Tribute in Light

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I was taking the ferry from Staten Island to Manhattan last night and happened to see these giant towering lights on the skyline.

I took as many pictures as I could. Surprised how sharp it turned out given this was all handheld on a rocking boat. What a beautiful way to honor the victims of 9/11 đź•Š

The Tribute in Light is an art installation of 88 searchlights placed next to the site of the World Trade Center to create two vertical columns of light to represent the Twin Towers in remembrance of the September 11 attacks. It is produced annually by the Municipal Art Society of New York.

[911 Memorial]

Fix for Wifi issues on a Mac (Yosemite)

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Since the Yosemite upgrade to OS X, I have been facing lots of WiFi issues on my Mac. As I go from home, to cafe, to airport, to train, to cafe etc I notice that my connection just stops working. I kept blaming the public wifi routers until I realized that many times the issue is with OS X. This is not a comprehensive guide on how to fix WiFi issues on a Mac. But this one thing does work, so try it and good luck!

Launch “Terminal”

Now this may appear a little scary. But it’s quite easy. On every Mac, there’s a “command line interface” which lets you type instructions to your computer. This lets you do more advanced things that are not always possible by clicking with a mouse on buttons.

To do this,

  1. Press the “COMMAND” and ”SPACE” keys at the same time.
  2. This will open “Spotlight Search” in the middle of the screen.
  3. In that search box, type “Terminal” and hit “Enter/Return” to launch it

It will look something like this:


Find “discoveryd

Discoveryd is a tool introduced by Apple in Yosemite which is quite buggy and has been the main reason behind the issues. We won’t go into details but you first need to find it on your laptop. You do this by typing the following command in the terminal window:

ps -ax | grep discoveryd

Note that the vertical line is a “pipe”, the key above the return key.

This will show you all the processes running on your laptop with the name discoveryd. In the above example, on my laptop, it is the first result with an ID of 1169. Find the corresponding number on your laptop and note it.

Kill discoveryd

Now, all you have to do is “kill” discoveryd which will force it to start again and magically fix everything. You do this by typing:

sudo kill <process id number>

Sudo tells the terminal to run this command as an administrator. This may prompt you to type the password for your account. It’s safe to enter it here.

Replace 1169 with whatever was the number that you found in the previous step.

Conclusion

That’s it. This should fix the issue. If it doesn’t then you may have o resort to a more comprehensive troubleshooting guide.

Alpine Climbing Equipment

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Alpine Climbing Equipment

When going out into the backcountry, one has to be prepared for all kinds of weather. The goal is to read the weather and understand the conditions in advance and avoid running into a bad weather window to begin with. But it’s all a probability and everything helps in making sure you stay safe. Here’s the climbing gear between two climbers:

Starting from the bottom is the insulation pads to protect from the cold snow on which you sleep. The crampons attach to the climbing boots and provide traction in icy terrain. The helmets are a must to protect from rock-fall caused by other climbers or melting snow. These boots have a 3’4th shank of metal in the sole which is very useful for kicking steps in the snow and for getting strong levarage when trying to step on 1” ledges on rocks.

The best way to carry water in the cold, freezing conditions is these wide mouth ones. Easy to put fresh snow into as you sip from it. At night it also doubles up as a warm water bottle that you slip into your sleeping bag. The rope here is not the actual climbing rope we used – the purpose of rope in alpine climbing is also for traversing on glaciers and rescuing from crevasses. The ice-axe is the hiking stick, gives you support when going up, helps you arrest a fall when you slip, can be used as a quick belay, as a deadweight anchor etc. The gaiters are worn on the boots to prevent any snow from creeping into the feet. Climbing harness, carabiners, rescue pulley

Sleeping bags, down summit jacket, extra fleece layer – when in doubt, throw in an extra layer. Gloves, hats, mittens, redundancy is very useful. If you lose a glove, and that’s all you have, you will eventually lose your hand or have to turn around. Tent, tent poles and tent snow stakes. All 3. If you forget one, you are screwed. We learned it a very very hard way.

We carry a fancy GPS, but also carry old school compass and maps. Sophisticated technology is more likely to fail. Redundancy, and proficiency helps.

