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My experience as a Gazan girl getting into Silicon Valley companies

I’m a 19-year-old girl in Gaza, Palestine study­ing Computer Engineering who just was se­lected for a sum­mer in­tern­ship at Google and Repl.it. I never imag­ined this is pos­si­ble. I am shar­ing my story hop­ing it will help peo­ple in any way!

I be­came pas­sion­ate about pro­gram­ming in high school. My teacher se­lected me for a ro­bot­ics com­pe­ti­tion. We built a line fol­lower ro­bot us­ing Arduino. I to­tally loved the logic be­hind pro­gram­ming.

I started tak­ing on­line courses to learn how to pro­gram: an Edx class called Introduction to Computer Science” and I also joined Technovation, a cod­ing com­pe­ti­tion for high school girls. We built an app us­ing App Inventor which is sim­i­lar to Scratch. Gaza Sky Geeks con­nected us to men­tors to help us with build­ing the app. It helped phys­i­cally abused women reach spe­cial­ists for help. I loved build­ing some­thing so use­ful.

I was re­ally ex­cited to study Computer Engineering in uni­ver­sity but I was ner­vous about find­ing a job af­ter uni­ver­sity. In Gaza, there is such high un­em­ploy­ment. Even Computer Engineering grad­u­ates face un­em­ploy­ment.

The uni­ver­sity pro­gram was mostly fo­cused on the­o­ret­i­cal fun­da­men­tals about tech­nol­ogy and com­put­ers. I thought I needed some­thing more prac­ti­cal. Lucky me I saw a Facebook post for a full­stack soft­ware de­vel­op­ment boot­camp called RBK in Jordan. It used a Silicon Valley based Hack Reactor cur­ricu­lum and was fo­cused on hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence and it had a schol­ar­ship from Anera.

I ap­plied and was thrilled to be one of 30 who were ac­cepted with the schol­ar­ship out of an ap­pli­cant pool of ~800. I don’t know if you know how un­usual it is for an 18-year fe­male to leave Gaza. Thankfully my fam­ily was sup­port­ive and we were able to get the per­mits.

At RBK I built 3 full­stack apps us­ing the MERN stack us­ing ag­ile de­vel­op­ment. I loved work­ing with my scrum team and I think we learned a lot about soft skills, how to work with a team and meet dead­lines.

I came back to Gaza and lucky me, I saw an­other Facebook post in one of the tech face­book groups for Gazans. The post was about Manara which con­nects peo­ple in Palestine and the Middle East to jobs or in­tern­ships at global tech com­pa­nies. I thought Is that even pos­si­ble?”!

I got ex­cited and ap­plied and got in. We started the first two months with tech­ni­cal prep. Doing Leetcode, Pramp, and weekly lec­tures and home­work on Data Structure and Algorithm as­sign­ments. I used to think that solv­ing cod­ing prob­lems was tor­ture. But I started en­joy­ing this kind of chal­lenge. I com­peted with my class­mates to see who could solve more, and dis­cussing our so­lu­tions. It was re­ally in­ter­est­ing to see how dif­fer­ent peo­ple solved the same prob­lem.

We also got ac­cess to Educative.io course Grokking the Coding Interview: Patterns for Coding Questions” which re­ally helped me or­ga­nize all the learn­ing.

Here it comes the in­ter­est­ing part, we had the chance to e-meet with Silicon Valley en­gi­neers and prac­tice in­ter­views with them. That re­ally made a dif­fer­ence. I prac­ticed their ad­vice every day. They were all so nice and sup­port­ive. Some of them even told me how dif­fi­cult in­ter­views used to be when they started prac­tic­ing.

The study­ing was very in­tense but I felt mo­ti­vated be­cause of my class­mates, men­tors, mock in­ter­view­ers, and the Manara staff. Most of my class­mates got a hire” rec­om­men­da­tion on a mock in­ter­view be­fore I did. That mo­ti­vated me to work even harder!

In October 2020 Manara pro­vided re­fer­rals to Repl.it and Google. It was amaz­ing. I knew I would ap­ply to Google but I did­n’t know about Repl.it. Repl.it is my best friend as a de­vel­oper. I use it every day. I did­n’t re­al­ize I could work there!

In November 2020, my ap­pli­ca­tions for Google and Repl.it were both ac­cepted and the in­ter­views were sched­uled soon af­ter. I had my midterm ex­ams with uni­ver­sity dur­ing that time so I asked if it is pos­si­ble to resched­ule Google in­ter­views for two more weeks so I have the time to pre­pare. The re­cruiters are so un­der­stand­ing and my in­ter­views were resched­uled.

I still did­n’t feel I was ready. I stud­ied 10 hours a day. And that’s when I got my first hire” rec­om­men­da­tion on a mock in­ter­view, just a few days be­fore my Google in­ter­view. I started feel­ing more con­fi­dent and that mo­ti­vated me to work even harder.

In December 2020, I had my in­ter­views at both com­pa­nies.

At Google there were in­ter­views ex­actly like what Manara pre­pared us for: data struc­tures & al­go­rithms prob­lem-solv­ing. Each in­ter­view was an hour long and they were on the same day with an hour break be­tween. The in­ter­view­ers were su­per nice and that helped me through the in­ter­view. I was able to dis­cuss the think­ing process out loud while cod­ing. I can say that I had a re­ally fun time mak­ing the in­ter­views.

Repl.it’s in­ter­views were re­ally dif­fer­ent. First they gave me an op­er­a­tional trans­for­ma­tion home­work as­sign­ment. This was com­pletely new for me. The in­ter­viewer talked to me about the as­sign­ment and again it felt more like we were hav­ing a dis­cus­sion, shar­ing ideas we had. I felt well-pre­pared for the ques­tions I re­ceived dur­ing the in­ter­view, they were just like the home­work as­sign­ment.

For my sec­ond in­ter­view, about two weeks later, I had to pre­pare a pre­sen­ta­tion with ideas to im­prove the prod­uct. Manara con­nected me to a men­tor to prac­tice my pre­sen­ta­tion and that gave me the con­fi­dence that I was ready.

At Repl.it the in­ter­viewer was the same per­son each time, and he was re­ally smart & funny!

