Monthly Archive for February, 2011

IBM’s Watson covered on PBS NewsHour

PBS NewsHour: IBM's computer Watson

This is a very interest, and I think very good, coverage of this milestone in Artificial Inteligence

Ozzy Osbourne and Slash concert

I just witnessed Slash and Ozzy in concert. I’ve never seen Slash in person, and I haven’t seen Ozzy since 1996. Both performers were stellar.

Ozzy Osbourne

I felt really inspired watching Slash perform Mr. Brownstown.
Slash

Slash Setlist BOK Center, Tulsa, OK, USA 2011, Scream World Tour

I hoped to hear him play the November Rain solo, but he didn’t. Ozzy played all of my favorites except for Perry Mason. My favorites were, I Don’t Know, Mr. Crawley, Crazy Train, War Pigs, Iron Man, and Paranoid.

Ozzy Osbourne Setlist BOK Center, Tulsa, OK, USA 2011, Scream World Tour

One of the best parts was the solos by each of the musicians. The drummer’s platform was raised way up into the air as he played his solo.
Tommy Clufetos during drum solo

As tradition goes, Ozzy’s musicians take a 10 to 15 minute interlude taking turns soloing while Ozzy goes off stage for a break. The solos were flawless, as well as the rest of the show. It really goes to say that many bands simply do not have good enough musicians to pull off such incredible instrumental interludes.

I forgot how funny Ozzy is. Just like in 1996, the intruduction to Ozzy’s set had a spoof of popular blockbuster’s with Ozzy cut in. Here is someone’s homevideo of the intro.
http://youtu.be/GgF48DrsQ7Y

Why is a work-week time consuming?

I have been a student for most of my life. I only entered the professional world about 3 years ago where I am far behind colleagues my age. Large reason for this is I had a quasi career change about two years after I finished college where I went back to college to get a completely different degree.

Throughout my college years, the constant need of shifting subjects during homework annoyed me the most. I am the kind of person who likes to go in deep and work on one matter for marathon lengths, especially if the subject interests me. I can get interested in virtually subject, but I do not like to pause critical thinking just to meet a deadline for another class. When complaining about this to professionals, they assured me there will be mutli-tasking in the professional world as well. I agree, but I disagreed to conceptually distant from one another the multiple tasks would be. I wanted to solve my database class problem before I dug deep into biology concepts because those database concepts would continue to fly around in my head while I was working on biology.

I believed this switching of subjects was a big consumption of energy, and easily took more than eight hours of work a day. Furthermore, I worked in my bedroom, so there was no “going home for the day”. My work was constantly around me, always nagging to get done. And do it correctly required everything I had in me.

As it turns outs, the switching of subjects was not the most energy consuming thing possible, and having a day job is itself the most consuming thing I do. Furthermore, I learned that it is absolutely critical to enjoy the day job, no matter what because the choice at the end of the day is very simple: One either is energized because one worked on a something enjoyable all day, or one is exhausted because one worked on something unpleasant all day. What one does is not very alterable, but the attitude towards it is very alterable. Conclusively, to make the work week as short as possible yielding as much personal time as possible is to get enough sleep and enjoy what one does, no matter what.

Sometimes I do what I want to do. The rest of the time, I do what I have to. – Cicero in 2000 film Gladiator when answering Maximus about duty.

Sleep

Lately, I concluded to raise my priority of my sleep. Although it appears that sleeping more leaves less time in the day to accomplish tasks, I concluded that the rate at which the tasks are I accomplish tasks on less sleep is significantly slower. It is so much slower that it is simply better to sprint through tasks than to drudge through them.

For a busy person like me, sleep seems to be the lowest cost way to acquire more time, but unfortunately, that time only is borrowed and must be paid back, sometimes with interest. It is still better to invest time to plan how to maximize the short time I have than to try to stretch that time I have further. It seems paradoxical, but this is where I stand today.

Supporting information

Typically, to arrive at conclusions like this, significant data gathering is required upon which to make some calculations let the answer bubble up to the top. Productivity is not everything because lifespan is more important to me, while …

  • loosing sleep
  • getting fat from slower metabolism due to lack of sleep
  • not getting the most of our work out due to lack of sleep and slower metabolic rate
  • skipping workouts because I am too tired
  • less stress required to anger me
  • compromised immune system

… all contribute to the cost of borrowing time against sleep. To me, these are very high costs.

Furthermore, I have listened to several scientific podcasts, and the guests on these shows can draw certain conclusions, although with less confidence, with simple gut instinct, especially when it comes to evaluating the feeling experience of a person.

