Episode 1: Bayesian Analysis of the Hawaii Missile Scare

I need to write a post about my recent trip to Cuba! But I got back around 7 and I had time to polish up the next Local Maximum episode.

In the rest of my discussion with Aaron, we discuss the how Bayes rule can apply to news items like the Hawaii ICBM Scare, the murder of DNC Staffer Seth Rich, Medical Diagnosis, Conspiracy Theories, theology, and politics.

As you can see, I’m expanding the range of discussion a bit from the first half of the discussion – at first timidly but in the future boldly. Send your questions and comments to localmaxradio@gmail.com

The Local Maximum – Check out My New Podcast

Exciting news today! This is the launch day of my new podcast, “The Local Maximum”.  Yes, the day has finally arrived.

So far on my guest and solo lineup, I’ll be covering AI, Product Design, Future Technology, and Current Events. The overall blend of topics is still TBD, but I’m going to start with 10 episodes to get a handle on things.

The first episode is with my friend Aaron Bell, and we will be discussing Bayesian Inference, which will be a recurring theme on the show. Aaron also advised me in our show prep that I should have a show notes page. I’ll formalize that a bit more in the future, but for now this blog post is the show notes for episode 0.

In the software/startup world we often launch a minimal product to get the feedback loop started. This is exactly what I’m doing here. There are many things I’d like to improve. It’s a lot harder to explore complex ideas in an audio format than I thought!. But that’s my goal for this project – and I’m going to continue in the pursuit.

To send a question that could be answered on or off the show, email localmaxradio@gmail.com. I’d love to hear your opinion on the first episode, and ideas on ways to make this podcast a success.

The Local Maximum is now available on iTunes. For now, I will host the mp3s here and on soundcloud and the feed is also available on Stitcher.

The book I mentioned in the show is The Theory that Would Not Die by Sharon Bertsch McGrayne.


Impress your Friends by Finding the Best Places

Designing the algorithm for Foursquare’s venue ratings is one of the best things I’ve worked on in my career. I hear people tell me that if they want to go to a good place, they make a cutoff on our 1-10 scale, say 8.5, and limit their choices to the select few elite places.

To me that sounds a little strict, but the fact remains that the Foursquare venue ratings are a great way to tell the difference between a good spot and a bad spot, and to assess the overall quality of a restaurant or bar before you go. Stephanie Yang and I spent a lot of time ensuring that our ratings are the best in the business, and I’d put these up against any venue rating system out there in terms of quality and accuracy.

Have you ever wondered how we do it? Well, we don’t give away all the secrets, but Stephanie and I wrote a blog post for the Foursquare Engineering blog called Finding the Perfect 10 where we break down some of the methods we use around venue ratings.