On January 1, 2021, I re­ceived an email from Repl.it let­ting me know that I had been se­lected. That was the BEST new year’s day I’ve ever had!

Later in January I re­ceived an email from my Google re­cruiter to in­form me that I got pos­i­tive feed­back on the in­ter­views and had passed the Google hir­ing com­mit­tee. That was a feel­ing that I will never for­get!

At Google I still had to find a team. A few days later, my re­cruiter emailed me be­cause there was a po­ten­tial team in­ter­ested in me. I had a 30-minute intern place­ment in­ter­view call.” The call was noth­ing tech­ni­cal, it was to get to know the team’s mis­sion and find out if the in­tern is in­ter­ested in join­ing, and to let the team know about my skills.

A few days later, my re­cruiter in­formed me that I got matched with the team and that I had reached the fi­nal step of the process which is ob­tain­ing ap­proval for my of­fer! HOW AMAZING — I al­most could­n’t be­lieve it!!

Now, here I am, with of­fers from two of the most fa­mous tech com­pa­nies in the world! I got a lit­tle stressed ac­tu­ally… I wanted to do both but they said I can’t be­cause they’re both dur­ing the sum­mer.

What I loved about Repl.it was the feel­ing that I could ex­plore dif­fer­ent ar­eas: fron­tend, back­end, in­fra­struc­ture. I’m still young and I’m not re­ally sure yet what I’ll want to do so a com­pany that lets me ex­plore like this would be ideal! I also re­ally liked the re­cruiter and the en­gi­neer who in­ter­viewed me and felt like I fit into the team.

I chose Google be­cause they will send me to Europe for the in­tern­ship. Having the chance to spend the sum­mer in Europe will be life-chang­ing for me. I’ve never been on an air­plane be­fore. My only time out of Gaza was when I went to RBK in Jordan! And I think I will learn a lot at Google.

I’m also re­ally ex­cited about earn­ing money. I want to help my par­ents pay for my younger broth­er’s ed­u­ca­tion and maybe I can help oth­ers too.

I am so proud to say that 4 out of 6 peo­ple who ap­plied to Google from my Manara co­hort got of­fers there. We will meet for the first time in Europe this sum­mer! The other 3 class­mates (Muath, Mohammed, and Hamza) live in the West Bank. I live in Gaza. It’s not far away but I can’t go to the West Bank and they can’t come here. I can’t wait to take a selfie in front of the Google of­fice to­gether and share it with every­one at Manara. :-)

I trav­eled close to the West Bank once when I was go­ing to Jordan for RBK but the per­mit I had only let me go straight to the bor­der, I was­n’t al­lowed to stop on the way.

I am so thank­ful for every­thing and every­one that helped through this jour­ney and es­pe­cially every­one at Manara!! Thank you to all the men­tors, mock in­ter­view­ers, and staff!

...

Read the original on daliaawad28.medium.com »

2 501 shares, 55 trendiness, words and minutes reading time

Google Cloud vs AWS Onboarding Comparison

As part of YCW21, Dendron was el­i­gi­ble for sig­nif­i­cant cred­its from all ma­jor cloud providers. This ar­ti­cles goes over my ex­pe­ri­ence re­deem­ing cred­its in two in par­tic­u­lar: AWS and Google Cloud.

DISCLAIMER: I used to work at AWS and have both con­scious and un­con­scious bi­ases to­wards my for­mer em­ployer 😅

sched­ul­ing a call a few days out

talked to AWS Startup Rep, a team com­prised of for­mer startup founders

talk about my use case and also got con­nected with team leads of folks in re­spec­tive AWS ser­vices where I had ques­tions

got all cred­its ap­plied im­me­di­ately af­ter the call

ac­cess to AWS YC slack as well as free busi­ness sup­port

book an ap­point­ment with a sales rep

sales rep wanted to know how much money I would spend with google cloud and re­peat­edly came back to that ques­tion (even though we were a pre-rev­enue startup with no pric­ing model at this point)

told rep about in­fra­struc­ture we were think­ing of us­ing but they needed a dol­lar monthly amount since they were in sales and did­n’t have an un­der­stand­ing of the in­fra­struc­ture

af­ter some hy­po­thet­i­cal num­bers, got for­warded to a google cloud part­ner, a third party con­sult­ing firm that would help get me cred­its

first avail­able slot for part­ner was three weeks out

got a small chunk of google cloud credit with terms that more would be added if these cred­its ran out

aws process

got all cred­its and perks right away

ac­cess to first party sup­port from AWS

google process

process is still on­go­ing (its been three weeks now)

get cred­its in chunks and still not sure what the terms are and when they re­new

first point of con­tact was a sales rep, now talk­ing to a third party part­ner

We used to have a joke at Amazon that if some­one did­n’t make it pass the in­ter­view loop, then they were once again up­graded to the po­si­tion of a cus­tomer. While I per­son­ally loved my time there, it is awe­some be­ing at the other end of the cus­tomer ob­sessed ma­chine.

As for google, I’m won­der­ing at this point if I’ll even get to talk to a google ac­count man­ager. The ini­tial on­board­ing call was en­tirely about how much money I was plan­ning on spend­ing with google (as op­posed to the Amazon call where they wanted to help me ar­chi­tect my ser­vice). Google Cloud has re­ally nice er­gonom­ics and world class en­gi­neers but an aw­ful rep­u­ta­tion for cus­tomer sup­port. My anec­do­tal ex­pe­ri­ence seems to sup­port this.

...

Read the original on www.kevinslin.com »

3 465 shares, 19 trendiness, words and minutes reading time

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The U.S. Air Force Just Admitted The F-35 Stealth Fighter Has Failed

The U. S. Air Force’s top of­fi­cer wants the ser­vice to de­velop an af­ford­able, light­weight fighter to re­place hun­dreds of Cold War-vintage F-16s and com­ple­ment a small fleet of so­phis­ti­cated—but costly and un­re­li­able—stealth fight­ers.

The re­sult would be a high-low mix of ex­pen­sive fifth-generation” F-22s and F-35s and in­ex­pen­sive fifth-generation-minus” jets, ex­plained Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown Jr.

