JavaScript, life

The Monty Hall Problem

The Monty Hall problem is a brain teaser loosely based on the American television game show “Let’s Make a Deal” and named after its original host, Monty Hall.

I wrote a little web app that show you what is the right choice with a simulator. It’s a bit hard to explain the correct solution as it’s going against ‘common’ sense. Continue reading

Advertisements
Standard
Business, life

Good Podcasts

headset with colors in the backgroundYesterday I had an interesting conversation with a friend about ways to improve your knowledge in different topics.

I suggested to him to leverage his long commute or runs to listen to audio books and podcasts. I have been doing it over the last 15 years and it’s a great way for me to utilize time better. Suddenly the long runs become interesting and time flies. So his next question was what are the podcasts I like and why.

Here are the top ones:

  • Revisionist History is my favorite one. Gladwell does what he is excelling at… telling a story you think you knew but turn it on its head and during this process teach you a thing or two. In the last two seasons, Gladwell went back and reinterpret something from the past: an event, a person, an idea. Something overlooked. Something misunderstood. The one on Martin Luther King is fascinating.
  • Freakonomics is an award-winning podcast with a lot of listeners (which most, I suspect, like logic, economic etc’). Stephen Dubner has conversations that explore the riddles of everyday life and the weird wrinkles of human nature — from cheating and crime to parenting and sports. Dubner talks with Nobel laureates and provocateurs, social scientists and entrepreneurs — and his Freakonomics co-author Steve Levitt. The last few episodes (as of March 2018) about CEOs are really good. Check it out.
  • Here’s the thing with Alec Baldwin – Alec really knows how to interview his impressive guests and listen to their ideas and stories. It’s great to follow him and learn about people that changed history, industries or ‘just’ put a smile on our faces.
  • Epicenter – I’ve been passion about the crypto world since 2012. Around early 2014 I found this one. It’s a podcast that takes you to the heart of this important technological revolution: the rise of decentralized technologies. Every week, they bring conversations with some of the brightest minds in this bourgeoning ecosystem of startups and open source projects. Good stuff if you want to learn more about decentralized technologies and the crypto world.
    Btw, Block Zero is a new podcast that deal with this topic as well. It’s still young but sounds good so far.
  • The Moth – The Moth Podcast features stories that are being recorded live on stage around the USA.
    Some of them are really good! Episodes are released every Tuesday.

Continue reading

Standard
bots

Create An Assistant App Without Any Code

At the moment, there are few options to create apps for the Google Assistant that do not involve any code.

We call them “existing templates” as you can see in the image above.

When you open the action on google console page you will see all the current options: trivia, personality quiz and flash cards games. In this post we will see how easy it will be to create a new flash cards game that will work on the Google Assistant.

Let’s go with helping people learn something new, ok?

First, you need to go to: console.actions.google.com and click on “Add/Import Project”.

Continue reading

Standard
Chrome, life

Educational Apps On ChromeOS

As the academic year is starting, let’s have a closer look at what apps can make the life of students and teachers better. There are few sections in Chrome web store that will show us the current inventory: Academic apps, Academic resources and Tools for Teachers. From looking around of them you can see some nice example like: LucidChart For EDUPlanetariumGeoGebra and many more. It’s depend on your kids age and level but you might find good options in the chrome web store from starting to read apps and up to full ‘office’ apps for collage.

If I was in school today, I guess khanacademy.org would take a lot of my time. It’s got the perfect combination of quality content (in ‘eatable’ sizes of 10min each) and a set of exercise that could show me if I really understood a certain topic. Their new Computer Science section is extremely powerful. It will help students to start play with CS and have fun while doing so. The feedback that you get while programming there is something that will make students productive quickly. Another cool web app that will teach you a new language quickly (while you are helping a novel goal of translating the web) is duolingo.com If you want to learn few words before your next trip, it’s very useful. Last but not least, you might want to try lumosity.com which should improve brain health and its performance.

Btw, this is one of the best talks around our education system and what needs to change.

Have a great learning year.

Standard
life

How To Improve Our Cognitive Aging Using Mobile Apps

The Brain Main Parts

The Brain Main Sections

Here is a short paper I’ve wrote to one of the course that I took in Stanford Continuing Studies. It’s not a nice picture (literally – you can check at the bottom of this post), but it seems that there are few things we can do.

What is dementia?

Dementia is a chronic deterioration of intellectual function and other cognitive skills severe enough to interface with the ability to perform activities of daily living1. It is not a single disease, but a syndrome and more than one type can exist at any one time. It is a known fact that in developed countries, prevalence is 1.5% at age 65 and doubling every 4 years after that age up to 30% at age 80 it is therefor important to search for ways to improve our brain ability to postponed or co-op with these facts.

