You still control these things

My Godfather, Damo and I went to lunch at the LinkedIn New York City offices. He worked for LinkedIn two years ago and still had plenty of friends there.

I knew people loved him but I didn't realise how much.

'OMG Damien!'

'Damo, how are you!'

'Damien's back!!!'

These are the type of reactions we got walking through the offices.

It was like the second coming of Jesus. The whole floor was lit up.

Everyone welcomed us with open arms.

It was inspiring.

People forget specifics but they'll never forget how you make them feel.

Even if you work for someone else. You're still in charge of:

  • How much effort you put into your work

  • How you treat other people

  • How you treat yourself

  • Why you do what you do

When it comes to this list, you're your own boss.

PS if you've ever wondered what lunch at a global tech company is like, I shot some footage while we were there. And since the LinkedIn offices are in the Empire State Building, we checked out the view from the 86th floor too.


How to explore your first Kaggle competition dataset and make a submission

The first time doing something is always the hardest.

People had asked me in the past, 'Have you entered Kaggle competitions?'

'Not yet.'

Until the other day. I made my first official submission.

I'd dabbled before. Looked around at the website. Read some posts. But never properly downloaded the data and went through it.

Why?

Fear. Fear of looking at the data and having no idea what to do. And then feeling bad for not knowing anything.

But after a while, I realised that's not a helpful way to think.

I downloaded the Titanic dataset. The one that says 'Start here!' when you visit the competitions page.

A few months into learning machine learning, I wouldn't have been able to explore the dataset.

I learned by starting at the top of the mountain instead of climbing up from the bottom. I started with deep learning instead of practising how to explore a dataset from scratch.

But that's okay. The same principle would apply if you start exploring a dataset from scratch. Once the datasets got bigger, and you wanted your models to be better, you'd have to learn deep learning eventually.

Working through the Titanic data take me a few hours. Then another few hours to tidy up the code. The first run through of any data exploration should always be a little messy. After all, you're trying to build an intuition of the data as quick as possible.

Then came submission time. My best model got a score of just under 76%. Yours will too if you follow through the steps in the notebook on my GitHub.

I made the notebook accessible so you can follow it through and make your very own first Kaggle submission.

There are a few challenges and extensions too if you want to improve on my score. I encourage you to see how you go with these. They might improve the model, they might not.

If you do beat my score, let me know. I'd love to hear about what you did.

Want a coding buddy? When I finished my first submission, I livestreamed myself going step by step through the code. I did my best to explain each step without going into every little detail (otherwise the video would've been 6-hours long instead of 2).

I'll be writing a more in-depth post on the what and why behind the things I did in the notebook. Stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, go and beat my score!

You can find the full code and data on my GitHub.

A note from 2048

It may not seem like it now but those extra hours you put into building your skills all added up.

Taking care of your health was also the right thing to do.

And don’t forget to keep reminding those close to you how much you love them.

Keep learning, keep moving, keep loving.

Best,

Your 2048 self.


PS the latest episode of Learning Intelligence is out, I’ve been learning all bout the Google Cloud Platform. I’m still a novice when it comes to dev ops but it’s becoming more and more a requirement in my day to day work. So I figured I better start getting on top of it. And make my 2048 self proud.


Four hours per day

Is all you need.

If you want to learn something, the best way to do it is bit by bit.

Cramming for exams in university never worked for me. I remember walking into campus straight to the canteen on exam day.

‘Two Red Bulls please.’

Then my knee would spend the next two-hours in the exam room tapping away but my brain would fail to connect the dots.

The most valuable thing I took away from university was learning how to learn.

By my final year, my marks started to improve. Instead of cramming a couple of days before the exam, I spread my workload out over the semester. Nothing revolutionary by any means. But it was to me.

Now whenever I want to learn something, I do the same. I try do a little per day.

For data science and programming, my brain maxes out at around four hours. After that, the work starts following the law of diminishing returns.

I use the Pomodoro technique.

On big days I’ll aim for 10.

Other days I’ll aim for 8.

It’s simple. You set a timer for 25-minutes and do nothing but the single task you set yourself at the beginning of the day for that 25-minutes. And you repeat the process for however many times you want.

