Archive for the ‘Projects’ Category

The Art of Product Management.

Thursday, December 18th, 2014

I have been researching the trade of Product Management in today’s tech driven world.

There are a lot of interesting takes on what this person should do and the role of this person in an organization. And the best description of this “unicorn” comes from Ben Harowitz found at the Stamford’s Leadership of Technology Ventures program.

I re-posted the text here:

Good Product Manager/Bad Product Manager
Courtesy of Ben Horowitz

“”Good product managers know the market, the product, the product line and the competition extremely well and operate from a strong basis of knowledge and confidence. A good product manager is the CEO of the product. A good product manager takes full responsibility and measures themselves in terms of the success of the product. The[y] are responsible for right product/right time and all that entails. A good product manager knows the context going in (the company, our revenue funding, competition, etc.), and they take responsibility for devising and executing a winning plan (no excuses).

Bad product managers have lots of excuses. Not enough funding, the engineering manager is an idiot, Microsoft has 10 times as many engineers working on it, I’m overworked, I don’t get enough direction. Barksdale doesn’t make these kinds of excuses and neither should the CEO of a product.

Good product managers don’t get all of their time sucked up by the various organizations that must work together to deliver right product right time. They don’t take all the product team minutes, they don’t project manage the various functions, they are not gophers for engineering. They are not part of the product team; they manage the product team. Engineering teams don’t consider Good Product Managers a “marketing resource.” Good product managers are the marketing counterpart of the engineering manager. Good product managers crisply define the target, the “what” (as opposed to the how) and manage the delivery of the “what.” Bad product managers feel best about themselves when they figure out “how”. Good product managers communicate crisply to engineering in writing as well as verbally. Good product managers don’t give direction informally. Good product managers gather information informally.

Good product managers create leveragable collateral, FAQs, presentations, white papers. Bad product managers complain that they spend all day answering questions for the sales force and are swamped. Good product managers anticipate the serious product flaws and build real solutions. Bad product managers put out fires all day. Good product managers take written positions on important issues (competitive silver bullets, tough architectural choices, tough product decisions, markets to attack or yield). Bad product managers voice their opinion verbally and lament that the “powers that be” won’t let it happen. Once bad product managers fail, they point out that they predicted they would fail.

Good product managers focus the team on revenue and customers. Bad product managers focus team on how many features Microsoft is building. Good product managers define good products that can be executed with a strong effort. Bad product managers define good products that can’t be executed or let engineering build whatever they want (i.e. solve the hardest problem).

Good product managers think in terms of delivering superior value to the market place during inbound planning and achieving market share and revenue goals during outbound. Bad product managers get very confused about the differences amongst delivering value, matching competitive features, pricing, and ubiquity. Good product managers decompose problems. Bad product managers combine all problems into one.

Good product managers think about the story they want written by the press. Bad product managers think about covering every feature and being really technically accurate with the press. Good product managers ask the press questions. Bad product managers answer any press question. Good product managers assume press and analyst people are really smart. Bad product managers assume that press and analysts are dumb because they don’t understand the difference between “push” and “simulated push.”

Good product managers err on the side of clarity vs. explaining the obvious. Bad product managers never explain the obvious. Good product managers define their job and their success. Bad product managers constantly want to be told what to do.

Good product managers send their status reports in on time every week, because they are disciplined. Bad product managers forget to send in their status reports on time, because they don’t value discipline.”

From Artist to Entrepreneur

Friday, April 27th, 2012

“Entrance to Heaven” by Oscar

It’s been an interesting 2012 so far. And if the world happens to end by december, then I have spent the last days on earth working for nothing. My guess is that the world is not ending. My guess is that a new age is being born, the age where our little friend the micro chip and us will be more intimate than ever.

“Spheres” by Oscar

Since I began my quest to interpret the world and encapsulate my perspective through art, I have found many things that I would never have expected. The first thing that I found, was that art is not just visual, as a matter of fact, its not just physical. Art can be found everywhere from Architecture and Engineering to Medicine and Business. Its all there, staring back at you with the memory of one thousand exponential ancestors. The craziest thing is that the more you know about everything, the more you begin to make sense of things that once were invisible.

