Highlights from the Internet: Part 3
Below you'll find part 3 of my collection of highlights from the internet. I read and highlighted most of it in the Pocket app.
Why do Decision Trees Work?
When teaching decision trees one is often asked why node decisions are thresholds on single variables. It seems obvious that you could cobble up a more powerful tree model by using thresholds against arbitrary many variable linear functions. The idea would be to run something like a logistic regression or linear discriminant analysis at each node, split the data on the learned relation, and build more nodes by recursion.
But the above isn't a popular machine learning algorithm. Our suspicion is that everyone tries their own secret implementation, notices it severely over fits on small data, and quietly moves on. Computational Learning Theory indicates indicates early overfit is a large potential problem for such a model.
Roughly it is that properly constrained decision trees (those with a non-negligible minimum leaf node size) are absolutely continuous and of moderate complexity.
Properly constrained decision trees are complex enough to memorize their training data, yet simple enough to ensure low excess generalization error. With a fixed feature set and a non-negligible leaf size constraint: the number of possible decision tree leaves grows only polynomially in the size of the training set, while the odds of any one leaf being mis-estimated shrinks exponentially in the size of the training set.
How to Control Inflammation with Your Brain
Here are some ways to tone the vagus nerve:
- Slow, rhythmic, diaphragmatic breathing. Breathing from your diaphragm, rather than shallowly from the top of the lungs stimulates and tones the vagus nerve.
- Humming. Since the vagus nerve is connected to the vocal cords, humming mechanically stimulates it. You can hum a song, or even better repeat the sound ‘OM’.
- Speaking. Similarly speaking is helpful for vagal tone, due to the connection to the vocal cords.
- Washing your face with cold water. The mechanism here is not known, but cold water on your face stimulates the vagus nerve.
- Meditation, especially loving kindness meditation which promotes feelings of goodwill towards yourself and others. A 2010 study by Barbara Fredrickson and Bethany Kik found that increasing positive emotions led to increased social closeness, and an improvement in vagal tone.
- Balancing the gut microbiome. The presence of healthy bacteria in the gut creates a positive feedback loop through the vagus nerve, increasing its tone.
The NF30 Challenge: Go Notification Free for 30 Days
The NF30 Challenge: Notification Free for 30 Days
Here’s my challenge for you:
Go through all your devices and turn off every automatic notification, alert, badge, and other digital interruption. Make sure your devices don’t ding, beep, flash, vibrate, or try to get your attention in any way based on some event.
This includes turning off automatic notifications for emails and text messages. You shouldn’t be able to tell if you got an email or text unless you deliberately go check.
If software has conditioned your friends to expect to interrupt you at random, this is your chance to take back control and change that expectation.
During this challenge it’s also wise to focus on your own goals and projects more deeply. Just knowing that you won’t be interrupted is conducive to greater productivity. And you may enjoy the results that come from being able to work without distraction.
Now grab a device and start switching off some notifications.
Direct Sales for Bootstrapped SaaS Startups: from $1,300 to $725,000 MRR
Before we dive into the details of sales I should point out the biggest mistake—one that I made repeatedly and didn’t see success until I fixed it.
You must follow-up.
How to make direct sales work for you
Ask about frustrations
Now let’s get to the email itself. For this I like to keep it really simple. Don’t pitch, just ask. Ask what frustrations they have with the product the are using. Here’s an email I’ve sent over a thousand times:
Is anything frustrating you with MailChimp?
The reason I ask is I run ConvertKit, which is an email marketing platform for professional bloggers. We’ve got a lot of great bloggers using us like Katie and Seth from Wellness Mama, Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income, and Chris Guillebeau.
I’d love to hear more about how we can build it to better serve bloggers like you.
The smaller the circle you target the more likely your prospects know each other. That means if you get one, you can typically get more. This works especially well when you don’t have a big name to mention as a customer, but you might be able to mention a blog in their exact niche. Now you’re relevant.
After following up a few times just send a quick email saying:
"Hey! I didn’t hear back, so I’m going to assume you’re not interested and stop following up. If that ever changes, just get in touch! Have a great week."
If they are interested, but you were always pushed to the bottom of their to-do list, chances are you’ll jump right back up to the top. Or at least you’ll get a response telling you “Not now, but here’s when we can talk”. Or they truly aren’t interested and now you can stop wasting everyone’s time.
How to Build a Six-Figure Newsletter Without Anyone Knowing
Running a newsletter as a primary business focus has become a profitable strategy for a lot of people.
Step #1: Figure out your niche
Getting too much into niche ideas is beyond the scope of this article, but a simple rule of thumb is to try whatever angle interests you the most, and just see what happens.
The most important thing is that you do something.
Step #2: Turn That Into a Weekly Offer
You can update your newsletter as often as you like but once-per-week emails seem to be the most common.
Weekly is often enough that you can provide regular value but it’s not too often that you risk having your ‘Unsubscribe’ link clicked for sending too many messages.
Step #3: Set-Up Three Pages and Test Them
There are plenty of squeeze page designs to be found on places like ThemeForest or you can use tools like Instapage or Leadpages if you can’t build them in HTML.
