Trends Report, Podcast of Legends, The Eye & License To Laugh

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About me: Twitter - LinkedIn - Forbes. Our hardware startup fund: HAX

Hardware Trends 2017 Report

It is finally out! Here is some coverage on TechCrunch (by them) and Forbes (by me). As the "lead writer" it has been some effort for me. Big spassiba to Vitaly Vyazovsky, our Creative Lead, who took it to the next level and above (just see the older versions to compare: 2016 - 2015). We also had a previous talk in SF in June you can watch here (about 1h, fast paced - with four different speakers for variety).

Recommend Startups

We are wrapping up the selection for the program starting on September 5th in Shenzhen. We love robots, health tech, A.I. into devices. Apply here.

Cultural Corner

+ Podcast Of Legends

While I don't necessarily agree with them, I enjoy reading/listening to both Sam Harris (Waking Up) and Scott Adams (the Dilbert guy). Sam is very anti-Trump -- it's visceral -- while Scott is more of a Trump supporter. Both are very articulate thinkers and for the very first time they discuss the Trump situation. It's well worth listening to. I found Sam had seen better days -- his revulsion at Trump got the best of him a few times -- but he still discussed quite fairly. Scott did a great job at articulating his views.

+ TV

Better Call Saul***
Eventually I finished the third season and I am pretty happy with it. It seems to be much about exploring the difference between what's legal and what's ethical, and the very subjective view of what's ethical.

Twin Peaks***
The Lynch comeback is quite unequal. Episode 8 was very surrealist. Episode 9 much less so. And the "shocked Cooper" character is becoming unbearable.


War For Planet Of The Apes**
Not blown away but not too boring. Impressive CGI, fur effects, but the story was pretty weak. It's hard to beat the charm and surprise of the old series. "Bad Ape" reminded me of Jar-Jar Binks (some online called it the "love child of Gollum and Jar-Jar Binks"...). I recommend the original novel by Pierre Boulle, a former French secret agent who had quite a colorful life and also wrote The Bridge on the River Kwai.

Wonder Woman**
I put two stars because... well, I guess it wasn't awful. But I found it quite boring and predictable. The most interesting was trying to figure out why the chemist villain had a partial mask. It might be due to phossy jaw?


Omg this text is so amazing (it's a French play from 1897). I read it again on a plane recently (it's a small book). In French it's unbelievable but it seems pretty good in english too. Free here. The movie with Gerard Depardieu is one of my all-time favorites.

The Revolt of The Elites (no rating yet)
I just started this one, talking about the "betrayal of democracy" by the elites. We'll see.

Bits & Bulbs

+ The Eye
I'll refrain talking about the tech industry's sexual harassment & gender issues in public. I was discussing with a friend how "sexual assault", while a legal term with a clear definition, sounds more like rape to the layperson, when a lady (mid-20s caucasian - I was in Hong Kong so caucasians like her and me are a minority) sitting nearby in the restaurant overheard that statement. She turned towards me and gave me the eye. It probably contained 98% contempt. Note that she didn't know me, nor any detail of the situation my friend and I were discussing. I understand how such discussion could be perceived but it would have been too long to fix that impression. What would you have done? Also, to show that the U.S. tech industry is not alone, here is Japan.

+ License To Laugh
I went to catch a pro comedy show in Hong Kong a few weeks back. The styles of comedians were very different - from a friendly Hong Kong-born Indian, fluent in Cantonese, to a high-tension mainland Chinese (he had a tattoo: "against" -- not sure against what, apparently he thought it was an adjective not a preposition -- or did he tattoo this mistake on purpose for comedic purposes?). If you travel, comedy shows are a great way to dive into the local culture and all the things people won't tell you directly. I remember a show in Malaysia where almost all comedians joked about ethnic stereotypes of Indians, Chinese and Malay (Malaysia is quite mixed). Today, a comedy club might be the only public place such stereotypes can be said out loud. For a newcomer, it helps to understand the social fabric of a place. Another time I was in Bangalore and the only non-Indian in the audience (comedians were all Indian too). Of course I was singled out... They also joked about BPOs and how a guy from Mumbai was an "outsider" in Bangalore. The main problem there was theat the jokes were in English but the punchline were often said, for effect, in local language (I couldn't tell if it was Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Hindi or else)... Back in Hong Kong, a couple of times people complained and a comedian had to point at the sign "comedy club". Who draws the line? In the book I'm reading about the old heydays of comedy, it seems it was routine for comedians to offend their audience and have to run away...

+ The Cheapest Way To Relieve Back Pain
If your mattress is too soft, like mine, or if you sit around a lot, you might start experiencing some back pain. You can try to sleep on the floor for a bit (I did it) but it might not last. Here is the cheapest solution: take the bus. Vibrations relieve the pain. Note that your mileage may vary!

+ Macron Action
Soon an action figure? French President Emmanuel Macron masters optics indeed - descend from a chopper to a sub? Sure! Btw, when he spoke at that event before me years ago, was he the main act? I thought he was opening for me ;)

+ Dog Training
I mentioned last time my friend's dog had some socializing issues and was attending some dog training. I forgot to share that after in hour of obstacle training his dog was truly transformed - all happy and social. I had never seen him like that. I don't know how long it lasts nor how many sessions are needed, but stress & challenges as bonding experience & confidence boost do work!

+ Lost & Found
A friend I hadn't seen for... 20 years? emailed me that she still had CDs of Don McLean and American Pie she borrowed from another friend of mine and felt terrible about it. If they are yours, please let me know!

Until next time!
- Ben