, leaving a massive area right at the centre of the park with wild, untreated, beautiful vegetation.  

It feel as if Didsbury was not part of Greater Manchester at all, no cars or any sign of the modern World can be heard in this location, the sound of the wind going through the trees, flowers and grass is about the only thing that can be heard here. This photo is straight from the camera, no grading or editing done whatsoever. 

Click to download/view this photo. 

Unfortunately I did not do a very good job in capturing the wonderful atmosphere around this area. It was very autumnal scene with wonderful yellow leafs scattered though the floor, contrasting with the dark green vegetation around the park. A serene bench discretely placed between two trees made this irresistible to shoot. 

Speaking of benches, most of them are actually named on behalf of people who passed away, the names are carved in beautiful metal plates on the benches. I am not entirely sure if this is common practice in the UK or unique to Didsbury, but ever-time I sat in them I could not help it but feel I was in good company. 

Didsbury is truly  remarkable place, and if I ever live in Manchester again, I know exactly where I am going to be living. If you are interested in more shots from the Fletcher Moss Park, check out this post post that I published during my first couple of weeks in Didsbury

For more information about Didsbury, I suggest you visit the "Didsbury Life" site, it is a really great resource for anyone planning to move into Didsbury, it was really useful when we moved in and I still check in on once and again. You should also follow Helen on Twitter, she does an amazing job keeping Didsbury residents updated with community news and events.

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/586726 2013-07-02T05:49:23Z 2014-04-19T16:21:36Z Selling out

A couple of years ago when I first heard that Google had acquired Aardvark, it was immediately apparent, at least for me, that it would not be long until yet another start-up would be swallowed by the all mighty Matrix, stripped of its soul and purged into the oblivion!

A bit overly dramatic, but the point is, nowadays big companies do not seem to be shopping around for technology anymore. In fact, companies like Google, Twitter, Yahoo could not care less about the underlying technology of small companies.

The product itself is seen as nothing more than a showcase for the Human potential behind it, as the probability that any small enterprise can become a real threat is very slim, not because small organizations cannot triumph, but because it is increasingly more challenging for them to resist the temptation of selling out when that ever so tempting big pay check is put in front of them.  

This is part of a wider challenge in the industry.

It is ever so common to see start-ups that aim to get sold at some point, and this is by far one of the biggest threats to innovation that is plaguing entrepreneurship. Starting something with the intend to sell it further down the line diminishes the level of commitment that is required to truly move something forward.

This stales innovation as anything with the potential of creating disruption gets absorbed into a larger organization, that ultimately, is not very interested in radical change.

Most of the established successful companies made it because they were lead by founders that truly believed in what they were building, they were passionate, obsessed and resilient to anything that got in their way. Once they finally made it, they understood the power behind sustained focus, which is why these companies actively pursue and any pocket of innovation that might be rising around them.

Companies like Google know this too well, afterall, they were born out of these seeds themselves and they know that if given the right time, their most fierce competitor might be born out any of these small pockets of innovation.


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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/581505 2013-05-28T15:27:55Z 2016-10-19T10:06:50Z The Graceful and Inspiring Leadership of Matthias Schmelz

A great Man once said that kind that “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Mark Twain, very few people I have come across in my lifetime were able to reinstate every positive teaching that I was taught as a child. Basic fundamental things like treating people as you would like to be treated, establishing trust through actions not words and giving without any intend to receive anything back. 

As we grow older all these things seem to progressively fade away as “life” takes over. The values are still present, but somehow become less important when challenged with the adversity of the day to day life. 

This is of course an excuse, an easy root, and it is fundamentally wrong. I find that strong core values are by their very nature resilient to external adversity, they withstand persecution, aggression, and even the most vile of wars

I believe that people by nature want to do the right thing, even in the darkest of times, they will follow a leader that is driven by the right cause and the right principles. People follow ideals, not people. 

Matthias resembles all of this. He understands that great Leadership is about establishing the right path for people to follow. Its not about forcing people down any specific root, but about laying the right foundations for people to “follow their bliss”. 

Matthias Schmelz always wanted to be a writer all of his life. Its very interesting to hear him talk about how his journey has lead him to his childhood dream. His story resonates other stories from truly successful and people, that set out on a journey slightly different from the destination that they hoped for, and end up exactly where they dreamed in the first place. 

