Texas Users Fume Over InstaFilter Ban, DogeCoin Co-Founder Says Most Cryptos Are Scammers, Russia Seizes Google Russia Bank Accounts

If it’s Thursday it’s time for the Top Tech News of the Week, Week, eeek! I’m on with  Mark Starling, John, and the First News 570 crew. This week’s top tech stories: face filters are banned in Texas, DogeCoin co-founder says most crypto projects are scams, and Russia seizes Google R bank accounts. You can listen to Mark and I point and laugh while talking about the wild and crazy technology world every Thursday morning, LIVE at 6:43am Eastern by tuning into WWNC on the iHeartRadio app. Listen now.

Meta Has Been Hit Hard These Last Two Years

TEXAS’ META LAWSUIT KEEPS DOG EARS OFF TEXANS’ FACES

Facial filters, dog ears, whiskers, and more have been disabled for Texas Instagram and Facebook users two months after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed lawsuit against Meta. The lawsuit alleged the social media companies were violating Texans’ privacy because the applications used facial recognition technology to apply these features to users’ faces. For its part, Meta countered it has halted its facial recognition program and doesn’t use facial recognition to tag images. So, it’s disabled the feature in Illinois and Texas to prevent meritless and distracting litigation. Ken Paxton says the suit could result in hundreds of billions of dollars in penalties for Meta. The company has already paid a record $5 billion in consumer privacy violations to the FTC in 2019.

DOGECOIN CO-FOUNDER SAYS CRYPTO IS A SCAM

Tuesday, Billy Markus, co-creator of the satirical crypto currency, Dogecoin, tweeted 95% of cryptocurrency projects are scams. He blames scammers and bad players for sowing distrust in the entire crypto industrial complex by top financial players and users. When pegged about his project, Dogecoin, he said that it was a satirical project designed to ridicule the proliferation of pointless crypto projects. All cryptocurrencies are down from their high flying values at the end of 2021 and beginning of this year. My personal holdings (in play money) are down 50%. The market began unraveling this week when a cryptocurrency pegged to the US dollar, US Terra (UST), depegged itself from the US dollar. Again, I’m not a fan of vehicles that have to rely on people losing money in order for others to make it.

So, what happens when you get a bunch of computer nerds who don’t really know anything about finance begin manipulating a fake, unregulated monetary market?

Read on for more details.

RUSSIAN BANKING AUTHORITIES SEIZE GOOGLE RUSSIA ACCOUNTS

Google’s Russian subsidiary plans to file bankruptcy after Russian Banking Authorities seized its bank accounts. Google R reported making 134.3 billion roubles ($2.086 billion) and employed 100 people in 2021. Google’s Russian activities weren’t always steady. Russia fined Google R $98 million dollars for making content the country considers illegal available on its platforms. Google had stopped selling ads in March after Russia’s Ukrainian invasion. This news comes after McDonald’s wished Russia, “do svidaniya,” this week and leaving the country for good by selling all of its franchises.

AI, Community, and Collaboration Big Themes at AWS IMAGINE: NONPROFIT Conference

Arts and Industries Building

Nonprofits are a critical element of our nation’s infrastructure. In many cases, nonprofits and NGOs bridge the gap between government support agencies and the people who need special services. Some nonprofits make a direct impact on citizens in times of dire need. Others augment the capabilities of government agencies by providing expertise those agencies can’t acquire. I spent the last two days learning more about how nonprofits are leveraging technology to make a difference at the IMAGINE: NONPROFIT Conference hosted by Amazon Web Services (AWS) at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center in Washington, DC.

We live in an exciting time and in a dynamic era. The IMAGINE conference’s aim was to share information on the positive possibilities technology can bring to nonprofits as well as educate their leaders on AWS technology and support. AWS delivered. This conference wasn’t what I was expecting even as an attendee who is leading my company’s AWS partnership efforts. I was expecting more of the same techno-babble and cheerleading you’d expect from a technology provider, but what was really shared were the ways technology can bring about positive change in our world. With nonprofits being a leading driver using technology to bring about that change.

