Replacing my Pixel 5 smartphone

You may have guessed from the title of this post that my smartphone got replaced. It was a warranty replacement of a Pixel 5 smartphone with another one of the exact same make and model. Yes, this is a replacement of the 128 gigabyte Sorta Sage (mint green) phone I have had since 2020. Overall it has been a perfectly serviceable phone. Zero complaints exist from me about the device build or operation outside of the recent battery related incident. Apparently, unbenounced to me at the time the battery in my Pixel 5 smartphone was swelling up within the enclosure. The swelling was bad enough to actually separate the screen from the body housing by about two guitar picks. Generally the phone sits in a thin sort of clear plastic case unless it is being cleaned to help protect it from falls. This problem became noticeable for me based on the degree of rapid battery degrediation. I had to start charging the phone a couple of times a day which was undesirable. Online searches occurred and I was about to get a new portable battery pack. That action however would not have fixed the underlying problem. Based on the battery degradation symptom I ordered a replacement phone. 

It arrived yesterday and the process of switching phones was reasonably painless. It was better than I remember the last time around. Both phones had to be mostly charged and connected together using a USB-C to USB-C cable. At this point, all of my cables are from the Google Store. After I started using the charging stands for the most part my cables have lasted a lot longer. The old phone provided charge and sent over a bunch of data to the new phone. Apparently, I have well over 100 applications that need to be downloaded and installed on the new phone. Really the only applications that are problematic for me are the 2 factor identification applications that have a unique key association. As you start to dip into the passwordless world of managing things by approval in applications you want to really make sure that your smartphone never gets lost or breaks. Keeping stacks of backup keys is generally problematic. 

In practical terms, for the 2 factor identification applications and keys I had to make phone calls to talk to people about resets and other authentication things. That of course was a solvable problem and just took a bit of a commitment of time to resolve. You can certainly imagine the next problem beyond managing the 2 factor authentication concerns was entering passwords for accounts. The phone to phone transfer process did not sync all the accounts to be ready to rock and roll. That was not even an option during the process. I’m sure it is an option that does not exist for my own protection. The only thing I forgot to work out during the setup process was to enable bedtime mode to prevent unwanted chips, alerts, and other notifications overnight. That problem has been resolved this morning.

A photo of the battery swelling case separation

Worrying about productivity and LaTeX editing

Yeah, I sort of thought it would be possible to just jump in and use Overleaf to edit a LaTeX template. I’m going to end up going back and looking at a few tutorials on YouTube to understand the finer points of what is happening within the document. It was easy enough to save and load the template. Making a copy was pretty routine and renaming the original was highly intuitive. I was able to edit the title, author information, and a few of the elements in the source file did not really make sense to me. That is why I’m going to watch a couple of tutorial videos to really get a better understanding of what is going on within the document. At this point, I’m pretty sure this will be something that I can manage to help produce papers on a more regular basis from my work. That is where things are at right now. 

My current backlog of produced podcasts stands at 2 recorded and loaded episodes. One is ready to go out on July 15 and the other is ready for July 22. That leaves us with the draft of week 79 that is generally complete, but not very compelling. I had moved on and written a pretty decent missive for week 80 that is much longer. The outline for week 81 is clear enough, but it needs more work to bring it up to the standard necessary for recording. I knew that the content from week 81 to week 87 was going to be difficult to generate. Writing out an 8 part syllabus for how I would introduce machine learning is an interesting intellectual challenge. My goal of course is to allow anybody reading the material to come up to speed with a general understanding. The respondent would really have to read the materials and dig into them deeply to walk away with next level skills. That is really the hard part of putting this content together. It needs to be approachable to help provide the breath necessary to introduce machine learning. At the same time, the content contained in the syllabus has to provide enough depth for those respondents who are consuming it to gain knowledge beyond a basic introduction. 

I may very well for fun take the 8 part introduction to machine learning syllabus and convert it into a LaTeX document in Overleaf at the end of the process. That would take something that I know is going to be completed and give me an opportunity to really mess around with the typesetting. It might even give me a chance to help figure out the integration between Overleaf and Github which seems to exist, but I have not had the opportunity to explore. That will probably be a good use of my time. The other way to go about getting some practice with Overleaf and LaTeX would be to take a few of my talks over the last few years and convert them over to paper format. Most of those talks have a transcript and a PowerPoint which could be easily converted over to a LaTeX document. Honestly, that content was probably a better fit for dissemination by recorded video and the follow up transcripts. Most of the content people consume is just text in a browser from a webpage, news source, or some type of application. A much smaller percentage of the population in general consumes all their content from PDFs containing academic papers. 

