Posts Tagged ‘technology’

Reading and Writing Technology

Two skills have repeatedly served me well throughout school and startups: reading and writing.

While this may seem obvious at first, I think too many people take these skills for granted. The high tolerance of mediocre writing, and a growing reading deficit among college students in particular, is a dangerous signal if we wish to have a truly competent and educated workforce. Writing and reading well takes consistent effort with feedback. Thus, I’m always excited when I see people building tools to help make people read and write better.

Luckily, I’ve discovered three impressive tools in the past few months:

  • 750 Words
    • Write 750 words every day, unfiltered and unedited. Just get the words out of your head and onto the screen.
  • Hemingway
    • Useful for instantly identifying common grammar mistakes. It’s like having an english teacher peaking right over your shoulder.
  • Spritz
    • Just as sprinting is to running, spritz is to reading. Read and retain more on the go.

After using these tools you will notice that they are all simple and immediately useful. Common hindrances in technology products such as on-off switches,  complicated user-interfaces, instruction manuals, etc. are not found with any of these. Instead they all follow the 0123 design architecture. Again, any user can derive value from these products immediately.

Of course the heavyweights in terms of new reading and writing technology include the Amazon Kindle, tablets, and audio books. These innovations alone have helped to expand the minds of millions of people, while also helping us retain vast digital libraries. But I think it’s important to note that we are lucky to see even more reading and writing tools developed on the Internet, and they are allowing us to practice our literacy skills in ways that we could’ve only dreamed of a decade ago.


02 2014

Opportunity in an Artificial Age

Happy new year! Welcome to 2011, this year the tools and services we use on the internet will enrich our lives in ways we didn’t know were possible only a few short years ago. The strength and power of computers has grown significantly over the past decade. The internet has grown to dominate the personal and professional lives of those who use it regularly. Growing in parallel with this technological revolution is the perception that human intelligence is less robust than artificial intelligence. I strongly believe that opportunities for innovation on the internet lie in the human sphere.

The notion of artificial intelligence is hardly new but it has also rarely been implemented successfully online. The primary manifestation of the failure of artificial intelligence on the internet has been its lack of widespread adoption. A few companies, notably Pandora and Netflix, have struggled to produce an accurate and profitable customer recommendation system through the use of artificial intelligence. Just think how many times ‘Sex and the City 4’ has appeared in your Netflix recommended box. The old proverb, “Man must be smarter than the tools he operates” stands true. Merely gathering more data has failed to make computers more compatible with our emotionally-driven lives.

Mark Zuckerberg spoke at the Y-Combinator Startup School 2010 about our limited knowledge of the human brain. As he explained, medical research has yet to uncover the many mysteries of human thought processes. For example, doctors have only speculated on the origins of our dreams and their possible influences on our thoughts. If we humans are not truly aware of what causes the thoughts in our head and the decisions we make, how can we expect a computer to predict the outcomes of equivalent thoughts and reactions? Consider a dating site; how can computers match us with an ideal spouse when we do not truly know how or what we find attractive? We do not yet have the answer to that question. Instead, I feel that we should ask how the internet can meet, not simply interpret, the needs of an interconnected global population. One area in particular that has yet to be exploited is education. In the age of widespread communication through internet connections, video technology can be leveraged to teach knowledge-based courses online and empower internet users in the earliest stages of their academic careers. By taking an alternative approach to the implementation of technology, modern educators can use the internet to improve the quality and distribution of education.

Now you may ask: Where could I possibly be going with all of this, especially if your aim is to create disruptive technology? Essentially, I feel that there is an abundance of opportunity to meet the needs of an interconnected population. Even among the established industries, there are opportunities for disruption that even the smartest computers could not identify. The next generation of the web will require future-focused disruptors with an entrepreneurial drive to build relevant and useful technology. By encouraging entrepreneurship through the sciences in high school and college, students will be more adept to take on the challenge of advancing the capabilities of technology.

Also published on HunSchool.TV. Edited by David Merfield.


