Category Archives: Technology

HOT TAKE: Elon Should Manage Uber

Hear me out:

A) It’s a transportation company that needs a new CEO. Elon is a transportation entrepreneur who is CEO’ing a few companies already. What’s one more?. He’s the best in the world at it. Many of us love the service Uber provides and the industry it created. Who better to shepherd that company into the future than the man shepherding humanity in general to a sustainable future?

B) We can trust Elon (he’s the only one we can trust imo). He’s much more palatable than Travis Kalanick anyway. Imagine the influx of new talent at Uber with Elon Musk at the helm.

C) Uber is a massive threat/opportunity for Tesla’s business. In the future, no one will own cars. We’ll just use a network of privately owned automated vehicles at an extremely low cost. By controlling Uber, Elon can keep the massive competitor from becoming a strategic threat to Tesla by turning the company into a strategic partner and long term customer.

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Resources for Developers (or anyone “technical”)

Artificial Intelligence is the single most important endeavor ever under taken by humanity. If you care to learn the technical side of this venture, I’ve put together a short-and-growing list of resources to look at for introductory learning and exploration purposes.

Please enjoy and suggest additions.


Artificial Intelligence (MIT 6.034)

from the course description:

“introduces students to the basic knowledge representation, problem solving, and learning methods of artificial intelligence. Upon completion of 6.034, students should be able to develop intelligent systems by assembling solutions to concrete computational problems”

Deep Learning for Self-Driving Cars

MIT 6.S094

from the intro:

“an introduction to the practice of deep learning through the applied theme of building a self-driving car. It is open to beginners and is designed for those who are new to machine learning, but it can also benefit advanced researchers in the field looking for a practical overview of deep learning methods and their application.”

Develop Your First Neural Network in Python With Keras Step-By-Step

Introduction to Neural Networks on the high-level ML platform Keras.

Fast.Ai

trying to make AI less “exclusive”. Practical courses and tutorials. Cool branding.

Gitxiv

from the about page:

“GitXiv is a space to share collaborative open computer science projects. Countless Github and arXiv links are floating around the web. Its hard to keep track of these gems. GitXiv attempts to solve this problem by offering a collaboratively curated feed of projects. Each project is conveniently presented as arXiv + Github + Links + Discussion.”

Machine Learning with Andrew Ng on Coursera

This is the definitive college-level course on Machine Learning. It has nearly 12,000 reviews. I’m working through it presently. Includes a great intro/refresher to linear algebra (that I needed).

Thanks to Stanford for providing the material.

Machine Learning is Fun!

The world’s easiest introduction to Machine Learning

There’s also a video course on Lynda.

Recurrent Neural Network Tutorial for Artists

from the post:

“This post is not meant to be a comprehensive overview of recurrent neural networks. It is intended for readers without any machine learning background. The goal is to show artists and designers how to use a pre-trained neural network to produce interactive digital works using simple Javascript and p5.js library.”

Simple Reinforcement Learning with Tensorflow

Introduction to practical application of Q-learning and neural networks using TensorFlow.

TensorFlow for Poets

How to build an image classifier in TensorFlow for poets.

Johnny Boursiquot on building a software agency from scratch, learning Go for Rubyists, and server-less software architectures.

Listen to this episode of Hacker Practice on iTunes today.

Sometimes you start a conversation with one intention, and digress into something completely different.

This happened to me recently, in a conversation with an old friend and mentor, Johnny Boursiquot.

Johnny and I were supposed to do a deep dive into Go Lang and Ruby in this hour long conversation. Instead we spent half an hour talking about Johnny’s experience building a technology agency from scratch.

Then we got around to talking tech XD.

Johnny is well-known as one of the pillars of BostonRB. He also helped to organize the Boston GoLang meetup before moving to Maryland where he founded Baltimore’s GoLang Meetup.

He was listed on New Relic’s list of 18 Go Experts to Follow Online.

