I listen to podcasts on my iPod Touch that expand my intellectual horizons and teach me new things while I work out, run or drive long distances. I also download a few videos to my iPad that I can watch instead of mind-numbing TV on some evenings at home—or more often on airplanes where there isn’t room to get out a laptop.

I’d like to pass along a few jewels I picked up over the holidays. I also read two good books over the break (not to mention a few detective novels for relaxation). “Necessary Endings” by Henry Cloud provides much advice on handling some of the “endings” in your business life—from dealing with difficult people, to difficult companies to parts of your life. The advice on working with three types of people—The Wise, The Foolish and The Evil—is worth the price of the book. “Moral Intelligence” provides a philosophical/psychological background that expands into practical advice on the benefits of acting morally in your personal and your business life.

One of the best suggestions I ever got was from John Hanks of National Instruments told me about IT Conversations. The site has evolved into the Conversations Network. It contains an eclectic mix of programs from Jeff and Joel on software to BioTech Nation. Later on I heard about the TED Talks. You can download those to your iPad and watch at your leisure. These are great talks on a variety of topics.

Some recommendations:

In this time of continued concern about the future of energy, technology specialists are looking for ways to better control how power is used in commercial buildings where people sometimes work twenty-four hours a day. Toby Considine, an expert on smart energy and Jon Udell discuss current activities to create an open source model that allows for better communications among the various technologies to develop a building automation system.

Creating the Geek Squad, great discussion of starting and running a business. As personal computers have become an everyday part of our lives, consumers and businesses have to deal with the issues and problems of technology. Robert Stephens created the Geek Squad as a way to help people correct computer problems quickly and easily. When Best Buy bought his company, he became CTO of the retail giant. He talks about his background, what led him to create Geek Squad, and how he developed a business model that depended on a flat fee structure, rather than hourly rates.

Wade Davis, In the Silence is one of the most gripping interviews I’ve ever heard. Dr. Moira Gunn talks about the life of explorer, George Mallory and his conquest of Everest with National Geographic’s Explorer-in-Residence & Anthropologist, Wade Davis.

Open Source v closed Source in Medical Devices makes you think about the software that keeps you alive. If you had to rely on a medical device implanted into your body to keep you alive, would you trust your life to a closed-source proprietary device manufacturer, or would you rather that it ran on software that was publicly available for review? In sharp, clear tones, Karen tells her story, presenting an entirely new perspective on the importance of open source software. Karen Sandler is the Executive Director of the GNOME foundation and a cyber-lawyer.

TED Talks about using the power of computers and the Internet for massive collboration. After re-purposing CAPTCHA so each human-typed response helps digitize books, Luis von Ahn wondered how else to use small contributions by many on the Internet for greater good. At TEDxCMU, he shares how his ambitious new project, Duolingo, will help millions learn a new language while translating the Web quickly and accurately — all for free.

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