Recently: March / April

Posted on May 3, 2014

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Doing:

In attended the State of the Map US conference for the OSM community in DC. I particularly enjoyed the talk by John Firebaugh, and highly recommend watching it. I also made a few friends and demo’d some new time-lapse visualizations of OSM edits in Kathmandu. Excited to share these with everyone in a month or two.

For the Nigeria project, we are beginning to re-write our data processing pipeline. As an experiment towards this, I learned non-standard evaluation and expressions in R, which means being able to build domain specific languages in R (using R’s basic syntax). An example involving indicators is here. I think this is kind of like lisp’s macros.

The Data Mining class I have been taking continues. It is an incredibly good survey of topics in machine learning (all the basics, including support vector machines but not neural networks). Its good to learn logistic regression, SVMs, naive bayes, bootstrapping and some of the basic tenets of statistical machine learning, since I’ve only had a brief intro from the CS angle before! Anyways, one fun application they showed in class is how to Shepard-Fairey-fy photos; thats where the image on the top of this post came from.

Finally, I pushed up the LitReportCards project, which helps report on literacy assessment data in the Millennium Villages. The “changes over time” page is new, and overall, it is pretty exciting to be able to do all of this with very little R. ggplot, reshape, and formhub.R make data munging practically painless!

Excited About:

The Stanford d.school! By some miracle, I got into the Stanford Design Program, and they even let me defer for a year while I’ll be making trouble in Nepal!

Reading:

Gurkha’s Daughter: Great short stories from a new Nepali-Indian author!

The Overprotected Kid: A long eulogy of unsupervised time for Kids in today’s Western world.

Exploring:

Clojurescript and Om (and reactJS). From everything I have read, Clojure seems like an incredibly well thought out and pleasant programming language; Clojurescript ports Clojure to the browser. And Om is a library for building web applications using Clojurescript. It uses Facebook’s ReactJS library under the hood and makes some key improvements. The power of clojurescript and the React re-render method lets David Nolen, the author of the language, create some impressive demos—have a look at this performance example and this code conciseness example as a taste.