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Ask HN: What are you currently learning in your spare time?
32 points by aprdm on Nov 1, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 60 comments
HNers, what are you currently learning in your spare time? Some new js framework? Machine learning? New devops technics?


I'm learning German. I've never learnt a non-machine language before and having just moved to Berlin I thought I'd try not being that jerk foreigner that only speaks english, even after living here for 2 years. So far it's been quite fun. Last week I finally cracked the level where I understood a conversation of a Couple passing me on the street.

An old bilingual hacker mate once commented to me, on learning German, that it's a stack based languages, as all the verbs are at the end of the sentence...

That's excellent. I'll remember that.

Nice! I am also learning German. I've just moved to Heidelberg about 10 months ago. It is a difficult language... :/

Did you take classes?

So far no. I've been using Duo Lingo, which has been surprisingly good to get the basics, plus a bunch of learn German audio files I found. I'll probably sign up for classes soon when I find some good ones. A friend of mine took classes aimed at tourists and said she didn't get much from it.

Also listening to German heavy metal while coding, not sure if it helps, but there's a genre called "new german hardness".

Hey, I'm also located in Heidelberg, born here, if you ever want to get a coffee and practice a bit let me know.

Hey that would be great. I am a bit new to HN, is there a way to PM someone?

I'm about to start the assignment for the 5th week of Machine Learning on Coursera https://www.coursera.org/learn/machine-learning

That's awesome! I hope to go through that course soon. I just finished 2nd week assignments of Algorithms- Design and Analysis on Coursera - https://www.coursera.org/course/algo


Oh, and how to consume large amounts of ethanol without it tasting like anything. That's mostly a weekend project with a couple of mates.

Clojure! And I'm absolutely loving it so far. =)

I've been working through the HackerRank Functional Programming challenges lately and have found it to be a great resource for getting accustomed to solving problems in a functional mindset. I suspect it'd be just as useful for any other functional language that they support.


Next step is to actually build something with it. I have a rough idea for my next project but before starting on that I should probably release my current project and get a job...

I've been reading bits about Erlang and Lisp-flavored Erlang (http://lfe.io/). I ported Norvig's Lispy (http://norvig.com/lispy.html) to Java as a weekend project and now I'm curious about Pixie (https://github.com/pixie-lang/pixie)

I've been digging into Haskell in the time I have to program at home. Im going through the course at http://www.seas.upenn.edu/~cis194/spring13/lectures.html.

In addition to the classes, I've been trying to use it to write small programs and whatnot.

While I can't use Haskell at work, I can say working with it more regularly has definitely improved the JavaScript code I write on the job.

I've been picking up a skill that's probably best described as "living as a body" (as opposed to identifying with and being the thoughts in your head). To borrow terms from Thinking Fast and Slow, it's deliberately acting more from a System 1 kind of place.

Recommended reading - "The Inner Game of Tennis" and "Impro" by Keith Johnstone. These are pretty easy reads and have helped me out tremendously in unexpected ways.

Although I already have my finance degree and wouldn't so much need it, getting my CFA is a near-term goal.

Learning wise, trying to completely re-learn mathematics, starting with books like the Mathematicians Delight and beginning with the most basic arithmetic, hopefully up through diffy q's, linear algebra, and intermediate stat. If anybody has any good tips on completely teaching yourself math from start to finish, please send them my way!

Good luck with the CFA! It's a great program. I didn't expect it at first, but the best lesson I got out of it was that it taught me how to study and teach myself a subject comprehensively.

After several years of wanting to play an instrument, and wanting to draw, I'm sitting down and actually doing both of those. It's been a bit liberating, doing something so different from my day job, yet it's helping me look at programming in a new light.

UML. Technically this is for a master's, but that's my spare time. I do find it interesting to see why it's not really used. So verbose, but not detailed enough for great communication.

UML - Unnecessary Management Lingo. - @iamdevloper

UML - I know next to nothing about UML - but what I do know is the language was invented first and then people came around and tried to give semantics to the language. Well, in other words what that means is that the language was invented first and it really didn't mean anything. And then, later on, people came around to try to figure out what it meant. Well, that's not the way to design a specification language. The importance of a specification language is to specify something precisely, and therefore what you write - the specification you write - has to have a precise, rigorous meaning. - Leslie Lamport

UML: a language that was invented first and then people came around to try to get semantics. - Leslie Lamport

UML: fuzzy pictures of boxes and arrows. - Leslie Lamport

People use UML, things like UML, to model programs, but it's not clear how to translate them in to sequences of states, for concurrency. If you cannot translate them in to sequences of states, it means you don't understand them, and it may mean that there's nothing there. You know, there are lots of people selling snake-oil, drawing boxes and arrows that make you feel good, but ultimately have no real meaning. If something is really meaningful you should be able to express it in mathematics. - Leslie Lamport

... ie. it's not used much because it lacks precision of expression, and its main competitor is informal diagramming: a couple of boxes and a line on a whiteboard are 90% as effective as UML, and actually function for a general audience. (Quotes from https://github.com/globalcitizen/taoup)

Nice thread. Gotta say, listing all this makes me feel a hell of a lot less lazy! (In southwest China...)

1. Classical Chinese, by translating old texts on Wikisource: https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Translation:Manshu

2. Just brushed up on technical drawing and woodworking to get new office furniture built.

3. Fatherhood.

4. Event planning. I'm trying to set up a community event to take ~40 party people down to a nearby lake to spend a day in the sun on the lakeshore and go sailing on two Weta Trimarans I transported here last year. http://wetamarine.com/ + http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuxian_Lake ... brushed up on sailing a year ago, it'd been 20 years.

