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Tim Denning

Tim Denning

1 year ago

Elon Musk’s Rich Life Is a Nightmare 

I'm sure you haven't read about Elon's other side.

Elon divorced badly.

Nobody's surprised.

Imagine you're a parent. Someone isn't home year-round. What's next?

That’s what happened to YOLO Elon.

He can do anything. He can intervene in wars, shoot his mouth off, bang anyone he wants, avoid tax, make cool tech, buy anything his ego desires, and live anywhere exotic.

Few know his billionaire backstory. I'll tell you so you don't worship his lifestyle. It’s a cult.

Only his career succeeds. His life is a nightmare otherwise.

Psychopaths' schedule

Elon has said he works 120-hour weeks.

As he told the reporter about his job, he choked up, which was unusual for him.

His crazy workload and lack of sleep forced him to scold innocent Wall Street analysts. Later, he apologized. 

In the same interview, he admits he hadn't taken more than a week off since 2001, when he was bedridden with malaria. Elon stays home after a near-death experience.

He's rarely outside.

Elon says he sometimes works 3 or 4 days straight.

He admits his crazy work schedule has cost him time with his kids and friends.

Elon's a slave

Elon's birthday description made him emotional.

Elon worked his entire birthday.

"No friends, nothing," he said, stuttering.

His brother's wedding in Catalonia was 48 hours after his birthday. That meant flying there from Tesla's factory prison.

He arrived two hours before the big moment, barely enough time to eat and change, let alone see his brother.

Elon had to leave after the bouquet was tossed to a crowd of billionaire lovers. He missed his brother's first dance with his wife.

Shocking.

He went straight to Tesla's prison.

The looming health crisis

Elon was asked if overworking affected his health.

Not great. Friends are worried.

Now you know why Elon tweets dumb things. Working so hard has probably caused him mental health issues.

Mental illness removed my reality filter. You do stupid things because you're tired.

Astronauts pelted Elon

Elon's overwork isn't the first time his life has made him emotional.

When asked about Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan criticizing his SpaceX missions, he got emotional. Elon's heroes.

They're why he started the company, and they mocked his work. In another interview, we see how Elon’s business obsession has knifed him in the heart.

Once you have a company, you must feed, nurse, and care for it, even if it destroys you.
"Yep," Elon says, tearing up.

In the same interview, he's asked how Tesla survived the 2008 recession. Elon stopped the interview because he was crying. When Tesla and SpaceX filed for bankruptcy in 2008, he nearly had a nervous breakdown. He called them his "children."

All the time, he's risking everything.

Jack Raines explains best:

Too much money makes you a slave to your net worth.

Elon's emotions are admirable. It's one of the few times he seems human, not like an alien Cyborg.

Stop idealizing Elon's lifestyle

Building a side business that becomes a billion-dollar unicorn startup is a nightmare.

"Billionaire" means financially wealthy but otherwise broke. A rich life includes more than business and money.


This post is a summary. Read full article here

More on Entrepreneurship/Creators

Sarah Bird

Sarah Bird

1 year ago

Memes Help This YouTube Channel Earn Over $12k Per Month

Image credit: Jakob Owens via Unsplash

Take a look at a YouTube channel making anything up to over $12k a month from making very simple videos.

And the best part? Its replicable by anyone. Basic videos can be generated for free without design abilities.

Join me as I deconstruct the channel to estimate how much they make, how they do it, and how you can too.

What Do They Do Exactly?

Happy Land posts memes with a simple caption they wrote. So, it's new. The videos are a slideshow of meme photos with stock music.

The site posts 12 times a day.

8-10-minute videos show 10 second images. Thus, each video needs 48-60 memes.

Memes are video titles (e.g. times a boyfriend was hilarious, back to school fails, funny restaurant signs).

Some stats about the channel:

  • Founded on October 30, 2020

  • 873 videos were added.

