Play a Game to Understand The Learning in Machine Learning

January 28, 2020 by stas | No Comments | Filed in Machine Learning

This is an introduction article to Machine Learning, and its various concepts, that even a high-school student should be able to understand. We are going to play with blocks and through that game understand how Machine Learning works.

The big news nowadays is Machine Learning (ML). But what is it? The machine part is obvious – it’s the computer that does the learning. But the learning part may appear as tricky, even though in reality it’s a very simple thing in its foundation. Let’s gain an intuitive understand of the learning in ML.

Let’s play a game

I don’t know if you have ever played a computer game where you have a ball at a starting position, and you have to direct it to a target with the help of blocks, springs, rotating gears, etc. It usually relies on the laws of physics and you need to re-arrange those helper components to make the ball move from let’s say the left top corner of the screen to the right bottom of the screen where some sort of a target is located. The way you play the game is by experimenting with the block arrangement, so that they will do the work of guiding the ball to its target.

Here is a possible initial game board setup:

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Stop Making Money for Social Networks!

January 24, 2020 by stas | No Comments | Filed in Marketing

Many businesses, especially, independent entrepreneurs spend a lot of time and money on social networks in hope that the effort will lead to a steady stream of customers.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t work, because those who run social networks have a conflicting interest with yours.

Welcome to the Social Network Black Hole

Social networks primarily make income from advertising. In order to be able to sell advertisement placements, the social networks need a lot of eyeballs and that requires minions to generate new content all the time. Who are those minions? Well, it’s most of us…

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How Chinese companies generate real-fake reviews on Amazon

January 24, 2020 by stas | No Comments | Filed in Marketing

You’re probably aware that most social networks are loaded with fake likes and reviews, and it’s quite cheap to buy those if you’d like your profile boosted. In the past an entrepreneur would arrange a network of participants who for a small monetary token would like and/or write fake reviews.

These days, with extremely powerful realistic text-generating machine learning engines like GPT-2, this technique becomes more and more automated and no longer requires networks of humans to create fake things. It’s the domain of AI agents these days.

But, in the domain of online stores these machinations are still tricky to do, since unlike online profiles that have no physical boundaries, real products are bound by hard coins and thus it’s much more difficult to game. But, of course, it’s being gamed.

The name of the game is generating multiple positive reviews by buying them with freebies.

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Authors of Aging Tech Books on Amazon Will Have Their Ratings Dropped

January 24, 2020 by stas | 2 Comments | Filed in Machine Learning, Marketing

TL;DR: Amazon has implemented a new strategy of giving old reviews a significantly lower weight than the newer ones. And should anybody post a single bad review as of recent, which would be normal for outdated tech books, that review will pretty much define the quality of the book (== terrible).

Gaming reviews has been a big issue for any marketplace, and in particular on Amazon. Amazon does a pretty so-so job at weeding out fake reviews out as it is gamed freely by some Chinese vendors in an inventive way that appears legit. But it has recently deployed a new strategy of how it weighs each given review. Reviews with no ‘Verified Purchase’ tag get a lesser weight than those with the tag, and older reviews get progressively less weight in the game.

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Online Scammers Are Getting More Creative

September 22, 2017 by stas | No Comments | Filed in General

My email address has been online since 1999, so I get a lot of spam emails, a big chunk of which is scam emails. Most of such scam emails you are well familiar with – the kind someone is asking you to help them transfer $5M inheritance to some poor widow. Obviously I never reply to any of those.

Today one of the scammers almost got me.

I do healing work amongst other things and today I received what seems to be a normal contact from a potential client with a slightly odd side to it.

Hello, i’m kylie , i would like to know if you are a Wellness Coach or Reiki Healing and if you accept credit card for payment?

I follow up, yes, sure. I get next:

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How Amazon Discriminates Against Small Publishers

June 10, 2017 by admin | No Comments | Filed in General

It’s well known that Amazon is loved by online shoppers, mainly due to its amazing customer support. Amazon is now a lot more than a big online shop, as they annexed a bunch of other businesses to it. One of which is a publishing business. This department unfortunately can’t be called amazing. Here is my little story to showcase what’s happening behind the scenes and how injustice is done to the long tail.

As of this writing I have published 4 books. First with O’Reilly and Associates, second with Onyx Neon Press, and the the most recent two I self-published via Amazon KDP (Kindle Digital Publishing).

Publishing via KDP was OK, they still have a long way to go to make things smooth, the main gift to us was to make it possible to publish books without needing to convince a mainstream publisher to want to publish them. When things work, they work, when there are problems, usually after stumbling through a few clueless support people, eventually you hit someone who knows their business and things get resolved. All was good.

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How To Get Hired – an Infallible Scheme Invented by Mark Twain

December 16, 2015 by stas | 2 Comments | Filed in General

young mark twainMark Twain invented an infallible scheme for anyone to get hired. He describes his scheme and how he got three men to get a job using this scheme in the following text. The approach worked more than 100 years ago and chances are that it’ll still work just the same today as human nature hasn’t really changed that much in such a “short” period of time.