Pythagorean Sky
“Pythagorean Sky” by Oscar

One of the first artists I knew and my favorite artists till this day is Salvador Dali. I had the pleasure of seeing his amazing work in various part of the hemisphere.

“Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory” Dali, 1954

Most of his work I understood immediately. It was the surreal content that he became famous for, but there was other work that made no sense to me. It was his late work. Fast forward a decade or so, and I have finally begun to figure out where he was in his intellect and his understanding, fascination and frustrations of the world. As I learned more about life in my terms, I began to assimilate to the work he was creating. Is as though every so often when I would figure something out about life, I unlocked a new concept in one of his paintings.

“Gala looking into the mediterranean sea” Dali, 1976

And this is why even after all these years, the madman that everyone carelessly forgot about, resonates so deep in my yet to be made memories. It makes me exited and looking forward to all the new things I will learn as I go.

“The Swallow’s Tail” Dali, 1983

An other artists that inspired me to make the leap into the unknown is Da Vinci. I always wondered how he became so smart and so creative, in ways that seemed more than human. I mean he created art and a bunch of crazy machines and innovations, like the crossbow:

or wings!

He also created “The Last Supper” depiction which brings me to the entrepreneurship…

You are probably familiar with the famous image of Jesus having his last meal with his disciples. But you rarely see this image in the actual wall it was painted on. As you can see on the image above, the image was painted on a wall and that wall contains other images. The images above the last supper are emblems, shields of the family that commissioned Da Vinci to paint the famous painting. What does this have to do with entrepreneurship you ask? Well, the fact that Da Vinci did not create the painting to satisfy his fascination and intellect. He made the painting because his business was art. He was an entrepreneur that got paid to make ideas and then got paid more to make them come to life.

Not all creative people are successful entrepreneurs. The ones that are not fearless enough to make a business of their own art end up becoming apprentices or assistants to the artists that took the leap. One of my favorite inventors was Nikola Tesla, one of the smartest and craziest people that the planet has seen. You would think that some one that smart would be able to capitalize on his creativity.

The truth is that he died a bankrupt, lone man. Some of his innovations were far superior than other innovators at the time, like Thomas Edison. The difference is that Edison knew money and how it worked, resulting in Tesla working under Edison. Had Tesla mastered money the same way that Edison mastered it, the world may have been a bit different. The lesson here is that Ideas are cheap and if anyone got rich by coming up with ideas, I like any other artist would be billionaires. The bottom line is that an idea is worthless in our Capitalistic world. In order for an idea to be influential, it has to make money. Just look at the last supper painting by Da Vinci, its still making money even today.

This brings me to my own endeavors. As I sit here looking for inspiration to keep on going with my bootstrapped ideas, I made an observation that is encouraging me to keep on going. I noticed that the shields on top of the last supper look like badges.

I take this as a sign that the company I co-founded, Badger Media Inc. has a chance to make it. The same way that a noble family made a shield to represent their kingdom, people can create a badge to represent their wisdom.

We are in the process of rolling out a new website that will allow people to explore and participate in the mapping of things easier and to share not only with other people on badger, but with people in other networks like facebook or twitter. There is more coming too!

The truth is that being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. It take more than guts, it takes fearlessness and a bit of recklessness. In today’s society, we are taught to follow rules, stay inside the lines and to take others into consideration. These are good rules, it makes great workers. As an entrepreneur that sees flaws in the current system, I realize that the status quo is wrong. You cannot expect to have a kick ass company if all your “workers” are followers. Its kind of like a team that requires the acknowledgment of its captain before doing anything; that team will clearly not win any games. What you need is thinkers that will talk the talk and walk the walk. Thinkers that deliver. Of course that is all an optimistic point of view on business. So I will seattle for people who are willing to push the status quo just a tiny bit.

As you can probably tell by my blabbing, I’m clearly a rookie at entrepreneurship. I feel like I’ve been in an internship to learn how to make companies come alive, build them from the ground up. And from the looks of it, i’m only getting started. Stay tuned for more companies. Companies are the new art… or are they the new black..?