  • 81.8k subscribers

  • 67,244,196 views of the video

What Value Are They Adding?

Everyone can find free memes online. This channel collects similar memes into a single video so you don't have to scroll or click for more. It’s right there, you just keep watching and more will come.

By theming it, the audience is prepared for the video's content.

If you want hilarious animal memes or restaurant signs, choose the video and you'll get up to 60 memes without having to look for them. Genius!

How much money do they make?

According to www.socialblade.com, the channel earns $800-12.8k (image shown in my home currency of GBP).

Screenshot from SocialBlade.com

That's a crazy estimate, but it highlights the unbelievable potential of a channel that presents memes.

This channel thrives on quantity, thus putting out videos is necessary to keep the flow continuing and capture its audience's attention.

How Are the Videos Made?

Straightforward. Memes are added to a presentation without editing (so you could make this in PowerPoint or Keynote).

Each slide should include a unique image and caption. Set 10 seconds per slide.

Add music and post the video.

Finding enough memes for the material and theming is difficult, but if you enjoy memes, this is a fun job.

This case study should have shown you that you don't need expensive software or design expertise to make entertaining videos. Why not try fresh, easy-to-do ideas and see where they lead?

Mangu Solutions

Mangu Solutions

1 year ago

Growing a New App to $15K/mo in 6 Months [SaaS Case Study]

Discover How We Used Facebook Ads to Grow a New Mobile App from $0 to $15K MRR in Just 6 Months and Our Strategy to Hit $100K a Month.

Our client introduced a mobile app for Poshmark resellers in December and wanted as many to experience it and subscribe to the monthly plan.

An Error We Committed

We initiated a Facebook ad campaign with a "awareness" goal, not "installs." This sent them to a landing page that linked to the iPhone App Store and Android Play Store. Smart, right?

We got some installs, but we couldn't tell how many came from the ad versus organic/other channels because the objective we chose only reported landing page clicks, not app installs.

We didn't know which interest groups/audiences had the best cost per install (CPI) to optimize and scale our budget.

First month’s FB Ad report

After spending $700 without adequate data (installs and trials report), we stopped the campaign and worked with our client's app developer to set up app events tracking.

This allowed us to create an installs campaign and track installs, trials, and purchases (in some cases).

Finding a Successful Audience

Once we knew what ad sets brought in what installs at what cost, we began optimizing and testing other interest groups and audiences, growing the profitable low CPI ones and eliminating the high CPI ones.

We did all our audience testing using an ABO campaign (Ad Set Budget Optimization), spending $10 to $30 on each ad set for three days and optimizing afterward. All ad sets under $30 were moved to a CBO campaign (Campaign Budget Optimization).

We let Facebook's AI decide how much to spend on each ad set, usually the one most likely to convert at the lowest cost.

If the CBO campaign maintains a nice CPI, we keep increasing the budget by $50 every few days or duplicating it sometimes in order to double the budget. This is how we've scaled to $400/day profitably.

one of our many ad creatives

Finding Successful Creatives

Per campaign, we tested 2-6 images/videos. Same ad copy and CTA. There was no clear winner because some images did better with some interest groups.

The image above with mail packages, for example, got us a cheap CPI of $9.71 from our Goodwill Stores interest group but, a high $48 CPI from our lookalike audience. Once we had statistically significant data, we turned off the high-cost ad.

New marketers who are just discovering A/B testing may assume it's black and white — winner and loser. However, Facebook ads' machine learning and reporting has gotten so sophisticated that it's hard to call a creative a flat-out loser, but rather a 'bad fit' for some audiences, and perfect for others.

You can see how each creative performs across age groups and optimize.

Detailed reporting on FB Ads manager dashboard.

How Many Installs Did It Take Us to Earn $15K Per Month?

Six months after paying $25K, we got 1,940 app installs, 681 free trials, and 522 $30 monthly subscriptions. 522 * $30 gives us $15,660 in monthly recurring revenue (MRR).