I first met Matthias back in 2010 while working for a Digital Agency. Matthias was one of those clients that gave me so much more than I gave him. Being inspired by people you are doing work for and working with is very rewarding, this was without a doubt one of those cases. 

Our work relationship very quickly developed into friendship, and a couple of months later, Matthias invited me to join him with his family and friends in an amazing adventure through Baltic's enigmatic destinations on board the Wind Star Cruise ship

During this time, I had the honor of meeting some of the nicest people I have ever met in my life. Unsurprisingly, Matthias’s family was as gentle, kind and magical as Matthias. There was just something intangibly special about everyone, from his beautiful wife to his gorgeous children. 

I also had the pleasure of meeting Mathias’s Mother, and it became very easy to understand why he became the Man that he is today, there was this contagious aura of kindness and wisdom around her that deeply touched me. 

A couple of months prior to the cruise trip, I experienced the same feeling while visiting the Rainbows Headquarters in Lisbon. Seeing the way Matthias treated his employees was a breath of fresh air in a time when the relationship between employee and employer is increasingly more abrasive and less meaningful. 

As people passed by us in the elevators, hallways, and the companies canteen, they looked at Matthias with a certain reference, there was respect and admiration, but there was also inspiration and a sense of connection. This was not an imposed or mandatory reverence, it was genuine recognition and appreciation. 

It was becoming increasingly apparent to me that Matthias was one of those rare inspiring leaders that Jonathan Perks talks about that aligns all of the principles of "inspiring leadership" into his actions. 

Inspiring leaders always look for the best in people. They inspire staff to be the absolute best they can be, and they do this by aligning their actions to how they think and what they say. Inspiring leaders truly care for the people they lead. People can tell if someone genuinely cares for them, Matthias and Fernanda care about the people that work along side them, making Rainbow much more than a company, its a place that enables and empowers people to achieve their dreams. 

A couple of years have past since our wonderful voyage together through the Baltic sea, and since then, Portugal has been challenged with the biggest economical recession since the 70s. 

In a time when established companies are closing down every day, Matthias and Fernanda keep driving and pushing the company forward. To survive and flourish in times like this, it takes more than leadership, it takes inspiring Leadership. 

Matthias is a friend, but he is also a source of inspiration, to me, he resonates what a caring leader should be like and exemplifies what can be achieved when someone follows their bliss and encourages others to do the same thing.  

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/581207 2013-05-26T20:26:59Z 2013-10-08T17:25:50Z Sophie and the Glory of independant Film Making

A couple of Months before Sophie started to become a reality; I remember having a very interesting conversation with Phil Arntz, the film’s director, on our way to the Center of Manchester about the script of the film. 

Phil has this unique angle from the War seeing that he is from German descent. It was so inspiring to hear someone that was born generations after the war understand what it meant and its impact in every Human Being's destiny from that point forward. 

In those times, Wars meant something, the people that fought them actually believed they were fighting for something, greater than just Money, oil, or power. Wars were personal, they were not fought to indulge the press´s appetite for fear or shock, they were not fought behind computer systems and computerized flying drones. People fought wars, they died in them.

Sophie reflects this feeling of solitude and separation from everything that is familiar and safe. As we follow this abandoned soldier’s ordeal through the cold and abrasive trenches, we can’t help it but feel a sense of inevitability In how this journey is going to end. There is beauty to this inevitable predicament that is captured to perfection in the film.

It’s hard to believe the film was shot under £3k, and the only way someone would be able to pull this off is to build an exceptional team emotionally committed to the project. Robin Varley’s performance is well beyond anything I have seen this year in a short film. Its engaging, intense, he surrenders himself completely to the character.

Technically, Phil Arntz work is very easy to single out. There is just something about the way he frames shots that is very particular to him. It is a cinematic look that is not something that a lens or an expensive camera will necessarily give. Its part of the DNA of a great Cinematographer.]]>
Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/408962 2013-04-17T15:28:02Z 2013-10-08T16:49:49Z PostHaven as an Alternative to Posterous

As soon as the announcement was made that Posterous had been acquired by Twitter, it was obvious to me that the service would not survive for long.

Unfortunately, this was the case. On the February15th, Posterous Founder and CEO Sachin Agarwal posted in the company’s blog that on the 30th of April, Posterous service would be shutting down. The message was short and sweet; lights were going to be “turned off” indefinitely on all desktop and mobile applications as from that moment forward.