Step #4: Analyse Some Aspect of Your Niche (Optional)
If you’re going to create premium reports, then you need something to report on.
I’m not suggesting you try to become (or expecting you to become) some academic research pro overnight, and nor is it a requirement.
You need to think about some aspect of your niche that you could analyse in a lot of detail and then report back your findings in a more digestible way.
Step #5: Create a Simplified Report
Without knowing if people would actually be interested in it, there’s no point in putting in weeks or months of research for something that people don’t care about.
Instead, offer a simplified version of what you plan to create and see if people are interested in that. Even if you just offer it for free.
Step #6: Send Samples to Gauge Market Interest
Step #7: Pivot or Go Full-Throttle
If you’re fortunate that something you create does start to connect with people, don’t do anything else.
Stop reading marketing blogs.
Stop looking for some magic niche.
Unsubscribe from my newsletter.
Just go at it and make it your main focus. Try to get everyone in your space to know about the newsletter.
Start Your Open Source Career
Publish it, market it and share it
To be sure anyone willing to find your module will indeed find it, you must:
- Create a good README with badges and vanity metrics
- Create a dedicated website with a nice design and online playground. Want some inspiration? Have a look at Prettier.
- Post your project as answers to StackOverflow and GitHub issues related to the problem you are solving
- Post your project on HackerNews, reddit, ProductHunt, Hashnode and any other community-specific aggregation website
- Propose your new project to the newsletters about your platform
- Go to meetups or give talks about your project
Trust that your project will be at some point noticed by other users, and if it never does, then you have learned something: it’s probably no use to anyone but you — and that is one more learning for your next project.
The Rise of Private Communities
Some communities pack in so much value that you may feel a little overwhelmed by all the possibilities when you first join. I think that’s a good thing though. It can help you get used to abundance, whereby the main challenge is prioritizing.
How To See The Future
Act like you live in the Science Fiction Condition. Act like you can do magic and hold séances for the future and build a brightness control for the sky.
Act like you live in a place where you could walk into space if you wanted. Think big. And then make it better.
One model to learn them all
We demonstrate, for the first time, that a single deep learning model can jointly learn a number of large-scale tasks from multiple domains. The key to success comes from designing a multi-modal architecture in which as many parameters as possible are shared and from using computational blocks from different domains together. We believe that this treads a path towards interesting future work on more general deep learning architectures, especially since our model shows transfer learning from tasks with a large amount of available data to ones where data is limited.
Today, Next Month, Next Year
The time is going to pass either way — the question is: how much of your effort is focused on now, and how much is focused on the long road ahead?
The Nobility of the Truths
Once we have grasped the fact that all conditioned things in the world, being impermanent and insubstantial, can never give us total satisfaction, we can then lift our aim to the unconditioned element, Nibbana the Deathless, and make that aspiration the pole around which we order our everyday choices and concerns.
Why eight hours a night isn’t enough, according to a leading sleep scientist
What makes sleep so essential for our wellbeing comes down to three main things: to save our energy, to help our cells recover, and to help us process and understand our environment.
For optimum productivity, we need around eight hours of sleep, right? But that doesn’t have to be in one go. Maybe I’ll get a little less than that during the night, and then I’ll take a 20-to-30-minute power nap at midday. There’s a siesta for a reason!
You Need a Life Strategy Because Extraordinary Lives Don't Happen by Accident
Every Sunday night, I sit down with my wife to go through our goals and check in with what we want our lives to be. Then we plan out our activities for the week (and I, of course, do a daily calendar) to make sure we are working toward that life.
A Simple Abundance Mini-Challenge
Could you identify one little way to spend some extra money that would feel a tad lavish or luxurious but that you could still easily afford?
Could you lean just slightly in the direction of spending money on something that you’ve been talking yourself out of, just because you’d appreciate it if you did spend the money?
Is there some expense that would be relatively insignificant with respect to your income or savings that would add a little bit of value to your life?
Is there some simple area where you’re blocking yourself from spending money, such that not spending the money may be repeatedly distracting you because you keep thinking about it?
Where do you tell yourself, “Well, I don’t really need this; it’s an unnecessary luxury”? Where do you say, “I can buy this when I have more money” even though you could easily afford it now? Would it actually be nice to have it now? Would it enhance your life in some small way? What small expense could you indulge in that wouldn’t meaningfully impact your finances?
Is there anything you could identity? If so, then the challenge is to buy it. Buy it now. Spend the money. Go out to a store and get it. Order it online. Just buy it. You can actually have it, you know, so why block yourself? It already exists. It’s been created. It’s here for you to enjoy and appreciate, so go claim it.
When it comes to building a more positive relationship with money, we always have to take the first step. Money is a bit shy in that way. But when money sees that we like it and appreciate it, it tends to let its guard down and play back at us.
What’s your version of avocado abundance? Where could you lean into a more positive relationship with money? What’s that little thing you’d actually appreciate if you just spent the money?
How repositioning a product allows you to 8x its price
It’s not about spending less for the same amount of growth, it’s about spending more to create more growth.
So the next time you want to formulate your product as a way to “save time” or “save money” or “be more efficient” …. DON’T!
Instead, figure out how your product creates value in the way your customer already measures value, and position your product as a way to accomplish that.