Total ad spend so far.

Next, what? $100K per month

A conversation with the client (app owner).

The conversation above is with the app's owner. We got on a 30-minute call where I shared how I plan to get the app to be making $100K a month like I’ve done for other businesses.

Reverse Engineering $100K

Formula:

For $100K/month, we need 3,334 people to pay $30/month. 522 people pay that. We need 2,812 more paid users.

522 paid users from 1,940 installs is a 27% conversion rate. To hit $100K/month, we need 10,415 more installs. Assuming...

With a $400 daily ad spend, we average 40 installs per day. This means that if everything stays the same, it would take us 260 days (around 9 months) to get to $100K a month (MRR).

Conclusion

You must market your goods to reach your income objective (without waiting forever). Paid ads is the way to go if you hate knocking on doors or irritating friends and family (who aren’t scalable anyways).

You must also test and optimize different angles, audiences, interest groups, and creatives.

Sammy Abdullah

Sammy Abdullah

1 year ago

R&D, S&M, and G&A expense ratios for SaaS

SaaS spending is 40/40/20. 40% of operating expenses should be R&D, 40% sales and marketing, and 20% G&A. We wanted to see the statistics behind the rules of thumb. Since October 2017, 73 SaaS startups have gone public. Perhaps the rule of thumb should be 30/50/20. The data is below.

30/50/20. R&D accounts for 26% of opex, sales and marketing 48%, and G&A 22%. We think R&D/S&M/G&A should be 30/50/20.

There are outliers. There are exceptions to rules of thumb. Dropbox spent 45% on R&D whereas Zoom spent 13%. Zoom spent 73% on S&M, Dropbox 37%, and Bill.com 28%. Snowflake spent 130% of revenue on S&M, while their EBITDA margin is -192%.

G&A shouldn't stand out. Minimize G&A spending. Priorities should be product development and sales. Cloudflare, Sendgrid, Snowflake, and Palantir spend 36%, 34%, 37%, and 43% on G&A.

Another myth is that COGS is 20% of revenue. Median and averages are 29%.

Where is the profitability? Data-driven operating income calculations were simplified (Revenue COGS R&D S&M G&A). 20 of 73 IPO businesses reported operational income. Median and average operating income margins are -21% and -27%.

As long as you're growing fast, have outstanding retention, and marquee clients, you can burn cash since recurring income that doesn't churn is a valuable annuity.

The data was compelling overall. 30/50/20 is the new 40/40/20 for more established SaaS enterprises, unprofitability is alright as long as your business is expanding, and COGS can be somewhat more than 20% of revenue.

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Boris Müller

Boris Müller

1 year ago

Why Do Websites Have the Same Design?

My kids redesigned the internet because it lacks inventiveness.

Internet today is bland. Everything is generic: fonts, layouts, pages, and visual language. Microtypography is messy.

Web design today seems dictated by technical and ideological constraints rather than creativity and ideas. Text and graphics are in containers on every page. All design is assumed.

Ironically, web technologies can design a lot. We can execute most designs. We make shocking, evocative websites. Experimental typography, generating graphics, and interactive experiences are possible.

Even designer websites use containers in containers. Dribbble and Behance, the two most popular creative websites, are boring. Lead image.

Dribbble versus Behance. Can you spot the difference? Thanks to David Rehman for pointing this out to me. All screenshots: Boris Müller

How did this happen?

Several reasons. WordPress and other blogging platforms use templates. These frameworks build web pages by combining graphics, headlines, body content, and videos. Not designs, templates. These rules combine related data types. These platforms don't let users customize pages beyond the template. You filled the template.

Templates are content-neutral. Thus, the issue.

Form should reflect and shape content, which is a design principle. Separating them produces content containers. Templates have no design value.

One of the fundamental principles of design is a deep and meaningful connection between form and content.

