Tuesday, December 29, 2015

How to Convert Temperature (F<-->C) Quickly in Your Head


These are the "exact" equations for converting between Fahrenheit and Celsius:

C = ( F - 32 ) x 5/9
F = C x 9/5 + 32


But what if you see temperatures on TV, and just want to convert it in your head to get a feel for how hot or cold it is, without unlocking your phone to use a calculator?

Easy.  Use equations that are easier to do in your head, but that also give you answers close enough to be useful for our purposes.  As long as you're not doing chemistry calculations requiring mission-critical accuracy, you should be fine.

I finally figured out a way while waiting on the subway:

C = (F-30)/2
F = Cx2+30

These are what I'll call

"Rapid equations":

C = ( F - 30 ) / 2 --> and round
F = C x 2 + 30 --> and round

I'm guessing a few degrees off doesn't make that much difference in how hot/cold it feels for you, so you can round to the nearest 10 degrees.

If you want more accuracy, going into the 1's places or decimals, add the


C = (F-30) /2 + F/2 /10 + 1
F = Cx2 +30 - Cx2 /10 + 2

These can also be written as:

C = (F-30) /2 + F/20 + 1
F = Cx2 +30 - Cx0.2 + 2

If you want a way to remember the "rapid equations", take the first letter of each relevant math operation, and create some

mnemonics (memory aids) :

"farmed cow":
FMDRC, which means:
F --> Minus, Divide, Round --> C
"C = F M D R"
C = (F Minus 30) Divide by 2 and Round to one significant digit.
C = ( F - 30 ) / 2 --> round

"caterpillar fly":
CTPRF, which means:
C --> Times, Plus, Round --> F
" F = C T P R"
F = (C Times 2) Plus 30 and Round to one significant digit.
F = C x 2 + 30 --> round

2 is involved in multiplying/dividing, and
30 is involved in adding/subtracting.

Or you can make up your own way to remember the formulas, but they're pretty simple.  Just two steps.


Check if you can do these in your head:

100 C  ~  200 F (or 212 F)
20 C  ~  70 F  (or 68 F)
10 C  ~  50 F
0 C  ~ 30 F (or 32 F)
-10 C  ~  10 F (or 14 F)

Now you can tell your American friends how cold (or hot) this winter felt.


Why does this all work?

Algebra and rounding.

It goes back to the original "exact" equations:

C = ( F - 32 ) x 5/9
F = C x 9/5 + 32

These can be re-written as:

C = ( F - 32 ) x 0.55555
F = C x 1.8 + 32

And these can be re-written as:

C = ( F - 32 ) x (1/2 + 1/20 + 1/200 + 1/20000 + ...)
F = C x (2 - 0.2) + 32


C = ( F - 30 - 2 ) x (1/2 + 1/20 + 1/200 + 1/20000 + ...)
F = C x (2 - 0.2) + 30 + 2

And if we trade off a little accuracy, we can get rid of the less significant multipliers:

C = ( F - 30 - 2 ) x (1/2 + 1/20 + 1/200 + 1/20000 + ...)
F = C x (2 - 0.2) + 30 + 2

And from there you can keep going using the simplifying assumptions of significant digits and eventually you can get to the same place as the "rapid equations".



Original Art

Chinese Learning Projects:
 - Book
 - HSK 1
 - HSK 5
 - Homonyms Mnemonics

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

How to Quickly Convert Binary To Decimal In Your Head - And Then Go Faster

How to Quickly Convert Binary To Decimal In Your Head:

See this article for the original idea that inspired this post.  This post discusses an extension to that idea to make it even faster

If you go to that article at http://www.zenoli.net/2007/03/quickly-convert-binary-to-decimal-in-your-head/ then you'll see that it's a neat trick to let you just simply read from left to right while figuring out the decimal number, and with minimal memorization along the way.  

All you need to know is how to multiply by 2, add 1 or 0, and remember only one number at a time as you read from left to right going along the binary number.  No need to keep track of absolute positions, especially for longer binary numbers.

It makes use of the idea that binary digits are multiples of 2 of their respective lower positions to their right.

To summarize that article, there are two rules:

1) Multiply by 2 in binary --> shift all 1's and 0's to the left (and keep the same pattern).
2) Divide by 2 in binary --> shift all 1's and 0's to the right (and keep the same pattern).

(Although in practice I only need to remember the first rule.)

And Then Go Faster:

A powerful addition of this idea is that you can then make use of "convenient numbers" to quickly deduce other numbers and reduce both memorization and calculation time.

Here are some "convenient numbers":  5, 10, 20.

Let's use 5-digits in binary to show some examples:

Binary to Decimal:
00101 = 5
01010 = 10 = 5 x 2
10100 = 20 = 5 x 2 x 2 or = 10 x 2

Did you notice how the same three digits just shifted left when you multiply by 2?
If you just memorize that 5 = 101 in binary, then you can easily remember that ten = 1010 because ten = 5 x 2, and 1010 = "101 times two".

