Monday, December 30, 2013

TREND Rise of the private social network | Hello Path, Dunbar Numberand the Private Social Network

A #socialmedia trend in the making?

Recently I wrote about Path +Path  a smart phone app that allows sharing private moments, private messaging, geolocation, music and other data with a small group of friends. Read the post here about how I use Path to stay in touch with close friends. Even allows you to post your sleep status (see screenshot). Path allows you to automatically (because you can safely trust your intimate circle and narrowcast) and manually share intimate moments with those who are close to you.

No more worries about stalkers on Facebook. I have 700+ friends on Facebook, but 7 on Path. Yes that also means Path grows slowly: 20 million users in 3 years. Nevertheless Path still caps you at 150 Dunbar's Number, this NPR article and audio talks about Professor Dunbar's magical number 150. Yes and no you cannot have more than 150 friends, even if you are super. Just like you can't multi-task when you think you can. Our brain is the limitation. Robert Dunbar cautions those who are Social Media agnostic: even for those workholics, private enterprise networks dominate their days. +Yammer  +Google+  to name a big player... and then where's the time for friends after squeezing the last drop of time for family members?

+Mashable pushed a great article and analysis on rise of private social media network today from Instagram to Twitter, private messaging is rising in not-so-private networks. Do you think this is a new trend?

Ever since I introduced my social media shy friends to Path, I found some pleasant surprises: my introverted friends found surprising talent in posting funny stickers, growing their network on Path, and sharing new year resolutions and goals. I am no wiz at private network, just a catalyst.  Hint, I also started to post my new year resolution pictures: going to the gym daily.

Friday, December 27, 2013

An app for staying in touch with closest friends, long distance

Even keeping long-distance relationship is hard. Sharing moments with friends while not appearing snobby or privileged is hard (research has shown that viewing other people's happy social media moments can make us feel sad and alone). Googled around and found an app called Path. As long as you have a smart phone or a tablet with internet, you can use Path for ... sharing a lot of moments, some even automatic. 

I have 7 friends on Path versus 700+ on Facebook. It's the difference between intimacy and broadcasting. 

You can read more on their official website Path an app for staying touch with friends

While Path is intuitive, allows you to share a variety of moments. There is a learning curve. You can find inspiration in the STORY section, or read on the "manual" in support section. I am surprised that my not-so social media savy friends have found talents in using limited free emoticons and stickers, using Path to keep track of personal goals preparing for a qual, group chats, and notify me when they are asleep (extremely helpful if your best friend is in Texas and you are 2 hours later in California).

There will be future blog posts covering unique features. This post is an overview, to get you started:
- limit your post to only accessible by individual friends, select 1to 3 to more
- you can visit your friends timeline and it will be logged
- a bunch of "sensors" automatically update your timeline: location, neighborhood and activities
- you can mark that you are asleep hence won't be able to answer msg
- you can private message and group chat!
- emoticons, some really elite ones, paid though
- you can share your location, check in, messages, emoticons, voices (awesome!), buildings, songs you are listening to, books you are reading... All these sharing can be done one-on-one with a small group (private messaging) or with your path friends in general 

10 tech worthwhile news you have missed

in no particular order
topics covering twitter, best apps, TSA and social media, websites for brain, electronics starter kit, Sriracha documentary, an innovative geolocation app that got a lot of funding, best games, best apps
  1. Twitter 2013 in review
  2. Calculating income for Obamacare, a reference 
  3. TSA allows social media profile in lieu of ID at airport
  4. 25 Killer Websites That Make You Cleverer
  5. LittleBits the coolest electronic, open project I have seen that makes everyone a prototyped! I love it Will check it out myself It's like Codecademy for electric circuits and sensors?
  6. While not a technology, there's a new documentary of techie's favorite Sriracha spicy sauce  and it is pretty awesome. You will find many surprises about the sauce, and discover new recipes ;-) 
  7. A cute strange idea that may workout well, give each location a 3 word name A strangely awesome idea. Makes you wonder what will come of it. 
  8. Best games of 2013 via Mashable
  9. 11 Best iPad Apps of 2013 via Mashable
  10. 10 Best iphone Apps of 2013 via Mashable

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Code up a holiday card in 1 minute on Codecademy

On the 23rd, I still didn't realize 'tis only 2 days away from Xmas. I started to search the internet for e-cards. While I prefer snail mail, this was too short a window frame, plus the postal office stopped working. Naturally, this is an opportunity for digital deliveries. Here are some options for DIY'ers to code up holiday cards. Merry Christmas to you all! Thank you for reading my blog.

If you prefer an audio preview, scroll to the bottom of this post. There's a SoundCloud clip giving overview of this post, for those who are busy baking cookies on side :)

Get started with holiday coding using Codebits
Codecademy introduced Codebits on Dec 19th via email newsletter (view the one I got in the browser). For those who are familiar, these are mini projects with all you can modify HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery and font plug-ins. It's a real-time, side-by-side modification. For example, you can change the number of snow flakes falling by playing with the numbers in the jQuery Document Ready function. You actually don't have to use Codecademy a whole lot to use this feature. The key tip is to stay calm, to look for what's showing up in the card and correspondingly show up in the codes, carefully modify the codes to get desired results on the card. It's an interactive feature great for any one who wants to look under the hood. If you like looking under the hood, studied computer science on Khan Academy, or survived the Hour of Code by , you can do this.

You Can make and share your card (login, save, and then click on share buttons) within a minute. For example, I clicked the snow man codebit from the newsletter and saw this ...

