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Ask HN: What Are You Learning?
51 points by nb_key on July 22, 2022 | hide | past | favorite | 76 comments
This question pops up on HN occasionally, but I am posting it here again. These days, besides working as a data scientist, I am learning game theory and curious to know what you are learning besides your job.

I’m on maternity leave now, so I’m doing a lot of one-handed learning while nursing my newborn. Specifically:

- Pytest (With Brian Okkens book)

- CPython (with Anthony Shaws book)

- Frontend tools: Rollup, Lit Web Elements

- latest Ecmascript features

- Azure services- App Service, CDN, Translator, Storage

- Flask Blueprints, SQLAlchemy with Alembic

- PostGreSQL

How to play guitar. I'm in my 60s, but it's never too late to learn how to shred or shoe-gaze.

Similarly, 30+ years ago I learned how to ride a motorcycle, and rode for 30 years without crashing. It was great having a hobby that had absolutely nothing to do with computers. I recently sold the bikes and gear, it's just too risky at my age.

Piano. 43 now, played maybe 2 years in primary school. My partner got a good quality electric one with headphones.

This led me to start as I could practice at night while the kids slept, and not be embarrassed sucking and/or driving people insane doing exercises/ scales

Can you talk about how you are going about learning the piano? Ie. What study materials and how much practice you do? Piano is something I would love to learn too.

I'm working my way through Alfred's basic adult Piano Course. I like how it also teaches music theory.


I went through it page by page, each day I started I'd go back maybe 5-10 pages. I do contrawise 2 handed scales as a warm up. I've been approaching it as work (ie concentrate hard, do deliberate practice not messing around) and have seen really fast improvement. I practice maybe 30 mins 5 days a week.

I'll also just have fun - I just try and play the songs I really like (Greensleeves, Scarborough fair, House of the rising sun, Canon in D etc) until they're really good. I can (barely) play Canon in D after maybe a month (though I played Violin for 5 years and piano for 2 as a kid)

If I don't know a song, I'll google it before tackling it as I find that makes it way easier, eg here's Canon in D https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFRYPg5dwss

You can also download sheet music, eg Aphex Twin, and easy version of Europe's the final countdown etc which is pretty fun to play as a synth.

Good luck!

What brand piano are you using?

Kawai KDP120

> It was great having a hobby that had absolutely nothing to do with computers.

Totally agree. I’m also learning guitar and I started with an acoustic and have continued with it because, even though I borrowed a friends electric, there is something awesome and refreshing about a practice so far from computing that it doesn’t even require a power source.

Also learning guitar! After 7 years of piano lessons, I am shocked how much different it feels to learn guitar

To sibling threads that ask about self-taught: I highly recommend group Zoom guitar lessons at the very least. Holds you accountable, you can ask questions, and you don’t have to chart your own study course.

Are you self-teaching? If yes, which resource are you using since I am also thinking of learning it?

Critical thinking, as it applies to the practice of software development.

Reading/watch list:

- Thought and Knowledge: An Introduction to Critical Thinking, by Diane F. Halpern

- Understanding Arguments: An Introduction to Informal Logic, by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Robert J. Fogelin

- Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely

- Evidence-based Software Engineering - http://knosof.co.uk/ESEUR/ESEUR.pdf

- A Philosophy of Software Design, by John Ousterhout

- https://www.coursera.org/learn/mindware

This is research for a book I'm writing on that topic.

I just bought some acreage with the immediate intention of learning how to regenerate the soil to lay the groundwork for an orchard and vegetable garden next year, integrating animals and bees. I am in awe of how much there is to learn and how interlinked every decision is. It is easily the most challenging and exciting thing I’ve ever embarked upon.

Sounds super cool. Also great to have you sharing this on HN. Really adds to this thread.

Parenting. We have a very energetic 15 month old who has decided that 8 hours of sleep at night + a 1.5 hour nap is all she needs. Also, she has been teething pretty much non stop for 9 months.

Aside from that, I'm learning a lot about virtual machines by porting FreeBSD to run in the Firecracker VM.

Good luck and enjoy!