…in other news, the Enterprise zoomed by NYC today:
original by rui here:

Postanalog or Post-Analog

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

So I have decided to start classifying a lot of the new art I see as Postanalog (Post-analog). It is the only way I can describe or categorize things like Art Robotica or projects such as Mortal Engine

Postanalog is similar to the term Postdigital but with a dramatic difference. Postanalog is art that embraces digital technology. This is that art that sees humanity and digital technology as symbiotic. It is when you see a natural element and an algorithmic digital element combine and for a new beautiful form.

Postanalog will revolutionize the world as we see it.

Jackoon at Gizmodo Gallery Exhibit

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

Jackoon-Art Robotica

Jackoon will be showing his painting skills at The Gizmodo Gallery Exhibit starting Tuesday (for Press) and Wednesday for the general public.

Gizmodo wrote an article about Art Robotica featuring Jackoon the painting robot. Jackoon is one of the first or many prototypes I made which managed to paint robot art by using a live video stram as reference or just a simple picture.

Gallery Hours and Special Events Open to the Public:

Wednesday, September 23 through Friday, September 25
12noon – 8pm
- Main Gallery
- Opening Day features Laser Etching (I think its around $20)

Friday, September 25
- Public Party, with prizes

Saturday, September 26
11am – 8pm
- Main Gallery

Saturday, September 26
9pm – Live DJ set by Music Director Jason Bentley, KCRW, 100% independently funded radio station

Sunday, September 27
11am – 6pm
- Main Gallery

Groupe Gallery
267 Elizabeth Street
New York, NY 10012

More Art Robotica

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

These are some of the Paintings that I made with Jackoon at the ITP Spring 2009 show:

Reference image, wasp on a flower:


Collaborative Painting:

Reference image, rodent a skull of a species in the order Carnivora:

Jackoon Painting:

As you can see on the painting of the Skull, Jackoon managed o paint the general area where the skull should be. The brush strokes where not as precise as should be, because the lighting conditions where not optimal at the ITP show so the tracking system was a little off.

Someone at the ITP show told me something really inspiring; “This is the worst work that [Jackoon] and the other artbots will paint. They will only get better.” I agree, even now the paintings are amazing.

Link to pieces that where hanging at the show while Jackoon was making the art above.

Art Robotica: Thesis Presentation!

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Art Robotica is a term used to describe the body of work created by the collaboration of “ArtBot” and artist. ArtBots are Autonomous Machines that paint or draw on a canvas, sheet of paper or a surface of some kind. Art Robotica reflects our new codependency and symbiotic relationship with machines. ArtBots are, in essence, collaborators rather than just new tools.

A presentation of Art Robotica was part of ITP Thesis Week 2009.
The thesis presentation was Tuesday May 5, 2009 at NYU’s ITP (721 Broadway, 4th floor)

Web Video Archive:

This is one of the paintings created so far:

“Girl” 2009, Acrylic on paper, 48″ x40″

To find out more about Art Robotica visit:

More Art Robotica:

Artbots The Testing Begins

Monday, April 6th, 2009

The ArtBots begins to take shape. I started the project by tackling the bot that will be the most complex, the hexapod.

I made a the basic form of the bot using some wood screws and tape to begin testing the movement, software and circuit.

Servo Motor Test from Oscar G. Torres on Vimeo.

I was originally going to attempt to use an Arduino Micro controller to do all the controlling of the servos (video above.) But I slowly realized that to control the timing of all the servos at different time intervals will be a big pain in the butt since the “delay()” function messes with the Arduino code enough to get really buggy.

To hopefully save a headache I bought some servo controllers made by Pololu And so far with the help from Xiaoyang (Alex) Feng and the info posted online about the controller, I got the results I was looking for.

The Pololu Code I used to make the servos move can be found on the Pololu forums The one things that they did not include which is a little confusing, is how to set up the servo controllers if you plan to daisy chain them to control more than 8 servo motors.