In the episode we talk about:

  • Johnny’s lessons learned from founding and building a tech agency, lots of juicy business advice for consulting companies and agencies in the first half of this talk
  • The relative pros and cons of using ruby vs go in different domains
  • How to get started using a new language

  • A quick primer in serverless application architectures

  • How intermediate devs can 10x their workflow

And a lot more.

Enjoy.

Notes

[00:00] What brings Johnny to Maryland after living more than a decade in Boston

  • What brought him to Boston in the first place

[02:30] Major lessons learned from time in Boston running a technology company

  • Running a company means that you’re responsible for other people’s income
  • Many unexpected challenges: biz dev, legal, etc

[05:15] How did Johnny get started in technology business.

  • Started with entrepreneurship in high school

[08:00] Learning how to do business

  • Dealing with clients
  • Managing expectation
  • Touching on the difference between hacking and building a product

[11:00] #1 Lesson? The difference between a service business and product business

  • Agencies do not scale the same way a product scales
  • Most agencies do not end up producing a lot of reusable technology or internal products
  • It’s hard to do internal product development because your staff is busy with revenue generating service activities
  • It’s risky to invest in product development

[20:00] What would Johnny do differently if he could start over?

  • Start a product company: raise money.

[23:00] What about the reverse situation? Making a profitable, successful agency.

  • Protect your margins
  • Be flexible with workflow; Agile doesn’t always work smoothly in an agency environment
  • “They want warez”
  • Your job is to tease out the specifics of what the client actually wants
  • “You’re not in control of your own product roadmap”

[27:30] How to mitigate risk of scope creep

  • Establish a relationship; a partnership to guarantee future work
  • Get a Master Services Agreement

[32:00] Segue to technical discussion. What is Ruby good for vs Golang?

  • Ruby for developing something fast. “Getting a web app out there as fast as possible”
  • GoLang is better for heavy lifting, whenever performance is a consideration

[37:45] What are Johnny’s tips for learning Go (or any language)

  • “Leave baggage at the door…appreciate the differences of Go”
  • There is a “Go Way” of doing things

[41:15] What kind of project should I try using GO in

  • Anything with heavy duty network requirements
  • Microservices (“Something you can throw away”)
  • “Gnarly, performance-critical jobs”
  • Concurrency in Go is super-awesome

[45:00] AWS Lambda and Serverless 101

  • Not actually “serverless”. That’s a marketing term. There is always a server somewhere.
  • Monolithic App > Microservices > Lambda functions
  • Everything is a discrete functional unit
  • Very cost-effective because the server only runs when you call the function

[51:30] What can an intermediate Rails developer to 10-20x their workflow

  • Look past the magic of the language (Ruby) or framework (Rails)
  • Learn the underlying properties of the WYSIWYG
  • Understand how SQL, HTTP, Databases, and CURL — fundamentals of the web — work
  • Learning the underlying complexity enables you to use the higher-level abstractions more rapidly

[59:00] Johnny’s relationship with the command line

  • Used to work in Windows, and mostly everything was a GUI
  • Put together command-line tools to build Flash experiences
  • Started using Ubuntu – understood that there are discrete tools to use and stitch together from the command line
  • Now uses a Mac. Everything can be done from the terminal

[1:05:45] Running swift on the server

[1:07:00] Johnny’s new life hack

  • Modified Pomodoro with a physical twist

[1:10:00] Johnny’s child-rearing hacks

    • Every child is different
    • Reward effort over innate qualities
    • Lots of people squander innate talent. Working hard never fails.

[1:14:00] Johnny’s new job at an education non-profit

  • Serving under-served school districts
  • Exposing diverse groups to the world of technology
  • Bring education equity to the communities that need it most
  • Mostly doing ops work these days
  • The biggest challenge is always dealing with people
  • Johnny loves pairing with more junior members

[1:20:00] Final requests to the audience and where to find Johnny

What now?

Go become a better programmer. And subscribe to the show on iTunes.

Industrial Design, Manufacturing Barbells, and B2B Sales with Chris Michaud

Listen to this episode of Hacker Practice on iTunes.

