May 2015 Articles

Brian X. Chen for the New York times on why customer service is critical to the overall customer experience when buying a new product or paying for a service.

Product reviews are broken. They are great at telling you about the speed of a computer or the brightness of a screen. But there’s a big gaping hole in evaluations of most products, from phones to computers to televisions.

The product evaluations neglect to mention the quality of a company’s customer service, which becomes the most important factor of all when problems or questions related to the product come up.

I learned this lesson from a bizarre experience with a Samsung oven that I bought last year.

Based on a new book, Simple Rules: How to Thrive in a Complex World by Donald Sull and Kathleen M. Eisenhardt.

The authors identify two types of simple rules: Those that can help you make decisions and those that can help you do things..The authors say the simple rules can be applied to work and personal challenges through a three-step process.

  1. Define what you want to do
  2. Choose a bottleneck
  3. Craft the rules

To be effective, the book says, simple rules must meet four conditions: They must be limited in number, tailored to the person or organization using them, applied to well-defined activities, and open to giving people latitude to exercise discretion.

All summer internships should be this cool.

This past summer I interned at Flipboard in Palo Alto, California. I worked on machine learning based problems, one of which was Image Upscaling. This post will show some preliminary results, discuss our model and its possible applications to Flipboard’s products.

Just thirteen days into May, I feel constantly reminded that May represents Mental Health Month. 2015 has been a rough year so far for many of my friends, so I’m taking time this month to improve my own mental health and lend support to friends in need.

I especially like Rachel’s reminders of the little things to do.

Om Malik’s article on Facebook Instant Articles caught my attention when he mentioned that from a large sample of Chartbeat data:

…57 percent of mobile users and 72 percent of desktop users [webpages] load within the first 8 seconds, and 12 percent and 8 percent, respectively, take longer than 20 seconds.

Eight seconds sounds like a ridiculous amount of time to wait for a webpage to load. The advice I’ve always gone by is from Google’s server response time guide which suggests a response time of 200 ms or less.

Malik goes on:

Facebook is right: Most of these pages take way too long to load. In 2004 Google pointed out that people are happy to wait about two seconds before getting frustrated with the page load. There is some latitude on mobile, but as LTE proliferates, people have less tolerance for slower page downloads.

Which again goes against Google’s advice of “making a page render in under a second on a mobile network”.

I agree, faster page load times should be the goal. I’m too familiar with pages that take seconds to load.

Ben Thompson with some interesting perspective on Bitcoin, what it could be outside of a monetary instrument, and alternate use cases for the underlying technology.

…what is most exciting about Bitcoin, at least from my perspective, are the first two points – that Bitcoin specifically, and the applications enabled by the Blockchain broadly, are digital (with all its attendant advantages, including worldwide instantaneous transferability, divisibility, tracking, etc.) yet scarce – in stark contrast to everything on the Internet that can be copied at no cost, much to the detriment of content producers in particular. This means Bitcoin could theoretically be used for all sorts of transactions, including messages, contracts, identity verification, etc., and, of course, monetary ones, where today’s digital applications just don’t work.

A new writer I discovered through Brianna Wu’s new blog Cosmodrome. Maddy Myers writes about her experience growing up.

I met Katie in elementary school. I was in fourth grade, she was in fifth, and we both attended the same after-school program. We invented a role-playing game together based on the tabletop games that our male friends played. We liked Magic: The Gathering and Dungeon & Dragons for the pictures and the aesthetic, but we both wanted more freedom. So Katie and I made up our own game, which I now realize was a live-action role-playing game.

It was no whimsical game of Calvinball, either; we were aged 9 and 10, so we were old enough to impose structure and canon and continuing story-lines.

We were married, in the game. Of course, Katie was role-playing as a man, and I was role-playing as a woman, so later in life, I ret-conned this experience in my head as “straight.” But deep down I know that the person I had feelings for was Katie, not her character.