5. Winemaking. The focus is on arriving at a process and set of inputs that result in a scalable and commercially viable range of non-grape based wines (cider/perry type drinks, but not limited to apples and pears), then flip it and registered IP to a large and established distributor, and use the knowledge and cash gained to do some small-batch, higher-end organic type stuff.

6. Improving my poetry: I am part of a very international poetry group which meets once every week or two and reads and discusses poetry in English and Chinese, with occasional additional languages.

7. Modern history. I joined a Marxist reading group and am learning a lot about the history of late 19th century/early 20th century Europe as well as various shades of communist/socialist ideology. (Previously, living in China, I have stayed consciously ignorant of such things, which I had never found particularly interesting.)

8. Philosophy of mathematics. Currently reading Pi in the Sky which is an awesome book which I would particularly recommend as a very readable, tangent-laden ponder for programmers without a significant background in formal mathematics who like history, mathematics or philosophy.

9. Documentary filmmaking + new software. Currently working on a social documentary of foreigners living in this corner of southwest China. Although I'd done some since analog days, this is my first major project and I'm using the new Lightworks software on Gentoo Linux: http://www.lwks.com/ .. also planning to finish by end of year.

Cool. Kunming? I am in south Taiwan =)

Yep. Kunming. I cycled down the Taiwanese coast years ago - http://pratyeka.org/bike/eastern-taiwan.html ... very interesting country, I've been back maybe 5 times, but not enough wilderness for my liking. Almost forgot - starting a maker space http://cave.pratyeka.org/

Ah, I think you missed the mountains in the middle =). I spent a month in Yunnan a couple years ago and hope to revisit. Not enough freedom of speech for my liking.

Your maker space looks awesome! I have the same idea to open a shared hacking space in Kaohsiung

True, I only crossed a little of the mountains. Nice but nothing on Yunnan.

Freedom of speech is something I am quite skeptical about in many so-called democracies given the very centralized state of media ownership how many people can stand on the street protesting and still be profoundly ignored by the government. It seems that while you nominally have the right to say almost anything, reaching any size of audience is virtually impossible, and influencing politicans is nigh-on rainbow pony territory.

Good luck with your hacking space! You are very welcome to come visit us next year once we're set up. Email in profile.

Trying, and mostly failing, to learn some game development methods for collision detection. Currently, working on a SAT implementation, quad trees and GJK.

I was taking game development courses at Coursera but they decided to lock everyone out of being able to actually finish the courses without paying for them (which is their right - but still annoying) so i'm also looking for some good 2d tutorials for Unity.

I've been learning more about lease-option contracts. My goal is to understand how to determine interest rates for lessee's who lack a formal credit history. But have a year or more of lease payment history.

Also, studying the growth of suburbs in Santa Clara and Alameda Counties during the post war period. It really helps in understanding some recent urban planning policies.

Working through MacLane & Birkhoff's Algebra. I used to study Japanese, but Ive been slacking on that pursuit.

I'm watching a lot of videos and tutorials trying to learn how to build social networking site. https://www.livecoding.tv/video/enfrbuilding-a-social-networ...

Improving spoken Spanish, learning Cryllic script, post-structural philosophy, contemplating dance lessons. Learning to run without getting tired or dizzy quickly, and trying to learn a better game of tennis but there doesn't seem to be indoor courts where I live and it's rainy season.

There's a coursera session on digital signal processing going on right now, figured I'd take a crack at it: https://www.coursera.org/course/dsp

Not really in my spare time since I took a couple months off from working (have to go pound the pavement this month,) but machine learning (UofW Coursera's specialization) & pandas. Also, spending time in the mornings on math (currently probability.)

CockroachDB. I've been writing about it as I learn: https://www.grockdoc.com/cockroachdb/alpha/articles

Learning Crystal and making useful stuff with it. E.g a Sinatra like web framework with 10x performance https://github.com/kemalcr/kemal

I've been taking chemistry courses, online, with some labs in person. Oregon State ($$) and Coursera. I've finished general chemistry, took a little analytic, and now I'm making my way through an organic chemistry sequence.

I'm digging into Android Wear and writing an app. It's nice but it needs a lot of boilerplate code to set up communication between mobile and wear. Once set up and understood it's pretty straightforward

I've been doing the http://open.kattis.com/ problems in Go.

Rust, and base system call interfaces that Linux provides. Hoping to write up a simple composable user land someday.

reviewing japanese (after living there for 2 years, don't wanna forget it :) )

looking up bitcoin and finding it hard to see what I can do as a developer, it just seems like there's a lot to learn before I can even get through the basics. Reading a cryptography book though, pretty interesting.

Improving my Dutch language skills.

Learning to solve more twisty puzzles. I recently learnt the Megaminx, and it was awesome.

Doing what I can to learn Java.

Shell scripting. I did not realize how powerful it is until I only started with it.

I've been planning on taking the plunge to learn that as well. Do you have any useful links I should check out?


converting political order into set theory http://us.metamath.org/mpegif/mmset.html

Rocket League skills :)

C, and taking a course on algorithms and data structures.

Udemy courses about business and lean startup method

Ruby. And some days I feel like a complete idiot

Elixir and Rust, and brushing up on C++11.

Sales and Marketing.

Close.io has been really useful.


Calculus and chemistry.

Javascript and golang

AWS & Ansible..

metaethics and the thought of John Wesley



Learning to solve more twisty puzzles.

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