If that plan sounds fa­mil­iar, it’s be­cause the Air Force a gen­er­a­tion ago launched de­vel­op­ment of an af­ford­able, light­weight fighter to re­place hun­dreds of Cold War-vintage F-16s and com­ple­ment a small fu­ture fleet of so­phis­ti­cated—but costly and un­re­li­able—stealth fight­ers.

But over 20 years of R&D, that light­weight re­place­ment fighter got heav­ier and more ex­pen­sive as the Air Force and lead con­trac­tor Lockheed Martin packed it with more and more new tech­nol­ogy.

Yes, we’re talk­ing about the F-35. The 25-ton stealth war­plane has be­come the very prob­lem it was sup­posed to solve. And now America needs a new fighter to solve that F-35 prob­lem, of­fi­cials said.

With a sticker price of around $100 mil­lion per plane, in­clud­ing the en­gine, the F-35 is ex­pen­sive. While stealthy and brim­ming with high-tech sen­sors, it’s also main­te­nance-in­ten­sive, buggy and un­re­li­able. The F-35 is not a low-cost, light­weight fighter,” said Dan Ward, a for­mer Air Force pro­gram man­ager and the au­thor of pop­u­lar busi­ness books in­clud­ing The Simplicity Cycle.

The F-35 is a Ferrari, Brown told re­porters last Wednesday. You don’t drive your Ferrari to work every day, you only drive it on Sundays. This is our high end’ [fighter], we want to make sure we don’t use it all for the low-end fight.”

I want to mod­er­ate how much we’re us­ing those air­craft,” Brown said.

Hence the need for a new low-end fighter to pick up the slack in day-to-day op­er­a­tions. Today, the Air Force’s roughly 1,000 F-16s meet that need. But the fly­ing branch has­n’t bought a new F-16 from Lockheed since 2001. The F-16s are old.

In his last in­ter­view be­fore leav­ing his post in January, Will Roper, the Air Force’s top ac­qui­si­tion of­fi­cial, floated the idea of new F-16 or­ders. But Brown shot down the idea, say­ing he does­n’t want more of the clas­sic planes.

The 17-ton, non-stealthy F-16 is too dif­fi­cult to up­grade with the lat­est soft­ware, Brown ex­plained. Instead of or­der­ing fresh F-16s, he said, the Air Force should ini­ti­ate a clean-sheet de­sign” for a new low-end fighter.

Brown’s com­ments are a tacit ad­mis­sion that the F-35 has failed. As con­ceived in the 1990s, the pro­gram was sup­posed to pro­duce thou­sands of fight­ers to dis­place al­most all of the ex­ist­ing tac­ti­cal war­planes in the in­ven­to­ries of the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.

The Air Force alone wanted nearly 1,800 F-35s to re­place ag­ing F-16s and A-10s and con­sti­tute the low end of a low-high fighter mix, with 180 twin-en­gine F-22s mak­ing up the high end.

But the Air Force and Lockheed baked fail­ure into the F-35’s very con­cept. They tried to make the F-35 do too much,” said Dan Grazier, an an­a­lyst with the Project on Government Oversight in Washington, D. C.

There’s a small-wing ver­sion for land-based op­er­a­tions, a big-wing ver­sion for the Navy’s cat­a­pult-equipped air­craft car­ri­ers and, for the small-deck as­sault ships the Marines ride in, a ver­ti­cal-land­ing model with a down­ward-blast­ing lift en­gine.

The com­plex­ity added cost. Rising costs im­posed de­lays. Delays gave de­vel­op­ers more time to add yet more com­plex­ity to the de­sign. Those ad­di­tions added more cost. Those costs re­sulted in more de­lays. So on and so forth.

Fifteen years af­ter the F-35’s first flight, the Air Force has just 250 of the jets. Now the ser­vice is sig­nal­ing pos­si­ble cuts to the pro­gram. It’s not for no rea­son that Brown has be­gun char­ac­ter­iz­ing the F-35 as a bou­tique, high-end fighter in the class of the F-22. The Air Force ended F-22 pro­duc­tion af­ter com­plet­ing just 195 copies.

Pentagon lead­ers have hinted that, as part of the U. S. mil­i­tary’s shift in fo­cus to­ward peer threats—that is, Russia and China—the Navy and Air Force might get big­ger shares of the U.S. mil­i­tary’s roughly $700-billion an­nual bud­get. All at the Army’s ex­pense.

If we’re go­ing to pull the trig­ger on a new fighter, now’s prob­a­bly the time,” Grazier said. The Air Force could end F-35 pro­duc­tion af­ter just a few hun­dred ex­am­ples and redi­rect tens of bil­lions of dol­lars to a new fighter pro­gram.

But it’s an open ques­tion whether the Air Force will ever suc­ceed in de­vel­op­ing a light, cheap fighter. The new low-end jet could suf­fer the same fate as the last low-end jet—the F-35—and steadily gain weight, com­plex­ity and cost un­til it be­comes, well, a high-end jet.

If that hap­pens, as it’s hap­pened be­fore, then some fu­ture Air Force chief of staff might tell re­porters—in, say, the year 2041—that the new F-36 is a Ferrari and you don’t drive your Ferrari to work every day.

To fi­nally re­place its 60-year-old F-16s, this fu­ture gen­eral might say, the Air Force should de­velop an af­ford­able, light­weight fighter.

...

Read the original on www.forbes.com »

5 384 shares, 30 trendiness, words and minutes reading time

California can enforce net neutrality law, judge rules in loss for ISPs

California can start en­forc­ing the net neu­tral­ity law it en­acted over two years ago, a fed­eral judge ruled yes­ter­day in a loss for Internet ser­vice providers.

Broadband-industry lobby groups’ mo­tion for a pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion was de­nied by Judge John Mendez of US District Court for the Eastern District of California. Mendez did not is­sue a writ­ten or­der but an­nounced his rul­ing at a hear­ing, and his de­nial of the ISPs’ mo­tion was noted in the docket.

Mendez re­port­edly was not swayed by ISPs’ claims that a net neu­tral­ity law is­n’t nec­es­sary be­cause they haven’t been block­ing or throt­tling Internet traf­fic.

