Big leap in bio-engineering: scientists simulate an entire organism in software for the first time ever

Can we put this in a loop? We would simulate eternal life this way 🙂

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In search of angels

Earlier today, I read and shared a post which recounted the recent seeding of the, so called, drachma startup (congrats on this) and expressed, in the form of a wish, the following thought:

We need a paypal mafia of sorts. There’s enough old money in Greece to put this together, but it’s mostly in shipping and trading businesses, so it’s not connected to the tech scene in meaningful ways. This connection must be made and nurtured. I don’t know how this problem will be solved, I am not the right person to solve it. But here it is, laid out for the more creative minds out there to ponder.

At first, the thought seemed right to me but, pondering on the subject a bit longer, I finally  came to a different conclusion. History  and experience elsewhere (not only Silicon Valley but even in our continent) teaches us that it is the entrepreneurs themselves that become angels and VCs. And not any kind of entrepreneurs but the ones that have, broadly speaking, worked in the same areas and the same fields as the those they later opt to fund.

I don’t think we will see money from shipping flowing in internet startup investments in Greece anytime soon. And if we do, the expectations will most probably be wrong and the management of the investments not appropriate.

There is nothing wrong with the shipping people. They are not morons of some sort that miss to see the ‘lucrative’ opportunities of the Greek startups. On the contrary. They are extremely cunning and capable businessman, used in dealing with bigger and harder issues.  But they happen to have have shaped their mindset, practices and goal setting in an entirely different sector. And this makes all the difference.

Tech startups and internet startups are not traditional investments that can easily fit to appraisal models and have clear cycles and signs of rise or fall. A startup is not a vessel. Its business model is, in most cases, unknown. Or, changing too often. It is unlikely that, if it doesn’t proceed according to plan, it can be sold as scrap. The money that a ship owner can put into startups is money wasted for him as there is no shortage of investment opportunities in his sector with more foreseeable returns.

In my career I have experienced something like this twice. Not from ship owners but from bankers. Once as a simple employee, in the beginning of my carier, and the other as the executive who was supposed to run the ‘investment’.
In both cases the investor was a banking institution and the investment an IT company.

If there is one thing I can immediately pin point as the reason of failure (as they both were failures) it is this: the banking people thought of these companies (:their investments)  as mature businesses and tried  to manage them accordingly. Actually, for a long time,  I thought the same way. It was only after a lot of effort and pain that I realized that my role was not to run the business (as per my job description) but to find the business I was assigned to run. Unfortunately, Steve Blank had not come up yet with the The Four Steps to the Epiphany and he did not save me valuable time.

If there ever is going to be a crowd of angel investors from Greece, for Greece and in Greece, it must arise from the Greek startups and their successes. Which means it is going to take some time. It will not appear before we see some substantial exits and some real wealth  transfered to founders’ pockets. Once we have them both, then there will be angels.

Bookmeta: a needed update

Yesterday, while I was trying to show a friend the calibre plugin I have created to extract and retrive Greek Book metadata, to my surprise, I saw that it was not returning much. Obviously the biblionet page had changed and the script the plugin was relying upon for the metadata retrieval needed an update.

Fortunately, it was just a couple of hours work, the new version is available and functioning. Enjoy

Some points towards the end of the article seem to justify my skepticism about QR codes: they are a fun way to open a link but why would you want to open it in the first place?

Reviews: most popular type of blogpost?

Screenshot from the WordPress tag cloud

I was looking for new blogs to follow and I turned to wordpress Explore Topics which is nothing more than a tag cloud, obviously aggregated from all the wordpress.com blogs.

Now, the tag with the bigger size is “Reviews” which is an interesting insight. Are reviews really the top reason why people blog or is the bigger proportion of blog posts about reviews? This means that out there a treasure of data mining is awaiting to be discovered.

Who’s connected to whom in Hadoop world [infographic]

Not only this is a pretty impressive infographic. The view of the underlying companies and their ties is dizzying too.

Gigaom

To say there are a lot of companies involved in the Hadoop ecosystem would be an understatement. To say partnership strategies are broad would be one, too. The folks at Datameer created this infographic to show just how expansive and interconnected the Hadoop ecosystem is (and, admittedly, to show off the new infographic tools in the latest Datameer release). When I say that Hadoop is poised to explode because everyone company under the sun has committed to it, here’s what I mean (and this data is even a bit outdated; there would be even more connections today).

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Snap Snare by Snare Complex

This is my first wordpress reblog. It’s so tumblrish! I thought to make it a bit amusing, so I picked this tune. Enjoy.

4pocketsaudio

An addictive track from Snare Complex written on 4Pocket’s Aurora Sound Studio HD. Guitar recorded and processed in Ablton Live Lite 8.

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John Lloyd on the challenges of website design

All this means that, without the old physical expressions of identity (actual products, packaging, environments, literature) as a first experience of a brand, a brand identity has to work much harder to attract customers and achieve differentiation; and, it has to do this primarily in an online context.  In effect, the website has to be a number of things; it has to be a store, a sales person or service adviser, a product display, a brochure, a catalogue, an advertisement and an after sales service ??? all in one place, on-screen. The Internet has not made it easier for brands to stand out. Within the confines and limitations of a small screen, brands have to work exceptionally hard to achieve recognition and differentiation. These are exciting challenges for corporate designers.