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John Lam's Blog


There's long been an argument by crypto enthusiasts that we need crypto to fight against the dastardly fees charged by Western Union and the like in the 3rd world. In this post by Patrick McKenzie (aka patio11) More than you want to know about gift cards it seems like there's a strong argument to be made for using gift cards to work around the fees charged by Western Union?

In this regard it is not merely important that they look attractive in a birthday card but also that they’re available for cash everywhere, require no identification or ongoing banking relationship to purchase, do not charge a fee like e.g. Western Union, and can be conveyed over a text message or phone call. They're not worse cash, they're better Tide in the informal economy.


This morning on HN I found this course on Natural Language Processing for Semantic Search by a startup called pinecone. This is my current area of interest, which is why I created a simple wine semantic search engine a while ago to explore this area. Taking a look at a couple of chapters it definitely looks interesting and worth a longer look over the holidays. #

There's another post by someone who is trying to build a news site that is kind of like the original Yahoo aggregator, but with the twist of having sagas which let you follow a story as it progresses, e.g., salacious news like the Theranos trial which unfolds over a long period of time. It looks like it is curated by the poster though. I would love to combine the idea of sagas with some kind of AI filter that is trained on my interests to pull tweets and news articles into a personal feed for my own consumption. This way it is aligned with my interests vs. the interests of the aggregator. #

I listened to Professor Christensen on this podcast the year it came out (2004!) and it left an indelible impression on me. Sadly, it looks like IT Conversations no longer exists, and I found this archive of the page created by the awesome folks at I also copied it to this part 1 and part 2 so that I can find it again - just in case. I highly recommend listening to this; the stories that Christensen tells about his conversations with Andy Grove are wonderful and do a great job at driving home the concepts of his theory of disruption. RIP.