I truly believe that parenting has made me a better employee/worker/person. It’s taught me patience, the importance of saying no (and continuing to say no), empathy (and how correct or challenge someone even when I’m deeply empathetic with them), improved my public speaking (treat those bedtime book readings as performances!), and importantly how to simplify explanations for a young child.

Parenting is wonderful, joyful, and challenging experience in and of itself, but it can and does integrate with the other parts of your life. Although perhaps not porting an OS to a VM hypervisor…

Reinforcement Learning, second edition: An Introduction by Richard S. Sutton & Andrew G. Barto is like one of the, if not the, best book to learn reinforcement learning. I really enjoyed it!

I just took delivery of some practice nunchaku off eBay :-) God what you can do in one day's watching tutorials! I just taught two of my kids the basics and we haven't broken anything yet.

Other than that. Midnight Commander (always had it, never learned it), picking up some Perl, Janet, Groovy. Some GDevelop with my kids.

Theory wise I'm working within my field to study some esoteric personality theory. A bit of math here and there. Some astrology stuff also for esoteric interest. Researching microscopes to look at buying one in the future.

I've started my own company and am about to launch our product, so I'm learning marketing.

I think that I've been lucky so far because most of the traction is based on the strength of the product, and that has meant that I can sit back and gather feedback and opinions without doing anything outside of asking. However it's left me in a position where I'm unsure which steps I should be taking as I get closer and closer to launching.

If anyone has any resources that they've found particularly helpful, I'd love to read them.

Same here.

Good book reads:

- The Mom Test

- Build by Tony Faddel

I’m reading IndieHackers.com every day.

What product are you launching?

I've seen The Mom Test enough now that I need to read it, also, thanks for Build by Tony Faddel!

I'm trying to be as active as possible on IndieHackers. It definitely can be a good resource, it's just finding the posts which are actually good advice vs marking their own startups.

My current project is https://feetr.io which is a stock discovery algorithm, currently averaging ~4.1% daily increase per stock. Please feel free to give as brutal feedback as possible. You can message me here, through twitter (at twitter.com/feetr_io) or email at smcn@feetr.io.

My current understanding is that the "Maximum potential returns" just seems too unrealistic, despite it being the compounding interest of buying the best performing stock at open, and selling it at the highest point of that day. It's unrealistic that anyone could achieve that on a consistent basis but I personally have achieved over 1000% returns, and some of my beta testers have achieved much better than that.

I'm learning docker to run a bunch of services on an old computer. I want to try out Navidrome for serving music and a photo gallery to use instead of Google photos.

> I'm learning docker to run a bunch of services on an old computer.

Super cool! This is my go-to setup for all my at-home stuff. I was previously running Kubernetes for my home lab and had a bunch of fancy stuff for it setup (I'm a platform security engineer in an AWS environment) -- but I went back to managing Docker containers for each application I care about as it is so dang simple.

Good luck on your Docker/container journey. Totally useful in any situation in my opinion.

CS 436: Distributed Computer Systems I started with MIT's course but realized a few pieces of the puzzle are missing in my model of the web, this course is better for noobs.


Arduino programming + motor control (Stepper robots, for robotics - toy, not industrial) cobbled with 3D printing.

I've always been fascinated with robotics, and the barrier to entry is getting lower by the second.

But I want to know all the details, so I'm going slow and steady at it (Like, instead of using libraries - at least when learning - I'm coding 100% of the stepper motor control routines).

I plan on making my own designs, and make my own versions of known ones: The first thing I want to try my hand at is either (my own version of) a PolarGraph or an AxiDraw.

Then I'll move to other things, also in the early stages of designing a chess playing (arm) robot.

I’m on a similar page, using 3d printing and arduino/pi/motors for basic toy automation.

My first project was not robotic, but an automated hydroponic system. The automation is dead simple but I’ve been really pleased with it. It’s one tent divided into a nutrient film technique section and a flood and drain section. Just timers, fans, and pumps, and a lot of 3d printed parts to pull it together.

Now I’m really interested in automation of my nutrient reservoir. I suspect it’s a terrible idea, but I’m happy to learn from failures. The gist of it is a system that occasionally reads the total dissolved solids and pH of the reservoir, then automatically adds the correct amount of nutrient, pH balancing solution, and water to balance the system again.

