Poor Richard’s Guide to Technologies

A 5-minute guide to AI

In the land of business, artificial intelligence, or what the kids call AI, is seen as a “game-changer.”

But most many of us have no idea what we are talking about when we talk about AI. AI conjures up vague notions of algorithms, networks and weird movies from the 2000s. If this is you, read on to learn enough about AI to avoid that deer-in-the-headlights look at your next meeting.

Nonetheless, most people have experienced modern AI (and no, I don’t mean the Steven Speilberg movie). For instance, Chatbots are the most advanced and accessible commercial technology and are a staple of customer service.

“Turing machine in Bletchley Park” by DouglasHoyt is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The big idea: AI makes processes more efficient and people more productive.

The goal is to automate, improve or enhance work that is already being done…


Personal Essay

Reflections on post-pandemic loneliness in a new city

Photo by Erda Estremera on Unsplash

I’m so lonely. Right now, today, I am so so lonely. I feel so lost like I’m just drifting through life, stuck in the post-pandemic doldrums.

It occurred to me last week that my pandemic life and my post-pandemic life are very similar. I spend most of my time in this house — a row house in North West Philadelphia on a sunny street just a couple blocks from the Schuylkill River. I work for a company based in the Bay Area. I’ve never met my coworkers in person.

I don’t know anyone here.

We moved to Philadelphia in October, and then the winter hit…


Startup Survival Guide

If you work at a startup you need to read this right now

“Can you join the meeting at 1:00 today?” It’s never a good sign when the CMO is dropping into a meeting at the last minute. Generally, I think of the C-levels as folks with whom I’d like to have pleasant — but brief — exchanges, and his unannounced presence at a meeting that until 5 minutes ago was irrelevant to my work was like a red flair indicating troubled waters ahead.

Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

I knew that the sales were not as hoped, so I anticipated changes coming down the line. I also knew that the projects I was working on were aligned…


Dispatches

I was lonely. But not as lonely as I would have imagined.

Photo by Sara Jeruss

In the photo, I’m wearing a green parka, sunglasses and standing on a ladder. It’s a sunny day, and my face, chest, and shoulders are framed by an oval opening in the sandstone. The photographer is already in the cliff dwelling, taking a photo of me moments before I scramble inside. In the photo, I’m smiling. It was the last normal day.

When I saw that image ten months later, in December, I said, oh that was the last day that I was happy. We laughed, but it’s kind of true. That was the last day Bandolier National Monument was open before it closed thanks to COVID-19.

My next memory of our time in New Mexico is pushing a cart around an eerily empty Target store in Santa Fe. We bought beans, granola bars, trail mix, raisins in preparation for who knows what. …


Dispatches

Friends, it has been a year. A YEAR!

This time last year, I was planning a ROAD TRIP of all things, having recently returned from LONDON, which feels like a memory from the distant universe we now call “the before times.” Despite all the craziness, Sara and I did achieve some significant milestones in the last twelve months.

Photo by Magnet.me on Unsplash

I got a new job, we purchased our first home, we moved to a new city — hello Philadelphia — and we adopted a little Tuxedo cat named, Frenchie. Previously, the only thing I owned was a house plant named Baby. (Layers, yes, layers here.)

Baby, survived for two months…


Let’s Get Weird

Photo by Agto Nugroho on Unsplash. Some think the Mothman was an owl or a sandhill crane.

The Mothman is a creature that is half-man, half-bird that terrorized Point Pleasant, a small city in West Virginia in 1966–1967. One night, this creature chased teenagers driving through the dark forest, scaring them half to death and kicking off a rash of sightings. The Mothman story has a little bit of everything: a monster that stalks the night, UFO sightings, men in black, the death of a local journalist investigating the reports, and a catastrophic bridge collapse.

The Mothman emerges under the shadow of the social upheaval of the 1960s. For instance, the Warren Commission — investigating the assassination of President Kennedy — released its report in 1964. In 1967, America was officially embroiled in the Vietnam War for two years. in 1967, Charles Manson formed the Manson Family, and the Manson Family murders bookended the end of the sixties in 1969.

The Mothman event is also framed by the development of the atomic bomb and the Cold War. So, the reason citizens of Point Pleasant thought the Mothman could be part of a secret government experiment…


What Lyft teaches us about the failings of the economy, politics, and culture

Photo by Mark Thompson

I worked at Lyft from 2011 to 2013. At a time when the State of California is trying to force Lyft and Uber to pay drivers like full-time workers, gig-economy companies are finally getting a well-deserved critique.

Uber and Lyft’s Business Model May Be Dead. Good.” an article by Brian Merchant is making the rounds on Medium today. I applaud this essay and am in agreement with Merchant’s overall assessments, except I don’t think this business model will be over anytime soon.

And, as a former Lyft employee, I’d like to share my experience and add my insights to the conversation.

One reason Lyft is so…


We watched it so you don’t have to

The House in Between Review

Photo by Callum Blacoe on Unsplash

Warning: spoilers

The House in Between is a documentary about a haunted house in a southern suburb in the United States. The owner is so frightened that she no longer sleeps there at night.

Unlike most haunted houses, this home has been studied for almost 10 years by a ghost-hunting team who has security cameras monitoring the home 24–7. Despite this, the cause of stuff moving around, swinging chandeliers, flickering ceiling lights, and even mysterious bright lights in the hallway remain unexplained.

Released in April of this year, it’s unique because the film gives debunking an honest shake and at least nominally looks for explanations that are neither paranormal nor supernatural.

The film features interviews with the home’s current owner and explores how the strange events in the home — weird lights…


LOL -- thanks, Derek, for letting us take a peek under the hood at your writing strategies. The new profile gif looks great, btw!


Most of the advice new meditators hear is garbage.

Photo by Omid Armin on Unsplash

In a time when the coronavirus has transformed American life, meditation — or the suggestion one should meditate — has taken on a new life. The New York Times, for example, publishes an article about every week or so about the benefits of meditation or how to meditate or people doing a good job at meditating, but most news coverage sets unrealistic expectations about meditating.

For instance, now might be a terrible time to start meditating. You don’t need to do it in the morning. …

Jane Elizabeth

For marketing folks at startups who use data, tell stories, want better results, and to be happier at work.

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