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Cool things I did in 2018

  • Became a proud godfather of a gorgeous goddaughter
  • Rode over 1000 km on my electric scooter, including one continuous ride of over 25km from Buftea to Bucharest (1500+km since I first got my e-twow)
  • Rode a 50cc motorbike on the sunny roads of Thailand’s Koh Lanta … with both Vio and Eva in the back, just like a local
  • My first transatlantic flight, and the view of Manhattan from the rooftop of a 57 stories skyscraper.
  • Stargazed, moonlight picnicked and slept in the car on some Black Sea secluded beaches
  • learned the basics of Arduino and built my first hardware projects
  • I found about and subscribed to BookBub – an email newsletter of (mostly)Kindle ebook special offers (bestsellers that usually cost $15+ for $2 or so). I thus grew my official Kindle library tenfold

Mindfulness

  • From BookBub I got and started to read Search Inside Yourself , a book by a famous guy who works at Google, who implemented a mindfulness program that apparently is hugely successful. I had played a bit with guided meditations in the past, for sleep-related benefits but only as a once-a-month kind of frequency.
  • … and that’s when one of my best friends (who is a Googler himself) told me how he’s been practicing mindfulness meditation for several years and how the benefits are pretty obvious
  • … which got me motivated to join the Mindfulness at Work program that AdoreMe Bucharest introduced (taught by Anca Coman)
  • … yaddy yadda I got a yearly subscription to Headspace.. which for a couple of months I managed to turn into a daily habit. The habit is broken (let’s call it on hold) for now, but for the stats I managed to mark 1300 minutes of Headspace meditation in the past 6 months, plus uncounted many self-guided ones.
  • Benefits: when I was practicing regularly I noticed improved work focus, better listening skills and patience and a lot easier to get to sleep.

Cold showers

  • After reading and watching about Wim Hof and his cold-showers method as a metabolism and immune system boosting tool, I was curious to try it, and did so for several weeks this Summer: first thing in the morning : a 5-minute cold shower (as cold as possible) combined with quick breathing (hyperventilation style).
  • When my schedule changed I couldn’t quite fit this new habit in my daily routine, but it’s on my to-do list for next Spring and Summer.
  • Benefits: I was feeling more awake than after 3 espressos, had a feel-good hormone boost for hours afterwards, and improved body temperature-adjusting skills – both summer heat and the office air-conditioning frost were bothering me a lot less on those days.

Netflix

(enough said – read about my media diet in the previous post)

Nintendo Switch

I’m not a gamer – I’ve played some games in highschool, mostly turn-based strategies such as Heroes 2, 3 or Panzer General. I was mostly into quick pick-up-and-play ones, such as a quick round of Mortal Kombat 2 or, years later, a tower defence level such as Desktop Defence. But I did own, try and eventually sold away multiple consoles such as XBox 360, Nintendo Wii or XBox One S.

In particular the XBox One S that I got last year ended up unused, so I sold it on Olx and got a Nintendo Switch instead. Which is, by consequence, the best console I’ve ever had – the one I played most on, anyways.

The games I’ve played and enjoyed for months already were : Super Mario Odyssey, Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, and lately the indie mega-hit Stardew Valley. I’d say 70 hours spent in Stardew Valley alone, at least 40 in Mario, even more in Zelda. I’m not bragging but warning you – the Switch has dark magic able to turn a regular non-playing human into a game-addicted zombie.

ML, DL & Kaggle

I took advantage of the spare time in the last couple of months to get familiar with the exotic fields (for me) of machine learning and deep learning. It was something I’ve been meaning to do for years, and I had previously completed in 2017 the famous ML course on Coursera, which I’ve forgotten most of already.

It were the Fast.ai MOOC (massive open online courses) and some DataQuest tutorials who helped me the most in this new project. After the first video of Fast.ai “Practical Deep Learning for Coders” classes I had already gathered the courage to try my hand at practical projects.

So: in the past 2-3 months I joined 2 online conferences from Amazon and Google on AI & ML, got started with DataScience on DataQuest, and became rather comfortable in Python, Jupyter Notebooks, Pandas and Numpy libraries, the fast.ai deep learning library and a sprinkle of PyTorch.

I managed to compete in several contests on Kaggle (a community of machine-learning practitioners who compete and learn from each others in real applied tasks, for money and fame), and even wrote an introductory tutorial about jupyter, data science and Kaggle competitions for noobs which was discovered and re-published by one of the top Data Science publications on Medium, Towards Data Science : How to get started with Kaggle competitions and DataScience .

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