The Role of Role-playing

In one of our master seminar sessions (where each of us presents what we are doing for master thesis) there was an interesting presentation. That presentation was about using role playing to increase creativity.

The topic was presented by a person who plays LARP, where he noticed that a lot of times people can use role playing to get over their fears or to change themselves. He gave an example of how people can get over their fear of public speaking, when they are in the character.

That got me thinking. While I had never LARP-ed, I did regularly attended the story games meetings in Vienna. Plus, I have that weird habits, that freaks people out, where I start thinking about the story and I play it out, and people then think there are multiple people there, because I change voices. But don't worry, I will try to concentrate on the first one in this post.

When I look over my experience of this, I notice some weird themes going on them. I think that there were always traits, that reflected myself. For example, unless the story explicitly demanded otherwise, I always had a badass characters, that were amoral, always depended on their own intelligence and did not usually go into cooperating, unless it was clear what was in it for them. I mean, in one story, we ended up cutting every man's dicks. In another one, I was playing that badass woman named Irene, who wanted to take on the criminal families of Victorian (I think, it was Victorian?) London by herself. In another one, I was given a character, but he still tired to manipulate everybody around him. In my defence, in the last example, I did give the grandma, who wanted to kill her sick husband, some sweets with heroin. On the other side, I did not tell her, she just helped me bake sweets with heroin. I think you get the feeling.

I do wonder, if this is my base personality coming up. Let me take example of non-cooperation and manipulation of people. When I test for the big five, I tend to test as very low agreeableness. People with low agreeableness tend to be more direct, more competitive instead of the cooperative, and not care about the people that much. The last one is probably the reason, why we on average score lower on tests of theory of mind and empathy.

But in the real world, I needed to get socialized. I can cooperate with people, in a lot of cases, because of the social structures, the cooperation is the -easiest way forward. But in the story games, there is usually a world, where at least some of these social structures are gone. In this case, I am going toward what is more natural for me, and this means... well I don't really have a word for this, but you have a description up above.

Makes me wonder about the role of social structures as well. Right now, I am reading the book by Philip Zimbardo titled The Lucifer Effect. I am at the start, and it starts with the description of the Stanford prison experiment. This is the one, when normal people were divided into prisoners and guards and they had to stop it prematurely, because of the extent of the abuse, that happened there. The thesis of the book is, as far as I can tell, that it is the situation that define the person.

Well, in science it has been excepted that both inner qualities (like genes and personal environment) and the situation make us who we are. Even if I have to admit, that my interest always tinted toward the former. But that makes me wonder in the different direction.

The role-playing (not just story games) can break down and create new social structures. Which would be a good way for better personal development. One is the obvious one, that my classmate was tackling. Being a different person can help us be more courageous and creative. But I would go in the other direction, it can also lead to better self-knowledge.

Just like it showed me, that deep down I am a manipulative person (I just don't let it surface as much). Or a more courageous one, that I would like to admit. I also think that maybe it can help other people discover, what they are like deep inside.

You will Learn a Lot and you will Meet a lot of People [Python Meetup Ljubljana April 2019]

So, last month I was on my first python conference. More about it can be found on my summary blog post. In this blog post, I am going to concentrate more on the advice for anybody like me, when they are going to attend their first python conference.

So, when I went to my first one, there was just two pieces of information that I had. The first one was, that some members of the Python community in Ljubljana talked about it like it was the best thing since sliced bread. The second one was the one that I directly solicited. When I was at the last Python meetup before leaving for it, I asked one of the person present, for whom I knew he was at the programming conferences before, if he had any advice. His answer was, that I will learn a lot and that I will meet a lot of people.

Sure, it helped my figure out what to expect, but this is not actually advice. It does not tell me what to do at the conference. Plus, from what I find out at the conference, could also me misleading. No everybody learns a lot and not everybody meets a lot of people. So I will try to say what worked for me and how I decided what to do, for people that are maybe in the same situation than me.

So lets start with the first part of advice: "You will learn a lot". I actually had a conversation about this piece of advice with at least two way more experienced people than me. The first one was on the very beginning of the conference and the conversation was mostly concentrated on me. He agreed with the advice, so there was something about it. But the conversation was about me, and he knew at the time that this is my first time. The second one was on the last day of the conference, during the lunch break. I talked to another person, and I asked him, what he learned from this conference. He started with a remark, that he did not learn anything, but that this is normal. Then he paused and told me, that he learned something new from the talk, I think it was about network penetration testing? I am not sure, I was not on that one. He sounded surprised. And he then shrugged, that next year he can go back to not learning anything new.

So that means that it is possible to participate in the conferences and not learn anything new. Assuming a person is somebody that has a lot more knowledge and program a lot longer than I do. And I don't really know, how to solve this for the people, since I am far away from that stage.

But here is the two piece of advice for people, that are a bit more on the beginner side. The first one is that workshops are better than talks (on average). And that there is a difference between talks - there are inspirational talks, marketing talks, technical talks and skill-based talks. And each one has it pros and cons and each one is good for different things.

Let me start with the first one. Tutorials are better than talks. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first one is, that workshops are usually longer, so there is more that can be covered in a tutorial as compared to the talk. The second one is, that in tutorials, they already force you to use the new found knowledge immediately, instead of a talk. And an important one for me is motivation. I have way too many thing, that I want to try. And I don't have time and energy to try all of them. So instead of listening to another talk, to give me even more ideas, I can just start working on one as part of the workshops.