Web design lacks imagination for many reasons. Most are pragmatic and economic. Page design takes time. Large websites lack the resources to create a page from scratch due to the speed of internet news and the frequency of new items. HTML, JavaScript, and CSS continue to challenge web designers. Web design can't match desktop publishing's straightforward operations.

Designers may also be lazy. Mobile-first, generic, framework-driven development tends to ignore web page visual and contextual integrity.

How can we overcome this? How might expressive and avant-garde websites look today?

Rediscovering the past helps design the future.

'90s-era web design

At the University of the Arts Bremen's research and development group, I created my first website 23 years ago. Web design was trendy. Young web. Pages inspired me.

We struggled with HTML in the mid-1990s. Arial, Times, and Verdana were the only web-safe fonts. Anything exciting required table layouts, monospaced fonts, or GIFs. HTML was originally content-driven, thus we had to work against it to create a page.

Experimental typography was booming. Designers challenged the established quo from Jan Tschichold's Die Neue Typographie in the twenties to April Greiman's computer-driven layouts in the eighties. By the mid-1990s, an uncommon confluence of technological and cultural breakthroughs enabled radical graphic design. Irma Boom, David Carson, Paula Scher, Neville Brody, and others showed it.

Early web pages were dull compared to graphic design's aesthetic explosion. The Web Design Museum shows this.

Nobody knew how to conduct browser-based graphic design. Web page design was undefined. No standards. No CMS (nearly), CSS, JS, video, animation.

Now is as good a time as any to challenge the internet’s visual conformity.

In 2018, everything is browser-based. Massive layouts to micro-typography, animation, and video. How do we use these great possibilities? Containerized containers. JavaScript-contaminated mobile-first pages. Visually uniform templates. Web design 23 years later would disappoint my younger self.

Our imagination, not technology, restricts web design. We're too conformist to aesthetics, economics, and expectations.

Crisis generates opportunity. Challenge online visual conformity now. I'm too old and bourgeois to develop a radical, experimental, and cutting-edge website. I can ask my students.

I taught web design at the Potsdam Interface Design Programme in 2017. Each team has to redesign a website. Create expressive, inventive visual experiences on the browser. Create with contemporary web technologies. Avoid usability, readability, and flexibility concerns. Act. Ignore Erwartungskonformität.

The class outcome pleased me. This overview page shows all results. Four diverse projects address the challenge.

1. ZKM by Frederic Haase and Jonas Köpfer

ZKM’s redesign

Frederic and Jonas began their experiments on the ZKM website. The ZKM is Germany's leading media art exhibition location, but its website remains conventional. It's useful but not avant-garde like the shows' art.

Frederic and Jonas designed the ZKM site's concept, aesthetic language, and technical configuration to reflect the museum's progressive approach. A generative design engine generates new layouts for each page load.

ZKM redesign.

2. Streem by Daria Thies, Bela Kurek, and Lucas Vogel

Streem’s redesign

Street art magazine Streem. It promotes new artists and societal topics. Streem includes artwork, painting, photography, design, writing, and journalism. Daria, Bela, and Lucas used these influences to develop a conceptual metropolis. They designed four neighborhoods to reflect magazine sections for their prototype. For a legible city, they use powerful illustrative styles and spatial typography.

Streem makeover.

3. Medium by Amelie Kirchmeyer and Fabian Schultz

Medium’s redesign

Amelie and Fabian structured. Instead of developing a form for a tale, they dissolved a web page into semantic, syntactical, and statistical aspects. HTML's flexibility was their goal. They broke Medium posts into experimental typographic space.

Medium revamp.

4. Hacker News by Fabian Dinklage and Florian Zia

Hacker News redesign

Florian and Fabian made Hacker News interactive. The social networking site aggregates computer science and IT news. Its voting and debate features are extensive despite its simple style. Fabian and Florian transformed the structure into a typographic timeline and network area. News and comments sequence and connect the visuals. To read Hacker News, they connected their design to the API. Hacker News makeover.