Articles

Learning in Your Sleephttp://www.kurzweilai.net/learning-in-your-sleep

Sleep Selectively Stores Useful Memorieshttp://www.kurzweilai.net/sleep-selectively-stores-useful-memories

How I do it

I am one of those people who like to plan things very thoroughly, especially if a subject matter that is dear to me. My mind almost always stops before every decision to first decide how much time to spend on arriving at best decisions. For example, I used to plan trips to the grocery store much more than I do now to avoid the cost of time of driving to store more frequently than necessary, but lately, I relaxed on the planning and make faster, sloppier shopping lists, if one at all, and just do the rest from memory.

For the less repetitive tasks, I like to deeply imagine, almost to the verge of meditation, the entire process of completing a complex task (or mini-project), and then write it down. Ultimately, my tasks are entered and organized in Taskcoach, and from there, I make a daily agenda of tasks or steps to accomplish in a given day. These steps may not all be related to one project. The most important thing for me is to avoid stopping to think of what to do next because, after all, I have very little time home because I work a full workweek, which is much more time-consuming than I ever imagined.

Pedestrian Errand to Wal-Mart in 2011 Blizzard Aftermath

We just got back from Wal-Mart to stalk up on some groceries, a two mile trek round-trip. This is fourth day after the onset of the Blizzard of 2011, which hit Tulsa late night of January 31 and broke many records. We decided to walk to the nearest Wal-Mart because we wanted the exercise and the roads were bad enough that all the bad drivers in hurry to get home in rush-hour posed a threat to my car. We left the apartment at 15:56. The weather was 23&#176 F (-3.3&#176 C), 5 mph SSW wind, and light snow.

Apparel

We dressed a little too warm for the walk there, but on the way back, it was just about right. I wore:

Upper
  • Sleeveless wicking running tee
  • Long-sleeved wicking thermal tee
  • Heavy long-sleeved sweater/tee (not really a sweater, not really a tee, somewhere heavy in between)
  • Leather winter coat with inner lining zipped in
  • Balaclava
  • Knit-wool winter cap
Lower
  • Underwear
  • Two layers of long underwear
  • Three pairs of socks
  • Boots, which I purchased just last weekend

It was easy to say that we could have drove, but that required removing snow from my car first, after which we could have walked at least half the distance to the store. We saw drivers, some with good traction but impatient of drivers with poor traction, and some with poor traction and poor skills of accelerating in slick conditions. It was obvious that people were in a hurry to get home.

The store was not as bare as I thought it was since I overheard a lady in front of the store complaining, “Everything is gone. Milk. Grapes.” Although many shelves were bare, everything, but eggs, we needed was available. Also, it was interesting to notice that all of the cheapest items were mostly gone while the more expensive items were still available. That is how I acquired some jasmine rice.

The checkout lines were very long, but moved faster than I expected. Very few check-out lanes were open. While in line, we heard the overhead announcement state that the store will close at 6PM, which was in one hour from now. When it was our turn to pay, I thanked the cashier for working. She remarked that probably many people are thankful. Further inquiring exposed that no one received any incentive to drive in to work in the horrible weather, while most of the managers did not even show up for work. Some of the checkers were not real checkers but were put on that post. I feel compelled to write Wal-Mart a letter to express my feelings of injustice for their employees in this remarkable situation.

We carefully packed everything into two backpacks and the rest was held in two plastic sacks. Before the cart was completely empty, some already asked if she could have that cart. I was definitely ready to get out of there, so much so that I was about to walk out without fully dressing.

As we walked across the slightly more than usually busy parking lot, we heard a man yell at his spouse, “Push!” as he pulled the cart over the very bumpy ice. I checked to see how much she was pushing. She barely had on hand on the cart as her other hand held her large ice coffee drink. “Push! Are you pushing?” as the cart started to tip over to one side. “No you’re not pushing.” We kept walking trying to ignore the spectacle, but I secretly wanted to learn from how this domestic dispute play out. As we were almost on the sidewalk, I could hear her yelling back at him, “…yes you were! You talk to me …this way…everyone was ….” was all I could make out.

We carefully treaded home, fortunately, in the light. The snow had stopped falling by the time we went outside, but I did not notice that until we were on the sidewalk. The temperatures dropped noticeably since early, but that was probably wind-chill because records show it was only about one degree colder than during the walk there. We held hands over the rougher parts. We arrived home sound and dry, and hungry.

Blizzard of 2011, February 1

This is a story of snow storm of epic proportions. I worked from home that Tuesday and Wednesday, predominantly if my coworker with a 4×4 truck was unable to make the drive, then my front-drive sports sedan certainly should not even consider attempting it. However, two coworkers were able to make it to work. My coworker with the 4×4, and with whom I carpooled on Thursday and Friday, drove out of his neighborhood that Tuesday morning leaving the only tire tracks in his subdivision and drove for about 1 mile where he made a three point turn before a bridge and drove back home.