I changed flakeCount to 1000 in the jQuery codes. And yes, you just have to type in numbers, no jQuery required. Then I changed the HTML texts to change the Happy Holidays and from captions. I just have to save and share.

From the results you can see, the snowflake counts really increased, filled the screen. And the words are now customized to say Merry Xmas! from CodeSumBlog.

In a second post today, I will cover how I designed my personal holiday card from scratch this year, and share the GitHub codes.

Monday, December 23, 2013

11 Worthy Tech and entrepreneurship info bites for entrepreneurs and hybrid hackers

In no particular order ...the cream of hot topics in silicon valley for hybrid hackers, business "savages" and founders, entrepreneurs. These are breadcrumbs I picked up as an avid Silicon Valley reader...recommended reading bytes ...

Topics covered #stripe #justinesacco +Khan Academy  +KISSmetrics  #coworking #blog #obamacare +KQED News
  1. Stripe API design q&a on
  2. Social media PR slip turned disastrous - a social media cautionary tale
  3. And she is sorry
  4. Khan academy hour of code page and tutorials written by the team including Pamela Fox a famous developer of the bay area. Uses simplified code language, unique to Khan Academy, to facilitate hands-on teaching 
  5. Khan Academy courses on entrepreneurship, interview with entrepreneurs: Founder Sal Khan interviews Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and PayPal
  6. Making the most out of coworking space
  7. Conversion optimization case studies by kissmetrics
  8. A blog to follow: a VC in NYC
  9. Stanford classmate Leslie Wu 's rendition of the 23rd chapter of Book of the Psalms begins with “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” almost gave me happy goose bumps. Can't describe the feeling when hearing something like a droid reciting the bible for the first time. It's just bizarre

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Never Miss an Important Tweet in 2 Steps

This is a known feature, but technologies change fast and we can't keep up, so as a reminder, this is how to do it: 

Step 1: Navigate to the twitter profile that you want to track

Step 2: Click on the star to make it on and golden. 

Receive some kind of alert for iphone notification 

Press okay to accept

To cancel just click on the golden star again to "unfavorite"

Make sure you turned on notification on iphone. You will not miss a tweet from this person any more

Pragmatic Hack News - notable news for beginner programmers and junior hackers

Learning to code? A business co-founder? These news entries may be of interest for you. Dubbed: junior hacker news for a new breed of hackers: social hackers (as in social drinker).  Recommended moments:

The Code of Life - NYTimes
New York Times journalist write about the journey to learn to code on Codecademy and beyond. Couldn't have summarized it better: "Now, I was never going to be a career programmer. Though I got into it with the idea of getting myself out of a financial pinch, it turned out to be unnecessary... But my code year changed me. Whenever I meet someone involved in technology — which is pretty much everyone these days — I have a real understanding of what they’re talking about..."

New Codecademy mobile app reviewed on this blog.

And did you see NYTimes illustrative interpretation of Codecademy's famous beginner lessons? It's pretty epic.

What designing in a startup is really like? Here's a video for it! That's like one picture worth a thousand words with 10,000 frames.

The Truth about Hack Schools - Fast Company By Alice Truong
CodeSumBlog also scored a mention! I talked about Coding Dojo
Alice wrote a comprehensive one-page guide to bootcamps web and mobile, cheap and expensive in the bay area. It's suitable for all candidates considering web development or mobile development bootcamps. Covering both the bright and dark sides, Alice scored multiple interviews with important peer-level voices and also founders and staff of Hackbright, Dev Bootcamp and Coding Dojo.

Peer voices to follow when learning about bootcamps in the Bay Area and Mobilemakers in Chicago.

Hour of Code
Our coverage of Codecademy's new mobile app and President Obama's inspirational speech on learning how to code.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

One page guide to choosing bootcamps - via Fast Company by Alice Truong - Reader's companion

I would like to share a truly exceptional writing by Alice Truong on Fast Company (my favorite daily read) talk about the ups and downs of the myriads of web development bootcamps.  The power of Alice' writing is a strong narrative story that accounts for both sides of the story: the students and the founders, the positive and the negative, and the struggling and mingling of both sides. She even de-mystified some of the salary figures and made the readers question: is this really realistic? Should I expect to learn to code in a few weeks, without prior experiences, and expect magical 6-figure salaries? The answer, is NO more often than right.

The article covers exceptional members of the bootcamp-turned-developer or bootcamp-turned-hacker community. Natasha the Robot recounted her journey to be a full professional developer and also now a mobile developer. The story spans Dev Bootcamp (class 2!) and Mobile Maker, which is not the only game and policy changer, each bootcamp has had its shares. Really serious about being a full developer? You may want to read Natasha's story. There's the bay area Hack Reactor, Hackbright. Alice even got some rare narratives out of Michael Choi, the founder of Coding Dojo (which by the way removed the "co" from its domain).

Yet each camp has its ups and downs. Fast Company quoted myself +Dilys Sun  talking about  Coding Dojo and helped me say the fact: not all instructors are developers but you and I turned hackers, and then turned educators. Not every one can teach, you and I can't just go start a bootcamp. There's some serious merit in the way Coding Dojo functions as a dojo and a community, read more here.

And there are stories of people who sold their properties to learn to code and didn't end up with a dream salary. And there are people who have fallen so behind that they almost had to be asked to leave (prepping ahead of time, and coding ahead of time can alleviate this situation). It's a familiar story everywhere. The article highlighted a shocking number of expected graduates and alumni from each camp.