Posterous was a great idea, very well executed, but like many others before, without a solid monetization model behind it. It’s the product of a generation of entrepreneurs that did not care too much for making money. 

I can relate to this in more ways than I would like to. Making a difference while worrying about utility bills is draining and ultimately, constraints growth.

Checking out

I found that a great idea wants to be born and wants to fulfill its promise. It does think it needs funding, business cases, risk assessment, or legal support. It just wants to exist. Unfortunately, a great idea does not know if its good or bad. 

Posterous happened to be a good one, a very good one, however, even good ideas need fuel to run, and it does not matter how disruptive or innovative something is, if it does not have financial backing, it is not likely that it will take off. This was what ultimately sealed Posterous destiny. 

Fortunately, the idea that every cloud service should be free or depend on advertising seems to be slowly fading away. Even the likes of Google is now moving from relying exclusively on Pay-Per-Click advertising and is charging for services online. I am hoping this will lead the way for other companies, particularly startups, to start thinking differently about the sustainability of their products before they hit the market. Very few ideas can survive if they do not have means to survive.

The Posterous Experience

I have nothing but great things to say about my time as a Posterous user. It had this awesome vibe about it that sometimes its hard to explain. Looking at it “scientifically”, it did not really have any disruptive functionality, but a combination of different factors made the platform special. 

The folks at Posterous paid a lot of attention to detail, enabling a wonderful, consistent user experience within their platform. The Blog templates were an extension of this experience. Every element of the Blog design was carefully design with purpose, unnecessary functionality and elements was stripped away. 

So the platform transpired simplicity at its finest, geared for blogging and content, built for what they were meant for, a testament to Steve Jobs famous quote “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”. 

This is exactly where I felt Posterous added a lot of value and got it right. The company seemed to remain focused on their core product it was a blogging platform, and it fulfilled its purpose beautifully.

The only downside I can remember as a Posterous was the reliability and availability of their network. It was always been somewhat flaky, something that most users have learned to accept as the downside to a free service. This was however all too unnecessary, as I am very certain most users would have gladly paid for the service, I know I would.

Posthaven as an alternative

So how does Posthaven compare to Posterous? 

Posthaven is co founded by Garry Tan and Brett Gibson, both previous co founders at Posterous. The company's pledge states that it is in this for the long run. It bravely emphasis a principle that I think should be at the core of every entrepreneurial venture; Companies need money to be able to survive. 

Currently the homepage is just a splash page that talks about the companies pledge, and a bit about the service. One needs to register to fully experience everything beyond that page. 

The registration process is very straightforward, email, password, subdomain url,  and you are done. Keep in mind that you will need to provide credit card information to be able to login, but no charges will be made beyond the trial period. Nevertheless, payment information needs to be provided in order to access the dashboard features. 

One thing I accidently noticed was that even when I did not provide my payment details at first, I was able still able to register and I think my username was immediately “reserved”, because the second time I tried to register, it made me login, even though I had not provided my credit card details on the previous attempt. 

Importing my Posterous blog was extremely easy, I only needed to provide my Posterous credentials while logged in on both platforms, and the process was quick. Its worth to note that I chose to only import 70 posts, so not sure how the system will behave with bigger blogs. 

The User Dashboard is very well built and easy to use. In comparison to Posterous, its as clean, but somehow feels more robust. There is an apparent understanding of what made Posterous successful, even with the bare minimum functionality available at the moment.

Every detail was looks like it was carefully engineered into the concept. The User Interface is device responsive, and looks amazing in a Tablet. There is an ability to add posts seaminglessly across devices, even on a mobile phone. A user can start a post on a desktop, and continuously edit it on other devices until its ready to be published. 

It is already possible to create multiple blogs through the admin interface, and import content from Posterous. Within the blogs, the functionality is still slightly limited, but it is possible to assign a custom domain to a blog, edit its name and description, and of course, add and edit posts.

There are some features that I am hoping to see very soon. I miss Social Connections and ability to post to different social channels is a must. It would also be good to see more blog templates, but I would rather see very few amazing templates rather than a focus in quantity. Afterall, one of the Unique Selling points of Posthaven should be a “refocus” on content. 

