Canadian politics, eh

I’ve been reading quite a bit of news lately, which is probably a sign that I need to get out more and do something besides work. When nothing much is happening, it seems natural to seek intellectual stimulation online. It’s not that I have a lot of free time, but doing just one thing every day gets kind of boring. I just need to find something to balance my work with which would be beneficial for me.

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My new job

It’s been a month since I started my new job! I am working as a Senior Machine Learning Engineer for a small Vancouver start-up named Bio-Conscious. Our main product is Diabits, which is an iPhone app used to monitor and predict blood glucose levels in diabetic patients. My job is to make sure that the predictions are accurate, which is really important since people with diabetes really need to pay attention to their current blood glucose levels and correct those by eating or insulin injections if necessary. Being able to know what the expected levels are within the next hour should make it easier for the patients to plan their actions.

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Update on my job search and some ideas on how to do it successfully

I haven’t written anything here in almost two months, but I have an excuse. I’ve been really trying to position myself to land a job in machine learning as quickly as possible by figuring out how to showcase my knowledge and abilities to potential employers. I think I have succeeded. I am supposed to receive a contract to sign sometime this weekend, so hopefully next week I will already be working for a company here in Vancouver! I also have some other inquiries from potential employers, but I believe I have made my choice. Anyway, I will write more about it once the situation resolves itself so as not to make any premature announcements.

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Setting up a deep learning environment

I have just finished my first Kaggle competition, the 2018 Data Science Bowl! For this competition I teamed up with another guy from Vancouver named Mahmoud, who was also new to Kaggle. We did really well, placing in the top 1.7% of all entrants (60/3634). We will probably make a presentation about this competition for the Vancouver Learn Data Science meetup. If we do, I will post the presentation slides on my GitHub page.

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Kaggle Competitions

I haven’t written much over the last few weeks because I’ve been really busy. As someone without substantial work experience in the field of machine learning, I need to come up with ways to prove to potential employers and/or customers that I am capable of solving real world problems. One of the best ways I see to achieve this goal is to perform well in online machine learning competitions with prizes. The site where most such competitions are held is Kaggle.

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The importance of being relaxed

This article will mostly be about the mental state, but I will start with a physical example. I consider myself to be a fairly decent singer. When I was learning how to sing, I discovered that one of the hardest parts of good singing technique, as well as one of the most important ones, was to only use the muscles necessary to produce a good sound, while keeping the rest of the body as relaxed as possible. This not only prevents getting tired quickly, but actually results in better sound quality since other people can feel the extra muscular tension and it makes them less comfortable. The same idea holds true for many other skills, such as playing the piano or martial arts, to give a few. Learning how to stay relaxed and only exert as much effort as necessary to achieve the desired goal is one of the foundations of the proper technique in many areas of life.

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Why I don’t play poker anymore

When I first started in poker (back in 2004), I had never imagined that it would become my profession for more than 10 years. I had just gotten my Ph.D. in power electronics and was looking for jobs, but the economy was not the best, my area of research was too theoretical to be of use for most companies, also at that point I kind of sucked at job hunting and promoting myself, so the best I could find was a temporary adjunct professor position at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana which didn’t pay much. Since I had a student visa in the United States (in the stage of so-called optional practical training), I was not allowed to look for other employment. I definitely wanted to make more money though, so I was seeking legitimate opportunities. On most weekends, I’d go to local chess tournaments and usually win a few hundred dollars, which certainly helped but wasn’t enough.

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Choosing the path – Part 2

When I decided to go back into software development in March 2017, I knew very little about the current state of the industry, so I was quite uncertain what to specialize in and what approach to choose. Since I had never worked for a company, or applied for any jobs for that matter, I had no idea about the employment process, which meant I had to do some research online. The resource that helped me the most was John Sonmez’s Youtube Channel, which I mentioned in my first blog post. John is also the author of two really good books on non-technical skills for programmers: Soft Skills: The Software Developer’s Life Manual and The Complete Software Developer’s Career Guide. To be clear, I don’t know John, and I am not advertising him for any financial reasons. He has his flaws like everyone else, and I certainly disagree with his political views. I just think his advice, a large part of which is free, is really valuable. At least I know that I have gained a lot of knowledge and understanding of how things work from listening to his videos and reading his books.

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Choosing the path – Part 1

As I mentioned in my last post, right now I am at a point when I need to decide what to choose as my next profession. Of course, my situation is much better than that of most poker players wanting to change careers. Many people who became poker professionals during the boom of online poker did so at the expense of their education. In my case, on the other hand, I have a number of skills not related to poker that I can use to earn money. For example, being one of the top 30 rated chess players in Canada, I could probably make a decent living giving chess lessons. This would enable me to maintain my current relaxed lifestyle (no alarm clock, no boss) while not suffering too much financially. However, I believe I can achieve a lot more if I find a good use for my mathematical and programming skills. I have lived enough of my life just going with the flow and taking it easy. With my abilities and background, if I apply sustained effort, I should be able to be much more successful in my career and hopefully make a positive difference in the world.

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Introduction

Hello everyone, and welcome to my page! In this post I would like to explain the main reasons why I have decided to write a blog.

I’ve never blogged before, but right now I am at a point in my life when I would like to effect some major changes, and having an outlet for my thoughts should be helpful. For one thing, this will allow me to record my ideas and goals so that I can go back and see whether I am accomplishing what I have set out to do (obviously, self-accountability is always important). For another, I’ve had an interesting and somewhat unconventional life so far, and hopefully have acquired some wisdom that others might find useful.

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