I have written about this topic for a while: web development bootcamps. I want to write better and more informative like Alice Truong. This writing is amazing. A lot to be learnt.

In the end this is a unique journey, it may or may not be a match for you, and it may or may not work out for you. It really depends. But at the end of the day as the article has pinpointed : it's a business and a thriving one with VCs circling above.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Troubleshoot: People can't hear me on Skype - iOS7

This post aims to help people I know who experienced trouble with international calling on Skype. Issue was that can't be heard by the call recipient. This is a permission diagnostic seeing if microphone is successfully granted to skype.

这个电脑科技解读的博客论文主要是为了帮助我认识的人解决一个问题:对方听不到你的对话。这篇文章是为了诊断问题所在。初步怀疑是没有成功准许Skype使用话筒(应该是一个iOS7 的常见问题)

iOS will prompt you to grant permission if you accidentally denied permissions causing apps to be non functional, you will need to right the wrongs in Setting.

Codecademy: Hour of Code review and significance

Codecademy has developed a mobile app to deliver a version of the Hour of Code initiative for CSEdWeek. This new development is significant: Codecademy is making its mobile debut! It also is spearheading initiatives introducing young people to code. Furthermore, it puts Codecademy easily accessible on mobile, which is often an on-and-off short interactions (unlike its website presence), and makes it a contender for your time. Competing with games and "less productive tasks", that is. See this useful CNN article for analysis

I was at one time the Codecademy girl, so I can't pass on the opportunity to write about my passion.

Summary review: this app is convenient, meant to be used on the go, zero experience required. It's Codecademy doing what it's best at teaching people to code by making it easy and fun, without the hassle of setting up. Learn coding *concepts* just got a whole lot easier. If you can use an iPhone, you can code.

Read about the mobile app and download it here on
Continue the education on the website later click here also on
Download from App Store right away use this
To access the app on iPad, be sure to search "codecademy" and change the filter to "iphone only" from "iPad only". This is the way to make all iPhone apps show on iPad.

  • Differentiating factor: a simple tap and code, or tap and learn approach. Students reach correct answers faster. Less frustration, and less need for full computer based research and workout
  • Of course no answer is ever free from Codecademy. Users still have to think and guess a bit. That's the part that Codecademy does the best: remove traditional computer science learning obstacles, but still make the lessons engaging, educational, and gamified with fun. 
  • De-myth: if you know how to use an iPhone you can code! And a lot of people can use iPhones. Codecademy is doing its best to get everyone to understand how to code.

  • Works out of the box: no need to log in.
  • JavaScript, the language of the web
  • iPhone ready: flat design, responsive works well visually on iPhone and iPad, tap and type features, tap and select 

  • Gamified
  • Push notification for new updates
  • Popup overlay displaying results of your code, i.e. console results
  • Multiple choices, there's a correct answer, no more frustrations
  • Walks through important basics

    • String, text, string concatenation
    • Printing
    • Calculations
    • Boolean true or false evaluation
    • Data types
    • Control Flow basics, if ... else ...
    • Variables
    • Functions
    • .... this is a living document and it will be updated. Even for experienced folks like myself I cannot get through codecademy's basic app in 15 minutes. It's indeed non-trivial.
  • Instant Feedback
Every person is different and has different learning styles. Codecademy may work for you, or not. Check out for Hour of Code +Hour of Code 2013  options on iPad, a mobile device.

President Obama's call to action.

Productivity Tips: Winning at Searching

Possibly one of the most important skills in the web 2.0 era: searching. As a student, a researcher, even a programmer, searching is as critical as reading and writing. Did you know that programmers use Google to debug codes a lot? They search the error messages constantly. It's actually considered a part of the process! So, searching on Google isn't unprofessional or illegitimate.

Here are some tips to be more productive at searching.

Search Operators
Use search operators. Almost all search engines support search operators like AND OR + -
Here's a list of Google search operators

Say you are searching for celebrity: Amazing Joe (made up name), but Amazing just had an accident, or a tabloid feature, you can't find any valuable material to write a legit essay. You can search "amazing joe" -accident 

It will take out some of the unnecessary search results.

Check out this example of excluding movie from the search results will show mostly Ender's Game book and literature results rather than the most recent box office results.

Gmail Search
Have inbox-to-zero problems? When you go to your Gmail you can see a search bar. Gmail really wants you to use it. Go ahead, use some advanced search (the down arrow) and notice how the search box changed? Yes, no more clicking everywhere. You can search your inbox without clicking

Search a particular sender?

Search a particular subject with attachments?
subject:test has:attachment

Using labels that are too hard to use (collapsed on the left nav)?
label:yourLabelName yourKeyword

See the full list of Gmail search operators here

Use ... rewards!
Okay, let's use Bing! Why? It isn't the most amazing experience, but it gets simple tasks done: basic search, trip search, obvious sites like Yelp ... You can try it out on Bing It On testing.  I think the whole marketing value is that: Bing doesn't suck like you expect it would.

I really use Bing for the rewards: a month's search can turn into Amazon $5 gift cards. Here's a list of the rewards Set any gold you want, earn bonus points, and make progress towards your goal (me love gamified everything). You can join the program on your own, if you feel kind, you can use my referral code . I get some bonus points, and you should do the same to spread the love.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Fancy Scrolling Animation via SUPERSCROLLORAMA

Reading a TechCrunch article : iBeacon Pioneers Estimote Raised $3.1 Million Seed Round, thought the product looked funny (I like funky products that's why I run an ebay store called dotpink for creative products).

Reading about the product on the website, scrolling downward in a smooth motion, then within the same frame, this happened.

