Some of the cool things that happened today:
- Jeff Dean high-fived me! I was having a drink with Brennan Saeta at the TensorFlow after party when I looked up and realized that standing right next to me was Jeff Dean. “OMG that’s Jeff Dean,” I said, slightly freaking out. “I’m just going to act casual. No big deal.” Brennan laughed: “Would you like to say hi to him?” “Maaaybe.” SoBrennan introduced me to Jeff and Jeff thought that teaching a TensorFlow class was cool.
- I guess my *new* best friend just got on the cover of Nature. Brett Kuprel was featured on the cover of Nature before he turned 25. PhD students these days (shaking head).
Continue reading “[Day 282] The pressure of impressing new people”
I’m half excited, half nervous about the TensorFlow Dev Summit tomorrow. I’m excited because it’s the first official TF event, and I will undoubtedly learn a lot. I’m nervous because I’ll be around strangers! S-T-R-A-N-G-E-R-S!!!!
Seriously, what do people do at an event like this? Do you approach to people? Do you maintain eye contact? What if nobody wants to talk to you? What if you accidentally come across as being creepy af? What if you want to take a nap?
TL;DR: If you’re at the event, please come say hi.
If you don’t already know, style transfer is the cool, hip thing that has been taking the recreational AI community by storm. It’s so cool that even Kristen Stewart co-authored a paper about it. To quote one researcher who has done extensive work in style transfer that I’ve got a chance to talk to, “it is an utterly unremarkable paper that wouldn’t have been published otherwise [if Kristen Stewart’s name is not on it]. That’s a publicity stunt.”
Some background on why I’m doing this: I’m teaching the course CS 20SI: “TensorFlow for Deep Learning Research” and for the assignment about convolution neural networks, I thought it’d be fun for students to do style transfer as their exercise at home. They, after all, showed a lot of enthusiasm when we did Deep Dream in class.
Continue reading “[Day 276] Detailed instruction on how to do Style Transfer”
Ho Chi Minh City administrators just released a video that is supposed lay out some etiquette dos and don’ts for tourists. Wonderful idea in theory, but the universal reaction I’ve received from foreigners living in Vietnam is:
Continue reading “[Day 247] Tourists to Saigon: “Are you f**king kidding me?””
Over the years, I’ve noticed three things about books about Vietnamese culture:
- They are all written by foreigners. A guidebook to a country written by a foreigner is like a cookbook written by someone who has only had experience in looking at the food. There needs to be a book about Vietnamese culture written by a real Vietnamese.
- They all start with the war. Come on, the war ended 4 decades ago! There are so many more cool things in Vietnam.
- They all read like textbooks at best and phonebooks at worst. I believe that books should be not only informative but also entertaining.
I’ve spent the last two years interviewing many people: foreigners who have traveled in Vietnam, foreigners who have lived in Vietnam, foreigners who have never been to Vietnam, Vietnamese who have lived overseas, Vietnamese who have never been outside the country, etc. I’ve combined their opinion into a book called “How to not get your ass kicked in Vietnam: The native’s guide”. But I still need more input to make the book as comprehensive as possible. So please help me through this short survey:
Survey for non-Vietnamese
Survey for Vietnamese
Thank you very much! The prologue to this book can be find below.
Continue reading “[Day 235] I need your input to write a bad-ass book about Vietnamese culture”
To gather materials for my upcoming book “How to not get your ass kicked in Vietnam: The native’s guide“, I decided to test out the dating scene for white people. Since I’m not white (unless your vision is seriously impaired), I had to hide behind a platform that let you be whomever you want to be: Tinder.
I went on Tinder to create two accounts: one as a white male (James, 24 y/o) and one as a white female (Lauren, 22 y/o). They are both Americans traveling around Asia. In the opinion of three Viet friends that I asked, these people are attractive but not Brad Pitt/Scarlett Johansson level of attractive. They are like the girl, the guy next door. I can’t post their photos here because I need the accounts to do further research.
Continue reading “[Day 234] What’s dating like for a white girl/guy in Hanoi”
I just finished reading “I am Malala” and I realized that I’m not patriotic. I never talk about Vietnam the way Malala talks about Swat valley, how she yearns for the mountains, the trees, the people of the valley. If she is traumatized that she is displaced from her homeland, my whole life I’ve been working to be able to be away. If she talks to her friends in Pakistan every day when she’s in England, I talk to my family probably once a month and my friends back home around once a year.
I don’t miss home. I don’t have that overwhelming sense of pride when I tell people that I’m Vietnamese. It doesn’t matter to me if I was born in Vietnam or in England or in Malawi. I took no part in deciding where I was born, therefore I deserve no pride in my nationality.
Continue reading “[Day 232] Patriotism for sale”