pick your poison

September 15, 2019

i still need to workout guidelines (it’s an evolving thing like much of software development). i need to determine the most appropriate file format (e.g. blog post, Jupyter notebook, PDF, presentation, straight text file etc.) for samples in my Python GitHub repository. That said i should also try to provide alternative representation(s) based on UDL guidelines (http://udlguidelines.cast.org/)

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as an educator i’ve always kept that saying in mind.  However, it’s not until i became an online student that i fully appreciated it. Having been a Subject Matter “Expert” (SME) on most of the courses i taught, there was a “barrier” of sorts in trying to design it to maximise student learning.  In learning Python i’ve encountered difficulties despite my experience, academic qualifications, and, most recently, having completed a professional certification. There is still much I have to learn in the field of Data Science.  With this in mind i’ve recently made a new Github Repository with a MIT license that’s publicly accessible (https://github.com/LinsAbadia/Python) that i hope to gradually populate – properly structuring it will involve trial and error.  This is to 1.) Develop my “Code Portfolio” and show i can still be productive in spite of my “disability”, 2.)  Help document and assess my progress, and 3.) Helping me understand concepts fully by seeing if i can explain it “simply” to others (e.g. pointing out “gotchas” in learning and the language).

 

 

 

I originally thought of doing both a presentation and blog post but due to time pressures opted for the latter. Here’s a concise version of what I ended up doing…

I’ve used a “structured” approach to impart more formality but being a blog post I decided to make it more “medium-friendly”.  =)

A.  Introduction

A.1 Description and Background

Since New York city had over 60 million visitors last year alone, it may be useful to recommend hotels based on their physical proximity to major attractions (such as Central Park – not Central Perk of Friends fame) or what I called Places of Interest (or POI for short)using the Haversine formula – it’s a technical way of measuring distance between points using Latitude & Longitude (I won’ bore you with the details as it uses a lot of Trigonometric functions).   Essentially, it was envisioned to help plan your trip to the Big Apple.

A.2 Data

It used “free” data to determine which hotels are in which neighbourhoods and in which boroughs (so I used an API called FourSquare to get some of the place information).  Unsurprisingly, the major hotels were clustered in and most POI were located in Manhattan.

B. Methodology

I used clustering to segment my data (thankfully, the hard bits are already implemented). Freakishly, the cluster of neighbourhoods corresponded to the NYC boroughs (you know somebody worked it out).  This was confirmed visually (after all, seeing is believing) by something called a Folium map (see below).

This is one of the “cool” tools available at your disposal.  This is not, in and of itself, conclusive proof but you can “go down a deep rabbit hole” of data to assert your claim.  This is, by no means, the only “weapon” available to you but it sure is pretty.

C. Results

Unremarkably, the data merely confirmed what we’ve always known:  hotels are near one another and sites are chosen for their proximity to popular landmarks and sought after amenities – it’s so obvious, duh.

D. Discussion

It’s not always about generating new insights.  It’s sometimes about “empirical”  confirmation of things we just take for granted as true.

E. Conclusion

I can talk until I’m blue in the face but you’ll probably pay me no mind and tune out (if you haven’t already). In short you can use Data Science (and its associated tools) can be powerful in uncovering secrets.

If you’d like to read a more detailed and “serious” document, the full  report can be dowloaded at

https://github.com/LinsAbadia/corsera/blob/master/ADSC_Report.pdf

If code is more your thing, a Jupyter notebook in Python can be obtained from:

https://github.com/LinsAbadia/corsera/blob/master/ADSC_Finalv7.ipynb

If you’re generally more interested in GitHub (and open source computing), you can go to the following address:

https://github.com/

This has mainly been about content but, in my experience, context can be just as, if not more, important – that’s how you should think about Data Science!

there appears to be a tendency of social media to focus solely on the good – there’a a plethora of “humble” brags and “unrealistic” posts.  i’m obviously not a big fan but i can understand why it’s worth it “following” certain people.  Don’t get me wrong – i’m all for democratisation and giving a voice to the traditionally voiceless but a lot of it is to me vacuous and inane palava (or palaver if you prefer) – not to mention the trolling and glaring divide.  i worked in ICT for a number of years prior to my ABI (Acquired Brain Injury):  technology can be a magnifier for “bad” and  not just a multiplier for “good” – in my experience, it’s a double-edged sword.  i believe posts shouldn’t be policed or censored (free speech and all) but people should be better equipped to discern the “wheat from the chaff” – a form of “natural selection” of sorts (if you will).  It would benefit from balance (like most things in life).

part of this is “processing”.  Some of it is “snobbery” (i’m only human after all).  That said, take from it what you will – i’m not narcissistic enough to discount any “unintended interpretations” of my writing.  My only caveat that it is partly out of need (and partly due to therapy) so it might not be most people’s “cup of tea”.

there’s undeniably some “good” occurrences recently.  Firstly, i’m nearly halfway in completing my online certificate in data science.  This will, “hopefully”, help me get into “gainful” employment again after being “sidelined in the wilderness” for over a decade now.  At times, I used to work a part-time job along with a full-time one – so being homebound was a “drastic” change.

over the last two weeks, i’ve been finishing online crosswords daily. It started with 2.5 hours but now i’m down to a little over 50 minutes usually and my best time is approximately 38 minutes.  i’m merely an amateur cruciverbalist who wants to improve and build up to something challenging like the New York Times Sunday crossword.

