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What Star Wars can Teach About Mentorship

What Star Wars can Teach About Mentorship

The Star Wars saga has many recurring themes - the struggle between desire and destiny, good and evil, impulse and discipline. However, a theme that particularly stands out throughout the series is the examination of the relationship between student and teacher. This theme is similar to the relationship that an IT provider should strive to have with their clients.


For today’s Star Wars Day blog, we’ll review some of the lessons that a professional can learn from the Star Wars films, as well as what the insights that the relationships shared by the characters can reveal about being a mentor, as well as the mentored. To do so, we’ll examine some moments and characters from the complete series thus far - Episodes I through VIII - and the stand-alone Rogue One.

WARNING: this article may spoil a few key moments from the series, so continue at your own caution.

How to Be a Mentor, According to Star Wars
There is no shortage of those who could be considered mentors throughout the series. From Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan/Old Ben Kenobi, Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa, and finally, Yoda, many characters accept the mantle of mentor… albeit begrudgingly, at times.

In order to be a mentor, there are two requirements that each of these characters present during the series. Likewise, many characters also exhibit just one or the other characteristic. Yet, as they do not exemplify both qualities, they don’t quite qualify as a true mentor. We will explore these characters in more detail later.

These two requirements are to be a committed educator, as well as an equally committed leader. Each of the mentors listed above have had the opportunity to be both, and rose to the occasion. Qui-Gon took the initiative to take a young slave into his care, campaigning to the Jedi Council for the ability to teach him. When Qui-Gon was dispatched by Darth Maul, Obi-Wan rose to the occasion and took up Anakin Skywalker as his padawan learner.

Years after Anakin succumbed to his fear and hubris to be reborn as Darth Vader, Obi-Wan continued to be a mentor under the name Ben Kenobi, teaching the Skywalker of the next generation how to embody the principles of the Jedi. Once this Skywalker, Luke, had learned to be a leader, he teamed up with his long lost sister, Princess Leia Organa, to defeat the Empire. While Leia continued to lead an underground organization committed to fighting the Empire’s last remnants, Luke retreated to a sanctuary to ensure he was able to train the next worthy Jedi.

Finally, we would be amiss if we neglected to mention Yoda’s involvement as a leader throughout the saga. From the very beginning of the story, Yoda was a respected leader of the Jedi Order, proving his worth on the battlefield and in the Senate. When the Empire rose, he retreated to his home planet in wait of the next generation of Jedi to train. He then passed on, but returned as a Force ghost to impart his wisdom again, later in the series’ timeline.

Lining Up Star Wars Mentorship with Our Own (and with The Odyssey)
As one might imagine, the concept of mentorship has been around for much longer than Star Wars has been. In fact, we get the word “mentor” from a character in Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey. Mentor was entrusted by the protagonist, Odysseus, to care for his son in his absence, and later assisted the young prince Telemachus in reuniting with his long-lost father by serving as his guide and, well, mentor.

In this way, Mentor serves a very similar purpose as many of the characters from Star Wars. By teaching another character and acting as a leader, he allows the protagonists to succeed in their quest - or, in the terminology more likely to be used in Star Wars, their mission. Furthermore, like the mentors to be found in Star Wars, Mentor shares a few characteristics with the mentors we see in the business world.

What Makes a Mentor, a Mentor
We’ve already established that a mentor should be a sort of amalgamation of a teacher, and a leader. This is admittedly a tricky balance to find, until you describe what kind of leader and teacher makes a mentor.

First, as a leader, you have to be able to be supportive as you take charge. As you work with a mentee, commit the time that the mentee needs to grow and devote your full attention to them. Just as Ben Kenobi understood Luke’s rage and bitterness after his aunt and uncle were slaughtered by the Empire’s stormtroopers, you need to be able to emphasize with your acolyte and guide them towards the higher purpose you can see them achieving.

As a teacher, it is important to also challenge those who you mentor. Not only should you assign tasks for your student to complete, these tasks should test the limits of their ability and set a standard that you expect them to meet. As Yoda challenged Luke to lift his X-wing fighter out of the swamps of Dagobah, he wasn’t coddling his student. Neither should you.

