Confessions of a researchaholic

February 19, 2022

Silicon Valley Index

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 12:50 pm

Some interesting aspects I found in the 2022 Silicon Valley Index:

  • The total population declined due to net emigration.
  • Asian now constitutes 39% of the population, more than white (29%), Hispanic (24%), black (2%), and the others (6%).
  • The median income ($138100) is about the twice the US value ($67300).
  • Apple and Alphabet employed 12% of the total work force.
  • Despite a relatively low household poverty rate of 5%, nearly 33% of all households do not earn enough money to meet their most basic needs without public or private/informal assistance.
  • Non-residential development approvals hit an all-time high in FY 2020-21, with more than 21.5 million square feet of space approved.

August 15, 2021

The doubtful guest

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 6:42 pm
Tags: ,

I spotted this palm-sized book on a shelf in Kinokuniya San Francisco, and managed to read it in a few minutes. When the book is open, you will see a few (usually two) lines of rhymed texts on the left and an meticulously hatched illustration on the right. Both the story the art have a very interesting style.

April 17, 2021

Good charts

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:53 am

This is an excellent practical guide to information visualization, with three main parts: a theoretical background including a brief history, perceptual mechanisms, and types of visualizations; a workflow part of chart design and prototype; and finally how to present and read charts. The book concludes with the observation of upcoming interactive visualizations enabled by computer programs beyond traditional static charts for print mediums.

In addition to the technical content, the book has beautiful layout and examples, with pointers for further readings.

February 16, 2021

Elemental Magic

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:23 am

This is an excellent book about the principles for drawing secondary dynamic effects, including fluid, fire, smoke, steam, explosion, magic, and solid props.
A hierarchical, coarse-to-fine process applies not only to static drawings but also dynamic animations in the form of coarse energy flows controlling fine visual details.
However, this is not a tutorial book, and one will need (a lot of) practice to really learn (I am currently following this).

The book touches upon digital assistance for manual animation, an exciting and important research direction that also fits my hobby.

January 27, 2021

The biggest bluff

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 1:57 pm

Gist: the author, with a journalism and psychology background, decided to pick-up poker from scratch as a way to learn how to deal with randomness in life and focus on what we can control. The poker part serves as the training platform and medium of investigation for the author, and even without knowing anything about poker, I found this participatory journalism highly entertaining and yet educational at the same time.

At the end of the book, the author said that she plan to continue with poker instead of ending it after completing the journalism project.
I wonder if this is the best use of one’s time and talent; poker is a zero-sum game and contributes even less to the world than finance, which also moves things around but at leas can claim to increase market efficiency.
As a research scientist and product engineer, I would much prefer to be able to create things and solve problems, with even more opportunities (and necessities) to deal with external randomness and internal control.

December 27, 2020

The 99% invisible city

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:54 pm

This is a fascinating collection of short articles about how people build and interact with our environments. Initially I wondered why the book used illustrations instead of photographs, but as I read on I realized that this choice better fits with the design of the book, set in beautiful yellow-black color scheme and typography.

December 25, 2020

Need to finish what I started

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:30 pm

May 21, 2020

Book challenge

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:55 am

A Facebook friend nominated me to a 7-day book challenge.
I took it but without nominating the next person so that I would not offend or spam anyone.

I am glad that I could include a diverse set of topics (computer science, finance, sci-fi, physics, history, math, art) without any serious technical/textbooks.

April 12, 2020

Scaffolding knowledge

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:10 am
Tags: ,

Every information is a piece of an entire knowledge, so instead of treating what we learn as separate fragments, it is more effective to memorize and understand them as a whole.
This is possible because knowledge often repeats in different forms, such as through history or books.

In effect, Funes not only remembered every leaf on every tree of every wood, but even every one of the times he had perceived or imagined it.
To think is to forget a difference, to generalize, to abstract. In the overly replete world of Funes there were nothing but details, almost contiguous details.
– Funes the Memorious

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