How Online Algorithms Actually Work

TechMom

An algorithm is a self-contained step-by-step set of operations to be performed. Simply, it’s a procedure or formula for solving a problem. We teach our technology the basics and expect that ingenious marketing algorithms will continue to learn, thereby creating loyal customers who just can’t get enough.

Here’s how it really works:

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Find a topic of utmost interest to you. Demonstrate your true devotion by divulging your email address. Sign up for one, single, newsletter.

Wake up the following morning forced to sift through 45 spam emails received between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6:03 a.m. “You have asked to receive emails from Victoria’s Secret. If you have received this email in error, please unsubscribe here.” I DID NO SUCH THING!

But where is the information you actually want to receive? Silly you – you’ll have to go spelunking for the desired “promotion” under the filtered eponymous tab in the user un-friendly interface that is the Gmail web login.

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TechMom Tuesday: Surviving Mental Illness Through Humor

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I am TechMom. I am a mom. Because of technology.

Search and Destroy (the TechMom tots) were born 13 weeks too soon (because who needs a third trimester when you have technology). I did not get to meet my sons the day they were born. A team of doctors immediately surrounded them, gently placing them in computerized incubators. A team of nurses hooked them up to sensors – the critical results to be displayed on the monitors above their isolettes.

It was technology keeping them alive from their first breath of air.

And it was the help of technology that helped drive me forward with a purpose, to share my story and deal with the emotional fall out of prematurity.

About a year ago, I saw the call for submissions to a book on mental illness. I laughed.

Because sometimes they only way to survive is to find the humor of the situation. Or, at the very least, make inappropriate jokes that diffuse the situation in your mind (your mentally misfiring mind, that is).

Over the last few years there has been a push to end the stigma of mental illness. One way to end the stigma is to begin talking openly about mental illness. I couldn’t agree more. (Although I did have second thoughts when I shared my affliction with ABC World News Tonight back in 2012.) Increasingly, I discovered that those conversations occurred with the friends who lived in my computer.

Personally, I’m fighting against depression and anxiety.

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TechMom Tuesday: Voltron the Zippy Locks Me Out

TechMom

I am officially a commuter. I think it may be somewhere in the Silicon Valley bylines that I must then acquire a commuter car.

We went with the Chevy Volt – a zippy little plug-in hybrid that transitions to gas mode if I drive too far, while still allowing me to go months between fill-ups. (The price point is also significantly less than the sexier looking Tesla.)

The Volt operates as a pure battery electric vehicle until its plug-in battery capacity drops to a predetermined threshold from full charge. From there the internal combustion engine powers an electric generator to extend the vehicle’s range via traditional fuel as needed. When the engine is running it may be periodically mechanically linked (by a clutch) to a planetary gear set, and hence the output drive axle, to improve energy efficiency.

Human controlled success in driving efficiencies is indicated by a green bouncing ball on the dashboard. Accelerate or break to fast and the ball sinks to an angry yellow dot.

My vehicular history took me from an 11-year-old Honda that didn’t bother with bells and whistles such as power doors, windows or steering. I then graduated to the MomMobile – an SUV that had a fancy computer chip in the key that allowed for remote locking and unlocking. One still needed to insert the key physically into the ignition.

And then I met my Volt. All selections derive from the internal computer. (I do not know the operating system ultimately behind it.)

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