Building products from scratch is hard. Building a business is at least as difficult. A lot of young founders and entrepreneurs lose their minds trying to grapple with the interwoven complexities of these disciplines.

Chris Michaud has figured them both out.

Chris is a rising phenom in the world of industrial design and manufacturing. In 2015 he left a full-time gig and started First Summit Design, a product consulting group with a focus on industrial design for cool products. He’s since become involved with a number of other design-focused companies that we discuss in some depth.

We had a great conversation about hardware design and manufacturing, serial entrepreneurship and work/life balance.

I hope you enjoy this episode of Hacker Practice with Chris Michaud

Notes

[01:30] Justus and Chris met when they came together to work on an IoT project for a somewhat obscure sport.

[04:30] What is industrial design?

[06:15] Why Chris focuses on the ideas behind design rather than influential design figures.

[07:30] How Chris designed his fiancee’s engagement ring.

  • Research first: materials then user
  • Sketching

[09:15] Is design easier for one person or for a group?

[11:00] How did Chris develop the skill of sketching products

  • Education helped

[12:30] Chris’s first big product and how he went about designing it

[14:00] Good barbells vs GREAT barbells

[16:40] Why kettlebells might be an easier place to start designing for fitness equipment than a barbell

[17:45] Where is materials research important?

[18:45] Discussion on steel quality and impacting variables

  • Tensile strength
  • Yield strength
    • The weight at which steel will permanently
  • Percent elongation

[23:12] Why it’s important to think about manufacturing and assembly concerns during the design phase of a product

  • Design for Manufacturing
  • Design for Assembly

[27:30] Domestic vs international manufacturing

  • It depends on the thing you’re manufacturing
  • Chris likes to design where he manufactures

[31:10] Chris goes to a wedding in China

[33:00] Different regions in China do different kinds of manufacturing

[35:00] How does Chris vet new manufacturing relationships

  • Start with ten vendors
  • Rate each vendor on various aspects (price, social responsibility, etc)

[36:00] How Chris got a local Chinese government to shut down a chrome plating facility for unsafe labor practices

[38:45] Chris is a partner in four businesses

[46:00] How does Chris get big clients

  • Know your stuff
  • Always be meeting people.
  • “Word of mouth should be good enough, if you’re good enough.”

[50:00] Chris describes his sales process

  • Get to know them, ask invasive questions
  • Never tell them what you’re gonna do for them, tell them what you’re about

[52:00] Chris tells a horror story from a pitch that went wrong

[57:30] The future of the cannabis industry in Massachusetts

  • Focus on auxilary market

[1:00:00] Chris reveals a cannabis product idea

[1:01:00] What does serial entrepreneurship mean to Chris

  • Chris has a financial interest in 14 companies
  • Diversity is fun and freeing
  • Learn something new every day

[1:02:00] How does Chris prioritize?

  • Stay organized
  • Have a strong support team.
  • What does that team look like?

[1:03:50] What does Chris’s next hire look like?

  • A controller
  • With culture fit
  • Humility

[1:07:30] What’s the biggest challenge Chris deals with on a daily basis

  • Working too long
  • How the fiancee deals with Chris working late

[1:09:00] Chris’s biggest lesson learned in the last two years building several companies

  • What he does in his free time

[1:11:00] Last requests and contact information

What Now?

If you enjoyed my conversation with Chris subscribe to Hacker Practice on iTunes and leave us a review.

Peter Dunbar: B2B Sales and the Art of Conversation

Listen to this episode of Hacker Practice on iTunes!

Sales is really hard.

Technical people often discount the value of the work done in sales and marketing. They discount the value until they have to sell themselves or their product. Then they learn that sales is hard.

If you’re looking to improve your sales abilities, this is the episode for you.

Peter Dunbar is one the most engaging conversationalists I know. He’s willing to talk at length with just about anybody. He is fearless and determined and brings big contracts into any firm that he works with.

He’s also and avid hacker, but that will have to wait until part two.

