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Liz Martin

Liz Martin

1 year ago

What Motivated Amazon to Spend $1 Billion for The Rings of Power?

More on Society & Culture

Hector de Isidro

Hector de Isidro

1 year ago

Why can't you speak English fluently even though you understand it?

Many of us have struggled for years to master a second language (in my case, English). Because (at least in my situation) we've always used an input-based system or method.

I'll explain in detail, but briefly: We can understand some conversations or sentences (since we've trained), but we can't give sophisticated answers or speak fluently (because we have NOT trained at all).

What exactly is input-based learning?

Reading, listening, writing, and speaking are key language abilities (if you look closely at that list, it seems that people tend to order them in this way: inadvertently giving more priority to the first ones than to the last ones).

These talents fall under two learning styles:

  • Reading and listening are input-based activities (sometimes referred to as receptive skills or passive learning).

  • Writing and speaking are output-based tasks (also known as the productive skills and/or active learning).

by Anson Wong

What's the best learning style? To learn a language, we must master four interconnected skills. The difficulty is how much time and effort we give each.

According to Shion Kabasawa's books The Power of Input: How to Maximize Learning and The Power of Output: How to Change Learning to Outcome (available only in Japanese), we spend 7:3 more time on Input Based skills than Output Based skills when we should be doing the opposite, leaning more towards Output (Input: Output->3:7).

I can't tell you how he got those numbers, but I think he's not far off because, for example, think of how many people say they're learning a second language and are satisfied bragging about it by only watching TV, series, or movies in VO (and/or reading a book or whatever) their Input is: 7:0 output!

You can't be good at a sport by watching TikTok videos about it; you must play.

“being pushed to produce language puts learners in a better position to notice the ‘gaps’ in their language knowledge”, encouraging them to ‘upgrade’ their existing interlanguage system. And, as they are pushed to produce language in real time and thereby forced to automate low-level operations by incorporating them into higher-level routines, it may also contribute to the development of fluency. — Scott Thornbury (P is for Push)

How may I practice output-based learning more?

I know that listening or reading is easy and convenient because we can do it on our own in a wide range of situations, even during another activity (although, as you know, it's not ideal), writing can be tedious/boring (it's funny that we almost always excuse ourselves in the lack of ideas), and speaking requires an interlocutor. But we must leave our comfort zone and modify our thinking to go from 3:7 to 7:3. (or at least balance it better to something closer). Gradually.

“You don’t have to do a lot every day, but you have to do something. Something. Every day.” — Callie Oettinger (Do this every day)

We can practice speaking like boxers shadow box.

Speaking out loud strengthens the mind-mouth link (otherwise, you will still speak fluently in your mind but you will choke when speaking out loud). This doesn't mean we should talk to ourselves on the way to work, while strolling, or on public transportation. We should try to do it without disturbing others, such as explaining what we've heard, read, or seen (the list is endless: you can TALK about what happened yesterday, your bedtime book, stories you heard at the office, that new kitten video you saw on Instagram, an experience you had, some new fact, that new boring episode you watched on Netflix, what you ate, what you're going to do next, your upcoming vacation, what’s trending, the news of the day)

Who will correct my grammar, vocabulary, or pronunciation with an imagined friend? We can't have everything, but tools and services can help [1].

Lack of bravery

Fear of speaking a language different than one's mother tongue in front of native speakers is global. It's easier said than done, because strangers, not your friends, will always make fun of your accent or faults. Accept it and try again. Karma will prevail.

Perfectionism is a trap. Stop self-sabotaging. Communication is key (and for that you have to practice the Output too ).

“Don’t forget to have fun and enjoy the process.” — Ruri Ohama

[1] Grammarly, Deepl, Google Translate, etc.

Andy Walker

Andy Walker

1 year ago

Why personal ambition and poor leadership caused Google layoffs

Google announced 6% layoffs recently (or 12,000 people). This aligns it with most tech companies. A publicly contrite CEO explained that they had overhired during the COVID-19 pandemic boom and had to address it, but they were sorry and took full responsibility. I thought this was "bullshit" too. Meta, Amazon, Microsoft, and others must feel similarly. I spent 10 years at Google, and these things don't reflect well on the company's leaders.