Main findings in current research

A recently published report2, funded by the National Institutes of Health, reviews extensive literature on cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease in search of factors that might delay or prevent these age-related conditions. Of all the factors reviewed, including diet and dietary supplements, physical exercise, social engagement, and other leisure activities, only cognitive training was found to have a high level of evidence for being associated with a decreased risk of cognitive decline. So, if one wants to engage in activities that are known to be associated with a reduced risk of cognitive decline, this report says that cognitive training is the way to do so efficiently. Training with cognitive exercises can improve targeted mental functions, conclude the authors of a review article published recently in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia.  The authors3 reviewed ten randomized controlled trials involving cognitive training interventions in healthy adults published since 1992.  They found that specific abilities such as memory, reasoning, and speed of processing can be improved through targeted training programs.  This is an important conclusion, and it is consistent with the growing evidence in support of the effectiveness of cognitive training.
The authors point out that the benefits of cognitive training tends to be specific to the trained domain. If one wants improved memory — train on games designed to improve memory will get results. If one wants an improved attention — train with attention games4, and so on. It is also clear from this review that there is still a lot that we don’t know.  Few of the studies have follow-up testing longer than a few months, and many of them lack measures of real-world benefits such as activities of daily living.  However, where longer follow-ups and real-world benefits are measured, benefits are seen to be long lasting and quite general.  For example, in the active study of cognitive training in normal healthy older adults, benefits to activities of daily living are seen five years after the training intervention ended. While there is still much to learn, the weight of the evidence is showing that cognitive training can be highly effective when properly designed and executed.
There is some new evidence that Alzheimer’s disease is much more likely for people whose parents both have the neurodegenerative disorder than if only one parent has it5. Researchers examined families in which both parents have Alzheimer’s, and found that their children ended up with the disease 42% of the time. This finding supports the evidence that genes play an important role in determining whether you end up with Alzheimer’s. One of the genetic components responsible for the disease is known as the gene Apolipoprotein E (ApoE). Fortunately one’s genes do not entirely determine one’s fate. One’s lifestyle is important too, and although we do not have control on our genetic makeup, we can control how we live. The incidence of Alzheimer’s increases with age, and is typically diagnosed after the age of 65. By then, there’s not much one can do to slow the disease.

What can one do earlier in life in order to help preserving cognitive function?

I’ve researched some of the most popular apps stores (Apple6, Andriod7 and Palm8) and found that there are many types of apps that can help one improve specific skill (e.g. speed of processing, memory, attention etc’) but if one wish to start ‘training’ one’s brain on a daily bases in order to prepare for a better future, there are few apps that try to do it more scientifically.
One good example is Lumosity9. This company design their game in order to make sure it will cover all the different cognitive functions one want to target. For instance: speed of processing, memory, attention, flexibility, and problem solving. It’s giving you a complete solution that seems good both in terms of efficiency (time spent vs improvements in skills) and in a motivation aspects (play against your personal record and/or friends etc’).

In the graph above you can see that older users started off at lower BPI10 levels than younger users, but all age groups improved a lot over 1000 games. While initial performance was strongest (on average) in the 18-39 year old cohort, the other groups easily surpass this group’s initial performance after substantial training. After 1000 training games, the average 60-89 year old was performing 44% better than the average 18-39 year old was before training.
In my humble opinion, it is clear from the current research that we still don’t know much. and there is much more to explore. However, it shows that with the proper cognitive training11, physical exercise12, and positive attitude toward life, one can better buffer their brain from later years of cognitive decline and delay the risk of dementia. It seems that we should engage in mentally stimulating activity, on a routine basis, as a way of reducing the risk of dementia. Today, with the growing power of mobile devices that harness us with options to transform ‘dead time’ (e.g. Standing in the line in the post office) to an useful one. We should recommend people to play less Angry birds13 and do more ‘brain training’.

What Alzheimer does to your Brain

Aging and the brain – PDF version

As always, comments are most welcome.

 

Standard
life

How A Hedge Fund Analyst Is Changing The World (For Good This Time)

Salman Khan (yep – this is the hedge fund analyst we are talking about here) is the founder and faculty of the Khan Academy

  • Khan Academy is a not-for-profit organization with the mission of providing a FREE world-class education to anyone, anywhere.
  • It now consists of self-paced software and, with over 1 million unique students per month, the most-used educational video repository on the Internet.
  • All 2000+ video tutorials, covering everything from basic addition to advanced calculus, physics, chemistry and biology, have been made by Salman.

Here is a talk he gave last week at TED 2011… enjoy.

I hope to have time in the next tow months to take some videos and translate them.

Here is another great video that show what is about and why Bill Gates is funding parts of it.

Standard