Coursera, MOOCS and Diaper Duties

Posted on October 23, 2012



Another Girl!!!

Yurika Hannah

Yurika Hannah. Yep, it’s a girl.

It’s been a pair of crazily months since I’ve had a time to post anything. But all is good. My wife and I are getting ready for a new arrival to our family, a baby girl who we’ll name Yurika Hannah.  Yurika (“beautiful lily”) is the Japanese name picked by my wife.

For her second name, I picked  Hannah, after the Biblical mother of Samuel, and which means “beauty” and/or “passion” in Hebrew.

At least picking up a name was easy for me. I was debating between Hannah or Margo (after one of the girls in Despicable Me.)  My wife now has to go through the task of finding an appropriate Kanji writing of Yurika (which will correspond phonetically to “Yurika”, but that would have a different meaning.) Alphabets make life so much easier 🙂

Fuyumi and Hanna's baby shower gifts

Fuyumi helping organize Hannah’s baby shower gifts

But, Me So Tired.

How you like'em apples?

Me with a satanic smile, holding the key to the Prius, $8K shaved off the ticket price.

But with all the joy that comes with it, it comes the enormous effort to prepare ourselves. New furniture, and a change of residence that we just completed a few weeks ago.  On top of that, three weeks of haggling in trying to get the best price possible for a Toyota Prius V3; we ended up getting a V2, cutting almost $8K off the original sticker price.

Note to people, never pay the sticker price. If you are diligent, you can shave a ton of moolah. I think we could have pushed even further and shave almost $10K of the sticker price, but I was tired, my pregnant wife was tired, and my 3+ year old daughter was tired.

Sake and Sushi to combat mental and physical exhaustion

Sake and Sushi to combat exhaustion

Eight thousand dollars worth of savings was good enough (plus we got the dealer to give us free tinted windows, so there.)

All that, and a lot of other preparatory steps takes time. And time, though relative, it is still finite. Damn you Einstein!!!

To MOOC or Not to MOOC

All of this wouldn’t be so exhausting for me, and for my family, if it weren’t because I was already enrolled in two MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) courses with One was Dr. Odersky’s “Functional Programming Principles in Scala” course, and the other one was Dr. Ng’s “Machine Learning” course.

The Scala course is one that I’ve been able to handle with just a small amount of effort (by leveraging on my programming experience.) Dr. Ng’s course, on the other hand, it has been kicking my ass for the last four weeks.

It is a wonderfully useful and interesting course. It is also one with a lot of work. You got to understand the math and complete the Octave programming assignments. In other words, like in a real course, if you want to learn the stuff, well, it takes time.

So with all the family stuff that has to take place, I haven’t finished the programming assignment for support vector machines, and I’m already 2 weeks late with the assignments corresponding to the neural network lessons.

Don’t Chew More Than You Can Swallow.

My parents always told me that. Actually, every adult told me that… and still.

I’m afraid I took a bit larger than what I can chew, and I’m not sure I can catch up in time. I can submit my homework late and be subject to a 20% penalty.  I think that combined with the good grades I got in the first half of the course will give me enough to be over the 80% grade required for a certificate of completion.

But still, it gives me a bit of a sour taste in the mouth to finish things like that, in a half-baked fashion. It stings more since I’ve been very invested in this course, staying several times until 2-3am in the morning (the only time I get to study.)

But I feel I have no choice, and I’ll have to stop work on the machine learning course.  I still have the Scala course to complete with excellent grades I guess, but still.

At least I know that it is because of a good (and beautiful) reason: My second daughter’s arrival. After all, everything I do is simply to update my skills, and to ensure I give everything possible for my family’s future.

Plus, I can always take another machine learning course with Coursera (Dr. Ng’s course is slated for another run next year.) It would have been nice if I had completed everything on time.

But at least I know I gave it my all. As Michael Jordan once said:  “I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”

There is always a next chance if you are willing to take it. More important things are demanding my attention now 🙂

Family, 2012

My family and I at a wedding, with my wife getting closer to her due date.