To start you should set up your Arduino (above) and a breadboard with the Pololu servo controller (below.)

A couple of things to note:
1. Two different power sources are needed for the servo controllers. One for the controller’s micro controller and the other to power the servo motors. Both power sources should have a common ground.
2. When you set the controller’s number setting, you need to do one at a time.

This is the code I used to program my second controller to know its servos are numbered 8-15 and not 0-7 as they are programmed by default.

The parameter that sets the servo numbers is the fourth “soft.Serial” line of code “softSerial.print(0×01,BYTE);” This variable can be either 0×00 (hexadecimal) to set the controller to use number 0-7 for the servos, 0×01 to set the controller to use number 8-15 for the servos, 0×02 for numbers 16-23, etc…

Once you upload this code you must wait for the servo controller to get reprogrammed. You will know the servo controller’s settings where changed by the blinky lights on the controller.

Pololu Servo Controller Settings from Oscar G. Torres on Vimeo.

Once the code has been uploaded and the settings where changes, you MUST delete or comment out, the three lines that set up the servo numbers since you only need to do that step once.

the lines you need to delete or comment out are the following:

Once you comment out the code above, re-load the code onto the Arduino.
When the code is finished uploading nothing will happen, because you need to re-start the Pololu servo controller for the settings to kick in. You can simply unplug the Arduino and the plug it back in to refresh everything. The servos should now move a few degrees back and fourth. Don’t forget to power the servos separately and to have a common ground.

Servo Controller Test from Oscar G. Torres on Vimeo.

I daisy chained three servo controllers together so that I can control 20 servo motors. This is my first test, one serve per servo controller. So far so good.

Testing Servo Controller with Three Servos from Oscar G. Torres on Vimeo.

Earth Hour at NYU’s ITP Floor.

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

Earth Hour 2009!


YouTube Stuff:

Chrysler /Empire state building an hour ago:




South Africa:

Some other cities:

Oscar’s Thesis Concept: The ArtBot

Monday, March 9th, 2009


ArtBots are painting machines that paint their environment in a unique artistic style. They collaborate with each other and with an artist to make a painting. Each robot will have a personality which will translate to their brush strokes and painting style.

These are two quotes from a couple of my favorite artists that inspired me to pursue the concept of a robot artist:

“[painting] is colored dirt smeared on a flat surface, usually stretched around some wooden sticks. And it is for me, the most magical of all mediums. You smear that colored dirt and it makes space where there is no space” ~Chuck Close

“The photograph meant the death of painting, but its resulting to be the opposite. Thanks to photography, art is resuscitating.” ~Salvador Dali

This is what I think the robots will look like in a gallery setting:


The way the robots will function is similar to the way that Jackoon functioned. There will be a video camera in the ceiling that will track the movement of the robots and will be used to know when the robots should paint. All the logic for the painting composition and collision detection will be done in a laptop and sent to the robots with wireless communication. This is an image of the set up:

The mechanics for the mobility of a couple of the robots are inspired by Theo Jansen’s leg design. The other robots will have servo motors and are inspired by hexapod.

I am not the only one using Theo’s leg design, I have a feeling that this design will become very popular as time goes by.

This is a rough sketch of what the robot using the Theo’s leg design may look like, the arrows point to the direction they are facing:

And this is a robot who’s leg design is similar to Theo’s concept but I am hoping that I will be able to get better movement from this design.

This is a simplified sketch of the isolated legs and the places where joints exist:

These are the physical legs that I built and am in the process of testing and some videos that I took of the rough motion that is achieved by the respective designs:


Theo Jansen Leg Design from Oscar G. Torres on Vimeo.


Theo Jansen Inspired Leg from Oscar G. Torres on Vimeo.

Stay tuned for updates on the ArtBots!

D.B. Kim Website Launch

Saturday, February 21st, 2009


This is one of the sites I launched this week. D.B. Kim is a pretty popular designer. Its cool that I was able to help him with his site.

check it out! The scripts and web design is simple, I focused on the presentation of his portfolio, which is pretty impressive work.