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April 24th, 2018

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Welcome to www.theparticle.com. It's the newest pre-IPO dot bomb that's taking the world by storm. Now is a perfect time to buy lots of worthless and overpriced shares!
     What this site is about?

Internet is becoming more and more polluted with junk-mail, people selling crap, and businesses which don't know their place on the net. They're all trying to make this wonderful place (i.e.: the net) in to hell (i.e.: real world). Internet should be viewed as a place of imagination, creativity, and most of all: fun. Internet is not some really advanced tool for searching for people to rip-off. It's about searching, and finding, things which are useful, helpful, and promote the sharing of ideas. This is what this site is striving to become.

News, Updates, & Rants...

     April 23rd, 2018

Why everyone is stressing about the 10-year Treasury yield. Uh, oh.

- Alex; 20180423
April 23rd at wikipedia...

     April 17th, 2018

So apparently my old ZenPad, that `broke' almost a year ago (the wifi wasn't coming up---no matter how many resets I've done, etc.; I thought it was a hardware issue---wifi chip burned out, or something) suddenly came back to live and started working again (wifi and everything).

In other news, discovered that my calendar was wrong. One of my classes actually starts 10 minutes earlier (6:05pm) than is marked in my calendar (6:15pm). So I've been showing up late most of the semester! This is pretty embarrassing :-/

UPDATE: So to add to my embarrassment, this time, I showed up on time... but to the wrong classroom. 232NE vs 234NE. They're nearly identical, and I really didn't pay attention which one I walked into. Strangely enough, some students actually showed up in the wrong classroom---so for about 20 or so minutes we were wondering what happened to the rest of the class :-/

- Alex; 20180417

     April 16th, 2018

Yey, kiddo had his first meal today: baby oatmeal!

- Alex; 20180416

     April 4th, 2018

Urgh. Apparently Yahoo! Finance API is gone. Didn't notice it until today :-/

- Alex; 20180404

     April 2nd, 2018

This doesn't happen every day: an actual snowy day in NYC... in April!

- Alex; 20180402

     March 28th, 2018

Visited two Toys R Us today.

- Alex; 20180328

     March 27th, 2018

Ok, I think I might need to create some exams soon :-/

- Alex; 20180327

     March 26th, 2018

Having HSBC Quant dinner event. Rhydian Cox, HSBC Chief Risk Officer did audiance polling on stuff like when was HSBC founded, how many countries they operate in, which country had the first HSBC ATM machine, etc., and all sorts of similar trivia questions. Winners got HSBC branded insulated bottles. I didn't win anything. The dinner was grass with mayonnaise. And beer. Lots of beer. (and wine). All in all, a pretty useless event.

- Alex; 20180326

     March 25th, 2018

Changed oil in my 4runner.

- Alex; 20180325

     March 24th, 2018

Kiddo said "ma-ma". For first time. He was just moving lips up and down, and saying "aaa..." sound, and it came out as a pretty clear "ma-ma" sound.

- Alex; 20180324

     March 23rd, 2018

Got kiddo a stroller. Toys R us is going out of business, and had a 20% off sale on a stroller we wanted, so we just bought it... without doing any research. It looked good, and sturdy, etc. But... it's VERY heavy. I should have thought of that as I lifted the box in the store. Anyways, Suneli can't lift it---it's very easy to push around, big sturdy wheels, but getting it in and out of the car is gonna be a major pain. We'll likely need a lighter stroller just for car-trips.

- Alex; 20180323

     March 22nd, 2018


- Alex; 20180322

     March 21st, 2018

Ok, so this blizzard started out slow, but then over the entire day, piled up quite a bit of snow. Too bad it will all melt within a day :-/

- Alex; 20180321

     March 20th, 2018

Urgh, another blizzard.

How a Self-Driving Uber Killed a Pedestrian in Arizona, and Arizona police release video of fatal collision with Uber self-driving SUV. My outsider guestimate, it's a similar case to when Tesla hit a firetruck: it just wasn't expecting to see anyone walking across the road, so it ignored them---there are lots of stationary things on or near the road that the self-driving car must ignore (traffic signs, images on the road, garbage on the road, etc.). This wasn't at a cross walk, and seemed to be right in the middle of the road; not a place you generally see pedestrians---and frankly, a human driver would've hit that pedestrian too.

