Free Lectures (videos) from Princeton on Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency

You have definitely heard of Bitcoin and wanted to know all the details. Bitcoin is the first decentralized peer-to-peer payment network that is powered by its users with no central authority or middlemen. It was the first practical implementation and is currently the most prominent triple entry bookkeeping system in existence.

Here are a series of lectures from Princeton University on Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency. The lectures are technical and address some important questions about Bitcoin, such as:

How does Bitcoin work? What makes Bitcoin different? How secure are your Bitcoins? How anonymous are Bitcoin users? What determines the price of Bitcoins? Can cryptocurrencies be regulated? What might the future hold?

After this course, you’ll know everything you need to be able to separate fact from fiction when reading claims about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. You’ll have the conceptual foundations you need to engineer secure software that interacts with the Bitcoin network. And you’ll be able to integrate ideas from Bitcoin in your own projects.

Here are the 11 video lectures.

1. Intro to Crypto and Cryptocurrencies

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Education Centers should think like big businesses when it comes to technology

Education centers, especially higher education centers, should take technology cues from the nation’s leading businesses. To be successful, the latest technology has to be leveraged to improve attendance, garner new students, retain current students, and improve the student’s overall experience. The following shows how big businesses are driving sales and gaining new customers, and how education centers can follow suit:

Leverage Data Visualization Software

The nation’s largest organizations understand the power of business intelligence, which is why they invest in data analytics and visualization software. Colleges, especially small technical schools, can benefit from using industry-leading software, such as Tableau or Microsoft Power BI. For a detailed comparison of these solutions, check out – Power BI vs Tableau. Comparing them is essential to learning which system provides the most benefit for a particular institution.

Basically, these programs incorporate all the big data collected from spreadsheets, storyboards, and other software. It then places it in a user-friendly space where it can be analyzed and interpreted by anyone. The benefits are immeasurable. It can help schools identify successful student traits, advertise more effectively, and reveal opportunities previously unseen.

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New and Interesting Augmented Reality (ARKit) Apps for iPhones and iPads

Robert Scoble published a list of ARKit Apps (Augmented Reality). I found it interesting and listing it here, in no particular order, for the records. You need an ARKit-enabled iPhone or iPad to play with these apps.

  1. Sketchfab – drop 3D objects near you.
  2. Orb – pull out basic shapes and then sculpt, rotate, and paint them to create your own Orbs.
  3. PuzzlAR: World Tour -puzzle game.
  4. Holo – see the quality of holograms.
  5. Army of Robots – you must destroy the robots that are invading your REAL WORLD.
  6. Paint Space AR – draw in the air with all sorts of brushes and colors.
  7. Math Ninja AR – get kids involved in learning math.
  8. World Brush – paint with brushes on the world around you.
  9. Follow Me Dragon – Say hi to your new dragon! He breathes fire, does tricks, and follows you anywhere you go!
  10. Insight Heart – explore the human heart; rotate and scale the high-resolution heart floating in front of you.
  11. Monster Park – Dino World – Would you like to make a hilarious photo with dinosaurs, those who ruled the Earth long time ago?
  12. Nitro Nation – For those who live life 1/4 mile at a time, Nitro Nation is the most addictive drag racing game!
  13. aCen – a target shooting game.
  14. Fitness AR – explore your Strava bike rides and runs in augmented reality.
  15. powARdup – a fast-paced arcade survival game.
  16. Magic Sudoku – aim this app at a sudoku board game and it’ll solve it for you.
  17. Dronetopolis – Fly a virtual drone around.
  18. Dance Reality – Learn to dance in AR.
  19. My Very Hungry Caterpillar – caterpillar game.
  20. Conduct AR – a train game.
  21. Color BlastAR – find the paint buckets and treasure chests hidden in your room and start blasting life-sized zombies with color.
  22. AR Runner – gets you to run around.
  23. Splitter Critters – Split the world with a swipe of your finger and then rearrange it to guide critters back to their spaceship.
  24. ARrived – The player assumes the role of a deity who must lead followers through key decisions and interacts with real environment in order to guide them reach prosperity and to all kinds of crazy stuff.
  25. GIPHY World: AR GIFs+Stickers – Get ready to fill the world around you with GIFs & stickers in glorious AR powered 3D!
  26. AR Sports Basketball – basketball game.
  27. AR-Basketball – basketball game.
  28. Drive Ahead! Minigolf – Minigolf.
  29. Mammoth Mini Golf AR – a wacky caveman themed world of mini golf right into your home.
  30. Stack AR – Stack up the blocks as high as you can.
  31. CARROT Weather – a crazy-powerful weather app that delivers hilariously twisted forecasts.
  32. Zombie Gunship Revenant – zombie shooter where you take control of a heavily-armed helicopter gunship and obliterate zombies from the sky.
  33. Pigeon Panic – run haphazardly into large flocks of pigeons.
  34. Phantogeist – first person shooter game.
  35. The Machines – bring an AR battlefield to life in front of your eyes.
  36. YuME: Alice’s Dream – a story about a dream within a dream – story, puzzles, games.
  37. Domino World – create incredible virtual domino courses quickly and easily in the world around you, using an assortment of tiles, props and toys.
  38. shARk – lets sharks enter your world and swim with you.
  39. Twilight Pioneers:Dragon ARena – a story about a dragon soul controller fighting with the Dark Lord.
  40. AR Balloons – pop Balloons in augmented reality.
  41. Knightfall – places you into the world of Knights Templar as they seek to defend the city of Acre from an invadaing army.
  42. The Box – every day you get new functionality.
  43. Mancala FS5 – a board game.