Communication is not legibility, said Carson. Apply this to web design today. Modern websites must be legible, usable, responsive, and accessible. They shouldn't limit its visual palette. Visual and human-centered design are not stereotypes.

I want radical, generative, evocative, insightful, adequate, content-specific, and intelligent site design. I want to rediscover web design experimentation. More surprises please. I hope the web will appear different in 23 years.

Update: this essay has sparked a lively discussion! I wrote a brief response to the debate's most common points: Creativity vs. Usability

middlemarch.eth

middlemarch.eth

2 years ago

ERC721R: A new ERC721 contract for random minting so people don’t snipe all the rares!

That is, how to snipe all the rares without using ERC721R!

Introduction: Blessed and Lucky 

Mphers was the first mfers derivative, and as a Phunks derivative, I wanted one.

I wanted an alien. And there are only 8 in the 6,969 collection. I got one!

In case it wasn't clear from the tweet, I meant that I was lucky to have figured out how to 100% guarantee I'd get an alien without any extra luck.
Read on to find out how I did it, how you can too, and how developers can avoid it!
How to make rare NFTs without luck.

# How to mint rare NFTs without needing luck

The key to minting a rare NFT is knowing the token's id ahead of time.

For example, once I knew my alien was #4002, I simply refreshed the mint page until #3992 was minted, and then mint 10 mphers.

How did I know #4002 was extraterrestrial? Let's go back.

First, go to the mpher contract's Etherscan page and look up the tokenURI of a previously issued token, token #1:

As you can see, mphers creates metadata URIs by combining the token id and an IPFS hash.

This method gives you the collection's provenance in every URI, and while that URI can be changed, it affects everyone and is public.

Consider a token URI without a provenance hash, like https://mphers.art/api?tokenId=1.
As a collector, you couldn't be sure the devs weren't changing #1's metadata at will.
The API allows you to specify “if #4002 has not been minted, do not show any information about it”, whereas IPFS does not allow this.

It's possible to look up the metadata of any token, whether or not it's been minted.
Simply replace the trailing “1” with your desired id.


Mpher #4002

These files contain all the information about the mpher with the specified id. For my alien, we simply search all metadata files for the string “alien mpher.”

Take a look at the 6,969 meta-data files I'm using OpenSea's IPFS gateway, but you could use ipfs.io or something else.


Use curl to download ten files at once. Downloading thousands of files quickly can lead to duplicates or errors. But with a little tweaking, you should be able to get everything (and dupes are fine for our purposes).
Now that you have everything in one place, grep for aliens:


The numbers are the file names that contain “alien mpher” and thus the aliens' ids.
The entire process takes under ten minutes. This technique works on many NFTs currently minting.

In practice, manually minting at the right time to get the alien is difficult, especially when tokens mint quickly. Then write a bot to poll totalSupply() every second and submit the mint transaction at the exact right time.

You could even look for the token you need in the mempool before it is minted, and get your mint into the same block!

However, in my experience, the “big” approach wins 95% of the time—but not 100%.
“Am I being set up all along?”

Is a question you might ask yourself if you're new to this.
It's disheartening to think you had no chance of minting anything that someone else wanted.
But, did you have no opportunity? You had an equal chance as everyone else!
Take me, for instance: I figured this out using open-source tools and free public information. Anyone can do this, and not understanding how a contract works before minting will lead to much worse issues.

The mpher mint was fair.

While a fair game, “snipe the alien” may not have been everyone's cup of tea.
People may have had more fun playing the “mint lottery” where tokens were distributed at random and no one could gain an advantage over someone simply clicking the “mint” button.

How might we proceed?
Minting For Fashion Hats Punks, I wanted to create a random minting experience without sacrificing fairness. In my opinion, a predictable mint beats an unfair one. Above all, participants must be equal.