All publicly listed companies have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of their shareholders. Dodge vs. Ford Motor Company established this (1919). Henry Ford wanted to reduce shareholder payments to offer cheaper cars and better wages. Ford stated.

My ambition is to employ still more men, to spread the benefits of this industrial system to the greatest possible number, to help them build up their lives and their homes. To do this we are putting the greatest share of our profits back in the business.

The Dodge brothers, who owned 10% of Ford, opposed this and sued Ford for the payments to start their own company. They won, preventing Ford from raising prices or salaries. If you have a vocal group of shareholders with the resources to sue you, you must prove you are acting in their best interests. Companies prioritize shareholders. Giving activist investors a stick to threaten you almost enshrines short-term profit over long-term thinking.

This underpins Google's current issues. Institutional investors who can sue Google see it as a wasteful company they can exploit. That doesn't mean you have to maximize profits (thanks to those who pointed out my ignorance of US corporate law in the comments and on HN), but it allows pressure. I feel for those navigating this. This is about unrestrained capitalism.

When Google went public, Larry Page and Sergey Brin knew the risks and worked hard to keep control. In their Founders' Letter to investors, they tried to set expectations for the company's operations.

Our long-term focus as a private company has paid off. Public companies do the same. We believe outside pressures lead companies to sacrifice long-term opportunities to meet quarterly market expectations.

The company has transformed since that letter. The company has nearly 200,000 full-time employees and a trillion-dollar market cap. Large investors have bought company stock because it has been a good long-term bet. Why are they restless now?

Other big tech companies emerged and fought for top talent. This has caused rising compensation packages. Google has also grown rapidly (roughly 22,000 people hired to the end of 2022). At $300,000 median compensation, those 22,000 people added $6.6 billion in salary overheads in 2022. Exorbitant. If the company still makes $16 billion every quarter, maybe not. Investors wonder if this value has returned.

Investors are right. Google uses people wastefully. However, by bluntly reducing headcount, they're not addressing the root causes and hurting themselves. No studies show that downsizing this way boosts productivity. There is plenty of evidence that they'll lose out because people will be risk-averse and distrust their leadership.

The company's approach also stinks. Finding out that you no longer have a job because you can’t log in anymore (sometimes in cases where someone is on call for protecting your production systems) is no way to fire anyone. Being with a narcissistic sociopath is like being abused. First, you receive praise and fancy perks for making the cut. You're fired by text and ghosted. You're told to appreciate the generous severance package. This firing will devastate managers and teams. This type of firing will take years to recover self-esteem. Senior management contributed to this. They chose the expedient answer, possibly by convincing themselves they were managing risk and taking the Macbeth approach of “If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well It were done quickly”.

Recap. Google's leadership did a stupid thing—mass firing—in a stupid way. How do we get rid of enough people to make investors happier? and "have 6% less people." Empathetic leaders should not emulate Elon Musk. There is no humane way to fire 12,000 people, but there are better ways. Why is Google so wasteful?

Ambition answers this. There aren't enough VP positions for a group of highly motivated, ambitious, and (increasingly) ruthless people. I’ve loitered around the edges of this world and a large part of my value was to insulate my teams from ever having to experience it. It’s like Game of Thrones played out through email and calendar and over video call.

Your company must look a certain way to be promoted to director or higher. You need the right people at the right levels under you. Long-term, growing your people will naturally happen if you're working on important things. This takes time, and you're never more than 6–18 months from a reorg that could start you over. Ambitious people also tend to be impatient. So, what do you do?

Hiring and vanity projects. To shape your company, you hire at the right levels. You value vanity metrics like active users over product utility. Your promo candidates get through by subverting the promotion process. In your quest for growth, you avoid performance managing people out. You avoid confronting toxic peers because you need their support for promotion. Your cargo cult gets you there.

Its ease makes Google wasteful. Since they don't face market forces, the employees don't see it as a business. Why would you do when the ads business is so profitable? Complacency causes senior leaders to prioritize their own interests. Empires collapse. Personal ambition often trumped doing the right thing for users, the business, or employees. Leadership's ambition over business is the root cause. Vanity metrics, mass hiring, and vague promises have promoted people to VP. Google goes above and beyond to protect senior leaders.