Praise in Public, Criticize in Private

Recently, I saw an Investor publishing a screenshot of his conversation with an entrepreneur. The investor (VC) was not happy that the entrepreneur texted him at odd hours. He ridiculed and told him not to contact him again. The entrepreneur was not happy and gave references to becoming Jack Ma one day.

Unfortunately, the VC made his unhappiness public on LinkedIn. He did not conceal the identity of the entrepreneur.

I was surprised that someone in that position, who ought to be more humble and modest, made fun of a budding entrepreneur. Such behaviors from Investors, Mentors, and Advisors are the things that create an air of discontent in the eco-system.

What happened to the doctrine, “Praise in Public, Criticize in Private”?

Whatever position you are in, the best policy is to be humble and modest. If you can’t afford do that, then silence is the next best option.

Stan Liu

Stan Liu

Sometime during late 2004, I got introduced to Stan Liu by a prominent author in the Macromedia Flash Community. It was the start of a lasting relationship which I will cherish throughout my life.

Stan Liu became our client. My team and I worked for him. He was really happy with the result. He offered me a partnership and owner equity to the new venture. Later, he even went on to get a term sheet from an Investor, north of $1.5M. However, he felt the terms were not in our favor. By then, my company got acquired and we both drifted apart, hibernating our business idea.

Stan and Joan

In the summer of 2005, I got a good opportunity to visit San Francisco. I got invited to Macromedia’s Lego program to spend a week with some of the best Flash folks in the world. I also decided to head to Los Angeles to meet Stan Liu. I have many fond memories of meeting the family — Stan, Joan, and the then 4-year old Khylen.

I had my first experience with a luxury sports car — rev his Porsche (and years later his Maserati). I also experienced my first authentic Chinese cuisine. I learned a thing or two more about Hollywood, got pretty much free entry to Disneyworld (he worked at Disney). I had my first Sushi at the Yoshida Sushi Bar. Later that winter, I went back to his place and repeated many events, including spending the Christmas-eve with his family and friends.

He encouraged me to try this, try that, made me experience many new events. I remember us attending an Adult Film Industry conference – laughing like crazy in-between our animated poses taking pictures with the stars. Unfortunately, I lost that photo collection.

When I left them that winter, River was on his way.

In 2010, by the time I left Paisa (Infinitely Beta) and was pondering on what to do next, I talked to him. We started Levoma, Inc. He, pretty much, bankrolled my stay in Silicon Valley to be part of the Founder Institute in 2010-2011. I survived frugally but he was always worried that I might run out of pocket money. When I visited them before I leave for India, I met the whole family – Stan, Joan, Khylen, and River.

Unfortunately, the business failed; we pulled the plug and decided to work together on something else in future.

The 8th of Aug, 2014 was a sad day. Stan pinged me on Skype for a talk. We had a long talk. He was sick and at a late stage. However, we drifted and discussed few business ideas instead. He was full of ideas, all the time.

In the summer of 2016, I visited Stan and his family once again. He picked me up at LAX, “You looked pretty much the same.” I replied, “I was worried but you look pretty cool too. I don’t think anything is happening with you.”

I realized he was tired, he was no longer as agile as I knew him earlier. But, he was still energetic and going strong. We discussed few business ideas again, introduced me to some new interesting VR stuffs, went to the movies with his family, joined their weekend family lunch, went shopping. I played few games with River and he beat me real bad; just like how Khylen used to beat me in his video games long back.

He saw me off to the Airport. As we hugged goodbye, he asked, “Do you need extra dollars in cash? Extra baggage, coffee, food! You never know when you need it.” He does that every time he drops me at the Airport. “I’m good. I’ll think over the idea, think of a plan. Let’s talk more.”