Sadly, the most common method of creating a random experience—the post-mint “reveal”—is deeply unfair. It works as follows:

  • During the mint, token metadata is unavailable. Instead, tokenURI() returns a blank JSON file for each id.
  • An IPFS hash is updated once all tokens are minted.
  • You can't tell how the contract owner chose which token ids got which metadata, so it appears random.

Because they alone decide who gets what, the person setting the metadata clearly has a huge unfair advantage over the people minting. Unlike the mpher mint, you have no chance of winning here.
But what if it's a well-known, trusted, doxxed dev team? Are reveals okay here?
No! No one should be trusted with such power. Even if someone isn't consciously trying to cheat, they have unconscious biases. They might also make a mistake and not realize it until it's too late, for example.

You should also not trust yourself. Imagine doing a reveal, thinking you did it correctly (nothing is 100%! ), and getting the rarest NFT. Isn't that a tad odd Do you think you deserve it? An NFT developer like myself would hate to be in this situation.

Reveals are bad*

UNLESS they are done without trust, meaning everyone can verify their fairness without relying on the developers (which you should never do).
An on-chain reveal powered by randomness that is verifiably outside of anyone's control is the most common way to achieve a trustless reveal (e.g., through Chainlink).

Tubby Cats did an excellent job on this reveal, and I highly recommend their contract and launch reflections. Their reveal was also cool because it was progressive—you didn't have to wait until the end of the mint to find out.

In his post-launch reflections, @DefiLlama stated that he made the contract as trustless as possible, removing as much trust as possible from the team.

In my opinion, everyone should know the rules of the game and trust that they will not be changed mid-stream, while trust minimization is critical because smart contracts were designed to reduce trust (and it makes it impossible to hack even if the team is compromised). This was a huge mistake because it limited our flexibility and our ability to correct mistakes.

And @DefiLlama is a superstar developer. Imagine how much stress maximizing trustlessness will cause you!

That leaves me with a bad solution that works in 99 percent of cases and is much easier to implement: random token assignments.

Introducing ERC721R: A fully compliant IERC721 implementation that picks token ids at random.

ERC721R implements the opposite of a reveal: we mint token ids randomly and assign metadata deterministically.
This allows us to reveal all metadata prior to minting while reducing snipe chances.
Then import the contract and use this code:

What is ERC721R and how does it work

First, a disclaimer: ERC721R isn't truly random. In this sense, it creates the same “game” as the mpher situation, where minters compete to exploit the mint. However, ERC721R is a much more difficult game.
To game ERC721R, you need to be able to predict a hash value using these inputs:

This is impossible for a normal person because it requires knowledge of the block timestamp of your mint, which you do not have.

To do this, a miner must set the timestamp to a value in the future, and whatever they do is dependent on the previous block's hash, which expires in about ten seconds when the next block is mined.

This pseudo-randomness is “good enough,” but if big money is involved, it will be gamed. Of course, the system it replaces—predictable minting—can be manipulated.
The token id is chosen in a clever implementation of the Fisher–Yates shuffle algorithm that I copied from CryptoPhunksV2.

Consider first the naive solution: (a 10,000 item collection is assumed):

  1. Make an array with 0–9999.
  2. To create a token, pick a random item from the array and use that as the token's id.
  3. Remove that value from the array and shorten it by one so that every index corresponds to an available token id.

This works, but it uses too much gas because changing an array's length and storing a large array of non-zero values is expensive.

How do we avoid them both? What if we started with a cheap 10,000-zero array? Let's assign an id to each index in that array.

Assume we pick index #6500 at random—#6500 is our token id, and we replace the 0 with a 1.

But what if we chose #6500 again? A 1 would indicate #6500 was taken, but then what? We can't just "roll again" because gas will be unpredictable and high, especially later mints.