It is also important that, as their teacher, you review the lessons that have been imparted. These discussions will not only help ensure the information is retained, it will also encourage your mentee to draw their own conclusions. Remember, teachable moments happen all the time - it’s up to you to embrace them.

Finding Poor Examples in Rogue One
Alternatively, Rogue One offers a few examples of how to very much not be a positive leader. At the very beginning of the film, protagonist Jyn Urso’s father, Galen, is pressured into returning into the Empire’s service and designing the ultimate superweapon: the planet-destroying Death Star. In addition to being forced to work on a project he detests, he is stuck in a thoroughly unpleasant work environment. Oh, and did we mention that his wife was murdered and his daughter lost to him during the attack?

It should be no wonder, then, that instead of being loyal to his ‘employers,’ Galen instead decides to sabotage their operation from the inside. Hiding a critical weakness in the Death Star and sending word of it to the Rebel Alliance, Galen embodies the corporate espionage that a disgruntled employee could leverage against your business. A good leader sees the value in keeping an employee happy in two ways - first, it helps to keep that employee engaged and productive, and secondly, it reduces, if not eliminates, any ill will toward the organization.

In another example of the Empire’s failings in Rogue One, the antagonists of the film also leverage shady office politics to get a leg up on their superiors. For instance, Director Krennic elects to go over his commander’s head and out of the traditional chain of command, reporting directly to Darth Vader. As a commanding officer himself, Krennic serves as an example of what happens when office politics supersede the typical chain of command - and winds up being Force-choked into oblivion for his troubles. While it is highly unlikely that deviating from the chain of command will get you strangled like Krennic, it certainly doesn’t reflect well on you and shows a distinct lack of leadership and respect for the chain of command.

All this only goes to show that lessons in leadership can be found anywhere you look - even in a galaxy far, far away. Do you have any Jedi masters or mentors in your life? What have you learned from them? Share your thoughts in the comments, and may the Fourth be with you!

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Tip of the Week: Working from Google Home

Tip of the Week: Working from Google Home

It is no secret that Google can serve a great utility in the office through its many services and applications. However, have you ever considered how the Google Assistant can, well, assist you through devices like your smartphone and the assorted smart speakers that Google has produced? For today’s tip, we’ll review how some of the features of the Google Assistant can lend you a hand in the professional environment.


Basic Automation
Since productivity is one of the top goals in almost any office, it only makes sense to first focus on how using Google Home can boost your productivity through automation. While the device can serve many purposes on its own, it truly blossoms as a productivity tool through integrations with other devices and services.

For example, if you have equipped your office with smart lights or smart thermostats, you can adjust your office’s environment simply by telling Google to make the change you want. As a result, you can take greater control over your business environment without interrupting your productivity. After all, doesn’t it take much less time and effort to simply say, “Hey Google, turn off the lights in the conference room,” or “Hey Google, set temperature to 73 degrees,” than it would to interrupt what you were doing and go manually make the same changes?

More Advanced Automation (Kind Of)
If you’re at all familiar with the web service IFTTT, you can integrate it with your Google Home device to automate a variety of outcomes, based on predetermined triggers. It’s right in IFTTT’s name: If This, Then That.

Using IFTTT, you can connect your Google Home (or whichever Google device you’re using) to design your own commands that require the use of the Google Home. All you have to do is set “this” to be the Google Assistant, and choose the trigger you want your command to use. These triggers will all be of the spoken word variety, and each command can feature a few different variations. Once you’ve assigned the words to the command, click Create Trigger. To add the desired action you want automated, click through “that.”

You can then search through the available channels that you can trigger through your Google Assistant, select the one you want, and fill in the required configuration fields. Once you hit finish, your automated action will be active and ready to go when you are.

Activating More Commands
The Google Home devices have other utilities baked in that can be of some use to you in an office setting, especially if multiple devices are in use.