i’ve had no falls over the last several months despite my last two  SARA (short for the Scale for the Assessment  and Rating of Ataxia) tests showing slight deterioration.    i think this is mainly due to my neuro PTs’ advised interventions added to (or slightly modifying ) my daily exercise routine.  Sure the NDIS (Australian National Disability Insurance Scheme in case you’re not aware) is a source of much consternation and a bugbear to negotiate (even for mundane tasks) but thanks to it i can now afford to go weekly instead of monthly (which used to be the case).  I had several near-misses lately:  the point is I didn’t fall down where a couple of months ago i surely would have.  As in everything there is both good and bad – i’ve heard it referred as a major reform since MediCare:  there are obvious, signficant “teething problems” with its initial rollout but you can’t really fault the intention (it is the implementation where it falls down – pun intended ).

sadly, i’ve been binge watching a lot lately. Whether to “empty out” the numerous recordings on my DVR (Digital Video Recorder) or streaming over the Internet – i’m such a cheapskate that I only use free services (thankfully, Australia is quite “progressive”).  My  current darling is  “You’re the Worst” on SBS (Special Broadcasting Service) On Demand – the “Resume” function makes the bugs bearable.  I watched all episodes of the four seasons available on the web. I find the writing witty and funny (admittedly, i’ve got a “dark” sense of humour i liked the tv show Legit , i found the movie Pulp Fiction hilarious, and mostly laughed throughout the stage show, The Book of Mormon ). I enjoyed Seasons  1-3 ; S4 was ok (my “disappointment” with the new intro notwithstanding) and still will watch the last season (i’m curious how they will wind it down and then end it). i think Ricky Gervais was right to cap the UK  version of The Office after two series.  i use TV to distract from the thinking i do during the day – so “smart” and “subconscious” programming is much appreciated.  The last show made me think of the novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being although watching is supposed to relax me.  i sometimes read (with the aid of a magnifier) during ad breaks (i know this is counter to my intent but i can’t really help doing it).  i find it helps me think more broadly about things and i’m not limited to seeing things only in a certain way.

My Ph.D. has stalled and as of late i rarely write anything – and when i do i only mange a few words.  Maybe i’ve just “hit the wall” and i’m just tired given the number of years (when a lot of things usually pique my interest) and the effort to type compounded by my waning interest.  Maybe it’s not up to scratch given my exacting standards and past performances.  Maybe it’s my growing frustration with the admin required and my over reliance on altruism upon learning the hard way that it’s self-interest that often yields results.  Maybe it’s my substantially increased anxiety due to my health concerns or fast approaching conclusion of my candidature.  i suspect all of these factors play a role.  Thankfully i’ve got a supervisor who believes in me and my abilities – she’s doing what she can to make that path is still available to me.

i was told that walking outside would do some good – not only would it further develop my legs given a functional task but it would also expose me to fresh air and vitamin D.  I’m trying to incorporate this into my routine but admittedly i’m hesitant given my bouts with hay fever and uneven terrain and inclines.  On days when the pollen count is not too high, I go outside the front of our house to gradually acclimatise me to the irritants and eventually build enough strength to confidently tackle going around the block.

My speech difficulties have taught me to listen more to others.  My walking challenges have resulted in me losing weight (as the heavier i am, the harder it is to remain ambulant), made me appreciate more the challenge of getting robots to balance on two legs.  My greatly reduced typing speed has caused me to concentrate more on quality rather than quantity. As has happened in the past with other persons with disabilities, it has ‘forced’ me to adapt and strategise to perform common tasks.

It is easy for me to continue being negative: seeing silver linings does not come natural.  These are the cards i have been dealt and need to make the most out of them.  Admittedly, it still pisses me off when people whinge about what i consider to be “terminally trivial” things but i have to learn to focus instead on the things i need to do and how i can perform them better.  While the Chinese symbol for ‘crisis’ has been disproven to mean both ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’ simultaneously, it is still useful to see both the  yin and  yang of things.

(bridge the ) Gap Year

October 22, 2018

i first heard the term ‘gap year’ when I migrated to Australia. It’s supposed to be a respite after Year 12 before college (or as they call it here: university).  A year of ‘rest’ from school is a luxury and culturally antithetical from an Asian, developing economy such as the Philippines.  I do believe that this is beneficial to one’s mindset but maybe this is a result of how formal education is currently structured – maybe having social justice integrated with the curricula is more effective.

Bridge The Gap is essentially a movement to help address the inequalities that exist in Australian society:  it seeks to make Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander’s outcomes similar to that of the Caucasian population as the disparities are obvious.  Regardless of how you feel about the issue, a more general philosophy of empathy for societal challenges may shift our definitions for success and progress.  There is one I found with some aspects sort of the same but what I’m proposing is non-prescriptive and ‘decontesualised’ making it more applicable to most countries and subject to what’s realistic for the individual.

The idea still needs to be threshed out (and the subject of some blog posts) but I think it’s an idea worth exploring further.

2 princes

June 6, 2018

sorry. i was MIA but I had a few personal issues to contend with. I’m sort of back.  That said, my posts will be “irregular” over the next few months.  I need to reserve most of my time and effort for my other blog for my studies.  You may wonder why I maintain two.  It’s because most of the ideas there are not yet ready-for-prime-time and aren’t up-to-snuff  yet to be shared.

It’s partly a quality kick but mainly because you can’t serve two masters well.

as time goes by

April 12, 2017

last night a friend (who was also a student at UniMelb and now based in Sydney) had dinner at our house.  It’s been years since we last saw her.  Maybe it was the shared experience but it was a confluence of factors (including our “academic” tendencies and that we didn’t share accommodation).  I’ve got few friends because of my numerous quirks but when you meet someone, you just know if you’ll get along with them.  I’m not that nostalgic but it was good to catch up on “old” times