I’m happy to announce that I’ve recently improved on a project of mine. An Android app I designed some time ago, RadioMe, has been upgraded to SpotRadio. I came up with the idea of a “social media DJ” while on a bike ride. I usually would listen to music, but I hated the thought of not knowing what was going on around me, of not being connected. I had to stop mid-bike ride to check e-mails and read Facebook/Twitter streams. RadioMe solved this problem, and SpotRadio makes it better.

SpotRadio is a social radio that plays your Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, LinkedIn, Google Reader and SMS so you LISTEN to it instead of looking at the screen. It allows you to be listening simultaneously to any music player on your phone, for example Spotify or Play Music. When you receive updates, SpotRadio turns the music down on these players, and turns it up again as soon as you’re up-to-date.

You can configure how frequently you want to be updated, and how many updates should be read during the “social break”. To make it easy, you only need to define the “music period” and the “update period” (e.g. ten minutes listening to music, then two minutes social updates, then back to music for ten minutes…). It’s perfect for when you ride your bike, drive around in your car or simply prefer to hear what’s going on rather than reading it.

The app is multilingual, so it can read updates in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and even in Japanese and Simplified Chinese. You just have to tell SpotRadio which languages to detect. If you get an incoming call, SpotRadio pauses automatically. You can configure the volume of the music/updates, whether you want SpotRadio to stop reading upon shaking, temporarily turn off certain providers, etc. Duplicate updates are automatically recognized and only one will be read. The notification bar at the top of your Android’s screen indicates whether SpotRadio is talking, downloading updates or waiting.

One really important aspect is the speech synthesis. The standard PICO TTS voice included in every Android device sounds like a robot from the 80’s with a cold. So if you want to use this app more comfortably, you should definitely install SVOX TTS from the Android Market- it sounds better and is quite cheap. I designed SpotRadio, and it was built by Alberto Alonso Ruibal.

Over the past two years I’ve published lists of what I call tweetphorisms (tweets + aphorisms). Check out part 1 and part 2. Here’s the third round!

  • Knowledge and conviction seem to be inversely correlated in most people
  • Silicon Valley vs San Francisco: the choice is great weather and boredom or bad weather and fun.
  • As a parent I rarely punish bad behavior. I reward good behavior to the point that opportunity cost of bad behavior is too high :)
  • He who never arrived at school afraid of being beaten up was… a bully.
  • A way to understand how developed a nation is is watching how drivers treat pedestrians.
  • When government policies fail, many think that whoever implemented them was evil. Why is it so hard to think they were just wrong?
  • One of the benefits of doing well is be able to say what you believe is true. Also one of the benefits of not running for office.
  • Some have a hard time changing their mind because they think that when they change their mind they change their values.
  • In life you should aim very high. Because, if you miss, you may still end up high enough.
  • In my world everything is possible, some things are probable, few are likely and nothing is certain
  • One of the reason that such few people are successful in business is because few understand the concept of probability tied to risk
  • Two benefits of the crisis, less pollution, less money for corruption.
  • The ego concept has evolved over time to only mean big ego. But having the right amount of ego is essential to do well in life.
  • Being Jewish is a culture that sometimes comes accompanied by a religion.
  • Americans think Europe has a lot of crazy laws. Europeans think America has a lot of crazy lawyers.
  • I think all languages should start calling countries by the name they chose for themselves. We would all learn more about the world.
  • Shaving used to be the only activity that felt like it would last for weeks but only lasted a day. Now it’s shaving and updating apps.
  • The problem with generalizations is bad generalizations, others are extremely useful, in business and in life.
  • You are only as happy as your saddest child
  • In German the word for blame and debt is the same: schuld
  • A company stops being a start up when it becomes self sufficient, profitable, sustainable.
  • International security worries nowadays are not about tanks, but about banks.
  • Knowing how to explain yourself is almost more important than having something to say.
  • Hedge funds exist because even though information is widely distributed intelligence is not.
  • Copyright holders make a mistake calling file sharers Pirates. Pirates are likable characters for kids.
  • Holding yourself to a high standard is great. But for happiness sake, better set somewhat lower standards and overachieve.
  • Many think there’s a lot of value in secrecy. But in start ups there is a lot more value in sharing!
  • I would love to see a calendar that is made of days of the year from 1 to 365 without regard to weeks of months.
  • People think that an IPO makes people rich when what it does, is it makes them liquid.
  • I wonder what the world would be like if transplanting a brain was as easy as transplanting a kidney
  • Universities make a mistake funding research through teaching. Being good at research does not mean being a great teacher.
  • What works best in the world is capitalism moderated by a welfare state.
  • One positive aspect of Twitter is that it encourages people to disclose things that otherwise they would keep to themselves.
  • During the last decades, we have gone from wanting to know to wanting to believe. Last time we did that we got the Middle Ages.
  • Maybe Catholic countries have more problems in becoming democratic because catholicism isn’t.
  • When dressing formally men are supposed to look all alike and women to make sure that none of them look alike.
  • Entrepreneurs are smart people with a compass for opportunity
  • 10 years later: the Internet Bubble was not Internet destroying the financial sector but the financial sector destroying Internet.
  • Considering how unAmerican Jesus was in his thinking it is surprising how much he is followed in USA
  • Some say there are too many people in the planet but I think that there are more people to come up with solutions to our problems.
  • I wonder how many products we use regularly would improve if there were no patents.
  • Complacency: if you repeatedly tell people how great they are they may not be so for much longer.
  • The problem with experience is that it makes you apply old solutions to new problems