So for the price of memorizing two things (i.e. that 5 = 101 and this rule of shift left = x2), you get to know at least two other numbers instantly:  10 and 20.

Okay, not so impressive.

But what I said earlier is you can quickly deduce other numbers from these "convenient numbers".

What's 10101 equal to in decimal?

Well, let's see:
10100 = 20, so
10101 = 20 + 1
So then
10101 = 21.  Kaboom.

So when you see the pattern "101" in a binary number, you can intuitively figure out the number almost instantly just by "looking".  You can at least figure out the significant digits rapidly.

Now, consider that you can remember that 2 = 10 in binary, or that 1 x 2 = 2, or that the 2nd digit from the right is 2.  Any of these ways works.  Whatever is faster for you. 

How about we try converting 10110?

Remember that
10100 = 20
10110 = 22 because 10100 + 10 = 10110.
(10 = 2) 


Here are some more examples:

01110 = 
01010 +
00100 =
10 + 4 = 14

01111 =
01010 + 
00101 = 
10 + 5 = 15

A visual way to instantly see this is to imagine the 1's "falling" into their respective positions.

01010 = 10
00101 = 5
01111 = 15

You can probably figure out other numbers, but let's just say it pays to memorize a little to get a lot more speed, just by "looking" at the numbers instead of trying to remember mulitple numbers to add together at the same time.

Some "convenient numbers" to remember are the place values and easy patterns to see that coincide with the decimal system's base of ten, i.e.:

2,4,8,16 (binary place values)
5,10 (simple multiples of base 10)

("1" pattern)
00001 = 1
00010 = 2
00100 = 4      = 2 x 2
01000 = 8      = 4 x 2
10000 = 16    = 8 x 2

("101" pattern)
00101 = 5
01010 = 10    = 5 x 2

Another interesting pattern to think about:

("11" pattern)
00011 = 3
00110 = 6      = 3 x 2
01100 = 12    = 6 x 2



Original Art

Chinese Learning Projects:
 - Book
 - HSK 1
 - HSK 5
 - Homonyms Mnemonics

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

How to Control Your Fate (Just Kidding---Sort Of)

Imagine a wise sage beginning their young disciple's training with how to...

Control the tea leaves.


Just add water. Enough of it. 
And leaves. And patience. And fine motor skills. And then? 

See what patterns you can come up with.
See if you can reproduce these patterns, or explain to me how you think I got them without even touching the leaves:

Try out some "tea-bending".

Work with what you've got.

Just like with other skills (and more practical ones), sometimes it takes patience, a little tweaking, imagination, and experimentation, but by looking at a few working examples, and by using some of your pre-existing skills, you might surprise yourself with what's possible.

Have fun at tea time!  XD


LINKS TO "MORE" PRACTICAL STUFF, like a post on resume-writing

Chinese Learning Projects:
 - Book
 - HSK 1
 - HSK 5

Monday, May 4, 2015

Have No Skills? How to Build a Resume for a Job You Actually Want + How to Get $10,000 from Magnet



Big thanks to Mark Patterson from Magnet.  I have his permission to make this blog post remix of his workshop at the 2015 OCE Discovery Conference:  "But I Have no Skills: How to Present Academic Experience in a Business Environment".

Here's my visual summary of Mark Patterson's workshop:

Have you read my post about How Drawing Can Help You Not Get Lost In Lectures?

Well, you can use the same principle of drawing during talks, including when you really are sincerely interested in the topic (and in my case, signed yourself up for it):  not only does drawing help your brain more deeply process what you're hearing, it also can make the next action steps easier to see---literally.

Pictures have proven themselves to be swifter communicators than, well, words by themselves, and is part of the reason why road signs are sometimes life-savers.

I applied the same technique I used when I was reading lengthy course reading materials, to keep myself engaged when a large group of graduate students and PhD's flocked to the evidently popular workshop.

I just really wanted to remember and act on what I learned, so I visualized the "bigger picture" and afterwards I asked Mark for permission to post a summary reflection of his workshop.

So here goes!


Step 1:  Recognize Some Problems

Take time to reflect and build more self-awareness

What is a resume, basically?  It's all about your past, or at least what you do now and did before.

And your future job?  Well, of course it's "in the future", but do you know which exact job and which exact company you want to work in?  Probably not, if you're reading this, or if you went to that workshop at the Conference.
"Look forward." - Mark Patterson, 2015 OCE Discovery Conference, heavily reduced citation.
According to Mark Patterson, most people spend somewhere around 100,000 to 120,000 hours over an entire career working, but only a measly 22 hours reflecting on whether they actually like their work in the first place.

So he made the point that we need to take some time to think.  What do you really want to do in your life?  Come up with 3 career focus areas.  These areas/ideas may not be how it'll look like at the end, but just ideas that help point you towards your passion.

