Archive for the ‘Solve’ tag
Creative problem solving comes in all shapes and sizes. If you’re struggling with a particularly complex idea, Scientific American shares researcher Tony McCaffrey’s process dubbed the “generic parts technique.” More »
When faced with an incredibly difficult problem you might want to force yourself to solve it by trying a bunch of different solutions. Blogger Dave Lee has another possible way to tackle the problem: just look at it. More »
Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web. From Search Engine Land: How To Solve The Alan Turing Google Logo Puzzle Alan Turing’s 100th birthday is today and to honor his life, Google has one of the geekiest and mathematical…
Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
Alan Turing’s 100th birthday is today and to honor his life, Google has one of the geekiest and mathematical logos, aka Doodles, I’ve ever seen. The logo is a representation of the look and functionality of the Turing machine, a machine that was the stepping stone for modern computing….
Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
With so many niche charitable causes for celebrities to choose, how could you possibly pick just one? In his new PSA, Saturday Night Live alum Kevin Nealon goes for sheer quantity, tackling everything from infantile baldness and bulimic insomnia to out-of-work astronauts and texting while scuba diving. Bad news for the night vomiters, though: It's actually just an ad (made by TBWA\Chiat\Day in Los Angeles) encouraging pet adoptions and neutering. "There are a lot of problems out there, and unfortunately we can't do much about a lot of them," Nealon concludes. "But here's one you can do something about: homeless pets." Sure, it's pretty funny. But what about all those scruffy ex-astronauts panhandling down by the car wash? You could have been their hero, Kevin. Via Copyranter.
Next up: Knowing your “Who” gives you focus.
Many businesses will have multiple audiences:
- Core Customers
- Fringe Businesses (companies who also “touch” their customer)
- Shoppers who engage, but never transact (“attending audience“)
- Peers (could be competitors or collaborators)
- Neighboring Businesses
- Vendors & Suppliers
There are probably more we could list, though the top two audiences are who I’d put my focus. Write to them, for them, about them. Answer their questions. Solve their problems. Improve their lives.
Know your “Who”. Maintain Focus.
Quixey is an app discovery engine with a problem, and it’s not just the odd name.
Like many startups, Quixey’s key issue is finding talent — great talent. The Palo Alto-based company, founded in 2009, has to compete with the likes of Facebook, Apple, and Zynga for top engineering employees in an extremely hot job market filled with engineers.
So how does the company make sure it hires the best people for the job without wasting time on the wrong applicants? By playing games.
Top engineers, goes the theory, are smart. And they enjoy solving puzzles. So Quixey separates the sheep from the goats with a series of puzzles. Hopeful job-seekers sign up for a Quixey Challenge username and then attempt to solve a series of problems.
Here’s an example of a Quixey question:
Longest Common Subsequence
Calculates the longest subsequence common to the two input strings. (A subsequence is any sequence of letters in the same order they appear in the string, possibly skipping letters in between.)
a: The first string to consider.
b: The second string to consider.
The longest string which is a subsequence of both strings. (If multiple subsequences of equal length exist, either is OK.)
>>> longest_common_subsequence(‘headache’, ‘pentadactyl’)
The tests are not for the faint of heart — or the slow of brain. Applicants are timed as they solve the questions, and both their time and answers are recorded.
After the prospective employees complete a minimum of three practice questions, they are finally able to apply for an open position at Quixey. They’re told to provide their Quixey Challenge username along with the application, for the company’s human resources professionals to review.
Practice questions were just the start. Quixey has expanded its project and created an entire game based on being the best engineer which can help other companies find their good hires (and engineers make a little cash).
The company crowdsources challenges — users are invited to submit sample questions — and then opens up a competition like this one:
Names of winners and runners-up are posted online, and anyone can view the leaderboard.
It’s an ingenious method of unearthing the top talent in the engineering world and allowing a company to pick from the winners. This could be a perfect solution for other companies looking to hire great people fast.
Quixey has raised $24.2 in capital to date, with the vast majority of it coming in a second round raised in mid 2011 from Atlantic Bridge, SK Planet, and TransLink Capital. Google chairman Eric Schmidt is also an investor in the company.
Image credit via Shutterstock
Learn About and Solve Three Common Cooking Mistakes with These Recipe "Wheels of Misfortune" [Cooking]
According to America’s Test Kitchen, most cooking problems start from one of three small mistakes: inaccurate measurements, careless ingredient substitution, or poor ingredient preparation. To help you avoid those problems and become better cooks, the school created these illustrations explaining the mistakes and solutions. More »
Editor’s Note: This guest post was written by Mike Sha, who is the CEO of SigFig, a free online investment management service. Prior to SigFig, Sha held various key positions at Amazon, including running product at Amazon Payments.
To say Wall Street currently suffers from a deficit of trust would be an understatement. In the last few years alone, the government had to bail out Wall Street to the tune of $700 billion, Madoff and Stanford bilked investors of billions, and ex-Goldman executive Greg Smith’s damning op-ed in the New York Times gave everyday people a glimpse into Wall Street’s profits over people mentality.