But what I also noticed is, that they are all basic in that specific subfield. So, if you already know, how to do a networking analysis, maybe you would not get anything from a workshop on network analysis. But no matter how experienced programmer you are, if you had never tried it, like writing a GitHub bot or created a passwordless authentication service, I still think they can be useful. And yes, there were all the workshops, that I attended at my first Python conference.

The second piece of advice is based on the differences between speeches. There are a couple of different types of speeches, each with their own role.

Let me start with the inspirational ones. These are the talks that talk about something they did, which is inspirational, but there is nothing actionable that can be gleaned by it. The example of a talk like that was the one that talked about, how they are sending the satellites in space, and then take pictures. I mean, it is inspirational and it can show what it is possible to do with python, but otherwise... not that useful? I don't know. If anybody is attending the conference for the motivation, these are the talks to listen to. I don't, so I did not find them that useful.

The next one, that I would sort of group together with the upper ones were the 'marketing' ones. These were the talks that presented services, that could be used by us or companies. The Arvil one and the Google API one were an example of this. Maybe even MindsDB would also be put in this group. These are the talks, that would not make one a better programmer, but they might be useful to people, that are building stuff and running companies. I mean, I am an economist and I believe in the division of labor, so I understand that sometimes it makes sense to use something, that some other people did. Since it would likely be better that something you would come up with yourself. So, from this perspective, they are useful. But I am a student, and my job is in react-native, which is not Python, so the only thing, that I might be using is MindsDB, since this is something that I could see using for my own projects. So these were useful in a different way and to the different people, in this case the people with companies, who don't only have to worry about building stuff.

The I would combine the technical and skill-based ones. The technical ones was for example the detailed examples of Django's ORM or that guy who talked about the weird things python does because of optimization. The skill based one were the ones like about the time-zones, OAuth and GutHub bots. But I think there is a continuum, based on how high level vs. going into technical details they were. I think there were the ones, where I actually learned new stuff. Not as much as with tutorials, but this were the talks, that I would recommend to my past self. I think these are the most useful talks to a person at my level with my interests and in my position.

But as I said before, not everybody is in my position, so I hoped that I clearly explained the difference between talks and for what is each type useful. But what I would add to the end is, that if you are already at the conference, attend as many workshops and talk as you can. This can also be helpful and maybe you realize that some other things, that I did not even notice, are what is important to you. At least for the first one, attend as many things as you can.

Let me now go to the second piece of advice, which is "You will meet a lot of people". Well, this one is depends. And I figured this one out on the first day, before lunch. My goal for this conferences were mild, which were talk to at least one person (which I managed to do, before the conference officially started) and figure out for what are these conferences good at and if I wanted to add them as part of my plans.

But just because this happened, this does not mean, that I could not go with the flow. But not a lot of things work for me, when I go with the flow. I have low extroversion, which means that I don't get motivated by achieving more and more and I am an introverted thinker, which means that I analyse everything. And things did not go alright. In the first day, there was a Slovak track and there was an English track. But there was one Slovak presentation in the English track as well. So the organizers told us, that we can go outside, where they organized the discussion. Well... for me, that ended up being an hour, that I spend to myself.

I came outside and I was not the only one. There was a small group, that stated a discussion about the details of technology, which I could not even follow along enough to ask smart questions. So I left, and I realized, that I needed a plan of attack for my socialization. But of course, I did not make that plan.

But I knew, that there are three ways of attacking the socialization problem, and I managed to use all of them over the remainder of the conference.

Even before that, I relied on the luck strategy. Simply wait for people to approach me. This worked for the talk before the beginning of the conference and this worked for the person I spend talking with during my first lunch. They were the ones that started talking to me, without giving them the reason to. If you are alright with hanging around five people at the conference, this method works quite well. Just be yourself, and there will be people that will try talking to you. It is a very passive, low-maintenance way of doing it.

And I planned to stick to it for my conference, until I heard the announcement, that everybody can have a lightning talk. I think the one advice, that I had heard about social skill, that gave me the most positive impact, was to give a talk. When you give a talk, then people come and talk to you. Especially, if they are interested in the same thing you presented. It is a great way to talk to people you never talked before.

The reason I needed a strategy like that is, that a lot of times I would come to the group meeting, where I did not know anybody, and I would be forced to socialize. So this is one very easy tactic for me. The other two that I developed were talk to the shyest looking guy in the room and stand next to the group until they include you. But giving a talk is the most fun and the easiest for me to do.

So I knew, that I would need to give a lightning talk. And I tried to talk myself out of it, but damn when a part of me knew, that I could not. Having somebody else voice in my head (if you are by any chance reading this, you know who you are) did not help with discouraging me. It was pushing me to do it. Since than, I had internalize, that these 'voices' can't make me do something, I don't want to do, but they could seriously mess up my timeline and my reputation. Thankfully, I only care about the former of the two.

So, I knew I will have a lightning talk. But I had nothing prepared and I did not have a time for myself to prepare anything. So I just sort of recycled my first lightning talk, that I had at Python Meetups in Ljubljana. Which was months ago. So what I did, was just basically rant for about three minutes, with about 200 listening (my estimation) and a lot of them not understanding my arguments (based on the fact, that multiple people afterwards told me that). I mean, if you can come on the stage and say something, you will end up creating better impression than I did. I mean, I am sure you will be hard pressed to rant more than me, be more unprepared than me, be less clear than me and choose a more controversial topic than me.

So take my advice and actually prepare a lightning talk in advance and then give a lightning talk. This will take care of a lot of socialization, since you will give people a topic to start a conversation with you. And people will do this. I call this a lecturer type of socialization. It takes a couple of minutes of work and in my case around 24 hours of anger, but if you know in advance that you will do it and you prepare for it, there will be no reason for anger.