Let’s say you did it 10-times, your day might look like:

8:00 am

Pomodoro 1

5-minute break

Pomodoro 2

5-minute break

Pomodoro 3

5-minute break

Pomodoro 4

30-minute break

10:25 am

Pomodoro 5

5-minute break

Pomodoro 6

5-minute break

Pomodoro 7

5-minute break

Pomodoro 8

60-minute break

1:20 pm

Pomodoro 9

5-minute break

Pomodoro 10

5-minute break

2:20 pm

Now it’s not even 2:30 pm and if you’ve done it right, you’ve got some incredible work done.

You can use the rest of the afternoon to catch up on those things you need to catch up on.

Don’t think 10 lots of 25-minutes (just over 4-hours) is enough time to do what you need?

Try it. You’ll be surprised what you can accomplish in 4-hours of focused work.

The schedule above is similar to how I spent my day the other day. Except I threw in a bit of longer break during the middle of the day to go to training and have a nap.

I was working through the Applied Data Science Specialization with Python by the University of Michigan on Coursera. The lessons and projects have been incredibly close to what I’ve been doing day-to-day as a Machine Learning Engineer at Max Kelsen.

PS best to put your phone out of sight when you’ve got your timer going. I use a Mac App called Be Focused, it’s simple and does exactly the above.

Staying Fit While Travelling | Whole Body Hostel Workout

The healthiest cultures in the world don't have gym memberships.

Instead, they embrace movement.

They get up and down often. Some eat their meals on the ground and therefore are constantly getting up and down. And others tend the gardens where they grow their own food.

They walk around. Transport is available but then so are their feet. And they use them often.

Instead of slowing down their movement patterns as they get older, they keep them going.

You'll often find them in groups hosting a yoga session or Tai Chi practice.

All forms of life move. If you don't move you die.

I wasn't close to dying but I knew I'd feel better if I got moving.

I'd just come off the back of a few days worth of travel with a lack of proper sleep or nutrition. And my system was feeling sluggish.

I didn't have access to a gym but that wasn't a problem. I had a body and I had gravity (I still have those).

Workouts don't need to be long and taxing all the time. There are times to lay it all on the line but for the most part, getting a sweat on and your heart rate up for a few minutes is enough.

The title of this article says how to stay fit whilst travelling but you can do this one anytime. Find some floor space and you’re set.

You could complete this in under 25-minutes if you wanted. I did it in closer to 30 with some filming in between.


Part 1 — Upper and Lower Body

  1. 20 pushups

  2. 20 squats

  3. 45-seconds rest

  4. Repeat 5 times

Don't take any rest in between the pushups and squats. For a level up, you could shorten the rest time to 30-seconds.

Part 2 — Upper and Lower Body

  1. 20 lunges (10 each leg)

  2. 20 knees to hands -- stick your hands out 90-degrees from your elbows and raise one leg at a time to meet your hand with your knee

  3. 10 tricep dips -- I used the edge of a car for these

  4. 45-seconds rest

  5. Repeat 5 times

Do the lunges, knees to hands and tricep dips back to back with no rest in between. This helps to keep the heart rate high.

Part 3 — Core

  1. 30-seconds hollow hold (back to the floor)

  2. 30-seconds reverse hollow hold (stomach to the floor)

  3. 10 side plank twists (5 each side)

  4. 20-seconds rest

  5. Repeat for a total of 6-minutes

No rest in between each of the different movements. 20-seconds rest after completing a round of each. Continue until 6-minutes is over.

The sweat started dripping after the 3rd or 4th set of Part 1 for me. It'll be hard until it happens.

Once your body starts to sweat, it'll start to help you move. That's what you're aiming for. 15-20-minutes of sweat and hard work for a whole day of feeling good.

PS Don't forget to stay hydrated when travelling (and like, all the rest of the time). Jet lag is made worse by a lack of hydration. Combat it fast by flooding your body with water and endorphins. This workout offers half the deal.

The most important part

I write every day because it helps me stay in touch with myself.

Whatever whirlwind may be going on in life, there’s something meditative about being able to sit down and write about it.

Most days, it’s thoughts onto the page. But some days I take track of small milestones to look back on as progress.

The journal app I used here and there is called Day One. You can tag entries to keep similar ones together.

Today, I looked at the YouTube tag.

Screen Shot 2018-10-27 at 10.28.42 pm.png

Nearly a year later to the day (today), I hosted a livestream on my channel celebrating 3000 subscribers.

And I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

I don’t have a number goal. 10,000 or 10,000,000 it doesn’t matter to me. I enjoy learning and I enjoy creating videos about what I learn.

But if I can bring as much value to others as I do myself when I’m making them, the number will go up.