As you scroll, you wouldn't be able to scroll pass this frame, instead you watch the little guy walks through the store as you scroll and tooltips popup. This is like front-end candy, gasp. With a bit a inspect element and research, yielded a beautiful GitHub library for this wonderful effect called SUPERSCROLLORAMA forkable and playable. Enjoy. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Lessons Learnt from Chime Hack and Hackathons in General | Hackathon Tips

Chime Hack is a cause, NGO oriented hackathon, aims to solve real problems with programming. Chime comes from Chime for Change, a foundation supported by Gucci.

These lessons learnt may apply to any hackathon.

Prototype not reinvent the wheel
Hackathons are meant for generating great ideas, fast and effectively. You don't have to invent a startup idea and build the entire company in 24 hours.

The sweet spot between BUSINESS and TECHNOLOGY
If your team is all engineers, or all business, all design... any 1+1 = 1 combinations, you may be running risk of group thinking, and not solving a real business / real world problem and provide a technical solution.

Business Visions
Ask yourself the question: what problems does my app / solution solve? Are they even relevant problems to these organizations? One mistake our team made was that we didn't get to talk to the NGO staff. We don't know what they really wanted.

Product > Feature > 1's and 0's
Real world solutions take product vision, not a bunch of fancy APIs or features chained together, and definitely not loose code libraries. Our apps had fancy mobile UI, overlay, panels and geolocation, but it sort of missed the point of solving the NGO's problem. Again, we didn't quite know the problems, because we didn't interview the user.

Hackathons take product management tactics, product vision, and technical skills, and productivity and efficiency via prototyping.

Under stress, teams crumble unless, the program management is skill, goal, and merit based. It's important to not get too personal. Fights will rise, 15 minutes before submission.

Teams can be formed before hand. There's strength in knowing "what to expect" from known teammates. Bootcamps and communities have found successful moments competing as a team. Hack reactor for example has students who scored winning positions and mentions on publications like TechCrunch.

Be Nice Stay Cool and Be Productive

Series: economics for freaks @ codesumblog
This is a series where codesumblog turns a bit lifehacker, and talk a bit Freakonomics.

It's hard to be nice in this jobless, all tech no meal market. Work loads are high and salary not so much. Yet many good things are happening, sweet tips for jesus (viral $5000 dollar tip sensations). Wouldn't it be nice to combine it all. Be sustainably nice.

Those who know me personally know that I tip generously, complain loudly, and speak passionately. There are rewards and punishments for all the services and attitudes that I receive. Recently, I pledge to NOT HONK. Not a big deal? It's actually tough not to road rage in the windy, hilly streets of San Francisco and with many new BMWs and fancy cars. Bikers are awesome, sustainable, they also sometimes knock on cars and at times, and gosh pedestrians are angry and endangered at the same time!

So I experimented, what if I don't honk no matter what. Some meanies stay that way, but many let me go through more often, even pedestrians. And my heart rate doesn't go up. I don't get scared when people get angry after my road rage ... and best of all, my friends don't get scared in the shotgun.

Don't honk, let the meanies be meanies, because they will be, and make others feel so guilty that they have to be polite to you! I PLEDGE NOT TO HONK week has been great for me, try it out for yourself.

There's a funny WIFI device called Karma on so every time you take this device to a crowded area, others can join and whenever they do you get 100 MB free! That's a lot of text (of course don't you use Youtube videos, it will run out like in minutes, and nor are images encouraged), but it's 4G, and it is fast if it gets signals at all (that's the caveat)... if your device is "viral" enough at comic cons, conferences, Dreamforce, Oracle World... you name it... you may never run out! So far, I didn't have to buy data packages more than twice. Make an investment on the device, $99 may seem like a lot, but it runs 50% off promotions so sign up to the newsletter and purchase device later.

And now you remember all those referral links you have from Treehouse, Threadflip, Amazon, you can make good use of them, make each of your social share count! They can all end up earning money for you. When you stumble upon an item, your friend will like, you can show them right away. They don't have to waste time finding it. Is it pay it forward?

OKAY, back to this jobless market. I read my friends cover letters. They help me look for positions (more tedious for me, one friend of mine is a human machine can digest thousands of job posting). We share our skills and be nice.

What's your pledge?

Here are some good deeds that will make you happy:

I pledge to not honk this week.
I pledge to help one friend looking for jobs.
I pledge to read a good poem, and share it on Facebook.
I pledge to _________ .

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Job for the Makers | Tips on Building for Interviews

This post is a prequel to a series of posts that I want to write: productivity tips learnt from developers and the valley. 

It seems that jobs are falling off to never-land at many places except the startup tech scene. Hold your horses. The jobs are abundant but they aren't easy to get. Got talent for business? Be prepared to answer some tough questions. Got talent for coding? Show me your code, your GitHub and your algorithm.

Today I saw this job posting. Twilio, a familiar name. Partner Account Manager, a familiar position. Then at the bottom of the page:

Oops. Homework!

Such is the case with many startups now. Be prepared to do some homework before they even hand an interview to you. Good old school names almost don't matter.

As a consultant and a hacker, I learn new tech and concepts all the time. Here're some tips for my business pals.

