API

Yes, this is still a Magic Math Mandarin blog–but to have tomorrow’s skills means a lot more than just knowing basic math.
API = plugin

This post is a quick note (updates are in progress).

Site that documents most APIs
https://www.programmableweb.com/
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Keyboard shortcuts 快捷键 (Kuàijié jiàn)

If you are like me who work on the computer about 16 hours daily on weekdays, your hands get tired of using the mouse.  Fortunately, these shortcuts 快捷键 Kuàijié jiàn)below help me put the mouse in the dungeon. 🙂
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Debates between 2 robots

I don’t know what to make of it watching robot Sophia and her “older brother” Han debate.  It is peculiar, fascinating, dumb and scary, all at the same time.  The host from Hanson Robotics is very interesting and intelligent.

What’s scary: what robots learn from you (your voice, words, facial expressions, emotions) and I will be transmitted to AI cloud and shared instantly by all robots (doesn’t this sound like Singularity?!), and we people cannot. In other words, tend of thousands (or any large number) of robots can share one brain which means they are going to be more powerful given a specific task.

What’s dumb: the robots seem to be copying each other at the end of their debate.

What is IBM’s Watson technology & Bluemix

Watson is a question answering computer system capable of answering questions posed in natural language, developed in IBM’s DeepQA project by a research team led by principal investigator David Ferrucci. Watson was named after IBM’s first CEO, industrialist Thomas J. Watson.
Wikipedia

What is IBM Bluemix?
IBM Bluemix is a cloud platform as a service (PaaS) developed by IBM. It supports several programming languages and services as well as integrated DevOps to build, run, deploy and manage applications on the cloud. Bluemix is based on Cloud Foundry open technology and runs on SoftLayer infrastructure.

What is Raspberry Pi

People in computer field like to make computer objects/programs sound like fruits or animals: Apple, Python, Hadoop (elephant), Ruby. Raspberry Pi is also one of them: it is a small computer (like a small phone) sized for doing what our laptop computer does.  
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The future is happening to book selling

“You’ve got to earn your keep in this world”.

“The internet is disrupting every media industry.   People can complain about it.  But Complaining is not the strategy. Amazon is not happening to bookselling.   The future is happening to bookselling.”

–  Jeff Bezos

Grace Hopper

Humans are allergic to change. ” They love to say, “We’ve always done it this way.I try to fight that.  That’s why I have a clock on my wall that runs counterclockwise.” — Grace Hopper

I watch a lot of videos on programming from YouTube.   Never once was Grace Hopper recommended to me.   So I am recommending four videos here after watching a dozen of videos on YouTube.

  1. The first video is from computer programming online school UdaCity.  It is a good short summary.
  2. The second one is from Kurt Beyer.  It is very long and but is the most interesting one!  You need to be a little patient during the clip from 1:00 to 5:00.    This talk tells the story in history, and the event (Pearl Harbor) that change the history of computing.  
  3. The third video is from Department of Defense, which is official.
  4. The fourth one is funny:  her interview at the David Letterman show, where she gave Mr. Letterman a nano stick.

Grace Hopper is an American mathematician and computer scientist.   She served in the Navy and ranked Admiral Rear at the end of her career.   Her greatest technical achievement was to create the tools that would allow humans to communicate with computers in terms other than ones and zeroes, such as a compiler that compiles higher level language to language that computers understand, which are zeros and ones.   This advance influenced all future programming and software design and laid the foundation for the development of today’s user-friendly personal computers.

You can read more about Grace Hopper at many websites.  An example is History of Computers and Programming.  But the book or the video (the second one above) by Kurt Beyer is more interesting.   The story is informative and engaging.  Did you know that she was arrested for drunk driving and was in rehab for being alcoholic after the war?  Innovators and pioneers are humans.  Wow!Not only did he describe the time and place that created Hopper and computers, but also her life and her career development, technology such as compiler that helps computers.    Compiler helps computer to help programmers program itself.    Doesn’t it ring a bell?  Deep learning?

An inventor has to be a good salesperson.  Hopper was a good salesperson.   She involved as many people as she could.  She made institutions to push her visions forward.  Seventy percent of active code is COBOL, the language she led the development and marketing.   It was not a good language.  But she knew how to get it to work, including having 1950s movie star Marylyn Moroe, who was a high school graduate, become a COBOL programmer within 4 weeks.

You manage things and lead people.” How to lead people?  Give them a purpose, an urgency, a vision (which includes war unfortunately).

Learning from the margins: experts sometime cannot think outside of the box.  One way to keep the box open is to learn different fields.

Technology is not inevitable: human beings at the early part of a technology development can influence how the technology develops.   She had a counter clockwise clock in her office.  The point is that: you can design it anyway you want it to be.

She had a sense of country and devotion that is rare in Silicon Valley today, as Kurt says.   In other words, her patriotism is exemplary.

Disruptive technologies

Disruptive companies/products are bound to be controversial. Different people surely will have different perspectives.  UBER technology is clean, clear, fast, reasonably priced and very convenient. While it has its down sides, to me its achievements are way more than what it misses.
I use UBER regularly. The drivers I met seem happier than average people except one in the suburb because he couldn’t get many rides being in remote areas.

One driver I met was really outstanding: his car has bottled water everywhere, chargers for all kinds of devices and even vomit bags. He was very courteous and professional.

Sometimes market pricing seems to be inhuman. But overall it is probably more humane than heart/feeling based pricing.  It is much easier to have an algorithm for calculating on demand pricing than on-demand feelings, at least from the perspective of an actuary like myself.

In actuarial work, there are conflicts between actuarial fairness and social fairness.  Actuarial fairness is price commensurate with risk or cost.  Whereas social fairness is equality for all.   Disruptive technology brings similar issues: to charge rides according to demand and cost or to charge by what some drivers and riders deem fair.

Other disruptive technologies face similar or bigger challenges, such as artificial intelligence with its large set of ethical, legal and  moral concerns.

Whatever the outcome, as Andy Grove said, “only the paranoid survives”.

Amazing technology helps a single mom

I am a single mom without family help and without a nanny. I work professionally  with strong performance in a competitive environment, leveraging technology.  A few examples of how technology helps me are below:

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