Step 2:  Find the Job(s) You'd Actually Want

So you've got 3 career focus areas.  Now what?  How do I know I'll like any of these three?


How?  There's a couple ways.

You could set up informational interviews.  

Now, you can Google the details of how to set up an informational interview, but basically the idea is to ask someone already in your potential "dream job" to give you a feel for how the job is like, and whether you'd enjoy the job without having to spend years in it yourself.  It should be treated with the mindset of a conversation.  Plus it can be a foot-in-the-door if from that conversation you build a professional relationship.

But there's another secret sauce tip that's a little less intimidating:  

Find the most common key ingredients for your 3 "dream" jobs.

You can do this from home, with internet.  Search a few job descriptions, and take the time to find and write down common requirements (maybe even use Excel).  And/or search LinkedIn for job description profiles of people already in that job.  And/or keep track of all the jobs you've ever applied to and look for repeating requirements.  Basically, keep track of things to find patterns and distill to what is key for each of your 3 job ideas.

Your 3 ideas may even share the same key repeated requirements, but in different orders of importance.

Get the keys, then tailor the resume.

Step 3:  Make the Resume Fit What They Need

Ever tried and tired of customizing each and every cover letter and resume?  (Try reading that out loud 10 times fast.)  The nice thing is, once you identify your target jobs, you don't have to completely customize your resume for every job posting.

You can just fill the same few key requirements identified in step 2 as your selling points in your resume.  Maybe in different orders.  But then you can just tailor the details for each specific job posting.

Now, don't make stuff up.  It still has to be what you've actually done, otherwise you'll eventually be found out as a liar without the actual experience you said you had (or gave the impression of having).

And if one of the three "dream" jobs don't fit or "resonate", or simply don't make you passionate about the job, then consider another job idea.  If you find yourself stretching the truth or scrambling to make your resume fit a job you might not like, reconsider.  Go back to step 1.

But you can highlight specific experiences that match up to the employer's needs.  Don't think of it as "how can I get the job", but more like "how can I help them".

Know what they really need, and place those important things they need where they'll see it first.  They only spend about 10 seconds reading the resume for the first time, before deciding whether to throw it out, or have it read in detail.

Step 4:  Repeat

Sorry.  Even if you do the right things, you prolly won't get it perfect the first time.  The point is you get yourself closer to a satisfying job in a systematic way.  Hopefully this process will help you do that.

Key Take-Aways

Here's the original version of my visual summary I drew in my notebook during Mark's workshop:  

Nevertheless, for "verbal learners", there are a few simple ways to summarize all this in words.  Choose what works best for you---or rather, what gets you working best:
  • Reflect.
  • Research.
  • Résumé.
  • (Repeat.)
  • "I (really) LIKE _____.Start with what you (really) like to do, your passion(s).  Find out why you actually want it.
  • "They NEED _____.Then find out what it takes to do the jobs that involve your passions, and whether you have them.
  • "I can GIVE _____.Finally, show them what you got that fills their need.
"Look forward and track what you're doing." (i.e. Job descriptions applied to and resumes sent.)   - Mark Patterson, OCE Discovery Conference 2015

BONUS:  How to Get $10,000 from Magnet to Pay Off Your Tuition

Simple.  Join the competition! 

Fill out your resume/profile on the Magnet website before May 31st, 2015, and you're entered to win $10,000.

I figure there's nothing to lose.  It's like networking on LinkedIn, except Magnet allegedly specializes in matching jobs to your profile and makes the way you control your profile helps to ensure proper matches.

I entered my own profile, and it's actually pretty easy if you already have a resume in word format or a LinkedIn profile.  Just make sure all the details are filled in properly, and you're good to go!  Good lucksies.  :)

Here's my referral link:
*** DISCLAIMER BEFORE YOU CLICK:  I earn extra entries in the competition for each person who uses my unique referral link to sign up and enter.  If for some reason you'd prefer not to use that link---no worries---just use the other link below it. ***

The other link:

I hope you find this post helpful, as I found the workshop and conference helpful.

- Howard



Here are some links I found helped me get employers at the conference to talk to me about internships.  Thomas Frankly's blog posts and videos also provided some insight that really resonated with tips in the workshop.

Quick Youtube tips on elevator speech how-to:

Brian Walter Verbal Ping Pong elevator speech sample

Thomas Frankly's College Info Geek Posts:

Impress Recruiters and Get Hired

The Overwhelming Value Of Being Specific

The Student Success Triangle

More OCE and Magnet:

OCE Discovery
http://www.ocediscovery.com/docs/default-source/default-document-library/2015-networking-at-discovery.pptx?sfvrsn=2 (Lucy Keating's networking tips, etc.)




Original Art

Chinese Learning Projects:
 - Book
 - HSK 1
 - HSK 5
 - Homonyms Mnemonics