  • Get to know the concepts fast and furious. 
    • Because you aren't a natural developer, use visual aids, multi-media, tutorials, alternatives, whatever you can get your hands on. Youtube. Khan Academy, Coursera, you name it.
    • Reading books may not be fast enough, get through a full Coursera course may not be fast enough. Grab what you need and hop on.
  • Stay high level at first
    • Understand the process, ask the question, in order to integrate the API, you have to do ______ first, then  ______ , and then ______. You will also need ______ . Fill in the blanks
  • What is the MVP? the minimum viable product? Prototype
    • Build the parts first, and the modules. These are your lego building blocks
    • Then worry about the fancy problems. You have to demonstrate that you can use the tech first. You aren't applying to YC yet.
    • Wireframe your superb game changing idea that you can't build yet
  • Don't invent the wheel every second
    • Developers use other people's libraries all the time. While you can't do that for interviews, but you can look under the hood and see what else are available on GitHub, open source, and whoever is willing to publish their codes.
  • Bootstrap
    • Ride on a unicorn to get to the rainbow fast and furious
    • Is there an event that Twilio sponsors? Off you go. Join the conversation, build what they want you to build and get all the help you can at that event. There your incentives are aligned: they want you to use the API, you want to learn it. 
    • Recruiters probably don't like that you want them to teach you APIs that they don't know

Saturday, November 30, 2013

OAuth for dummies - Illustrating OAuth for User Joe

Disclaimer, this is not a training dot, but it's my attempt to understand OAuth in Plain English or with visual aids. Any suggestions are welcome. See this as published personal notes.

Thoughtworks gave an awesome overview:
 "OAuth is an open-source specification for building a framework for allowing a third-party app (the “client”) to access protected resources from another application (the “provider,” or “resource owner”) at the request of a “user” of the client app. Oauth allows the user to enter his user credentials (ex. username and password) only to the provider app, which then grants the client app permission to view the protected resources on behalf of the user."

There are a few "players" here.
The third-party app: say a newly launched startup app in beta, Facebook for dating F-Book
The user: you, an aspiring bachelor with a dream
The provider: Facebook, which has your profile, and friend list

When you want to log onto F-Book for the first time, you don't want to give an untested app all your favorite password. You saw the option to use Facebook login instead.

You choose that. A familiar blue popup shows up and ask for your Facebook username and password. Hooray, you do this everyday.

Click login. The popup disappears, you are directed to F-Book, which now has your profile picture, your friend list (tells you which friends already joined), and you can now start to use F-Book! Voila.

Actually there was another step after you used Facebook credentials to sign in: Facebook asks you are you sure you want to grant profile and friend list access to F-Book. You say okay or skip. If you skip, you likely will get a 404 from F-Book (oops, something went wrong). If you grant, then Facebook secretly sends a token over to F-Book and was like okay F-Book, you can now communicate with me. Remember to send over this token, when you want to retrieve information about this particular user. Remember to send over your app API token too, because I want to know you are F-Book for reals, not knockoff-FBook.

Now F-Book can use APIs like getUserProfilePic() getUserFriendList(), Facebook pukes out a JSON, everyone's happy.

Of course, this isn't quite how it works but you get the idea. I have grossly admitted important details about security and how secret and public keys work. I wrote this post because every time someone asks me about OAuth, my initial thought is always that I know nothing. But the reality is, since it has been popularly adopted all over the place, I have seen many manifestations of OAuth: Twitter, Facebook logins, Google Plus logins, GitHub (SSH secret keys), Yahoo YQL, Google Map.

Stripe on Shopify - First Try on Small Business Saturday

This blog post documents my very first try with Stripe on Shopify. I haven't read any tutorials or docs (my expectations is that the integration should be easy, given Stripe's reputation for easy install, as well as Shopify's reputation for easy install and integration). Here we go. 

Start time 10:42am
1. Log onto my ecommerce admin page on 
- - - I installed my own domain, so it will be
2. Select "Setting" on the left nav, that's my guess
3. Select "Checkout", though I was looking for "Payments"
4. Don't know what to select yet, saw PayPal jumped out right away, also saw Shopify payments. Scroll down, saw lots of texts, wow, ready to Control F find "stripe", then I noticed this 10:43 am

5. The moment of shock hits me. I have been using it without even knowing it!!!! Omg 10:45 a.m
6. Click on edit, two columns of options ajax into my view, I see my rate right away, and a link to lower it, I saw all the payment options that I need to set. And even a test-mode! If you are a developer, you test the sh*t out of everything, especially if you are a good developer. 

So rewind, a few months ago, I distinctly remember receiving a delightful Shopify email saying now I can send money directly to my bank without having to use PayPal Checkout. I signed up right away of course. The rate was also very favorable, because Shopify used to charge a fee, then PayPal, and one thing people always forget about PayPal is a huge cost of withdrawing your money and there are a lot of limits. I know from my ebay store that PayPal withdraw and verification (though personally my account has NEVER ever being frozen, I heard many accounts that have been at crucial times). As the time of this post, I saw some improvements. Overall, there are a lot of rules. I only use my PayPal account to pay for services that I use, as paying out money is easier than collecting. 

When Shopify Payment appeared, I signed up right away, the process took less than 5 minutes, and it was so short, I remembered everything! I couldn't find the announcement email but actually I found out that I was accepting payments, before I even finished signing up.

It's surprising that I still remember how I signed up the first time: a thought in the back of my head, oh this is like setting up the paycheck. You grab your checking account check, enter the bank number, then your account number yada yada yada... 

