JScott Monthly Missive: November Edition

My monthly list of resources, life hacks, and life lessons. Hit reply and tell me what you have been up to and what neat stuff you have discovered lately !


  • The Moral Machine recommended by Dave O. If you were the programmer for a self-driving car, how would you program it to deal with the life and death decisions the program will face when an unavoidable accident is about to occur? Try it and find out how you'd weigh decisions involving the lifes of passengers, pedestrians, dogs, and other drivers. This is no longer an academic exercise in ethics classes, several trials of self driving cars are already on the road. One footnote: According to current research people might say that they want cars to be programed to preserve the most lives possible, but they would only buy cars that would protect the driver at all costs (see this TED Talk for more information).

  • I received a set of these magnifying "Visors" as a gift from my parents and they work great. I have been having a hard time doing any soldering work with my bi-focals and this provides the magnification that I need.


  • The Four by Scott Galloway.

    • I have fallen in love with Professor' Galloway's lectures and "Winners and Losers" videos on youtube. His lectures have caused me to change my outlook on brands and retail competition in the era of Amazon. His new book is a brilliant and insightful look at how Apple, Google, Amazon, and Facebook have appealed to our most basic needs and desires: Sex (Apple), God (Google), Consumption (Amazon), and Love (Facebook). It also made me change my mindset and stop thinking of Apple as a technology company. Apple is a luxury brand with margins on par with Ferrari. Some other quotes and observations from the book:

      • Galloway lays out why higher education is ripe for disruption and how a company like Apple could put their wealth toward such an effort with great impact, but probably won't.

      • Both Facebook and Google stated, earlier in the decade, that they would not share information across silos (Facebook to Instagram, Google to Gmail to YouTube to Double-Click). However, both lied and have quietly changed their privacy policies, requiring a specific request to opt out if a user doesn't want to have their movements and activity cross referenced with other platforms and searches. "There is no evidence of any intent beyond the data being used for better targeting. Creepy and relevance are strongly correlated in the world of digital marketing. To date, consumers and advertisers have voted with their actions and have expressed the creepy is a price worth paying for the relevance."

      • "Uber has recognize that if an industry is broken enough, consumers will conspire to violate the law in favor of a far preferable service. And, in the long run, do you really think Congress is going to fight both Wall Street and millions of consumers?"

      • Amazon Link: The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google

Must Watch

  • We're building a dystopia just to make people click on ads. This talk by Zeynep Tufekci is brilliant and disturbing. In a very short and concise talk, she shows how AI is being used to shape public opinion and sway elections. I used to think that money was the biggest threat to our democracy, AI is bigger.

  • Shenzhen: The Silicon Valley of Hardware. This is part of a series on "Future Cities" from WIRED magazine. One of the big take aways is how inventors and companies in China view Intellectual Property (IP). It is not that they have no respect for IP, but they have more respect for the invention/idea and focus efforts on putting an invention to good use or improving it, than mucking around with protecting IP via legal means. Andrew "Bunnie" Huang is interviewed several times in the film. He recently wrote a book titled The Hardware Hacker which I read over the summer and highly recommend. His book dives into more details on open source hardware, intellectual property, and the right to modify and repair hardware with lots of great stories along the way.

  • Getting Things Scrummed (~7min). For project management types, this is a great little video from a friend. David and his team have put together an interesting mix of the Agile SCRUM framework and the GTD principles from David Allen. Not useful in all situations, but for small groups and companies it might be a good approach, especially if all team members are remote. He shows how they use Trello (Trello.com) to "get things scrummed".


  • The Triumph of the Nerds, by Robert Cringley on Youtube. The best, and most concise, documentary about the personal computer revolution. Fascinating tale that is well told, with a lot of lessons that are relevant for people and companies today.


  • Let's Do Video Blog: Welcome to the Meeting, Alexa. Can voice assistants and artificial intelligence (AI) help us at work? I sure think so. AI technologies should be able to handle all the mundane scheduling and coordination tasks that suck up our time and energy at work and keep us from doing deeper thinking.


  • Storj.io Last month, I reported on my experience with Storj.io which allows one to rent out spare hard disk space. Storj.io is a distributed internet storage service that runs on PCs throughout the world, and competes with services from Amazon and Microsoft. I recently got my first payment, and it looks like after 10-15 years, I might break even. Kidding aside, Storj's model is an interesting idea (and is being backed by some mainstream VCs). In the past week, I have observed the amount of my storage that is being rented out has gone up dramatically (now about 1TB is used out of 4TB I offered to the network). Reading the Reddit forums, it looks like some major enterprise users have been testing the waters and maybe about to move in-mass to the platform.

What I'm looking forward to

  • Getting responses to this month's missive from you all, hearing about the cool stuff you are doing and the resources/lifehacks you are using!! (just hit the reply button and fill me in!).

  • Reading "The Gift of Adversity" by Marcus Aurelius Andersen.This book should be out in the next month or so. Marcus gave a great talk at TEDxCOMO last year (organized by Keith P.). Marcus and I had a videoconference last week to catch up. Marcus has turned his unique situation into a gift that he uses to help others. Hopefully we can all be so lucky (but without the getting blown up part!).

  • Presentation by my friend Andrew S. to the Crosby MBA students on Dec 5th, titled “Productivity Crash Course: How to Setup Your Day for Maximum Output.” I first met Andrew when my company was a vendor for Veterans United, selling and installing their first videoconferencing systems. That was about 6 years ago. he was just getting started at VU and in his role as a project manager in a rapidly growing organization. He has grown into the role and is an awesome project manager/leader at VU, well beyond my capabilities. It should be a great talk, email me of you are not part of the MBA program and want to attend.

Take care,