- Alex; 20180320

     March 19th, 2018

Finally got my car `fixed'. Replaced passenger-side air-bag inflator... so now feel safer :-)

- Alex; 20180319

     March 18th, 2018

Work work work on the PhD day...

In other news, Suneli started driving school. Took the "5-hour" pre-driving class (which was closer to 2-hours than 5), and drove a car for... I'm guessing 30-40 minutes :-)

- Alex; 20180318

     March 16th, 2018


- Alex; 20180316

     March 15th, 2018

So... will the Fed raise interest rates on March 20th?

- Alex; 20180315

     March 14th, 2018

Happy PI day!

Happy landing anniversary!

And in other news, Stephen Hawking died. His book, A Brief History of Time was literally the first book I've ever borrowed from a library (yes, eventually I bought a copy of my own). That book inspired me to read more and more on the subject.

His primary idea, that black holes evaporate, is awesome. It's very weird how it works if you think about it... a pair of virtual particles forms just at the endge of the event horizon. One of them falls in, and somehow that causes the black hole to get smaller! (the system of the particle outside the black hole has more energy than the system with the particle already in the black hole---and that energy difference is carried off by the other particle of the virtual pair). Pretty awesome stuff.

- Alex; 20180314

     March 13th, 2018

So my car (Toyota 4Runner) was recalled due to faulty passenger-side air-bag inflator. Scheduled an appointment at and went to Queensborough Toyota to have it serviced---and after walking around their showroom for about an hour, waiting for my car to get done, they come back and say they don't have the part and will need to order it :-/

So will need to come back. Urgh. Why couldn't they have ordered the part before the appointment? They knew WHY I was coming there, they knew exactly the car and year, etc., it's not like they couldn't have known they don't have the part :-/

- Alex; 20180313

     March 12th, 2018

Uh, oh, more storms!

Took the kiddo to the B&N book store today, and for a walk around union square.

- Alex; 20180312

     March 11th, 2018

Happy Anniversary :-D

Time flies like an arrow... and fruit flies like a banana :-)

- Alex; 20180311

     March 9th, 2018

Fixed my Ikea bed. The other day, it fell apart. Or rather, a tiny welded piece of it fell off such that the whole thing just sorta didn't hold together. Upon Suneli's suggestion, we got nuts and bolts at Home Depot (cheap stuff, 11 cents for a bolt, 6 cents for a nut, and 17 cents for a spring washer), drilled two holes right through the broken weld, in the metal piece and the leg of the bed, then just screwed the two components together---very tight. I think it's stronger now than it was when it was new.

Feeling awesome having finally done something productive with my toolbox :-)

- Alex; 20180309

     March 7th, 2018

So much for the storm. At least in NYC, it didn't snow nearly as badly as in other places.

- Alex; 20180307

     March 6th, 2018

Uh, oh, storm!

- Alex; 20180306

     March 1st, 2018

Stopped by the physical Amazon store, and it's awesome! It's like books and little trinkets, right on the shelves. I was surprised to find that a large percentage of the books on the shelves I've actually read (apparently those are the ones that folks buy the most?) so they stock them in the physical store?

Pretty nice store. Not sure if I'd make it a point to go in there (shopping on amazon.com is just so much easier). But if you want to have a coffee and flip through a book before buying, that's a pretty good alternative to... amm... Barnes & Noble (which often has starbucks coffee :-)

- Alex; 20180301

     February 28th, 2018


- Alex; 20180228

     February 23rd, 2018

Today is my last day at FINRA :-/ I've been with market regulation (first at NYSE and then at FINRA) for almost 13 years---not counting SIAC :-). The database my team built quite literally changed the industry.

Still haven't decided on what to do next. Join another place asap, or take a break and work on my PhD (thinking of a greedy optimization mechanism for n-tuple networks; similar to information gain measure in decision tree construction).

Anyways, good times ahead...

- Alex; 20180223

     February 21st, 2018


- Alex; 20180221

     February 20th, 2018

You know you're drinking too much coffee when...

- Alex; 20180220

     February 19th, 2018

Kiddo discovered loud noise, or rather, that he can make loud noise. Before, it was reasonably loud giggles, how it's volume-set-to-11 giggles... mostly whenever something fun happens on TV (he's a big fan of Sunny Bunnies on YouTube Kids).

