Bonsai – Much more than just a great hobby

I have been dabbling with bonsai since I was 15 years old. I say “dabbling” intentionally since I do not consider myself a professional nor an expert. As a fan and lover of this form of art which goes back in time almost 1400 years I will tell you a little about:

  • What bonsai are
  • How you create a bonsai
  • Why I like this hobby so much
  • The ways I benefit personally
  • How I think it helps develop relevant skills

What are bonsai?

Bonsai are trees or shrubs that are planted in shallow pots and trained to remain small. The word bonsai is Japanese and is pronounced “bone-sigh”. It actually has two parts: “bon”, meaning tray or shallow pot; and “sai”, meaning plant. So, bonsai means tray planting.

Bonsai are not a particular species of plant; any tree or shrub can be trained to grow in this way. The art of bonsai lies in the training and shaping of the plant to create an aesthetically pleasing miniature tree.

If you want to read more about bonsai in Wikipedia here is a link:

How are bonsai created?

The basic principle of bonsai is to mimic the shape of a full-sized tree in a small form. There are different ways to achieve this, but the most common is through pruning of branches.

Pruning is the main way that bonsai are shaped. It involves carefully trimming and shaping the branches and leaves of the plant to create the desired effect. For example through pruning of the larger leaves or even defoliating (trimming all the leaves) you achieve smaller leave size and greater branching.

Also when you want to give a specific shape to branches or the trunk you can also apply wires. Once wired you bend the wood into the shape that you want.

In addition the root system is “pruned” every so often. Depending on the variety. and the age of the tree this can be every 1 to 2 years or longer. The goal of pruning the roots is to obtain the most roots in a small area so as to have it survive and obtain all its nutrients from the soil within the pot. This process is as important as all the other.

Each of these techniques and some others which you also resort to when needed require practice. If you are curious here you can find a little more information on these:

Here is also a pretty good video on the quick process but which gives you a good idea as to all the techniques that are applied:

Why I like this hobby so much

I really enjoy the creative aspect of bonsai. It is very satisfying to take a plant and carefully shape it into something beautiful. It is also very calming and relaxing, which is a nice contrast to the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

The personal benefits I have experienced from this hobby are numerous. First of all, it has helped me to develop a greater appreciation for nature. Working with plants and trees has given me a greater respect for the natural world.

Another benefit is that it has helped me to develop patience and perseverance. Bonsai take a long time to grow and shape, so it requires a lot of patience. It has also helped me to develop a greater attention to detail.

How I think it helps develop relevant skills

Also looking back I think this hobby has helped me to develop some important life skills. For example, it has helped me to learn how to plan and visualize. When shaping a bonsai, you need to have a clear vision of what you want the end result to look like. This requires planning and visualization skills.

I have also had to learn to improvise. At times, things do not go as expected, a branch breaks, part of the tree dies, etc. You have to adapt to whatever happens.

It has also helped me to develop perseverance. Bonsai require a lot of care and attention, and it can be easy to get discouraged when things are not going as planned. However, persevere you must if you want to create a beautiful bonsai.

I think that anyone who is looking for a hobby that is creative, calming, and challenging should consider bonsai. It is a great way to connect with nature and develop some important life skills.


Bonsai is a great hobby for many reasons. It helps you connect with living art and teaches you different skills like visualization, planning, and perseverance. If you are looking for a new hobby that can help you grow as a person, I encourage you to check out bonsai.

Like any art it takes time to develop the necessary expertise and skill and it is now just about buying one. If you want to

Now if you want to explore this world a little more go to your closest bonsai center do not just buy one in the flower shop these are usually going to die on you since the soil quality is not the right one or the pots have defects that make them accumulate water.

If you want to read about the techniques I recommend you John Yoshio Nakas books. He is an eminence in the realm of Bonsai. Here is a link to his books at

AI Explained in Simple Words and How to Start Using It

AI Artificial Brain Drawing

Most of the times when you read about AI you find lots of technical explanations, so that finding a non-technical AI explanation in simple words is rare.

End of last month I presented for Nautilus Cyberneering, at a webinar where we got invited to collaborate. I talked about AI. The other presenter talked about the Meta-verse. Both presentations aimed to clarify terms and concepts for non-technical business people. The goal was to create a good base understanding, simplify these topics, give examples, and share some advice on where to start.