I often think about what we can do, and think about how we can accomplish the possible versus dwelling on what we can’t do. This conference didn’t disappoint.

My Day 1 started with me having a one-on-one with my AWS rep — now two reps — about our product roadmap. AWS has been extremely helpful with getting our current architecture from on-premises to the cloud, and have provided a superior level of support.

DC chef, Jose’ Andres was supposed to be in-person to deliver the keynote address, but wasn’t present for the conference. Instead, his address recorded from Ukrainian-Polish border was more emotional and powerfully inspirational. Andres founded World Central Kitchen, a non-profit devoted to providing meals to people in the wake of disasters. He implored non-profit leaders to work together and that the world needs more collaboration and fewer siloed efforts to deal with global problems. Jose Andres is known for his warm heart, philanthropy, and service and he’s just a solidly, decent dude. I left his keynote with new vigor as I think about how the technology we build can better impact people’s lives. I connected with the founder of Do Right Enterprises, Danna Lennon-Thomas, and Hope One Source’s, Tim Underwood. We discussed social determinants of health (SDOH) and how data science can bring better health outcomes.

The rest of my Day 1 afternoon was filled with meetings, and listening to how the American Red Cross bridges the gap between government and individuals when agencies can’t provide immediate needs like supplying houses after the California wild fires. The first day was capped up with a dynamic and amazing presentation on Emotional Intelligence by Richard Hua. Non-profits deal in messy business and it can be difficult to keep on going and avoiding burnout. Rich provided actionable information and insights into working with people and maintaining grit in a difficult time. Tips for managing teams, accepting criticism, and communicating ideas effectively were shared with the crowd. After, a block breathing exercise I opened my eyes and exclaimed to the audience I felt, frisky!

Arts and Industries Building

I finished the night off an exec dinner hosted by AWS and sponsored by Salesforce at the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building. Arts and Industries sits right next to the castle and it’s an amazing place. If you’re ever on the Mall and haven’t been there, go now. AI-powered mood detectors, and living sculptures were part of the exhibits on the floor. The building reopened on Smithsonian’s 175th anniversary in 2021 and served as the launch pad for the Smithsonian’s exhibits for decades. It’s a great visit, you should go. Drinking way too much wine, and talking way too much trash I met Donor Source’s Nathan Chappell, a badass custom pen-making data scientist. Which leads me into Day 2.

Nathan Chappell

Out of all of the presentations given on Day 2, Nathan Chappell’s presentation on transforming how the world perceives philanthropy was the most impactful for me. Donor Source is using data science and AI to change people’s ideas about data science. Currently, the world approaches the same white guys again and again, over and over…again seeking donations for non-profit programs and projects. American generosity is trending downward and Nathan’s work is trying to reverse that trend. He’s using data and sophisticated modeling to understand donor behavior, and help all of us participate in philanthropic pursuits. His work operates with the idea that we all want to give and contribute for causes, but we’re not always inclined to. He’s using data science to understand who, where, and how much to ask potential donors expanding the donor population. I think it’s great stuff. And, he makes awesome pens and I’m going to put in a request.

Harmony Labs’ Brian Waniewski delivered a great talk on media and their work on building media systems and tools to promote democratic culture. Little ‘d’. Brian and his team are modeling sentiment and attitudes of the content we all consume. We’ve all come to understand that algorithms and software have allowed us to create filter bubbles. Harmony’s tools are trying to change that course and allow more cross pollination of ideas through awareness. Intuitively, we all know media has skewed more negative. Harmony Labs’ Narrative Observatory is trying to change that push.