The decision-makers and beneficiaries are not the layoffees. Stock price increase beneficiaries. The people who will post on LinkedIn how it is about misjudging the market and how they’re so sorry and take full responsibility. While accumulating wealth, the dark room dwellers decide who stays and who goes. The billionaire investors. Google should start by addressing its bloated senior management, but — as they say — turkeys don't vote for Christmas. It should examine its wastefulness and make tough choices to fix it. A 6% cut is a blunt tool that admits you're not running your business properly. why aren’t the people running the business the ones shortly to be entering the job market?

This won't fix Google's wastefulness. The executives may never regain trust after their approach. Suppressed creativity. Business won't improve. Google will have lost its founding vision and us all. Large investors know they can force Google's CEO to yield. The rich will get richer and rationalize leaving 12,000 people behind. Cycles repeat.

It doesn’t have to be this way. In 2013, Nintendo's CEO said he wouldn't fire anyone for shareholders. Switch debuted in 2017. Nintendo's stock has increased by nearly five times, or 19% a year (including the drop most of the stock market experienced last year). Google wasted 12,000 talented people. To please rich people.

DC Palter

DC Palter

1 year ago

Why Are There So Few Startups in Japan?

Japan's startup challenge: 7 reasons

Photo by Timo Volz on Unsplash

Every day, another Silicon Valley business is bought for a billion dollars, making its founders rich while growing the economy and improving consumers' lives.

Google, Amazon, Twitter, and Medium dominate our daily lives. Tesla automobiles and Moderna Covid vaccinations.

The startup movement started in Silicon Valley, California, but the rest of the world is catching up. Global startup buzz is rising. Except Japan.

644 of CB Insights' 1170 unicorns—successful firms valued at over $1 billion—are US-based. China follows with 302 and India third with 108.

Japan? 6!

1% of US startups succeed. The third-largest economy is tied with small Switzerland for startup success.

Mexico (8), Indonesia (12), and Brazil (12) have more successful startups than Japan (16). South Korea has 16. Yikes! Problem?

Why Don't Startups Exist in Japan More?

Not about money. Japanese firms invest in startups. To invest in startups, big Japanese firms create Silicon Valley offices instead of Tokyo.

Startups aren't the issue either. Local governments are competing to be Japan's Shirikon Tani, providing entrepreneurs financing, office space, and founder visas.

Startup accelerators like Plug and Play in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto, the Startup Hub in Kobe, and Google for Startups are many.

Most of the companies I've encountered in Japan are either local offices of foreign firms aiming to expand into the Japanese market or small businesses offering local services rather than disrupting a staid industry with new ideas.

There must be a reason Japan can develop world-beating giant corporations like Toyota, Nintendo, Shiseido, and Suntory but not inventive startups.

Culture, obviously. Japanese culture excels in teamwork, craftsmanship, and quality, but it hates moving fast, making mistakes, and breaking things.

If you have a brilliant idea in Silicon Valley, quit your job, get money from friends and family, and build a prototype. To fund the business, you approach angel investors and VCs.

Most non-startup folks don't aware that venture capitalists don't want good, profitable enterprises. That's wonderful if you're developing a solid small business to consult, open shops, or make a specialty product. However, you must pay for it or borrow money. Venture capitalists want moon rockets. Silicon Valley is big or bust. Almost 90% will explode and crash. The few successes are remarkable enough to make up for the failures.

Silicon Valley's high-risk, high-reward attitude contrasts with Japan's incrementalism. Japan makes the best automobiles and cleanrooms, but it fails to produce new items that grow the economy.

Changeable? Absolutely. But, what makes huge manufacturing enterprises successful and what makes Japan a safe and comfortable place to live are inextricably connected with the lack of startups.

Barriers to Startup Development in Japan

These are the 7 biggest obstacles to Japanese startup success.

  1. Unresponsive Employment Market

While the lifelong employment system in Japan is evolving, the average employee stays at their firm for 12 years (15 years for men at large organizations) compared to 4.3 years in the US. Seniority, not experience or aptitude, determines career routes, making it tough to quit a job to join a startup and then return to corporate work if it fails.

  1. Conservative Buyers

Even if your product is buggy and undocumented, US customers will migrate to a cheaper, superior one. Japanese corporations demand perfection from their trusted suppliers and keep with them forever. Startups need income fast, yet product evaluation takes forever.