This is a link to the webinar in case that you are interested. In case that you want to get a copy of the slides here they are.

In this post I intend to do the same but I will also give the example of how we are approaching the development of our AI. This insight will give you a better understanding of what you need to consider.

So, if you are looking for technical knowledge this article is not for you. Nevertheless, if you want to learn the basics and get a non technical explanation to know what is possible and where to start, keep reading.

How did I end up knowing a little about AI?

To start, I am not technical expert but I am interested in technology. I have worked in different roles in business for the last 20 years and have often used technology to overcome challenges wherever I worked.

As for AI, I started dabbling with it about 2 years ago. My first contact was a course by Udacity on AI product management. This course taught me its potential, its training methods, challenges, costs, etc. as well as how to look at it from a business point of view. It was a good entry point.

Hereafter, I continued reading on the topic, and by coincidence I ended up in a team developing an AI product, where I am now working as a business developer.

It is an ambitious Open-Source project, where we create the necessary base product, infrastructure and community around a concept of a simple and expandable command line AI assistant. Evidently, you can imagine that AI is a constant discussion topic and I am learning something new every day.

What we do in this project explained visually is this:

Nautilus Cyberneering AI Assistant Conceptual Project

AI in our daily lives

AI is already everywhere in our daily life. It has become a seamless integration in your day-to-day when you use your desktop computer, tablet, or mobile. You may be using it when you take a picture, search online searching, buy at your favorite online store, watch a movie or use your bank account.

Companies are using it all over the place. Netflix, Amazon, Google, your bank, etc. are just a few of them.

AI necessary basic understanding, conceptual differentiation, and types

To understand how you can use and how AI works, you first have to have a basic understanding of what AI is. It is also important to understand the difference between AI and the human mind.

What is AI? – In simple words

AI is a computer system that can learn and work on its own. It does this by using artificial intelligence algorithms, optimized or “taught”, so to say, to the machine.

However, what is an algorithm? An algorithm in the case of AI is a set of rules that have been created to solve a problem or accomplish some end. In the context of AI, these algorithm sets are what enable the computer system to learn and work on its own, be it for example image recognition, or any other task.

These algorithms are what make AI special and different from traditional computer systems. For example, the tasks an AI algorithm can perform are many, though it is often specialized to accomplish these in specific contexts or domains.

Conceptual AI – Strong vs Weak

There are two different types of AI: Strong AI and Weak AI.

Strong AI, named also general intelligence (AGI). This type of AI can solve any problem that a human mind can solve. It can think creatively, reason, and learn on its own. Strong AI does not exist yet, but scientists are working on it.

Weak AI, on the other hand, also called artificial narrow intelligence (ANI). An AI focused on solving specific tasks. Weak AI is the kind of AI that we have today. Most of the AI applications that we use today fall into this category. They describe it as “weak” but it can be very powerful.

Machine learning versus Deep learning – The differences

Now that we have a basic understanding of AI, let’s take a closer look at the two most popular types of AI: machine learning and deep learning.

As mentioned before, both deep learning and machine learning are sub-fields of artificial intelligence. And as you might have guessed, deep learning is a sub-field of machine learning.

So, what is the difference between machine learning and deep learning?

The main differences between machine learning and deep learning can be simplified as two:

  1. Machine Learning is more dependent on human supervision to learn through prepared structured data, and Deep Learning is capable of doing this unsupervised and even with unstructured data.
  2. The complexity of the layers of interrelated algorithms known as nodes, usually more than three layers of hidden nodes.

Here is an example setup of the layers in a Deep Learning Neural Network Algorithm:

Example set up of a Neural Network Layer setup (from left to right: Input layer, multiple hidden layers, and the output layer)

Rather complicated, if you know that there are hundreds and thousands or even millions of such layers.

Difference between the Human Mind and AI

AI vs Human Brain
AI vs Human Brain

Now, if we consider the previous discussion we can say that AI is good at processing data from specific preset contexts, it runs data through its algorithms which it adjusts to improve its accuracy and outcome.