Endless widgets, plugins and functionalities that regurgitate third party content should be left for other blog platforms, like Wordpress and Blogger. Posthaven users care about the content they produce, about how its published and how its used by people. I feel this is exactly what Posthaven needs to capitalize on. Posthaven bloggers are not like any other bloggers, treating them differently, the same way Apple treated their small user base 10 years ago, looks like the right thing to do. 

In short, Posthaven needs to Stick to the basic principles behind a Blogging platform for people who create unique content, stripping away everything that is a distraction, providing the tools to create and share blog posts from any device.

Posthaven is off to a great start and has the potential to become as unique and awesome as Posterous once was. It also seems to be avoiding the mistakes made by posterous by understanding that the service will need to be paid to be able to survive and evolve.

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/376783 2012-10-11T18:14:00Z 2013-10-08T16:43:10Z Server Naming Conventions

Had an interesting discussion a couple of weeks ago about the best way to identify servers in a scalable and sustainable way.  I used to be very keen in naming boxes with generic unconventional unique names. i.e. city names, colours, movie characters,  but have found that this simply does not scale.

Had a very good piece of advice from my friend Christopher Farley that gave me a different insight to this and outlined the importance of getting this right when scalability is a factor.

In his view,taking a functional approach to server naming, in time, proves to be a scalable solution, by making the identification of boxes more efficient and pragmatic, allowing sys admins and network engineers to quickly map a box against an environment profile.  This saves time and a lot of hassle, particularly in a time when network frames are downsized and upsized in very short time spans.

There are a great number of different conventions out there. I searched for common standards, but it seems that there isn’t a cohesive approach across the industry; each organization tends to follow its own way, which makes sense to a certain extent, but also adds a degree of confusion that could possibly be mitigated if there were a set of principles recognized by the industry. 

For large organizations, identifying boxes with names of the geographic locations where the server is hosted, the data centre location, followed by other specifications, might sound logical, but the most obvious constraint to this approach is around what to do when servers need to be repurposed. 

A clear example of this would be moving a box from one location to the other without intending to make a clean install. Since the Hostname is identified with a specific location, repurposing would not be effortless. Now if we are talking about a significant datacentre migration, this would constitute a major risk and an unnecessary overhead to an already complex operation. 

The same set of limitations is also present when attributing other functional attributes to server names  i..e db001 *database server. What if a server needs to be repurposed to a Web frontend box? or a Load Balancer? These are all valid questions, that should be asked before one chooses a specific server naming convention. Unfortunately, as like most IT challenges, bad decisions usually are only apparent when its too late to do anything about them.

On the other hand, the main advantage behind the functional approach is the ease of identification. In theory, the only thing that needs to be clarified is the principle, i.e. Server Type - Server Number - Location of server. From this moment forth, identifying servers in a network, regardless of the size, becomes extremely efficient. DB001NY - Database Server - Number 001 - Located in New York. 

This is particularly useful when working with external providers that do not necessarily know what icecream.yourhost.com is, and what pumpkinpie.yourhost.com should be mapped against. 

The final case that can be brought forward in favor of the functional naming convention, is that in most cases, repurposing servers is not really the right thing to do. Servers are built for a specific purpose, the Hardware and Software should be aligned to what we want to achieve, not the other way around, thus while repurposing a server might seem to be the quickest solution to respond to an immediate need, long term, its not the ideal way to built a scalable infrastructure.

For more information about this subject, there is a very interesting article by Scott Lowe that provides an excellent insight. 

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/376785 2012-10-07T18:38:00Z 2013-10-08T16:43:10Z Installing Apache – Mysql – PHP in less than 5 minutes

Was just setting up a brand new Linux Centos box, and thought I would contribute with a small tutorial on how to quickly install the core components of a Web server though shell.

Now note that to get the absolute latest software version an installation through the source code is required. While this is still easy, it’s not as fast.

The commands poster here will work with the Centos and Fedora distributions. 

1.  Login as a Roor user and paste the following command line

yum -y install httpd php mysql mysql-server php-mysql

2. Make sure Mysql is running.

# mysqladmin -u root -p status

If it’s not running, you should be getting something down the lines of…

mysqladmin: connect to server at 'localhost' failed

error: 'Can't connect to local MySQL server through socket '/var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock' (2)'

Check that mysqld is running and that the socket: '/var/run/mysqld/mysqld.sock' exists!

To start the service simply type in the command:

/etc/init.d/mysqld start

The Output of this should be something down lines of…

Initializing MySQL database:  Installing MySQL system tables...