It wouldn’t be an AWS conference if AWS didn’t promote their AI stack and tools like Sagemaker. A series of quick presentations rounded out the mid-day session. A company called Rallypoint to identify early signs of self-harm and suicide risk among veterans. Their software has led to many successful interventions. WWD-Indonesia is using satellite, GPS, and image data to predict the migratory patterns of orangutans to preserve their habitats. The space geek in me appreciated the work AWS is doing to help construction of the Giant Magellan Telescope. The CETI project is working with cryptographers, mathematicians, biologists, and AWS to understand and communicate whale song. And in a mission after my own heart, PATH is using data analytics to pattern match early signs of family homelessness to drive better SDOH outcomes.

AWS are masters of the quick hit conference. In two days, they packed a plethora of how-tos, talks, and inspirational sessions for a captive, majority non-technical audience. I was feted, amazed, and inspired to take this information back to the non-profit I work for and pursue better human outcomes. If you work for a non-profit and know you need a technical strategy, but don’t know where to start, slide over to AWS for Nonprofits and start a conversation today.

March Madness: Data Science May Illuminate a Path, but It Can’t Always Show Us the Way

Update: Ultimately, data science prevailed. Kansas won the tournament by 3 points. Here’s the final bracket results:

April 2, 2022

Data lead to a 99 percentile showing ranking in the top 14 thousand brackets placed on CBSSports.com. In final analysis St. Pete was a force to be reckoned with. They started the tournament with a fantastic upset win and was on a tear for three rounds. Them beating Purdue effectively killed the left side of my bracket. I was playing for points on that side and that was it. UNC stunned Baylor in the second round effectively cutting off the bottom left side of my bracket. I rode Gonzaga as far as I could, but Arkansas halted them before they could play against #2 ranked Duke.

I had some stumbling blocks along the right side of the bracket, but my Final Four matchup of Kansas playing Villanova proved out. Furthermore, Kansas’ 16 point win insured I still had a chance to win the big game.

It was fun watching data play out game-by-game. In the end, humans; not machines, show up to play.

Data Science has served my bracket well, but human behavior always exceeds the margin for error.

My Bracket on March 21, 2022

It’s been a wild crazy weekend for college basketball fans. There’s a reason why they call it March Madness and we’ve seen it play out in full effect. I’ve made a lot of noise about “The Bracket Picked by Data Science” this year, and for the most part it’s working out, but not every scientific pick has worked out.

My bracket is not broken.

10 of my Sweet 16 picks are still sweet. 6 of my Elite 8 picks are still in. All of my Final Four picks are still in it. Hopefully, to win it.

Now, I did deviate from the math for a couple of picks. Upsets are staple of the Big Dance. My choices against the algorithm have been a mixed bag.

Now that the smoke has settled I’m going to stop and analyze what happened.

The Shocker

The Peacocks from St. Peter’s stunned everyone, including those who picked them, in their upset of Kentucky. 15 seeded teams have only beaten second seeds ten times in NCAA tournament history with a 9-135 record. I felt fine after witnessing this loss. The math has Kentucky losing to Purdue in the Sweet 16, but my points and rankings were compounded later by upsets.

Showing Up to Play

Picking down rank gets more involved and you have look at offensive power to make better picks. Sometimes things look good on paper, but you need the humans to show up and play. UConn lost to New Mexico State in a seven point game that was well played. Juwan Howard led his Michigan team to beat 6th ranked CSU in their corner of the bracket. Iowa State bested LSU by 5 in a close game. Miami beat favored USC by 2. By two points! All were well played games.

Upset Specials

My deviations were…mixed. I chose San Francisco to beat Murray State. It was a delightful game, but they couldn’t mete out a win. Not necessarily an upset, but I did pick #9 Memphis over Boise. I chose Creighton over San Diego, and Richmond to beat Iowa. My 8/9 picks were on, but uggh down rank not so much. In the end, I wound up scoring 52 upset points. UNC bested Baylor in the second round, something I wasn’t expected at all. I had Baylor getting beat by Purdue in the Elite 8.

There you have it.

