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I write about design, technology, and people. Sometimes I photograph places I visit.

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Good books I read in 2015

I am always asking people and scouring the Internet for good book recommendations. Even though I exchange tips in person, I rarely broadcast what is worthy of your time. Time to change that.

The year 2015 was not as good as some others with regards to drowning in good reads, but there were some golden nuggets I would like to share. Read more

Nobody will do that

Some humans would do anything to see if it was possible. If you put a large switch in a cave somewhere, with a sign saying ‘End-of-the-World Switch. PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH’, the paint wouldn’t even have time to dry.”

— Terry Pratchett, Thief of Time

I’ll print out this quote so I can point to it when I’m discussing edge cases and someone tells me “nobody will do that” or “it will never happen.” Famous last words.

Sunset in Los Angeles

Los Angeles and Hollywood are centers of movie studios, upcoming celebrities, and American car culture. However, if you drive west, you will end up in Santa Monica and Venice where a different lifestyle takes place: surfing, outdoor gyms, acrobatics, lifeguards, walks along the beach. And of course, incredible sunsets.

Image description. Read more

Rethinking TODO

Hercules and the Hydra, image credits

Buy groceries, reply to emails, pick up the package from the post office, organize the weekend trip, revise the insurance premium. The list is like a hydra: I cross off one and two more appear. It is, of course, my personal “to do” list. No work, no side projects, just stuff that needs to be done for life to proceed in a regular way.

I winced every time I glanced at the list. If I finished the first couple of tasks—and this is usually all I could do in one day—I would get no sense of accomplishment because dozens of uncompleted tasks would stare back at me and remind me I will never attain the peace of mind.

Why was just looking at the unfinished list bothering me? I couldn’t pinpoint the problem until I heard about the Zeigarnik effect. Named after the psychologist who first studied it, the Zeigarnik effect shows that people will think more about uncompleted or interrupted tasks than completed ones. Read more

What can artificial intelligence and deep learning do?

Andrew Ng, a co-founder of Coursera and the chief scientist at Baidu Research, recently gave a talk at Deep Learning School. At one point in his presentation (10:16:42), he described the current process of building desktop and mobile apps in the industry: product managers and designers iterate on ideas and interfaces before implementation. However, with rising popularity of machine learning and its complexity, it is difficult to grasp what is achievable with those algorithms. Consequently, it is hard to write product requirements or specification, so Andrew often receives the question: “What can artificial intelligence or deep learning do?”

He offers two rules of thumb that, while not perfect or complete, are helpful in thinking what is possible with machine learning.

  1. Anything that a person can do in less than one second.
  2. Predicting an outcome of a sequence of events.

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