Enjoy this episode of Hacker Practice with master salesman, Peter Dunbar.

Links:

known.creative

Core dna

Reach out to Peter:

Email: peter@knowncreative.co

Phone number after the jump*

Notes

[3.30] Peter describes how he has been able to get work through the art of conversation (without presenting a resume)

  • Peter uses conversation as a problem solving tool to “hack” an outcome or a goal

[4.45] What hacking means to Peter

  • Hacking is a “lifestyle”

[9.30] Peter describes how an unforgettable conversation with his thesis advisor changed the course of his career

[11.15] Peter describes the relationship between software and hardware when developing the Pavlok wearable

[15.45] Why resourcing is the biggest challenge in building a new hardware product

[17.30] Why running a crowdfunding campaign to launch a new product without any traction is a big mistake

[18.45] How the art of conversation has allowed Peter to transition from engineering to sales

[21.30] Why it’s important to adopt a sales mindset of helping the customer succeed along with you.

  • How a conversation with a support engineer was the catalyst for Peter being able to close a sales deal for one of the world’s largest e-commerce consumer brands
  • Peter was able to engage the CXO level by pointing out that their marketing strategy was being stonewalled by poor website architecture, preventing them from being able to develop a best practice ecommerce platform.

[27.50] How Peter called into a radio station to pitch to the GM of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) while he was being interviewed on air.

  • This opportunity bias helps Peter take advantage of such situations

[31.30] Why the feedback loop is so important in improving your sales process, especially in the face of rejection

[35.00] Peter discusses known.creative, a digital agency in Boston, Massachusetts where he now heads up sales.

  • How partnering with Core dna – an all-in-one SAAS Digital Platform has allowed known.creative to scale and offer global enterprise offerings to companies, at drastically reduced development and implementation costs

[37.50] Peter shares his thoughts on the marketing agency model

  • Why it is most important to be able to show how your solution will drive a positive ROI for your client. E.g. There is no point “selling” a $50k website if it won’t turn a positive ROI for your client
  • The importance of being frank about business relationships and focusing on making money.
  • Building and sustaining a long term relationship is critical in enabling both parties to make more money

[41.40] Why many ecommerce companies are naive about threats to their online platforms and IP

[46.30] Peter explains why security for the SMB/SME market is going to be a huge growth market

[48.40] How the legalisation of marijuana in Massachusetts is going to drive a new wave of tech/digital opportunities in the commercial landscape (outside of recreation)

[51.00] Why updating your website and making the effort to have a great digital presence, is so important, in building trust and engaging your customer base

[52.00] Why known.creative uses its own brand and website as a testing ground for solutions before engaging customers

[54.50] Reach out to Peter:

Email: peter@knowncreative.co

Cell: +1 (207) 649-5037 – only if you want to have a conversation!

What now?

Give Pete a call. Thank him for his time.

Then subscribe to this podcast on iTunes. And leave us a raving review 😀

Life at the Bleeding Edge of Technology (AI) and Education (MIT + Nuvu) with David Wang

Listen to Episode 7 of Hacker Practice on iTunes.

I met David Wang at a vegetarian restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was introduced to me by our mutual friend Naf Visser (episode 008). David and I sat outside in the sun. It was hot and I practically shotgunned my ginger turmeric smoothie.

I was working on a project and wanted his feedback. It was an artificial intelligence testing platform. David is one of the leading experts on autonomous systems, so who better to talk to?

The project never materialized, but I made a new friend.

We hit it off. David is a great listener with a kind demeanor. It’s probably apparent in our conversation here; David is as good with people as he is with technology. And he is very good with technology.

He has multiple degrees from MIT including a PhD in autonomous scheduling and planning. He worked on the F-35 fighter jet and his thesis code was used on the Mars Curiosity Rover. He’s worked everywhere from DARPA to Boeing to Pratt and Whitney. He knows as much about computer science and software development as anyone in the world.

Now he’s a co-founder at a school that’s redefining modern educational paradigms (Learn more about NuVu here). I’m so glad he had time for this conversation.