I have heard that ar­gu­ment and I don’t find it per­sua­sive,” Mendez said, ac­cord­ing to The Hollywood Reporter. It’s go­ing to fall on deaf ears. Everyone has been on their best be­hav­ior since 2018, wait­ing for what­ever hap­pened in the DC Circuit [court case over the FCCs re­peal of net neu­tral­ity]. I don’t place weight on the ar­gu­ment that every­thing is fine and we don’t need to worry.”

Mendez, who was nom­i­nated by President Bush in 2008, also said, This de­ci­sion to­day is a le­gal de­ci­sion and should­n’t be viewed in the po­lit­i­cal lens. I’m not ex­press­ing any­thing on the sound­ness of the pol­icy. That might bet­ter be re­solved by Congress than by fed­eral courts.”

The in­dus­try lobby groups’ law­suit against California will con­tinue, but the state can en­force its law while the case is still pend­ing. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra praised the rul­ing, say­ing it means that California can soon be­gin en­force­ment of SB 822,” the net neu­tral­ity law.

The abil­ity of an Internet ser­vice provider to block, slow down, or speed up con­tent based on a user’s abil­ity to pay for ser­vice de­grades the very idea of a com­pet­i­tive mar­ket­place and the open trans­fer of in­for­ma­tion at the core of our in­creas­ingly dig­i­tal and con­nected world,” Becerra said.

The law­suit against California was filed by the ma­jor broad­band-in­dus­try lobby groups rep­re­sent­ing wired and mo­bile Internet providers. Those groups are the American Cable Association, CTIA-The Wireless Association, NCTA-The Internet & Television Association, and USTelecom.

Today’s fed­eral court rul­ing al­low­ing California to en­force our net neu­tral­ity law is a huge vic­tory for open ac­cess to the Internet, our democ­racy, and our econ­omy,” said Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who in­tro­duced California’s net neu­tral­ity leg­is­la­tion. The Internet is at the heart of mod­ern life. We all should be able to de­cide for our­selves where we go on the Internet and how we ac­cess in­for­ma­tion. We can­not al­low big cor­po­ra­tions to make those de­ci­sions for us.”

California’s net neu­tral­ity law was also chal­lenged by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s Department of Justice. President Biden’s DOJ vol­un­tar­ily dropped the law­suit, leav­ing the broad­band-in­dus­try case as the re­main­ing le­gal ob­sta­cle for California.

When the in­dus­try and DOJ filed their law­suits in 2018, California agreed to sus­pend en­force­ment of the state law un­til the end of lit­i­ga­tion over then-Fed­eral Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai’s ac­tions against net neu­tral­ity reg­u­la­tion. Pai’s re­peal of FCC net neu­tral­ity rules was sub­se­quently up­held, but he lost his at­tempt to pre­empt all state laws.

Despite the FCCs loss on pre­emp­tion, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion and broad­band in­dus­try re­sumed their fight against California, claim­ing the state law could­n’t be en­forced be­cause the FCC has exclusive re­spon­si­bil­ity” for reg­u­lat­ing in­ter­state com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Internet com­mu­ni­ca­tions are in­her­ently in­ter­state.” After the Biden ad­min­is­tra­tion dropped the US law­suit against California, the state said that the United States’ vol­un­tary dis­missal of its law­suit un­der­scores Defendant’s ar­gu­ments that SB 822 is not pre­empted.”

The California law pro­hibits Internet ser­vice providers from block­ing or throt­tling law­ful traf­fic. It also pro­hibits re­quir­ing fees from web­sites or on­line ser­vices to de­liver or pri­or­i­tize their traf­fic to con­sumers, bans paid data cap ex­emp­tions (so-called zero-rating”), and says that ISPs may not at­tempt to evade net neu­tral­ity pro­tec­tions by slow­ing down traf­fic at net­work in­ter­con­nec­tion points.

California still has to win the court case to avoid a fu­ture rul­ing that could over­turn its net neu­tral­ity law. But with a vic­tory over the ISPs’ re­quest for a pre­lim­i­nary in­junc­tion, California and its sup­port­ers say they are con­fi­dent in their ar­gu­ments.

Judge Mendez found that the law is on a solid le­gal foun­da­tion and that the ISPs try­ing to over­turn it are not likely to pre­vail,” said Stanford Law Professor Barbara van Schewick.

The pre­vi­ous Federal Communications Commission en­sured this out­come when it de­cided it had no au­thor­ity over broad­band,” said John Bergmayer, le­gal di­rec­tor at con­sumer-ad­vo­cacy group Public Knowledge. The DC Circuit [federal ap­peals court] has al­ready made it clear that with­out the power to reg­u­late, the FCC has no power to pre­vent states from reg­u­lat­ing. Broadband providers nev­er­the­less rushed to court to pre­vent states from ex­er­cis­ing their tra­di­tional con­sumer-pro­tec­tion role. Judge Mendez has rightly re­jected their ar­gu­ments.”

The four broad­band lobby groups that filed the law­suit said in a joint state­ment that they will re­view the court’s opin­ion be­fore de­cid­ing on next steps,” ac­cord­ing to The Washington Post.

A state-by-state ap­proach to Internet reg­u­la­tion will con­fuse con­sumers and de­ter in­no­va­tion, just as the im­por­tance of broad­band for all has never been more ap­par­ent,” the in­dus­try groups said. We agree with the court that a piece­meal ap­proach is un­ten­able and that Congress should cod­ify rules for an open Internet.”

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Read the original on arstechnica.com »

6 373 shares, 17 trendiness, words and minutes reading time

LinkedIn is building a gig marketplace

LinkedIn is de­vel­op­ing a free­lance work mar­ket­place that could ri­val fast-grow­ing gig sites Fiverr and Upwork.

The two-sided mar­ket­place will con­nect free­lance ser­vice providers with clients in need of tem­po­rary work­ers for one-off pro­jects. Like Fiverr and Upwork, it would fo­cus on knowl­edge-based work that can be done re­motely on­line, ac­cord­ing to The Information.

The fea­ture has been in de­vel­op­ment at least since September 2019, when LinkedIn agreed to ac­quire the as­sets of UpCounsel, a ver­ti­cal mar­ket­place con­nect­ing free­lance lawyers and clients.