Right now, I’m still ranked in the top 94% of the millions of brackets filed. We’ll see what happens this week.

You can cheer and cry along with me by checking out my bracket at NCAA.com.

5 Reasons You Consider Business Coaching

At the end of the day, winning is all about mindset. We’re easily amazed when superstars sink a clutch three pointer in the final seconds, or make a one-handed catch in the back of the end zone. We rarely think about the hours of preparation and mindfulness superstars spend working on their craft.

The Katz Advantage

When we watch our favorite athletes perform amazing feats on TV we seldom think about their personal coaches. The team’s head coaches and assistants are often interviewed after games and debated on sports radio, but there is a hidden cadre of trainers and coaches working with athletes to fine tune their skills and yes help them find mental resilience under pressure.

In the entrepreneurship and business sectors there’s a cadre of professionals and executive coaches helping business leaders work through problems, fine tune their skills, and hone mental resilience when the going gets tough. Midway through my second venture, BA Systems, I engaged Susan Katz to help me work through a rut after we completed our first large scale government contract.

Susan helped me tune out the noise and get rid of the clutter keeping me from growing the business as well has helping me hone my core strengths as leader.

Last winter, Susan invited me to give a testimonial for her executive and business coaching company, Susan Katz Advantage, and I was more than elated to do so. Watch her video below, and I would encourage you to give her a call.

I’m also going to share 5 reasons you should consider hiring a business coach as you develop in your entrepreneurial journey.

COACHES OFFER A THIRD PARTY PERSPECTIVE

Every day we wake up, put our pants on, and get busy. A fully functioning business has lots of moving parts. Employees to coral, suppliers to pay, and customers to care for. With so much going on, it’s easy to be insular and caught up in your own world. Your issues may be non-issues, or things you may NOT be concerned about could turn into trouble. Sometimes these things can only be observed by someone whose focus isn’t baked into the business every day. Business coaches can offer you a third party perspective on your challenges and concerns because they are seeing you and your business from the outside.

YOUR PROBLEMS HAVE BEEN EXPERIENCED AND RESOLVED BEFORE

Business coaches have been around the block. Many coaches have worked in high corporate and started (and failed at) their own businesses before becoming coaches. They may have solutions to problems that you’ve been struggling with for months because, they’ve seen it before. I’ve always preferred learning from other people’s mistakes instead of experiencing avoidable problems.

THEIR NETWORK BECOMES YOUR NETWORK

Again, business coaches have been around the block. They’ll often know people in economic development organizations, professional clubs, and of course a bunch of other executives and business owners. Susan, has a network that is broad and wide spanning contacts across the entire spectrum of professions. If you need a lawyer for another set of eyes, your business coach may know someone. If you need to speak with someone who has gone through an acquisition, your coach may know someone. If you want to know if you should break up with your business partner…you get the point.

REAL CRITICISM IS PRICELESS

We all want to be successful, but deep down it can be down right hard to confront the issues within yourself that are holding you back. A good business coach wants you to be successful. They also understand, the more successful you become the problems don’t necessarily decrease — they change. A good business coach will help you discover your weaknesses in a way that isn’t malicious and give you tools and help to turn those weaknesses into strengths. Or…help you find ways of dealing with your weaknesses, like delegating for instance.

GROWTH CAN BE PAINFUL, YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO IT ALONE

Yeah. I’ve started a couple of companies and had varying levels of success. At each stage of each company there were painful moments mixed in with the wins. A good business coach will help you through your growth periods, and be there when you need the push when making difficult decisions. I’ve faced a bunch of hard and painful decisions through out the course of running my companies. Being able to talk through scenarios and run thought experiences by my coach was a valuable experience.

If you’re in this for real, you are always looking for an edge. You should consider engaging a business coach at all levels through out your entrepreneurial journey. Professional athletes engage personal coaches all the time. Professional business people should too.

Check out Susan Katz and schedule a consultative call if you’re serious about growth.