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Tag: Benchside

2011 Goals

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I made a list of New Year’s resolutions last year which I am happy to say I did fairly well at achieving.

But, when I sat down again to think up what I wanted to publically commit to, I realized something. The list borrows heavily from last year, with a few slight modifications:

    • Read and blog one scientific paper a month: It’s been a staple of this blog, a lot of fun to read/write, and has succeeded in keeping me at least partially grounded in the science world that I once came from and, to some extent, still feel a part of.
    • Instead of reading Checkmate and Pawn in Frankincense from Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles, this year I’m aiming to read Queen’s Play – the last book in the series which my girlfriend and good friend recommend I read.
    • Continue to expand my network – I think I’ve graduated from super-shy wallflower, but I’m still not completely comfortable with the whole networking thing. The good thing about being in venture capital is that networking not only comes with the job but comes a lot easier when people know that your company has money and connections, so I will continue to work on breaking out of my introvert shell
    • Finish a rev 1 of Benchside – I failed last year, but gosh-darn-it, I will succeed this year!

But, in addition, I want to add a few other items:

    • Build out a public version of Iggregate – In addition to Benchside, I’m also working on a project I call Iggregate which I am hopeful I will be able to take the wraps off in this new year. It’ll be tough, especially with the Benchside goal, work, and my general programming incompetence, but you gotta aim high to make it anywhere big!
    • Improve my Chinese – The venture fund I work for is unique in its strong presence in US, Japan, and China. And, while my job and interests are focused on venture opportunities in the US, our recent company offsite has convinced me that I should improve my Chinese speaking and comprehension. I don’t intend (not that I ever could get) to be as fluent as a native speaker, but my goal is to be able to understand enough business Chinese that I can participate in my fund’s China team meetings without falling back on English.
    • Build out investment portfolio with more than just index funds – My traditional investment strategy has been heavily reliant on index funds due to lack of time, lack of training/practice, and fear of conflicts of interest from my consulting career. Now that I’m no longer a consultant, employed in an investment industry, and have a good friend from college who’s very interested in deploying his capital effectively and has the time to think about this non-stop (because he’s in business school), I think its about time I graduate from the low-risk, low-reward world of index funds and reallocate so my investment portfolio is 1/4 to 1/3 in specific stocks/commodities

Truth be told I’m starting to feel a little nervous about committing to all of this – but I’m also a little excited to get started. Happy New Year everybody! And good luck with those resolutions!

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2010 Goals

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I don’t usually do the New Year’s resolutions thing. But this year, since I’m now publishing everything  to benjamintseng.com, I think the perceived public scrutiny associated with having a public list of goals for the coming year on my own personal domain name might end up being a good motivator to achieve them.

So, without further ado:

  • Finish a Rev 1 of Benchside – While I had a wild ride on Xhibitr and learned a ton, I’m hoping Benchside, the  project that I’m currently working on, will end much more successfully. Whereas Xhibitr was an online social network aimed at fashion, Benchside is a software application designed to run on your computer (not the web) which aims to help you change the way you organize the information on your hard drive. While Benchside officially started about half a year after work on Xhibitr went underway, its progress has suffered from a lack of focus on my part. Despite this, I still have strong faith in the team and the project, and I definitely want to see this through. So, by December 31, 2010, I will have a working version (even if its only barely working and cobbled together with voodoo magic and duct tape) of the core Benchside software working on my computer.
  • Read Pawn in Frankincense and Checkmate by Dorothy Dunnett – My girlfriend adores Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles. They were an integral part of her identity growing up, and she continues to re-read them today whenever she has extra time (and no new reading or knitting material :-)). They are also very meaty books full of well-researched 16th century European history and cultural idiosyncrasies. I’ve already read two (Game of Kings and Disorderly Knights – yes, there’s a chess theme in the titles) and despite priding myself in being well-educated, I found them very difficult to follow (I guess that’s why I read comic books?) So why read two more? In addition to my girlfriend wanting me to read them, she’s raved about the conclusion to this series (Checkmate) for years, and given her refined, educated taste in books (although apparently not in men :-)), I can’t help but want to stretch my own reading ability especially if the payoff is as grand as she has made it seem. Consequently, by December 31, 2010, I will have read both Pawn in Frankincense and Checkmate.
  • Meet at least 3 new people per conference I attend – If I have one great weakness, it is that I find it painfully difficult to talk to people I’m not familiar with. On the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test, I rank extremely “I” (as in introvert). But, given my upcoming job in venture capital and my desire to pursue opportunities which won’t be so forgiving of my extreme shyness, I’m going to set a goal for myself to help break that habit. At every conference/industry event I attend in 2010, I will meet and have meaningful conversation with at least 3 new people.
  • Read at least 1 academic scientific paper per month – I pride myself on being a science person. In fact, with the notable exception of Xhibitr, my portfolio is full of my old scientific “adventures”.  But, as I’ve dug deeper into the technology and business world, I have unfortunately lost touch with that part of my life. Part of the reason that I still blog about science here and over at Bench Press is a desire to stay connected to those under-exercised scientific interests. This year, to help keep that connection going, and also to help me keep pace with the tech-and-science related news and innovations which give me fodder for more blog posts, in 2010, I will read at least 1 academic (as in journal) scientific paper per month.

I’m sure some of the people reading this list will think that my bar for success is set too low. And, maybe they’re right. But, hey, this is the first time I’ve done something like this, and I’m not about to set myself up for public failure :-).

Happy New Year to everyone! And best of luck with those resolutions!

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Paradigm Shift@Home

I recently made a post on Bench Press about the potential for distributed computing (projects like Folding@Home and SETI@Home which combine the computing power from volunteers over the internet to do supercomputer style calculations) to help any initiative needing extra number-crunching power, as well as steps that the scientific and distributed computing communities can take to help get us there, as well as what I think is a valuable paradigm shift in science that the distributed computing approach represents:

What impresses me the most about projects like Folding@Home and SETI@Home is that they have defined some brilliant new ways to do science:

  • Use the internet – It’s a common theme on Bench Press, but with more and more people having faster and faster access to the internet, the potential for distributed computing becomes greater and greater. As Folding@Home demonstrated, such approaches can produce computing systems as powerful (or potentially more powerful) as leading supercomputer systems at a fraction of the cost.
  • Mobilize the public – We’ve discussed ways for the scientific community to reach out to the public like using social media and creating interactive applications/tools for the public to use, but efforts like Folding@Home illustrate a way to not only reach out to the public but to get them vested in science. In a world where high school science teachers find it difficult to get teens interested in science, initiatives like Folding@Home have created a system where teams of individuals compete on who can contribute the most to the effort! Instead of simply hoping that the public will continue to fund and listen, why not borrow a page from the many existing cancer-walk-a-thons and make it easy for the public to get involved?
  • Leverage new technology – It may not come as a surprise to our readers that a significant amount of the computational power at Folding@Home comes from graphics cards and Playstation 3’s. But, while many “mainstream” supercomputers ignored the new power afforded by these new chip types, Folding@Home developed software so that volunteers could quickly and easily use these powerful chips to boost their Folding@Home scores. The Folding@Home initiative also developed software to take advantage of innovations AMD and Intel included in their chips (new multi-core architectures and special instructions to speed up calculations). Is it any wonder, then, that Sony, NVIDIA, and AMD have all publically announced support for the initiative with their products?

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For more details on distributed computing and some of my thoughts on how the scientific community can better adopt these, check out the post at http://blog.benchside.com/2008/12/distribute-compute/

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