As part of its agree­ment with LinkedIn, UpCounsel even­tu­ally closed down its own site as founder Matt Faustman and part of his team worked to im­ple­ment a sim­i­lar mar­ket­place on LinkedIn.

Faustman is now Marketplaces Product Lead, ac­cord­ing to his LinkedIn pro­file. When he first started work­ing with LinkedIn, the idea was to launch a le­gal-ser­vice ver­ti­cal on LinkedIn and then repli­cate the model  across 100 dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries.” In a LinkedIn post in April, Faustman stated, We’ve been work­ing around the clock since September (2019) to bring the first phases of our vi­sion with LinkedIn on­line.”

LinkedIn’s ProFinder fea­ture al­ready al­lows users to search for ser­vice providers. On the providers side, LinkedIn al­lows users to cre­ate com­pany pro­files, to post open for busi­ness” on in­di­vid­ual pro­files, and to ad­ver­tise their ser­vices.

But the mar­ket­place fea­ture ex­pands on ProFinder by al­low­ing cus­tomers to shop around for ser­vices, com­pare rates, and post ser­vice re­views, sim­i­lar to Fiverr, ac­cord­ing to an anony­mous source cited by The Information. Marketplaces would also al­low users to post pro­ject pro­pos­als to at­tract free­lancers, sim­i­lar to what Upwork does, the re­port stated.

Separately, LinkedIn is re­port­edly seek­ing to en­able on­site pay­ments, which would al­low free­lancers and clients to trans­act on the plat­form. This could help with mon­e­ti­za­tion, and LinkedIn is re­port­edly con­sid­er­ing tak­ing com­mis­sions on mar­ket­place trans­ac­tions, which is al­ready part of Fiverr and Upwork’s busi­ness model.

Gig sites are a fast-grow­ing re­cruit­ment niche, with both Upwork and Fiverr post­ing rev­enue growth through the pan­demic. Upwork grew its top line about 20% year-on-year over the first three quar­ters of 2020 and Fiverr posted 77% growth for 2020 as a whole.

Meanwhile, LinkedIn told The Information that it has seen a surge in peo­ple search­ing and re­quest­ing ser­vices from LinkedIn users who post that they’re open for busi­ness.” This is es­pe­cially true for users of­fer­ing help with ex­ec­u­tive coach­ing, mar­ket­ing, de­sign and soft­ware de­vel­op­ment, the com­pany said.

...

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Andrew Carr blog

During my grad­u­ate stud­ies, I have been en­thralled with how books of­ten stay rel­e­vant and how quickly pa­pers sink into ob­scu­rity. I wanted to write some­thing that had value and dura­bil­ity. Why a book? Because books can last.

I am not old, but I wanted to take a break from the­o­rem prov­ing to write some­thing light-hearted and de­cid­edly non-aca­d­e­mic.

My back­ground is in math­e­mat­ics, the­o­ret­i­cal com­puter sci­ence, and ma­chine learn­ing. However, I got started down this path be­cause of my love for data. Data can tell some pretty in­cred­i­ble sto­ries, but it also can be ex­tremely mis­lead­ing. There are scores of in­tro­duc­tory books about data sci­ence that start with Aggregation and fin­ish with $z \sim N(0,1)$. They are de­signed for a tech­ni­cal au­di­ence and are of­ten SO bor­ing.

Don’t get me wrong, I love these books. I helped with the re­cently re­leased 2nd edi­tion of Kevin Murphy’s famed Machine Learning a Probabilistic Perspective. But I wanted my book to be more in­spi­ra­tion and less per­spi­ra­tion.

This book is for peo­ple as un­tech­ni­cal as my Mom or as tech­ni­cal as my Applied Scientist friends work­ing in big tech. The book is a nice, fun, and in­spi­ra­tional col­lec­tion of sto­ries.

These sto­ries about data should get you think­ing about your own life. I hope you ask if there are ways you can col­lect in­ter­est­ing data and learn some­thing about your­self.

It is 114 pages long with 8 chap­ters. The chap­ters cover a wide range of fun data top­ics like how to use lan­guage mod­els (and word vec­tors) to im­prove your re­sume, or how a man used sta­tis­tics to qual­ify for the Olympics. As a fun warm up, chap­ter 2 shows how to use A/B test­ing to make the per­fect glass of lemon­ade.

It starts with naive A/B test­ing then moves to Thompson sam­pling as a so­lu­tion to Multi-Armed Bandit prob­lems which are sig­nif­i­cantly more ef­fi­cient and only takes a few lines of ex­tra code.

Chapter 3 talks about how a man keep­ing track of his per­sonal health mark­ers de­tected colon can­cer and was able to get life sav­ing treat­ment just in time. It gives a good ex­am­ple of how to rea­son about your­self vs the poplu­a­tion.

Further on I an­a­lyze our dog’s potty habits, weight loss us­ing dif­fer­en­tial equa­tions, and how you can fig­ure out who is car­ry­ing your phone just us­ing on-board ac­celerom­e­ter data.

The book has fun il­lus­tra­tions and nice color coded ex­pla­na­tions for equa­tions

I’ve got­ten some nice feed­back so far, with peo­ple say­ing things like This is the book I wish I had writ­ten”, or I lit­er­ally have 3 new ideas of how I’m go­ing to use my daily data”. Plus, my Mom liked it, so that has to count for some­thing.

At the end of the day, I wrote this book to in­spire and en­cour­age peo­ple to be aware of their lives, be mind­ful of what is hap­pen­ing around them, and take con­trol with the tech­niques of­ten used in data sci­ence.

If any of this sounds in­ter­est­ing, you’re wel­come to buy a copy for your­self. I tried to make the PDF ver­sion af­ford­able so it is ac­ces­si­ble to every­one.

Buy Paperback on Amazon ($17.49)

Buy PDF on Gumroad ($7.99)

Thanks for read­ing! Feel free to fol­low me on twit­ter or Subscribe for email up­dates

I used the Tufte-Book Latex tem­plate, Procreate on my iPad for fig­ures, and Kindle Direct Publishing for the phys­i­cal copy.

I paid a pro­fes­sional ed­i­tor (but un­for­tu­nately there are still a few nice ty­pos) and so far they have made the most from this pro­ject.