The third one I call the pick up version of socialization. It is the most active version, but I think it can still be useful. Especially for people like me, who for some reason induces fear in other people. But it is easier to use in the socialization events, than at the conference. Which is come to people and start having conversations with them. Which in my case looks like this: I get to a group of people, I sit next to it and I listen and a lot of times (but not always) people will include you in the conversation. I actually had a lot more of success rate with this technique in the programming community, than for example at the neuro-linguistic programming lectures or at personal development seminars. I have a hypothesis, why this is so, but I am not sure, if it is right. I think the reason is, that programmers are stereotyped as people without social skills. Stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason, so that means that a lot more people in this group probably had to work on their social skills. So they are more attuned to the social struggles of other people.

It is like a comment from this article, if you are wondering, why we needed to explain the fact, that some people use empathy all the time, then you are probably normal.

But this very crude techniques, along with the lightning talk that I gave, allowed me to talk over dozen of people in one evening. And when I say that, with a lot of these people, I ended up having talk, that went beyond small talk. So in that way, yes, I did meet a lot of people, but I ended up having to actually do something about it.

Maybe you are a type of person, that don't have to do this. But there are at least three reasons why I needed to be more active. First, I have a low extroversion and low agreeableness score. Which means, that if I don't talk to anybody for two weeks, I will not find anything wrong with it. I don't have the innate drive and wish to interact with people. If you have that, maybe going ti with flow would work. The second one is that people are afraid of me. Even people that never talked to be before. And I got this feedback again at the socialization event at the conference. When I was standing there talking with two people, somebody came there. And then he asked me, if I was the one that gave that lightning talk, which I was. Then the person continued, that they have been discussing that for the last hour, but people were too afraid to ask me to join.

But I knew about this two reasons, the third one was a surprise. And it has to do with me being a woman in a male dominated event. What the third wave feminists did, was instill a fear in some people about talking to the 'marginalized' people in environment like that. Which apparently a woman in programming is? And they should not make us feel unwelcome, because we are 'victims'. God, I am wondering if stabbing one of them would make it easier to deal with them. WOMEN ARE NOT VICTIMS. I hope that was clear enough. I can't believe that this is one of the reasons, why we need socialization tactics.

So summarizing the advice is, give a lightning talk and attend the socialization events, joining the groups that already exist. If you are too afraid to give a talk, then you will have to work more on the starting to talk to people part, or be alright with talking to only around 5 new people. Which is also a good strategy, since these things compound. They introduce you to new people and so on. But if can go over the fear of public speaking, then definitely go for it.

So the next time somebody asks me for the advice about the first conference, I will probably start with the same one: "You will learn a lot and you will meet a lot of people". But then I would continue, with, attend as many workshops and talks as you can, give a lightning talk, go to the socialization events and talk to people there.

Different Social Understanding

I am right now going through my philosophy of mind notes (I can't believe, that I am only doing it now - but it does give me perspective, to only take the most interesting things). While toward the end of the semester, we also dealt with different theory of how we act in social interactions. So here I am going to try and write, from sparse notes and memories, what these different theories were.

The first theory is the folk theory of interaction. This one is understanding people based on their beliefs. So, each person is having beliefs and desires and we can predict intentions from it. So, a person is seen walking quickly, so they must be in a hurry sort of things.

In that was, it is a bit similar to the theory of mind, where we use the systematic models and law-like knowledge of people, in order to make prediction. So, a person knows about her opinion, so he will act like that sort of way.

The next one is simulation theory, where we simulate what is going to happen. This can happen subconsciously as well. The emotions are used and the main question is what, not how. So, what would I do?

The next one is sort of embedded theory. Normal children learn interaction skills through responses, since understanding of situation is part of the interaction. That is how we can immediately recognize that smile is joy, in a first person way. Here, not understanding another person is a feeling, not lack of knowledge. But there is a default assumption, that we are similar and act in accordance to social norms.

The last one is from enactivism. It is the structure of the environment, that makes people predictable. We know, how people will act in the funeral or while waiting for the bus and so on. Here misunderstanding means, that there is a lack of mutual reciprocity feeling. It uses the narrative building to create a story. We also create beliefs in a sense-making activity through interaction with other people.

I guess, at least phenomenologically, we use all of them in some situations. Which makes it so much harder to understand.

Change Latex file to Word

I have recently tried to change my latex file into doc. I needed to send my economic thesis to somebody, and they don't know what to do with the latex file. The first time, I had send the pdf, but they prefer making comments in word.

So I figured out, that I am just going to transform pdf to word, and I already did once. This time, the results were not pretty, so I tried to find another way.

The next one was pandoc, which have the ability to transform latex to docx, but the first time I tried, there was no citations (which is a big no-no for master thesis). So I tried to include the citation.

When I was doing the transformation the first time, it just hang there, and nothing happened. When I came to check my bash history right now, to copy the one that did not work, and I figured out, why it did not work. The following one did work right now:

pandoc texfile.tex --bibliography=bibfile.bib --csl=style.csl -o finalfile.docx

Which means, that I sent the wrong version to a mentor again. That is embarrassing. Really embarrassing.

