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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Learn to Code Full Stack with Udacity Nanodegree

I recently submitted Project 1 of the Udacity Full Stack Nanodegree curriculum. This blog post is my reflection and review on the experience. Overall, it really exceeded expectations. The price is still too expensive, but Udacity is really offering effective, engaging, alternative online education for programming, development #learntocode movement. It starts to distinguish itself as an online ultra-premium vocational school for software engineering using modern technologies, programming languages, and software frameworks like MongoDB, D3.js, Bootstrap, Github, Salesforce.com, Android, iOS and more.

 Udacity took a long time to ramp up its course content by focusing on video-intensive, interactive basic courses for a long long time. It got famous, then got quiet until it re-entered the arena with a bang. Last year, it came back strong with blockbuster partner names like Google, Facebook and Salesforce, but it's not until this year's Nanodegree offering did it become clear that all the work and focus on fundamentals paid off. The full stack nanodegree and the data science nanodegree clearly integrates fundamental classes like intro to computer science, programming with Python, data analysis etc. These fundamental classes have been improved and adapted to the nanodegree, but the majority of the content stays true to its originals.

The leverage becomes clearer when students are struggling to submit assignments using Git and Github (in the iOS nanodegree). Udacity just added the Git and Github intro curriculum into the nanodegree after project one, and the content already exists elsewhere on Udacity, the process was super simple. Udacity's content is so much more integrated compared to Coursera, whose content is largely organized by university departments and specializations.

Project 1 of the Udacity Full Stack was intro to python programming. I expected the course to be a cruise for me as I already learned to code, and it was, but I was surprised to learn many useful Computer Science concepts which I missed out not having that formal education in college. The mini exercises were extremely useful, resulted in scripts that I could immediately use to make my daily professional life more productive e.g. find a secret message is really a python script for organizing files for content management.

The project is advanced for the level (I will explain this more in my iOS nanodegree reflection talking about the really challenging project). To complete Project 1 students must write the code to utilize a "fresh_tomato.py" library / mini API to dynamically generate an HTTP file. i.e. generate an entirely new locally hosted website on the fly. Students can choose to ignore the file, all together, or can choose to dive into the mini API and learn how HTTP files are generated using Python. It was pretty cool.

The integrated grading process prefers students sharing completed work via Github integration with Udacity. There's some real life commit and code sharing practice. The content is rich and may be bit jam-packed for first-timers, i.e. they really mean what they say "minimum 10 hour weekly commitment" (the iOS commitment is really much longer than that, I previewed the data science one briefly and saw that it requires quite a bit of statistics background to make the curriculum a cruise). It seems that the essential goal of each nanodegree project is to generated presentable mini, relevant projects which can be showcased on Github, preparing the student for the interview / job seeking process. In that case, Udacity did a good job elevating its curriculum to real-world job relevance, distinguishing itself from the more academic counterpart -Coursera and the more fun gamified Code School and Treehouse.

Say More with Twitter Comment Replacing Twitter Quote Tweet

Read about Twitter Comment update on the official blog
Twitter updated its Quote Tweet feature, previously a retweet feature that will grab texts from the original tweet leaving only a few below-quota characters for commentating. Quote tweet used to look like RT "@name  .... original... tweet... takes up most of the space", now it almost looks like a shared link, freeing up 140 characters to express opinion and highlight relevance of this RT. You can now say so much more with this Twitter Social Media feature update.


The original tweet now looks like a shared URL freeing up space for 140 additional characters
This can be Twitter's response to the recent surge of unofficial infinite tweet apps (rendering words as images) which allow users to share unlimited number of characters and have gotten popular even on ProductHunt. Twitter Comment can really change the dynamic of Twitter conversations, making the "replying" process more cohesive. You can now comment, @ mention people, add detailed opinions that are relevant to the original tweet. This can really be a game changer. 

What will you do with an additional 140 characters? 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Have a coffee chat with Dilys via Square Cash?

Let's chat over a virtual latte using Square Cash.

Why coffee? I love coffee, which makes me really happy so I give better advice.

What's in it for you? The right advice at the right moment can change your life! For a cup of coffee, you can pick my brain for 15 minutes. We can chat about: growth hacking, e-Commerce, learn to code movement, consulting, startup, Y Combinator, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and more...

Why you want to chat with Dilys? She's unconventional and had a fabulous year in the learn to code movement, read about it here. She also has a shiny linkedin profile http://www.linkedin.com/in/dilys


  1. Use Square Cash to send me some "tips" https://cash.me/$buydilyscoffee
  2. Select a hashtag # topic that you want to chat about for 15 minutes. See my twitter profile for ideas http://www.twitter.com/i_stanford
  3. We just had a virtual coffee chat worth celebrating! It will go down in micro consulting history! The advice-giver is happy the advice-receiver is happy. The world is a better place.