Here’s to the next yearly check in.

 I have to keep reminding myself.

I have to keep reminding myself.

PS Thank you to everyone who has tuned into the channel at one time or another. You’re awesome.

The journey is the goal

Check out was at 10 am. So I had breakfast at 9. $1 for an omelette and pancakes. What a deal. I ordered two lots.

When I arrived at the car rental place there was a line three rows deep. I joined the back and took my backpack off. It wasn't heavy but I couldn't be bothered carrying it, the line was moving slow.

'Next please.'

Someone would get seen and then I'd kick my bag along the ground. I was checking out the new iPhone online while I waited. A new gold colour. Sweet.

Then it was my turn.

'Did you want to upgrade for $25?'

Of course, I wanted to upgrade. I'd already paid $150 for the Mustang but the Camaro SS was the fastest car they had. Easy money.

'I'll take all the insurance you have please.'

I bought the biggest package. Everything was covered. My friends will tell you how good of a driver I am.

The car was incredible. Black and yellow. Someone had thought about every line. It oozed muscle and sex appeal at the same time. You couldn't pinpoint what it was but it was.

It took me a couple of minutes to figure out how to put the roof down. There was some cover in the boot which needed to be put in place. The only flaw.

I connected my phone to the stereo and started blasting Eminem’s new album with the top down. I paused the music and the lady took my pass and pointed me out of the carpark. Freedom.

The highway was next. 455hp versus pavement. Ohh yeah.

When I put my foot to the floor there was a slight pause, like the car was asking 'are you really sure you want to do this?' I was sure. My whole body sunk back into the chair. I could feel all 455 horses galloping at once.

We hit the coastline, me and the car. I nicknamed it Bumblebee because it was the same colour as my favourite Transformer.

Us and the open road. Plenty of time to think. Plenty of time staring at the lines of paint coming towards me one after the other.

It was quiet. The engine noise sunk into the wind and I started to relax. Yawns were creeping up on me so I stopped at Starbucks and got coffee. Then I was back.

I keyed in Big Sur on the GPS and followed it along. All you could see to the right was water and to the left, mountains.

Having the top down and some clouds cooled things down. My party shirt and t-shirt combination weren't suffice. I pulled in the reigns and put the top back up.

The GPS said we were 13-minutes away. A couple hours down but it felt like just down the road.

30-minutes past. I passed a couple of signs which said, Big Sur. They were towards a big park. But I wasn't stopping. I was on the journey.

Then the sun started to go down. I was gearing up for an epic sunset over the Pacific Ocean. My phone had no signal. Good. But I still had no place to stay.

I watched the ocean for a bit then decided to head back. Big Sur was nowhere to be seen. Actually, I didn't really know what I was looking for.

The sunset was amazing. But I missed it. I timed it perfectly to take the one section of inroad whilst the orange dot was hitting the horizon.

'We're all booked out.'

'Are you sure?' I asked.

'I am,' he said, 'but there's a place down the road you might want to check out.'

I went to the other place and stopped out the front. I didn't like the look of it so I keyed San Francisco back into the GPS. 90-minutes away.

I put on the soundtrack from Drive and cruised back to the car rental place.

'Are you sure you haven't left anything in the car?'

'I'm sure.'

I left my headphones in there. Oh well.

It was midnight but I booked back into the hostel I checked out of. Then caught a Lyft there.

My driver was from Afghanistan. We talked about his favourite cricketer. A real young guy and had some great stats. I could see why he liked him.

'Good evening.'

'Hello.'

I was half expecting the same guy to be on the front door of the hostel, then I remembered it was 14-hours later.

'You'll be in room 102, bed 1.'

'Ha, the same one as before.'

'What?'

'Oh, don't worry.'

I went back up to the room and made my bed again. It was on the top bunk so moving the blankets around was a battle between them and my knees.

I took my pants off and hung them on the end of the bunk. That would be the last time I saw them.

It was bedtime. I peeled back the shower curtain and turned on the water. My toothbrush was sitting on the shelf in the tub. I left it there.

The whole journey had been to come back and find my toothbrush.

Sitting in bed I Googled 'Big Sur.' Turns out Big Sur isn't one single place rather a stretch of places. I drove right through them all.

Sometimes you don't find what you're looking for. Because it was right there in the first place.

I went to sleep knowing pancakes and eggs would be on the cards in the morning. A man always sleeps better knowing such things.

Sign up when you’re not 100% ready

I booked a ticket to the US earlier this year.