Well, while I was trying to figure out, why it was just hanging (I forgot to include the latex file), I checked the internet. One thing that they noted was, that bib file should be ASCII only. Well, mine certainly was not. So I had to find a way to find these non-ASCII characters. So I found this somewhere, which prints every line with non-ASCII characters and highlights them:

grep --color='auto' -P -n "[^\x00-\x7f]" filename

The --color tells us, when to highlight things (always, never or auto), the -P means that the expression is Perl regex expression, and -n also prints line numbers, so things are easier to find in the file.

So, if anybody want to transform latex to word, this is a way to do it.

Analysis of My Citations for Economic Master Thesis

The Jupyter-Noteboom can also be found here: My_Citations_For_Economic_Master_Thesis

I have finally sent the final version of my economic master thesis to my mentor. While I was doing this, I decided to try and analyse what kind of citations was I using in my master thesis.

Importing the libaries

import os
import re
import pandas

Regex patterns

citations_re = r"cite{.+?}"
re_entry = r"@\w*{.+?timestamp.+?}"
re_type = r"@\w*{"
re_journal = r"journal[\s]+?=[\s]+?{.+?}"
re_name = r"@\w*{.+?,"
re_year = r"year.+?=.+?{.+?\d+?.+?}"

Get all citations from tex files

In this stage, what I did was go over all my tex files and put out all the citations (\parencite{}, \cite{}, \textcite{}).

all_citations_in_my_work = set()
for filename in os.listdir("files"):
    with open(os.path.join("files", filename)) as f:
        data = f.readlines()
        data = " ".join(data)
        all_citations = re.findall(citations_re, data)
        for s in all_citations:
            s = s.replace("parencite{", "")
            s = s.replace("textcite{", "")
            s = s.replace("cite{", "")
            s = s.replace(" ", "")
            s = s.replace("}", "")
            if "," in s:
                s = s.split(",")
                for c in s:

I used 157 different citations in my work. Which I think is not bad for a master thesis.


Preparing bib for parsing

In the next stage, I parsed the bib files, so that I could search them based on what I wanted to find.

lines = ""
for filename in os.listdir("bib"):
    with open(os.path.join("bib", filename)) as f:
        data = f.readlines()
        data = " ".join(data)
        lines = lines + data
lines = lines.replace("\n", " ")
lines = re.findall(re_entry, lines)

From what scientific journals were my scientific articles

In the next step, I parsed the data to try and figure out, what scietific journuals were I using.

my_journuals = dict()
for line in lines:
    name = re.findall(re_name, line)
        name = name[0].split("{")[1].replace(",", "")
    except IndexError:
    if name in all_citations_in_my_work:
        t = re.findall(re_type, line)
        t = t[0][1:-1]
        if t.lower().strip() == "article":
            j = re.findall(re_journal, line)
            if j:
                j = j[0].split("{")[1].replace("}", "")
                if j not in my_journuals:
                    my_journuals[j] = 0
                my_journuals[j] += 1

Here I first counted the number of articles.

articles = 0
for j, n in my_journuals.items():
    articles += n

And then I counted the number of journuals, that I was using.


So I took about 1.5 articles from each journual.


I then tried to see, if there were any journuals, that I used more. I used Computers in Human Behavior the most. You can see below, which ones did I used more than twice.

my_journuals = pandas.DataFrame.from_dict(my_journuals, orient="index", columns=["Count"])
my_journuals.sort_values("Count", ascending=False, inplace=True)
my_journuals.reset_index(level=0, inplace=True)
index Count
0 Computers in Human Behavior 13
1 Personality and Individual Differences 6
2 Annual Review of Psychology 5
3 Social Media + Society 4
4 Information Systems Frontiers 3

What type were my sources

Next I wanted to see, what different types were my sources. Here is the code.

types = dict()
for line in lines:
    name = re.findall(re_name, line)
    name = name[0].split("{")[1].replace(",", "")
    if name in all_citations_in_my_work:
        t = re.findall(re_type, line)
        t = t[0][1:-1]
        t = t.lower()
        if t not in types:
            types[t] = 0
        types[t] += 1

As you can see, the articles were the most frequent (99). The books were less so, even combining the whole books and the chapters (18). The rest were used 5 times or less.

{'online': 2,
 'www': 1,
 'electronic': 1,
 'report': 3,
 'manual': 1,
 'inproceedings': 5,
 'incollection': 5,
 'book': 13,
 'article': 99,
 'thesis': 2}

From what year were my sources

Next I tried to see, from what year were my sources, that I used.

my_years = dict()
for line in lines:
    name = re.findall(re_name, line)
    name = name[0].split("{")[1].replace(",", "")
    if name in all_citations_in_my_work:
        t = re.findall(re_year, line)
        if t:
            t = t[0].split("{")[1][:-1]
            if not t in my_years:
                my_years[t] = 0
            my_years[t] += 1
my_years = pandas.DataFrame.from_dict(my_years, orient="index", columns=["Count"])
my_years.sort_values("Count", ascending=False, inplace=True)
my_years.reset_index(level=0, inplace=True)
my_years.sort_values("index", ascending=False, inplace=True)

I have used 1 source from this year. It seems that most of my sources were recent. The most sources were from last year, then the year before, then four years before (not sure, why there are not more sources from 2016).

