Underrepresented Senses in the Electronic Age

There’s a disparity in how our smartphones and computers cater to our senses. They rely heavily on the eyes and the ears. What’s left out is touch, smell and taste. Not strictly a sense, but scale of size is another I would add to this list – it’s the difference between looking at a T. rex in a museum vs a TV documentary. These can be a differentiator for brick-and-mortar stores.

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The Father and The Bishop

I recently saw the movie The Father (2020) by Florian Zeller. It’s a poignant movie on the themes of aging and senility. Anthony Hopkins acts as the father who is losing memory, and along with it, a sense of what’s happening around him. To his family and us, it is abundantly clear, but the old man lives in a world of denial. What results is continuously escalating conflict, culminating in a moving climax. In this heartbreaking scene, the old father cries like a baby, and starts wailing “Mother! O Mother!” to the nurse who is caring for him. The nurse, instinctively, comforts him like a child.

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Notes from bird-feeding

Homebound in the pandemic, I purchased a bird-feeder last December. I’ve had a lot to observe since then. What follows are notes, photographs, and video clips. I conclude with tips and advice if you’d like to try it as well.

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A systems approach to mental well-being

I am an engineer by profession but I like to read about psychology and psychotherapy out of interest. As I have become familiar with it, I’ve found it to be highly logical.

I will specify the system first, and then use it to make some suggestions for our improvement.

I originally started writing this in July 2021 but it took several revisions before I felt it was polished enough to post.

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Rules for humans in the age of automation

I recently read Futureproof by Kevin Roose. Kevin is a technology writer for The New York Times. The book has two parts to it; I skimmed through the first part but found the second part interesting. It is a list of nine rules designed to help us, humans, navigate a world increasingly run by machines.

I want to call out four of them that struck me as very insightful.

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Detecting irrigation with radar satellite and artificial intelligence

I’ve previously talked about detecting irrigated croplands in this blog. I used classical machine learning techniques in it, i.e. we decide what features to use, we fit a model or an ensemble of models, we predict. Modern machine learning, or what the press calls “Artificial Intelligence”, has gone way beyond it. In this post, I want to talk about a different approach to detect irrigated croplands. This method gave 95% test-set accuracy on a random sample of 2000 pictures from California. [Read More]

Gottlieb and other tales of psychotherapy

Back in 2004, when I was in Bangalore and still fresh out of college, I was mesmerized by a book with a title that asked you to kill the Buddha if you met him. The murderous Zen title notwithstanding, the book was written by a psychotherapist who drew parallels between literary characters and his patients. I wanted to read more such books, but as I said, I was in India and it was 2004. Only in the last year have I delved deep again into the realm of psychotherapy.

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Lego piano

I built a mechanical Lego piano. It very much looks like a real piano, both on the outside and inside. It has keys, gears, hammers… its designers are piano teachers. The music comes from a companion Bluetooth app, but the piano makes convincing movements. I’m very impressed. This is my first Lego project, and the fact that I could do something this complex tells you how mature and professional Lego’s assembly instructions pictures are. [Read More]
toys  lego  music  piano