Today, Leo (5) didn’t want the iPad in the car on our way to school. Before, he used to cry if he didn’t get it. Leo is the fourth of my five children.

There’s one danger when saying no to a kid for an activity that they love, but which the parent considers detrimental, and that is that it increases its desirability.

In terms of value, the mere denial of permission increases the value of the activity to the child. So I have a very different, understandably questionable strategy as a parent – I tend to favor oversupply of the craving. My theory is that if it’s always available, kids learn to self-regulate and say “no” all on their own. Eventually, that unrestricted access leads to self-control through either satiation or sheer boredom; especially after they go through an addictive phase of whatever activity or toy they wanted incessantly. In my experience, the addiction is generally to watching TV, buying toys or playing videogames.

Of course, this parental strategy takes a lot of cold blood from parents when putting up with activities that they would normally not want their kids to do. It is tough to wait until the children themselves realize that there is a point at which too much of a good thing is a boring thing.

Tom (18), used to be really addicted to going to the toy store and playing games! And many times I would comply with his wishes. Eventually, by overindulging, he got really bored of conspicuous consumption and staring at screens. As a result, now that he is 18 he wants nothing, not even a gift for his birthday. And I mean this. He is frugal and hates conspicuous consumption. Indeed, now he frequently criticizes me for consuming too much, for example my own addiction to amazing bicycles. Tom is now into being with this girlfriend, his friends, listening to his music, studying and doing whatever is fun for him. Tom at 14 was glued to videogames. But Tom at 18 doesn’t do any activity that would be considered addictive. That strategy worked with him.

I end by commenting that in the case of my three daughters, I found them to be more social, less addicted to games or toys and less prone to spending endless hours in front of a screen. It is likely that boys are more prone to addictive activities and that saying “no” might not be the solution.

Americans reward their kids into good behavior, Spaniards punish them, French ridicule them, British ignore them, Germans scare them, Chinese humiliate them, and Argentines, well you just have to go and see how Argentines just let kids do whatever they want :)

Once in Baqueira, a ski resort in Spain I had a ski instructor who kept criticizing whatever I did. Not a word of praise no matter how hard I tried to improve. In the middle of the lesson after he told me that “all my years of ski lessons were futile and I hadn’t learned anything”, I looked at him in the face and told him “you are fired”.

He could not believe me. I stared at him and said “I hired you to learn, not to get trashed, please go, I would rather ski with my family”. And he left. And I had a good day of skiing.

I don’t believe that learning should be demoralizing: criticism should always be balanced with praise.

As a person who lived in USA and Spain I should add that US instructors are generally uplifting. Unfortunately a lot of teachers in Spain believe that praise spoils the student. As a result many in Spain are demoralized.

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