Delian Asparouhov

A climber. Working on @ngaleapp

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Siri: Open the Garage

This weekend I decided to play around with my garage and Siri to produce the following:

I made Siri open and close my garage by speaking those phrases. The magic was definitely too long to explain in a video, so I thought I’d document what I’d done.

The hardware

First, I needed to somehow connect my garage door to the internet. There are a variety of solutions here, such as Raspberry Pi, but my favorite is an Arduino with an Ethernet Shield. I also needed a pretty long ethernet cable to stretch from our router down to the garage via the front of our house. 200 ft ended up being way too long but better safe than sorry.

Amazon Order

The reason I love the Arduino is because of the following code you can upload onto it, RESTduino which allows you to communicate to the Arduino using a standard REST interface.

So now I could set and read digital pins on a microcontroller in my garage. Time...

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Thiel Fellowship Semifinalist Advice

I wrote some advice about the first round of the Thiel Fellowship. Here’s some advice for all of the semifinalists this year. I haven’t passed any of this by the Thiel Foundation and these are all just personal viewpoints. For full disclosure, I am interviewing some of the semifinalists myself.

Interviews:

You will go through two interviews in the next 10 days. Each one will last about an hour. Make sure to be very flexible with your schedule and accommodate your interviewer. Your interviewer will be either a Thiel Fellow or a mentor. These people have full-time jobs and are volunteering some of their time because they care so much about this program. Make sure to respect that and give them a full hour of your time if need be.

One of your interviews will be a “technical” interview. This means they will pair you up with someone who is very knowledgeable in your...

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Boomer

A few days ago one of my best friends in the world passed away. Boomer was 13 years old and had been with my family for much of my conscious life.

Boomer was a surprise and a wonderful gift to my family. He originally belonged to my mom’s colleague, Mike, at the University of Utah. It was time for Mike’s sabbatical and he chose to go off to Asia. My family always loved playing with Boomer when we were at Mike’s house, so he asked us to dog-sit Boomer.

Instantly Boomer became part of the family. 2587_1110759962975_5259175_n.jpg

As a border-collie, Boomer had an insane amount of energy because she came from a family line used to chasing sheep. Every morning during middle school I would wake up at 5:30 AM and take Boomer out to our local park and play fetch for hours.

Boomer could become a monomaniac at times. She would fetch a tennis ball for hours on end. IMG_2929.JPG

Anyone who has ever come by our house has...

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Healthcare Econ 101: Why tax the uninsured?

My mother is a microeconomics professor at the University of Utah. I’ve learned a lot from her about game theory through osmosis, and in my last visit she taught me a lot of the basics of healthcare economics which I’ll try to explain over the course of several posts. Specifically about policy changes coming about because of the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare”.

Remember throughout all of this that this model of the world is the microeconomics model, meaning that it is a very mathematical and theoretical view of the world. However, I think having a theoretical understanding of a large system can help you understand the impact of large policy changes.

Imagine that I, as a patient, fully know the probability of what my healthcare costs are. That is, if I’m a healthy 20-year old, I might know that I have a 90% chance of costing $0 and a 10% chance of...

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Thiel Fellowship Application Advice

The Thiel Fellowship application is due on December 31st at midnight. If you’re under 20 years old and think you could learn more outside of school, the Fellowship is the best program in the world for it. I would highly recommend applying even if you aren’t ready to take it, i.e. haven’t finished high school, because it is a good exercise in planning your future and setting goals. It also gets you on the Thiel Foundation’s radar for when you are actually ready.

My name is Delian Asparouhov and I was accepted to the Thiel Fellowship in May 2013 with my data-driven healthcare company, Nightingale. The Thiel Fellowship has been critical to my team’s success and development as entrepreneurs. This is the advice I give others about applying.

I’ll start with some general advice and description of what the Thiel Fellowship is looking for, and then...

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Keep Asking Why

Stop asking about what everyone is doing - ask why they’re doing it.

Understanding people is tough. Lives are rich narratives filled with everyone’s own ambitions, worries, and friends. With all that going on, it’s hard enough to understand yourself, let alone anyone else. But it’s important that we try.

The best ways to understand a person are to talk to them or to read something they’ve written. Since you don’t have much control over what they’ve written, I’ll try to give some advice on how to talk to them.

When trying to understand someone, realize that you are only experiencing a snapshot of their story. Asking someone what they are working on, where they live, or how hiring is going only gives you information about that one tiny snapshot.

Instead, ask why they’re doing it. Dig a little deeper. Keep asking why. Get them to go...

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Why US Healthcare sucks and how I’m trying to change it

The healthcare system in the U.S. clearly blows. Just take a look at the latest government shutdown over it.

I’m going to try and give a general outline of what I see in healthcare today, why so much of it sucks, and how I think it should actually work.

First, let’s tackle the elephant in the room. Electronic Health Records. The first of these popped up as computers became more widespread, the most famous of which is Epic Systems. To give you an idea of what their UI is like you can check out this image or their current website

VistA_Img (1).png

Long story short, EHRs suck. None of them match the workflow most doctors have. Because of these usability problems, EHR adoption in the U.S. has been growing at a snail’s pace, even though there have been several studies showing that adopting an EHR can improve the quality of patient care. I’ve heard dozens of stories from nurses who...

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Some days you cry

Some days I have a really hard time working in the industry that I’ve chosen to be in. Navigating healthcare as a 19-year old can be really hard. People tell me I’m unqualified. Doctors don’t trust part of their workflow to be maintained by someone that’s so young. Older entrepreneurs continuously try to convince me to leave Nightingale to go be their CTO instead. Hell, I even had a breakup that tore me up two weeks ago.

Today in particular, there was a primary care physician who was enthusiastically talking about how he’d love to use our product, but when I let my age slip, he hung up the phone on me.

Times like that I feel beaten down. I want to just go waste my day on Reddit and watching YouTube videos.

I decided instead to reach out to a couple of our most active users and ask them why they used our product.

Two of them emailed me and used the words...

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There are 10 types of good programmers

Those who understand binary and those who don’t.

Hah. No, but seriously, in my limited experience working at a tech company, trying to make one, and going to a variety of hackathons, I’ve always found that there are two types of coders that consistently impress me.

The first category is the one that I’d like to think I fall under. They’re what I call the “5th grade coders”. These programmers were given a computer at a young age and have been playing around with it ever since. I can connect with them easily around getting our first computer, doing FIRST robotics, or working part-time during high school making websites. These are the types of people who breeze through their undergraduate CS education and have been working at tech companies since they were ~18. They don’t have to put a ton of effort into learning new languages, picking up...

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Find the Yellers

The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make in my situation is to surround themselves with people who tell them how great they’re doing, but won’t point out their critical flaws. Each time you meet a mentor or a friend, they’ll tell you how great you’re doing and how amazing you are. You can’t blame them either, they’re suffering from confirmation bias. They believe you are somebody who can change the world, so they favor information and facts that confirm this. However, most people who believe in your vision will also not warn you if you are making obvious mistakes to prevent yourself from succeeding, their minds will reject and ignore those thoughts.

This effect is known as disconfirmation bias, i.e. when we are presented facts that refute prior beliefs, they are subject to greater scrutiny. The classic study proving this phenomenon was done by Lord,...

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