Sunday, December 4, 2016

Updates

This post, after a long time, is about the things that we have been up to. So while He is going back & forth on his research, I’m trying to study about Deep learning, Machine learning, Neural Networks, etc. According to Him, research feels like taking two steps forward and immediately taking one step backward. That doesn’t sound too bad given that you are at least taking one step forward in 3x amount of time. The question though is about the magnitude of these steps. How large are these steps backward and how small/big is the step forward and do the steps backward impact the steps forward in terms of planning and action. It’s all very complicated, so let us leave it there for Him and instead talk about me.

I chose Analytics because it was the coolest job when I graduated – not too much of ‘baseball gossips or horserace predictions’ which the strategists do. We were looking at the real data and helping make better decisions. Thanks to a few people who started capturing all kinds of data – social media, digital, GPS, health, shopping and what not – everything has become quite challenging. It has made the field of ‘Analytics’ foray into complex algorithms and sophisticated decision engines. We can no longer get away by saying ‘hotel and flight bookings happen together’ or ‘diapers and beer are bought on Thursdays’. Everyone seems to know these kind of things. So what do we do – predict things that even the person himself doesn’t know.

I’m no computer scientist, I’m a data scientist. I try to build stable&accurate&strong predictive models. I can’t incorporate funny social media & digital data, people’s feelings and emotions into my models. I don’t even know my own feelings – one minute I’m feeling cold, the other minute I’m hungry. And several of the things people write on social media are lies, anyway. If you don’t believe me, look at all the pictures people put on their friendly accounts. Everyone there is sharing happy pictures or travelling or getting married or introducing their newborns. Hardly people say they are stressed or they hate the snow or how they argued with their father for hours this morning. Nobody says these kind of things but it doesn’t mean they not happening. Most importantly, why should we use something just because it’s available. The fact that I go to a high-end mall everyday doesn’t mean I should receive promotional messages of Gucci & Prada. I go there because my office is located next to the mall. I don’t even have the slightest interest in those bags, so why waste your call center’s time, energy and all other kind of resources on me. Now if you still don’t believe me, please watch Modern Life is Goodish  and write a thank you note to me if you happen to like it which you most probably will.

Having said all that, I think I’m a person who is afraid of changes. I don’t despise learning new tools and technology but I wish I could live a little bit like my mother who knew what her home was going to be for the next 20 years unlike me who is not sure of the next second. Adapting to these changes takes quite a bit of my time, makes me write less on the blog and all I can be is apologetic.

We travelled to India last month – Bangalore for most of the time and for a few days to Rajasthan, Agra and Delhi as well. Celebrating Diwali with the Physicist & family for the first time was a pleasant one. As I’m talking about India, I think I should give a first hand experience on the drive towards Demonetization happening in the country. I consider myself lucky to have been there when it was announced. There was more chaos after the news in an already chaotic place. The country currently seems to be divided not by race, religion, gender, colour and class, instead by people who are for and against this concept. 86% of the total currency notes by value (the two highest denomination notes) were rendered worthless in a surprise announcement. The idea is to fight against fake currency notes, money launderers, corruption & scams, and undeclared income. It also serves the purpose of moving towards a cashless economy leaving less room for hidden transactions. We were part of the long queues in front of the banks for deposits / exchanges / withdrawals and holding new currency notes in hand did feel like something good was happening in the country. Though all this has led to a slowdown, less demand, lower interest rates, a passive outlook in the economy, I guess it is all worth if it solves the bigger problem.

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For some foggy pictures, please refer to our album. As my dear friend Mukta said, “Your pictures look more romantic with the fog” to which I said “I don’t know what you are talking about but the Postdoc definitely seems to have a receding hairline and a growing belly; both traits that I’m disliking at the moment.”Winking smile

My curiosity for the royal families [it’s not Great Britain specific] seems to be growing stronger and instead of revising periodic table, I’m watching documentaries and memorizing family trees and figuring out who is remotely connected to whom.

I have bought a Lumia 950 XL although it hasn’t been delivered yet. I ordered it from amazon.co.uk because the phone is either not available or out of stock or highly priced in Asia and also because international shipping from UK was available. To give a context, Lumia 950 XL’s production has been stopped and I’m trying to procure one of the last few pieces that are still available. Friends have questioned my ‘loyalty’ to Microsoft – basically why I use Bing, Edge, SP4, Lumia, Cortana, etc. I use them because I’m used to them and as mentioned above, I’m afraid of changes. I hope to write again around Christmas but if I’m not able to, then ‘Bing.com’ on ‘Edge’ will give you company. Happy holidays if you are taking vacations and happier winters if you will see it snow.Snowflake