MOOC -Q1 2014

I’d told this earlier on this blog – I’ve registered for a LOT of courses online. It has been a challenge to finish the courses.

Now that Q1 is ending, I’ve successfully started and completed the following courses (or close to completion):

1) Mathematical Biostastics II – by Brian Caffo (JHU).

2) Game Theory with no chances – (Gerogia Tech)

3) Computer Networks (U Washington)

4) Elements of Statistical Modeling – Trevor Hastie (Stanford)


I hope to complete atleast two MOOC in the next quarter. Will write a post when that time comes.

IPython Notebook

I am totally impressed with IPython Notebook. A lot of reasons on why I like it. But the main reason has got to do with its readability.

Now, I am still learning Python. Long way from using it. The first time I coded using Python was last March (so, exactly a year since my first program). But, I’ve never really seriously used it until now. I am just beginning to program more in Python and hopefully in the next 3 months, should learn enough to be proficient and comfortable using Python.

In the initial days, I ran directly from the terminal. Then, about 6 months back, I discovered the wonderful Anaconda package. I installed it and then a few days later, learnt about IPython. From then on, I’ve been typing commands on the IPython prompt on Terminal.

This changed a few days back, when almost browsing with no real intent, I chanced upon IPython Notebooks. I didn’t realize what it was. I marked it as a follow-up to be read in a week’s time. Then, I repeatedly kept hearing about notebook on youtube (paid advertising I guess). This piqued my interest. I then took the effort to read all about it. (Now I know that it is extremely easy – but making the shift first time is always difficult).

One of the cool things about IPython Notebook is that, the output gets displayed and is saved along with the code. This is so cool when one needs to figure out what each option had produced as output later on. And creating it as a webpage is so easy. This doubles it up as a educational/explanation platform too. I do wish I’d figured this out much earlier. But then, later than never is a good policy to take.

Another thing I found out was that the Python code can be directly executed from Sublime Plus. I’d always been running the code from Terminal (though, the code was written using Sublime Plus).

Probably, I am finally relishing the joy of programming. The next few weeks should say about that !




Finally got IPython notebook to work. It took a while to understand all the errors and how to resolve them, but finally, yesterday, had it to work. Feels good when I get to fix some tech issues :)


Heard very good reviews about the tamil movie Thegidi. Some tight deadlines ensured that I didn’t get to watch it the first week of its release. The movie has been acclaimed by the critics. And yet, it is taken off theatres in Bangalore after a week. Now, even if I have time, there is no way to watch the movie in Bangalore (which is where I live).

The system is so screwed up. Providing legal ways to watch a movie is a good start. A netflix-like model for Indians would be a good thing. 2-3 weeks after the movie’s theatrical release, the movies can be released on an online platform where can people can watch the movie. It could be a subscription based model (similar to netflix) or one-time pay and watch kind-of model (similar to google play store and amazon).

Until such reforms are made, innovative films(particularly independent films) are guaranteed to fail in India.

What to post?

It has been 6 days since my last post. The problem is – the time when I have some ideas on what to write is exactly when I am not in front of computer. A paradox. Whatever. And now, when am using laptop and am thinking of writing something, I am clueless on what to write.

Just to keep the momentum, let me write some random stuff.

Of late, I’ve been doing quite a few MOOC. The problem is, in most of the courses, the first few weeks are so underwhelming that it is very difficult to keep up my focus. Either the content is low or the instructor isn’t interesting. Of course, why should I sign up for a MOOC if the subject doesn’t fascinate me. So, the problem is not with the subject. And in most cases, I don’t expect it to be advanced. But from what I see, there are a LOT of courses that are catered towards people starting in the field. Very few advanced courses. I truly hope that quite a bit of masters and PhD level courses are offered. I am looking forward to a collaborative research springing out of MOOC. And I really don’t think that would be impossible. For example, Netflix competition introduced a LOT of methods in the field of machine learning. And really made it popular. And with a dedicated group, I am sure research should be possible too.

I’ve found Kaggle competitions to be very enticing. The problem I face though is, my skill level isn’t at the level to win prizes. And once you realize that you are not skilled for that level of competition, the motivation to churn out mediocre after mediocre results isn’t there at all. Unfortunately, that seems to be way to gain knowledge and eventually win the prizes. But with so many other commitments, I am just not doing enough work to gain that knowledge.

I’ve also challenging myself to program a bit everyday. The problem again has been that the motivation to do that has been lacking. That too, severely.

Let’s see where I head to next.

Points scored For (NBA) and other things

As of today (end of games – 17th Jan 2014), based on the statistics available in the ESPN’s NBA page, in the dismal East conference, only 3 teams have Points Scored For above 100 points per game, almost halfway through the season. And that would be the defending champ Heat, Hawks and 76ers. Kind of surprising to see 76ers there. Before the season began, they were supposed to have league worst record. The effort some of the other Eastern conference teams have put in to make them even worse than 76ers have been outstandingly rubbish.

Now, comparing this to the Western conference. How many teams have Points Scored For more than 100 points per game? Actually, in this wickedly brilliant conference, the question should be – how many average less than 100 per game. And just two – Grizzles and Jazz. While this metric alone does vindicate any hypothesis, it just provide a clue on how dismal Eastern conference teams have been.

The third placed Raptors in the Eastern conference wouldn’t even be in the playoffs if they were in Western Conference. (win % .526. Win % of the 8th placed Suns in Western Conference is .564).

Amongst other things, Suns are slowly going down after Bledsoe went down with an injury. Grizzles, Timberwolves and Nuggets are slowly bridging the difference and things would become brutal in the last 3-4 weeks of the regular season for the last two spots in the Western conference.

Knicks are going to play 7 consecutive home games against teams with sub 0.500 record. They should be in the mix to grab the lower playoff seed in the Eastern conference by that time. They are currently 1.5 games away from the 8th seed.

Greg Oden

Greg Oden finally played in NBA again. That alone is a reason to feel happy about. Severe knee injuries have ravaged a very promising career (that too, a hall of fame career). He himself has told that he became an alcoholic during his rehab period in Portland. Would he have had a better and successful rehab in a different team is entirely up for speculation. He has also told that he has made enough money and doesn’t want to chase after that. And that he is going through the painful rehab process purely to do what he loves the most – to play basketball at NBA level.

A very piece on his return: I am skeptical if he can raise his game to play at All-Star level. For that, he need to play more minutes. For now, that seems far-fetched. But if he continues to play, am sure he is gonna impress. And that’s something to look forward to.