Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Well the exchange rate has continued rising, making me really regret trading when I did.

The next month is going to be extremely busy/stressful for me:
  • I will have a series of midterms over the next few weeks.
  • I have to send out grad school applications. This includes finalizing my list of schools, filling out applications, and writing numerous essays.
  • I am part of a team for the ACM programming competition. UBC has three teams (UBC^, UBC*, and UBC+). I am part of UBC* (UBC^ is the best team). There is a regional competition hosted by UBC on November 15th. We will have up to 10 hours of practice every week until the regionals. The world finals will be in Sweden in 2009.
  • I have two big papers due in Psychology and Philosophy.
  • All of my exams are packed in between December 3rd through 10th.
  • I have other commitments like my part time job as a TA, assignments, meetings, etc...

Saturday, October 18, 2008



Since my last post about the exchange rate, the US to Canadian dollar rate has been skyrocketing upward. I exchanged money at exactly the wrong time. I won't feel too bad about it though since I had no choice but to exchange in order to pay for tuition. Luckily I only exchanged enough to pay for tuition and left the rest in US dollars. A few days ago I converted the rest of my money:
Hopefully this time the exchange rate won't significantly increase immediately after my trade. Predicting exchange rate fluctuations is frustratingly difficult.

In other news, there have been two separate incidents happen to my bike since it was almost stolen. A few weeks ago the bike was knocked over and the disc brake was severely bent (I had to replace the unit). Since the disc is a fairly solid piece of metal, it must have been deliberately stepped on in order to bend it. This morning I found that the mudguard had been stolen and the seat was also adjusted to a lower position (I am not quite sure why the thief would feel compelled to adjust the level of the seat).

Friday, October 10, 2008

Anathem and GEB

Earlier this week I ordered two books online. I received the books today in a surprisingly quick display of international delivery. Behold:
Neal Stephenson's Anathem and Douglas Hofstadter's Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid. I have very high expectations for both books. I just flipped a coin (really!) and it looks like I will be reading Anathem first. Given the length/density of the books, it should take me quite a while to get through them.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Smiley Value Decomposition

For an assignment in my machine learning course I performed principal components analysis (PCA) using singular value decomposition (SVD) on some smiley faces:
Reducing the dimensionality of a data matrix of smiley vectors allows us to visualize smiley face features in two dimensions. Yay!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Exchange Rate

This is a graph of the U.S. dollar to Canadian dollar exchange rate for the last three months:
The red "X" is when I exchanged a lot of money. D'oh!