Out of This World Out of Office Message

I was going to write a plain ol’ out of office message but this is what came out instead when I got carried away playing with voice and tone. Feel free to use and modify at your own risk.

Dear cherished customer, light of my financial life, without whom I shall become destitute,

I am going to take a much-needed vacation for a few days from <start> to <end>. You might not reach me because I’m having too much fun even if I’m feeling a little bit guilty about taking a break.

When I get back, I’ll be as fresh as a newly opened kimchi jar and ready to take on an endless river of comments and enhancements. Not that I feel bad about that.

Talk to you on <date>!

Your slightly cooky service provider

We’re Booked

When the schedule you want is unavailable, here’s how different kinds of hotels might write the notification:

Harsh: “We’re full. Go away.”

Dramatic: “We have spurned your advances! Our hearts, er, rooms are fully booked. We apologize to the depths of our being.”

Scientific: “As much as we want to squeeze you in, Pauli’s exclusion principle disallows it”

Millennial: “We literally can’t even. We’re booked AF.”

Corporate Memo: “Please be advised that the schedule you have chosen is not available at this time. We apologize for any possible inconvenience we may have caused you—not that we have done anything legally wrong by doing so, since we have not committed to anything yet.”

Let Curiosity Take Your Hand

“Mom, look, it’s a U-nicycle!” said the little girl as she tugged her hapless mother to get her attention. I saw her smile the way an 8-year old would smile if she had an infusion of sugar into her bloodstream as I sped past on my one-wheeled contraption. Weaving my way through the throng of people on Emerald avenue enjoying their Sunday leisure time, I took the opportunity to reflect.

I started unicycling last May out of curiosity. But with no private space in which to practice, those few months of learning how to ride became a public spectacle. It was embarassing and frustrating to not be able to ride even two meters before falling down. I can ride a little bit farther now.

It’s interesting to see how curiosity leads you to interesting places. It’s scary to learn something new, but the rewards give life flavor beyond measure.

Math education sucks

It’s so strange how despite doing software development for over a decade, I never quite developed an appreciation for periodic functions…until I did VFX work recently. Suddenly I needed sine and phase shifts and periodicity to make the visuals behave the way I wanted. Suddenly all those formulas I learned in school made sense. The main difference? I had a specific goal for which the math was a necessary tool.

Which brings me to the way we traditionally teach math and many other subjects: we silo each subject into meaningless slices that don’t tie in with one another.

Why isn’t education structured around interdisciplinary projects for which students need to use everything they learned in all their subjects (math, history, science, english) to complete the project objectives?

Why are subjects taught in a way that’s so divorced from the tasks in which they will actually be useful?

Running DeepDream on Video

I’ve been attempting to make DeepDream work but have been running into configuration problems on my Macbook. A friend suggested to try it on the cloud, which turned out to be a good idea since I’ve been successful so far in getting images processed by DeepDream following Dockerized instructions from the VISION AI team and a DigitalOcean droplet. If you haven’t created a DigitalOcean account, you can use my referral link to get a $10 credit.

I had to upgrade to the 4GB RAM, 2 CPU droplet just to make it work for 1080p since I was getting out-of-memory errors (error 173). However, it’s still taking roughly 17 minutes for each photo. At 7000 frames, it’s gonna take us 82 days just to finish processing all the frames. So I’m scaling it down to 1280 for now. I’ve signed up to AWS and Google Compute Platform since they offer GPU-enabled instances, but I’ve just learned that you need to request a manual quota increase so you can attach a GPU to your instances. Weird.

YouthHack: Women in Tech

I had a chance to speak to a crowd of senior high students, college students, and young professionals yesterday at YouthHack: Women in Tech about the importance of word choice in technology.

It was a great honor to be speaking alongside Dr. Reina Reyes, Ph.D — Astrophysicist, Data Scientist, and editor of the blog Pinoy Scientists, which features Filipino scientists making waves around the globe.

The Theory of Everything (2014)

Watching “The Theory of Everything” last night, what struck me the most was how empowering technology can be when designed to fit the needs of people with disabilities. Without his hand clicker (later a cheek muscle interface) and computerized voice, he would not have been able to share his insights with the world.

While not everyone has Stephen Hawking’s intellect, you can just imagine how much potential is left untapped in millions of people with sensory or motor disabilities.