The funniest part is that I never left shopify to do this. This was just like a Shopify feature, a very well integrated feature too, newsletter -> click -> enter info -> enter check info -> first payment

My actual Stripe account was set up last month when an entrepreneur business founder who doesn't code asked me about prototyping with Stripe. I used the 4242 4242 4242 4242 (the famous Stripe test card VISA!). I intended to test the account, so I didn't even need to enter any sensitive info, it was test-ready. None of my Shopify info spilled over! Stripe to me was a new service. I totally credited Shopify Payments with the other feature. As a ecommerce platform, I am sure that Shopify was very happy. As a user, apparently I was very happy too. It was a pleasant signing up experience, I actually remember! 

A great design is transparent, is invisible. It contributes to a seamless User Experience.

It just took me longer to write a blog post than integrating Stripe with an existing service. I will explore Stripe under the hood soon. 

Another experiment that I did this morning is also note worthy: see on existing users include Karma (portable WIFI device with a social twist) uses stripe. Immediately logged into my account, and paid to add data, hoping to see stripe in action. Nope, not a hint. If Stripe is really integrated, that's some seriously beautiful seamless integration.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Geek Talk for N00bs

n00bs or newbies are known as l33t speak, or leet, used to be a cool code speak to prevent easy parsing / deciphering

for those newer to the coding land, here are some geek talks

    • pound sign is now known as a hash
    • this vertical line is a pipe
    • ||
      • double pipe, means or
  • &
    • ampersand, just ampersand
    • &&
      • double ampersand, means and
  • !
    • a bang, or a not !human refers to not human, maybe you are a zombie or a robot
  • control flow
    • like an if else statement
    • switch, like a case
  • Predicate
    • if (predicate)
    • Predicate refers to the in parenthesis conditions of if else statements
  • This is a living document, it will be updated

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Basic JSON Format | JSON for Dummies

The basic JSON building block is a data attribute and value pair. It's a way to track data records in JavaScript.
{"attribute" : "value"}
e.g. {"name":"dilys"}

Every two building blocks are separated with a comma.
{"first name":"John","last name":"Doe"}

We can format the JSON better by displaying it hierarchically
"first name":"John",
"last name":"Doe"

To check if your JSON is correct you can use JSONLint auto checking

To see more complex examples of JSON and also compounded, nested JSON objects

JSON is more useful than ever because most APIs like Google Map can provide data in JSON format. Key-value data stores used in nosql is also similar: a key value pair. There are subtle and important differences. Since this is an intro blog, I won't go into details. Consider this a JSON cheat sheet. 

[Updated] JSONLint is especially helpful when we can easily confuse JSON notation with key-value stores, i.e. missing double quotes. Just caught a data analysis book messing up JSON format slight today.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Codes : Python control flow looping through dates and months

While practicing data analysis, I came across a small piece of algorithm. I don't usually use Python, but for data analysis, it is preferred, so this part is iterated in Python.

This post is not for teaching, it's just to showcase my thought process, and for my future preference. It's a writing practice too. It is meant to be updated in the future when better solutions become available.

The prompt is to iterate over all the dates in 2009 and the months. Python has some built in functions per StackOverflow

What if we are building it from scratch, how would you use control flow to iterate through, just the simple and crisp way.

How would you solve it? How do you get the console to automatically print out each month and date of 2009 without giving any month extra days. For example Feb can never have 31st.


It's a great control flow mini example because not all months are created equal.

  • February is unique, in 2009, it only has 28 days
  • For months equal to or below 7, odd months have 31 days, and even months have 30 days
  • For months greater than 7, odd months have 30 days, and even months have 31 days (so it's reversed)
So there are 5 cohorts / cases. But the terrible thing is that there are 5 check points for each of the months.

for x in range (1,13):
 print x
 if (x == 2):
  print "x equals to 2"
 elif (x <= 7 and x%2 == 0):
  print "x smaller than or equal to 7 and x is even"
 elif (x <= 7 and x%2 != 0):
  print "x smaller than or equal to 7 and x is odd"
 elif (x > 7 and x%2 == 0):
  print "x is greater than 7 and x is even"   
  print "x is greater than 7 and x is odd" 

Another Pythonist used some predefined scenarios instead of checking each:

for m in range(1,3):
 for d in range(1,32):
  if (m==2 and d > 28):
  elif(m in [4,6,9,11] and d > 30):

  timestamp = '2009' + str(m) + str(d)
  print timestamp

Now this is really a different way to solve it: one must iterate through the months then dates, finally cleverly break out of the dates when certain condition is met. But it's in certain sense more elegant, because the exceptions are clearer: m==2 and 4, 6, 9, 11. Versus the previous case, there were 5 cohorts, and you have to constantly think about which cohort to fall into, also more rooms for typos on > or < signs.

See more examples on Python control flow

The stackflow examples are better in many senses too, but seeing a date problem as a simple control flow example has its merits.

When I asked college friend Roger, he also used the datetime module. Except his answer is super crispy, I like it a lot! So I am sharing it here:

import datetime

startDate = 2009, 1, 1 )
endDate = 2010, 1, 1 )
dayDelta = datetime.timedelta( days=1 )

while startDate < endDate:
   print startDate
   startDate += dayDelta

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Surprising Sophistication of Corgi

I was supposed to practice my prototyping and wireframing skills and this happened ...

I really loved the cover: The Surprising Sophistication of Twitter

Then I thought about one famous business corgi


Then I couldn't resist, so I made my very own Sophisticated Corgi

Yeah, that shit is cute. Very cute.

All jokes aside, I think there's some really good lessons learnt from the article, so I will blog about it soon.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Teach Your Kids How to Code | Book Recommendations for Young Adults

Disclaimer: this post is obviously laced with beloved not Amazon referral links. Use at your own... nah, all it means is that you are contributing about a few cents to CodeSumBlog yay for sustainable blogging.