I want to thank my lovely col­leagues who en­cour­aged me and have sup­ported me. And also, I want to thank my Wife for let­ting me spend 150 ex­tra hours at my com­puter.

...

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"But How Do I Actually Start?" Making Games on Your Own as an Engineer

In the Unity for Software Engineers

se­ries, I give an ac­cel­er­ated in­tro­duc­tion to game de­vel­op­ment in Unity.

Subscribers have been fol­low­ing this se­ries over the past few months, of­ten sug­gest­ing ar­eas to cover or elab­o­rate on. A few months ago, a reader—also a soft­ware en­gi­neer—reached out to me (lightly edited, em­pha­sis mine):

The biggest un­known for me is: How do I start? What does the process of cre­at­ing a game look like? Should I build the scenes first? Should I de­sign the game­play me­chan­ics first? With busi­ness soft­ware, it’s much more fa­mil­iar. It’s easy to think, Well, okay, I need to write the DAO or con­troller, etc.” But with games, I’m lost.

While there is no sin­gle cor­rect an­swer, we can still make some dis­tinc­tions that can help get us ori­ented. The an­swer will also un­doubt­edly de­pend on who

is do­ing the de­vel­op­ment: an in­di­vid­ual, small in­die team, or larger stu­dio? If an in­di­vid­ual, the an­swer will also de­pend on their pri­mary skillset: a de­vel­oper, artist, or de­signer?

Here, I’ll give heuris­tics es­pe­cially help­ful for in­di­vid­ual Software Engineers build­ing a game on their own as a side pro­ject, hobby, or proof-of-con­cept.

Before we start, here are some ques­tions you should ask your­self.

Do you know what your game is about? Do you have a sense of what game me­chan­ics your game will have? Do you know what genre, con­trols, and themes this game will have?

If yes, you’re ready to de­cide where to start cod­ing. Otherwise, you have a few more ques­tions to ask your­self.

It’s to­tally fine not to have a pro­ject in mind! Maybe you’re pro­to­typ­ing. Perhaps you’re throw­ing a bunch of mini-games on the wall and see­ing what sticks. Or you’re look­ing for in­spi­ra­tion and try­ing to im­ple­ment ran­dom me­chan­ics to see what feels fun.

If you’re hop­ing to be­gin work­ing on a spe­cific, co­he­sive game, you will likely want to know what you’re build­ing. Consider brain­storm­ing and sketch­ing out an in­for­mal

game de­sign doc­u­ment. There are

plenty of tem­plates

of var­i­ous lev­els of de­tail you could de­cide to use. Especially as a soft­ware en­gi­neer toy­ing with ab­stract ideas in my brain, I’ll start with a su­per high-level GDD, cov­er­ing the feel, themes, genre, and me­chan­ics of the game I have in mind. Maybe a few pic­tures or sketches for in­spi­ra­tion, and that’s it. The key part of this ex­er­cise will be the list of me­chan­ics I’m work­ing on.

If you want to pro­to­type and ex­per­i­ment, you should al­ready have a vague sense of 1-2 me­chan­ics that could be fun: Maybe un­usual move­ment or a dif­fer­ent con­trol scheme. It could be a tra­di­tional me­chanic that you’re won­der­ing how to im­ple­ment. For in­stance, I might de­cide to build a 3rd Person char­ac­ter and cam­era con­troller to see the feel” of it, ex­per­i­ment with it a tiny bit, and do some­thing smooth and pol­ish that I feel good about. I might end up keep­ing that code in my back pocket for later, or I might use play-through ses­sions with that con­troller to move around a scene, add a few as­sets, and use that as a start­ing place to see the feel” var­i­ous me­chan­ics and de­signs.

The goal of many it­er­a­tive soft­ware de­vel­op­ment mod­els is to de-risk soft­ware de­vel­op­ment. You do that by fail­ing fast and get­ting feed­back early. In game de­vel­op­ment, the pri­mary met­ric for suc­cess is a feel­ing: the game should be fun. So, when de­cid­ing what to start with when work­ing on a game, one good ques­tion to ask is: How can I see if this game is fun as soon as pos­si­ble?”

or How can I im­ple­ment the fun’ part of the game ASAP?”

One way to do that is to look at a game’s me­chan­ics and im­ple­ment them in some or­der. The ad­vice that res­onates with me is im­ple­ment­ing game me­chan­ics in or­der of what the most core” me­chanic first.

Let’s take Strikers 1945—the plane shoot­ing game—as an ex­am­ple. Here’s my at­tempt at writ­ing its main me­chan­ics in de­scend­ing or­der of im­por­tance:

Obstacles & Dodging: Player can col­lide with sta­tion­ary ob­sta­cles and de­brisEn­e­mies: Enemies are mov­ing ob­sta­cles that can shoot back­Player Health: A player can take a fi­nite num­ber of hits be­fore los­ing the

gameEn­emy Health: Some en­e­mies take mul­ti­ple shots to de­stroy­Boosts: The player can pick up boosts that im­prove health, shoot­ing, etc.

… and so on.

If I’m try­ing to de­velop 1945 from scratch, I will im­ple­ment that list in that or­der. The game’s me­chan­ics build on each other, so I can only tell if shoot­ing is fun” is if I can move around the screen and if there are ob­sta­cles I’m try­ing to clear (otherwise, there’s no ur­gency to just press­ing Space and see­ing pro­jec­tiles com­ing out of a plane).

In sim­pler games, we might or­der our me­chan­ics so that every new fea­ture adds to a game’s feel. So, with every new me­chanic you add, you can play the game and tell if it’s adding what you hope for it to add.

In more com­plex games, some of the core” me­chan­ics might be too standard’ to be risky” per se, but you’ll still need the core me­chan­ics im­ple­mented to as­sess how fun the other me­chan­ics are. You might choose to use a sim­pler throw­away im­ple­men­ta­tion, like a few lines of in­put-han­dling code and Unity’s

CharacterController com­po­nent. You’ll want your core me­chan­ics just smooth enough that they don’t ruin the fun of the things you’ll layer on top of it. Another ap­proach here is to use the as­set store. I’ve pre­vi­ously men­tioned the

Ultimate FPS (UFPS)

as­set, which you might choose to use when build­ing an FPS game, and move on to im­ple­ment­ing the com­bat or some more unique (but still core” fea­ture of the game­play first).