In today’s talk we go over:

  • AI – Past, present, and future.
  • How to learn complex topics quickly
  • Education and how David is fixing it.

Enjoy episode 7 of Hacker Practice with David Wang:


[2.45] David explains how we have come out of “Artificial Intelligence Winter” and why AI is about to take off

[5.10] AI ethics and morality and the end game

[5.45] David discusses how codifying algorithms lead him to forging a career in AI

[7.15] David discusses why following your hobby is a very important step in figuring out what you are on this planet to do:

  • David enjoyed building computers from scratch
  • Built a processor from logic gates in his spare time after studying

[13.30] David describes what it’s like working on research projects with DARPA – Advanced research project agency of the defence department. ARPA is most famous for creating the internet.

[14.45] Learning interesting topics – PHD automated planning and scheduling – AI subcategory

[16.45] David describes AI planning and scheduling in detail!

  • Ask how would we describe the world to a computer with true or false statements E.g. is the coffee cup on the table? True/false
  • We then have a language which we can use to describe the world as is and how we want it to be (known in the AI world as “the goal”)
  • Describe an action with a set of preconditioned statements that create a set of effects. Planning and scheduling involves sequencing these actions to get from your starting point to the goal.

[21.10] David describes planning system projects he worked on at MIT involving decision making algorithms to block malicious hacking tactics.

[23.20] David discusses the two types of hackers that are most dangerous

[25.00] David describes his experiences of working on AI robotics projects for Boeing

  • Why programming frameworks haven’t innovated until now

[34.20] How video gaming was David’s gateway drug to programming. David also describes how we can take learnings from video game construction to the real world and contextual AI applications.

[38.20] David discusses the concept, “you can do anything, but you can’t do everything”

[40.40] David describes personal hacks he has for learning

  • Start by asking why something is the way it is and understand the reasons behind something. Is there an intuition that is extractable that will allow you to remember why something is the way it is.

[42.45] David talks about working on Augmented Reality applications in smart homes

[44.30] Hacks to remember the names of people you meet

[49.00] David gives an example of how AR in the smart home context, could be used to help a non-technical person, solve a technical problem, without the need for a technician

[50.40] David gives his insights on Virtual Reality (VR) applications

[54.00] Discussion on learning and facing adversity

[56.40] David discusses his experiences working on the F-35 jet fighter

  • David would essentially imagine all the different ways the plane could fail and reverse engineer solutions to prevent failure
  • How David used the spiral development cycle to understand how the F-35 worked

[1.04.00] Complexity comes not necessarily from the technology but from the number of moving parts

  • David talks space exploration applications

[1.08.10] How David deals with the isolation of being at the top of a field

[1.10.20] Why it is so important to understand students underlying motivators to learn

[1.13.20] Why it is important to decide if college is the right medium for students. College shouldn’t be used as the only time to decide what you want to do with your life.

[1.16.45] David discusses why he started NuVu and shares his insights on teaching intuition

  • By realising that the projects that really piqued his interest during studies were all based on extracurricular activities, David went out to challenge the existing education model.

[1.20.30] What it’s like to run a school which has no classes, subjects or grades

  • Students need to come up with an idea they are super passionate about. They are then taught how to turn it into a great idea.
  • Students skills are then develop to turn this idea into a solution. The difference from formal learning here, is that they are invested in learning these skills because they are passionate, as opposed to being forced.
  • Encourage students to understand the fundamental concepts of human centred design thinking when ideating and developing their solution

[1.25.20] Justus gets David to deconstruct an idea using his teaching methodology. Spoiler: There is a lot of asking “why”

[1.31.30] How to not avoid losing sight of your original idea in the face of pivoting

[1.34.00] What someone could expect as a new student at NuVu

[1.37.10] How to start a school like NuVu on the cheap

  • NuVu is a private educational business that is not accredited. How important is accreditation? In the case of NuVu, it isn’t.
  • Ask, what does success look like for students leaving your school?
  • NuVu wants to create the innovators of the future. There is a strong emphasis on soft skills.