Looking more into the past, oldest reference was from 1970. I used 4 from the 70', 1 from the 80' (so before I was born), 3 from the 90' and additional 33 from the 00'. All the rest are from the time, when I was already attending the university.

index Count
18 2019 1
0 2018 26
1 2017 15
7 2016 6
2 2015 12
9 2014 5
3 2013 8
6 2012 7
10 2011 5
8 2010 5
4 2009 8
13 2008 3
5 2007 7
22 2006 1
12 2005 3
11 2004 4
26 2003 1
14 2002 3
24 2001 1
16 2000 2
17 1999 1
23 1991 1
19 1990 1
25 1988 1
15 1977 2
21 1973 1
20 1970 1

Spending Based on Personality can Increase Your Happiness

I have recently read a pretty interesting article. I think by now it quite widespread knowledge, that more money does not make one happy. It helped until about 60.000$ (based on US standard), and after that it has minimal effect. So it was pretty interesting to see a scientific article, that had a different thesis.

The article Money Buys Happiness When Spending Fits Our Personality talks about how people with different personalities spend, how well this predicts their happiness level and if this could be manipulated to increase people's happiness. The quick answers were that people with different personalities spend money on different things, that the more a person spend in accordance to their personality, the happier they were (which was the stronger predictor than total income and total spending) and this can be manipulated by making people spend money on certain things.

Lets get first to the point of personal relevance: how can this help me spend money, to make me more happy? Well, I used the aggregate data from the article and created a small program, that helps you figure this out. Here you just input the percentile scores for each Big Five trait, and it will generate a score for each activity in the dataset. Since there are a lot of them, you can set a threshold, so only activities higher than certain values are shown.

If you don't have a Big Five percentile test, there are a couple of places, that you can get it. I recommend the SAPA test, but this one can be quite long. If you have a long text written in English or a Twitter account where you tweet in English, you can also just put it in this IBM Personality Tool, and it will also generate you a personality profile. But any test, you can find on the internet, and gives you results from 0 to 100 will work. Just search for Big Five personality tests. Or any apps, that will give you the same type of results from some other stuff. I know that there exists at least one, were it is calculated from Facebook account.






Only show activities with score higher than:

Based on my results, spending money on books would make me happier. Which I agree with, as most of my money, after spending for neccesities (rent, food, ...) goes for books, DVDs, courses and conferences. Books being one of the important parts.

Now, that I got my programming self-plug out of the way (I still hope it was useful to somebody), I will return back to the article. I will first copy the table of different categories and their correlations with different personality traits. Here you can see some of the connections.

Category Openness Conscientiousness Extraversion Agreeableness Neuroticism
Accountants’ fees −1.81 2.02 −1.40 −0.68 −0.62
Advertising services 1.98 0.70 2.04 −0.04 0.34
Airports and duty-free shops −0.50 0.96 0.34 −0.18 −0.02
Arts and crafts 2.51 0.20 1.05 1.71 −0.46
Bakers and confectioners 1.45 1.59 0.86 1.41 −0.80
Books 1.71 1.92 −0.82 1.53 −1.39
Cable and satellite TV 0.48 0.00 1.29 −0.17 0.14
Car rentals −0.53 1.39 −0.06 0.31 −0.96
Caravans and camping 1.65 0.60 1.51 1.00 −0.64
Catalogue and bargain stores −0.34 −0.27 0.35 0.54 −0.21
Charities −0.35 1.65 0.10 2.31 −1.39
Cinemas 2.30 0.22 1.75 0.71 −0.02
Clothes 0.83 0.44 0.96 0.89 −0.44
Coffee shops 0.89 1.24 0.45 1.79 −1.23
Computers and technology 1.36 2.05 0.28 0.19 −1.00
Confectioners and tobacconists 0.75 0.21 0.77 0.42 −0.06
Days out and tourism 2.19 0.57 2.25 1.10 −0.28
Dental care −1.25 1.79 −0.59 0.32 −0.59
Department stores −0.30 1.28 0.70 0.57 −0.62
Digital 1.55 1.05 0.77 0.02 −0.45
Discount stores −0.17 −0.42 0.32 0.28 0.19
DIY projects 2.22 1.37 1.20 0.98 −0.54
Eating out: pubs 1.35 −0.41 2.22 0.40 0.48
Eating out: restaurants 1.56 0.44 1.74 0.91 −0.39
Entertainment 2.67 −0.43 2.51 0.31 0.49
Family clothes −0.28 0.43 0.00 1.16 −0.96
Florists 1.69 1.38 1.13 1.87 −0.98
Foreign travel 2.54 0.65 2.15 0.85 −0.11
Gambling 1.55 −2.08 2.33 −1.81 1.98
Gardening 0.59 1.75 −0.73 1.94 −1.59
Gift shops 0.83 0.94 0.55 1.74 −0.94
Hair and beauty 1.91 0.31 1.49 0.85 0.22
Hardware −0.78 1.73 −0.61 0.04 −1.22
Health and fitness 0.32 2.22 1.29 1.00 −0.93
Health insurance −1.61 1.52 −1.11 −0.16 −0.50
Home furnishing 0.63 1.48 0.17 1.38 −1.22
Home insurance −2.05 2.40 −1.46 0.33 −1.48
Hotels −0.16 1.69 0.31 1.55 −1.63
Information technology 0.93 1.36 0.33 0.15 −0.80
Jewelry 1.60 0.73 1.43 0.96 −0.61
Life insurance −1.30 2.21 −1.02 1.11 −1.25
Mobile telephone 1.02 1.33 1.65 0.33 −0.13
Motor sports 1.34 0.09 2.32 −0.55 0.82
Music 2.61 0.12 2.33 0.94 0.15
Newsagents −0.22 0.76 1.06 −0.29 0.12
Pets 1.14 0.08 2.04 1.98 0.24
Photography 2.33 0.69 1.44 1.09 −0.33
Residential mortgages −2.10 1.98 −1.40 −0.48 −0.85
Shoe shops 0.40 1.19 0.43 0.58 −0.77
Sports 1.44 1.30 2.24 −0.41 0.77
Stationery −0.14 1.98 −0.78 1.51 −1.63
Subscriptions −0.43 1.42 −0.26 0.44 −0.86
Supermarkets −0.69 1.27 0.51 0.58 −0.73
Takeout food 0.84 −0.07 1.16 0.23 −0.19
Toys and hobbies 2.19 −0.90 1.94 0.78 −0.06
Traffic fines −2.25 0.91 −0.58 −2.33 1.34
Travel 2.51 0.24 2.37 1.18 −0.20
TV license −0.17 1.29 0.26 −0.33 −0.39
Unions and subscriptions −1.04 1.26 0.42 −0.58 0.25