I was supposed to leave on July 6th. My return ticket was for six months later. It was meant to be one-way but I heard somewhere they wouldn’t let me into the US if I didn’t have a return ticket.

In my head it was a one-way trip.

Driving Uber wasn’t an option anymore. It was time to put what I had been studying about machine learning and artificial intelligence to the test.

My thought process was ‘I’ll go to the US and find a job at a tech company with the skills I’ve been learning.’

That was it.

The same reason you go to France to learn French, I was going to go to the US to learn more about technology.

At least that’s what I would tell people who asked.

‘What are your plans when you get over there?’

‘I’ll go to Meetups and meet people and then find a job somehow.’

‘Good on you.’

The real reason was because I didn’t think I could a role here. And really, I hadn’t done any research on what was going on in Brisbane nor did I think anywhere would hire me for skills I learned online.

All I thought was, ‘go to the US with the right mindset and everything will work out.’

That’s how I approach most of life.

Worst case scenario, Australia isn’t a bad place to have to come back home to. It’s a good place here.

So I booked the ticket. Then a couple weeks later Ashley reached out to me on LinkedIn. She said I should meet Mike. So I did. And Mike introduced to me Cam. Two weeks later, I was working at Max Kelsen as a Machine Learning Engineer.

Woah.

Sometimes things happen faster than you expect.

Ashley reached out because I’d been posting some of what I’d been learning on LinkedIn. When I first started sharing my work, I was scared. ‘No one will appreciate this.’ But I kept doing it. And then it happened.

At the time, it seemed unexpected. Looking back, maybe my subconscious knew something would happen if I kept going. I’m glad I did. You can only connect the dots looking backwards.

A few weeks into working at Max Kelsen, Ryan, one of the co-founders, and I were running around a park with stomachs full of pizza.

‘How can I organise a leave request?’ I asked.

‘You can do it through Xero,’ he said.

I explained to him about my flight. It was two weeks away.

‘I’d like to keep the flight but push it back a couple of months.’

‘That’s cool, yeah definitely keep the flight, how about we sit down on Monday and work out some times.’

We decided on September. I’d be leaving Brisbane on September 12 except this time my return flight was 4 weeks later instead of 6 months.

My focus for the trip changed from looking for a job to exploring possibilities. Same same but different.

I went to Japan in 2016 alone for three weeks. Me, my backpack and curiosity as my tour guide. It was one of the best things I ever did.

The US would be no different. Same backpack, same camera bag, same tour guide.

The night before my flight I stayed up late. I wanted to try and combat jet lag. I always pack at the last minute. Mostly because I don’t take many things. Give me a laptop, a toothbrush and a few changes of underwear and I’m good.

My parents took me to airport, my best friend Dave showed up too. We had tea and said our goodbyes. It’s not really a goodbye anymore. Having the internet meant we’d be in contact a few hours later. Anyway.

15-hours later the plane hit the ground in LA. The optimist in me thought 2-hours would be enough to get a connecting flight to San Francisco. Despite running a kilometre in thongs from Terminal 3 to 7 at LAX, it wasn’t.

I knew something was up when the self check-in terminal gave me an error.

‘Excuse me, I can’t check into my flight.’

‘That’s because it’s in 15-minutes, would you like me to rebook one for you?’

15-minutes? ‘That’s enough time,’ I thought, ‘I can still make it.’

It wasn’t.

‘Yes please.’

‘The next one is in an hour, I’ll update your details.’

‘Thank you.’

I made it to San Francisco, bought a SIM card, plugged back into the matrix and brushed my teeth in a public bathroom. Very sleep deprived but I had clean teeth. I was good.

I got some coffee. They had cold brew on tap. Apparently it’s really high in caffeine. It almost got me back to baseline.

On the plane, I drafted out an email to send out for the month of September. It talked about the talk Athon and I did at UQ on AI a couple of weeks prior.

In between sips of cold brew I cut out all the unnecessary words from the brain dump on the flight.

When I got the email to do the talk, I was scared. ‘How could I do this?’

Who was I to give a talk on AI to a travelling group of Chinese Academics? I’d only been studying the stuff for a year.

My rule of having to do something if it scares me got me again. I said yes to the email. That was the on the Friday night, the talk was scheduled for Monday.

I treated signing up for the talk like buying a plan ticket for it US. I wasn’t 100% ready, but I did it anyway.

