How to learn technology the most effective way today?

THURSDAY, MAY 14, 2020    

Evidently, Technology has been a paramount piece of society building. Almost every solution, purposeful products, or user centric services has technology as its core piece of the puzzle. If you want process automation in your organization, technology provides that ‘helping hand’ which you can off load your mundane tasks, so you can focus on more complex situations or tasks at hand. If you want to help reach out to marginalised communities, now technology in the form of online campaigns and online payment helps to bridge that gap. If we want to be a part of this building of tomorrow, we got to embrace the big T. One such way to learn is to read. Find articles, forums, or books that expose you to new domains, or deepen your knowledge in your current field.


Find that one next step that brings you towards your goal. What matters most is the you today is 1% better than the you yesterday


In my own attempt to embrace my learning, I’ve curated some of these articles I feel meaningful and shared some of my thoughts on them. The articles are in 3 broad topics:

  1. Conversational AI (a new topic that I interested to delve deeper)
  2. Coding + Blog Development
  3. General (Broad array of topics)



Conversational AI


Conversationl ai for healthcare


In a healthcare sector where services revolve primarily around humans, I always wonder if general technology is able to provide that sense of care and user-centric connection with users where it counts the most.


A worrying mother with a son coughing through the night, as much as a good website with friendly UX is able to provide her with the tips and advice she needs as immediate remedies; one may believe that a piece of advice from ‘medical staffs’ would always give a greater sense of assurance. A useful service paired with a tone of empathy is often the kind of services we seek to have when we visit hospitals or clinics. General medical advice + empathetic tonality is one that sits neatly in the realm conversation AI. Yes, it may not entirely replace the roles of nurses, but perhaps conversational AI could be one of the few appropriate tools to extend these human-centric services into the virtual space.


Chatbot for covid19


Over the years, I’m starting to see the value chatbots can bring to businesses. Chatbots are not merely set in place to replace humans in the process. Chatbots serves more so to extend the functions of the services provided by businesses, creating more value for the business collectively. For example, in the healthcare industry, every day, call centres have to handle enquiries from customers that are, more often than not, repetitive. Most of these questions are often non-essential and are merely a regurgitation of a scripted answer. Why not hand over these enquiries to the chatbot, so that the call centre agents are now free to deal with issues that may more complex and had to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Such an approach, I find, is able to increase customer experience and extend the required attention to the respective customers. A symptom checker is one of such case as well.


The pain points of ai in healthcare


What are some of the pain points you heard of in the healthcare industry? As cool as AI and modern technology may sound, it is paramount to understand what problem are you trying to solve.


“Technology that does not solve any problem is merely a flashy toy. Fun for the moment, but does not set your life in motion”


If nurses are spending way too much time on repetitive administrative work, perhaps AI or technology, in general, can help to alleviate their clutter, so they can spend more care and attention to patients. If you want to implement a technology or AI solution of value, start by asking: What is your problem?


2 key usecases for Conversational AI in healthcare


“Something that can spread faster than a pandemic is misinformation and panic. ”


You can see how conversational AI improves access to the correct information especially during a time as such. Quite a good article that truly echo the usefulness of conversational AI in the healthcare industry (in fact any industry):


  1. Improve users’ access to correct and useful information about their health
  2. Helps alleviate healthcare administration staff’s workload in answering common queries and repetitive tasks
  3. Improve customer care through quality-controlled replies via multiple channels.

Tech optimisation pushing patient enagement




Coding


9 best practices for code review
More than knowledge
What to learn as a software architecture


Write write write write. You got to learn how to write and communicate verbally. This helps to leave your communication for a post-date read (which means for others to understand your point and have reference on your point). This gives space for better alignment across the team, paint the same picture, and thereupon move in a unified direction. Really good thread to find out what to do. Definitely my go to when I get the chance to explore this space.




Blog development


The most successful developers share more than they take


That was how stackoverflow, a famous site for all your coding problems and solutions, came about. This issue of blogging is the same for rest of the world as well. Do not write for the sake of attracting a following. You will lose motivation and grow impatient with the short term results. Grow that personal confidence and passion for the topic you wish to document and share stuff you think are cool. However long it takes for your traction to grow does not matter because when you write because you genuinely want to, you are enjoying the entire process, and you are writing for you - and you enjoy reading them just as much as you write. Your audience is happy! Despite the personal reason of writing for self, consider the idea of sharing your idea. Who knows someone might find a great use in whatever you are writing. Embracing this philosophy “Public by default” could possibly accelerate your personal development for couple of reasons:


  1. On a technical level, there’s an immediate feedback loop. When you share your ideas on forums, online communities, or contributing to open source, you have a swift feedback.
  2. Secondly, when your idea is public, others could possibly add value onto your idea through insights from different angle or directions. Blogs in particular are excellent idea generation platform.

