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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

My topic for the presentation


The topic for my presentation is going to be big brother. I’m going to cover real world examples in which the internet has given aid to power structures in subverting the common man. No surprise most of these examples are going to be in China. Since they have a lot less regulations, and people are a bit more accepting of government overreach, they are a good foreshadowing.
One of the most notable examples of China using the internet to subvert the citizen is ‘the great firewall of china’. In this example they control one aspect of freedom. That is the free acquisition of knowledge. Many argue that the lack of net neutrality in the US could eventually lead to a less blatant version of this censorship.

The thing that worries me though is that in the year 2020, and experimental social media called ‘Sesame Credit’ will be compulsory to the citizens. This social media app will keep track of a social score almost like the credit history system in the US, except it applies to behaviors a user might have, like the people they surround themselves with and how ‘trustworthy’ they are as citizens.

 Many Chinese companies are starting to give benefits to users with higher scores. These benefits will eventually become punishments targeted at certain users. The point isn’t the arbitrary behaviors they are penalizing, but that It might force people to shun certain people or behaviors that might give them a lower score.

 If it means getting loans or better insurance rates, a lot of people might be inclined to cut off certain relationships, since friend’s scores on the site are also tied to the person’s ultimate score. How would you like it if you couldn’t buy a car because you like binge-watching cartoons on Netflix, and HamburgerCredit see’s it as a negative behavior warranting a lower social score? 1984 was a warning, now its an instructions manual.

Monday, November 27, 2017

virtual bubble bursts



In this topic we explored the Dotcom revolution and its fall. We discussed all the novel ways in which companies were finding out how to take advantage of the internet. People were becoming millionaires overnight. No one knew how to use the internet at first. It was very surprising to learn one of the few places that started selling physical things online was a wine vendor that shipped wine boxes. It was also interesting to see how fast the market was changing to where companies would ping in and out of relevance just as quickly. When companies were liquidating, people were buying stocks for insane amounts of money. There were even websites dedicated to aggregating information on the hot topic dotcom companies, speculating on the prices that would go up.

In my opinion this is kind of relevant to the crypto-currency meme today. I personally invested a good amount of money in some currency versions. Based on my speculations I would be risking a hefty amount of money (for my standards), but I could make a decent profit in some time.
Before seeing the dollar, signs show up on my eyes after staring at some candle-stick charts I would’ve never thought about dropping $350 on 1 single cypher of numbers that represented a single digital coin. Talking to my parents and other older people my investment seems foolish. How could I spend so much money buying a bunch of digital coins that don’t even physically exist?

It’s funny because I nearly doubled 6k in less than a year. They dropped their jaws. I could cash out now, and I’m very tempted in fact. I feel like there’s a solid risk to go the way of Icarus and lose everything in my greed. From my experience the market is comprised mostly of investors. The high value of each coin is mainly fueled by people looking to cash out in the near future. This might not be sustainable forever. One could probably see it as a parallel to the burst of the dotcom bubble. People just paying more than they should be because they see a profit, and eventually all will come crashing down once there’s uncertainty. Pretty scary, fam.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

CloudPWR, the PWR of CHNG

It isn't just about being a programmer. That was one of the lines Shadrach White, CEO of CloudPWR, started his talk with. He said there was a focus on tech degrees in college because that's the only thing people think the industry needs.

I learned that there was also a need for all kinds of people in Silicon Valley. All kinds of professions would be applicable since ultimately the product is a complete package, not just the commodity its offering, but other small detail that might give an edge against competition.

Another big point of the talk was talking about disintermediation. As explained, this is the effect technology has on the job market. As it advance it gets rid or the middle-man.

Shadrach took advantage of online VPS hosting to get rid of the need for deploying physical hardware on a site. His company, cloudPWR's business model revolves around getting contracts with government agencies to deploy network services at a much cheaper price. Compared to other companies, they only have to pay a bill to big Virtual Private Server providers to run their services on the "Cloud" instead of having to deploy and maintain expensive industrial grade hardware.

This in itself isn't a revolutionary model. Many companies have been starting to take advantage of the relatively cheap price to rent a virtual machine and opting for this option instead. Shadrach was simply involved in the industry as a systems administrator with some contacts and took advantage of the opportunity. Starting the company from his bedroom. I found that pretty inspiring and it just reminds me to always be perceptive to profitable opportunities, and to not be afraid to try to exploit them when given the chance. Its so easy to just say, "Someone might make a lot money off of that if they get lucky", staying in your current comfort bubble.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

A Window into the Legendary Silicon Valley

Startup.com is a documentary that follows Kaleil Isaza Tuzman, Tom Herman and Chieh Cheung, as they try to get their idea off the ground. Their company is supposed to capitalize on the inefficiency of having to interact with local governments to pay tickets or taxes. The result was developing govWorks. A company designed to eliminate the hassle.
We follow them as they try to gather investors to kick-start their company and eventually start expanding their workforce. They run into a myriad of issues along the way. The most petty one in the beginning was trying to get everyone on the same page on what to name the company. Kaleil seems to be very indecisive on what to settle on. This was excellent foreshadowing as later on there is bigger confrontation between the co-founders because of their different visions for the company. Namely when Kaleil and Tom disagree on how to run the tech department.

