TIL that I need to keep up

Since my coding skills are not yet good enough, I do need to keep up and improve. The things I can currently do are pretty limited in scope, and I certainly hope to improve a lot faster. I intended to stay at the office a little after work and practice and learn, but my brother called asking when I’m going to be home. Turns out we were eating 삼겹살 (samgyeopsal) tonight, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to miss that. Again.

After dinner, I worked on the measure word extractor some more. I essentially started from scratch. I was so surprised that I could focus a lot better, working on this at home. Need to concentrate more at work. I did some googling and found out how to list the directory properly using os.listdir.

I got to the part where I needed to run a for loop on the files in the directory list, read each file, and put the lines into a list, but it just wouldn’t work. Lots of googling later, I came across an online book called Python for Informatics, which looked like a useful book.
(EDIT: There seems to be an updated version of the book. Check it out here. It referenced Think Python, another excellent free resource. In fact, I’ve been thinking about picking up a book on Python to read. I of course know that merely reading a book on coding won’t make me improve all that much. But the point is that I can’t watch stuff like Udemy on the bus to work, and when I get home, I have other stuff to do. I wanted to get an overview of Python and one way to do that is to just read through a book or two. My intention isn’t to remember everything; rather, I just want to be exposed to what Python is in its entirety. Just a sweeping overview, so I get what I need to learn further.

Well, I guess today I learned a few things about the os module. I think working through that Python for Informatics will definitely be helpful in learning more.


TIL that I’ve just been wingin’ it for too long

This thought was just floating through my head, but I wanted to capture it and put it in writing, so here it is.

In university, I liked linguistics, and I did quite well in the subject. Did I do well because I liked the subject matter?

I felt like even though I didn’t study that much, I just got it. It just made sense to me.

In contrast, when I would come across some topic or concept in my other classes, say in my business classes, that I found difficult, I wouldn’t try as hard to get it.

So this got me thinking. Did I just do better in my linguistics classes because I could wing it and still get by with it?

And I feel it was the same with many other things. I could get by with stuff. But that streak won’t last. You might think, “Duh. What did you expect?” Well, I do need a reality check I think.

At any rate, that got me thinking. I must really like to just do what I want to do. Like, I can’t be forced to do things I don’t want to do. And I don’t like to be taken out of my comfort zone and be exposed to unfamiliar material, concepts, situations, etc.

But this is something I need to work on.

TIL how to use Vim

Today I discovered an awesome interactive Vim tutorial. You can check it out here.

It’s been two days since I started learning bash script. I had to start learning it because I joined the speech recognition team at work, and this team does a lot of work on black screens every day.

I’ve been trying to understand and interpret a chunk of bash code using various online resources. I certainly am making progress, but definitely not at the rate I would like to be.

At any rate, I began playing around with Vim, and also found out about Vimium for Chrome.

I installed the plugin at the office today, and have been playing around with it since. I thought it was so cool that you could control everything with just the keyboard. I’m still trying to memorize the keyboard shortcuts, but I’m enjoying the process.

TIL difference between supervised and unsupervised learning

TIL the difference between supervised learning and unsupervised learning. It’s about time. I mean, I work for in an NLP/machine learning team at a startup that uses machine learning to make things. I ought to know it by now. I guess it helped that I heard these terms thrown about left and right. We all learn at our own pace.

I came across the Wikipedia page for statistical classification, and this short paragraph just jumped out to me:

In the terminology of machine learning,[1] classification is considered an instance of supervised learning, i.e. learning where a training set of correctly identified observations is available. The corresponding unsupervised procedure is known as clustering, and involves grouping data into categories based on some measure of inherent similarity or distance.

Now I understood why we had used terms like ‘clustering’ at work. When we grouped together sentences, it was an unsupervised procedure – clustering – based on cosine similarity. If we had used some sort of heuristics to label a subset of the data, then train the rest of the data, that would have been supervised learning.

