Rami's Readings #15
Freezing Rain, Twitter and Substack Drama, 🔥 Stanford AI & WFH Reports, and more.
Welcome to Rami’s Readings #15 - a weekly digest of interesting articles, videos, Twitter threads from my various sources across the Internet. Expect a list of reads covering technology, business, culture, fashion, travel and more. Learn about what I do at ramisayar.com/about.
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What an eventful week! So much drama with Substack vs. Twitter, freezing rain, significant AI papers, and more... This week I am writing to you from Montréal, where on Wednesday, we experienced freezing rain (photos at the bottom). Many trees fell on above-ground power lines causing outages for more than 1 million residents, including my mother and I. A few observations from a tech perspective before jumping into the newsletter:
As much as big tech wants to build a cashless future, the only way critical businesses, gas stations, grocery stores, and cafés (critical to me 😂) continued to function and were able to conclude business transactions by using cash. I travel to many third-world countries, so I always carry cash out of habit (Pro Tip). I have yet to regret it.
Residential internet services were down for most people (even with a UPS). The Internet backbone continued to operate, as evidenced by 5G service being still up, albeit significantly slowed down.
Mac & iPhone low power modes are highly effective in reducing battery consumption. I never turn it on usually, but I did for the entire week. My phone (with only 85% battery capacity) and laptop never ran out of power. Software power efficiency has always been important, but I was never more grateful for the latest Teams, Edge, and Chrome updates.
Both outdoor and indoor, battery-powered LED lights were helpful as streetlights died. I wished we had LED streetlights with batteries recharged by solar power.
Pro Tip: Always travel with a flashlight. I carry this tiny Nitecore flashlight on my keychain. It lit an entire room for a couple of hours at 65 lumens. It produces 1 to 500 lumens and recharges with USB-C (one cable life, hopefully soon).
💼 Business Reads - Substack vs Twitter Drama
Disclosure update: This week, I confirmed my investment in Substack through their latest round. To be honest, Substack is not doing well and is reported to have negative revenue (we all knew it wasn’t doing well). I still chose to invest because it really is the best platform for writers. I am a developer, I can run Ghost on my own servers. I also run Gatsby for my personal site. They are both a serious PITA. Even WordPress always needed some level of technical knowledge to keep things working from my experience. I still choose to write on Substack for its ease-of-use (while it lasts) and am pleased with the platform helping new newsletters get new subscribers. Substack has also helped so many new voices get their audience. For these reasons, I’ll give them my money.
However, none of us outsiders knew they would announce Notes which ostensibly triggered the drama with Twitter.
4/7: Twitter disables likes, replies, and retweets if a tweet has Substack links. Substack founders fired back. Writers got upset. Twitter marked Substack links as unsafe.
I have a fair share of dissatisfaction with Twitter. It’s just not what it used to be. It is still the place to catch up with the latest AI news quickly, but I have difficulty engaging joyfully with anyone on the platform. On Substack, the forced slowness of email makes people think more carefully before replying, and I get a lot more thoughtful responses. Personally, Twitter has done nothing for me concerning my newsletter. This drama has no impact on me and I love writing despite Generative AI (Why Write?). Still, I firmly believe that the nuking of Substack on Twitter and vice versa will only be hurtful for small, independent creatives and business owners. What a disappointing and dramatic turn of events.
Notes: Not good for our shared innovation future.
SEC Charges Founder of Frank with Fraud in Connection with $175 million Sale of Student Loan Assistance Company
Notes: Another Forbes 30 under 30 is going to jail.
Notes: New paper with interesting data. WFH will be permanent. I do not think I will return to an office in my current organization. My entire team is remote, as are two layers of management above me.
🤖 AI Reads
Notes: Massive report from Stanford HAI. I highly recommend you read the report. If you do not have time, Abhishek Gupta from wrote a summary on LinkedIn.
Notes: Fundamental software engineering remains extremely important for AI. This contribution alone from Justine Tunney is worthy of celebration. 🎉
We modified llama.cpp to load weights using mmap() instead of C++ standard I/O. That enabled us to load LLaMA 100x faster using half as much memory.
Notes: Impressive new paper, model, dataset that can segment anything in an image from Meta AI. Demo.
Notes: 🤣 See below image:
Khan Academy Joins with OpenAI (With comments from Tyler Cowen)
Notes: Scaling up personalized tutoring service will be a godsend for people with learning disabilities.
One model of a future course is a super-textbook: lectures, exercises, quizzes, and grading all available on a tablet with artificial intelligence routines guiding students to lectures and exercises designed to address that student’s deficits and with human intelligence—tutors—on call on an as-needed basis, possibly for extra marginal fees.
Notes: I am glad that people are taking false positives seriously, but I still fear that the propensity to avoid change will lead to the misuse of inaccurate systems and negatively impact students' lives. More in #6.
🎨 Culture & Travel Reads
Notes: Applicable to the entire Mediterranean to be honest.
Notes: From 2013. This is currently happening in countries in the Middle East, including Lebanon where I experienced this first hand.
Freezing Rain In Montreal This Week
I am so sad about all the trees. That is all for this week. Signing off from Montréal.
I wrote a disclosure for this newsletter in #7. Please consider reading it.
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