Python Meetup and Paul Graham December 23rd, 2014

A kind of momentum is building up , in the sense i get a feeling i am doing lots of different interesting things. It's a good feeling. 


Last Saturday , i gave a lightning talk in Chennai Python user group. The best thing about attending the meetup was that feeling of meeting like minded people and mingling with all of them. It felt  so nice just being there and i am surely going there back again next time.


Here is the link to talk :


I wish i could have presented better, but it was kind of okay . I mean i didn't screw it up and that itself is quite an accomplishment


The next thing i want to talk about is this interview i saw of Paul Graham . I like this guy quite a lot , i have been truly fascinated by his essays - they are just top notch and i think i came across them first when i was in college. This makes me feel like paying a tribute to CEC , it is true that i didn't completely learn any one thing properly while i was there , but i randomly tried out different things just to get a feel how it is and Paul Graham's book 'Hackers and Painters' is i guess one of them. 


The funny thing is I found a hardcover copy again here in a TCS library i think around 1 year back. I started reading , got lazy and pushed it up in the started-not-completed list again. Having seen his interview (shot in 2005) , i feel like reading the book now - I just might complete reading it.


I feel like i have placed all these dots in my life now , these dots are scattered across my past and i am slowly starting to recognize them as my dots and starting to connect , trying to make sense of all that happened and will happen.


Okay about the video , Paul speaks quite a bit about 'hackers' , 'startups ' and all . I seem to understand now why an 'Engineer' is probably not the right term for a programmer. I also watched Paul's talk in Airbnb, apparently Airbnb appeared in scene thanks to YCombinator program spear headed by Paul. And then i followed it up with Mark Zuckerberg being interviewed by Paul for startup school. All these were interesting interviews 


That's the first interview :




Interstellar was one of the most anticipated film of the 2014.  The first trailer that came out made me feel that this is going to be Nolan's most defining work, it was so well made that seeing it once a while became a routine of sorts for me. Even after umpteen number of views, the charm never lost - Everything was perfect about it, the Apollo footage shown, the brilliant background score of Zimmer  and that epic shot of Mathew Macconaughey driving which still remains etched in my mind. And the message shown at the end - One year from now. Yes i was hooked, this film with an ensemble cast was my most anticipated film of the year.

One year was too long a period for me to wait, so i went online trying to dig every small little info i could possibly get about this film.  From various online forums i came to know that movie is based on  a 2008 script which was later reworked on, there was no escaping now from reading the script. On an unusual cold night in Chennai , laying on the terrace beneath the ever puzzling space i took a dive into the script. It didn't matter to me that the reading was on mobile, i just kept on wondering about the scale of this film. The script was brilliant, the scope of the film was massive with many challenges like rich world building. I felt at that moment this film  would go beyond Kubrick's space odyssey and usher a new age in Sci-Fi films.


 Lesson 1 : With Great expecations comes great disappointments.

Mathew McConaughey dons the role of Cooper an Ex NASA pilot who has no option left other than becoming a farmer. In the words of the principal of the school where Coop's daughter Murphy goes to study , we see the great tragedy that the humankind is facing - "We don't need engineer's , we need farmers" he says . The apocalypse of the future world comes in the form of crop diseases, most of the crops have been destroyed by blight and other variants. From a statistical point of view, time is a commodity which is fast slipping from the hour glass of human race.  The grim setting of the film  accentuates the fear in everyone's mind that we might soon become an endangered species, there is no where to run or hide for the people, so much so that they have gone collectively into a delusional form of thinking where humankind's greatest achievements are looked upon. Murph's teacher in a parent meeting with Cooper goes on to extent of saying that Apollo mission never happened and mankind had never visited moon. 

In a world where people believe that everything will be alrighty by going back to oldways of agriculture and simple life, Coop is a misfit. His agony is evident when Coop says "We used to look up at the sky and wonder about our place in the stars. Now we just look down at our place in the dirt" , Mathew McConaughey is brilliant in these portions where he exhibits his vulnerability and helplessness. But the good stuff for the engineer is yet to come when Coop discovers a gravitational anomaly that causes his robot harvesters to misbehave and go haywire. In an ensuing scene , Coop discovers that the 'ghost' which Murph seems to be talking about is the result of this same gravitational anomaly. Coop soon deducts that the anomaly is pointing to the cordinates of a location which we later realizes as secret base for NASA after the government has publicly discredited the space program.

Things happen jet paced after reaching NASA where Dr.Brand (performed by the wonderful Micheal Caine) convinces Coop to join the program as the pilot for a mission which might just save the human race. The mission is to find hospitable planets where humans could migrate to (Plan A) or start over from the beginning at a faraway planet and create a human colony (Plan B) . Anything more that i add here might turn out to be a spoiler, so let me just end it at that.


I really thought that the first half of the film was quite good, there were few plot holes here and there but over all i was very happy with what i had been seeing. I had massive expecations for the second half, which is why i was left disappointed after leaving the cinema halls. I was turned off by how much they have cut down from the original script, maybe that being the reason why i got disappointed. I kept on thinking as to how someone like a Peter Jackson or Alfonso Cuaron could have done more justice to script, No offence mean't here but Nolan has this thing going on about how he tries to reduce the CGI and use practical sets whenever possible (Remember the floating scene in Inception ?) . But this was journey into the cosmos and i thought that the special effects were not right up there. I had read this article in wired on how they had achieved a simulation of black hole with great deal of efforts, but honestly none of the geekiness associated with the simulation translated into a 'wow' effect on screen. 

The conclusion is , this is by no means a bad film but if you had high expectations - You might just be disappointed.

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So this is a book which i read a small portion of . I find the content to be very interesting.

And ML being a subject which i am interested in, i should come back to this when i have time.


Now thinking about it , i am prettty convinced that i should be focussing more on python than any other language going forward. 

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I find this post to be really inspiring. 

Dear (insert name here),
I heard you enjoy a certain programming language named Python. Programming is a wonderful activity. I am a little jealous that you have access to computers at your age; when I grew up I didn't even know what a computer was! I was an electronics hobbyist though, and my big dream was to build my own electronic calculator from discrete components. I never did do that, but I did build several digital clocks, and it was amazing to build something that complex and see it work. I hope you dream big too -- programmers can make computers (and robots!) do amazing things, and this is a great time to become a programmer. Just imagine how much faster computers will be in five or ten years, and what you will be able to do with your skills then!
--Guido van Rossum (inventor of Python)



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