[1.43.30] The goal of working in a team is to create a giant brain

[1.46.30] David discusses a seasonal effective disorder (SED) project some of his students are working on

[1.48.20] What a parent who wants to send their child to NuVu need to know

[1.49.30] How David plans on scaling by helping existing schools adopt the NuVu education model

  • Use Maker Spaces more effectively

[1.53.20], David asks us to think about what success means to you and is college critical on that path to success?

What’s next?

If you enjoyed today’s episode, subscribe to Hacker Practice on iTunes (and leave a review please :D)

Andrew Dodson: How to build a Nuclear Power Plant in your Backyard (Make America Nuclear Again)(e005)

Listen to Hacker Practice on iTunes

Andrew Dodson is one of the smartest hackers I know. Our conversations typically happen over coffee and Go (the ancient board game). We talk about physics and simulation theory. In fact, he once loaned me Simulations by Jean Baudrillard and I never returned it (sorry Andrew!).

In episode 5 of Hacker Practice, I get started down a line of conversation I’ve been meaning to have for a long time.

I am deeply interested in sustainable technology. At the moment of writing I live on a small organic farm. My hands are literally dirty from playing in the greenhouse. No lie.

That’s why I spent most of this episode talking with Andrew about small-scale nuclear power. How can we do this on a farm or even neighborhood scale? Government regulation be damned!

Disclaimer: Andrew was calling in from a lab at MIT. There is a short interruption early in the episode that gives us a glimpse into a stealth nuclear startup at America’s best engineering school.

Learn the basics of nuclear power and more in today’s episode of Hacker Practice:

[2:45] Extreme Laser Tag – The greatest startup idea ever.

  • Graphene
  • Photodiodes
  • TENS Units
  • Extreme laser tag at low-orbit

[6:45] A welcome interruption from Dodson’s colleague, Matthias the super genius.

  • Postdoc gerbils
  • A brief peek inside a stealth nuclear startup…

[8:20] Andrew discusses boundaries necessary for working in startups

  • “People show who they are in their face”
  • “Startups can be… top heavy”
  • “These faces raise money… to get real people you need to be real people”

[10:30] Molten salt reactors

  • Ionic Compounds
  • Alternative to traditional light water reactors
  • Uranium fuel rods get hot, very hot.
  • How neutrons bouncing around cause nuclear chain reactions in enriched uranium fuel rods

[17:20] Components of a reactor

[18:20] Why higher temperatures are desirable

  • Why higher temperatures can be dangerous
  • “Spray a bunch of people with steam… coming out of a pressurized water reactor…that you can’t see… it’ll cut you in half.”
  • It’s all just a way to spin a pinwheel

[20:00] How to get started with nuclear engineering at home

[26:20] How could we put one of these nuclear reactors in your back yard

  • In the early days, small cores were all the rage
  • Highly enriched uranium is useful here (10-20 cm across)
  • High quality uranium fuel is a “political risk”
  • Where to find 99% enriched uranium
  • Building a vehicle-sized nuclear bomb

[29:20] What about Fukushima? Chernobyl Three Mile Island

  • They are blown out of proportion according to Dodson
  • Fossil fuels kill millions every year. Relatively, nuclear is extremely safe
  • Our generation (Y) needs to pursue this, NOW.

[31:25] Powering a farm with nuclear

  • Security concerns

[34:00] An ideal world where security is not a problem

  • Bury a cargo container with a reactor and turbine on the surface
  • Power my neighborhood for 40 years
  • Small reactors power aircraft carriers
  • Nuclear engineering secrets (hint: they’re military)

[36:30] Sources of fuel-quality Uranium

  • Downblending
  • Different grades of Uranium (civilian, weapons, etc)
  • How much Uranium costs per kilogram and where to get it

[38:30] Got the fuel, now what?

  • Shielding considerations
  • Burying the tank

[39:00] We built the reactor, what are my security precautions?