Glacier glasses. When you are exposed to bright snow for 16hours, your eyes get fried. It can take a day or two to be able to use them again. Glacier glasses are a must. They prevent light from entering from anywhere. On that note, you have to protect even the inside of your nostrils from the sun. Anything exposed to light will get sunburned and it’s painful.

Pickets to create quick anchors when you end up in tricky spots or to rescue someone. A quick showel to create a platform for the tent, or to dig out a teammate from an avalanche (can’t really joke about this).

Stove, firestarter, fuel. Duct tape. Be safe.

Understanding Variances based on Sample Sizes

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Every now and then you read something that really furthers your understanding of the world around us. I read this fascinating piece in the book by Howard Wainer: Picturing the Uncertain World. The specific chapter I read was called “The Most Dangerous Equation” where he discusses De Moivre’s equation. It’s quite a bite to chew on and I tried explaining it to my team using just words and that just didn’t cut it. So I put together a quick graphic visualizing some of the basis of it. This may not be academically super accurate, but gets the gist across, so bear with me and I welcome you to follow along 🙂

Below are 32 hypothetical students’ heights, each represented by one vertical bar. They are grouped by color into individual classrooms A, B, C, D … H making it 8 classrooms in all.

In the first row at the top, the solid green horizontal line shows the average of the heights of all the individual students across all 32 individual measurements. The rightmost section shows the average height and also shows the maximum height and the minimum height for this sample of all students.

In the second part, we first calculate the average height of each classroom separately e.g. instead of looking at each yellow bar separately, we are now only looking at the single green line across those yellow bars that represents the average height of that classroom. And we do that for each cluster of colors. So now we only have 8 measurements that reflect the average height of each classroom. Taking an average of those 8 averages results in the exact same average height. However, the variance in this sample is much lower i.e. it’s more likely that the tallest kid in a class gets balanced out by other short kids in a class so the average height of a classroom will show less variation than the average height of the kids individually.

Also, a large classroom is always closer to the mean than the average height of smaller classrooms which will have more outliers as it’s easy for a single tall student to throw off the average of a small classroom. But in a large class room, a single tall student has less impact on the average height.

The third section shows that distribution. Classrooms with the tallest average height tends to be smaller classrooms. Similarly, classrooms with the shortest average height also tend to be the smaller classrooms.

It would be erronous to just look at the top of the distribution and conclude that smaller classrooms have taller students compared to large classrooms. However, now replace height with grades. And that’s exactly the premise of the “small schools” movement. Without understanding the underlying real world distribution of data and how sample sizes affect variance, small school lobbying centers around the belief that small schools have better grades. This is true. But due to statistics and how data is distributed and measured. Not because small schools actually do something different. Also, the worst performing schools are also small schools by the same distribution.

Understanding this relationship between sample sizes and variances observed in them is very important when making sense of data. Yet, the chapter states, many examples of large policy decisions have been made by incorrect understanding of the datasets or by looking at just one side of the distribution.

Soylent – Food as a Service (FaaS)

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Soylent. I am calling it Food as a Service (FaaS). Because you pay $9 for 2000 calories of full nutrition, no compromise food with no prep time, planning needed. Absolutely beats resorting to fast food, ramen noodles etc. Also, it can potentially help address global malnutrition by at least playing a complementary role to other efforts.

I got my pre-order delivered while I was out of the country, so just tried it. Tastes like a healthy smoothie with a cake batter flavor. Has to be consumed cold for the best taste. I do like a hot soup and more flavor so clearly this is not going to replace all meals. But I love how it can fill in some meals so you don’t have to always keep planning. Also, you can easily measure calories so it helps stick to diets etc. Will see how my body reacts to it and see if I am getting all the nutrition I need.

Verdict for now is that I am quite excited by it and curious to see how this pans out.


Outdoor Movies in Seattle 2014 – ical and csv format

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Thrillist put together a great collection that lists out all of the outdoor movies screening this summer in Seattle . However, they didn’t offer a calendar format of that data which makes it kinda hard to plan these movies around other things that I also have going on. To make it easy to compare this with other things on my calendar, I manually scrubbed the list and put it together in a spreadsheet.
  
And then I made it available as  XML, iCal and HTML versions if anyone wants to subscribe/add this to your own calendars. Enjoy!

Seattle Outdoor Movies 2014