The human mind, on the other hand, though not as fast in processing data, can learn and adapt itself to new contexts, for which it uses abstraction and creativity. Thanks to this ability we have survived over the millennia and evolved till today.

To better understand this difference, let’s take a look at an example.

Say you want to buy a new car. You would go online, research the different models, their prices, features, etc. This is all data processable by an AI system.

Now, let’s say you want to buy a new house. The research part would be the same, but you would also need to consider the location, the schools in the area, commute, etc. You possibly would imagine life in that area, how it would be, how convenient, etc. this is where abstraction and creativity come into play.

The human mind can take all this data and more, process it, and come up with a decision. The AI system, on the other hand, would need to be “taught” how to do this.

So, while AI is good at processing lots of data, the human mind is better at making decisions based on available data, and possibly better with little data, if it is in a completely new setting or context. And this is just one example of the difference between the human mind and AI.

Business use cases for AI in different industries

There are many different real-world applications of artificial intelligence today as I already mentioned before. The most common also in business are:

  • Fraud detection, discovering unusual bank transactions, etc.
  • Predicting consumer behavior, based on historic consumption and personal information
  • Speech recognition is used in many different industries such as healthcare, law, and customer service.
  • Image recognition is used in business for tasks such as product identification, facial recognition, security, document automation, etc.
  • Customer service is an industry that is using AI more and more to provide better service to customers.

This is just a small list of examples, but there are many other possible applications for AI in business today, and in the future, there will be even more.

AI is rapidly evolving and the potential uses for it are endless. I am convinced that shortly we will see more and more businesses using AI to automate tasks, improve efficiency, and make better decisions.

How much can it cost and how complex is it

Well according to an article which I read, it can cost as little as 0 € to about 300 k € to implement AI in your company.

The most complex is usually creating a custom AI model. For instance, GPT-3 a Natural Language Processing model which is currently “on fire” is said to have cost almost 5 million USD $. Do you need to do this though? NO!! There are cheaper and even free Models out there.

Now, here is a little overview of a cost chart.

In the image above you may have wondered about Open – Source. Open-Source stands for publicly available software, data sets, models which are frequently used in developments since they are either free or cost much less than so-called closed source equivalents. Also, for your information very often closed source software makes heavy use of open-source components for their development.

Recommendations on how to start using AI in your business or organization

Now when talking about the companies which are already using it heavily they have some common characteristics. They usually:

  • Produce lots of data
  • Have complex processes
  • Operate in variable settings or industries
  • Are large companies

So, if you are a small business or startup it is likely harder for you to start using AI. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

There are many different ways to start using AI in your business today. My advice here is to be practical and go for an incremental approach, not running off to look for “experts” right away. I would not do so now but later.

First, I would recommend the following to do in-house:

  1. Assign a person or a team to the task of getting familiar with the AI.
  2. Invest into training them on the basics
  3. Have them look at what data you are producing.
  4. Review your internal processes in search of complexity and large required time efforts.
  5. Have them research simple AI-empowered tools in the different areas.
  6. Check to which processes you can apply such tools.
  7. Implement these tools.

Second, now that you have an internal person or team with some practice, knowledge, and understanding of what can be achieved I would suggest to:

  1. Review the data and processes which require a custom approach due to the nature of your business.
  2. Contact external AI consultants and have them analyze your case and make a proposal and cost estimate of the required investment.

Important for this second phase is that when you approach them you have them consider Open-Source and not only consider large AI models, since according to several benchmarks smaller specialized models beat larger general models in predetermined contexts.


So there you have it. I hope that I could explain AI to you in simple words and give you some insight into the use cases. If so, you are now a little more knowledgeable about AI, how you can start using it in your business, and the ways it is impacting our lives.

To me it’s important to understand the basics so that one can conceptualize what is happening around us and differentiate between hype and potential. With the topic of AI there is always going to be people who over-hype things and make claims that AI will take over the world or do away with certain jobs.

I am sure that there are changes coming, but remember, as humans, we have an incredible ability to learn and adapt – something that artificial intelligence still has a lot of catching up to do o, but it is evident from the examples that AI used as a complementary tool lets people be much more productive.

Now, with all of this in mind, go forth and experiment with some AI tools! There are many great ones out there waiting to help you do your work. I leave you a list here of some that I am trying out right now.