OK

Filling help tables...

OK

3. Protect Mysql by setting a password

mysql -u root@localhost

set password for root=password(‘yourpasswordhere’);

reload privileges;

4- Set apache and Mysql to run on startup. 

  /sbin/chkconfig httpd on

  /sbin/chkconfig --add mysqld

  /sbin/chkconfig mysqld on

  /sbin/service httpd start

  /sbin/service mysqld start

Thats it! your web server is good to go!
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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/376789 2012-07-25T16:10:00Z 2013-10-08T16:43:10Z Jonathan Perks
The older I get the more I realize how misleading some of the “traditional” leadership concepts are, particularly around management through the way of force and fear. 

I came across Jonathan Perk's  “” audiobook and he sheds a light into the importance of being a consolidated leader at harmony with all the traits that make a leader. Inspiring Leadership Jonathan explains the concept of MQ (Moral Coefficient) - the capacity to do the correct thing and the right thing at the same time, EQ (Emotional Coefficient)  - serving by example while truly caring for those you lead, SQ (Spiritual coefficient) - Standing up for something that is more than getting the job done while inspiring other to do the same, IQ (Intellectual Coefficient) - Capacity to make intelligent and knowledgeable decisions.

A Leader with all of the above characteristics aligned with each other will have a significant higher probability to be successful and inspire others to follow him.

One of the surprising things to me about Jonathan is how open he is about himself, and how blatantly he talks about his successes, and most notably, his failures. There is just something extremely compelling about people who are not afraid of the raw truth, and who are entirely open and transparent about themselves. They give away a sense of confidence and assurance to everyone around that gives permission for people to be themselves while simultaneously striving for more.

After having listened to “Inspiring Leadership”, I felt like I knew Jonathan and felt compelled to follow him, without even knowing the Man. I guessif that is not a testament to the power of inspiration I dont know what is.

Practices like this are disseminated across all areas and industries. This is more noticeable in countries where the culture itself is aligned to this approach, and Portugal is definitely one of those places.   

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/376801 2012-03-08T10:44:00Z 2013-10-08T16:43:10Z Time Management by Professor Randy Pausch

I can’t begin to say how much Professor Randy Pausch has influenced my career, for those of you who do not know, Prof. Randy Pausch was an amazing teacher at Carnegie Mellon University, he was brought to the public eye after his famous “Last Lecture” after having been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.

Listening to a lecture about time management by someone who does not has a lot of time left is very disconcerting, but insightful to say the least. Despite the circumstances, I do not think the lecture would have been any different if Prof. Randy Paush was in perfect health.

Time is your only commodity, money you can always make over and over again, but while this might seem extremely logical, it is not practiced.

Organizations tend to be very good at making cost assessments, but very few establish an actual connection between cost-benefit and time. This is even more evident at a personal level, where employees fail to understand where to better invest time for their own benefit as well as the organization they work in.

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/376806 2011-09-22T15:55:00Z 2013-10-08T16:43:11Z Proaim 3 feet linear slider Review

I was looking for a really simple non-motorized slider for a shot that would require the camera to move three feet in a horizontal steady movement, after looking around I came a across Proaim’s three feet Linear slider.

ProAim isn’t exactly a high end brand, and doesn’t have the best reputation for reliability and built quality. While I tend to naturally go for more reliable and trusted brands, but I have absolutely no problem trying out new things as long as the purpose is served, in this case all I needed was to get the camera from one end to the other in a steady motion. 

The packaging was perfect; the slider came properly protected with a double layered padding and a plastic cover that covered the entire slider. 

I was very surprised at how heavy the slider was, and immediately understood the reason why it’s recommended the use of two tripods to balance the weight. 

The built feels very robust and professional, the only plastic elements of the slider are the two support pieces that are attached at the end of the rails, and it’s proper plastic, they don’t feel fragile at all.

The platform looks like it’s made of aluminum, and it has the perfect weight to balance out the weight of the camera and lens against the rails. I have not tried to use a Fluid Head on the platform, but it shouldn’t be a problem.

The big issue that I have with this rail system is the four plastic pieces that serve as a connected between the camera platform and the rails. They are very fragile, don’t seem to fit properly in its place holder, and do seem to wear down very quickly. It’s beyond me why a company would go through the trouble of engineering a robust heavy duty slider and then disregard one of the main parts of the unit. 