The next morning was also reasonable impassable, especially since my jobs provide us the luxury of working from home.1

NASA posted a gorgeous satellite photograph of Earth with the massive blizzard covering the North American continent.2 There was something sentient about knowing that I am in that photograph, somewhere, under that very large cloud.

NASA GOES-13 satellite photo of storm of Midwest U.S.

Image Credit: NOAA/NASA GOES Project

1 The cost of this luxury comes with requirements to work from home after hours.
2 I stumbled upon this photograph from a tweet by Wired magazine

OSU Fall 2007 Graduation Student Respondent Speech

For my graduation from Oklahoma State University OSU Institute of Technology, I was appointed to make the student response speech. Below is the transcription from my speech.

On behalf of the OSU-Okmulgee* graduating Class of 2007, I would like to welcome: President Klabenes, Dr. Avant, Regent Claude Evans, Regent Andrew Lester, Dr. Pete Coser, Mr. Barry Steichen, distinguished guests, my fellow graduates, family, and friends.

Thank you for sharing with us in our graduation ceremony. I consider it a great honor and privilege to be chosen to give the student response, and thank you for the opportunity to speak tonight.

So, here we are. It’s hard to believe this moment is real because it is hard to believe that all of your hard work as been completed, but since you know the hard work was real, then this moment must be real too. This accomplishment is the beginning of a change in your life.

Our generation will see a lot of change. We are one of the last generations that will still remember when a computer could not do things that we consider uniquely human. In thirteen years, in the year 2020, a $1,000 computer will have the computational power of the human brain. Now, this does not mean it will be as smart as a human — that will come approximately nine years after that — but a machine will be smart enough to do many jobs that today’s high school graduates can do. With a little imagination, it is needless to say, the value of an education will be even greater than it is today and will really flesh out the meaning of “Knowledge is Power”.

It is estimated that in one week’s worth of the New York Times contains more information than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime during the 18th century. Now, 3000 books are published daily. It is estimated that this year, the human race created more new information than has been created in the past 5000 years. The number of text-messages sent every day exceeds the population of the planet. The cell phones in your pockets… every single cell phone in this building has a more powerful computer than the computer that was used to perform calculations for the Manhattan Project, to build the first nuclear bomb. The Manhattan Project was the single largest undertaking by the American people in the history of the United States. What you carry in your pockets is more powerful than that. And, although technical predictions more than 15 years from now are extremely difficult to do, the one trend that is fairly easy to predict is that by the year 2045, a $1,000 computer will exceed the computational power of the entire human race. We live in exponential times.

As overwhelming as that may sound, I do not know which is more baffling: these predictions, or that less than a hundred years ago people did not even want electricity in their homes! If you lost power this cold week, then you probably think this sounds crazy. The funny thing is just how quickly we accept new technology. Less than 7 years ago, Google did not really exist. 2.7 billion searches are performed on Google each month. To whom did we ask those questions 7 years ago?

Ultimately, one question that has baffled students since Ancient times will ring as loud as it ever has: “How much of what I learned in school will I use in real life?” Well, that’s not really the right question to ask. The question to ask is, “How much did I exercise my imagination?”

Even if you never take a job related in your major, then you will still take with you from here as much as the next student will, depending on how hard you worked, of course. You will take away your newly developed skills in time-management, stress-management, critical thinking, problem solving, social skills, and my favorite, sleeping time allocation management. These things can only be gained through the tough experience of higher education, regardless of which subjects you studied. The fact of the matter is that all the hard work you accomplished while at OSU is only the foundation on which you will build everything else for the rest of your life. I can assure you that for you to have made it to graduation, your consciousness is more powerful than it was the first day you stepped foot on this campus.

Everyone measures success differently, and that is fine. I believe every day you are awake is a success because being conscious and self-aware is a miracle. And if you agree with me that the mind is so miraculous, then you must agree that a mind is a terrible thing to waste. So, Class of 2007 thank you for not wasting your mind. Be ready for change, use your imagination, and ask the tough questions that others do not want you to ask. As Dr. Suess said, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”** Congratulation, thank you, and good luck!

* At the time of this graduation, OSU IT was called OSU-Okmulgee, which was still in the process of accreditation to obtain the title of “Institute of Technology”.

** Whether this quote truly originates from Dr. Seuss is debatable, but it is commonly believed to be by him and is a good quote. I was unaware of the dispute at the time of the speech.


See also the press release for the event.