15 9 / 2014

A Khanversation with…code wizard Zach Gotsch


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This week’s KA spotlight is on…Zach Gotsch!

Zach believes that when everyone is educated, a lot of the world’s problems are much easier to fix, so that’s one of the driving reasons he ended up as a code wizard with our motley crew at KA. In his free time, he can be found West Coast Swing dancing, climbing rocks and reading books.

Interviewed by Kate Mason


What is your idea of perfect happiness?

A quiet evening in my own library with a good book, a comfy chair, and a cup of tea.


What is your greatest fear?

That the world will take no notice of my existence. That and bees.


Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Bertrand Russell.


What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Arrogance/hubris.


What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Lack of self-awareness.


On what occasion do you lie?

Whenever I think it will improve the world or simplify something without too much negative impact.


What is your greatest regret?
Not making more things in college.

 

Which talent would you most like to have?

I wish I had a better ear for music.


What is your current state of mind?
Restless. It’s hard for me to do one thing for very long without something to break it up.

 

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I wish I wasn’t so distractible. I have a lot of trouble finishing thi


Where would you like to live?

In an engineered society built around peer-learning and knowledge sharing.

 

What is your favorite occupation?
Teacher.

 

What do you most value in your friends?

Inspiration. I try to surround myself by people who push me to be better.


What are your favorite names?
Tristan, Emily, Amelia.

 

What is your motto?

No matter what happens, make good art and keep moving forward.


What position do you play on the Khan Academy DOTA 2 team, NonProphet?
Hard carry.

04 9 / 2014

Cam gets continuous encouragement and support from Natalie…or the back of her monitor…

Cam gets continuous encouragement and support from Natalie…or the back of her monitor…

26 8 / 2014

Sal’s ice bucket challenge…preceded by an informative lesson about ALS, of course!

19 8 / 2014

A proud moment

11 8 / 2014

A Khanversation with…the effervescent Kyle Slinn, KA Nursing Fellow

We’re all pretty enthralled with this zany Canadian. His day job is focused on developing medical content, but whether he’s working to provide free medical resources to people around the world or just saying hello, there’s always pizzazz in what he does. Talking to Kyle is like opening up a present - an element of surprise combined with an element of happiness.  Unlike opening a present, his blue eyes sparkle whenever he talks with folks; a color usually accentuated by whatever shirt he is wearing.  See exhibit A below.  

For exhibit B, we see him dressed in more professional attire*

*Ed note: Kyle doesn’t usually look like this in the office, but perhaps he should more often?

Okay, onto the Khanversation!

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Infinite resources to build whatever I want with a few of my buddies. The last time we did this we had a garage full of stuff and we built a cow catcher on the front of a bicycle using a piece of countertop and some inner tubes. We did hit a snag though. During construction we accidentally bolted the bike into our driveway…

What is your greatest fear?

Shark attacks. I worked as a lifeguard for 8 years. Not only would the irony of drowning be the worst way to die, but being gnawed on while drowning would just be the worst thing ever (or for those of you familiar with my new scale, the experience would be “not terrible, but definitely not premium”).

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Batman. Hey he was created in 1937. He’s basically a historical figure.

Which living person do you most admire?

CHEESINESS ALERT: My father. Over his life so far he’s faced and overcome a lot of personal and work-related challenges. He has really strong moral values that constantly inspire me to be a better person.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

My non-existent short term memory…. The only way I can survive is to assume future Kyle will forget everything and plan accordingly. Emails to myself and post-it notes are key.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Dishonesty.

What is your greatest extravagance?

My dad and I are in an arms race of technology gadgets….

What is your greatest regret?

In the last two months of my grandmother’s life she was very ill and was placed in palliative care. I chose to avoid seeing her as much as I could.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Science!

When and where were you happiest?

…..the day I got into the Starcraft 2 beta? No. Maybe? That’s so lame…. It’s got to be one of my trips to Disney World…

Which talent would you most like to have?

Telekinesis

What is your current state of mind?

Well I guess my mind is a solid, but each cell is filled with a lot of fluid, so does that mean my mind is a liquid? That would explain a lot.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

It would be pretty cool to have some cyborg-like properties. Maybe legs with jet packs built in.

If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?

That they be geographically closer to me!