Disclaimer 2: adults, don't be discouraged by the titles. I think the books recommended below are perfect for adults too. A much better alternative to dummy books on programming.

Time sensitive discount code: tech book publishing mogul O'reilly has a limited time discount for programming books or tech books for kids WKCODEKID
This deal expires November 14, 2013 at 5:00am PT and cannot be combined with other offers. Offer does not apply to or "Print & Ebook" bundle pricing.

I am a firm believer of alternative educations, because it just works for a lot of kids (and mainstream education too! I don't believe MOOC > school. I loved all my schools). Honestly, taking your young kids to watch Ender's Game or the Universal Studio's special effects show to see how minions come to life via CG and just how every movie and TV is green screen enabled ... probably works the magic! Hint hint, most of my Stanford friends who are superb engineers and founders have parents who already know engineering (and was taught math early on). Yup, get to it fast, if you are a happy fluffy person like me. My kids are definitely hanging out with engineers early on. Mark Zuckerberg said at 2013 Startup School, mostly he just built things when he was young (you know those garage fun times with daddies? working the toolbox? Now it's working on Ender's desk). By the time he quit Harvard, he already built multiple applications with thousands of users.

If you haven't already, allow your kids to try, whose users can range all ages and countries. It's gamified.  Get them to think about Minecraft but not just playing, but building plugins. Please don't make them read dummy books. Kids are very smart and capable to learn (hello the whole point of Ender's Game), let them learn from legit real books.

I recommend the No Starch Press (to support this blog you can purchase from this amazon referral). No Starch Press is closely tied with O'Reilly (all mighty Wikipedia talks about O'Reilly Media distributes and promotes No Starch Press titles in the U.S., and No Starch uses various distributors worldwide.)

In fact No Starch Press talks about Wikipedia, building with Legos and also

  • Linux
  • Command line
  • Internet protocols
  • HTML CSS JavaScript
  • Full stack
  • Photoshop
  • R (for data analysis, statistics and social science researches in general)
    • yes as an neotany economists (with only Bachelor of Arts), I can safely say, no future social science will be safely exempted from knowing how to conduct research and analyze the research
    • yup Economics + math, political science + math, journalism + math, law + math
When I first visited Cornell, they say I must have played Legos to be a sound engineer in the future. Now I think one needs to know how to program to succeed in all disciplines. Modern academic skills are : reading, writing, public speaking, searching (as in Google), programming, data analysis.

Dear parents, please start early. Kids are so capable of learning languages (natural, foreign and programming languages), do them a favor get them started early so they don't have to start late like me : ) cheers. And it's okay if you don't know how to program. Kids will figure it out. You don't know how to play Minecraft either. But you probably *read* Ender's Game so do something.

Sheryl Sandberg also recently said on Quora, breaking the gender imbalance early is an important step to get girls code more. Since many of us agree that programming is an important skills. Let's make sure girls have it early and solid.

Inspiring female coders early: YouNoodle showcasing amazing women's initiatives in the bay area hackbrightacademy Women Who Code Women 2.0 as female founder resources. In my opinion, these are some of the most important initiatives and community efforts, especially Women Who Code which is completely open to all for attendance. Featured video

Consumer Brand Predictions

Somewhere along the way, I found myself to be pretty good with Brand predictions. I really understand how consumer brands work, especially how affordable "luxurious" consumer brands can emerge: Starbucks (not Peet's), Jawbone, Mac, ... also software like Skype, Evernote ... Even RockMelt (when I did their user research, I was able to make some key observations on their strategies and tactics, then they got bought)

I'd like to discuss some of the brands here. Introduce them one by one week by week, and see how they perform in the future.

We should also consider predictions brain exercises. Scientists have proven that we perform no better than chimps when it comes to predicting stock. When the choices are so limited (binary: popular or not, Obama or Hillary or McCain), buy/sell/hold, no matter how informed our answers are, they just have such a good chance of being wrong. We are limited by the choices and also the models and tools we have.

I enjoy making product discoveries of physical products (that's why i own an online store and also web products (that's why i write a blog).

Twitter and eCommerce, Social Media and small business eCommerce
When I become a small retail business owner, my perception of Social Media completely changed. It became a marketing tool for small retail "hackers". SEO is all very great if you can land on the first page of search engine results. SEO is helpful if people actually know how to look you up (sorry as fancy as Google is, for small retailers, it is like a big Yellow Page booklet). Every clever Social Media post can become a small jolt to traffic. It is more of a guerrilla warfare than game changing advantage. Social Media is great for "spasm" shares, so we cannot expect the life time of each message to be long, unless you are a super star already (that's just selection bias). For all I am concerned, just having effective call-to-action templates that you can cycle through for small retailers will improve your website traffic quite a bit. And the more frequently (not the more quantity) you introduce your product, usage, product in action, the better result you can get.

Note, I am not talking about advertising via Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / ... for small business owners, you best bet is user generated sincere contents, but frequent contents too. It will take a while to see results, but a $300 per week impression payment via Facebook advertising may just be too much for any small business budget. Small business owners are actually cheap, we have to be, our margin is already low.

[Updated on Nov 11] I love updating my posts. Info changes all the time. New info just become available. Here's an opinion from Growth Hacking site by Michael Ugino on why small business should avoid burning budget on advertisement even if it is on Social Media, and instead should focus on generating a critical mass of CONTENT. A rule of thumb is to have 1000/week unique visits before considering Return On Investment ROI of advertising with hefty amounts.