  1. Failure intolerance

Japanese business failures harm lives. Failed forever. It hinders risk-taking. Silicon Valley embraces failure. Build another startup if your first fails. Build a third if that fails. Every setback is viewed as a learning opportunity for success.

4. No Corporate Purchases

Silicon Valley industrial giants will buy fast-growing startups for a lot of money. Many huge firms have stopped developing new goods and instead buy startups after the product is validated.

Japanese companies prefer in-house product development over startup acquisitions. No acquisitions mean no startup investment and no investor reward.

Startup investments can also be monetized through stock market listings. Public stock listings in Japan are risky because the Nikkei was stagnant for 35 years while the S&P rose 14x.

5. Social Unity Above Wealth

In Silicon Valley, everyone wants to be rich. That creates a competitive environment where everyone wants to succeed, but it also promotes fraud and societal problems.

Japan values communal harmony above individual success. Wealthy folks and overachievers are avoided. In Japan, renegades are nearly impossible.

6. Rote Learning Education System

Japanese high school graduates outperform most Americans. Nonetheless, Japanese education is known for its rote memorization. The American system, which fails too many kids, emphasizes creativity to create new products.

  1. Immigration.

Immigrants start 55% of successful Silicon Valley firms. Some come for university, some to escape poverty and war, and some are recruited by Silicon Valley startups and stay to start their own.

Japan is difficult for immigrants to start a business due to language barriers, visa restrictions, and social isolation.

How Japan Can Promote Innovation

Patchwork solutions to deep-rooted cultural issues will not work. If customers don't buy things, immigration visas won't aid startups. Startups must have a chance of being acquired for a huge sum to attract investors. If risky startups fail, employees won't join.

Will Japan never have a startup culture?

Once a consensus is reached, Japan changes rapidly. A dwindling population and standard of living may lead to such consensus.

Toyota and Sony were firms with renowned founders who used technology to transform the world. Repeatable.

Silicon Valley is flawed too. Many people struggle due to wealth disparities, job churn and layoffs, and the tremendous ups and downs of the economy caused by stock market fluctuations.

The founders of the 10% successful startups are heroes. The 90% that fail and return to good-paying jobs with benefits are never mentioned.

Silicon Valley startup culture and Japanese corporate culture are opposites. Each have pros and cons. Big Japanese corporations make the most reliable, dependable, high-quality products yet move too slowly. That's good for creating cars, not social networking apps.

Can innovation and success be encouraged without eroding social cohesion? That can motivate software firms to move fast and break things while recognizing the beauty and precision of expert craftsmen? A hybrid culture where Japan can make the world's best and most original items. Hopefully.

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rekt

rekt

2 years ago

LCX is the latest CEX to have suffered a private key exploit.

The attack began around 10:30 PM +UTC on January 8th.

Peckshield spotted it first, then an official announcement came shortly after.

We’ve said it before; if established companies holding millions of dollars of users’ funds can’t manage their own hot wallet security, what purpose do they serve?

The Unique Selling Proposition (USP) of centralised finance grows smaller by the day.

The official incident report states that 7.94M USD were stolen in total, and that deposits and withdrawals to the platform have been paused.

LCX hot wallet: 0x4631018f63d5e31680fb53c11c9e1b11f1503e6f

Hacker’s wallet: 0x165402279f2c081c54b00f0e08812f3fd4560a05

Stolen funds:

  • 162.68 ETH (502,671 USD)
  • 3,437,783.23 USDC (3,437,783 USD)
  • 761,236.94 EURe (864,840 USD)
  • 101,249.71 SAND Token (485,995 USD)
  • 1,847.65 LINK (48,557 USD)
  • 17,251,192.30 LCX Token (2,466,558 USD)
  • 669.00 QNT (115,609 USD)
  • 4,819.74 ENJ (10,890 USD)
  • 4.76 MKR (9,885 USD)

**~$1M worth of $LCX remains in the address, along with 611k EURe which has been frozen by Monerium.

The rest, a total of 1891 ETH (~$6M) was sent to Tornado Cash.**

Why can’t they keep private keys private?

Is it really that difficult for a traditional corporate structure to maintain good practice?

CeFi hacks leave us with little to say - we can only go on what the team chooses to tell us.

Next time, they can write this article themselves.

See below for a template.