Das Aufrechterhalten eines Blogs

Over the long weekend, I wrote up two short paragraphs in German and put them up on Lang-8 to get them corrected. The first paragraph is the original, and the second one that follows is the corrected version 🙂

Aufrechterhalten einen Blog
Haben Sie einen Blog? Was ist das Thema davon? Wie aufrechterhalten Sie ihren Blog? Ich habe ein paar Jahre-lang meinen Blog geschreibt, aber ich fand es schwierig regelmäßig zu aktualisieren. Vielleicht weil ich träge bin. Vielleicht habe ich keinen Fokus. Nicht genug. Der Wichtigste ist das Ziel dem Blog. Mein Ziel ist es meine Gedanken über die Sprache zu teilen. Der ist auch ein Platz, in dem kann ich meinen Fortschritt in andere Sprache zu aktualisieren. Zum Beispiel, im Moment ich bin Teilnahme von der Add1Challenge. Das Ziel ist es, während 90 Tage eine fremdsprache lernen, um am Ende von 90 Tage, mit einem Sprachpartner einen 15 Minuten-lang Konversation zu haben. Kürzlich habe ich meinen Fortschritt auf meinem Blog teilen zu begonnen. Meiner meinung nach, um einen Blog erfolgreich wird, man muss ein klar Ziel haben. Auch man muss regelmäßig etwas daran zustellen. Was machen Sie um einen erfolgreichen Blog zu haben?

Das Aufrechterhalten eines Blogs
Haben Sie ein Blog? Was ist das Thema des Blogs? Wie aufrechterhalten Sie ihren Blog? Ich habe ein paar Jahre lang in mein Blog geschrieben, aber ich fand es schwierig, regelmäßig zu schreiben. Vielleicht weil ich träge bin. Vielleicht habe ich keinen Fokus. Oder nicht genug Fokus. Der Wichtigste ist: warum will ein Blog schreiben. Mein Ziel ist es, meine Gedanken über meine Sprachlernaktivitäten zu teilen. Der ist auch ein Ort, wo ich meinem Fortschritt in der anderen Sprache dokumentieren kann. Zum Beispiel, im Moment bin ich Teilhehmer der Add1Challenge. Das Ziel ist es, dass ich während 90 Tagen intensiv eine Fremdsprache lerne, um am Ende dieses Vierteljahres mit einem Sprachpartner eine 15 Minuten-Konversation zu führen. Kürzlich habe ich begonnen, meinen Sprach-Fortschritt in meinem Blog zu teilen und zu dokumentieren. Meiner meinung nach muss man ein klares Ziel haben, damit ein Blog erfolgreich wird. Auch muss man regelmäßig etwas hinzufügen. Was machen Sie, um ein erfolgreiches Blog zu betreiben?

aufrechterhalten – maintain
das Blog, das Web-Tagebuch, das Web-Logbuch.
träge – lazy
der Fokus – focus
das Ziel – goal
der Fortschritt  – progress
führen – to lead, conduct
erfolgreich – successful
regelmäßig – regularly
hinzufügen – to add
betreiben – to run, operate

One Thousand and One Nights: Tales of Enchantment

King Shahryar and Scheherazade
I just finished reading NJ Dawood’s translation of selected tales from the well-known One Thousand and One Nights.

I picked it from a used bookstore a few weeks back before my trip to Europe in June, but I was mostly trying to finish reading 김수영’s “당신의 꿈은 무엇입니까?”, which was also a great read.

As is well known, the frame story for the all the tales features King Shahryar, who marries virgins and executes them on the next day, and Scheherazade, the daughter of a vizier betrothed to King Shahryar who escapes inevitable death by telling the king enchanting tales every night. She continues telling her tales for 1,001 nights, from which the name of this collection of tales is derived.

As a child, I had of course watched Disney’s Aladdin, and was drawn in by a story from an exotic land that featured sorcerers, a magic lamp, and jinn. When I came across this Penguin Classics edition, I knew I had to get it if only to read the original Aladdin tale. I never would have known that the story of Aladdin has its setting in China in the original tale 🙂

What impressed me first of all was the translator – NJ Dawood – who apparently was a translator of Arabic into English of renown. His classic translation was first published by Penguin in 1956, and apparently, has remained in print to this day. And according to this,

Previous translations had been so archaic and literal as to be virtually unreadable. Dawood set out to produce a modern translation that would be readily accessible to an uninitiated readership. To this end he rearranged the original surahs (chapters) into more or less chronological order, to make them easier to understand, in line with the approach taken by the Jewish rabbis and Christian scholars who compiled the biblical canon. At the same time his lively, idiomatic English translation aimed to bring out the poetic beauty and eloquent rhetoric of the Arabic original, giving the reader some sense of why the work has had such power over generations of Muslims.

