Hello World (Why Blog)

No one cares what you think. They care what they think. Write to change minds.

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Hi there, welcome and thank you for coming to my first blog post, a step for me towards a better programmer.

OK. As a prologue, this post will be dedicated to blogging itself. Actually, this is my second attempt to write a hello world post because of data loss due to a disk failure of the university’s server on which I finished writing the first version (take away: don’t ever assemble a raid 0 array with large disks). Luckily, I exported the HTML archive of my first attempt from my browser cache immediately after I noticed the server went down.

Why Blog?

Anyway, in this post, I’ll keep it short and say just hello to this world :). It’s tempting to spend a week writing about all the hypes brought by the technical side of building and putting this blog online and experience burnout afterwards, then expectedly you won’t see any follow up posts. Therefore, I’m not going to talk about how I use fashionable technologies such as docker and Jekyll to generate this static website and deployed to Github Pages. And I also won’t show off my crafted Arch Linux with riced i3wm desktop and HHKB that I used to build this blog, which could be satisfying if somehow you can relate to me. Instead, I’ll tell you why I decided to start a blog and those inspirations that got me here.

The main reason for starting a blog is two-fold. First, I’m finally picking up this habit that I believe every computer science practitioner should do, because it accelerates the exchange of ideas and for me, it forces myself to systematically organize my thoughts and works in a way that can be understood and even appreciated by others, which is an ability I’m pursuing.

Second, for me, writing about tech is just a desire that I’ve been holding in for too long. The feeling induced by producing content feels like I’m doing the right thing, and this encourages me to keep going forward.

I have no idea who my audience would be. I imagine you could be random Github visitors clicking into the link in my description, friends in real life checking on my status, and of course future employers. Or more likely, nobody cares, I’ll write for my own sake, as a habit that supports me to live when the apocalypse comes :).

What Inspired Me

I would like to share with you some inspirationing people. There are many brilliant machine learning researchers that I respect a lot, and four of them touched me the most recently.

The founders of fast.ai, Jeremy Howard and his partner Rachel Thomas. I spent last winter break taking Fastai Deep Learning courses online. The course is based on lessons recorded during the first certificate course at The Data Institute at USF. It is this insightful and practical online class that leads me into the brave deep learning world. I appreciate Fastai’s contribution to the education and research in this field by lowering the entering barrier while preserving the depth of course content, and I value how much I’ve learned taking these lessons. And yeah, though it may sound funny, aside from my enormous respect for both of them, the reason why I attribute my starting to blog to them is as straightforward as reading Rachel’s beginner friendly blog Why you (yes, you) should blog and put it into practice.

Christopher Olah, the author of the famous Understanding LSTM blog post and a young Research Scientist at Google Brain.

Perhaps I shouldn’t do this (or why not?), but I dug up her old blog posts from way back when she was in high school and began reading from there, and this is how the development of admiration began.

At the beginning of the reading, I thought we were quite similar, expressing passion for Linux, programming, and security issues, when I was reading technical posts from her second year in high school, 2009. And I thought while reading these earliest posts, Not bad, happy to see another Linux enthusiast and Windows hater who’s really good at starting early. However, this old blog digging quickly escalates into pure admiration when I flipped a few pages back along the time. Aside from in-depth technology posts, her mathematics animations and beautifully written humanity posts show off her capability of making remarkable intellectual leaps. While I enjoyed so much reading these well-written posts, I still recognised her starting easy, putting up moderate contents in the first few posts, which encouraged me to write up this hello world post right away.

What’s more, I’m preparing for the TOEFL test, and I figured writing about tech may help a bit. For writing, here is an inspiring talk on The Craft of Writing Effectively delivered in a UChicago course, as well as discussion and notes of this talk on Reddit you may find useful.

About Future

For the near future, you can expect a series of technical posts about a machine learning competition I’m currently working on. When I’m done with that, I’ll probably focus on various machine learning techniques that I have used or am using so I can deepen my understanding while putting the information together. Or If I accidentally come across any brilliant papers, I may try to summarize them as well.

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