Last week, I got to know that Stan Liu is no more.

He was a caring person. I’ve lost a mentor, business partner, and good friend. Rest in Peace.

How product designers use Big Data Science to make durable products?

Two years ago, a self-driving Car was launched by Google. However, it was only a few minutes later that it blew brains of the people by stopping in the middle of the street when it confronted a woman seated in a wheelchair while she was chasing a running duck with her broomstick. The car took a halt till the road became clear and then started making an advanced contribution to the worldwide traffic safety.

The products have been evolved into smart and intelligent devices with embedded systems that are connected on the broader level, reshaping the product design, radically, on the whole. As the car stopped in the middle, this particular information has been sent to all the Google car by which no car will ever make a mistake when someone in a wheelchair comes across the street chasing a duck with a stick.

Another example that displays the advancement of product design is the changing design of smart thermostats. Designed to control the home devices by transmitting the individual data of the house to the manufacturers, these intelligent machines will be connected to a network that autonomously optimizes through coordination. The data that has been streamed on the location, environment, and operation will be sent to the makers who process it and then make upgraded products that eliminate all the errors.

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Accuracy in Analytics depends on understanding underlying cultural mechanisms

Former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Tip O’Neill famously said “all politics is local” when referring to the basic principles of his profession. In many ways, the same can be said of analytics. While the internet as a whole is sprawling and its user base massive, this seemingly singular entity is ultimately made up of thousands of different cultures and sub-cultures.

Similar to how a member of Congress wins re-election not by appealing to the nation but to his or her constituents back home, successful data science is less about deciphering the big picture and more about understanding the nuanced reasons why relatively small demographics generate the sorts of data patterns they do over time. To this end, there’s a certain element of anthropology involved in analytics.

Companies in Silicon Valley and other tech hubs around the world are acting accordingly. The decision to outsource analytics is becoming a more common one in these business circles. Rather than a matter of cost, it’s a matter of remaining relevant to a diverse spread of users.

In fact, tech companies in San Francisco and elsewhere are preferring to outsource analytics on an individual basis in order to appeal to a more talented pool of data scientists overseas. Rather than look for existing facilities to transfer duties to bottom dollar staff, businesses are offering enticing arrangements for independent contractors. These often include automatic payment via many international money transfer channels, scheduling freedoms, and access to cloud services for openers. If you are a top-level data scientist in China, India, or Sub-Saharan Africa, it is a good time to be open for business as a self-employed professional.

For tech business leaders getting inspired and are hiring data analytics specialists abroad, it’s critical to note the aforementioned geographical settings are themselves extremely broad generalizations of where the growth in internet users is its ripest. Within China, India, and the Sub-Saharan Africa are many dozens of sub-regions each with their own cultures.

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Meeting the Startups at Conquest, 2017

Last weekend, I was invited to talk and critique some of the Startups at the Conquest International Startup Challenge, 2017. It was short sessions of about 20-30 minutes each with the Startups. Most of them are looking for investments. The generic suggestion I mustered up was not to limit to investors in India but to look outside too. The other key missing piece was that they need to hustle a lot.

Here are the Startups I talked to;

Trell

Started as a handle on Instagram, Trell went on to become a sensation amongst young travelers, who love to look at pictures of local places to travel to. They leverage the finger-snappy millennials that love photographing places they visit and sharing with their friends and fans.

The Trell App is a buffet of picture-stories of interest to users who want to explore new places with their friends.

The team is doing a good job of hustling with the right audience, they have a really good traction. I was able to give them few technical feedback and suggestions, especially with the UI/UX of the app. They were interested in a more in-depth technical discussion on how to scale their image hosting/delivery mechanism to give their users the best picture quality at the most optimized setup. It is a solved problem and they should not worry too much about it.

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How To Quit Your Job And Become A Freelancer

The reason you show up day after day at your job is because you need a paycheck. On the surface of it, this looks like a good reason to continue to drag yourself to a place you’ve quietly come to despise and to associate with people with whom you have little in common. But, when you examine your predicament a little more closely, you can be much happier, freer, and more prosperous by becoming a freelancer.

So how do you become a freelancer?

Start by deciding what it is that you love to do. Once you’ve identified what it is—writing or photography, graphic design or making videos, throwing parties or organizing spaces—then it’s time to figure out how to get paid for it from multiple clients.

Next, come up with a business plan and fill in as many details as possible.

Finally, launch the business by building a website. Theoretically, you can launch your freelance business without a website, but it’s so much easier to interest clients if you can direct them to a website that explains what you can do for them.

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