One of the experiments was also quite interesting. They collected introverts and extroverts. And then they gave half of each the voucher for book and half of each a voucher for a drink in a bar. Then they asked them, when they were making purchase, about their happiness. The extroverts were satisfied with both, but there was a large difference with introverts. They were a lot more happy with the book.

What can this help us? Well, for one, if you have no idea what to give somebody for a gift, and you don't want to ask them, it help help you choose something, that they might be more happy with. It help help you see, if you are spending more than average on something that makes you unhappy, and you can try a test to spend less, to see if that makes you happier. You can increase the spending for things that make you happier. I don't know, I think there are a lot of way, this can be used, just like most self-knowledge tidbits.

I also added the Jupyter-Notebook analysis of it.

Profiling from Blogs and from Social Media

On the first of April, I had presented my cognitive science master thesis topic at the class. The slides can be found here (in Slovenian). Very short summary would be, that I am researching the individual differences in sharing the opinion on social media.

After the presentation, I was talking to my classmates. One of them mentioned, that if this means, that I am more careful with what I post on the internet. My reply was, that I am posting my blog (the one that I am reading right here). And I don't mind, if anybody tries to analyse me based on this.

But on the other hand, I don't really post things on social media (I really need to delete the last remaining ones, that I have). And for anything that I can get in stores here in Ljubljana, I am using cash. So in a way, I am more careful in what data am I leaving, just in a different way.

I also studied business informatics, and this gave me a glimpse of what people can do with the data. Once the data is cleaned in the databases/tables, there is a lot of information, that can be gleaned from comparing the users. It is how the basic recommendation systems work. You find people or groups of people, that have the similar evaluation of the same works. And then check, what other works did these people also rated high and then recommend it to people, that they did not rate it yet.

Another example if the information, that can be gleaned from the liking behaviour. There was a good article, that showed how personality, gender and other attributes can be discovered through liking. People with different individual differences like different things, and this can be used to discover things about people.

But in order for this to happen, the data has to be in sort of a structured form. The blog is not exactly the structured form (unless it includes a lot of semantic web features). It is unstructured text, with maybe some videos and podcast thrown in. Maybe a picture or more as well. This means, that there is more work needed, in order to get these data in such form (the search engines still do it). So no everybody will do it with everybody.

The other reason I will borrow is from Janor Lanier book titled Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now. And this is the BUMMER principle. But the BUMMER only makes sense, if the companies can get some money out of it. On my blog, I have no advertisements and I doubt I will ever have it, so what is the point of doing it?

Does this mean, that there is no way that people will abuse it? I mean, if I have a person trying to target me directly, I am sure they will go through all the writings that I wrote, trying to find something about me. But I am not afraid of that. I just don't want to be just another entity in the database.

Which is why I don't mind sharing the info through the Indie-web, which blogs are. And there is another plus form my side, and this is that the content is under my control. Nobody can delete the blogs but me. And even if the servers go down and the country blocks my webpage, I still have my backup. I don't have thin on any website, which I do not control. I had already lost some of my data, because the website stopped working. But here it depends on whatever I want to continue paying for the domain and hosting and nothing else.

How I Managed to Force Myself to Finish my Master Thesis

The last two weeks, I had spent at the seaside, finishing my economics master thesis. The finished version was already send to my mentor, and I have to say, that I am still coming back for that. I am still tired, probably mostly mentally.

But how did I manage to finish something in two weeks, when I had procrastinated on it for months? I mean, I knew in January that I had enough data and I had procrastinated with that as well? I know that I did not do anything from January to April.

I think there were multiple reasons, most of them connected with solitude. Since it is not a season yet, there were not many people there. I exchanged words with three people, and one of them was the lady selling the bread. Which freed my mental capacities, so I could concentrated on the master thesis only.

The second reason is similar in a way. Because I was there just for master thesis, there was no context switching. I did not anticipated, how much would it help, that I did not had to do this. When I came back to the same project all the time, it was just easier to start.

The third was probably, that I wanted to put it out of my plate, and the grand gesture of travelling an hour and a half and putting everything else aside helped. I remember reading that grand gestures can help with the motivation and it really helped with it.

I have to say, that I still procrastinated. There were three days in these two weeks, that I had done nothing (one was the first day of menstruation, which is understandable). The rest of the day, the day when I put three hours of work was deemed unproductive, and on the productive day I could work 12 hours.

Which is probably why I was exhausted when I came back and why I am still tired.

I am still happy I did this, and I am already planning how I am going to repeat the experiment, when I am going to be finishing my cognitive science master thesis.

But I think, what it also showed me, is that I like working on one project at the time. I don't think this is quite possible in the work-force, especially if one if an entrepreneur. But maybe scheduling things in that way would be helpful. So, work on one thing until it is done or I am stuck, either because I no longer know how to continue forward or because I am waiting for somebody else to do something.