01 2011

Apple’s iPad: One Month Later

Leading up to the release of the Apple iPad, the tech world was buzzing all winter long after Apple released its plan on January 27th to sell its new touch screen tablet computer starting on April 2nd. Given the amount of press coverage this innovative product recieved over the last month, its hard to ignore and can not be passed by. The most recent one being their official release on the sale of the one millionth iPad, which provoked me to dig deeper into the subject.

iPad billboard advertisement

Courtesy of allaboutgeorge of and Creative Commons

By taking a look at similar product releases in Apple’s past, one common trait can be seen among all of their new products: they take a high demand technology that’s in its early stages and then combine that with their marketing and design choices to characterize their product as the most innovative and advanced choice available. The iPad is no exception. First, the iPad’s most distinct characteristic is that it is a fully functional portable computer, which operates very similar to its already existing iPod touch, which has been widely popular because of its touch screen technology that was first unveiled on the iPhone. In other words,  we’ve seen touch screen technology, 3G access, and portable laptops before, but never all in the same box.  Apple packed the necessary computer components (minus a keyboard) into a slim metal case, and thats what has allowed them to market the iPad as the most convenient and versatile computer ever.

Now lets look at the iPad strictly from a numbers point of view:

1,000,000 iPad’s sold in 28 days. (All Wi-Fi-only models, 3G launched separately on April 30th.)

$499,000,000 Gross sales revenue. (Assuming all units sold were the 16GB model to error on the safe side. $499/each)

$260,000,000 Bill of Materials estimate. $260/each. (48% profit margin)

$239,000,000 Net Profit

Or 2,419,200 seconds in 28 days, which equates to $98.79 profit per second.

Now, this is just assuming their cheapest model available and not considering other imperative variables to the sales funnel. Either way, Apple is doing historic sales numbers on the hardware alone, just imagine the possibilities when revenue streams such as international sales, App Store commissions, and accessories are factored in. Once again Apple strikes into the market flawlessly, proving their technological drive within the tech industry as a whole. I’m looking forward to seeing how Apple once again fights off the slow competition, except this time at the touch of  a screen.


05 2010

Web Analytics Apps That Deliver

Perhaps the most important part of trying to grow anything on the web is analyzing the data that you have generated. For the many activities that I participate online in, I need a variety of powerful tracking/analytics apps to monitor and analyze performance. Here are my favorite tools to keep track of my activity-

General Website Analytics –



  • An interface that makes data easy to digest.
  • Real time user data.
  • Self hosted.

Price: $30

Landing Page Optimization



  • Watch videos of real users interacting with your site.
  • Analysis of links on your page.
  • Optimize your landing page to maximize conversions and usability.

Price: Free account with limited features. Paid accounts start at $99/month.

Social Media Campaign Tracking



  • ROI based social media tracker.
  • Custom shortened url’s.
  • Provides real metrics to your social media profiles.

Price: $17/month for the basic plan.

User Interaction Analytics-



  • Analysis on your sales funnel.
  • Custom event tracking.
  • Simple integration with your site’s API.

Price: Free

Upcoming app to watch out for: – “AttentionWizard uses artificial intelligence algorithims to simulate human visual processing and attention. Our software instantly creates “attention heatmap” of your Web page that predicts where real people would look during the first few seconds of their visit.” (Currently in beta testing by invite only.)

Do you know of any web analytics apps that are simply spectacular in form and function?


09 2009

The Future of Web Development

All of the sudden actively maintain an online profile/identity has become mainstream. More people than ever before are sharing content and producing content, because web developers have made it extremely easy for them to do so. However, with the current generation of web developers reaching their prime now, where is the next generation of developers to continue building new programs, applications, and other tools on the web? Two blog posts that I’ve read recently explain just that:

Where is the Next Generation of Developers (

10 Skills developers will need in the next five years (

The younger generation is certainly involved with the computers, but they are not learning how to build these programs that they use everyday. This is not a good sign for the future of computer science, since computers use continues to grow, while education of how to use computers declines. Some of the most important reasons that kids are not interested in learning about programming are that to many it seems straight up boring, all of the programs that they need exist already, and educators don’t offer it to them in school.

First, the boring part can be fixed most of the time. To get kids interested in programming, engage them. Easier said than done, but if you make it relevant to their lives and provide meaning, they will want to learn. As for programs existing already, this is vital to applications that will be developed progressively. Understanding and manipulating existing code is vital to the innovation of currently developed applications. This is hard to solve though, because in most schools, computer science courses are limited and educators do not see the importance of computer programming literate students in the future. Checkout this eye-opening video:


04 2009