Let's have a cup of coffee via Square Cash




Coursera Verified Signature Track Certification Takes WEEKS!


Update : I have finally gotten my certificates for both courses. The plus is that they can be shared on Linkedin. Courser certification is integrated perfectly with Linkedin Profiles. The minus is that the manually reviewed long winded Signature Track process took away the instant gratification of gamification and achievement. To finish the course, students must be disciplined at following step-by-step time-sensitive requirements of the course syllabus, making this process exactly the same as taking a college course, putting Coursera closer to "sharing college courses online" than "providing alternative and innovative education online". Udacity Nanodegree on the other hand, graded my highly individualized programming and coding assignments within a couple of hour thanks to its seamless Github integration. Github integration for submitting assignments is really a game changer.

An online learning junkie complains about the turtle speed of Coursera to stamp verified certificates from Signature Track. Coursera has innovated by adding some seriously awesome offerings (see last paragraph), but the certification process is off. Paying customers, suckers for gamified badges, online learning junkies like me are not getting the instant gratification of accomplishment and are prone to become massive dropouts, i.e. Coursera is doing good work but having no fun!

Just "finished" my first course on Coursera that is verified with Signature Track. Submitted all the assignments, I hope .. I won't know until later, because this "innovative" coursework still relies heavily on syllabus. You are on your own for keeping track of fragmented tasks (a few surveys, a few assignments, some multi-stage, peer-reviewed projects. There's no roadmap to showcase progress, nor instant gratification of completion. 

For people, who had trouble sticking to syllabus in college? Or didn't like the college studying style? Good luck. You are on your own. No wonder why MOOC's massive dropout rates or attrition is notorious too. Major media reports all covered this Massive Dropout Out Online phenomenon. 

Despite its innovative feel, the Coursera verification still relies heavily on manual verification that will take 2-3 weeks after the class hard deadline (meaning there's a long wait even after the class no longer accepts the late-beyond-imagination submissions). 

There's not much VIP treatment for those who become paid users, and that should be a big deal for all "startups" (FYI Coursera.com domain redirects to .org). There's quite a big of confusion for paid users, and there's no access to direct contact with any support staff (very different compared to Udacity - instant email replies). Coursera seems to focus on social support (Stanford research paper about MOOC dropout). While frustrated at the process, I was able to find fragments of answers in the forum, and even connect with someone who has completed those certificates before. He helped me understand that this may take weeks.

On his splashing Linkedin Profile, he proudly displays multiple signature track certificates from advanced and prestigious university courses! That was impressive. I instantly recognize him as a peer, despite that he's in Israel and I know nothing about the education system there. I also realized that there are people who finished some advanced classes I signed up for and consequently dropped out of in the past - guilt and shame creeps in. 

My two cents: those who buy expects premium services, so don't just offer a support page. Get more peer staff, community staff to hand hold students. Despite that I  graduated from a great university, I have learning obstacles (adult ADHD) and focus issues sticking to a text-heavy screen. This may be the case for many "students" seeking the likes of Coursera and Udacity out as learning alternatives.  When signup is massive and difficult to manage, peer evaluation helped, community-based peer support and Q&A FAQ will definitely help too. True story: a lot of us who don't have parents who went to ivy league elite colleges, struggle with one big thing when landed in an university like Stanford - I had no idea how to navigate and organize around the massive resources that are available. I didn't know how to manage my course load and catch up on materials for which everyone else attended two AP classes in the past. I didn't know how to track a syllabus and finish things on time. Plus, last but not least, if I am paying for a certificate with a brand name university / organization, yet no actual credention, to show off, I am a sucker for badges of gamification, and give me those badges ASAP for instant gratification! If I have great self-discipline for delayed gratification and self-regulation, I really won't be chipmonking and spazzled on the internet.

Final thought: I am finally discovering the beauty of Coursera this month. Until now, I never finished a course, nor paid for things, because the text-heavy interface seemed so boring for me who has adult ADHD. The fact that it offers some sort of verification, partners with name-brand universities (some even in China, very impressed), integrates with Linkedin to display your badges, and offers classes that are unique and impressive like a 101 on dinosaur, is something that deserves serious applause!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Many faces of the Apple Watch apps - What do the apps look like?

What do the Apple Watch apps look like?

Here are some fresh screenshots from the Apple live event today showcasing new apps designed for Apple Watch. 