I absolutely read a ton of articles and jump in and out of consuming content generally available and content packaged up as academic articles or research notes. Those of you who have read my work for a longer period of time will know that I enjoy a bit of research trajectory mixed into my papers. Knowing the bigger picture and where things are going is an important part of how I consume knowledge. I want to know where it fits into the broader spectrum of the academy and how the author intended it to either move things forward or cement something that needed to be shored up with additional research. That is an important part of the equation that is missing from a lot of machine learning papers that I end up reading. The authors get very focused on the mechanism of the mouse trap and how it functions. They don’t really share the importance of the mouse trap in the broader context of the research within the field. It’s possible that maybe a few papers on the research trajectory of machine learning are necessary. My thesis that has been advanced is that overcrowding is causing a problematic scenario where more content than can possibly be consumed is being created and the noise outpaces the signal by an order of magnitude.

Starting to learn how to edit with the LaTeX typesetting system

This weekend a little blogging on the WordPress Android application occurred via my Google Pixel 5 smartphone. Two different posts were made to keep my writing streak alive. Both of the posts were just updates to my activity during the weekend, but they were enough to keep things moving along. During the lengthy car ride back to Denver from Kansas City I gave some thought to the edges of the things being expired in my writing. I’m getting to the bleeding edge of a lot of different academic work. Writing is occurring often at that edge, but I’m not taking the time to put it into an academic paper format for submission. While I don’t wholesale believe in that type of writing for every purpose it probably is something that deserves an investment of my time and energy going forward. 

I’m learning how to use the online site Overleaf as a LaTeX editor. A lot of people ask questions online about the best LaTeX editor for beginners. Over the years I have become very skilled at using Microsoft Word to produce manuscripts and it has worked just fine. Millions of people use it daily. Right now I’m writing out of a Google Docs file with a .DOCX extension. Working out of a LaTeX editor is not something that I really ever do. Either I have to learn how to write in an editor that supports that format or I have to take the time at the end of the journey to convert everything over to that format. Some people have found ways to edit LaTeX documents in Google Docs and it seems that it might be possible. Instead of messing around with that type of effort I’m going to just go all in with Overleaf and see what happens. Today will be the day that starts and I’m hopeful it will be a fun adventure. Learning how to modify and work with LaTeX formatting is not really something that I want to invest my time and energy into, but it seems like something that will end up paying off in the end. 

It should be possible to take my research note on open software MLOps repositories shared on GitHub and get everything converted over to LaTeX using Overleaf. I found an arXiv style template that will serve as a basis for the final output. It should be a fun little adventure in the fine arts of typesetting. Right at the start it is clear that the source and recompile being split sides of a screen is radically different from what I normally handle as a workflow. Right now I’m writing in a print preview mode basically that shows me the read pretty much what will happen live within the document and what will be sent to the printer or a PDF document for that matter. I’m not sold on the idea that you need some type of academic typesetting to gatekeeper the publishing world as a technologic barrier to entry at the port of academic freedom. 

The day after watching the Royals play baseball

Today was a travel day. We drove from Kansas City to Denver. It was the day after watching the Kansas City Royals play baseball against the Cleveland Guardians. While we had a wonderful time at the old ball game the performance on the field was questionable. They lost 13 to 1 on a hot summer day during a Saturday afternoon home game. The box office receipts were for 17, 024 tickets. Things at the stadium did not feel 45% full.

The Royals game from July 9th

I listened to this podcast instead of writing today

Instead of spending time writing this morning I decided to listen to this podcast. That was an almost 4 hour investment.