No where near as interesting or challenging as a robotic arm that moves chess pieces, but, baby steps!

Make sure you have proper ventilation and air filtering for that 3d printer.


Thanks for the info. I'm not printing much yet (Few grams of filament a day) but 3D printing doesn't smell good, in any sense.

Luckily I'm using PLA for printing, but I do plan to take the printer out to the balcony once I start printing "big" pieces.

Then wait until you have proper ventilation to start printing.

Dating. Or, trying. Harder than I thought, and every attempt I make it always seems to go the direction of signing up for one of these online dating services, which I originally wanted to avoid, because privacy is important to me.

You might find Lex Fridman's conversation[0] with David Buss interesting. [0]:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sndW9hzX-wA

In case you feel like you’re getting stuck, feel free to email me. Contact info in bio.

- Quantum computing via https://quantum.country/

- Cooking via YouTube (Food Wishes w/ Chef John, and Kenji Lopez Alt's channel)

- ML model architectures (AI Coffee Break, and Yannic Kilcher's channels)

- Exploring different ways of thinking about and responses to the question: What is the meaning of life? (I don't think there is one, so it's more about how we derive one for ourselves.)

I know you didn’t ask for extra sources, but my son is trying to learn how to cook and I kind of fell in love with a YouTube creator. So, if you can stand a slightly Zoomer tone at times, Joshua Weissman has some of the best practical cooking education videos in approx 10-15 minute formats.

- I'm learning about the format (sections) of executable machine code files. - I'm learning about love, e.g. how different ppl express their affections and what they expect from others they love. - I'm learning about Stoicism and Cynicism (Hellenistic philosophy). - I'm restudying nursing, so I can go back to work. - I'm trying to understand myself.

Python - I'm in the Sysadmin/DevOps/CloundEng space and bash/ansible/terraform isn't enough any more. Need to learn to do "real" programming. I also have a side project that requires a proper interactive website.

Re-learning C by reading K&R and operating systems by reading Tanenbaum et al in the evenings. Hoping to then read a bit deeper about operating systems and long-term dreaming of getting so deep (if I ever get there) that I can write/improve device support for an operating system. This is all with the end goal to feel less helpless when things work on one and not another, while not being best buddies with a BSD kernel hacker and almost certainly knowing that I lack the funds to hire one for the amount of hours necessary. '^^

I'm learning Computer Science by auditing University of California, Berkeley CS61A, CS61B, CS61C. Later I will be learning web developement through Full Stack Open.

Currently refreshing some of my programming knowledge. Also reviewing my math skills. I tend to do each of these things periodically to refresh some of the knowledge I might not use so much anymore. Currently thinking of some side projects to work on as well.

On my radar for the Fall is learning a second language and beginning to learn woodworking. Speaking of that, any advice on the first tools a beginning woodworker should add to their shop?

Hockey. I always wanted to try it, but never lived near an ice rink till one opened up down the street. I’m having a lot of fun, although still can barely control myself, let alone the puck.

I’m also spending some quality time with software and enterprise architecture books, working on some container oriented side projects, and somewhat surprisingly learning the Microsoft Power Platform, as my team keeps catching requests that are a good fit for a low code solution.

Currently going through a MBA program, slowly unlearning many of the habits I've picked up as an Individual contributor and began to look at the big picture.

I recently took on the maintenance of my team's mobile app, so I'm learning Ionic Vue, Firebase Analytics and Cloud Messaging.

Woodworking, sketch up, basic electronics and home renovation.

A little bit of everything and trying to put them together in different projects.

I recently learned how to solder. It takes like 20 minutes (and a small investment of money) and is definitely worth it. No more "oh I don't know how to solder, I can't do that". I've since built a bunch of electronic kits, including stuff that is only available in kit form. It's been pretty fun.

Recommend the Pinecil!

I'm learning a bit more about FPGA and digital designer career, I've been think about to change my career a bit.

I am trying to make a Bipedal Wheeled Robot, so learning mechanical design and solidworks modeling. Refreshing my robot Kinematics and Dynamics. Will eventually have to learn some optimal control to make it do fun stuff like jumping or leaning to the side but that is still quite far ahead in the future.