- Alex; 20180219

     February 17th, 2018

Kiddo graduated from size 2 diapers to size 3 diapers :-D

- Alex; 20180217

     February 16th, 2018

``It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.'' --Steve Jobs

- Alex; 20180216

     February 13th, 2018

Aveeno baby products rock! (no, they didn't pay me to say this).

- Alex; 20180213

     February 12th, 2018

Noticed that my kid started to recognize himself in the mirror. Before, he'd just look at the mirror, without much of a reaction. Now he's smiling and staring into his own eyes, and then smiling some more... :-)

- Alex; 20180212

     February 3rd, 2018

Finished Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz. Can't really call it a good book---it has nothing technical, more of a popular book on the cool aspects of data science. It does have some awesome examples though---like this: Microsoft Finds Cancer Clues in Search Queries. Pretty damn amazing!

- Alex; 20180203

     February 2nd, 2018

Ran a few more experiments on EMNIST. Wrote a tiny hand written digit recognizer using n-tuple classifier. 22% error rate :-/ My guess is that for printed characters this would've yielded the published 90% accuracy (which isn't great by today's standards, but for a 20-line Perl script, it's not bad).

In other news, applied for Ian's passport today.

- Alex; 20180202

     February 1st, 2018

Learned something clever today: apparently we can do partial regression. e.g. in linear system y = x1*w1 + x1*w1 + ... xN*wN, if we run multiple regressions, on x1..x5, x6..x10, etc., x(N-5)..xN, the results will be the same if we fit all the dimensions at the same time. It's actually not hard to see why this works... think back to how gradient descent would fit all these dimensions: it would adjust each weight individually. So given samples in 100D space (the projections onto lower dimensions are still from 100D space), we can run 20 regressions of 5D each, and get the same weights as if we ran regression in 100D space.

- Alex; 20180201

     January 31st, 2018

Finished The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith.

Pretty nice book---in fact, the best book on politics I've ever read. Also awesome for understanding corporate dynamics (and why for example Warren Buffett says his descendants should sell most of their Berkshire shares after he's gone). Highly recommend :-)

- Alex; 20180131

     January 30th, 2018

My kid rolled from stomach back onto his back today for the first time :-)

In other news, guess I'll be leaving FINRA next month...

- Alex; 20180130

     January 29th, 2018

First day of Spring classes :-)

- Alex; 20180129

     January 26th, 2018

So apparently there will very likely be an ``Introduction to Data Science'' course at Brooklyn College in Fall 2018.

- Alex; 20180126

     January 21st, 2018

Got The Stanley Parable. It's awesome. Pretty unique game. Kind of similar to Portal :-)

- Alex; 20180121

     January 19th, 2018

Finished reading The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.: A Novel Hardcover by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland.

I'm a big Stephenson fan, and I can only imagine that this book has less Stephenson and more Galland. Really, that's the kind of books that he puts his name on these days?

Strangely, the concepts dealt with in this book were explored in Anathem: time/things unfold in a certain way, and if you know how to do it, you can steer time/things in a certain direction. In Anathem, it were the inner circle monks who could control radioactive decay (simply avoid histories where they get cancer from radiation and/or die, allowing them to live a really long time), and in D.O.D.O, it's witches (who could perform all sorts of magic, but only when isolated from the rest of the universe).

In any case, terrible book. Some parts are entertaining, but that's about it. Ending sucks too---very flat, no action or anything. Keep waiting for stuff to happen, and then it just doesn't and the book ends (come to think of it, that explains a lot of Stephenson's books---but usually there's a lot to chew on throughout the book, this one is kind of not fun :-)

- Alex; 20180119

     January 4th, 2018

Eh. Meltdown and Spectre. Speculative execution is apparently a security issue... so lets slow down everyone's computers by 30%.

Seriously though, I understand being very careful about such things in a shared environment, where you and everyone else are sharing the same machine to run virtualized stuffs... but for a personal computer mostly used for gaming... keep the security hole with the performance. (If the fix for this is pushed down everyone's throats, then it's not about rogue programs or attackers, it's about protecting DRM).

In other news, anyone claiming cloud to be "more secure than in-house hardware" should own up to their claims. This bug has been "out there" for months---months during which anyone's cloud data could've been compromised.

- Alex; 20180104

     January 3rd, 2018

Warren Buffett wins $1M bet against hedge funds and gives it to girls' charity. This should be front page news for everyone.

