hackNY Lessons: Week 8

We met Anthony Volodkin from Hype machine and Thatcher Bell, Greg Pass (former Twitter CTO) and Daniel Huttenlocher (Cornell’s Information and Computer Science dean). I had no idea they were trying to open a Cornell branch in NYC (CornellNYC Tech, in partnership with Technion, aka Israel’s MIT), but if someone had to run it, they chose the right person. Honestly after meeting several CS/Engineering deans this is by far the only one I’ve met who really thinks out of the.. university? Usually they are so centered in academia that the only things they see outside of it it’s consulting companies like McKinsey or Accenture. In my view that doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t run a CS school, but the problem is they fail to show all the options to their students body. I’m not into academia nor I think I’ll ever be but heck as soon as this becomes something real I will be on the first line to check it out.

Definitely one of the best talks -I’d say QA rather- so far at Art.sy headquarters. I also got the chance to talk to Daniel Doubrovkine, Art.sy’s head of engineering and a very cool Swiss individual who gave me good advice about CERN, Geneva, universities in Switzerland and such. I should stop and start off with the learnings because I’m getting too emotional at this point.


Tech learnings:

  • Project Euler from 6 to 8 in Clojure
  • Git cherrypicking
  • Lifebooker’s API
  • Handle JSON
  • When scaling something that cannot be stopped measure everything.
  • Chef vs Puppet
  • Learn something that will make you think different when it comes to programming. No, learning C# when you know Java doesn’t count.

Startup learnings:

  • Step away from some friends. I should add, learn what not to do from some friends. Sometimes people forget how important it is to know what not to do and not only what to do.
  • In order to build a really good ecosystem, new startups should have some sort of role model (HP/Google/Microsoft/etc..)
  • It looks like for some people it’s easier to find a problem/solve it/make profit than innovating. I personally
  • think releasing something truly innovative is several orders of magnitude harder than the former.
  • Big problems (self driving car) have such big barriers to entry that most people with an entrepreneurial drive decide to go for the easy profitable thing (Instagram). No shame on that. I heard a story this week about two guys who are almost 99% certain they can make nuclear energy with Thorium way more efficiently than the way its done right now. Cost of that prototype? 100M. YES A PROTOTYPE. A big chunk of that is lawyer/bureaucracy fees.

Life learnings:

  • Please prove me wrong but there’s no way to avoid losing a holyfuckton of money when buying foreign currencies.
  • Again, bureaucracy sucks on so many levels. Probably the barriers to entry that market are super high
  • but there is definitely a big problem on that ‘market’ whatsoever.
  • Also sending money to foreign banks is a pain in the ass. I might open an account on CapitalOne.. 0% on ATM’s overseas, no fees at all.

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