I had always wanted to try reading the Koran, purely out of curiosity, and after such an introduction of such a well-esteemed translator – and especially after having read his translation of the nocturnal tales – I will doubtless make sure to pick up his translation of the Koran.

As a child, I had read storybooks with large pictures depicting the story of Ali Baba, but besides that, I had not heard tell of the other tales. Dawood’s selection of tales for this collection made for an enjoyable read and included the Aladdin story and the Sindbad story, but notably, did not include the Ali Baba story. Which to me was surprising – not to mention more than a little disappointing 😦

I had maybe reached the middle of the book when I began to wonder when the famed Ali Baba story would come out. I checked the contents, but it wasn’t there. I flipped through the pages to look ahead and see if it was tucked in somewhere. But no. It wasn’t there. I suppose Dawood has his reasons for its exclusion, but I very much wanted to read his translation of it.

The tales are amusing, whimsical, and downright absurd. Several times while reading, I just had to smile imagining in my mind what took place in the stories. As you can imagine, the stories feature tales of magic lamps, magic rings, Ifrit, jinn, hidden caves/underground halls filled with immeasurable riches, avaricious kings, virtuous men and women, sorcerers, treachery and deception, and…so much more. Reading the tales, I was transported to the medieval Arab world. I imagined myself standing in the marketplace as the merchants haggled and bartered, calling down blessings upon people and the name of Allah being invoked.

Of note was the way women were portrayed in the tales. There were descriptions of beautiful maidens and princesses. More often than not, they were depicted as seducing men with an evil aim (murder) or for their own salvation. There was also the story of the kind-hearted mother in the story of Judar son of Omar, who was deceived again and again by her two evil and greedy sons. And also women like Fatimah, the abusive wife who cursed her poor husband Mar’auf all night. Fatimah was described as being a termagant, an interesting word that I came to learn from the book.

I also noted that the people in the stories were all religious. There were numerous religious expressions such as ‘Praise be to Allah’ and ‘by Allah’. When the characters found themselves in a pickle, they would often say “There is no strength or help save in Allah!”, the Arabic phrase of which I was interested in finding since it seemed like an oft-repeated phrase. Each story would usually end with something like “so-and-so lived happily ever after until they were visited by the Annihilator of men, the Destroyer of earthly pleasures”. This I found to be an interesting personification of death. I wonder if there exists some expression like this that is still used to this day when saying that someone passed away. In line with all these stories that involve mystical jinn and Ifrit, an expression like that just seemed fitting. The idea that Death comes when it is time, and no one can be spared from it. That kind of closing comes at the end of a story, when the main problem facing the protagonist has been resolved, and (usually) they enjoy the bounties of immeasurable riches as princes and kings. But, as with all men, regardless of order and rank, Death visits them just the same.

And then there was mention of people like cadi, vizier, nabob, houri, among others. All of these were interesting to me, and I did some basic research to find out more about what these positions were. Obviously these words are Arabic in origin, and they were used in the text, so I was naturally inclined to learn more about what these positions were about. Oh, and houri is apparently from Islamic mythology, so they’re not real people 🙂

Baghdad is the home of Sindbad the Sailor, and every time the city is mentioned, it is described as “Baghdad, City of Peace”. I imagine it must have been a magnificent city in that time. I was a little sad to think that a city that was known as the City of Peace would be today one that knows little peace. To have seen Baghdad at the height of its influence and prestige must have been awesome.

캡처In doing some research about the tales (mostly Wikipedia), I came across this blog that apparently aims to have summaries of all the tales. The main page shows a three volume Penguin series of what I assume are the tales in their entirety. Sure enough, I found them on Amazon. I definitely do want to read those other tales as well some time.I’ll see how the translation of these tales fares against Dawood’s translation 🙂

Add1Challenge #A1C17: Learning German in 90 Days

Add1Challenge. Have you heard of that?

Snooping around YouTube, I came across some Add1Challenge videos and wondered what that was all about.

I watched videos of people from all over the world giving their shot at how much of a language they had learned over the course of 30, 60, and finally, 90 days.

This year, I made plans to (finally) attend the Polyglot Conference in Thessaloniki. Since the conference is only two days, and I’m going to be flying in all the way from Seoul, I figured I’d do some traveling in Europe after the conference.

I have some friends in Germany, so I decided to visit Germany after the conference. It will be my first time visiting Germany, so I figured that I should try to improve my German at least to a decent conversational level before going.