Personally I thought this documentary was not only entertaining but also gave a very good insider view on how the world of entrepreneurship works. To me it was clear that Kaleil was going through a lot of stress along the way. Scheduling meetings with investors and getting rejected by them seemed to cause him to lose his composure the most. Once there was enough people interested in the company he eventually found himself at odds with his fellow co-founders. At first Tom and Kaleil tried to get rid of Chieh because they thought he wasn't being passionate enough about the company.

They eventually had to buy off Chieh's shares in the company to get rid of him and this dissolved the friendship they had with him. Eventually the same problem occurred between Tom and Kaleil. They had known each other since high-school but Tom was distrustful of him and accused him of being Machiavellian. He decided to refuse to take a vacation because he thought Kaleil had alternative motives to getting Tom to take break. In the end the company tanked and Kaleil had to get rid of it. It was sad to see all their work fall flat after they had torn relationships for the sake of the company. Now I see where the saying 'never mix business and friendship' comes from.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Markup Languages are NOT programming languages

What is my favourite Adult swim show? Enter it below
Hint:it'S Pickle R_ _ _, WUBBULUBBADUBDUB

This assignment was to make a simple HTML script and make a blogpost about it. I personally thought it was pretty straight forward and simple. An overall pleasant experience. Can't say much about that in particular. I'll go on a more interesting tangent instead. 
My opinion is that everyone should know how to look at source code at a glance and get a general idea on what its doing. Once you learn how to read one language, you can understand almost any other at a glance because the essential properties of programming don't change. You hardly ever even need to be a programmer. If you know simple algebra you could acquire this skill in a couple days. It's just a mental roadblock people have, nothing more.  The reason I think acknowledging this is important is because of a little story I have.
Some night one of my technologically illiterate friends calls me late at night in a panic. I was just about ready to head to bed but he told me to come over because it was important. He lived close enough so I did. 
He shows me a computer with a google chrome instance running. The computer was lagging so bad you could hardly use it and there was a popup with a warning stating there was a virus install on this computer, and linked a number to an Indian Microsoft support scam company.  He was worried because it was his older sister's computer and told me he'd get in a lot of trouble if she found out he got a virus.
It didn't make sense to me that google chrome would be the one warning the user there was a virus. There's no way chrome itself could know, that's just not how it works. The popup was contained within chrome, else it would've made a separate tab on the desktop taskbar. This meant something was up with google chrome.

I open up the inspector tool for the page he was currently on, and big surprise; there was the culprit.
The culprit was a simple Javascript piece of code that looped itself infinitely. Chrome, not knowing to throttle itself would just keep running that process at full speed, taking up all the resources in the whole computer, making it super slow. All I did was I closed the tab and wabbam! I'm the super 1337 H@XX0r hero. Elliot Alderson, where you at??? 
It doesn't take a genius to use something made by average people, for average people. Just need to overcome yourself thinking that you have to be a Physicist to read some slightly unfriendly text. That is to say, of course you won't be a useful programmer. You need to have a high level of mathematics for that, but at least you wont be like my friend; calling a guy with a heavy Punjabi accent and paying him 100 dollars to get in your computer, only to open and close your command prompt a couple times to make you think he did something. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Conventional mail vs. Email

The similarities between the US postal office are merely symbolic. The underlying framework of how both systems work are not very similar technologies.

It is true that they can both transfer information. The contents of a physical mail document in your mailbox can contain the same amount of information as an Email received to one’s inbox.

They are similar in this sense but differ in every other. The postal service is obviously less efficient if your only goal is to transfer information. Email has the ability to almost instantaneously do this using the world wide web. It can’t transfer physical objects however, unless its a 3d model.

They both work by having two parties transfer and receive the mail. The transferring party sends it to an intermediary. In email it is the mail-server. For the mail it is the postal service.
The postal service has a network of physical nodes that receive and process packages; not unlike email servers. These then are transferred through transportation like dedicated trucks and air planes. This can be seen as the physical connections between all parties involved in Email transfer to the Internet service provider and it’s own connections. This gives the benefit that one can send and receive these at any time in any place, unlike the postal service.

It is also possible for a person to make their own private mail server. This can’t be done with physical mail for obvious reasons.

This also brings up an interesting relation to privacy.
Third parties can intercept packages in both methods. A curious postal worker can open a package or it can get open by accident. The same way many people involved in the transfer of email can snoop in to one’s packages.

The Internet is interesting though. If one wished, one can prop up their own email server and encrypt the transfer. Many measures can be taken to increase the privacy of this method. It is very cool in that aspect.

Thoughts on Erik Hanberg's talk

First of all, It was interesting to see how Erik was able to jump between a few business ventures given the motivation. I aspire to experiment in business like him, so it was inspiring to see someone pull it off.
My thoughts on the presentation is his situation is a perfect example of the internet having an impact on business. It is especially good since he was in the game right when the internet was beginning to show its practicality to entrepreneurs.
This concept of disintermediation is a very popular subject today. With the advances in deep learning, people are considering their jobs could be unavailable in the future.
Erik's business life was influenced by changes in technology with his ventures as a non-profit manager. He founded a theater that did better with its online presence than its physical presence. He was able to perceive this as a valuable insight rather than a negative and was able to invest time in learning how to exploit this technology.
Another interesting example I would've never considered is the publishing industry.
It seems the entry level for an aspiring author has been leveled and options for distributions of ones work has expanded. One no longer has to invest in buying a bulk of physical copies.
The most important thing I think I took away from this talk is that quote about how a publisher lost money when publishing a book about interesting internet sites a few months before a Yahoo Search became a thing.