Picks of the month - October 2016

Posted by Gjermund Bjaanes on October 31, 2016

Welcome to Picks of the month, where I share a few things I have found useful the last month.

It can be anything from blog posts and software tools to books and techniques.

I am still reading a lot, but I have also diversified into some heavy Machine Learning courses (which is why the blog has been a bit dry the last month).

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I read a lot of fiction, non-fiction (science stuff mostly), self-help/productivity, religion and of course technical books.

All links to Amazon and such are not something I make money from. They are just a helpful link.


#1 Machine Learning course on Coursera

I have started learning as much as I can about Machine Learning the last month. I figured the best way to really get into it was by doing a course I figured would be intense.

This course did not disappoint. It’s heavy on technical stuff, but mostly on math. Turns out, Machine Learning is even more math intensive than I thought. It’s not really hard math - if you know some linear algebra, matrix operations and can wrap you head around big-looking sums, you are pretty much set - at least as far as I have come.

That said, the course is a lot of fun. I like math! I just haven’t had to use it for anything since school. But finally I can use it for something real, and it is a lot of fun!

I have learned several cool algorithms, including a bit of neural networks.

All the programming is being done in Octave/Matlab, which I think is because it’s easier to grasp the mathematical concepts using that, rather than a language like Python.

The course is being taught by Andrew Ng, and is free. You can buy a course verification certificate, if you’d like, so that you can show off your epic Machine Learning skills.

Machine Learning course on Coursera


#2 Lock in

Lock In Cover

Lock In is a science fiction book by John Scalzi. It’s easy to read (or listen to, narrated by Will Wheaton) and is a lot of fun.

This is not what I might call great literature, but the concepts and technology it touches are really interesting. And like I said, it’s written in a fun way. Light and easygoing. Perfect to read if you want to be entertained, but also want some cool concepts thrown in.

Perfect for some after work entertainment.

The book is about a flu, which causes some a percentage of it’s victims to experience a state called “lock in”. It causes you to not be able to control your body, but your mind is fully functional. Locked inside your head.

The book is about the technology that humanity has created to overcome these problems, and the abuses of said technology.

Lock in on Amazon


#3 Dark Matter

Dark Matter Cover

This is yet another science fiction. I would also call this book a thriller. It’s packed full of adrenaline-filled action. At first I didn’t understand why this was a science fiction book, but after a short while I was introduced to a mind-blowing multiverse story.

The multiverse, if you are not familiar with it, is the idea that there exists an infinite number of variations of the universe. Everything that could in theory happen, has happened in one of the universes. For instance, there is a universe where my dog is named Fido, instead of Frost.

It might not be “hard science”, but the problems related to traveling between universes that differ more or less from our own are very interesting. I don’t want to go into details about it, because it might spoil the plot.

If you have read “The Fold” by Peter Clines, you might have an idea about some of the interesting issues involved.

Interesting and exiting book that I can highly recommend.

Dark Matter on Amazon

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