# 5 interesting things (03/11/2022)

How to communicate effectively as a developer. – writing effectively is the second most important skill after reading effectively and one of the skills that can differentiate you and push you forward. If you read only one thing today, read this –

https://www.karlsutt.com/articles/communicating-effectively-as-a-developer/

26 AWS Security Best Practices to Adopt in Production – this is a periodic reminder to pay attention to our SecOps. This post is very well written and the initial table of AWS security best practices by service is great.

https://sysdig.com/blog/26-aws-security-best-practices/

EVA Video Analytics System – “EVA is a new database system tailored for video analytics — think MySQL for videos.”. Looks cool on first glance and I can think off use cases for myself, yet I wonder if it could become a production-level grade.

https://github.com/georgia-tech-db/eva

I see it as somehow complementary to – https://github.com/impira/docquery

Forestplot – “This package makes publication-ready forest plots easy to make out-of-the-box.”. I like it when academia and technology meet and this is really usable, also for data scientists’ day-to-day work. The next step would probably be deep integration with scikit-learn to pandas.

https://github.com/lsys/forestplot

Bonus – Python DataViz cookbook – easy way to navigate between the different common python visualization practices (i.e via pandas vs using matplotlib / plotly /  seaborn). I would like to see it going to the next step – controlling the colors, grid, etc. from the UI and then switching between the frameworks but that’s a starting point.

https://dataviz.dylancastillo.co/

roadmap.sh – it is not always clear how to level up your skills, what you should learn next (best practices, technology – which, etc). Roadmap.sh attempts to create such roadmaps. While I don’t agree with everything there, I think that the format and references are nice and it is a good inspiration.

Shameless plug – Growing A Python Developer (2021), I plan to write a small update in the near future.

# Think outside of the Box Plot

Earlier today, I spoke at DataTLV conference about box plots – what they expose, what they hide, and how they mislead. My slides can be found here, and the code used to generate the plots is here

Key takeaways

• Boxplots show 5 number statistics – min, max, median, q1 and,q3.
• The flaws of Box Plots can be divided into two – data that is not present in the visualization (e.g. number of samples, distribution) and the visualization being counter-intuitive (e.g. quartiles is hard to grasp the concept).
• I choose solutions that are easy to implement, either by leveraging existing packages code or by adding small tweaks. I used plotly.
• Aside of those adjustment I many times box plot is just not the right graph for the job.
• If the statistical literacy of your audience is not well founded I would try avoiding using box plot.

Topics I didn’t talk about and worth mentioning

• Mary Eleanor Hunt Spear –  data visualization specialize who pioneered the development of the bar chart and box plot. I had a slide about her but went too fast, and skipped it. See here.
• How percentiles are calculated – Several methods exist, and different Python packages use different default methods. Read more –http://jse.amstat.org/v14n3/langford.html

Resources I used to prepare the talk

# 5 interesting things (29/08/2022)

Human genetics 101 – a new blog about genetics by Nadav Brandes, who works at UCSF as part of the Ye lab. Reading is very accessible even to non-biologist (like me :).

https://incrementally.net/2022/07/16/human-genetics-101/

It’s probably time to stop recommending Clean Code – that’s a relatively old post (from 2020) discussing a book that was published in 2008. It is a very common recommendation in the industry, and therefore, I think this post is so important. It is detailed and gives good examples, and reminds us that everything has to be taken with a grain of salt. I agree with the concluding paragraphs – experienced developers will gain almost nothing from reading the book, and inexperienced developers would have a hard time separating the wheat from the chaff.

https://qntm.org/clean

The many flavors of hashing – I like to be back to basic from time to time.

https://notes.volution.ro/v1/2022/07/notes/1290a79c/

Five Lessons Learned From Non-Profit Management That Apply to Tech Management – I like those mixes when practices and ideas from one domain of someone’s life emerge in another domain. Those intersections are usually very productive and insightful.

Demystifying the Parquet File Format – I finally feel I understand how the parquet format works (although there are many more optimizations).

# 5 interesting things (22/07/2022)

I analyzed 1835 hospital price lists so you didn’t have to
– this post had a few interesting things. First, learning about CMS’s price transparency law. In Israel this is a non-issue since the healthcare system works differently, and most of the procedures are covered by the HMOs so there is no such concern. I would be interested in further analysis about the missing or non-missing prices. I.e., for which CPT codes most hospitals have prices, for which CPT codes most hospitals don’t have prices, can we cluster them (e.g. cardio codes? women’s health? procedures usually done on elder people?). This dataset has great potential, and I agree with most of the points in the “Dead On Arrival: What the CMS law got wrong” section.

https://www.dolthub.com/blog/2022-07-01-hospitals-compliance/

How to design better APIs – there are several things I liked in this post – first, it is written very clearly and gives both positive and negative examples. Second, it is language agnostic. That last tip – “Allow expanding resources” was mind-blowing to me, so simple to think of and I never thought of adding such an argument. Now I miss a cookie-cutter template to implement all that good advice.