The many faces of Apple Watch

A visual overview of the Apple Watch apps



Apple website displaying a mosaic of Apple Watches

A blooming flower as a newly imagined watch face for Apple Watch

Disney Mickey Mouse as the classical playful design on Apple Watch

The traditional watch face with augmented rich details of tech enabled daily lives. #AppleWatch

Apple Watch as the ultimate fitness device to replace FitBit Fuelband and Jawbone UP delivers heart rate.



Take incoming calls and send text messages with Apple Watch.

Apple Watch's built in mic and speaker allows incoming and outgoing calls on the wrist.

Digital touch records and sends hand drawn mini art.
Digital touch sends recorded animation of personalized emoticons #AppleWatch 


Apple Watch trying to be cute allowing you to send your loved ones a beating heart.

3 Ring data visualization for personal fitness tracking on wearable devices.


WatchKit allows easy development of Watch apps with Apple's Swift programming language.
Apple Pay, photo view, video play, dictation, iTune, Passbook, maps all work on Apple Watch

A day in the life of an apple watch starts with important reminders and notifications.

Apple partners with WeChat appeals to its Chinese customers.

Apple with WeChat allows emoticons.

Apple Watch allows uses of emoticon and emoji in text conversations appeals to its Asian customers.

Apple Watch works with Instagram



Apple Watch can call and get a Uber cat in minutes.

Check in to flights and view flight status with PassBook built in for Apple Watch.

Apple partners with Starwoods hotels and properties to allow on-the-wrist check-in and unlocking rooms. W Hotel


Apple's Brand New ResearchKit Apps for Medical Research

What do the ResearchKit apps look like?

Here are some screenshots freshly picked from the Apple live event showcasing apps built with ResearchKit for medical research for hospitals and universities. Apple wants to utilize the 700 million user data and healthcare partnership to turn Apple devices into futuristic diagnostic tools.

ResearchKit : enables iPhone to be used for Medical Research as a surveying tool and a diagnostic tool.

ResearchKit : enables iPhone to be used for Medical Research as a surveying tool and a diagnostic tool. 

ResearchKit Logo

ResearchKit framework as a diagnostic tool.

ResearchKit partnership landscape.

Parkinson's Disease partnership with University of rochester Xuanwu Hospital Capital Medical University, Sage Bionetworks. 

Finger tapping diagnostic approach to identify patients with Parkinson's disease.

Apple wants to help diagnose Parkinson's Disease right on the iPhone.

Diabetes partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital.



Cardiovascular disease partnership with Stanford Medicine and University of Oxford.



Asthma partnership with Mount Sinai Hospital Well Cornell Medical College.

Breast cancer partnership with UCLA school of public health, penn medicine, sage bionetworks, and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Five health apps available today as a featured download in the App Store.

Voice recognition as a diagnostic tool

All you need to know about Apple Watch pictures minxmin recap - [Live Blogging] Apple 3/9/15 event unveiling Apple iWatch



Dilys is live blogging the Apple March 9th iWatch unveiling event.

  • Get your full recap on Apple's Apple Watch Announcement today? pictures and minute by minute live blog 
  • What are the different designs and availability of Apple Watch? All about Apple Watch iWatch

    • Apple Watch Sport Collection
      Apple CEO Tim Cook present Apple Watch Sport collection at today's live event.

        Molten aluminum for Apple Watch
      • premium aluminum: custom design alloy light yet strong
        Apple Watch wants you to get excited about material science and the beautiful aluminum alloy it's using for its premium watch.
      • Apple wants you to love the material science porn-level new standard manufacturing of Apple Watch Sport

    • Apple Watch Collection

      • Of course Apple has no ordinary stainless steel Apple Watch #AppleLive
      • Mirror finish
      • Diamond like carbon extra layer give you the extra premium finish
      • Apple stainless steel Apple Watch with carbon layer for a black smooth finish.
      • Milanese loop
        Apple stainless steel Apple Watch with Milanese Loop and carbon black finish

      The Apple Watch Watch Collection has the largest number of customizations of styles and fashion designs to choose from.
    • Watch Edition

      • Limited availability, limited edition
      • Retails for $10K = $10,000
      • Available in limited retail stores
The Apple Watch Watch Edition is the premium collection with a price tag of $10,000 available only at limited stores. It's a collector piece, limited edition.

  • #AppleWatch comes in 3 collections find out here Aluminum Steel and Gold 
  • Pre order on April 10 Apple Watch #AppleLive ultimate fitting experience choose the one that's right for you. Available April 24th.














  • How does the Apple Watch charger work?
  • The back of an Apple Watch, where the magnetic charger snaps into place.
    • Apple watch comes with a magnetic charger that will snap into place automatically.
      Apple Watch comes with a magnetic charger that snaps into place.