This also explains why you are given spare plastic connectors, as using the slider for a day with a reasonable load on top of the platform created an obvious wear on the plastic. 

The assembly couldn’t be more straight forward; screw the camera on the platform, assemble it on top of the rails, connect the two plastic supports to the end of the rails and you are done.

The rails and platform provide a smooth and linear movement, but making a steady shot isn’t easy, and it takes time to master a steady consistent camera movement. Unfortunately it’s the case for all manual sliders, moving the camera without dramatic changes in speed takes practice, a lot of it. 

Shifting the lens position to a straight camera movement is simple, but a three feet slider requires a camera elevation so that the rails are not in the field of view. Placing a tripod head on top of the platform should provide enough height to make a shot like this work. 

The unit will set you back 280 USD plus the shipping charges, comparatively with the other sliders out there it’s a giveaway, the build quality is more than reasonable and it does its job properly, so if you’re looking for an affordable slider with very long rails this is definitely a good choice. 

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/376809 2011-09-02T20:00:00Z 2013-10-08T16:43:11Z The Subtleness of Leadership

It is commonly said that a leader is born, not made, he possesses innate qualities that make him stand out and incite others to follow him, and while I truly believe that there is nothing that is unachievable, as paradoxical as this might sound, I have found that there is some truth to this.

It cannot be acquired through education: There are specific traits that are commonly found in people that are recognized to be leaders. These are not necessarily acquirable through education or even experience, and are usually very hard to pin point. They range from self-confidence, to charisma, character, and sometimes an undefined quality that somehow, despite everything pointing to the opposite direction, just makes someone stand out inspires people.

It’s can’t be given: Leadership is not a position nor is it a role, it cannot be appointment and it’s not a result of a promotion. A leader is born by an organic decision within a group, most of the times informally, other times it’s a conscious decision by a group to elect their leader.

In a highly technical team, you usually find that it’s not necessarily the most technically gifted member that will be the leader, usually it’s the one that understands the dynamic within the group and excels from it by recognizing his peer’s talent, cultivating it, and keeping group cohesion.

It must be driven by example: Respect is conquered, is not a given right, and it does not come with any role or position. If a team of developers has to work late to deliver a project the next day, it is the obligation of the leader to stay with the team , it doesn’t matter if in theory he isn’t adding anything to the project by being there, the reality is that his presence makes him part of the team.

Soldiers will follow to battle a commander that is leading besides them on the battle field, in the end, its not relevant if he is drawing swords or not, his presence is what truly matters and what inspires them

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/376810 2011-07-13T15:35:00Z 2013-10-08T16:43:11Z Zacuto just gets it

The dream of any company is to be perceived as more than a business, to become recognized as something beyond an intangible brand, not just commence….something more, very few companies achieve this.

I first purchased a Zacuto product back in 2009, it was the Z-Finder Pro 2.5x, the built of the product was superb and it served its purpose, other than that I didn’t think much of it. At the time I found it to be extremely pricey, and despite the quality being on par with the price I didn’t plan in making any future purchases. This meant that while Zacuto left me with a positive impression, it had no impact at an emotional level.

A couple of years later I came across two web series called Filmed Fellas and it Film Critics, both produced by Zacuto.

The series were addictive to say the least, there was such a unique chemistry between the presenters that made the show extremely compelling and exciting to watch, but there was one episode of critics in particular that stuck with me and for some reason had a really strong impact on me.

It’s not that there was anything transcendent about the episode itself, but the way Steve Weiss reacted to a short film really impressed me, it was so honest, visceral and emotional (in a manly way of course), it showed so much respect for the film maker. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but it doesn’t matter, it really made an impression on me and for some reason started changing the way I looked at Zacuto.

At first glance it doesn’t make much sense, why would it affect the way I felt about a brand? Well, Steve Weiss is not just any film critic; he is one of Zacuto’s founders. The way he gets out there and carries himself with that no BS attitude is a breath of fresh air, he understands that good business is more than selling a good product, it’s about people, it’s about going far beyond what is expected, but most importantly, it’s about becoming everything that a company isn’t supposed to be.

Maybe I’m an easy sell, doesn’t matter, give me a company that delivers a product that is a result of perfect craftsmanship and that at the same time is able to touch me at a deeper  emotional level and I’m sold.   

