Sunday, January 17, 2016

Quick links

What caught my attention recently:
  • "Big ideas emerge from spills, crashes, failed experiments and blind stabs .... As people dredge the unknown, they are engaging in a highly creative act .... the habits that transform a mistake into a breakthrough" ([1])

  • Lots of details on recommendations, personalization, and experimentation at Netflix in a new ACM paper ([1])

  • Fun and interesting Slate article on how Facebook selects posts for the news feed ([1])

  • New paper claims the filter bubble for news is much stronger in what people self-select and on social media than in search and recommendations ([1])

  • "Bayesian program learning (BPL) framework, capable of learning a large class of visual concepts from just a single example and generalizing in ways that are mostly indistinguishable from people" ([1] [2] [3])

  • NIPS 2015 paper on problems that accumulate in machine learning systems, such as dependencies between features, dependencies between models that build off each other, and complicated and fragile data preprocessing ([1])

  • "Should they teach [self-driving] cars how to commit infractions from time to time to stay out of trouble?" ([1])

  • Wal-mart is doing poorly against Amazon, which is surprising, I think ([1])

  • Good article on product management. I particularly like the points that most products fail (so you should expect to experiment, adapt, and iterate) and that a good product is about experiences not features ([1])

  • "People keep mentioning how different things are to the period just before the AI winter" ([1])

  • "Smartwatches still have a long way to go in terms of proving their usefulness, necessity, and style" ([1])

  • "CYA security: given the choice between overreacting to a threat and wasting everyone's time, and underreacting and potentially losing your job, it's easy to overreact." ([1])

  • A new $7M XPrize for autonomous undersea drones ([1] [2])

  • Simulating the World in Emoji is a very fun educational simulation, similar to the Artificial Life work a while back, great for kids ([1])

  • From the Exploratorium Museum, a demo of how wave motion arises from swirling smaller movements in water ([1])

  • Dilbert comic on tech jargon ([1])

  • Pearls Before Swine comic on clickthrough agreements ([1])

  • SMBC comic: "Update 9.1.2.001.241 has been a test of your loyalty." ([1])

Saturday, January 02, 2016

SwipeLingo and Javascript Notebook

I've been working on a couple educational projects since Google, SwipeLingo and Javascript Notebook. SwipeLingo is a quick matching game for touchscreens. Javascript Notebook is a tool for writing coding tutorials, exercises, and examples.

I'm unable to fully finish them and get them exactly where I wanted them before starting at Microsoft. But I'm launching anyway in case they or the ideas in them are useful to others.

SwipeLingo is a game-with-a-purpose, a quick matching game that is both fun and helps with memorization like flash cards do. There are example games — particularly interesting is Chinese numbers, where you learn the characters pretty quickly after starting with wild guessing — and it's also easy to create your own. I was motivated to create SwipeLingo by loving Duolingo but wanting the vocabulary memorization in it to be more fun, and also wanting to try to build a non-native touch web app game that works equally well across desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone.

Javascript Notebook tries to make it easy to write and share coding tutorials, coursework, examples, exercises, and experiments. It was heavily motivated by Stanford's CS101 class and their content. Here are some examples: "Getting Started", "Introduction to Programming", "What You Can Do". It's a bit like a simple Javascript-only IPython Notebook in feel, but runs entirely in the browser, requiring no configuration or set up, just write and share. Others can modify the code, run it, and save and share their own copies.

Please let me know if take a look and have any comments or suggestions. And please tell others who might be interested about them too!