Poverty 101

Dutch publication De Correspondent has an excellent primer on global poverty that everyone should read.

Poverty 101: How can we end global poverty once and for all?


For more…

Reading list

Learning list

The Challenge of World Poverty: Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo


Effective Altruism

Recently, I discovered the Effective Altruism movement. It’s an exciting approach to giving, and using our first-world resources for maximal good for our planet. Here’s how you can learn more about it.

Start here. Philosopher Peter Singer explores talks through some surprising thought experiments to help you balance emotion and practicality.

Next, learn more about what EA is at the Center for Effective Altruism.

Use GiveWell to direct your dollars. GiveWell is an organization that identifies high impact giving opportunities that are supported by in-depth charity research. Their analysis is very rigorous, very readable, and extremely useful.

Later, explore the following:

Further reading… a good debate on Effective Altruism.

Recent Readings on AI

The Seven Deadly Sins of AI Predictions

by Rodney Brooks, MIT; founder of Rethink Robotics and iRobot

Mistaken extrapolations, limited imagination, and other common mistakes that distract us from thinking more productively about the future.


Artificial General Intelligence: Why Aren’t We There Yet?

by Gary Marcus, NYU; Geometric Intelligence (acquired by Uber)


Artificial Intelligence Is Stuck. Here’s How to Move It Forward.

by Gary Marcus, NYU; Geometric Intelligence (acquired by Uber)


The Paleolitic Jarawa Tribe

The Jarawas are an indigenous people of the Andaman Islands in India. They live in parts of South Andaman and Middle Andaman Islands.


The Jarawas, who number about 400 and whom one geneticist described as “arguably the most enigmatic people on our planet,” are believed to have migrated from Africa around 50,000 years ago. They are very dark-skinned, small in stature and until 1998 lived in complete cultural isolation, shooting outsiders with steel-tipped arrows if they came too near.

The New York Times has published a series of fascinating articles about the tribe and India’s interactions with it. Reading the articles caused me to pause and reflect on the fact that while I, and others Silicon Valley-ites like me, live to drive humanity into the future, not all human civilizations want technology or will benefit from it.

UI/UX Toolkit for Product Managers

AKA: How I built an app in two weeks

In early 2016, I up-leveled my interest in iOS app development and completed a Udacity Nanodegree certificate in iOS Development. It was a rigorous but fruitful four-month journey. I recommend the program to all product managers (or future developers) who want to understand modern app development better.

Here, I will tell you how I built the Hungry Baby app. It helps busy parents create easy, nutritious, and varied meal plans for their baby.

App demo: http://app.shanrao.org/HungryBaby

This is what it looks like.

Github Repository: https://github.com/qwertyshan/HungryBaby

Now, here are the key resources that I found to be most useful in creating this app. In my own research and creation process, I went down a lot of paths that hit dead ends. In the following list, I am trimming the paths down to the fruitful ones.



Apple’s WWDC video “Prototyping: Fake It Till You Make It” taught me how to prototype quickly and easily.



I learned a lot about common design patterns by studying other apps.



Keynotopia is fantastic and easy to use! I got the $99 pack and will use it to design all of my future apps.



This was the best site for free, high-quality icons. Good icons open up so many design possibilities!



I had to learn about colors.



I created a prototype of my app in Keynote without a single line of code. The results were awesome! All of the screenshots in the following showcase page were made in Keynote. You won’t know it by looking at it.



Backend Processing:

Google’s Firebase is easy and free (for low utilization).


Backend Data:

Valid JSONs can be tricky to create. This site made it easy. Once I had my data in a JSON, I could upload it to Firebase and my backend application was ready!


File Hosting:

I used Firebase to host my static image files.

iOS Libraries:

I learned how to use CocoaPods to install the Firebase plugin. It was tremendously useful (and fairly easy).


iOS Coding:

Of course, this was the most time-consuming part: actually writing the code. The following sites helped the most.

Overall, it took about 80 hours of work (spread over a month) to design and develop the app. It was fun and brought me up to speed with modern mobile design and development techniques.