Protos

Protos

1 year ago

Plagiarism on OpenSea: humans and computers

OpenSea, a non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace, is fighting plagiarism. A new “two-pronged” approach will aim to root out and remove copies of authentic NFTs and changes to its blue tick verified badge system will seek to enhance customer confidence.

According to a blog post, the anti-plagiarism system will use algorithmic detection of “copymints” with human reviewers to keep it in check.

Last year, NFT collectors were duped into buying flipped images of the popular BAYC collection, according to The Verge. The largest NFT marketplace had to remove its delay pay minting service due to an influx of copymints.

80% of NFTs removed by the platform were minted using its lazy minting service, which kept the digital asset off-chain until the first purchase.

NFTs copied from popular collections are opportunistic money-grabs. Right-click, save, and mint the jacked JPEGs that are then flogged as an authentic NFT.

The anti-plagiarism system will scour OpenSea's collections for flipped and rotated images, as well as other undescribed permutations. The lack of detail here may be a deterrent to scammers, or it may reflect the new system's current rudimentary nature.

Thus, human detectors will be needed to verify images flagged by the detection system and help train it to work independently.

“Our long-term goal with this system is two-fold: first, to eliminate all existing copymints on OpenSea, and second, to help prevent new copymints from appearing,” it said.

“We've already started delisting identified copymint collections, and we'll continue to do so over the coming weeks.”

It works for Twitter, why not OpenSea

OpenSea is also changing account verification. Early adopters will be invited to apply for verification if their NFT stack is worth $100 or more. OpenSea plans to give the blue checkmark to people who are active on Twitter and Discord.

This is just the beginning. We are committed to a future where authentic creators can be verified, keeping scammers out.

Also, collections with a lot of hype and sales will get a blue checkmark. For example, a new NFT collection sold by the verified BAYC account will have a blue badge to verify its legitimacy.

New requests will be responded to within seven days, according to OpenSea.

These programs and products help protect creators and collectors while ensuring our community can confidently navigate the world of NFTs.

By elevating authentic content and removing plagiarism, these changes improve trust in the NFT ecosystem, according to OpenSea.

OpenSea is indeed catching up with the digital art economy. Last August, DevianArt upgraded its AI image recognition system to find stolen tokenized art on marketplaces like OpenSea.

It scans all uploaded art and compares it to “public blockchain events” like Ethereum NFTs to detect stolen art.

Sad NoCoiner

Sad NoCoiner

1 year ago

Two Key Money Principles You Should Understand But Were Never Taught

Prudence is advised. Be debt-free. Be frugal. Spend less.

This advice sounds nice, but it rarely works.

Most people never learn these two money rules. Both approaches will impact how you see personal finance.

It may safeguard you from inflation or the inability to preserve money.

Let’s dive in.

#1: Making long-term debt your ally

High-interest debt hurts consumers. Many credit cards carry 25% yearly interest (or more), so always pay on time. Otherwise, you’re losing money.

Some low-interest debt is good. Especially when buying an appreciating asset with borrowed money.

Inflation helps you.

If you borrow $800,000 at 3% interest and invest it at 7%, you'll make $32,000 (4%).

As money loses value, fixed payments get cheaper. Your assets' value and cash flow rise.

The never-in-debt crowd doesn't know this. They lose money paying off mortgages and low-interest loans early when they could have bought assets instead.

#2: How To Buy Or Build Assets To Make Inflation Irrelevant

Dozens of studies demonstrate actual wage growth is static; $2.50 in 1964 was equivalent to $22.65 now.

These reports never give solutions unless they're selling gold.

But there is one.

Assets beat inflation.

$100 invested into the S&P 500 would have an inflation-adjusted return of 17,739.30%.

Likewise, you can build assets from nothing.  Doing is easy and quick. The returns can boost your income by 10% or more.

The people who obsess over inflation inadvertently make the problem worse for themselves.  They wait for The Big Crash to buy assets. Or they moan about debt clocks and spending bills instead of seeking a solution.

Conclusion

Being ultra-prudent is like playing golf with a putter to avoid hitting the ball into the water. Sure, you might not slice a drive into the pond. But, you aren’t going to play well either. Or have very much fun.

Money has rules.

Avoiding debt or investment risks will limit your rewards. Long-term, being too cautious hurts your finances.

Disclaimer: This article is for entertainment purposes only. It is not financial advice, always do your own research.