This allows us to pick a token id 100% of the time without having to keep a separate list. Here's how it works:

  1. Make a 10,000 0 array.
  2. Create a 10,000 uint numAvailableTokens.
  3. Pick a number between 0 and numAvailableTokens. -1
  4. Think of #6500—look at index #6500. If it's 0, the next token id is #6500. If not, the value at index #6500 is your next token id (weird!)
  5. Examine the array's last value, numAvailableTokens — 1. If it's 0, move the value at #6500 to the end of the array (#9999 if it's the first token). If the array's last value is not zero, update index #6500 to store it.
  6. numAvailableTokens is decreased by 1.
  7. Repeat 3–6 for the next token id.

So there you go! The array stays the same size, but we can choose an available id reliably. The Solidity code is as follows:


GitHub url

Unfortunately, this algorithm uses more gas than the leading sequential mint solution, ERC721A.

This is most noticeable when minting multiple tokens in one transaction—a 10 token mint on ERC721R costs 5x more than on ERC721A. That said, ERC721A has been optimized much further than ERC721R so there is probably room for improvement.

Conclusion

Listed below are your options:

  • ERC721A: Minters pay lower gas but must spend time and energy devising and executing a competitive minting strategy or be comfortable with worse minting results.
  • ERC721R: Higher gas, but the easy minting strategy of just clicking the button is optimal in all but the most extreme cases. If miners game ERC721R it’s the worst of both worlds: higher gas and a ton of work to compete.
  • ERC721A + standard reveal: Low gas, but not verifiably fair. Please do not do this!
  • ERC721A + trustless reveal: The best solution if done correctly, highly-challenging for dev, potential for difficult-to-correct errors.

Did I miss something? Comment or tweet me @dumbnamenumbers.
Check out the code on GitHub to learn more! Pull requests are welcome—I'm sure I've missed many gas-saving opportunities.

Thanks!

Read the original post here

Ari Joury, PhD

Ari Joury, PhD

1 year ago

7 ways to turn into a major problem-solver

Frustration is normal when faced with unsolvable problems. Image by author

For some people, the glass is half empty. For others, it’s half full. And for some, the question is, How do I get this glass totally full again?

Problem-solvers are the last group. They're neutral. Pragmatists.

Problems surround them. They fix things instead of judging them. Problem-solvers improve the world wherever they go.

Some fail. Sometimes their good intentions have terrible results. Like when they try to help a grandma cross the road because she can't do it alone but discover she never wanted to.

Most programmers, software engineers, and data scientists solve problems. They use computer code to fix problems they see.

Coding is best done by understanding and solving the problem.

Despite your best intentions, building the wrong solution may have negative consequences. Helping an unwilling grandma cross the road.

How can you improve problem-solving?

1. Examine your presumptions.

Don’t think There’s a grandma, and she’s unable to cross the road. Therefore I must help her over the road. Instead think This grandma looks unable to cross the road. Let’s ask her whether she needs my help to cross it.

Maybe the grandma can’t cross the road alone, but maybe she can. You can’t tell for sure just by looking at her. It’s better to ask.

Maybe the grandma wants to cross the road. But maybe she doesn’t. It’s better to ask!

Building software is similar. Do only I find this website ugly? Who can I consult?

We all have biases, mental shortcuts, and worldviews. They simplify life.

Problem-solving requires questioning all assumptions. They might be wrong!

Think less. Ask more.

Secondly, fully comprehend the issue.

Grandma wants to cross the road? Does she want flowers from the shop across the street?

Understanding the problem advances us two steps. Instead of just watching people and their challenges, try to read their intentions.

Don't ask, How can I help grandma cross the road? Why would this grandma cross the road? What's her goal?

Understand what people want before proposing solutions.

3. Request more information. This is not a scam!

People think great problem solvers solve problems immediately. False!

Problem-solvers study problems. Understanding the problem makes solving it easy.