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Shrimpita. You take cocktail shrimp, put it in a mini pita bread, and dip it in hummus. Patent pending.

Where would you like to live?

At Hogwarts, duh.

What is your favorite occupation?

Faffing about.

What is your most marked characteristic?

I have troubles using my indoor voice.

What do you most value in your friends?

Friends who also like to faff about.

What are your favorite names?

Hurricane. Seriously that’s the best first name ever. Totally going to name my firstborn that. Hurricane Slinn? He better be good at sports otherwise he’s going to be the laughing stock at school. HERE COMES THE HURRICANE!

What is your motto?

Could be worse.

11 8 / 2014

This is what we did this weekend…how about you? 

07 8 / 2014

Yesterday was a company karaoke night, hosted by our own Official Taylor Swift Fan Club. Epicness ensued.

We should probably list the club as a company perk?

07 8 / 2014

A Khanversation with…Breakfast Man, Tom Pryor!

Kate’s Khanversations continue this week with Tom Pryor!  He’s a man from whom you can tell a lot from his socks, his charming smile, and his beautiful wife.  image

Tom’s also one of those folks whose awesome passion for education and life in general is an irresistible magnet for those of a similar cloth. Earlier this year, Tom finished his MBA at Haas Business School at Berkeley, rounding out earlier experiences at Pearson’s Affordable Learning Fund, Purpose, Leapfrog Investments, and McKinsey. This Aussie is now rocking it as part of the Strategy and Programs team, spearheading product marketing.

Now, let’s get to know more about Tom!  

Q: Where would you like to live?

A: In the magical land that is only a 10-minute bike ride between Silicon Valley and Sydney, in a Victorian building with 12 condos, one for each family within my big family, and another commune next door for all of my dearest friends.  No daycare is needed - each of us works four days/week, and on our fifth day off (rotating) we each take turns caring for all the kids (ours + our nieces and nephews), who mostly just play in the shared leafy courtyard that all of our condos back onto. There’ll also be a dog.  And a cockapoo with straight golden hair and a sweet temperament. That’s all.

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Tom and some of his family - inexplicably wearing the same sweater *

*May or may not be an Australian holiday custom. 


Q: What is your favorite occupation?

A: My favorite job was at McDonalds when I was 14 and 9 months (legal working age in Australia).  I quickly developed a reputation as the Breakfast Man, mostly for my forte in cooking hotcakes at maximum numbers with minimum defects (the holy grail).  I’d crank out 32 hotcakes every two minutes, and there was something oddly satisfying about the rhythmic quest for perfection in that floury mist.


Q: If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?

A: That we all came together under better circumstances. My family is an amalgamation of four very unsettled families, and it’s been a roller coaster due to the craziness of everyone’s past. We don’t need to be perfect and nuclear - patchwork is fine - but a little more Brady Bunch would have been nice. Oh, and that they all live on that magical land referenced above!


Q: What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

A: Biting my fingernails.


Q: What is the trait you most deplore in others?

A: See above.  I also deplore hypocrites.   ;)


Q: What is your motto?

A: ‘Why not?’  Most things seem fun to try once, probably twice, just to be sure.  Except dying.  That adventure sounds so good I’m saving it for last.


Q: What are your favorite names?

A: For children?  We only just got married!  Haha no no it’s fine.  I’ve had this list of favorite names in Evernote for years.  I have twelve (but only one of them is a girl’s name, so fingers crossed we don’t have >1 girls!).  Anyway, here are my top three from that list:

Cleo (Cleopatra), but my sister-in-law stole that one last year.

Ari (Aristotle), but another sister-in-law stole that one last week.

Theo (Theodore), not yet stolen - DO NOT SHARE WITH MY SISTERS.

 

04 8 / 2014

There’s cake, and then there’s big cake. Elizabeth gets into frame to highlight the scale of this behemoth. Thank you to Charlotte for providing it and for making it memorable! 

There’s cake, and then there’s big cake. Elizabeth gets into frame to highlight the scale of this behemoth. Thank you to Charlotte for providing it and for making it memorable! 

29 7 / 2014

A Khanversation with…Pamela “Give Quiche a Chance” Fox

Our new Head of Communications, Kate Mason, has picked up the Khanversation baton with a new series of interviews!