Within a me­chanic, your tra­di­tional soft­ware en­gi­neer­ing in­tu­ition be­comes help­ful. I hope to spend sub­se­quent ar­ti­cles dis­cussing pat­terns that are es­pe­cially help­ful in Unity, but here are a few to con­sider:

* Work within Unity’s Object-Component par­a­digm. If you’re adding a new

ca­pa­bil­ity to your player, write it as its own com­po­nent.

* Tuning is es­pe­cially im­por­tant in game de­vel­op­ment; rep­re­sent­ing a

me­chan­ic’s in­ter­est­ing pieces as con­fig­urable, se­ri­al­iz­able data that

can be in­put to a com­po­nent will help you playtest and it­er­ate.

* Don’t shy away from us­ing plain-old data ob­jects to rep­re­sent core con­cepts

you’re work­ing with. E.g., health, ammo in­for­ma­tion, or powerups. Make it

se­ri­al­iz­able if you want it passed around in the ed­i­tor (or saved to disk

across ses­sions).

* Where pieces of a con­cept don’t cor­re­spond to a sin­gle ob­ject in a scene,

con­sider us­ing Scriptable Objects to do the jobs. Scriptable Objects

in­tro­duce many pat­terns that might help rep­re­sent what you’re do­ing.

A few ar­ti­cles I have al­ready writ­ten might prove help­ful:

You might also take a look at pat­terns cov­ered in:

Once you have a stronger in­tu­ition of how you can rep­re­sent dif­fer­ent kinds of data and ab­strac­tions, the read­er’s ini­tial com­ment also be­comes the an­swer:

It’s easy to think, Well, okay, I need to write the DAO or con­troller, etc.” But with games, I’m lost.

Beyond learn­ing about use­ful pat­terns and ab­strac­tions in game de­vel­op­ment to make de­vel­op­ment clearer and cleaner, the real take­away is to de­cide what to work on at a macro-level.

As you’re de­vel­op­ing a me­chanic, what’s a good sig­nal you should move on to the next on your list? Generally, that would be when you’re con­vinced:

* This me­chanic feels fun and adds to the game,

Traditionally, folks will of­ten say to worry about pol­ish at the later stages of your de­vel­op­ment. In his GDC 2016 mi­cro-talk Pizzazz First, Polish Later”, Lee Perry makes a dis­tinc­tion in this tra­di­tional wis­dom.

Certain lev­els of piz­zazz might give you a bet­ter sense of your me­chanic and how fun it feels. A cer­tain amount of pol­ish or piz­zazz can also help you see your game in a new light and mo­ti­vate you to keep go­ing.

Juice

is an­other form of piz­zazz; in cer­tain dull mo­ments of your game de­sign, adding juice might be a low-cost way to get back into the groove of things.

I hope the con­flict­ing ad­vice shows there is­n’t a sil­ver bul­let on what to add when. Rather—as in tra­di­tional soft­ware de­vel­op­ment—this choice is about a se­ries of trade-offs that de­pend on the de­vel­oper, the pro­ject, and lots more.

For some soft­ware en­gi­neers, we’re of­ten drawn to writ­ing code for sys­tems that seem in­ter­est­ing. Sometimes, I have a game in mind, but re­ally, I’m in­ter­ested in im­ple­ment­ing a cool in­ven­tory sys­tem where every­thing in the game is an item. It might not be the core me­chanic, but it might be the thing I want to build.

It’s im­por­tant to rec­og­nize when you’re not build­ing a game but build­ing a sys­tem. If you just quit your job to be a full-time in­die gamedev and have a year of run­way be­fore your run out of cash, it is prob­a­bly a bad idea to start build­ing a com­plex in­ven­tory sys­tem that you don’t even know you’ll need. But if you’re pro­gram­ming on the side to flex your game de­vel­op­ment mus­cle, then go right at it.

I don’t think I’m qual­i­fied per se to an­swer the ques­tion of How do I start?“. Yet, I hope that by show­ing ex­am­ples of the con­flict­ing pieces of ad­vice given to an­swer this ques­tion, you will get a sense of the pa­ra­me­ters

you can tune when de­cid­ing what to try and what will even­tu­ally work for you.

If you’ve had suc­cess with one par­a­digm (especially some­thing I haven’t dis­cussed here), do let me know! Feel free to reach out

on Twitter or

di­rectly.

...

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9 332 shares, 13 trendiness, words and minutes reading time

Building an E-Ink Laptop

A se­ries where I’m doc­u­ment­ing my process of de­sign­ing and build­ing an e-ink lap­top.

Since the E Ink Corporation’s found­ing in 1997 and the patent­ing of its mi­croen­cap­su­lated elec­trophoretic dis­play, or epa­per, man­u­fac­tur­ers started to in­cor­po­rate e-ink film into con­sumer de­vices. . Some of the first de­vices were eread­ers: The Sony Librie in 2004 and the Amazon Kindle in 2007 .

Throughout the years, we’ve seen sev­eral e-ink prod­ucts and pro­to­types: e-ink film used with larger screens, color, flex­i­ble ma­te­r­ial and most re­cently have started see­ing e-ink dis­plays used in smart­phones and tablets, no­tably from Hisense and Onyx Boox prod­uct lines. And while e-ink has been around for 24 years, we have yet to see a lap­top with an e-ink panel.

There have been at­tempts in the past to cre­ate a sim­i­lar de­vice: Pixel Qi and OLPC, Boox Typewriter, Yoga Book C930 and the ThinkBook Plus. These at­tempts did not ma­te­ri­al­ize, were dis­con­tin­ued, or were not suf­fi­ciently suit­able to meet users’ de­mands due to hard­ware or lack of a co­he­sive UX/UI par­a­digm. To make mat­ters worse, the E Ink Corporation holds the patents for its e-ink tech­nol­ogy and only li­censes its tech­nol­ogy to large man­u­fac­tur­ers mak­ing avail­abil­ity or mass adop­tion dif­fi­cult.