I learned bits and pieces of German when I was in high school from hanging out with a few German exchange students. I was intrigued by the fact that well, English is technically a Germanic language – albeit with many of the Germanic features gone. And I was also interested in the German-speaking cultural and intellectual heritage. I asked my German friends how to say this and that, and just picked up the bare rudiments of the language.

It was only when I was in university that I took a more focused stab at this language. At the time, I was just getting into LingQ, discovering Steve Kaufmann’s videos on YouTube and being amazed at his story and how he went about learning languages. His support of Krashen’s ideas about language learning also served as a mental bridge linking my own thoughts about language learning and the stuff I was learning in my linguistics classes.

At any rate, I began listening to a lot of German content on LingQ, creating LingQs, making flashcards and the like. German was my first case language, and as one can imagine, I had quite a bit of difficulty trying to learn all the forms.

I did that for several months, but I guess I lost interest or it was too hard. I remember I checked out the first Harry Potter book in German from the local library and tried reading it, to great difficulty. Given that I knew very few words, going through a single page of the book was a time-consuming, laborious task. Thereafter, I got interested in Chinese Mandarin, and took some classes as well. German was always still there in my language world, but other things got in the way, and I just didn’t give enough attention to it.

But now that I had plans to visit Germany, I figured I would take the plunge and try out this challenge. Learn everyday (or almost every day) for 90 days and speak for 15 minutes with a native speaker? And put it up on YouTube? For all the world to see? I can do that. Or so I thought when I signed up 🙂

Well, it is now Day 38 of the challenge as we speak, and let’s see what’s happened. I started out by getting into my usual language learning resources: LingQ. I upgraded my account to a paying one, so I could create more LingQs, and also used Slow German – which is an amazing resource – to listen to interesting podcasts about diverse topics. I highly recommend Slow German for all German learners out there. I really appreciate the person who runs that site..speaking of which, I should drop her a line.

I also got back into Duolingo. I think I tinkered with it a few years ago when I heard about it. I just wanted to check it out and see if it was worth all the chatter. My use of Duolingo dropped off after some time though – you gotta admit, it does get a little repetitive. But doing this challenge in German, I was looking for resources to learn German, so I got back into it. I was dutifully doing it everyday but as of late, I’ve been missing those push alarms telling me to get back into it. I think the first little while it was fun, but it’s becoming more and more of a chore to do Duolingo as well.

Oh and there’s also Deutsche Welle, another awesome resource! They have an Android app called “DeutschLernen” which is available for free download on the Google Play Store (I’m not so sure if it’s also available – free or otherwise – on the App Store). Another great resource for learning German!

Now in terms of progress, I recently began looking for some speaking partners on iTalki. As may be obvious, you can’t expect to learn a language and speak it for 15 minutes with a native speaker in 90 days if all you do is listen and read 😉

I sent out a bunch of messages to a bunch of German speakers, but so far I’ve only gotten a few responses. I haven’t yet spoken to any of them yet, but I know I’m going to do it very soon. It’s Day 38 and I still haven’t found myself a partner to practice with!

Time is really flying by these days, and soon enough, it’ll be October and time to go to Greece to attend the Polyglot Conference! I do need to get back into the routine and work at my German more so I’ll be ready to speak to the locals once I go to Germany.

As we get closer to that 90 day mark, I hope to put up some more updates on my progress. First, I need to find an actual partner to practice speaking with. Viel spaß! 😀

第十五 课 复习 (2016/05/27)

饮食习惯 饮食 [yǐnshí xíguàn] – 식성

炭酸饮料 [tànsuānyǐnliào] – 탄산음료
绿茶拿铁 [lǜchá nátiě ] – 녹차 라떼

恰恰相反 [qiàqiàxiāngfǎn] – 정 반대이다.

