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June 19, 2012

Some things to watch and a study update

Two TED talks for today. The first came from a discussion in the 6.002x pages -- Why is x the unknown?. I was surprised I didn't know this. And Luis van Ahn on ReCaptcha and Duolingo -- this was a link from a piece on the BBC.

Another thing I was surprised I hadn't previously seen was this set of 3D photos taken (mostly) on the International Space Station. They used a Fuji W1. Unfortunately these are anaglyph, but they're still very interesting photos.

I'm more than halfway through Udacity CS262 now, and have hit the brick wall (for me) that is parsing theory. Honestly, I just zip through this material, going 'yup, that's ok, that's ok, understand that, that's fine...' and then run face first into a brick wall of UTTER INCOMPREHENSION. With Peter Norvig, who had a take-no-prisoners instruction style, that was not so worrying. But the instructor in CS262 is Wes Weimer, and everything up until this point has been completely lucid and spelt out in perfect detail. How hard was it? I turned to Signals and Systems for light relief.

The 'study group' of ex-6.002x students who are looking at 6.003 over the summer is really taking shape now. Someone has written us a website to gather all the course material together; other people are recording video tutorials and writing solutions to questions. I have watched the first two videos and solved most of the associated problem set; there are also problem sets (though no solutions) available from the current version of the course (for which the videos are not available) and I'm going to try to solve all of those as I go as well.

Sebastian Thrun wants to break the record for number of people on a MOOC with his Introduction to Statistics course, subtitled 'making decisions based on data'. I signed up before he started plugging it, but suspect that the people who really, really need to start making decisions based on data won't be inclined to take the course.

We've had a bit of a spate of GCSEs recently. Marianne is only in year 10, but has taken several modular exams that actually count towards her results in the last few weeks. The last of these is today, although she still has more mocks and the mocks still 'count' in that they are shown to the sixth form colleges she applies to. I am confident that the way she has coped with all this stress is within the normal parameters for teenage girls because I have seen Phineas and Ferb. Meanwhile, Jonathan has been told that all his end of year tests will take place in the Hall under exam conditions 'to get students used to taking public exams'. Because, you know, secondary school wouldn't be stressful enough without that. He's only in year 7.

Food -- These 'healthy' baked sweet potato skins were really delicious. Steven made the filling; to save time we used caramelised onions from a jar, we used red kidney beans instead of black beans because we'd run out, and jarred red peppers instead of chipolte because of the spicy food thing, and a mix of half sweet potatoes and half butternut squash. So in practice it was totally different. But seriously delicious, and crammed full of veg. The recipe suggests that one half potato will be enough as a portion; obviously not. This is going to become a standard meal for us.

Posted by Alison Scott at June 19, 2012 12:41 PM


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