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: http://www.nba.com/heat/news_recap/return-greg-Oden. 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.

slides in coursera

In many of the courses in Coursera, the slides for each lecture is independent. What I mean to say is, there’s a 10 min lecture and it has about 3-5 slides. And there’s another lecture and it has its own set of lectures. The problem with this approach is – the number of slides in the course explodes. Agreed that the size of each slide is small. But I see a major problem in this disaggregation of lecture slides for a week.

The first is that the individual lecture in a week are not independent. The typical practice is to take a topic, break it down to individual sub-concepts/sub-topics and cover them in each of the lecture videos. Which means that all of the lectures combine to form a concept that the student has to know. It does help during the course duration to refer to a particular sub-topic to refresh the concepts or look up again. And I totally agree with the concept of disaggregating the lecture videos. That makes it easy to digest. (Will blog about the disaggregated lecture videos sometime later on). But then, when a student wants to refresh the course, say after 6 months, it doesn’t make sense to open each file and go over 3 slides, close it and again open it, etc. It is extremely cumbersome. And I am sure that the student loses interest after a while. Atleast for me, I would prefer all the slides in a week to be one single huge pdf. That way, when I want to refresh the course, I can open it and skim through one single file. Makes it easier for consumption. Opening 1 pdf rather than opening 15 pdfs – I guess the answer is straightforward. And I agree that there are folks who prefer disaggregated slides. Fine with me. Let that approach continue. But option should be provided to aggregate the slides too.

 

Kiwis in IPL

The auction for IPL 2014 is going to happen in less than a month. There can be a maximum of only 9 foreign players in each franchise. This makes it kinda difficult to pick the players for the auction. Because, there really are a lot of international players who are good.

Of the lot, New Zealand players are someone to look forward to. Though many of them are bits-and-pieces players, they have the right skillset to succeed in IPL T20. The format favors players who can bowl a bit and bat(actually hit) a bit. While not many of them can be million dollar buys, they do offer good value to teams who get them. Vettori led RCB succesfully. Franklin played a key part in Mumbai Indians’ campaign the last couple of years.

Here is my take on the list of Kiwis who would be bought in the auction next month:

Martin Guptill, Jesse Ryder, Taylor, Brendon McCullum, Nathan McCullum, Corey Anderson, James Neesham, Tim Southee, Luke Ronchi.

Corey Anderson recently hit the fastest century in ODI and might be the most expensive buy amongst the Kiwis.

Let’s see how the Kiwis fare.

Writing

I seem to write/blog for a few days and then am away from blogging for months together. Just when I was wondering how to keep up writing, I got a wonderful email from James Altucher. I thought that was a God-sent article.

The email talks about how to keep writing and how to be motivated to write. Now, it is not easy to write compelling articles. It takes a lot of effort, conviction and a sense on what would work. James advises to start writing in Quora and other blogs. That would be a good start to hone the writing skills and also to gain some followers. I also found that writing reviews is another thing that can be added to the list. Once you’ve consumed a particular thing (can be book, movie, etc) write how you felt about it. Could follow a rubric or generally write about how one feel about that thing(book/movie,etc). Again, becoming a critic is not the point. But to keep writing.

And another thing is to write atleast 300-500 words a day. Now, that is not easy. For example, this article is currently less than 200 words and I feel that I don’t have anything more to write. Also, need to re-write to express the thoughts in a concise and cohesive way. That’s not something am good at.

Anyway – I’ve found a couple of avenues on where and how to write. And hopefully, after writing for a few months, I hope to see an improvement in my writing

Pongal

Today is Pongal. Start of Uttarayan.

When I was in school, we used to have atleast 3 days leave during this time. During college, I don’t exactly remember – but it was 2 or 3 days I guess. And after I started working, there has been occasions when the company hasn’t declared holiday for pongal.