“Machine Learning Street Talk (MLST): MLST #78 – Prof. NOAM CHOMSKY (Special Edition) on Apple Podcasts” https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/mlst-78-prof-noam-chomsky-special-edition/id1510472996?i=1000569314505

Planning to write and writing about plans

We watched “Thor: Love and Thunder” (2022) on an IMAX screen yesterday. That theater had not changed in a number of years. It was a throwback to the times of yore. Ok, I just wanted to use yore in a sentence. Those very seats could have been in that theater a decade ago the last time I visited. A lot of the larger format screen theaters now have reclining seats that are a bit bigger and a lot more comfortable. These seats could have been from the original installation of the IMAX screen. You won’t find any spoilers here about the movie or a review really. My expectations were for the movie quality to be inline with the previous Thor films. It was within the envelope of expedited Thor adventures. For the most part in the dozens of Marvel based films very few terrible ones exist. They are a window into that world and they provide that adventure. It’s pretty consistent. That is probably one of the reasons the films have done so well at the box office since the original Iron Max (2008) film was released. 

I’m starting to wake up now which took just a few minutes to achieve today. For some reason I’m running a little slower than usual as the day is starting to pick up steam. The sun is rising and the weather seems to be lining up well enough for the back part of this trip to Kansas City. Taking a bit of time to think deeply about where exactly you are in the writing journey is good. Maybe you have a detailed writing plan with a list of upcoming things to work on like an extra awesome backlog of pending adventures. You can certainly extrapolate that out to a map looking set of expectations and plot yourself as a location defining where you are in terms of that journey. That would be one way to go about and it would be interesting. My research trajectory and writing plan are well documented. Somebody else could pick up my work and keep moving along if for some reason I faltered. 

We have now spent the morning considering Thor films and visualizing the writing journey. For the most part this week  I have been working on a bunch of different content related to machine learning. The production quality on weeks 80 to 104 needs to be tip top to make sure the end of the last section of this year’s physical publication of “The Lindahl Letter” is really high quality. Based on my writing plan I’m going to pivot to writing academic style articles after that point in the writing journey with  snippets of that output ending up being published on an online basis. Generally, that will change my writing output to shift from a series of Substack posts being combined into a final collection at the end of the year to a more complex content production process. Academic articles can certainly be broken into sections and that will allow me to publish them in parts along the way. It will create a scenario where I’m sharing content on the same topic for several weeks in a row. Given that I won’t know the exact duration of a topic in that format the forward looking guidance will really be on the next 5 topics, but the coverage of those topics could very well end up taking months. It should be an interesting turn of events in the evaluation of my Substack style writing.

Rain and a morning of writing time

Today I’m going to be able to spend some time working on that “introduction to machine learning” syllabus. It’s an 8 part series and getting the tone and content right is very important. Today feels like it could be an all in Twitter day. Maybe I’ll end up tweeting the day away. That is a possible part of the vacation efforts to  get up early and write on a daily basis. So far along the way I have managed to get up and spend a bit of time writing each day. Having enough time to get past the basic stream of consciousness writing part of the session and move into working on more complex things does help the process. The entire morning today until lunchtime has been set aside to work on things. Strangely enough, about 130 words this morning I’m ready to abandon this post and just shift over to working on a section about deep learning. 

A bunch of thunder just occurred and then it started raining. It’s an early morning rainstorm. One of the big differences between Kansas City and Denver is the way the weather arrives. Something about the mountains changes how storm systems arrive around Denver. We don’t really see multiple fronts or the interesting things that happen from the process of storm fronts running into each other. Yeah, I diverted my thoughts from writing about deep learning to thinking about the weather happening outside. It is nice to sit down and write with a bit of rain in the background. I can hear it all over the house here. Outside the rain is falling and the roof, gutters, and the pavement all have unique sounding responses to that weather phenomenon. Sure I should try to get my focus to shift to something else, but it does not seem like that is going to happen. Maybe I should just lean into this one and try to increase the velocity. 

Writing on the keyboard attached to this Pixelbook Go has a certain maximum speed. It is not like writing on a mechanical keyboard. The travel and return is rather limited, but still rewarding enough to make longer writing sessions acceptable. I’m actually a little surprised that I have not worn out any keys on this Chromebook. Sure the two shots of espresso help increase the velocity of my writing output, but the other element in that need for writing speed has to be the content. Sometimes you are ready  to produce content and other times that process just won’t get going and it certainly won’t have the velocity to worry about hitting maximum effort limits on a keyboard. Maybe it is the rain or the promise of several hours of researching and writing in front of me, but I’m highly reflective and ready to go at the moment. It really could end up being a day full of a bunch of tweets or I might end up producing a lot of content today.

