Recently: November and December Edition

Posted on Jan 2, 2014
Happy New Year from nycbch, Astoria!

Happy New Year from nycbch, Astoria!


I have been applying to grad schools recently, and thinking a lot about exactly what I want out of life. BUT, that has also meant some doing. I made myself a Portfolio, for example, and changed this blog around some.

I also had the opportunity to do some long-pending pull request approvals on the Yatayat codebase, along with some minor bug-fixing. The front-page of Yatayat now (appropriately) features a lot of code contributions from OSM Nepal and Kathmanu University community members, Amrit and Suresh in particular. Amrit now has admin rights on the codebase, and has already been utilizing it!

I did some cool visualizations of access to health clinics in Haiti using open data, in the process learning about raster analysis of geo-data in R. I have yet to write a good blog post about it, though there is a brief description in my portfolio, and the dataviz presentation is supposed to be self-explanatory. (Its also totally reproducible, of course.)

Right before the elections in Nepal, I also got involved in some data analysis work regarding the elections. Sakar and my tumblr didn’t go too far, but we did end up recognizing that there were no openly accessible (and properly “coded“) geo-datasets of election constituencies or VDCs in Nepal, and I ended up working on an effort to translate “standard” names to an openly available set of VDC maps. I got pretty far, and look forward to “releasing” this work in the coming months (if you are brave and impatient, work in progress is documented here).


Creative Confidence — This book, by David and Tom Kelley is a great introduction to design thinking, and it was really fun to go through a book-length version by the vanguards of the field. One interesting thought from the book: the Kelleys have this idea of “mileage,” which is simply the amount of time you have spent releasing products, learning from users, and iterating on a new version on this project. It emphasizes early and frequent releases, and also making sure to work on products that get to a lot of people using (and potentially complaining about) them.

Doing Data Science & Machine Learning for Hackers — These books have been helpful to take me through some of the basic machine learning algorithms, and thinking about data science in a bit of a structured way. Both have lots of chapters of high-level overview, but this has been useful for me, given my long ago courses in machine learning and stats, and lots of data at my finger tips to play with.

The Magicians — This was great Holiday reading find in a thrift store. Its a post-modern, adult, and much more cynical version of Harry Potter and a world with magic. Recommended!

Fonts have feelings too — Have been thinking more about typography recently, and this article is a good short post on it. I made the font on this blog a little bigger after I read it, though I haven’t gone the full 22pt he recommends, because it would need to be associated with a host of other changes on the site that I need much more time to make.


Obviously, not doing as well on that front. The New Year’s resolution is to blog at least two times a month. Looking forward to finally meeting that goal in 2014!