For instance, if your office is large and you can’t get ahold of someone through message or phone call, your Google Home device can function as an intercom. By accessing the Assistant on your smartphone, you can command the Google Home to “broadcast” and it will replay whatever message you speak into it afterwards to any Home devices connected to your account.

Of course, the Google Home devices are receptive to commands from multiple users, with up to six accounts being able to use the devices in their own way. The Google Home will even customize their answers based on the user making the request through its Voice Match training.

Finally, if a visitor to the office has something to share over the Google Home, the Guest mode allows them to connect directly to the device, without needing to connect to Wi-Fi. This means that you can keep your Wi-Fi password to yourself, and not give it out to every visitor to your office.

How else can you think of to use the Google Home to augment your day-to-day activities in the office? Share your ideas in the comments!

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What is Lorem Ipsum?
Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.


Why do we use it?
It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout. The point of using Lorem Ipsum is that it has a more-or-less normal distribution of letters, as opposed to using 'Content here, content here', making it look like readable English. Many desktop publishing packages and web page editors now use Lorem Ipsum as their default model text, and a search for 'lorem ipsum' will uncover many web sites still in their infancy. Various versions have evolved over the years, sometimes by accident, sometimes on purpose (injected humour and the like).

 

Where does it come from?
Contrary to popular belief, Lorem Ipsum is not simply random text. It has roots in a piece of classical Latin literature from 45 BC, making it over 2000 years old. Richard McClintock, a Latin professor at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, looked up one of the more obscure Latin words, consectetur, from a Lorem Ipsum passage, and going through the cites of the word in classical literature, discovered the undoubtable source. Lorem Ipsum comes from sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 of "de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum" (The Extremes of Good and Evil) by Cicero, written in 45 BC. This book is a treatise on the theory of ethics, very popular during the Renaissance. The first line of Lorem Ipsum, "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet..", comes from a line in section 1.10.32.

The standard chunk of Lorem Ipsum used since the 1500s is reproduced below for those interested. Sections 1.10.32 and 1.10.33 from "de Finibus Bonorum et Malorum" by Cicero are also reproduced in their exact original form, accompanied by English versions from the 1914 translation by H. Rackham.

Where can I get some?
There are many variations of passages of Lorem Ipsum available, but the majority have suffered alteration in some form, by injected humour, or randomised words which don't look even slightly believable. If you are going to use a passage of Lorem Ipsum, you need to be sure there isn't anything embarrassing hidden in the middle of text. All the Lorem Ipsum generators on the Internet tend to repeat predefined chunks as necessary, making this the first true generator on the Internet. It uses a dictionary of over 200 Latin words, combined with a handful of model sentence structures, to generate Lorem Ipsum which looks reasonable. The generated Lorem Ipsum is therefore always free from repetition, injected humour, or non-characteristic words etc.

 

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These 3 Industries are Being Fundamentally Changed by Smart Technology

These 3 Industries are Being Fundamentally Changed by Smart Technology

Smart technology has seen explosive growth in recent years, leading to an uptick in startups popping up to capitalize on smart tech and the innovative ways it can be leveraged. With demand for such devices increasing exponentially, it’s little wonder that many industries are diving into this technology. Today, we’ll discuss three of them.


Energy and Conservation
It should come as no surprise that a major driving force behind the use of smart technology is for this technology to use energy and natural resources more intelligently. Of course, it also doesn’t hurt that smart technology allows us to save time and money as well, through the automation of processes that once required a human touch to complete. In addition to making homes ‘smarter’ and more accommodating to the needs of those living in them, smart tech has been proven to be a major player in environmental conservation. Automated devices have been able to track and report on various kinds of environmental data, including waterflow, plant health, migration patterns, and many other variables, allowing us to use this data to improve our treatment of our environment.

Fitness and Health
Ever since the first ‘smart’ shoe - the Micropacer - was introduced in 1984 by Adidas, smart technology and fitness have been close companions. In just the past few years, devices like fitness bands and smartwatches have exploded in popularity, and more innovations have followed fast.