Also if you want to read a little more on AI these are some links to articles that I wrote or re-shared:



Why bother to learn a programming language?

You are staring at a screen right now and it has been made with such languages. You use it every day, so why not learn a little more about them? They are used in your everyday life and they make it easier for you to do your work, browse on the internet, send an email, etc. They are essentially key to everything we do online, on a computer, on your mobile phone, etc.


Photo by Javier Esteban on Unsplash

Where to start?

If you want to check it out, start by those most used online. There is so much information online that you can easily learn more about them. They are:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript

Another language worth starting with for its readability and ease of learning is Python. It is similar to JavaScript in several ways and it is used also in many other fields not related to the web, like statistical analysis,etc. ….. besides you can learn to do some really fancy things with it, and possibly open new job opportunities.

Here is a good place to start with:

Otherwise you can look for some courses online:

As for me, I am going for it.



Online Teamwork Tools: Trello, Slack and Google Suite Apps

About two months ago I initiated a team with two others to work on some ideas. I did some research on web based applications and finally I decided to use Trello, Slack and combine them with Google’s apps. I wanted something free, that could be combined with each other, easy to use and with mobile app support.


The developers define it as a visual project collaboration tool that lets the user organize everything in the form of boards filled with lists. Its free plan is what I have used so far and I have found it very useful and simple to use. It lets you easily create private boards as well as team boards to which you can add members. Once you are on a board you create lists which you fill with so called cards. All these can be arranged and moved around on the board from one list to another or to another board, copied, deleted, etc. It is pretty straightforward and other options are available through the menu on the right. The configuration and set-up is easy and you can download mobile apps for the different operating systems to collaborate on the go.

Here are some screenshots to give you an idea.

Trello keyboard shortcuts


It is a team collaboration tool, focused on easing communication by letting you create different chat rooms per topic and add easily links, files, etc. It can be integrated with other third party applications like Trello, Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, etc. Its contents is searchable and filters can be applied. The configuration and set-up is easy and you can download mobile apps for the different operating systems to collaborate on the go. You also have the possibility to make individual or group calls, the latter however are not free.

Here are some screenshots to give you an idea.

Slack keyboard shortcuts

Google apps

They are the free online office applications set by Google. I had not used them much before but after having them used for team projects I have come to appreciate them. You have the standard offering of the paid Microsoft version for office. The whole range works well, it takes a little to get used to them. If you switch over to them from lets say Word or Excel you will possibly have no problem if you are a basic user. If you are a poweruser, however you will have to go and do for example some reading for sheets and customize it to suit your workflow.

When it comes to same time online collaboration the apps are impressive since all the team members can be connected at the same time after they have been granted access to the file or folder. One note though is that al will need a gmail account and to have a good internet connection.

Here is a screenshot to give you an idea of the range of cloud apps that can be handy to use.

Here is a link to the Google Suite learning center where you will find all the necessary information.

Also here are some reviews on some of the Google solutions:

Why use them?

Simply stated they are efficient and free, if you are on a tight budget or just do not feel like you want to pay for the software you want to use they are a good start to get going with teamwork.

Just give them a shot, they are free! You have got nothing to loose!

Let me know if you found this useful or whether you are using other tools for online collaboration.

Why not participate in a competition for new ideas or products?

Recently I heard through Facebook about a competition held by Clas Ohlson for new sustainable living products that they would incorporate into their offering

I thought about it and told myself why not take part?

Well I got in touch with some friends of mine and we are now looking for ideas.

How about you why don’t you give it a shot too. Its fun and interesting besides it can lead to great things, like maybe a new business idea. So what is holding you back, you have got nothing to loose and all to gain!

Clas Ohlson Product Innovation Challenge


Note: screenshot taken from


Tips to be creative

Tips to be creative

Are you creative or can you be creative?

I have met people who say that they are not creative. They accept things as given and do not even try to be. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy so to say. They will never come up with a bright idea because they do not consider even having one.

Ironically there are others, who when confronted with a problem, do not step back but step forward. They do not accept the status quo and give it a shot. They think of finding a solution and the fear of ridicule and failure is secondary. Some of the greatest inventors had hundreds of ideas before they came up with one bright one. This group creates the other stagnates.