NativeUnion Monocle Headphones

NativeUnion made some debut in SoCal (seen most often in actual stores near Los Angeles, not so much San Francisco) with its Pop handheld, wired retro phone designs with vibrant colors. That was a good start. Then it reinvented the product and made it into a "Monocle", just the label itself is classy, hipster and artsy.

I use it to make calls, hang it around my neck or messenger bag for easy access, and easily switch between speaker mode (say I want to share Youtube videos with friends) and headphone mode (say I don't want to disturb others on my commute). The tangle free cord (literally cord, not like headphone cord) design is great (Dr. Dre's flat ribbon design was great, but the headphones broke super fast during my business travels. Can't last, hence not worth the price tag).

  • I loved the hip fashionable design
  • flat design intuitive manual
  • vibrant colors but also have solid black and metallic design options
  • cord-design wires
  • smart little hooks that adjust the length
  • It's not an easy product to find on amazon, ebay or a retailer hub ... yet
  • And yeah, I can pretend I am a DJ and dance to my monocle, that's pretty cool
  • Since DJs hold the headphones any way (as opposed to wearing), why not just make it a monocle duh, smart designs are sometimes too obvious and harsh when the status quo is broken
  • I can't imagine how cool the chaining option is
Re-novating a classical old design, a vintage old entrenched design is the hardest. Since the NativeUnion had breakthroughs multiple times, I think it will do very well. Just like when Jawbone first started.

A great product design that isn't obvious is the customer support and post-sales designs. NativeUnion allows you to register your product and interact with their well design website. The brand experience is very very obvious. When I check out the brand name again upon buying monocle, I immediately remembered my POP phone (my Asian parent is using it to reduce phone radiation effects in China. A great product for busy business people), and wonder if I can register my Monocle too. It's pretty hard for me to remember my previous purchase by the same brand given how many distractions there are in the world right now. Kudos for creating that brand consistency for physical products (very difficult).
POP Phones

On Monocles, this New Yorker cover on is pretty clever and epic.
The Surprising Sophistication of Twitter

Monday, October 21, 2013

Y Combinator Startup School 2013 Highlights

I wrote most of these tweets, but to cross-check for originals versus retweets please check here

Y Combinator Startupschool 2013 Highlights

Ron Conway ultimate Angel Investor godfather

User interface IP is the new algorithm (the sauce of startup success) @startupschool #ronconway

hire fast fire fast, even if it is cofounders

Ben @pinterest was a founder with a rare non-type-A calming effect says #ronconway

When @pinterest started Ben had to do focus groups with women in coffee shops call them next day to ensure engagement. #feedbackloop

40% of his startups will fail [talking generic stats, and expectations highlighting inherent risks of startup failing]

Paul Graham (Y Combinator): 

Successful entrepreneurs are the cockroaches of the corporate world. [refers to resilience in light of hardship]
Mark Zuckerberg: pre-FB friending meant 0, no access to content like newsfeed. Paul Graham: social networks had the nodes of friend graph no arcs

Nathan Blecharczyk (founder of Airbnb): 

investors want the Bs not the Ms baby. [b = billion, m = million major lol humor]

Mark Zuckerberg Founder of will enter lockdown mode when competitors are ahead on strategic positions. [Mark Zuckerberg]
Mark Zuckerberg: pre-FB friending meant 0, no access to content like newsfeed. Paul Graham: social networks had the nodes of friend graph no arcs

By another Twitter account: Optimizely raised their A round by hosting a mock board meeting with the top investor prospects. Genius

"As an entrepreneur, your job is not to execute the algorithm, your job is to write the algorithm." -  by twitter account Christopher

Dan is all about feedback and action loops. @startupschool while cash > 0 do feedback then action repeat

Scale talent @Optimizely by @dsiroker it was about hiring new people > current average of existing talent pool. Always scale.  = "Google" +  ensured substantial user for feedback loops @Optimizely @startupschool

an from @Optimizely @dsiroker  started with @stanford fashioning neon orange shoes at @startupschool @ycombinator color [this was retweeted by Dan!]

Startup School account tweet: Motivation for creating : wanted to build something "sufficiently epic" to be his life's work.

3 weeks of cash left @evernote investor wasn't going to close deal on the day Lehman collapsed. Phil called everyone in vain @startupschool [this tweet was retweeted by startupschool]

@evernote is Phil's epic work epic work doesn't need an exit strategy. 

 Phil founder of @evernote joked don't even make friends with people you can't found company with. Laughingly @startupschool   @ycombinator

Jack Dorsey founder of twitter and square :  

"The Art Spirit" by Robert Henri

advice is to have a do and donts daily everyday.

the heart of a startup is the founding team's art & crafting, mastery of crafting

Chris Dixon at andreessen horowitz

idea exercise: what would for X Y look like? office hr team today : we are building games like codecademy

university education is a bundle of experiences which will be tear apart 2 b replaced slowly

Tweet by @startupschool “The same thing that’s happened to newspapers in the past 20 years will happen to education in the next 20 years.” - on MOOCs

Additional highlights:

"It's better to make a small number of users really love you than a large number kind of like you"

Stanford Professor Startup Engineering Coursera teacher - balaji srinivasan

philosophy US is a nation of VOICE & EXIT. Vote to change system or immigrate,leave. In startup world is found ur own company

startup tech landscape illustrated

React UI, UI UX, Reactstrap React Bootstrap

React UI MATERIAL  Install yarn add @material-ui/icons Reactstrap FORMS. Controlled Forms. Uncontrolled Forms.  Columns, grid