  • Wow holy crap Apple all out for Chinese clients Wechat with stickers now available immediately on Apple Watch
A day in life of an Apple Watch - Apple appeals to Chinese customers with WeChat app. 
A day in life of an Apple Watch - Apple appeals to Chinese customers with emoticons and stickers.
A day in life of an Apple Watch - Apple appeals to Chinese customers with emoticons and stickers including the popular Tsuski

  • Apple builds an Apple Watch app store, an iPhone app, to distribute apps built for the watch.


    • Wow #Apple designed with #ALLDAY battery life 18 hours! Magnetic charger.
    • This however isn't significantly different from the Pebble watch distribution.
  • #Apple builds an app #appstore for #AppleWatch
  • "Hey Siri" like "OK Glass" interacting with Siri without tapping #AppleLive #Siri versus #GoogleGlass
  • The new Apple Watch wants you to get excited about the material science of aluminum, gold, and 
  • 11:09AM Apple Watch in Action 
    • Day in Life of an Apple Watch
      • Beginning of the day : Events, schedules, stock, sports, twitter, Salesforce
      • "Hey Siri" like "OK Glass" interacting with Siri without tapping
      • Fitness reminder
      • Apple Pay for grocery
      • #AppleWatch full integrated with #Uber #GPS enabled
      • Passbook boarding pass on your wrist
      • Digital touch can draw and track drawing send to friend (snapchat on wrist)
      • SPG Starwoods Hotel partnership, check in, unlock the door. Shazam for the music. Remote control of garage door with alarm.com 
      • Dictation or as an audio of my voice (like WeChat)
      • Instagram on Apple Watch
      • Use Apple Watch for Instagram

  • You can view photos, pay with #ApplePay on #AppleWatch #Siri #notification #ESPN sports, Social Media
  • How Apple Watch helps a marathon: Christy uses #AppleWatch to check for distance, altitude and other course data
  • iWatch in action half marathon in Tanzania Africa Christy Turlington
  • #Apple iWatch is a full blown fitness tracker #FitBit #NikeFuelBand all watch out
    • 3 ring graphic display
    • Apple iWatch 3 Ring visualization of your physical activities - fitness data visualization example.
    • Live coaching, motivation
    • Give a fitness tracker to your friend 
  • Read full emails
  • 10:58 AM receive calls from Apple #iWatch with build in microphone and speaker
  • 10:56 AM Apple iWatch express time like it's never being done before, add any rich details
Many faces of Apple Watch, watch face of a blooming flower.

Apple Watch gets playful with watch faces featuring the classical
Mickey Mouse and moving hands design.


  • 10:17 AM Apple Health Changing Medical Research
  • Apple ResearchKit partners with hospitals and university to deliver a new era of medical research. Partnership includes University of Oxford, Stanford Medicine, Penn Medicine, UCLA Public Health, Mass Gen - Massachusetts General. 
    • Challenges: 
      • Recruiting subjects, small sample sizes
      • Subjective Data: e.g. Parkinson patients get arbitrarily rated by physicians,  
      • Snapshot data: quarterly trip to office
      • One way communication: don't hear back until end of study
    • with 700 MM iPhones sold
Apple ResearchKit app shows partnership between Apple, University of Rochester, Qinghua University, Sage Bionetworks on Parkinson's disease.
Apple will diagnose Parkinson partnership with university hospitals turn Apple into a #ResearchKit #MedicalResearcha

#Apple partners with #MassGeneral on #Diabetes, #Asthma with #MountSinai, #HeartDisease with Stanford #ResearchKit  iPhone = Diagnostic tool

  • 40 new models of cars shipping with Apple CarPlay
  • Apple iPhones 700 Million sold. Last quarter doubled rate of the industry nearly 50% growth
  • iPhone is now the top best selling smart phone on earth
  • Apple Pay started with 6 banks now over 2500 institutes
  • 40K Coca Cola vending machines now accept Apple Pay as a form of payment.
    • 40K Coca Cola vending machines now takes Apple Pay

  • Apple TV price lowered to $69 
  • 10:11AM Game of Throne exclusive trailer debuts during the live event
  • 10:07AM Apple TV -  HBO CEO announces exclusive partnership with Apple for HBONow (subscription includes past present future and featured movies requires an Apple device $14.99 per month April premiere Game of Thrones). Famous shows: sopranos, entourage, sex and the city, VEEP, Silicon Valley, game of throne
  • 10:00 AM - Apple gives tribute to its Chinese customers by showing videos of popularity of Apple products in China (Hangzhou Xihu - West Lake China new store opening)
    • 21 stores so far aiming for 40
Apple puts Chinese customers first opening its live event with video features of the new Xihu West Lake China store opening.

Apple live event video features Chinese customers, one of its most important customer populations.


  • 10:00AM watch the live event on safari http://www.apple.com/live