Higbie was the first person to profit by my great and infallible scheme for finding work for the unemployed. I have tried that scheme, now and then, for forty-four years. So far as I am aware it has always succeeded, and it is one of my high prides that I invented it, and that in basing it upon what I conceived to be a fact of human nature I estimated that fact of human nature accurately.

Higbie and I were living in a cotton-domestic lean-to at the base of a mountain. It was very cramped quarters, with barely room for us and the stove-wretched quarters indeed, for every now and then, between eight in the morning and eight in the evening, the thermometer would make an excursion of fifty degrees. We had a silver-mining claim under the edge of a hill half a mile away, in partnership with Bob Howland and Horatio Phillips, and we used to go there every morning carrying with us our luncheon, and remain all day picking and blasting in our shaft, hoping, despairing, hoping again, and gradually but surely running out of funds. At last, when we were clear out and still had struck nothing, we saw that we must find some other way of earning a living. I secured a place in a near-by quartz mill to screen sand with a long-handled shovel. I hate a long-handled shovel. I never could learn to swing it properly. As often as any other way the sand didn’t reach the screen at all, but went over my head and down my back, inside of my clothes. It was the most detestable work I have ever engaged in, but it paid ten dollars a week and board-and the board was worth while, because it consisted not only of bacon, beans, coffee, bread and molasses, but we had stewed dried apples every day in the week just the same as if it were Sunday. But this palatial life, this gross and luxurious life, had to come to an end, and there were two sufficient reasons for it. On my side, I could not endure the heavy labor; and on the Company’s side, they did not feel justified in paying me to shovel sand down my back; so I was discharged just at the moment that I was going to resign.

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How to Get Your Business Cards for Free

November 11, 2011 by admin | 1 Comment | Filed in Advertising

update: this is an old article – vistaprint gives no free biz cards for free these days.

Running a small business can be tough, especially in the current economy conditions where clients aren’t easy to come by, so keeping your expenses to the minimum is a certain way to improve your bottom line. When it comes to promotional materials, one could spend a lot of money there. And business cards are usually the most commonly used way to promote one’s business. It’s the magic handshake protocol most entrepreneurs are so familiar with:

– “What do you do?”

– “I’m a Registered Massage Therapist. What about you?”

– “I’m a Reiki Master, and here is my business card. Can I have your card?”

– “Of course, here it is.”

The Internet has been around for a relatively long time by now, yet, business cards aren’t a thing of a past and it’ll probably take quite some time before one will not carry any around with them anymore and not leave a few here and there on various posting boards in caf├ęs and community places.

Business cards have been around for centuries (In China since 15th century, Europe – 17th century) . So it’s not surprising that these days there are many shops that will print your business cards in various shapes and forms, using different fancy kinds of paper and color. But they can be quite expensive, especially if someone designs them from scratch – since you’re paying for their time, their rent costs, etc.

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SEO The Easy Way As Explained by Google SEO High Priest | SEO Made Easy Series

September 13, 2010 by stas | No Comments | Filed in SEO

The following is an excellent video where Matt Cutts and other three members of Google Search review a dozen or so sites and discuss the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) issues. Below you will find my summary of it, which you might want to read instead if you don’t have a spare hour to watch the whole video.

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How To Attract Inbound Links If Your Company Doesn’t Do Sexy Things | SEO Made Easy Series

October 22, 2009 by stas | 2 Comments | Filed in SEO

Since Google still dominates the search engine market, it’s most important that your website fares well in google SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). Most people who understand at least a little bit about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) know that one of the biggest factors in how Google ranks sites (and individual pages) is by how many inbound links they get from other sites. Ideally those links should be from sites that are directly relevant to the topic of the destination site and the pages the links come from should have high page rank themselves.

There was a time when one could either buy links from other sites or do link exchanges. None of the two works for you these days. If Google detects that you buy links on other sites, you will get punished and demoted in SERPs, if you do link exchanges, you’re simply wasting your time since Google has been ignoring those pages.

Most sites that produce useful content have no problems getting links from other sites, because there is always someone out there who’s interested in what you have to offer. This works especially well if your potential audience is big or even better huge, and ideally those people should be technically inclined so that they know how to link to your site (at least in their blog posts). So if your site is about nutrition, celebrities, politics, and other very popular topics as long as you produce unique and interesting content you will get those highly sought after inbound links.

Now what if your company does something very very technical and non-sexy that hardly anybody in the crowd of those who could link to you cares about? Let’s say you make light fixtures for commercial buildings or you provide concrete scanning services (these examples are based on industries for companies I consulted for recently). These topics aren’t not-sexy and I’d say even boring — why would anybody ever link to those sites. In that’s what those companies suffer from. Low page rank and tough time getting the attention of potential customers searching for those companies.

So what do you do? The solutions are relatively simple and don’t require much technical knowledge.

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