[Day 153] Packing for a year-long trip: Tips from Asher Leiss – the waterfalls guy

Asher Leiss is a good friend of mine who once spent 5+ years bumming around the world. He’s now based in Taiwan to learn Chinese and is kind of a celebrity there because he has explored hundreds of waterfalls and documented them all. Talk about passion. Check out his website and Facebook to see a crazy white dude jumping off different waterfalls.

When Paul told me that he’d drop out of school to travel for a couple of years, I asked Asher to give him some packing tips. Paul found them helpful, so I hope that you find them helpful too. I’ll also prepare some packing tips and post them soon-ish.

Continue reading “[Day 153] Packing for a year-long trip: Tips from Asher Leiss – the waterfalls guy”

[Day 153] Packing for a year-long trip: Tips from Asher Leiss – the waterfalls guy

[Day 93] Who is the best professor in the world

Another of my answers on Quora went viral. It got 300k views and 10k upvotes in 3 days. My friends saw my answer and messaged me “congrats” and I was like: “why?” Are those upvotes going to improve my life in anyway? Can I brag about them on my resume or use them to buy foodstamp?

I like writing answers on Quora. It’s a nice feeling when somebody thanks you for your answer. It’s like, okay, I might suck at life but at least someone on the Internet finds me useful. I just don’t think I deserve any merit when one of my answers accidentally goes viral.

Continue reading “[Day 93] Who is the best professor in the world”

[Day 93] Who is the best professor in the world

[Day 54] Things that Mykel Kochenderfer says

Mykel Kochenderfer is my professor for the course “Building Trust in Autonomy” and he’s hilarious.

“Our policy function depends on whether our time horizon is finite or infinite. For example, if you knew that the world was going to end tomorrow, you wouldn’t just go to Tesco and buy green bananas. You would be buying the candies we had at the zoo yesterday instead.”

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[Day 54] Things that Mykel Kochenderfer says

[Day 47] Things that you find unbelievable that are true

My professor Mykel Kochenderfer wrote me this awesome email, and I thought I should share it with you.

—- [email start]—-

One little exercise that I did a while ago was to list the top ten things that I find completely unbelievable that are true. I used to keep this list in my wallet, but I can’t seem to find it anymore. Here are some of the items: Continue reading “[Day 47] Things that you find unbelievable that are true”

[Day 47] Things that you find unbelievable that are true

[Day 43] Of course my professor reads Wikipedia for fun

Before we go on, allow me to introduce my new favorite professor Mykel Kochenderfer. He did his BS and MS at Stanford, then did his PhD at University of Edinburgh (he finished his PhD in 3 years), then worked at that fancy lab MIT Lincoln Laboratory, and wrote this fascinating book called Decision Making Under Uncertainty. Other than being extremely smart, Mykel is also my professor and the father of my new four best friends. FYI, today, our class went to museums with his family and he and his wife left their four kids, aged 2 to 10, with me for an hour. They trusted me with their kids. Can you believe that?

When I found out that Mykel read Wikipedia for fun, I was fascinated. It’s like when someone asks you what you do for fun and you say: “I work on my PhD” or “I solve equations.” How amazing does it sound? So I asked him for the list of his favorite Wikipedia pages–I was procrastinating and was looking for something interesting to read over the weekend. He was very kind to give me his list.

Continue reading “[Day 43] Of course my professor reads Wikipedia for fun”

[Day 43] Of course my professor reads Wikipedia for fun

[Day 33] How they arrived

This essay is about those from a poor country who get scholarships to attend university in the US. I was inspired by the transition theme of NoViolet Bulawayo’s “We need new names”. The style of “How they arrived” mirrors the style of three short stories in the book: “How they appeared”, “How they left” and “How they lived”. I love the way NoViolet used the third person voice in those short stories. Her “they” sounded impersonal yet emerged to be oddly personal, with a face, a voice, even a personality I can sympathize with. 
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[Day 33] How they arrived

[Day 32] London vs Silicon Valley

Disclaimer: I live in Palo Alto and even though I make frequent trips to San Francisco, San Jose, Berkeley, and the surrounding cities, a lot of things I mention below might only apply to Palo Alto.

It’s always fascinating for me to get out of Silicon Valley. I have been there for so long that I have almost forgotten how ridiculous it must be like to people outside the bubble. Even though both London and Silicon Valley are multiracial, they are like two different worlds.

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[Day 32] London vs Silicon Valley

[Day 24] We built an automated essay grading system

For our CS224D’s final project, Lucio and I took on Kaggle’s Automated Essay Scoring competition. We tried to build a model that can automatically grade your essay. You input an essay and voila, it outputs the score for it. The dataset we have is for essays grade 7 to 10, but the model is easily scalable. It can be used to grade SAT/ACT practice essays or any kind of essays, as long as we have enough training data.

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[Day 24] We built an automated essay grading system

[Day 23] Just an evening on campus

I left the study room at 1am feeling nauseated. 4 more days and I will be done with my 2nd year. People told me: “You’re halfway there.” Halfway there and I’m already burned, exhausted, and cold. I couldn’t bear going back to my room so I just wandered around campus. This reminds me of something I wrote two years ago, on the day I arrived on campus. How things have changed!

Continue reading “[Day 23] Just an evening on campus”

[Day 23] Just an evening on campus

[Day 21] I got lectured

Today, we had a poster session at 2pm and I talked to this printing guy at 8am asking for an express service. He said in a singsong voice: “Looks like you pulled an all-nighter. My father always says, what’s worth doing is worth doing last minute.” wtf I came to get my poster printed, not to get my life choices questioned.

Okay, that’s all I have to write. It’s finals week and as you see, I just pulled an all-nighter. I have no time for a thoughtful blog post.

Happy summer everyone!

[Day 21] I got lectured