What’s the difference between the two? — Their mindset.

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try” – Dr. Seuss

Creativity is just another skill

I have always been considered creative by others. In school it was because I was good at drawing and later at work, it was because I came up with solutions. Continue reading

How to and why to learn to work smarter with EXCEL

How and why Excel

The other day I was asked about my EXCEL skills. I have been using this program since my time in college and I have come to appreciate the benefit of investing some more time in it.

I think that everybody should know a little more about its use and benefits and get some tips to start learning. However the best is to start with an example of its potential.

From 10 to 3 minutes

If you could reduce the time you spend doing a task from 10 minutes to 3, would you? I definitely would, and often have had to, to stay sane.

You probably may think that this is not much of a deal, to save 7 minutes. However what if you had to do this 100 times in a row? You would save 700 minutes, almost 12 hours.

Continue reading

THE WEB: A tool or a place?

Is it a dumb question?

It may sound like a dumb question but it can be both and even more things.

The WEB is more and more part of our lives so that it deserves a place by itself among the things that everyone should know how to use. I do not consider myself an expert here but rather a skilled user. Can we live without it today and still remain part of our modern society? Nope.

It is a place… one click away

There are more than 3 billion people online today and the number is rising daily. Social networks, e-commerce, learning, etc. People go online to meet others, to interact, to learn, to play etc. More importantly it is the new face for many company’s that want to reach out to their customers 24 by 7, 365 days a year. It is many people’s face if they are involved socially in networks or your store’s front when selling goods online, etc.

For example, if you want to get information on the last tax changes, you go to your local IRS online office site. You want to order some food, you can go to your favorite place online place, the order and have it delivered. You want to visit a location before traveling their, you can. You go to Google Earth and see how it looks like. In a way you are always just one click away.

It is a tool

If you want to sell or be known you need to be online in some form or an another. The fact that so many people spend more and more time in front of those screens means that they are spending less going to actual places. Take me for example, I often am online for:

  • Information for my work
  • Things to buy online
  • Plan a trip
  • Communicate with my friends and family
  • Check email
  • Learn and study
  • Read news articles
  • Watch movies

It serves all these purposes just to name a few. If you are a business it is a mandatory to be present online to sell your brand, attract followers, new customers, etc.

Why learn more than just to use it?

More and more careers are connected or directly involved in the WEB. Programming, marketing, sales, etc. are becoming increasingly web dependent. You possibly use a computer for work, or at least to do some shopping online from time to time, in addition to your email you also may access the bank from there.

You can benefit from the Web whether you are an individual or a company, for example:

  • Getting new leads or job-offers
  • Connecting with other people
  • Promoting your own brand
  • Saving money, time, and effort on all your activities online

Is it expensive or difficult?

Nope, not at all. As for money, you can start out free and move to paid options with time. I know companies who decided to be present just in social networks and not have a website with their own blog. These companies set up their business online entirely for free, and just invested the time to learn how to use it and run it.

Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin have all free start packages. You can have your own blog for free or just register for low cost hosting services at I for instance use 1and1 and it costs me about 1 Euro a month, which comes with an additional registered domain name.

As for difficulty, The social networks are fairly intuitive and setting up a blog of your own in some companies can be as easy as dragging and dropping elements  to create your blog.

So why don’t you try and see for yourself?


Why another language?

Why should you?

Many people think that knowing English is sufficient. I disagree and some reasons to learn a new language are:

  • Capacity to understand and communicate with people from different backgrounds.
  • Potential plus when being considered for promotions in a company.
  • To use for work.
  • To travel to or live in a foreign country.
  • To use in negotiations.

If you work in the international scene every language becomes a major plus. I have worked in business and used German, English, Spanish and French over extended periods of time interchangeably, and can only recommend it.

Continue reading

Choosing what to learn and where?

What to learn ?

Whenever I approach a project I ask myself what do I want to achieve, and what do I need to know in order to achieve it.

If for example you want to learn something for fun you can just go ahead and do it without much thought. If you want to set up a business you possibly need to learn things that you had not considered before.

When choosing what to learn you have to be realist though and keep some things in mind: Continue reading