And I could also put this in my leisure. I could stop reading the articles, that are interesting, but are not my main focus. I should do these in the daily bursts as well (or however long am I interested) and put the rest of the time to more focused approach.

Which is why today and tomorrow, I am seeing how many of the notes that I had can I change into blog posts or delete, if they are no longer relevant. I have some of the non-processed notes from 2017, which is horrifying. Because, yes, they are almost two years old.

I don't know if this type of work is for everybody, but I don't know if I would be convinced, if I did not take on this experiment. And I do recommend to everybody, to try.

The Problem with Women in Tech Initiatives

When I was in the PyCokSK, I did my first lightning talk. And it was a rant (which, yes, I was aware of it being a rant at the time) about the women initiatives for programming. I don't have anything against women in programming, I am a woman in programming, but I find the whole fascination with the 50% representation goal weird. Why is this even the goal at all? What would achieving it even mean?

I will first say something, I don't understand feminism. At least, I don't understand what is the third wave feminism, because legal differences between genders, I can get behind why the world is most likely a better place without it. I did get an introduction to it from a bit of unlikely source, but I still don't understand it. Not only that, I think it had a negative effect on my life (knowing about it). Let me explain.

It started like this. I was abroad in Bratislava, and I, along with three of my other classmates from second year cognitive science, I took the philosophy of artificial intelligence. And every two weeks, we had a couple of articles and books to read, to have a discussion on them. In of of these, we had to read A Cyborg Manifesto by Haraway. I mean, I consider myself pretty smart, but I know that when I got to the end of it, the only thing that I felt was utter confusion of what-the-hell-did-I-just-read. I think I read it again, because I was absolutely sure, that I got something wrong. But no, it was not any clearer afterwards.

Well, I knew that at least two of my three classmates are going to read all the articles, and I shared a Monday class with one of them. So after a class, I came to him and asked asked him, if he would be willing to explain the point of the article with had to read for the philosophy of AI class, since I did not understand it. He was willing, so he wanted to know, which one, and I told him. His reply was that he liked the article and them asked me, which part did I not understand. And my reply, to a guy that said he liked the article seconds before was sort of like: "Everything. The article was constantly talking about oppression, like it is just given that it exists without any explanation." His explanation? Well, apparently this is what a third wave of feminism is.

I got a pretty interesting lecture/conversation out of it, and then I read a couple of books about feminism, trying to figure out what the hell is this. And after reading and thinking about it, I started noticing the whole groups ratio. The first thing that I noticed was, that since primary school, I did not had a single groups I was a part of, that involved more than half of women. I mean, in primary school I had dancing (mostly if not all women) and handball (where trainings were women only). But even in primary school, my best results were in mathematics, logics and physics, and there were more men there than women. In my school and in the competitions after the school level. Maybe if languages would be better for me, things would be different, because preparations for languages did hold more women, but I was never good at this. I mean, my English teacher told me, that she thinks I will never be fluent in English.

Considering that people go into STEM when they have high numerical but lower verbal intelligence, that should be the first sign for me to go to STEM from the start. Surprisingly, nobody ever tried to discourage me from that. And there were a lot of things people try to discourage me from, but from doing the supposedly men-oriented stuff? Never, not from family, not from society and not from school. Instead they tired to discourage me from going to what was perceived as high school for richer people (but still public and free, but I would feel isolated and lonely - I guess sort of like this guy, though I could not read it to the end), from going into economics (this one was from my family, and I am starting to understand why), from learning languages (we already touched upon this, right :) ) and so on and so on.

But let me see the things that I am currently a part of. At rhe lectures in cognitive science, we have a master seminar, and there might be more women, but not by a lot, but for most of the study it was about even. In the Python meetups, there are mostly men, with just some women. In the UX meetups, there are more men than women, though the ratio is not as skewed as in Python meetups. The place I worked with, well I saw one other woman so far, but I was not introduced to her. Instead I was introduced to a lot of men and I had status report presentations, where I was the only woman there. I guess I should be feeling isolated?

The problem is, I don't. For years, I had sometimes been the only woman in the room, and I did not even notice. At the start of the university, I was a lot of times also the youngest person in the room, by a large margin. In recent years, it is not that much true anymore. So I guess, I should be feeling scared and a victim? That there should be more people like me with me, so I would feel safer? More able to express myself? But the problem was, that I entered these groups because we had similar interests (like programming) so it was not hard for me to be myself.

I can also see the effect on other people. For example, in my native tongue, each noun used for the person can have both the female and male form. And I remember the last time, somebody used a male form of the word programmer to refer to me. Immediately, they started to apologize. And I was like, I don't care. I am sure most (but not all) would not care either. I heard stories from people, that are afraid to say that they disagree with this doctrine, because they are white, strong males, and so have no right to say it. And that the only reason why I can say it is because I am a woman. But apparently I am safe, because I am willing to say that from time to time.

Which is another good point, that as long as I am willing to say what I believe in, there are always going to be people that will agree with me on it, and this is a way to start finding them.

So, back to the point, I don't like being aware of the gender ratio of the group, because it is simply not important. I would have rather been in ignorance. Because now I am aware of it, without still understanding why this is a problem for some people.

I mean, somebody has to perceive it as a problem, because otherwise we would not have so many programs for teaching programming to women. In the article stereotype threat, they do suggest, that creating safe environments can help with fighting stereotype thread (assuming that this is a problem). But their examples are all like the upper three, make gender separated education in math, for example. And while I did not go deeper to read the original study, they made it sound, that gender imbalances make people feel less belonging, and this leads them to have less interest in participating. So, they are basically another groups of people, that I don't understand?