We spent the weekend researching the topic we were going to talk about. Most of the knowledge was there, it was about bringing it all together in a narrative we could present.

Then we did the talk. And the attendees rated it as ‘excellent’.

The same thing happened with travelling to the US. I’d been spending my whole life preparing to travel alone. Following my curiousity as much as possible and meeting cool people along the way. The only hard part was taking the leap to get there. The rest would take care of itself.

And when I got home and people asked how my trip was, I replied with, ‘excellent.’

 

1. Sign up when you’re not 100% ready

I held off posting on LinkedIn because I didn’t think my thoughts were worthy.

I was waiting for them to be perfect. A clean 100%.

But they never will be.

70% is a better number. A little over halfway but still in the realm of ‘I’m not sure if this will work.’ That’s the sweet spot.

Don’t let being 100% ready stop you from getting after something you’re interested in. Because there’s no such thing as being 100% ready.


2. Do your research

Instead of letting myself give in to the limiting belief of thinking I wasn’t good enough for a job in Australia, I should’ve done my research.

And then maybe I would’ve found the wealth of opportunities not only here but everywhere.

Sometimes to find what you’re after, all you have to do is look.


3. Trust your knowledge

Turns out I already kind of knew there were opportunities a plenty.

But I didn’t trust my knowledge enough to believe I could take them on.

You probably don’t know as much as you think you do. But you also probably know more than you think you do. It’s funny how it works.

If you’ve been putting in the work to build up your skills. Trust them. Admit when you don’t know something but for the rest of the time, let them do their thing.


Arriving in the US

Travelling alone is fun. Want to walk down that street?

You can.

Want to spend all day at an art museum and take a nap on the grass afterwards?

You can.

So I did.

Talking AI to a group of Chinese academics with Athon

I was scared when I first read the email. Presenting to a group of Chinese academics. Was I ready for it?

"This is a stretch even for me," I thought.

But what was the worst that could happen? The talk doesn't go so well?

No matter, I'd be back where I am right now soon enough. Back in bed. Where I'm writing this post from.

Last Thursday, I received an email asking me to come and present what we have been working on at Max Kelsen. Particularly our work on AI in healthcare and other areas.

I asked Athon if he wanted to come along. He said yes. He's a great team leader. Plus, I thought it would be good to have some real technical knowledge along for the show.

We confirmed the talk for Monday. We had nothing ready but the knowledge was in our heads, all we had to do was present it.

I spent Saturday and Sunday preparing. Monday morning I finished off the slides. My part was AI in healthcare. I'm fascinated by it. Ever since my mum told me about bionic man and woman as a kid.

The talk went better than we thought. It's always the case. Most of our worst fears are inside our heads and all of them are of the unknown. I've done plenty of public speaking before but never to a crowd like this.

We recorded the talk. I went into details about how there's an information gap in healthcare. The current system works on episodic and reactive treatments rather than continuous and proactive. For good AI work to be done, this information gap needs to be closed. How? Through combining genomics, clinical information and sensor information to gather insights on a persons health and then infer future outcomes.

Athon talked about some of the amazing work he and the rest of the team have done at Max Kelsen. They built an image recogniser which uses satellite images to figure out whether a site is a construction site or not. This helps the city council with planning. And a tool which helps lawyers decide if a case is worth taking on.

I'm lucky to have landed a role at Max Kelsen. We're working on some great stuff.

All areas of AI fascinate me but healthcare is closest to my heart. Plenty more content and work around these two to come.

I'll post the full video on my YouTube when it's edited. Margeuax, the organiser of the talk is sending me the audio recorded from the room. It may be a little better than my iPhone.

 Was it really an AI talk if you didn't show a picture of a GPU?

Was it really an AI talk if you didn't show a picture of a GPU?

Two New Videos Today!

Today I posted two new videos. 

The first of which briefly goes through my plans and goals with my self-created Artificial Intelligence Master's Degree

I've started a weekly VLOG series documenting my learning journey if you'd like to see anything specific within the videos, be sure to leave a comment or send me an email. 

The second of which is a few clips I recorded whilst working out with two of my close friends at Raw Training Australia.

Over the past few months, I've been experimenting with new styles of movements. I've diversified my daily exercise from being all about lifting weights to incorporating many different styles of movement. In the video above, we had some fun practising the L-sit, it's a surprisingly hard exercise!

I'll be posting more videos like these in the future on a weekly basis. If you think I can improve them in anyway, I'd love your advice!