In response to the recent fiascos on Wall Street, the government decided to subject the financial industry to its most widespread reform since the Great Depression: the nearly-850-page Dodd-Frank act. This complex regulation is only part of the solution and is a reactionary approach to solving a problem for which the fundamental root cause is surprisingly simple: people no longer trust Wall Street. Regulation may restore stability, but it won’t restore trust. So what will?
The 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer Survey found that more than 50% of people don’t trust the financial services and banking industries. Those results were poor enough to land both industries in the rock bottom two slots in both 2011 and 2012.
The flip side of this survey is that the technology industry was ranked as the most trusted for the sixth consecutive year. Why are technology companies 75% more trusted than financial services companies? Here are some of the things that have helped technology companies earn trust:
- Put Users First & Trust: Do what’s right for the user. Silicon Valley and the broader startup ecosystem has been raised in a “do what’s right for the user” culture which is desperately needed in industries like financial services, where the desperate search for profits has come at the expense of customers.
- Truth & Trust: The data never lies. Access to data, and computing power to crunch the data, enables the creation of high-quality, low-cost services that are highly accurate and infinitely scalable. Some industries, like search, are fundamentally built around data analysis, but as we enter the era of Big Data, we are already seeing the effects spread to other industries like health, advertising, retail, and more. Industries that have thrived on opaqueness, like finance, will be disrupted the most.
- Awesomeness & Trust: Focus on design and user experience. Well-designed, highly-polished products communicate to the user that a company cares about its product and gets the details right, which in turn earns user trust. Last year people shelled out over $125 billion to buy Apple products, but the emphasis on design has quickly spread beyond hardware. Software has enabled websites and mobile apps like Instagram, Pinterest, Fab.com, and Path to bring modern design to everyday life. But it’s not all about how it looks and feels – building services that are fast, stable, and bug free all add an overall feeling of reliability which also impacts user trust.
Several startups, including Square, Simple, and our company, SigFig, are embracing many of these principles to solve problems in finance and banking. At SigFig, we’re using data-driven advice to level the playing field between everyday investors and the investment industry at large, which thrives on opaqueness and puts profits before customers.
This tech-powered advice would be unbiased and driven by cold hard facts, not opinion or commissions. It would also be more robust since tech-powered advice could analyze thousands of products, unlike human investors who can only look at a fraction of that and whose attention is divided between hundreds of clients. Finally, this type of advice would be cheaper and more accessible to everyone, not just those with portfolios worth more than the $250,000 that many brokerages require.
As tax time approaches this year, it’s easy to imagine how ridiculous the idea of relying on a computer prepare your taxes would have seemed 30 years ago. And yet today, technology-powered services like TurboTax have made preparing taxes better, easier and cheaper for millions of people. Some day, hopefully soon, the same will be true across investments, banking, insurance, mortgages, and more.
Obviously, there is no silver bullet to win back trust; Wall Street will have to consistently prove it can be transparent and act in ways that show it deserves to be trusted. Still, we think that if Wall Street embraces technology, it will help to solve a lot of the issues that led to the distrust in the first place. If not, well, there’s a whole crop of startups that are embracing these principles and will change the industry on their own.
Image credit: Will Nathan, wmilesn.com
Dogpatch Labs, the incubator backed by Polaris Ventures, is perhaps most famous for helping out startups like Instagram, TurntableFM, Mixel, FancyHands and Formspring in their early days, out of offices in the Bay Area, NYC or Cambridge. It’s definitely had a higher profile in the U.S. than in Europe where it launched a Dublin-based offshoot 6 months ago. However, that move appears to be paying dividends, with DPL saying it has seen six investments of $1M or more already.
These include funding rounds for Profitero, the pricing intelligence for retailers, which announced a $1M investment by Irish VC Delta Partners.
And in January Biz Stone, Huddle’s Andy McLoughlin and 500 Startups put another $1M into Intercom.io a CRM tool for web businesses that features Google Analytics-like integration that tracks customer interactions.
Dog Patch isn’t just incubating startups. Nineteen-year-old hacker-turned coding evangelist James Whelton has based himself out of the Dublin office, where his Coder Dojo project has done workshops for coders as young as 4 everywhere from London to Tokyo.
Noel Ruane, head of Dog Patch’s operations in Europe says “the numbers do the talking. I’m confident this is just the start for Dog Patch Europe”.
It’s part of a wider trend. Incubators are rising once more in Europe, where startup teams find comfort in the close proximity of an incubator, in contrast to the spread out and geographically fragmented nature of the over-all European scene.
Recently we saw Springboard in the UK co-locate with Seedcamp (more of an accelerator programme) in Google’s new Campus London facility, the first of its type in the world. And Innovation Warehouse also houses its startups in a facility backed by the City of London, nearby.
But incubators aren’t for everyone and they have sometimes been criticised for locking startups into a model that isn’t built for longer term growth or follow-on investment. I guess Instagram may help to balance that perception in some people’s eyes, but we’re still waiting for something that big to come out of a European incubator.