  • During operation
  • In case of a breach/leak
  • Radioactive worms
  • Basically: keep as much of it underground as you can
  • Worst-case scenario
  • Why you should eat plenty of spinach and fish

[51:15] Where to find Andrew (andrewmdodson@gmail.com)

  • Reach out to Andrew with the project you’re working on, it’s current status, and what your role is on the project.

Now What?

Go and design a miniature nuclear power plant! Then tell me about it!

If you enjoyed this episode of Hacker Practice, subscribe to the show  on iTunes.

Nari Savanorke-Joyce: Zen and the Art of Data Science

Camping on the coast of Maine 2016

I met Nari Savanorke-Joyce while living with 20 other people in a double-wide row home in Boston’s most elite neighborhood. She had just graduated from Wellesley College (Hillary Clinton’s Alma Mater) and was getting started in entry-level corporate America.

Within a year she had become one of her company’s most valuable data scientists.

Nari and I used to go sailing on the Charles River. We’d talk about economics, education, and the future of technology. Those conversations were fascinating to be a part of, so I thought: “Why not bring the genius of Nari on the show?”

As a professional, Nari takes cutting edge predictive models from the dusty shelves of academia and puts them to work on important business cases. She’s a technical expert in data science but more than that, she’s a chameleon who deftly maneuvers the social and political conditions of whatever situation she’s in.

Our conversation in episode 4 of Hacker Practice takes place on Skype, with Nari calling in from a poppin’ lounge in Stockholm. If you’re unfamiliar with data science or are looking for career advice for ambitious millennials, you will certainly enjoy this conversation with Nari Savanorke-Joyce:

[1.10] Why Nari booked a trip to Stockholm, Sweden on a whim

[5.50] How Nari learned about entrepreneurship through her parents

  • The importance of failure in the journey and grit required to bounce back

[6.30] Why Nari uses meditation to stay focused

[9.30] Adapting to the corporate world despite having entrepreneurship
in your blood

  • How to adapt to different environments
  • Parental influence in this domain

[13.50] Why putting yourself in a position where you aren’t in control is important for self-development

[16.10] Discussion on data science

Good data scientists excel in three directions:

  1. Domain expertise
  2. Computer science / programming skills
  3. Statistical modelling skills

DATA SCIENCE = Taking massive quantities of data and turning it into actionable insights

[18.30] Discussion on the methodology of data science (How to Data Science 101)

  1. Find a problem to solve
  2. Find the data
  3. Clean the data
  4.  Apply a model

[22.10] How an insurance company uses data science to stop insurance fraud?

  • Use models to predict low frequency high severity impact events

[30.30] Incentive structures in a data science role

[33.50] Using logistic regression to ask binary questions i.e. is person x likely to commit fraud?

  • Using survivor modelling to understand claim lifespan

[37.30] Why data cleansing is the most time consuming component of data science?

  • Using AI to detect pattern anomalies

[42.20] Discussion on behavioural economics (psychology and economics) and how to derive value in data science

[45.00] Behavioral economics is not classical economics

  • Can behavioral economics be used to improve lives and business?

[45.30] Specific advice for ambitious young people

  • Get out of debt
  • Find community with older people

[47.00] Importance in investing in continuous education

  • Focus on learning as a motivator

[51.50] Diversification vs focus lesson from Nari’s parents – “You have to go all in if you really want to pursue something”  

[55.00] On insurance start-ups attracting corporate talent

  • Begin with the “why” and be more than profit seeking

[58.10] Personal finance and budgeting

  • Awareness via categorisation of spending
  • Automatically save a percentage of your income

[1.03.20] Future of data science

  • Using data to continuously dive deeper and personalise – huge potential in the health sector

[1.05.00] Nari provides podcast interview tactics that she’d like to see adopted by Hacker Practice podcast

[1.06.00] Nari’s Top tier interviewees:

[1.10.10] Nari’s book recommendations

[1.15.10] Travel hacks to save money

  • Grocery stores are a great way to save money instead of eating out but also to learn about local food and culture
  • Walk everywhere, especially if the city or place you are visiting is compact

[1.16.20] Final piece of advice to listeners

  • Try 10 minutes of meditation per day

Conclusion

If you enjoyed the show please subscribe to Hacker Practice on iTunes. Hit me with suggestions of who you’d like to see on the show (@justuseapen). Leave me a review on iTunes. If you do any of these for me I will of course love you long time.

