Recently: May

Posted on Jun 3, 2014

Doing:

I spent a lot of time polishing the OSMTimeLapseR project this month. In addition to publishing a piece of work I’m really proud of, I also made some accidental aRt. The highlight of the project, a visualization of growth in OSM in Kathmandu from 2007 to 2013, is below:

Growth of OSM in Kathmandu

At work, some colleagues and I created a new version of our R-based data processing pipeline using the dplyr package as a foundation. dplyr has been thought through really well; using it, we have been able to make our pipeline shorter, (WAY) more readable, and at least two orders of magnitude faster. I mean, we’re down from about an hour to a minute of run-time, no joke!

Excited about:

Yantra 3.0: Nepal’s yearly robotics competition. This year, the main competition is the “bridge to Lanka”, which requires Robots to complete bridges that they then have to drive over to the finish platform. I did robotics in high school and college, and believe in Robotics as an incredibly valuable educational tool. Super Excited that the good folks at the Robotics Association of Nepal and Karkhana are putting so much energy into it. I look forward to helping in any way I can, and can’t wait for competition day!

Robots at Yantra. Image shamelessly hotlinked from the Yantra website

Reading:

The Land where I Flee, by Prajwal Parajuly. Amazing literature from the homeland! I devour any Manjushree Thapa book when it comes out, and I’ll be doing the same with his work. The Land where I Flee is a pretty fun one. The book gets much better once you get over trying to sympathize with any of the characters—it is really funny, and is a good reflection of modern Nepal (or India-Nepal, as the book and author are both set in Sikkim / Gangtok).

The Bell Curve by Atul Gawande. Gawande talks about what the normal curve means in terms of the medical profession. Doctors’ and hospitals’ performances vary quite a bit; what does it mean to be treated by a “below average” doctor? What happens when you open up performance data for hospitals? Would you do it in your profession? Its a 2004 article in the New Yorker, and a total gem.

Learning: Do grad students remember everything they were taught? is an epic answer on Quora to a seemingly innocuous question. Mark Eichenlaub goes into what learning means, how to think about learning from a few different perspectives, and generally hits the nail in the head. I would recommend this reading to anyone who has thought about rote learning vs. learning “how to think”. If you went through the Nepali education system, click through and read immediately!