``In 2007, the famed billionaire investor made a $1 million bet that an S&P 500 stock index fund would outperform a basket of hedge funds over the course of a decade. The index fund returned 7.1% compounded annually over the 10-year period, easily beating the 2.2% average return of a basket of funds picked by asset manager Protege Partners.''

- Alex; 20180103

     January 1st, 2018

Happy New Year!

- Alex; 20180101

     December 28th, 2017

So... CUNYfirst pulled the plug on grade submission early this year (the deadline is usually after the new years; this year, it was December 26th). All students got a 'Z' grade, and changing it to a proper grade is apparently a big pain in the neck. Might take sometime for the registrar to enter the proper grades.

- Alex; 20171228

     December 21st, 2017

Entertaining read: Don't Let Architecture Astronauts Scare You.

- Alex; 20171221

     December 20th, 2017

Entertaining read: The Ten Fallacies of Data Science.

- Alex; 20171220

     December 11th, 2017

Hmm... CBOE Futures Exchange launched trading of ``Cboe bitcoin futures'' ticker symbol XBT. This will not end well. It seems bitcoin fans don't realize how futures work, and futures fans don't realize how bitcoin works.

- Alex; 20171211

     December 6th, 2017

Last day of database class. Yey.

- Alex; 20171206

     December 3rd, 2017

Ok, so every year I'm disappointed by the quality of ``hackers'' at the YHack. This year, things hit a new level. How could a senior in computer science from Some-Ivy-School not know what happens when you click the submit button on a web-page... I mean, that there's a request to some sort of server, etc. Yes, that may not be part of the course load, but if you're techy enough to get a computer science degree, how can you not be just a bit curious about how the web works? Perhaps students were just half sleeping, but I saw some pretty amazing questions, such as `why is this .csv file not in json format'. The other issue is that many (too many) students seem to have a Macbook---and yeah yeah, it's all ``unix'', but unfortunately Macbook users I've seen have very little unix knowledge. So they're trying to build something on a machine they can only point-and-click on...

- Alex; 20171203

     December 2nd, 2017

Spending weekend at YHack.

A surprising number of students, when asked ``do you own stock'' answered ``no, but I own bitcoin''. That's scary!!!

- Alex; 20171202

     November 30th, 2017

Went to a NYSE Christmas Tree lighting event. Awesome event. Unfortunately couldn't go to the party inside :-/

- Alex; 20171130

     November 29th, 2017

For the first time, inhaled a helium balloon. Wow, voice really does become chipmunk-like.

Other thoughts: there's a star, very very far away---all we see is a dot. One day, once the universe expands quite a bit, that star will be at the farthest reaches of space where light can still reach us... a bit after that, space between us and the star will be expanding faster than the speed of light---that star will become unreachable---forever outside of our "universe".

Will that star just wink out of existence? Will it get dimmer and dimmer and then wink, or will it just wink out of existence? How would it look like from our perspective---shouldn't the star's time (from our perspective) come to a stop?

If time stops for the star, how can it wink out of existence, or get dimmer?

If just stops... like time for the star stops, and all we see is a still-frame of the star, frozen forever outside of time... then where do the photons that reach our eyes come from? (the star can't be generating new ones that reach our eyes).

- Alex; 20171129

     November 23rd, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

- Alex; 20171123

     November 8th, 2017

The kid and Suneli are back home from the hospital :-)

- Alex; 20171108

     November 7th, 2017

Another day of running around. Shopping.

- Alex; 20171107

     November 6th, 2017

One tough day... running around a lot.

- Alex; 20171106

     November 5th, 2017

At exactly daylight-savings clock-change (at 2:00am, when they move clock back to 1:00am), my son Ian was born. So he was `just-born' AND `1-hour old', at the same time on the same day :-)

Happy Birthday kid!

It's interesting to note that my b-day is 10/5, and my kid's is 11/5. And today is a prime day, 11 is prime, 5 is prime, 17 is prime, and 2017 is prime :-)

- Alex; 20171105

     November 4th, 2017

More happenings...

- Alex; 20171104

     November 3rd, 2017

Interesting things are happening. Keeping fingers crossed.

- Alex; 20171103

     October 19th, 2017

Finally got the Pixel 2 :-)

- Alex; 20171019

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