Thank you for listening!

Jesse Anderson: Mr. Big Data on Data Engineering, Creativity, and Nontraditional education (002)

Mr. Big Data, Jesse Anderson (http://jesse-anderson.com)

If you’ve ever heard the words “Big Data” and wondered what exactly that means, this is the episode for you.

Jesse Anderson is the person Fortune 100’s go to when they realize they are ill-equipped to handle the challenges of big data. He is a totally self-taught genius who is currently defining a new field of computer science call Data Engineering. In fact, he literally wrote the book on it.

Jesse’s work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, CNN, NPR, Wired, TechCrunch; just about everywhere.

His insights into the future of information technology and data were fascinating to explore. We also discuss his approach to learning and parenting and teaching creativity.

Listen to our discussion here:

Here are the notes from my talk with Jesse Anderson:

Continue reading

Start + Up

(This piece was originally distributed in my email newsletter. Thanks to everyone who contributed feedback.)

My first business venture was a lemonade stand. Cliché I know, but worth exploration because I did things a little differently…

My grandmother cared for me through my elementary school years.  She lived in a tiny apartment with a public swimming pool right across the yard. At the pool was a beautiful woman named Jamie who worked there as a lifeguard. She would babysit me regularly and I referred to her affectionately as “my girlfriend”.

During the summer months, I would impatiently wait for precisely 12:00 PM. Then I’d sprint out my grandmother’s back door, across the green grass to the gate of the pool. Jamie would be there testing chlorine levels and doing whatever lifeguards do to prepare for their day. I would help her in whatever way I could and she would teach me how to swim and hold my breath under water.

I’d stay from noon when the pool opened to 8pm when it closed. This was my summertime routine for years.

At some point, I became aware of lemonade stands as a rite of passage.

My first attempt was a stand right in front of my parent’s house. This was in autumn and the setting was a quiet suburban street. Nobody bought my lemonade.

I was bored and broke. I quickly gave up on selling lemonade after school in front of our old 1950’s-style rancher.

Then summer rolled around and an idea struck me.

I took my family’s lemonade stash to Grandma’s pool, set-up shop by a table with an empty tin to collect cash, and increased my prices from a quarter to a buck fifty. The apartment complex supplied a steady stream of thirsty pool goers and we quickly burnt through the first tub of lemonade.

We increased prices and I convinced Jamie to buy me some Maryland crabs so I could sell steamed them for several dollars a piece.

Of course, all good things come to an end, as my lemonade stand did when the fall came around. That was ok though, because we’d be back next year.

Boy, did that tiny business change my life.

I learned resilience, perseverance, and how to reinvest in a profitable process. I learned how to count change and how to handle customers. I knew how to get a loan (thanks Jamie) and manage inventory.

I learned how to iterate on a model. I learned that timing and location matters. I learned that there is seasonality in every market. I learned that a business doesn’t have to be an app with hockey stick growth. It can be a plastic table and a pool umbrella with some cool beverages and ice borrowed from the community club’s freezer.

It was my first business, but not my last. Since elementary school, I’ve been a freelancer, a CEO at a design firm, and the head of software at one of those hockey-stick startups.

Now I’m in the process of starting again. This time, I’m building the first Zombie Strategy FPS for SteamVR. The VR ecosystem is on the verge of a massive explosion in popularity. I love games and designing for new paradigms. This platform affords a litany of frontiers from interface to engineering. I can’t imagine a more dynamic industry.

If you have an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, please sign up for SURVIVE: VR now to be the first to play it when we launch our beta in the next few weeks.