I will probably be leaving my current position in a few weeks. I have some money saved up. I think I will go through "How To Design Programs" and then SICP.

I know it doesn't work for everyone, but all of the (admittedly few) people that I have met who have been through SICP said it helped them get to the next level.

Arm architectures, especially the one on an old raspberry pi b+ (running armhf or armel due to some technical magic).

I want to use the old pi as a node in a k3s (lightweight kubernetes distro) cluster but the current releases won’t run. I’m currently reading up on qemu and the k3s build process (which to me seems kinda convoluted).

For the past year, I have been learning Options Trading. I have taken on studying though books and implementing the strategies and ideas mentioned in books using Python/Pandas/Numpy/Matplotlib and variety of Options and Financial libraries.

Finger drumming, guitar, track making, and how to educate children to make electronic music too.

After over 20 years of Vim, I thought I would finally start learning Emacs given I want to start playing with Lisp. Having done the in-built tutorial and read "Mastering Emacs", I'm now going through the manual.

too many things at once.

tbh I feel very scattered. I really need to pick one or two things and focus.

Not enough.

This is timed so perfectly for me to say this. Building things still is great but the amount of stack-specific knowledge I need day-to-day is skyrocketing.

Self hosting on my own hardware. I’m not quite sure if this is “homelab”, but I mean things like Plex server, Kiwix with Wikipedia. NextCloud is… next.

Same here ! Just finished setting up plex, deluge, radarr, jackett on docker

C++ for 3D graphics programming and creating a game engine. At the same time playing around in Unity, really enjoying it thus far!

Learning stress and anxiety coping mechanisms and Adobe InDesign to produce nicer videos for an upcoming YouTube channel.

I'm working on learning these slowly: C++/GTK/Haskell/Godot/Nix

C++ I get to use more but the others not so much yet

Haskell is brutal

OpenWrt and how to create programs to run on it.

I'm trying to help a not for profit save some money managing weather stations

If possible, I'd recommend getting an OpenWRT wireless router where the GPIO (general purpose input/output) and UART pins are broken out. You can use that to control a relay and turn devices on/off from just the shell (eg: deploy the routers in pairs, and if one of them goes down, you can power cycle it using the other device). The UART port lets you access serial data devices (possibly through a 3.3V to 12V level converter) using Picocom.

For example:

1 Channel Relay Module with Optocoupler Isolation ~$4 https://www.aliexpress.com/item/2251832713449142.html

GL-MT300N-V2 OpenWRT router ~$27 https://store.gl-inet.com/products/usa-only-mango-gl-mt300n-...

GL-MT300N-V2 OpenWRT Specs https://openwrt.org/toh/gl.inet/gl-mt300n_v2

- UART pins

- GPIO pins available (requires soldering)

- 1x USB 2.0

Example of toggling GPIO44 10 times, then leaving it on:

    let GPIO_STATE=0
    for i in $(seq 10)
      echo $GPIO_STATE > /sys/devices/virtual/gpio/gpio44/value
      # Toggle GPIO_STATE variable between 0 and 1 via XOR
      ((GPIO_STATE ^= 1))
      sleep 5 # sleep for 5 seconds
    # Enable GPIO44 at the end
    echo 1 > /sys/devices/virtual/gpio/gpio44/value


Thanks, unfortunately I have to work with a couple of old routers

Two things mainly: - Evolutionary software architectures - Refreshing Data Structures and Algorithms for fun

I’m brushing up big time on analog electronics in studying for my extra class amateur radio license.

Ukulele, singing, and Muay Thai.

The semantic web stack (including RDF, SPARQL, RDFS/OWL and SKOS).

Brushing on on 3d game engines. I really want to make AR apps.

Slogging my way through Data Structures and Algorithms in Java 6th Ed.

- CloudFlare's Durable Objects. Pretty cool so far - Español

Shorthand -- speed reading -- typing faster (goal is 150wpm)


Gardening in permaculture spirit.

Home renovation and improvement.

Scheme, slowly and surely.


Pairs well with gratitude.

linear algebra, python, machine learning with pytorch.

Kayaking, Chinese

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