https://r.bluethl.net/how-to-design-better-apis

min(DALL-E) – “This is a fast, minimal port of Boris Dayma’s DALL·E Mega. It has been stripped down for inference and converted to PyTorch. The only third-party dependencies are NumPy, requests, pillow, and torch”. Now you can easily generate images using min-dalle on your machine (but it might take a while),

4 Things I Learned From Analyzing Menopause Apps Reviews – Dalya Gartzman, She Knows Health CEO, writes about 4 lessons she learned from analyzing Menopause Apps Reviews. I think it is interesting in 2 ways – app reviews are first, as a product-market fit strategy, to see what users are telling, asking, or complaining about in related.

https://medium.com/sheknows-health/4-things-i-learned-from-analyzing-menopause-apps-reviews-2cabf9ca9226

Inconsistent thoughts on database consistency – this post discusses the many aspects and definitions of consistency and how it is used in different contexts. I absolutely love those topics. Having said that, I wonder if people hold those discussions in real life and not just use common cloud-managed solutions encapsulating some of those concerns.

https://www.alexdebrie.com/posts/database-consistency/

# Playing with DALL·E mini

DALL·E 2 is a multimodal AI system that generates images from text. OpenAI announced the model in April 2022. OpenAI is known for GPT-3, an autoregressive language model with 175 billion parameters. DALL·E 2 uses a smaller version of GPT-3. Read more herehere, and here (the last one also slightly discusses Google’s image).

While the results look impressive at first sight, there are some caveats and limitations, including word order and compositionality issues, e.g., “A yellow book and a red vase” from “A red book and a yellow vase” are indistinguishable. Moreover, as one can see in the “A yellow book and a red vase” example below the images or more of the same, another drawback is that the system cannot handle negation, e.g., “A room without an elephant” will create, well, see below. Read more here.

Since I don’t have access to DALL·E 2, I used DALL·E mini via Hugging Face for all the examples in this post. However, the two models experience the same issues.

The model might have biases for example check all those software developers who write code, all men (also note that the face are very blurry in contrast to other surfaces in the images) –

I decided to troll that a bit to find more limitations or point-out blind spots. Check out the following examples –

The examples above demonstrate that model does not handle abbreviations well. I can think of several reasons for that, but that emphasizes the need to use precise wording and might need to try several times to get the desired result.

Trying negation again (in this case, the abbreviation worked okish) –

Which of course reminds all of us of this one –

And a few more –

To conclude, I cannot see a straightforward production-grade usage of this model (and it is anyhow not publically available yet) but maybe one use it for brainstorming and ideation. For me it feels like NLP in the days of TF-IDF there is yet a lot to come. Going forward I would love to have some more tunning possibilities like a color scheme or control the similarity between different results (mainly allow more diversity rather than more of the same).

# 5 interesting things (20/06/2022)

Visualizing multicollinearity in Python – I like the network one although it is not very intuitive at first sight. The others you can also get using pandas-profiling.

https://medium.com/@kenanekici/visualizing-multicollinearity-in-python-b5feedc9b3f1

Advanced Visualisations for Text Data Analysis – besides the suggested charts themselves, it is nice to get to know nxviz. I would actually like to see those charts as part of plotly as well.

Data Tales: Unlikely Plots – bar chart is boring (but informative :), but sometimes we need to think out of the box plot

https://medium.com/mlearning-ai/data-tales-unlikely-plots-1882c2a903da

XKCDs I send a lot – Is XKCD already an industry standard?

https://medium.com/codex/xkcds-i-send-at-least-once-a-month-1f6e9f9b6b89

5 Tier Problem Hierarchy – I use this framework to think of tickets I write, what is the expected input, output, and complexity, what I expect from each of my team members, etc.

https://typeshare.co/kimsiasim/posts/5-tier-problem-hierarchy-4718

# Prioritize your Priority Score

A while ago, a friend asked me about a topic she needed to tackle – her team had many support tickets to prioritize, decide what to work on, and further communicate it to the relevant stakeholders.

They started as everyone starts – tier 1 and tier 2 support teams in their company stated the issue severity (low, medium, high) in the ticket, and they prioritized accordingly.

But that was not good enough. It was not always clear how to set the severity level – was it the client size or lifecycle stage, the feature importance, or anything else. Additionally, it was not granular enough to decide what to work on first.

We brainstormed, and she told me two important things for her: feature importance and client size. Both can be reduced to “t-shirt” size estimation, i.e., small client, medium client, large client, and extra-large client, and features of low/medium/high/crucial importance. Super, we can now generalize the single dimension axis system we previously had to two dimensions.