I had an interesting conversation this week. I was out on lunch and the talk came to how women are less direct. I then replied that this is also problem for some men and it would be easier, if there was less of that. I did had to admit on the end, that with women, this problem is more frequent. But it was interesting in the pause, that they never connected this problem to any males before. It was a classical stereotype.

There seems to be a lot of possible explanations for the differences, that they could fix. From stereotype thread making math less enjoyable and less interesting to women, as touched upon in the article stereotype threat. But when I was reading the meta-analysis of the gender differences, the biggest difference seems to be in interests. For example, there is like a Cohen.D difference of 1 between men and women. For some subsets of STEM, like science and maths, the differences still exist, but they were smaller. Just like they are almost none of the differences in intelligence (when looking at the effect sizes), and only some in masturbations and porn use and different illnesses, like depression and ADHD. Though this one checked the difference in the mean. Because when researching intelligence, it seems there are no differences in the mean, but they are in the variability. Even so, if there is not difference in mean, then the genders overlap a lot.

And it seems that disposition towards mathematics, science and engineering (where there are differences, see above) and creative tendencies (not sure if there are any gender differences there) is what makes people enter STEM, like shown in the article. And it seems, that if the people are interested in more their gender stereotyped or reverse gender stereotyped activities when children, in seem this would continue in the future, as shown in this article. But they there are studies, that show that the more women peruse romantic endeavors, the less interested they are in math. This reminds me of a podcast I listened recently. There one of the points (among many) was, that we need to pick the life we want to live, and imitating somebody's job would only work, if we also take their lifestyle with them. What then this makes me wonder is, what lifestyle do people in STEM have? The other thing is reminds me of, is the difference between Empathizing and Systematizing.

When did this piece become the excuse, to dump all the facts about gender differences?

Well, the point that I was trying to make is, that men and women are on average different. So that means, that there will never be 50% gender ratio in most things. And pushing for that, just to make some people feel less isolated, is a goal that I do not understand, and might not even be needed, if we put less emphasis on the gender ratios in the first place.

How to Find a Job

This week, when I went from school (I think it was yesterday, but it seems like much more time had passed), we ended up talking to a couple of schoolmates. When we were talking about it, I remembered the conversation I had at PyConSK. Especially how Exponia (I hope I wrote their names right) and Kiwi take all the programmers and how one person had to 'import' them from Ukraine. Since one of the classmates I talked about expressed his wish to work as a freelance programmers abroad, I shared this informations.

What I found interesting what the reaction of another classmate present there. It was sort of a call for more jobs for non-programmers. I think the main point was, that programmers have a lot of job opportunities, and the rest of them don't. Which, she is at least partly right. I mean, my last two job interviews for a programming jobs were basically, the job is yours, if you want it. And I hear from other programmers, that if you have a profile on LinkedIn, then you constantly get contacted by recruiters (I am not, so I can not confirm this). But the programmers are not the only ones like that, I know that at least mechanical engineers are in the same position.

But I have been thinking about it, and I don't think this is the main reason. I mean, even before I started to work as a programmer, if I wanted a specific job, I knew who to ask to find out, what I need to do to get it (assuming it can be done as a paying job). Sure, people would not throw jobs, but it is possible. On the other hand, from a very limited sample of talking to the people I study with, they just don't know how to attempt it.

So I have been thinking about the reason. I think that the main reason is, surprisingly, my lack of socialization drive. I know, it sounds weird, but let me explain in more detail. From middle of primary primary school to high school, I did not spend a lot of times with my classmates. In my whole time in high school, I have been invited to less than 10 parties. Which was great, since that left me with more time and energy to read books.

But then in the beginning of the university, I wanted to become a entrepreneur. So I started reading books about it, and one of the topics that resurface a lot was the importance of networking.

Now, here is a person, who doesn't get this whole social things, and tries to start networking. So what happens? Well, I go to lectures (outside classes) and start having conversations with lecturers. I start attending Toastmasters. I start going to meetups. Usually alone, which form what I heard, it is not a standard practice for a lot of people, but mostly still in school people. Which means, I needed to 'socialize' (yes, the quotes were deliberate) with people there. Which means that I always associated with people older than me, most of them having jobs and so on.

I mean, lets take Toastmasters for example. I was attending meetings there with an HR person from Dars (the company responsible for all the highways in Slovenia), a diplomate from the Foreign minister, a tourist guide, a programmer that was starting his own start-up, a psychiatrist in training, a project manager (I think, not sure about the exact position) from Krka, a person being employed for the company giving support for SAP, a person who ended up working for Google (I have no idea, what he did beforehand), and so on. I then went abroad, and could immediately make connection with these people, which included from English teacher to trainer hosting seminars.

If I at the time wanted to find a job, it would have been a hell of a lot easier than if my circle of friends consisted of my classmates. Which is also one (among many) of reasons, why I am against the women only places in programming. The fact say what they say, and there are right now more male programmers and there are more employed programmers as well. So they will be the one, that could provide the best advice and give the best opportunities.

Maybe, at least for me, this meeting have always been a way for me for force myself to be social, so I never wanted anything from these groups. That does not mean, that some things were not thrown at me (ranging from very good to very bad). But I would recommend anybody to give it a try. Worst case scenario, you meet some people, that you realize you never want to meet again. Best case scenarios, you show some wish and some incentive to do something about it, and people will start throwing opportunities are you. :)