Truly embrace public-by-default, consider to also share the failures and learning you have learnt along the way as well. Generally, when you write for sharing purposes, you will usually think harder about everything you do, no matter how trivial that content might be.


For top software developers, sharing isn’t a byproduct of their success—it’s often the cause of it.


Here are some of the successful people whom their venture first started out as a personal blog before them it got adapted for general use:


  • John Leider, the creator of Vuetify
  • Miguel Grinberg, the author of the Flask Mega Tutorial
  • Jeff Atwood, co-founded Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange and went on to later found Discourse
  • Joel Spolsky, joelonsoftware
  • Carsten Haitzler (AKA Rasterman), the creator of the Enlightenment window manager

Similarly, I seek to proactively share what i write, I find myself given comments and feedback. And these feedback from friends or the public will help prune your thought process and skill, and thereupon accelerate your own personal development. View your personal development in the analogy of scaling a mountain; if you want to seek new heights, you have to first know how to embrace the challenge in every step. You will slip as you climb up the mountain, but you do not have to stay fallen. Personally in my journey for personal growth and development, staying down and wallowing in self pity is one instinctive habit I have to consistently call out on myself and decisively snap out of it. It is not the easiest journey especially when we are in a world that the shiniest objects (or topics) gets the most attention - not the ones with the most value.


Tagcrowd


I often use this site to figure out what is the word cloud of my post. Generally, you want to know what are some of these common keywords you have been ‘spamming’ or consistently using in your post. With this information, you are now able to add them into your page’s tag in which helps to more accurately describe the content of your page for Search engine’s to curate and ‘do their magic’ to crawl your site. Usually this is one of the many ways described by SEO authors and advices to put your blog posts in a more favourable position to be searched.


Open graph meta tags


In the space of blog development, one of the most important aspects is the use of open graph tags. They are more commonly written as “og:image”, “og:descripton”, “go:title”.

There are usually two reasons you want to appropriately use these tags in your pages:


  1. More Appeal

These tags make your content more appealing on social media feeds, where there is this ‘preview’ mode of the url.


  1. Give them a little peek

In addition to appeal, these tags will be displayed out when you happen to put your page URLs into telegram. Give it a try:


https://blog.phuaxueyong.com/


Sitemap test


Do your site have sitemap. As I was figuring this out a few months back, i was just blindly following suite all the ‘best practices of a Seo friendly blog’. It wasn’t until recently when I decided to take tad more ownership to figure out what does each of these ‘blog related things’ (like sitemap.xml, or robot.txt) actually do.


Domain Authority checker


Have you heard of domain authority? Neither have I, until just about a week ago at the start of May. One of the matrix used to determine this overall Domain Authority score includes how many external links pointing back into your site. I’m not entirely sure if is to do with how ‘connected’ you are with the world wide web, because that ultimately does not make sense to me.


Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). A Domain Authority score ranges from one to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability to rank.


Credit: moz’s definition of DA


Visualize data trend


It was interesting to find out how people are able to visualise data. Interestingly, visualisation usually do seem to give a different insight as compared to text based information. The sort of pattern or clustering presented always speaks for itself. Personally that is something I find really interesting; the ability to paint a new story for what seemingly common or seen-before kind of information




General


Wifi school buses


Down in California, school buses has been deployed to head down to rural areas in an attempt to reach students without stable wifi at home. Having a reach of 200 feet, approximately 60m, now home based learning is made a tad possible for these students. It may not have the strongest connections that enables you for zoom, or any other forms of video calls, but it is definitely a pivotal step bringing the world to these little homes. Just as I hear these stories, I am always grateful for the heads behind these initiatives. These little act of reaching out to our communities that are struck with inaccessibility of ‘common’ resources (in this case internet), first has to come from a recognition of these differences within the community. Being able to keep them in mind opens doors for more possibilities. Let this serve as a reminder to us all. We are almost always surrounded by people that are in different financial, social situations just around the corner, always keep a look out for our neighbours, who knows you might just be the answer to their prayers.


Whatever we have, was first given. And now it is our time to pay it forward


Just ask anything!
5 examples of cultural signal


When interviewers were to ask you if there are any questions, just ask something. I guess this makes sense from a culture with a cultural signal is to be able to give the ‘air time’ back to the interviewers when they had already asked you a series of questions about yourself; and you had actually spent the entire hour talking about yourself. Could this be the kind of assessment of cultural fit? I guess the bottomline is to understand the culture of companies you wish to work for, knowing and thereupon bridging these cultural gaps help to better connect with the interviewers in a personable manner.


