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xmodmap and Umlaute

If you speak German but prefer using an English keyboard layout for programming (dvorak in my case), then you will frequently face the issue of how to conveniently enter Umlaute.

Luckily, there's an easy solution with xmodmap, just add the below to your .Xmodamp config:

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clear mod1
keycode 108 = Mode_switch
add mod1 = Alt_L

keysym a = a A adiaeresis Adiaeresis
keysym o = o O odiaeresis Odiaeresis
keysym u = u U udiaeresis Udiaeresis
keysym s = s S ssharp

Where 108 is the keycode returned by xev for your Alt key.


Reading July - September 2018

Books

Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach, John L. Hennessy and David A. Patterson. Great book covering low level details of computer architecture, from instructions sets, memory architectures to custom machine learning accelerators. I definitely recommend this for anyone with an interest in computing or software engineering.

The Age of Comfort, Joan DeJean. Interesting content, but way to verbose and repetitive. Stopped reading half way through.

Hight Output Management, Andrew S. Grove.

Why We Sleep, Matthew Walker. This book got me to take my sleep cycle a whole lot more seriously, there's hardly a night now that I sleep less than …


Remap Caps Lock to Tab

Don't want to waste prime keyboard real estate on a key you never use?

First, find out the keycode of your Caps Lock key: run xev, repeatedly press Caps Lock, note the keycode you see in the logs.

Next, create or append to the .Xmodmap file in your home directory:

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clear Lock
keycode 66 = Tab

Where you replace 66 with whichever keycode you saw in the output of xev.

Finally, load the map: xmodmap .Xmodmap.

You can of course replace it with any other key as well, not just tab.


Ubuntu and Japanese Input

This is more a note to myself, but to easily type japanese on Ubuntu, install ibus-anthy (sudo apt-get install ibus-anthy), make sure ibus-daemon is running.

Then you can add Japanese in Anthy's 'Input Method' tab, make sure to select 'Japanese - Anthy'. If you use dvorak like me, also make sure 'Use system keyboard layout' in the Advanced tab is checked.


Getting into Machine Learning

Update: I've published a newer version of this post.

If you are interested in getting started with Machine Learning, the [cached]TensorFlow Playground is a good way of building some intuition.

For a first introduction to the field, I recommend [cached]Neural Networks and Deep Learning, followed by the [cached]Deep Learning book.

To dive into a specific topic quickly, the [cached]TensorFlow tutorials are also great, Dive into Deep Learning has a lot of detail as well.

For Reinforcement Learning specifically, the standard text is [cached]Reinforcement Learning: An Introduction. Dave's [cached]UCL Course on RL is great too …


Reading April - June 2018

Books

The Power, Naomi Alderman. Interesting point of view on gender and power dynamics. Turned out different (better) than I expected from the beginning.

Letters to a Young Scientist, E. O. Wilson. Half very interesting advice about how to do science, half anecdotes from the life of a biologist with a speciality in ants.

How we got here, Andy Kessler. Whirlwind tour of the history of the industrial revolution, technology and how it lead to modern capital markets.

Pitch Perfect - how to say it right the first time, every time, Bill McGowan. Chock full of tips to improve the way …


Cooking Recommendation: Serious Eats

If you like cooking (or eating), I recommend [cached]Serious Eats. They have many great recipes that are easy to follow as well as delicious - for most of the new dishes I've tried recently, I've followed recipes from Serious Eats.

Two of my favorite dishes for a lazy day are [cached]Gyudon, a simple rice bowl heaped with beef and onion simmered in a mix of soy sauce, sake and dashi:

Gyudon

And [cached]Salmon Teriyaki, another rice bowl with seared salmon on top of a bed of cucumber and avocado:

Salmon Teriyaki

Both are easy to make and absolutely delicious.

Despite the …


Reading January - March 2018

Inspired by [cached] Eli Bendersky's post

Books

The Obstacle is the Way, Ryan Holiday. A modern introduction to Stoicism. If you don't like the writing style, try Seneca or Marcus Aurelius.

Cicero - Selected Works, Penguin Classics. One of the greatest orators of all time, contrasting his speeches with modern politicians gives you a lot of perspective.

Lessons of History, Will & Ariel Durant. Lessons from their history research, personally I found it a bit underwhelming compared to the tittle, but it has a concise summary of many historical events.

The Master of Go, Yasunari Kawabata. An account of the last title …


AlphaGo Documentary

As some of you may have noticed, the [cached]AlphaGo documentary is now available on [cached]Play Movies and [cached]Netflix!

It's a great documentary and really captures the history of AlphaGo very well - every time I watch it it takes me right back to the excitement of those months! If you are interested in AI, Go, or just like documentaries in general I really recommend you give it a try.


Breaking the Rules to Improve Society

Recently, I was talking with some friends about the increasing power of technology, and how it is being applied to ever more accurately enforce laws. In just one example, facial recognition is now used in China to [cached]automatically identify and fine jaywalkers.

One common concern is that these technologies are easily abused for more sinister purposes - mass surveillance, identification of political dissidents, etc.

However, I think there's an even more direct danger: Too rigid enforcement of laws stops society from improving. [cached]Until 1967, homosexuality was punishable by imprisonment in the UK. If it had been possible to always …

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