The priority score is now – $\sqrt{x^2+y^2}$

That worked great until they had a few tickets that got the same priority score, and they needed to decide what to work on and explain it outside of their team. The main difference between those tickets was the time it would take to fix each one. One would take several hours, one would take 1-2 days, and the last one would take two weeks and has high uncertainty. No problem, I told her – let’s add another axis – the expected time to fix. Time to fix can also be binned – up to 1 day, up to 1 week, up to 1 sprint (2 weeks), and longer. Be cautious here; the ax order is inverted – the longer it takes, the lower priority we want to give it.

The priority score is now – $\sqrt[\leftroot{-2}\uproot{2}3]{x_1^3+x_2^3+x_3^3}$

Then, when I felt we were finally there, she came and said – remember the time to fix dimension? Well, it is not as important as the client size and the feature importance. Is there anything we can do about it?

Sure I said, let’s add weights. The higher the weight is, the more influential the feature is. To keep things simple in our example, let’s reduce the importance of the time to fix compared to the other dimensions – $\sqrt[\leftroot{-2}\uproot{2}3]{x_1^3+x_2^3+0.5 x_3^3}$

To wrap things up

1. This score can be generalized to include as many dimensions as one would like – $\sqrt[\leftroot{-2}\uproot{2}n]{\sum_{i=1}^n w_i x_i^n}$.
2. I recommend keeping the score as simple and minimal as possible since it is easier to explain and communicate.
3. Math is fun and we can use relatively simple concepts to obtain meaningful results.

# CSV to radar plot

I find a radar plot a helpful tool for visual comparison between items when there are multiple axes. It helps me sort out my thoughts. Therefore I created a small script that helps me turn CSV to a radar plot. See the gist below, and read more about the usage of radar plots here.

So how does it works? you provide a csv file where the columns are the different properties and each record (i.e line) is a different item you want to create a scatter for.

The following figure was obtained based on this csv –

https://gist.github.com/tomron/e5069b63411319cdf5955f530209524a#file-examples-csv

The data in the file is based on – https://www.kaggle.com/datasets/shivamb/company-acquisitions-7-top-companies

And I used the following command –

python csv_to_radar.py examples.csv --fill toself --show_legend --title "Merger and Acquisitions by Tech Companies" --output_file merger.jpeg

# Acing the Code Assignment Interview – Tips for Interviewers and Candidates￼

One of the most common practices today as part of the interview process are take-home assignments. However, though practical and valuable, this practice is tricky and needs to be used wisely to be beneficial. On the candidate’s side, it is not enough to only solve the tasks, as there are a few more things you can do to make your submission shine and impress the reviewers. On the employer’s side, companies have the challenge of creating a good assignment that will help assess the candidates and make the company attractive in the eyes of the candidate.

This week I took part in DevDays Europe Conference!
I was honored to participate in 2 sessions:

I moderated a “Leadership for Engineering Teams in Remote Work Era” session. The recording can be found here.

The session ended up with a few reading recommendations – Radical Candor, Six Simple Rules, Conscious Business, and The Promises of Giants.

I also talked about “Acing the Code Assignment Interview – Tips for Interviewers and Candidates”, sharing my experience from our recruitment process at Lynx.MD. The recording can be found here and the slides are here.

A summary of my tips –

For candidates – plan ahead, document your work, and polish it by proofreading and linting just before handing it over, use version control tools and write tests to emphasize the added value you bring.

For companies – make the test relevant for the position and the candidate, respect the candidate’s time and be available for her. Know your biases both when giving the assignment and when evaluating and giving feedback.

# 5 interesting things (18/02/2022)

What to Do When You Are Less Productive Than Your Teammates? I know Miri for a while and she has a very unique and sensitive point of view. This post is worth reading even if you don’t share this feeling. It has some advice I find practical and it can help you better understand your colleagues and friends that might feel this way.

https://medium.com/@miryeh/what-to-do-when-you-are-less-productive-than-your-teammates-c5369423de8f

Wordle — What Is Statistically the Best Word to Start the Game With? Wordle conquered the world in the last few months therefore there must be a data science aspect to it.

https://medium.com/@noa.kel/wordle-what-is-statistically-the-best-word-to-start-the-game-with-a05e6a330c13

How I Discovered Thousands of Open Databases on AWS – In the last few months I have been training my security muscle to be more security aware both from infrastructure and code perspective and this is a great reminder why.

https://infosecwriteups.com/how-i-discovered-thousands-of-open-databases-on-aws-764729aa7f32

Top 10 Tips You Should Know As A Modern Software Architect – lately I tried to avoid such posts because I find

https://ankurkumarz.medium.com/top-10-tips-you-should-know-as-a-modern-software-architect-8e602c6c998f

Optimizing Workspace for Productivity, Focus, & Creativity – I think one of the things covid19 enabled us is to better question and adjust our workspace to our needs. This post shares some research, advice, and tips about the topic. The low ceiling vs high ceiling hooked me and I’m going to use those effects to better navigate discussions. After years of talking about it, I ordered a standup desk last week and I’m eager for it to arrive.

https://medium.com/@juanpabloaranovich/optimizing-workspace-for-productivity-focus-creativity-fcc0f28b6fa9