Fortunately, some of the most ex­cit­ing work and in­no­va­tion hap­pen­ing to­day is in the e-ink mod­ding com­mu­nity. There have been at­tempts to re-pur­pos­ing eread­ers: as a cal­en­dar, to dis­play a sta­tic im­age or site, Kobo de­vices run­ning GNU/Linux, Amazon Kindle de­vices re­pur­posed as a de­vel­op­ment plat­form, the Remarkable 1 run­ning Parabola, and PINE 64 re­cently an­nounc­ing a na­tive e-ink sin­gle-board com­puter.

After fol­low­ing the de­vel­op­ment of e-ink for some time, I’ve de­cided to re-use some of the ex­ist­ing hard­ware I have and cre­ate an e-ink lap­top.

From about 6 am to 7 pm, I’m in front of a com­puter or dig­i­tal de­vice that’s emit­ting blue light. Throughout the day, I’m sup­port­ing stu­dents, at­tend­ing meet­ings, read­ing doc­u­men­ta­tion, news ar­ti­cles, pro­gram­ming, learn­ing, us­ing emacs and org-mode to cap­ture in­for­ma­tion, write down thoughts, cre­ate tasks, and con­vers­ing with my knowl­edge man­age­ment sys­tem.

I try to use my e-ink mon­i­tor as much as pos­si­ble through­out the day to re­duce eye strain, fa­tigue and lessen dis­trac­tions while in­ter­mit­tently tak­ing breaks. The Dasung mon­i­tors go a long way to make this pos­si­ble when I’m home or in a sta­tion­ary place. Though there are times, I’m not work­ing in front of my desk­top or would like to work at a dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tion. The tear­down and set-up of my en­vi­ron­ment when us­ing an e-ink mon­i­tor is some­what te­dious, in ad­di­tion to changes hav­ing to make when switch­ing from an LCD to an e-ink mon­i­tor:

* mak­ing ad­just­ments and tweaks to the win­dow man­ager.

I am then hav­ing to switch the changes back when us­ing an LCD for meet­ings or videos. I’ve al­ready solved some of this by writ­ing some scripts and mak­ing ad­just­ments in some ap­pli­ca­tions. Still, I would like to de­sign the ex­pe­ri­ence for us­ing an e-ink mon­i­tor with a ded­i­cated de­vice from the ground-up.

I’ll be us­ing a headless’ Thinkpad T480 com­bined with the Dasung HD-FT .

The Thinkpad T480 seems to be an ideal lap­top for build­ing an e-ink lap­top, The T480 has :

* 13 hours of bat­tery while web brows­ing with the 72Wh bat­tery.

* Supports up to 64 GB of ram.

* It can be mod­ded to use the clas­sic 7-row key­board.

The hot-swap­pable bat­tery and long bat­tery life are es­sen­tial for any portable setup, es­pe­cially with an e-ink mon­i­tor. The T480 sup­ports up to 64Gb of ram and two Nvme dri­ves, pro­vid­ing plenty of power and ex­pan­sion as a daily dri­ver.

Since the Dasung mon­i­tors con­nect via HDMI and re­ceives power through USB, the T480 has all of the nec­es­sary ports with­out an adapter. Lastly, af­ter re­mov­ing the lid cover with the T480, there is room here to hack and mod the Dasung screen to the T480.

Dasung cur­rently is the only man­u­fac­turer of e-ink mon­i­tors that I’m aware of , and their third-gen­er­a­tion mon­i­tors are a sub­stan­tial up­grade from prior gen­er­a­tions.

Directly from the mon­i­tor, you can:

* Turn on and off the back­light

The abil­ity to eas­ily change the mon­i­tor’s modes with­out soft­ware, the fast screen re­fresh, screen res­o­lu­tion of 2200×1650 and the back­light make it a great base to build an e-ink lap­top.

The first post went over my rea­sons for build­ing an e-ink lap­top, some his­tory about e-ink tech­nol­ogy, the e-ink mod­ding com­mu­nity, re­cent ad­vance­ments, and the hard­ware I’ve se­lected to cre­ate an e-ink lap­top.

The next post in the se­ries will be a tear­down of the Dasung HD-FT, in­spired by Kev Zettler’s work on the Dasung Paperlike Pro.

If this post res­onated pos­i­tively or neg­a­tively, send me a di­rect mes­sage on Twitter, and we can talk. Also, ping if you’d like to know the up­dates on this post or if you have sug­ges­tions, com­ments, ques­tions, or would like to col­lab­o­rate.

...

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10 323 shares, 8 trendiness, words and minutes reading time

American Airlines Confirms: UFO Contact Over New Mexico On Sunday

Deep Black Horizon posted an air traf­fic con­trol broad­cast from American Airlines flight AA2292 on Sunday.

The air­craft was fly­ing from Cincinnati to Phoenix and at 1:19 p.m. Central time, while over the north­east cor­ner of New Mexico at around 37,000 feet, re­port­edly ra­dioed Albuquerque Center.

Do you have any tar­gets up here? We just had some­thing go right over the top of us  — I hate to say this but it looked like a long cylin­dri­cal ob­ject that al­most looked like a cruise mis­sile type of thing — mov­ing re­ally fast right over the top of us.

Here’s the au­dio, posted by Deep Black Horizon and em­bed­ded here for ease of lis­ten­ing:

American Airlines for its part tells me, At this time, we do not have any in­di­ca­tion the ra­dio trans­mis­sion was from the flight crew on board American Airlines Flight 2292.”

Update: American Airlines now con­firms the in­ci­dent, Following a de­brief with our Flight Crew and ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion re­ceived, we can con­firm this ra­dio trans­mis­sion was from American Airlines Flight 2292 on Feb. 21.”

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says the gov­ern­ment has been hid­ing de­tails of UFOs for years. Former CIA Director John Brennan thinks there may be life on other plan­ets too. December’s Covid-19 re­lief bill in­cluded a di­rec­tive to the Pentagon and in­tel­li­gence agen­cies to share what they know about UFOs within 6 months. People with the high­est of se­cu­rity clear­ances think there’s some­thing out there.

Something’ of course does­n’t nec­es­sar­ily mean ex­trater­res­trial in ori­gin, even though New Mexico is home to Roswell… it’s also home to sev­eral mil­i­tary bases, though odd in that case that the air­space would­n’t have been off lim­its.

...

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