When you see a grandma struggling to cross the road, you want to grab her elbow and pull her over. However, a good problem solver would ask grandma what she wants. So:

Problem solver: Excuse me, ma’am? Do you wish to get over the road? Grandma: Yes indeed, young man! Thanks for asking. Problem solver: What do you want to do on the other side? Grandma: I want to buy a bouquet of flowers for my dear husband. He loves flowers! I wish the shop wasn’t across this busy road… Problem solver: Which flowers does your husband like best? Grandma: He loves red dahlia. I usually buy about 20 of them. They look so pretty in his vase at the window! Problem solver: I can get those dahlia for you quickly. Go sit on the bench over here while you’re waiting; I’ll be back in five minutes. Grandma: You would do that for me? What a generous young man you are!

A mediocre problem solver would have helped the grandma cross the road, but he might have forgotten that she needs to cross again. She must watch out for cars and protect her flowers on the way back.

A good problem solver realizes that grandma's husband wants 20 red dahlias and completes the task.

4- Rapid and intense brainstorming

Understanding a problem makes solutions easy. However, you may not have all the information needed to solve the problem.

Additionally, retrieving crucial information can be difficult.

You could start a blog. You don't know your readers' interests. You can't ask readers because you don't know who they are.

Brainstorming works here. Set a stopwatch (most smartphones have one) to ring after five minutes. In the remaining time, write down as many topics as possible.

No answer is wrong. Note everything.

Sort these topics later. Programming or data science? What might readers scroll past—are these your socks this morning?

Rank your ideas intuitively and logically. Write Medium stories using the top 35 ideas.

5 - Google it.

Doctor Google may answer this seemingly insignificant question. If you understand your problem, try googling or binging.

Someone has probably had your problem before. The problem-solver may have posted their solution online.

Use others' experiences. If you're social, ask a friend or coworker for help.

6 - Consider it later

Rest your brain.

Reread. Your brain needs rest to function.

Hustle culture encourages working 24/7. It doesn't take a neuroscientist to see that this is mental torture.

Leave an unsolvable problem. Visit friends, take a hot shower, or do whatever you enjoy outside of problem-solving.

Nap.

I get my best ideas in the morning after working on a problem. I couldn't have had these ideas last night.

Sleeping subconsciously. Leave it alone and you may be surprised by the genius it produces.

7 - Learn to live with frustration

There are problems that you’ll never solve.

Mathematicians are world-class problem-solvers. The brightest minds in history have failed to solve many mathematical problems.

A Gordian knot problem can frustrate you. You're smart!

Frustration-haters don't solve problems well. They choose simple problems to avoid frustration.

No. Great problem solvers want to solve a problem but know when to give up.

Frustration initially hurts. You adapt.

Famous last words

If you read this article, you probably solve problems. We've covered many ways to improve, so here's a summary:

  1. Test your presumptions. Is the issue the same for everyone else when you see one? Or are your prejudices and self-judgments misguiding you?

  2. Recognize the issue completely. On the surface, a problem may seem straightforward, but what's really going on? Try to see what the current situation might be building up to by thinking two steps ahead of the current situation.

  3. Request more information. You are no longer a high school student. A two-sentence problem statement is not sufficient to provide a solution. Ask away if you need more details!

  4. Think quickly and thoroughly. In a constrained amount of time, try to write down all your thoughts. All concepts are worthwhile! Later, you can order them.

  5. Google it. There is a purpose for the internet. Use it.

  6. Consider it later at night. A rested mind is more creative. It might seem counterintuitive to leave a problem unresolved. But while you're sleeping, your subconscious will handle the laborious tasks.

  7. Accept annoyance as a normal part of life. Don't give up if you're feeling frustrated. It's a step in the procedure. It's also perfectly acceptable to give up on a problem because there are other, more pressing issues that need to be addressed.

You might feel stupid sometimes, but that just shows that you’re human. You care about the world and you want to make it better.

At the end of the day, that’s all there is to problem solving — making the world a little bit better.