You might already know about it, but Amazon can donate a percentage of all your purchases to a charity of your choice, so turn it on.
Pro-top: To maximize impact per dollar, pick a charity from this list of top performing ones.
If you missed the buzz about Spritz startup this week, let me tell you about it. The guys behind it developed an interesting technology that might help us all read faster without an extra effort. Key idea is to eliminate the unnecessary eye movement my properly positioning words. Unfortunately, there is nothing to download so far, but I think a lot of cool apps will be developed soon.
Squirt.io – browser application.
Here is how it works:
You might remember my recent post about “Moonwalking with Einstein” book about memory and mnemonics.
I first read about it in The Guardian article “How I learned a language in 22 hours” by the book author, Joshua Foer. Although, the title is somewhat misleading, the approach is very interesting. So, what is so special about Memrise? They have an interesting learning model. Primarily, the focus is on languages, but there is a whole range of secondary courses, ranging from “How to say I love you in 100 languages” to HTML5.
The first principle: spaced repetition. The words you are asked to remember are spaced in time in a precise manner with intervals calculated based on your past performance. By the way, the same principle is employed by simple app Anki which I once briefly mentioned in my post about GMAT.
The second principle: mnemonic. You are usually shown a picture or an idea that helps you remember a given word using associations. These so-called mems are added by members of community in the best crowd-sourcing traditions. The most voted-up are displayed.
And of course, they also use gamification, who does not?
Overall, it appears to be an interesting tool. However, it remains to be seen whether it is really a good idea to invest one’s time in it without a firm intention to actually learn a language. But learning to read a Chinese menu sounds like a fun thing to try anyway, all serious goals aside.
I could not find enough time to post here recently. I certainly have been doing more reading than writing. So, I thought why not to share some of things I read? And I decided to tell you about Quora.
As you most probably already know, Quora is a questions-answers website which succeeded in doing what Google and multiple other companies failed at: provide a decent quality of responses.
Several months ago they even created their own book “Best of Quora 2010-2012“, compiled of best answers, available for free download. It covers quite a range of topics. From Steve Jobs to moldy cheese, from neurological basis of curiosity to Jay-Z. I hope to find time and selectively read the most intriguing ones.
In a meanwhile, here is the short list of questions on the website itself that I found noteworthy:
Add me if you are there.
I devoted some of my time to self-education in September-December using the opportunity provided by Stanford University Venture Lab‘s online courses. In this post I would like to briefly describe my impressions and share some useful materials from the courses. Venture Lab courses are somewhat different from other online courses in that they take place during a specific time with specific deadlines, and you need to enroll in order to participate.
I tried three courses: Technology Entrepreneurship, Crash Course on Creativity, and Finance. As they are very different, I will tell you about each one separately.
This is probably the best one. Although, there are multiple opinions on whether entrepreneurship can be taught, there are a lot of useful materials.
If it is too late for you to participate, you might still benefit from these materials:
I think it takes about an hour a week or so to keep up with the lectures. But if you want to do more, for example communicate on forum, read recommended books, and actually try to apply ideas to some project, it will take longer, of course.
By the way, if you are interested in this topic, I highly recommend you these recent notes from Peter Thiel’s lectures. They also happen to be in Stanford. Computer Science dep. It will save another hundred thousand dollars. 😉
Just a couple of days ago I discovered a new promising Web 2.0 service called If this then that which is actually a new start-up project from San-Francisco.
Guys try to develop a kind of meta-tool which unites many others: Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader, Evernote, Delicious, Instagram, etc. Quite an interesting thing to play with, although it lies in a kind of geeky/nerdy field. But I actually believe that normal people can also find it useful for few things…
In short, the idea is to connect all those services through simple rules set-up by user. For example, “if somebody tags me in a photo at Facebook, send me an email about it” or “if I like a post in Google Reader, save it in my Evernote”.
The coolest thing about is that they also have SMS-service that can be used in the same manner as everything else.
Here are some usage ideas that I could come up with:
Recently I finished reading What Would Google Do by Jeff Jarvis. Judging by title I didn’t really expect lots of insights from the book but it appeared to be truly visionary and smart. It even made me kind of regret choosing Economics&Business major over Computer Science 7 years ago…
WWGD appeared not to be about Google itself but about the way business, economics, relationships and world in whole change as the result of technologies wide spread and simplification. So, in fact the book covers quite wide range of topics. From Google’s PageRank, to Facebook, new media, customized solutions, customer relations, blogging, Twitter, context advertising, search engine optimization, online communities management, government policies and many other.
RSS feeds is an awesome tool to save lots of time. You can get them all in the same place and not visit every single web-site to check if there are some updates. But often it becomes quite the opposite.
I personally have 573 subscriptions. That’s a lot. You risk looking at your favorite RSS feeds aggregator (like, Google Reader for example), seeing 1000+ unread items there and then spending half a day passively browsing through them. Instead of pursing your purpose and doing something that will bring you closer to your goals.
So, what are the lifehacks to minimize the time and maximize the value of reading blogs or other RSS feeds?
Disturbances and loss of the ability to focus seem to be the curse of modern world. All these social networks, messengers and ideas of “what to google” can make it pretty hard to concentrate on writing. But sometimes you just need to “unplug” in order to finish a good text, whatever it is: a blog post, an essay or a book.
There are software applications that allow you to do exactly that. Often you don’t need billions of formatting options, smart integration opportunities and other features of bloated Microsoft Office. What you need is to write. Then, you can do all the formatting, proof reading, illustration, etc. So, what are the best free tools that are perfect for this task?
As you may already know, Google Chrome has an amazing feature that let’s you edit search engines. And search engine means literally any website. What’s the practical application?
Well, if you type something like “great blog” and press enter, by default you’ll be redirected to Google. But you can set up your Chrome to use, let’s say, Yahoo when you type “y great blog” or Bing when you type “b great blog”. Sounds like a great life-hack and a time-saver, doesn’t it? So, instead of going to the other website you just add one letter before the query itself and Chrome uses the other search engine to find what you need.
First, you’ll need to know how to add a new search engine, I won’t go into details as there are a lot of tutorials on web at the moment.
I’m sure you can come up with lost of ideas on how to use this feature yourself, but let me sparkle your imagination a little with my own list of searches. Here is what I use and consider to be the most useful: