Free Education: Learn almost anything for Free

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it” ~ Albert Einstein

“We now accept the fact that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn.” ~  Peter F. Drucker

These quotes should come as no surprise to you. They state the obvious. But how many people forget to put this into practice. They finish up school and hit the workforce thinking that learning is behind them. That was school right. Wrong! The problem lies with wrongly associating pain to learning. Learning definitely require a level of discomfort. Just like exercise. You need to expel energy (strain) and this puts you out of a comfort zone. But this is the only way to do it to push that bar forward and bring change.

Once you understand that everything in life requires exerting energy (pushing the bar) to bring change (growth), your thinking changes dramatically and learning becomes a beautiful & peaceful (sometimes obsessive) process bound with fruitful outcomes of wisdom and enlightenment. We didn’t get this far in human civilization without education. An urge to understand more. And we will get further, inspire others and make a change in this world by education.

You are lucky

There has never been a great time in human history when education was so freely available and accessible to such a large population of people! Information is now free. Well a lot of it is is anyway. And more will become available – this is the trend. The old days when the few (rich) had access to it are over. Education (in 1 form or another) is now available to everyone. Public libraries, Internet, People et al. All you need now is the craving to learn. A will, drive, yearnings, fire inside to self-educate and expand your mind.

Free Education – General

Below is a list of great free online tech resources available to anyone willing to exert their energy and learn something new.. and change you forever.

Khan Academy

An organization on a mission. A not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education to anyone anywhere.
Learn now: http://www.khanacademy.org/

  • Holds a library of around 2,400 education videos created by Khan. And growing everyday!
  • Topics covered on Algebra (inc Linear), Arithmetic, Banking and Money, Biology, Brain Teasers, Calculus, Chemistry, Math, Computer Science, Cosmology and Astronomy, Credit Crisis, Currency, Current Economics, Finance, Geometry, History, Physics, Probability, Statistics, Trigonometry, Valuation and Investing, Venture Capital and Capital Markets etc…
  • Sal (the founder) presents the topics using low-tech conversational tutorials, step-by-step doodles and diagrams on an electronic blackboard. And it works! Sal is a great teacher. He know how to break complex topics into simple, understandable and elegant ways of looking at them. It makes you smile because you will just get it! Learning couldn’t be easier. I have learnt heaps here.
  • Sal has built an amazing team of smart folks from McKinsey & Fog Creek Software including John Resig (the father of jQuery).

Hacker Dojo

A community center for hackers and thinkers. Located in Mountain View (California) at the heart of Silicon Valley next to Y Combinator and a host of other high-tech companies.
Discover: http://events.hackerdojo.com/

  • Free weekly Python classes ran by Karl Krueger (Googler). My favorite at the moment (Aug/2011).
  • Other events worth mentioning include iOS Developer Study Group, Machine Learning, Startup Monthly and many more. Visit events page for a full list.
  • And other times you will be sitting listening to a CEO / CTO talk about new high-tech innovation in their space or helping address common industry problems. Not to mention the many smart folks you can chat with and bounce ideas from during and post a meetup.
  • Hacker Dojo also has a nice library where you can kick back to read a book on a love sac or in a private cubby.

Google Code University

Provides sample course content and tutorials for Computer Science (CS) students and educators on current computing technologies and paradigms.
Discover: http://events.hackerdojo.com/

  • Topic covered include Programming Languages, Web Programming, Web Security, Algorithms, Android, Distributed Systems, Tools 101 andGoogle APIs & Tools.
  • Learn here one of the hottest languages today – Python.

Free Education – University

Harvard CS50 Computer Science

Introduction to the intellectual enterprises of computer science and the art of programming. It was ran last year so the content is fresh.
Take course: http://cs50.tv/2010/fall/#l=lectures&r=about&v=lectures/0/week0f

  • This course teaches students how to think algorithmically and solve problems efficiently.
  • Topics include abstraction, encapsulation, data structures, databases, memory management, software development, virtualization, and websites. Languages include C, PHP, and JavaScript plus SQL, CSS, and XHTML. Problem sets inspired by real-world domains of biology, cryptography, finance, forensics, and gaming. Designed for concentrators and non-concentrators alike, with or without prior programming experience.
  • The instructor David J. Malan is friggin amazing! I wish I had him teaching me Computer Science in my undergrad. His full of energy and uses many examples to back up the theory.

Stanford’s Introduction to Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Fall 2011.

Artificial Intelligence is the science of making computer software that reasons about the world around it. This is a bold experiment in distributed education organized by Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA.
Sign up for free course: http://www.ai-class.com/
Follow: http://twitter.com/#!/aiclass

  • Class begins October 10. Register using the link above!
  • From Humanoid robots, Google Goggles, self-driving cars, even software that suggests music you might like to hear are all examples of AI. In this class, you will learn how to create this software from two of the leaders in the field.
  • Sebastian Thrun and Peter Norvig – both top guns at Stanford University Computer Science with backgrounds from Google.
  • The course will (note Oct 10, 2011 start) include feedback on progress and a statement of accomplishment. The curriculum draws from that used in Stanford’s introductory Artificial Intelligence course. The instructors will offer similar materials, assignments, and exams.
  • Peter’s book AI, a modern approach, is a good read: http://aima.cs.berkeley.edu/ with Python (Yipeee) code samples here: http://aima.cs.berkeley.edu/code.html

Stanford Engineering

SEE programming includes one of Stanford’s most popular engineering sequences.
Take course: http://see.stanford.edu/see/courses.aspx

  • Three-course Introduction to Computer Science taken by the majority of Stanford undergraduates, and seven more advanced courses in artificial intelligence and electrical engineering.
  • I haven’t gone through these but they look great! and all course material like Video Lectures, Syllabus, Handouts, Assignments, Exams and Software is provided.

Introduction to Databases – Stanford University

Databases are incredibly prevalent — they underlie technology used by most people every day if not every hour. Databases reside behind a huge fraction of websites; they’re a crucial component of telecommunications systems, banking systems, video games, and just about any other software system or electronic device that maintains some amount of persistent information.
Take course: http://www.db-class.org/

  • Class is ran by Professor Jennifer Widom, the Fletcher Jones Professor and Chair of the Computer Science Department at Stanford University.
  • Students will have access to lecture videos, lecture notes, receive regular feedback on progress, and receive answers to questions. When you successfully complete the class, you will also receive a statement of accomplishment.

Machine Learning – Stanford University

Machine learning is the science of getting computers to act without being explicitly programmed.
Take course: http://www.ml-class.com/

  • Class is ran by Professor Andrew Ng is Director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab, the main AI research organization at Stanford.
  • Students will have access to lecture videos, lecture notes, receive regular feedback on progress, and receive answers to questions. When you successfully complete the class, you will also receive a statement of accomplishment.
  • This is the original Stanford AI course which the one in Fall 2011 is being based on.

MIT OpenCourseWare

MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity.
Explore & take courses: http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm

  • Talk about Unlocking Knowledge and Empowering Minds. Free lecture notes, exams, and videos from MIT. No registration required.
  • I haven’t gone through this site yet but it was highly recommended. No prices for guess what MIT is… Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A private research university where six MIT students who were trained to become experts in card counting and subsequently took Vegas casinos for millions in winnings. Watch the movie 21 and you will learn about this MIT Blackjack Team.

More Free online education resources

http://www.quora.com/Online-Education-1/What-are-some-free-online-educational-resources

No excuses!

There you have it. No excuses for not being able to afford or attend to university commuter science courses. If you have others which you feel should make this list please contact me and I will list them here.

… and just remember this famous quote by Napoleon Hill …

“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
— Napoleon Hill

Happy learning!
~ Ernest

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Startup School 2010 – the recap, highlights & lessons

Startup School 2010 was a success! both on the quality of the turn out of entrepreneurs, speakers and the organizers – Y Combinator and Stanford BASES.

The day started on a nice crispy Saturday morning 16th October 2010. Breakfast was provided to all those that attended while the Dinkelspiel Auditorium at Stanford University was prepared.

Startup School 2010 - at Stanford, Dinkelspiel Auditorium
The morning of Startup School 2010 - at Stanford, Dinkelspiel Auditorium

Startup School 2010
Startup School 2010

Schedule

The theater got packed out with many great minds of all ages – even entrepreneurs 12 years of age eager to start changing the world. The following are notes I took during each of the speeches + video. Hope you enjoy the content and find it as valuable and inspiring as I did.

Brian Chesky (Founder of Airbnb) speaking to an audience of entrepreneurs. Spot me in the 3rd row! :-) Photo by Robert Scoble
Brian Chesky (Founder of Airbnb) speaking to an audience of entrepreneurs. Spot me in the 3rd row! 🙂 Photo by Robert Scoble

09:30
Andy Bechtolsheim
Founder Arista Networks; Founder, Sun Microsystems

Andy Bechtolsheim - Founder of Arista Networks & Founder of Sun Microsystems
Andy Bechtolsheim - Founder of Arista Networks & Founder of Sun Microsystems

Wow, what a great start to this day. Andy went over how Silicon Valley got to where it is today and then touched up on the following interesting topics:

  • The process in creating a business is in 3 steps: Discover –> Design –> Deliver
  • “Discover” phase has more value but typically less money is spent while moving to the right to “Deliver” has less value but more money is spent on it.
  • The Horizon Effect”, also a topic in psychology, outlines how the majority of humans only purse goals which are in our horizon, stuff we can see, instead of stuff we cannot see. Aim past the horizon like Christopher Columbus did when he sailed past to the horizon only to find that he would not fall off the edge of the world.
  • Great companies:
    • Apple – spends the least on R&D ($1.2b) and consumer research. They trust their gut instinct to deliver super products. They also have less products to maintain than most companies.
    • Google – expects to solve the impossible. Most of their success today is attributed to the 1 day per week given to their employees to brain storm & prototype new ideas.
  • Innovation is the never-ending search for better solutions.
  • Most successful companies have more than 1 founder.

10:00
Paul Graham
Partner, Y Combinator; Founder, Viaweb

Paul Graham - Partner of Y Combinator & Founder of Viaweb
Paul Graham - Partner of Y Combinator & Founder of Viaweb

Paul spoke of Super-angels vs. VCs and how the landscape has changed. I didn’t take notes during Paul’s speech since Paul made it available online here.

The New Funding Landscapehttp://www.paulgraham.com/superangels.html

10:30
Andrew Mason
Founder, Groupon

Andrew Mason - Founder of Groupon
Andrew Mason - Founder of Groupon
  • Initial site was a WordPress blog where Andrew would copy and paste group buy requests from ThePoint.
  • Early hiring advise:
    • Avoid titles (unless required for hiring purpose) and
    • Don’t create too much structure.
  • How to defend yourself against competition:
    • Build an awesome product and
    • Never get out-innovated.
  • Lessons from Groupon’s journey:
    1. You’re building a tool, not a piece of art. Don’t be blinded by the vision.
    2. Recognise and Embrace your constraints.
    3. Have a Growth plan.
    4. The best tools aren’t always that cool – email is worth 10x more to Groupon than Facebook/Twitter followers.
    5. You will probably fail – failure is real but you don’t have to fail.
    6. Quit now – signs are always pointing but you get to decide.

I highly recommend you watch the videos below of Andrew talking about Groupon since it’s both educational and entertaining (plenty of humor).

Video part 1 of 2Andrew Mason – Founder of Groupon @ Startup School 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fw6GxABcdy4
Video part 2 of 2Andrew Mason – Founder of Groupon @ Startup School 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIUlweek0FM

11:00
Break

11:30
Tom Preston-Werner
Founder, GitHub

Tom Preston-Werner - Founder of GitHub
Tom Preston-Werner - Founder of GitHub

12:00
Greg McAdoo

Partner, Sequoia Capital

Greg McAdoo - Partner of Sequoia Capital
Greg McAdoo - Partner of Sequoia Capital
  • “Leverage” is very important to demonstrate value in attaining VC funding.
  • Read about Achates Power “Fundamentally Better Engines” and how they did what GM couldn’t do in 20 years with half the staff.
  • Key points on the success of startups getting VC funding:
    1. They thought differently.
    2. They don’t throw money at problems, but ideas.
    3. They built simple easy to use products.
    4. They stay closer to the customers.
    5. They do more with less.
    6. They ship something early.
    7. They put a price on it early.

12:30
Reid Hoffman
Partner, Greylock; Founder, LinkedIn

Reid Hoffman - Partner of Greylock & Founder of LinkedIn
Reid Hoffman - Partner of Greylock & Founder of LinkedIn
  • There is around 7 +/- 2 of sites people have in their mind. Your goal is to be one of those 7. Search is in the 7.
  • Competition is the noise you need to get above. One way to do this is to make sure they sux and you don’t.
  • Release version 1 of your product asap to test your hypothesis early and to prove your ideas. If you are not embarrassed by version 1 you have released too late.
  • Build an intelligence network early, from investors, co-founders etc to help with testing your hypothesis (pivot).
  • Make social features available for when new customers ask – “who else is here that I know”.
  • Don’t plan for more than 6 months forward since the consumer internet changes rapidly.
  • Hire people who cohere as a group and learn quickly.
  • Solve your venture’s hardest problem of distribution e.g. how to get to massive size. And then you are on your way to success.

If you are on LinkedIn let’s connect. Just let me know who you are.
My LinkedIn profile is located here: http://www.linkedin.com/in/semerda

12:55
Lunch

Ron Conway
Partner, SV Angel and former co-founder of Altos Computers

Ron Conway - Partner of SV Angel + Ron's good friend McHammer
Ron Conway - Partner of SV Angel + Ron's good friend MC Hammer
  • Provide a service where users are happy and then monetize.
  • Entrepreneurs build and innovate companies and investors should be lucky to be a part of it.
  • Never forget its your company, the founder’s company.
  • Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur.
  • It takes guts but anyone can do it.
  • It’s crazy to start a company with 1 founder. It’s all about building a great team. And if you are a founder you have to build a great team some day so why not build it the day you start the company – the 1st hurdles to get over.

There is more in the videos below where Ron outlines his journey and the journey of great friends from Napster, Google, Facebook and Twitter.

Video part 1 of 2Ron Conway – Partner of SV Angel @ Startup School 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvmYGK2Jhck
Video part 2 of 2Ron Conway – Partner of SV Angel @ Startup School 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjaI43_u3dk

Adam D’Angelo
Founder, Quora and ex-CTO of Facebook

Adam D'Angelo - Founder of Quora
Adam D'Angelo - Founder of Quora
  • It’s ok if something doesn’t scale as long as it strengthens your position.
  • Facebook leanings:
    • Good infrastructure early on saves future development time to correct it.
    • Get as much start-up experience as an employee so that later you can climb your own mountain with this knowledge behind you.

Quora is a great Q&A product with quality content.
You can find me on Quora here: http://www.quora.com/Ernest-Semerda

Dalton Caldwell
Founder, Picplz; Founder, Imeem

Dalton Caldwell - Founder of Picplz & Imeem
Dalton Caldwell - Founder of Picplz & Imeem
  • Don’t be a cannon fodder. Work on things you love. Life is too short.
  • Key before you start your own music startup:
    • Artists are poor so they won’t pay you,
    • The market is totally saturated,
    • The economies are challenging with required payments to labels every quarter and lawyers waiting for you to become big so they can sue you.

If you want a good laugh and learn heaps about the risks of starting up a music venture then you should watch Dalton’s music business review (videos below) of his 6 years of building Imeem, what worked and what didn’t.

Video part 1 of 2 – Dalton Caldwell – Founder of Picplz & Imeem @ Startup School 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pshTi9dk7Bw
Video part 2 of 2Dalton Caldwell – Founder of Picplz & Imeem @ Startup School 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TphryAOyY40

15:55
Break

Mark Zuckerberg
Founder, Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg - Founder of Facebook
Mark Zuckerberg - Founder of Facebook speaking with Jessica Livingston (Y Combinator partner)
  • Facebook’s mission is: Give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.
  • Mark stated that he acquires companies primarily for the excellent people. “Past handful acquires were a success so why not more.”
  • The goal is to build Facebook as the McKinsey of Entrepreneurship.

In the video below Mark speaks with Jessica Livingston (Y Combinator partner) on the initial days at Facebook, about the new movie Social Network and answers popular questions about Facebook.

Video part 1 of 2 – Mark Zuckerberg – Founder of Facebook @ Startup School 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjVACXklxJk
Video part 2 of 2 – Mark Zuckerberg – Founder of Facebook @ Startup School 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjuMARuv5sg

Brian Chesky
Founder, Airbnb

Brian Chesky - Founder of Airbnb
Brian Chesky - Founder of Airbnb
  • If you have an idea put it up there online, no matter what it looks like. You need the feedback early on.
  • Inventors of Obama O’s: Hope in every bowl! and Cap’n McCain’s: Put a maverick in your morning cereals – when the times were tough and money was required.
  • Had many unsuccessful launches but persistence got them through. Paul Graham stated “you guys won’t die, your like cockroaches”.
  • Michael Seibel from Justin.tv introduced Brian and his co-founder to the Y Combinator methodology and eventually to Paul Graham. Initially, Paul didn’t like the business idea. That changed quickly.
  • Brian used a classic motivation / psychology approach that Anthony Robbins teaches: “Whatever you focus on expands (you get)”. So he decided to focus on revenue by printing a positively inclined graph depicting revenue and pasting it on the bathroom mirror. This way it was the 1st thing he saw every morning and the last before going to bed to dream. It worked!
  • Paul Graham advised: “Go to your users”. So Brian and his co-founder flew to NYC, Washington DC and Denver and knocked on people’s doors to sell their service – “do you know how much your bedroom is worth?!”.
  • Then, David, Barry Manilow’s drummer posted his apartment for rent while he toured with Barry Manilow. This changed the direction of AirBnB and the 1st “wiggles of hope ~ PG” appeared. AirBnB launched version 5 of their product and started to be Ramen Profitable.
  • Today, AirBnB is in 8200 cities, 166 countries and traffic has started booming in the last 5 months.
  • AirBnB is now a “Community market place for space”.
  • All this started with an airbed in a living room to solve an accommodation problem.

The following videos are titled “Powerless and obscure” – 1,000 days ago (October 2007). How Brian started AirBnB and it nearly fell apart only to survive after the 5th launch. Very inspiring and educational.

Video part 1 of 2 – Brian Chesky – Founder of Airbnb @ Startup School 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOytubycHOg
Video part 2 of 2 – Brian Chesky – Founder of Airbnb @ Startup School 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZ1fC6kAg5k

I also got to meet Brian the following day during Y Combinator Open-Day at AirBnB headquarters in SF.

Me with Brian Chesky - Founder of Airbnb @ AirBnB headquarters in SF
Me with Brian Chesky - Founder of Airbnb @ AirBnB headquarters in SF

In Conclusion

And that wrapped up an amazing, day at Startup School 2010.

My top 3 take away (learnings) from Startup School 2010 were:

  1. Find a solution to something people are hurting (strongly need) and they will pay you for it.
  2. It’s all about the “Experience”, not the technology. You are selling the experience not the technology.
  3. Build an awesome product that makes your competitor’s version sux.

Now it’s time for action!

Ernest