Dimensionality reduction via Principle Component Analysis in python on face images

Hey there! It’s been a while since I wrote anything other than stuff about travel (oh, don’t you worry, there’s still more of that coming!), so it feels good to write about something like this.

Right now, I’m almost finished with the Andrew Ng Machine Learning course on Coursera. Maybe I’ll write about it sometime, but it’s really, really solid and I’m learning a lot. He’s pretty great at explaining concepts and the course is constructed pretty well. What I really like is that, for the assignments, he’ll take the concept from that week and demonstrate a really interesting application of it (even if it’s a little contrived and may not actually be a practical use for it). Either way, it just gets me to think about the breadth of what this stuff can be applied to. read more

Yes we Cam..bodia

The 4000 Islands are in the very south of Laos, where it borders Cambodia, so Cambodia was naturally my next stop. We boarded a bus to Siem Reap and the SEA nonsense quickly began. We were herded into two minivans for the border, which was only about 15 minutes away. These minivans actually weren’t too bad, but of course they weren’t the ones we’d actually be riding in for the long haul (noticing a pattern here: nice transport for the beginning, then switch to awful transport…maybe because if people saw what they paid for before they got on, they’d demand money back or something?). The border was a typical hilarious chaotic shitshow of nervously handing over our passports, short barked orders, and not knowing what’s going on. The entrance visa for Cambodia was $37 (for the US). I’d heard that you should only hand over exact change, because if you handed over $40 for example, they’d probably invent some “fee” so you didn’t get money back (welcome to Scambodia, as I’ve heard it called). Strangely, after getting our visas, they kinda just pointed us in a direction to walk, and we walked for a couple minutes through these empty parking lots towards a bunch of stores (the “pickup spot” I guess) that probably should have been a lot closer to the crossing point… That was a little strange, and probably an accurate introduction to Cambodia.

On the other side, there was a bus waiting, but we weren’t allowed to get on for a while because the AC was broken and they were fixing the bus. When we finally got on and left, after about…half an hour? we made another stop at some random place, and were herded out again. Apparently the bus had kicked it, and they were sending for a backup. 15 minutes, they told us. Welp, those “15 minutes” turned out to be more like 2 hours, as everyone got more restless and cranky. Eventually two minivans pulled up, but not nice ones like before…truly terrible ones, with not enough space. I was lucky to get my own seat: in the front seat of our minivan, one girl had to sit on another girl’s lap for about 5 hours. About 3 minutes into the minivan ride, the driver picked up his phone, and after chatting for a minute, pulled over to the side of the road. Oh no, we thought…what nonsense is about to happen? He picked up another guy, who he then sat on the lap of, in the front seat. This goddamn country. read more

Vientiane to the 4000 Islands, the La(o)st of Laos

Hey there again! I guess last time I left off, I was about to leave Vang Vieng to head farther south in Laos, by way of Vientiane, first. The main goal was to do two motorbike loops in central and south Laos, but I’ll get to that later. If you want to go south, especially by common bus routes, you’ll almost certainly end up going through the capital, Vientiane. I had heard pretty dismal stuff about it, but figured I’d give it about a day’s worth of attention, which I think was a good choice.

The bus ride from VV to Vientiane was uneventful, and my friend and I who were both heading there decided to check into a hostel a few friends of ours from VV were already at and said good stuff about. The bus depot we got dropped off at was annoyingly far outside of the city proper, which is an unfortunate pattern I’ve noticed (though I’m sure the tuk tuk drivers aren’t complaining). read more

A little catchup: the slow boat and beginning of Luang Prabang

Let’s see, where did my rambling last leave off…

Ahh, in Pai. Well. Let me actually finish up there. Pai is a cool place, but towards the end I had pretty much exhausted what you can do there and seen all the dreadlocks and elephant pants I needed to. There were a couple smaller things I hadn’t seen yet, but I was at the “diminishing returns” part of my stay there so it seemed like I should push on from there. To do that, there are a few options. Pai itself doesn’t have an airport (I think..? Maybe the jungle swallowed it or something..?), so if you want to make a big jump, you could go back to Chiang Mai and then fly pretty much anywhere. Otherwise, you can go by land. There are a few ways to go, but a common one is heading to Laos. read more

11.13.2017: First couple weeks in SEA

Hoooooo boy.

When I left, I pictured having enough time and energy that I would be writing little blog posts every two days or so. To be honest, I still have the time; I could definitely set aside 20 minutes every couple days and blast something out, but my laptop is usually locked away which adds another hurdle to getting myself to do anything. read more

Off we go!

As I’ve alluded to in a few previous posts, I’m about to travel. On Wednesday morning, I’ll get a plane, via a layover in Doha, to Bangkok.

I plan to blog about it a bit here, but I don’t want to turn this into a travel blog because, to be honest, I usually kind of loathe them. Don’t get me wrong, if it’s a personal thing (like a diary/journal/etc), or one that’s basically just for friends/family, that’s totally cool in my book. However, I get the feeling that with a lot of them, it’s someone who’s having great experiences and really, really wants you to be excited for them too. But…at the end of the day traveling is basically a thing that only the person doing it is experiencing, so it’s kind of lame to expect others to be as into it as they are. People trying to make it as actual travel bloggers for a living are often kind of the worst. I mean, I’m not gonna lie: on some level it’s definitely envy I have for them, and if they can pull it off, well, good for them I guess. But it does feel very self indulgent of them, and the market (of people wanting to essentially get paid to travel and write about it) is obviously so saturated that it seems like they often get a sleazy/annoying vibe. read more

The Red Lama (Red Llama clone)

After making the worst fuzz pedal ever (that’s for another post) and Orange Ya Glad (which was fine, but didn’t add quite as much fuzz as I wanted and adds a weird buzz even when you’re not playing on some speakers), I just wanted a normal fuzz pedal. After doing a bit of reading, I found that the Red Llama overdrive pedal (by Way Huge) is a classic, and after watching a few YouTube demos, it seemed good (to be honest, people are crazy about the “different” sounds of various fuzz/distortion/overdrive that various antique/obscure transistors or configurations will give you, but they all sound pretty similar to me, and I suspect people think they’re hearing differences more often than there actually are).

Anyway, I wanted to tribute the original Red Llama circuit I was cloning, so I went for… read more

A spooOOOOoooky project!

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This is a fun one.

It’s also a testament to how nifty and easy it is to quickly whip up a project with Arduinos, provided you have enough of a “critical mass”, as I’ve called it before, of other stuff that you might end up needing. read more