中文系 [zhōngwénxì] – 중문학과

介绍 给你的 [jièshào] – 너에게 소개해준

故意 [gùyì] – (부사) 고의로, 일부러

女性朋友 [nǚxìng péngyou] – 여자사람친구
花心 [huāxīn] – 바람기

征服 [zhēngfú] – 정복하다

东亚圈 [DōngYà quān] – 동아시아 권

直观 [zhíguān] – 직관의, 직관적
社会地位 [shèhuì dìwèi] – 사회적 위치

不可缺少 [bù kě quē shǎo] – indispensable

当 [dāng] 我听到时 – 내가 들었을때

愚 [yú] – 어리석다
蠢 [chǔn] – 어리석다
缺点 [quēdiǎn] – 결점, 단점

锻炼 [duànliàn] – 단련하다

缺乏 [quēfá] – 결핍되다
– 缺乏毅力 [quēfá yìlì] – 끈기가 부족하다

印象 深刻 [yìnxiàng] shēnkè] – 인상 깊다
蒙古 [Měnggǔ] – 몽골

成吉思汗 [chéngjísīhán] – 징기스칸

美国队长 [mei3guo2 dui4zhang3] – Captain America
形象 [xíngxiàng] – 이미지
无辜的人 [wúgū derén] – 무고한 사람

吹牛 [chuīniú] – 허풍 떨다

比例 [bǐlì] – 비중

追星族 [zhuīxīngzú] – 오빠 (언니) 부대
从头到尾 [cóngtóudàowěi] – 머리부터 발끝까지, 처음부터 끝까지, 시종(始終)

逗 [dòu] – 웃기다

萌 [méng] = 可爱 [kě’ài] = 귀엽다

第十四次 课 复习 (2016/05/25)

怀念 [huáiniàn] – 추억하다, 그리워하다

同屋 [tóngwū] – 룸메이트

混乱 [hùnluàn] – (형용사) 혼란하다, 어지럽다

制作 [zhìzuò] – 제작하다, 만들다

占领 [zhànlǐng] – 점령하다

骗子 [piànzi] – 사기꾼

拉丁 [Lādīng] – 라틴

语系 [yǔxì] – 어족 (language family)

印欧语系[YìnōuYǔxì] – 인도유럽어계

俄语 [éyǔ] – 러시아어

闷 [mèn] – 답답하다
郁闷 [yùmèn] – 답답하고 괴롭다, 우울하다

墨西哥 [Mòxīgē] – Mexico
巴西 [Bāxī] – Brazil
葡萄牙 [Pútáoyá] – Portugal
阿拉伯 [ālābó] – 아랍
殖民地 [zhímíndì] – 식민지
独立 [dúlì] – 독립하다
影响 [yǐngxiǎng] – 영향을 주다

机关 [jīguān] – 기관

举办 [jǔbàn] – 개최하다, 열다

广播 [guǎngbō] – 방송하다
感恩 [gǎnēn] – 고맙게 여기다, 은혜에 감격하다

陌生人 [mòshēngrén] – 낯선 사람

简体字 [jiǎntǐzì] – 간체자
繁体字 [fántǐzì] – 번체자

抱着~~~的希望 [bàozhe de xīwàng] – ~~의 희망을 갖다

宣传 [xuānchuán] – 선전하다, 홍보하다

责任心 强 [zérènxīn qiáng] – 책임감이 강하다

想不起来 [xiǎngbuqǐlái] – 생각/기억이 나지 않는다

充实 [chōngshí] – (내용, 인력, 재력 등이) 충분하다

统一 [tǒngyī] – 통일하다

枯燥 [kūzào] – 무미건조하다, 지루하다

健忘 [jiànwàng] – 잘 (쉽게) 잊어버리다

同龄 [tónglíng] – 동갑의

有点儿后悔 [hòuhuǐ] – 좀 후회한다

第十三次 课 复习 (2016/05/20)

骨折 [gǔzhé] – 골절되다
讨厌 [tǎoyàn] – 싫어하다, 미워하다

收费 [shōufèi] – 비용을 받다

接球 [jiēqiú] – 공을 받다
传球 [chuánqiú] – (축구, 농구 등에서) 공을 패스하다
手指 [shǒuzhǐ] – 손가락
抓不住 [zhuābúzhù] – 잡을 수가 없다

国籍 [guójí] – 국적

在线 [zàixiàn] – 온라인 상태이다

社团 [shètuán] – 동아리

字写得好 [zìxiědehǎo] – 글씨를 잘 쓴다

书法 [shūfǎ] – 서예

没准备好 – 준비를 잘 하지 않았다.

苦恼 [kǔnǎo] – 고민하다

负担 [fùdān] – (명사) 부담. (책임, 일, 비용 등을) 부담하다

安于现状 [ānyúxiànzhuàng] – 현 상태에 만족하다, 안주하다

为你着想 [zhuóxiǎng] – 너를 배려한다

借口 [jièkǒu] – 구실, 핑계