A weblog post without a working title

Writing each day takes a bit of energy to get started. It’s that start that always separates a good writing day from a bad one. The prompt is always ready in a digital word processing document. It never fails to deliver. Certainly the problem is usually on the side of the writer and not the technology the vast majority of the time.  Speaking of technology related problems, my smartphone battery has started to require charging multiple times a day. Generally the made by Google Pixel 5 smartphone has worked pretty well over the last two years. We will see what happens here in the next few days in terms of battery life. I’m not a big fan of having to carry a battery pack. I’d rather just have a smartphone that delivers enough battery life to withstand the needs of the day. 

Today my needs are a little unclear. I have a certain amount of focus that is ready to devote to things. At the moment, the problem being faced is that I’m not entirely sure what weighty topic of glory is going to lock horns with that focus as the writing begins to take shape. Things are moving along here without that key topic to drive things forward. At the moment, this is a weblog post without a working title. Working through that type of challenge is about keeping the pace going and trying to settle into a rhythm with the keyboard. You have to relax and find that stream of consciousness to work with where ideas flow and it is hard to keep up with them as they arrive. I keep a backlog of weblog post ideas in my Google Keep  application for just this type of situation. Today however, I’m not going to go search for help from the backlog. I’m just going to continue to ponder the edge of nothingness as the cursor on the screen chases down the end of my thoughts at this very moment of typing. 

A few general themes exist around the topics that I deeply care about and some of that centers around the intersection of technology and modernity. A handful of other themes relating to civility and the social fabric are also ever present in my thoughts. Instead of jumping into that type of work at the start of a writing session I begin with no expectations or prompts and just start to let the process of thinking happen. Generally it takes just a bit for my thoughts to focus on something. That is something that I am totally ok with as I’m willing to take my writing in whatever direction the spirit of the moment takes at the start of the day.  Certainly, a bit of focus on academic writing or a backlog of other writing that needs to be done would be more efficient. That would however fail to capture the possible next thing that might come into being from being willing to jump in any direction. That is how a weblog post without a title finds that spark of creativity and all of a sudden from nothing to something occurs. 

I’m not sure today will include anything special or if the efforts of the day will be memorable at all. Given the chance the entire process will start over again tomorrow.  That is the nature of how this cycle of writing works and for the most part what happens when a writing routine is maintained day after day. My most stable and productive writing routine has to be maintained around writing at the very start of the day when nothing is happening. Oddly enough I really have to start writing and thinking at the point where nothing is happening. No distractions are allowed to occur. I cannot really just put on the noise canceling headphones and writing in a busy room. It turns out that I need that period of just zerospace to get writing. It’s a moment where that nothingness moves from a totality of inactivity to a world of possibility. Ideas begin to break through my attempts to be still in the moment. That is essentially what happens with my stream of consciousness writing efforts. Starting the day that way is my preferred method of content creation. 

Inevitably that writing session will come to an end and I will move from working on one thing to the next. My backlog is very real and at this moment it is daunting to even consider finishing everything in that pile of possible writing output. However, before taking on that type of work that requires a bit of deep consideration it is best to have warmed up the writing process and be ready to do that next level of work. Warming up as a writer is something not to be considered lightly. You have to know what works best for you. Sustaining an ongoing writing routine is about balancing the need for output with the pacing of creativity. Maintaining a solid backlog and writing plan helps with that type of effort of course. 

Considering equations in ML papers

During the course of the 4th of July I got a chance to read a few PDFs of papers. Being able to write within the academic tone that papers usually have is a skill. Sometimes the papers include great scientifically based research, but are difficult to follow due to being poorly written. In the machine learning space this is one of those things that happens and could be compounded due to the mathematics the author is trying to share. Within the abstract and introduction things will start out on the right academic footing, but then as the mathematics start to get introduced things will veer off into the wild unknown. Most of the mathematics that gets shared within the machine learning space is not a provable theorem or something that you can easily break down and check. Every single time somebody starts to walk me through a series of equations in a paper I start to evaluate the work. Most of the time you cannot check the actual output given that the equations in the paper are implemented as code. Generally, that code is not shared so you cannot work your way backward from the code to the paper or the other way around to figure out what the author did for the actual delivery of the mathematics. 