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/376813 2011-06-19T18:29:00Z 2017-09-26T13:13:20Z From Sintra's mountains to the sea

This month I have finally managed to take time to go on a couple of experimental video shooting sessions but ended taking a lot of stills instead.

I went for a drive in the mountain range area near Lisbon called Sintra, it’s a gorgeous  place that has a bit of everything, from dense vegetation to century old magnificent trees. It’s also on the coast line so when you leave the mountain side you can immediately see the shore. 

The first sets of pictures were taken in the mountain side near a fountain, the light wasn’t too grand but it did provide good contrast between the road and the vegetation. 

This second set was taken in a very special place in the top of the mountain, a couple of minutes away from the fountain. I was a bit disappointed with my work, the lighting was superb but I didn’t take the most out of it.

On the way down was able to find a spot where you could see the entire coast line and the mountains above it, the light was exquisite, really enjoyed shooting there.

Feel free to checkout the entire set here.

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/376835 2010-05-09T06:46:00Z 2013-10-08T16:43:11Z People don't buy what you do but why you do it

I couldn't agree more with this statement. If we think about it, truly successful companies are driven by something with far greater significance than profit. 

 Google for example is driven by the the belief that information should be freely accessible to everyone, while Apple is all about designing beautiful accessible pieces of technology that happen to be computers. This is how modern companies operate, this is how every entrepreneur should approach an idea, making profit is a natural consequence of a fantastic and powerful idea!

 

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Pedro Sttau
tag:www.pedrosttau.com,2013:Post/376780 2009-03-08T06:51:59Z 2013-10-08T16:43:10Z Increasing productivity with a dual monitor system and a second complementary slave machine So last year I finally decided to get myself a second monitor to see how it would affect my productivity. Although it did take a little bit of time to get used too, once my work system got in sync with the new system, my productivity boosted. And I am not talking about a small improvement; it improved dramatically the way I worked. By nature I am quite multi tasking, but what a second monitor does, is literally discipline the way a multi tasking person works. With one monitor you are forced to focus your attention on a central area of content. With two monitors you can literally split that attention, making one side complementary to the other. I am not going to get too technical here, so I suggest you read the NEC productivity “A Comparison of Single and Dual Traditional Aspect Displays with a Widescreen Display over Productivity

One taskbar per monitor

The first negative thing that I noticed when I started using a second monitor was that I couldn’t minimize applications in the second monitor. This was really irritating since I was using one screen for active work and another for communication. (Mail and AIM). Every time I wanted to focus on the multiple Skye or messenger windows I had open at any given moment they would get minimized on the main screen, not on the screen where the windows were open. So by default, every window gets minimized in the main monitor and to maximize it you have to go back to that monitor and click on the minimized application in the taskbar. 

 A simple Google search led me to a lot of applications that supposedly solved this problem and one in particular seemed to have great user references. Ultramon did exactly what I wanted, it created a task bar in the second monitor allowing me to minimize programs on each screen. So in reality it almost gives you a separate system, where you can run certain applications “independently” from each other. This really improved every aspect of my dual monitor experience and in all honesty I wouldn’t be able to use my dual system without Ultramon installed anymore. On the beginning of this year, I had a brand New dual core PC from the old office that was pilling dust and not being used at all, so plugged it in, partitioned the disk and installed a copy of Debian and played a bit with it.

Why a second *slave* machine?

Soon I had three screens lined up in front of me and before I knew it I started using the second machine to perform routine macros on the first machine. (backups, automated tasks, etc…) The advantages of having two machines working simultaneously, sharing resources between one another began to be evident. 

Not only was I using the second system as a “slave” machine but most importantly it was not wasting recourses from my main machine that is always running at least 3 heavy duty applications like Photoshop, illustrator, Dreamweaver, and so on. Now, having two keyboards on the desk was utterly annoying. It was taking so much usable le desk space and let’s not forget the awkward “Dammit, why isn’t this keyboard working”. (Maybe it would work if I used the right keyboard for the machine I was working on.) It was during this time that I came across an amazing open source application called Synergy

What this little tool does is it allows you to share a keyboard and a mouse on a Network, meaning that it allows you to control multiple computers thorough a single keyboard and mouse. You can actually place the second system’s monitor on the side of your dual monitors and it will work as an extension, so in reality its almost like a third monitor added but with an independent machine powering it. I will leave the potential of a setup like to your imagination!
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Pedro Sttau