NLP Basics at NYU Makerspace

I recently had the pleasure of giving an intro talk on Natural Language Processing at NYU! My basic concepts were a little rusty so I knew this would be a great way for me to get back into the NLP game.

All of the content for my workshop is on this PDF.

TL;DR – I introduce TextBlob, simple NLP tasks like Parts-of-Speech tagging, spell-correction, lemmatization, summarization and then create a simple chatbot to help you find a job(link to Github in the PDF).

The chatbot is a watered down version of the bot I made for my NLP course in college. Joby will help you find jobs using queries like “Show me jobs in San Francisco” or “I want healthcare jobs in New York”.

NYU Makerspace also featured me on their blog – so w00t!

The last time I taught a workshop in person was an Android App Dev workshop a few years back and enjoyed presenting as a way to consolidate whatever I knew about a topic.

I realized the value of consolidating what I know because revisiting concepts while consolidating everything into a presentation really made me feel like I know those topics well.

Also I definitely can do a better job at public speaking but this was good practice!

Train trip in America!

Of late, I’ve realized I’m going to be in the US for a short time so it makes sense to see more of this giant country before leaving it.

Before coming to the US, I read this blog post about someone traveling across the country by train and experiencing the true beauty of the land. I am a person who takes my recommendations serious, and stirred.

My college roommate, KM and I got onto our first US train that snaked up North alongside the Hudson. Like absolute noobs, we chose seats on the right hand side of the carriage while the pretty river and mountains ended up being on the left. The train was heading to Poughkeepsie, so I ended up doing this

Friends reference anyone?

We navigated through the pleasant town of Cold Spring to reach a really serene and mostly deserted part of the Hudson River.

Onward to the calorie burning hike that was on the agenda.

I realized I like hiking very recently when we I went on the arduous Angel’s Landing hike in Zion National Parks. I’m kicking myself for not hiking enough in India and I hope to see more nature when I go back.

We proudly fitted ourselves with makeshift walking sticks and eventually got to the top where the view was pretty inspiring.

Our success warranted some cave man inspired shenanigans by the ever sportive KM which honestly was the best part of the day.

Here is another picture of us trying to rock some shades at the highest point

Amidst life observations, the second leg of our hike led us deeper into the forest to a completely deserted babbling brook. It sounded amazing! We stopped to take in this tranquil setting and to recharge body and mind with a banana and a book apiece.

On the way back, we decided to help me check-off an item from my mini bucket list and hitchhiked with a stranger back to the town. Fortunately, or unfortunately it was pretty uneventful.

We ended this awesome fat burning day with a heavy meal from Saravana Bhavan thus providing balance to the world.

The Yaaaay Lady

Recently Google had a giveaway for the Google Home Mini. While waiting in the line to enter the pop-up donut themed shop, there was a Google employee at the doors. She made the event all the more memorable because she would go “Yaaaaaaaay” whenever anyone came out with a Google Home Mini!

I feel like she was on something.

She had the kind of excitement someone should have when people start using what you make. I hope I’m as excited about people using something I helped make.

Advice and Self Identity

Advice is a big part of social interaction with other humans. Sometimes you’re looking for advice and sometimes people just give it to you anyway. Parents have to instruct their kids from an early age in the ways of the world and it becomes a habit for them to give their children advice as they grow up and even when they’re older. Many a times people get advice from friends. Knowing how to sift through the advice and imbibe all the good stuff is something I really value. Society works largely on recommendations from others – shopping reviews, movie ratings, what place to eat at, what college to go to and so on. But when it comes to more personal things, heeding advice gets harder.

A big part of acting on someone’s advice is being able to socially identify yourself with it. For example, say I have a friend who is a gym buff. He tells me to start gymming, and follows it with a very sensible explanation of how excercise is helpful and so on; I’m only inclined to follow his advice if I am ok to take up somebody else’s passion(his) and start parading socially that it is also mine. My relationship with this person also matters because I am now indebted to him for convincing me to join the gym so I might not be able to fully “own” this passion with him out “owning” me.

This is obviously not the case for a large number of people who would take up their friend’s advice to join the gym. This happens because he/she is open minded and motivated enough to try something new in the first place. Another reason that people listen to other people is social inclusion. “Let me join the drama club cause thats what all the cool kids are doing” or “Let me try alcohol cause everyone else has”. It’s also important to respect the person giving you the advice and publicly regard them as more knowledgeable on that matter. This is tough to do with some parents because of obvious parent-child dynamics where the child is always on rebel-against-everything-even-if-it-makes-sense mode.

This post is pretty rough around the edges and it feels disorganized but hey, atleast I now identify myself as a writer.

Why I’m Blogging

Alexa what’s the date today?

“Today is Sunday, September 24th”

I’ve been shunning writing because of the effort it takes to actually put my thoughts down on paper. It’s really slow compared to actually just thinking those thoughts or even talking to people about it. But I realized that most of the opinions or ideas in my head never graduate to “Level 2”. By this I mean, if I have an initial instinctive theory about something, I acknowledge that and am happy with my learning but I am not able to do anything useful with it or get deeper into that topic.

I am reminded about Dumbledore’s Pensieve. He had so many thoughts and memories in his head that at times he had to store it somewhere so he can examine it better. I’m hoping I can do the same with this blog.

I want to record my experiences so I can look back and remember them with more detail. I also want to record my outlook on life. I’m expecting most of my blog posts to be about experiences or opinions 🙂