As fitness bands and watches have become more intelligent, the technology that powers them and their functions has improved as well. Now, features like application integration, improved functionality, and quicker response times are available in fabric form. These smart fabrics have led to innovations like smart socks and undergarments, fitness rings, shoe inserts, and other activewear and accessories hitting the market en masse. Using these technologies, everyone from the active exerciser to the casual enthusiast will be able to better measure and optimize their workout regimen, even avoiding injury.

Transportation
All over the world, one of the biggest time sinks is the battle to get from point A to point B. In many places, the commute to work can be stretched due to traffic congestion, and in others, impractical traffic patterns extend the amount of time spent sitting behind the wheel. This is one issue that is actively being worked on through smart technology now, as is evident by the aggressive research and development into driverless transportation. After all, with machine learning and AI behind the wheel, traffic as a whole could become a cohesive network, rather than the mass of individual, autonomous bodies all looking out for number one.

This is a concept that has long been considered as a solution for the persistent issues with mass transportation that have been evident since, well, mass transportation became a common thing. We have never been closer to successfully revolutionizing automated transportation in a way that is practical for widespread application. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and other places have experimented with concepts like Uber’s driverless cars. While this initiative didn’t go quite according to plan, it still demonstrated that this technology is on the cusp of market readiness.

What are your opinions on smart technology? Do you see it being adopted in more aspects of life, or do you see it as being a short-lived interest? Talk about it in the comments section!

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What is Nanotechnology, and How Can it Be Used?

What is Nanotechnology, and How Can it Be Used?

Technology is seemingly being made smaller and smaller. Just think about the size of the computers from the mid ‘90s until now. Sure, you can still buy huge a gaming PC with a four-foot tower with liquid cooling, or one that is a fish tank (complete with fake fish); but, the computer you use the most fits in the palm of your hand.


Nanotechnology is the smallest “technology” yet. At its core, it’s a manipulation of the smallest elements of matter, measured in nanometers. Consider that your fingernails grow at about a rate of a nanometer per second, or that a single molecule of water is about a quarter of a nanometer across, and it will give you an idea just how small a nanometer is. It is quite literally one-billionth of a meter.

That’s really the start. Nanotechnology deals with anything in that arena that measures between 1 and 100 nanometers, and largely consists of the engineering of structures that function inside or alongside nature’s nanomachine, cells.

How Is This Technology?
It really is a true combination of science, engineering, and technology. To answer the question, engineers are currently at work attempting to create smaller, more powerful microprocessors that could be used to adjust the practical uses of every material of the physical world. You could make structures stronger, cure disease, and alter matter at the subatomic level. If that’s not technology, I don’t know what is.

When semiconductor manufacturers create the latest and greatest processors or microprocessors for use in a myriad of devices, they measure their nodes in nanometers. Today, these manufacturers are working on the five nanometer chip--a feat thought impossible by many - until IBM announced they had developed one. If DNA is only two nanometers across, we may only be a short time until machines will fit everywhere.

Why Don’t People Know About It?
Nanotechnology is in its relative infancy. In 2017, Dr. George Tulevski of IBM spoke to the challenges the field faces going forward. His perspective was that nanotechnology development and research actually has slowed since the 1980s. In the same TED Talk, he opined that the use of carbon nanotubes could potentially improve computing tenfold, but the development of this technology is just in its early stages.

Is This Technology a Good Thing?
With people today only having a limited understanding of the technology, there aren’t a lot of trustworthy opinions on the issue. Intellectia even seem hedged about the applications of nanotechnology. On one hand, theoretically it could do more than any other technology to help the human race. On the other, any technology made from wonder, and with benevolent intentions, can also be manufactured for malevolent use. Like with other contemporary technologies such as artificial intelligence, researchers will have to move slowly and not let potential profits influence their release of products involving nanotechnology.

Do you consider nanotechnology to be interesting? Would you like to see how far this rabbit hole goes, or should we as a people leave well enough alone? Leave your thoughts in our comments section below, and return to read more great technology blogs from Infradapt.

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