The other piece of the puzzle that often worries me is that the equation presented in the paper is theoretical as an implementation and they are using an algorithm built into software that was already written. Within this example the author did not implement the mathematics within the code and probably is not deriving a perfect reflection of equation and implementation in the paper. Being able to run code as a part of a software package and being able to work through the equation using LaTeX or some other package to articulate it within an editor are very different things. I would have to work it out with pen and paper and then bring it over to the paper after the fact. Generally, I would be working with a known transform or algorithm within the machine learning space. It would be unlikely that I would be advancing the equations denoting the mathematical machinations beyond the original efforts. Within the coded implementation I might do something in an applied way that could ultimately be represented as a novel piece of mathematics. However, most researchers would be better off presenting the code vs. trying to transform the code back into a series of mathematical representations within an academic paper. 

It might very well be a good topic for a research paper to do an analysis of the equations presented in mathematical form in the top 100 machine learning papers by number of citations. It might be interesting to see the overlap in the equations across the paper. Alternatively it might be very illuminating to see if no overlap exists given that it’s possible outside of a shared statistical foundation the researches are not working from a shared mathematical base. A book on the mathematics of machine learning would be interesting to read for sure assuming it built from the basics to the more complex corners of the academy of knowledge surrounding the topic.

A bit of blogging on the 4th of July

Today a little bit of blogging on the 4th of July is going to occur here in this post. I did sleep in (overslept my alarm) for 2 hours today. We are on vacation and I simply could not muster the will to get going when my Fitbit alarm went off at 0530 hours. Part of that is due to our evening plans the night before.  

Yesterday starting at 2130 hours we watched the late showing of “Top Gun: Maverick” at a ScreenX theater. It was interesting to see the 270 degree panoramic scenes. It is sort of strange that sometimes the movie went triple panel and others it was just the center screen. I had never seen a ScreenX theater before and it was an interesting visual experience. I’m all for improving theater going technology. My strong preference when seeing a movie is to have the biggest screen possible. I book Dolby Cinema or IMAX tickets for the most part when going to see a movie. At this point, I would add ScreenX technology to the list of big format screens that make for a solid movie going experience. Based on the box office numbers at this point in time it appears that the 2nd installment of “Top Gun” has grossed over a billion dollars. 

This post was never intended to be a movie review. It was just an observation about the movie going technology involved. At the movement, I don’t really have any reviews of anything in mind. Two shots of espresso were made and a few words were written. This post really is just a little bit of blogging on the 4th of July. Here in Kansas City the humidity and perceived temperature have been much higher than Denver. You can really feel it walking in and out of the house. I did not think it would be so noticeable, but it really is very noticeable. Today I’m going to reflect on things and enjoy the holiday. I have the independence to write about pretty much whatever I want and the opportunity to engage in reflection today. That is something to celebrate. 

Maybe the roughly 355 words written so far are not the best and most effective use of that independence. Certainly at this point in my writing career I could muster a little bit higher quality of prose for such a resplendent occasion. As it turns out, that was not the case and the words you have read so far are what showed up to the party. Maybe it was a triple shot of espresso morning that fell a shot short. Perhaps it was just one of those days where my intentions were better than my output. This is the 5th day in a row that I have sat down and worked out of this document instead of going back to my previous routine of working out of a new Google Doc each day for the general creation of content. Taking just a little bit of solace in that new direction just might be enough to help move things along. 

One of the things that I have noticed about working out of a typeset document is that right now for example I’m aware that I only used the top part of this page and stopping right now would leave a bunch of blank space in the finished printed product. Given that outcome seems a bit unsightly I have taken to writing about it here as a rather meta level observation about the nature of my writing output oddly enough contained in my writing output for the day. For those of you who read these missives on the weblog that observation won’t really make sense. You would need to have a final copy of the print version of this content to really experience the truth of this prose. 

I’m about to shift over and go back to work on writing my introduction to ML syllabus which happens to be comprised of 8 lectures that are actively being written. Each of those lessons needs to be a of a certain level of quality to ultimately be useful. I’m going to need to step up my writing game to make that happen. 75 weeks of research and writing were done to get to this point and now it is time to work to make all of that effort pay off toward a glorious final product.