The questions are chosen randomly and inspired by the Proust Questionnaire: this time, she starts with our very own Pamela “Give Quiche a Chance” Fox, who spearheads our amazing computer science curriculum and looks a lot like the singer Pink. 

1. Which living person do you most admire?

I try not to do the role models thing, because it’s very hard to really know who someone is from far away, and you don’t want to live your life admiring someone, just to have to discard that notion one day when you realize they’re very different than you’d imagined. Saying that, however, I have a few rock star crushes: Pink, because she is a fantastic singer, amazing acrobat, and wears her heart on her sleeve, and Robyn, because she had the balls to start her own label and make the music she wanted to make (and it’s awesome).

2. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

I suck at being the passive one in conversation. I’m afraid of silence/sadness, so I approach conversations by taking them over (and often making them ridiculous), because I know then that I can control them more. I re-read Dale Carnegie’s How to Make Friends and Influence People book every year to remind myself how not to do that, and am trying to get better, but I think I’ll suck at it for life. (Alternate explanation: I’m egotistical and just want to hear myself talk. Also possible, but hey, who would admit that?)

3. Which talent would you most like to have?

Singing! Everybody at Khan Academy is so damn good at it, and I admire y’all terribly / am writhing in jealousy. There’s something profound about singing— I can watch someone sing and start tearing up after thirty seconds, because I can feel the emotion coming out of them. There’s emotion coming out of other art forms, too, but song is so much more powerful.

4. What is your greatest extravagance?

Starting every morning with quiche. And sometimes, ending every night with it.

5. What is your favorite journey?

The one from my house to the quiche bakery.

6. What is your greatest regret?

That one time where I didn’t eat quiche.

7. What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Quiche. (Debatable whether it’s the Lorraine quiche or the Mushroom quiche, however.)

8. When and where were you happiest?

Eating quiche this morning.

9. What is your current state of mind?

Mmm, quiche.

10. What is your most treasured possession?

My quiche crust pan.

11. Where would you like to live?

Lyon, France. It’s where I first discovered quiche.

12. What is your most marked characteristic?

The quiche crumbs on my lips.

13. What is your motto?

#EatQuicheErrDay

22 7 / 2014

The winners of the MCAT competition visited the office last week!  Yay for making free, world-class MEDICAL content for anyone, anywhere. 

The winners of the MCAT competition visited the office last week!  Yay for making free, world-class MEDICAL content for anyone, anywhere. 

22 7 / 2014

How sweet!  KA’s summer interns bond over ice cream. The expression on Peter’s face sums things up pretty well. (Peter is front left in the hoodie)

How sweet!  KA’s summer interns bond over ice cream. The expression on Peter’s face sums things up pretty well. (Peter is front left in the hoodie)

18 7 / 2014

Double trouble: & miles enjoy a quick break during the hackathon.  To take their  act to the next level, the pair test out whether strengthening the core is more or less challenging with their eyes closed. TeaRex joins in…triple trouble?

17 7 / 2014

Oh, the Things You’ll Hack!

We’re a poetic bunch around here, from haiku dev updates to Dr. Seuss wedding vows, we’ve spanned the gamut. So, makes sense we kick off this year’s hackathon accordingly: 

You have hacks in your head

But never the time
The last thing you need
Is to be reading a rhyme.
But lo and behold, an opportunity rises
To hack hacks and make makes and prize all sorts of prizes.
It’s the third time around and a chance for some firsts
Hackathon Healthy Academy Khan — now read that reversed.
Some hacks will work well
They’ll change lots of lives
We’ll ship ‘em bug-free
And exchange five high-fives.
Except when they don’t.
Because, sometimes, they won’t.
I’m afraid that some hacks
Might not even ship
That’s ok! Time for fun!
Hack make build, let ‘er rip.
And of course this is not complete without Ilan’s / Dr. Seuss’ finale: 
And will you succeed?
You will, yes indeed
Ninety eight and three quarters percent guaranteed!

16 7 / 2014

Tuesday Teaching Time

This summer, we’re offering a series called Tuesday Teaching Time, where our colleagues volunteer to teach us something awesome. Last Tuesday, the lesson was in book binding and had quite the turnout!

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