Is your boss watching you


Interesting article about bosses requested employees to install surveillance softwares on their devices so to track employee’s progress and ‘focus’ at work. I would definitely love to hear from bosses that advocates this behavior about their view on such a decision. Does the benefits of the ‘knowing’ of your employees whereabout and focus at work outweigh the cost of conveying distrust and micro-management throughout the company? Or is this second order perception an oversight on their end?


What is the opposite of distraction?


What is the opposite of distraction? Traction. Both traction and distraction words are pull. Traction is basically whatever that pulls you to do what you plan to do. Distraction is then whatever that pulls you to do what you did not plan to do. That is just that, master the ability to understand what is pulling your focus on different tasks that you wish to do. Take a step back to understand that not every difficult task can be simplified as long as you are in the state of flow, or once it becomes a habit. I guess that is quite an interesting message to ponder upon. The end goal is not purely to simplify difficult tasks, but rather, embrace the difficulty or the tedium of the task, then set out to remove distractions against that task you wish to accomplish. Some days are good, some other are bad. Embrace them (:


Give a helping hand by Klook


I was looking through this campaign that klook just started in the midst of covid19’s circuit breaker period. Really love how a company, rather established, took the chance to reach out to the effected migrant workers in Singapore. I really love the sight of companies making such decisions to fill a gap in society. Seemingly small and temporary, but one that goes a long way for a fellow citizen like me. The best of the giving was to write a kinda of mandatory thank you note for each of these meals you were to buy for them. Would love to share my own message with you all as well:


Thank you for all the hard work. As long as you are here, this is your home too. And i’m thankful the government thinks the same as well. (Please translate this for them. Thank you!)


What you are given isn’t for you to keep for self interest. It is opportunity given in the form of finances so you can utilise to help the ones around you. The ability to bridge this gap between social classes in Singapore is just so crucial to bring a community together and forward.


Journaling changes your life


Small inner circle is crucial for growth


7 Unusual ways to become smarter


Burnout in the pandemic era


Being able to relate to the article, I do find the line between work and personal time blurred given the reasoning of “where else can you go? You are stuck at home”. Personally I find that quite damaging to your own mental wellness since the usage and segmentation of your own time is now subconsciously ‘predetermined’ by another. I guess that’s where the importance of drawing good boundaries come into the picture. Sometimes, you are doing more good by saying no to requests that crosses your own person boundary. Boundary, like fences, dictates your personal space. Unlike a physical fence, you do not really know where is the line not to cross. But when someone crosses your boundaries, you definitely know about that, and you have to voice it out. Do not suffer in silence like how you will not just keep quiet when someone crosses your fence and enters your personal property space. Perhaps this time of Work From Home (WFH) is a good opportunity for us to learn how to mentally and physically develop ourselves as healthy holistic individuals.


Covid19’s impact on business model


Firstly, recognise that your business models usually have four generic but core dimensions: customers, value propositions, value demonstrations, and capabilities. Secondly, understand the relationship between these components and thirdly, define the realistic organization objectives, during and after the crisis. I will not go too much into details but thought it is a good read to share with my readers! Find out more in this article link!


Business disruptor thrive in turbulent times


Companies started by disruptors are such as Airbnb, Grab, Lyft, DreamWorks, Rent the Runway, Twilio. Disruptors of the market are not people with super powers. Rather, they are humans whom are stuck, but decisively told themselves that they no longer want to be in this position anymore. They are stuck, they feel stuck, but they want to get themselves out of it. The companies started by disruptors indicated above have one common trait: they were all started in the midst of a recession. Recognize that big changes along with the market is not something that big rigid companies are able to do because of the outpour of resources for them to create a system to squeeze out every ounce of efficiency from their existing system and approach to their business and market. Having to disrupt the market requires switching costs which might be too heavy for these big legacy firms to manage.




TLDR + some of my personal thoughts


Remember the journey towards self improvement generally as an individual or in any particular domain is not a huge stack of to-dos. Rather, It is about finding the next one thing you can do to bring yourself one step forward towards your goal. Do not rush yourself, nor do you want to want burn yourself out doing what you love. That would be so sad isn’t it - The very thing that you enjoy is what you dread the most.The greatest challenge to personal breakthroughs isn’t found in the big leap from a nobody to Elon Musk. The real challenge before us is in the small things - the small decision to read an article a day, the small decision to spend 5 minutes less on social media to search a new technology term for example (Kerberos). What seemingly small decisions will pivotal you towards a new direction. Let’s do this together! Do share with me what are some of these good articles you have read recently as well. I do want to keep this post live with new articles I find meaningful.