Blog of Sara Jakša

Recipe: Tiramisu

I remember, that I made tiramisu once. It is one of the sweets, that I really like (the creamy texture is usually so good), but I don't really make or order it that much. But for some reason, I don't usually make it. Which is a shame.

I created my recipe by mixing the two recipes together. It is not really perfected. What it is missing is a more creamy structure and more light taste. But maybe this will motivate me, to make it more frequently.

Ingredients: at least 1 box of baby cookies (so around 250g?) Coffee 2 eggs 500g of mascarpone 2 spoons of rum or other alcohol (Cognac) 2 spoons of cacao * 100 dag of sugar

  1. Make coffee
  2. Mix the whites of the eggs until firm
  3. Mix egg yorks with sugar, mascarpone and alcohol
  4. Add egg whites to the mixture
  5. Drown cookies in coffee
  6. Put coffee-soaked cookies in the pan followed by cream. Can be repeated multiple times.
  7. Put cacao on top
  8. Cool in in refrigerator for 1-2 hours at least

Hofstede's Cultural Dimensions

I am interested in the individual differences between people. A lot of time, the differences can also be on the cultural level, not just on the personal level. And one of the theory dealing with this is Hofstede's cultural dimensions theory.

The theory recognizes 6 different dimensions: Power distance, Individualism, Masculinity, Uncertainty avoidance, Long Term and Indulgence. So for practice, I wanted to see if I recognize these dimensions in the countries that I lived in. For me, these were Slovenia, Germany, Hungary, Austria and Slovak.

In order to help me with this (and in case it helps somebody), I created a interactive graph to help with comparing countries. There does exist the site which already does this, but there one can only compare up to 4 countries: To tell the truth, the point of the blog post is so I have an excuse to show this graph. :)

The first dimension is the power distance. This describes how much people (especially the less powerful) accept unequal distribution of power in institutions and organizations. So the higher the country is on that, the more acceptable to people is that some people are more powerful than the others. Comparing the countries I lived in, the Slovakia is the highest, then Slovenia, followed by Hungary, then Germany and ending up with Austria.

It is interesting, that in Slovenia we talk a lot about inequality, and how it is something we don't want. But nobody does anything to actually move us in this direction. On the other hand, there was no talk like that in Austria, and almost none in Germany.

The second dimension is individualism. This describes in how big is the circle of people, to whom we generally adapt out actions to. Countries with high individualism only look after themselves, while in the countries with low individualism think about themselves as 'we'. The most individualistic is Hungary, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and then Slovenia.

I would say, that Austria and Germany would be above Hungary, but the explanation might me that I was in a small town in Hungary and in the city in Germany and capital in Austria. Slovenian think a lot about what other people will say and we act in accordance to this. But I did not feel that in Germany or Austria. The Hungary was between them, but probably closer to Germany-Austria group.

The third dimension is masculinity. The higher the masculinity, the more is the country competitive. And the lower the masculinity, the more likely the caring is an important value. The most mascular country is Slovakia, then Hungary, followed by Austria and the Germany. The least mascular country is Slovenia.

Not surprised by the position of Slovenia (no matter how much I think we are a bit extreme in caring). But it is interesting when comparing the use of foreign language in a country for foreigners. In Slovenia and Germany people adapt and they talk in English, if any foreign is present. In Austria it depends on the situation, but it still happens. Hungary and Slovakia are a lot less adaptable in this regard. A lot of time, even when seeing that one is a foreign, they will just continue in their language.

The forth dimension is uncertainty avoidance. This one describes how much people try to avoid uncertainty and create processes and institutions for this purpose. The highest in this is Slovenia, then Hungary, Austria, Germany, and the last Slovakia.

I think this is shown quite well in the university system. In Slovenia, just taking the class in another faculty requires a lot of bureaucracy. Everybody should be doing the same study. In Austria, they rules are more flexible, but they still don't want students to go outside of them. Germany, they are becoming more flexible. And in Slovakia, it already depends more on people's good will, then what the rules are saying.

The fifth dimension is long term orientation. The cultures with high values encourage thrift, while the ones with low values encourage going with traditions of the past. The highest is Germany, then Slovakia, then Austria, Hungary and on the end Slovenia.

Well, Slovenia being low on this one is again not that surprising. We spend too much time arguing about the past and no time thinking about the future. We are not even capable of planing the change in laws for a couple of years in advance.

The last one is indulgence. So, whenever the people do what they want to do, or show some restraint. Austria is the highest, the Slovenia, followed by Germany, Hungary and Slovakia.

Well, people are a lot more likely to take a afternoon off and go for a drink in Austria and Slovenia, then any of the outer countries.

Do you Want to be Famous

Just today, I had entered into the debate about the personal image, perceptions and information on the internet. The debate started with the case, that I did not know beforehand. The gist was, that there was an applicant to Harvard, who was accepted. But then the Harvard retracted the acceptance, because of something that person posted in the private chat when they were 16 (I think?) years old. But then the backlash came, when people stopped giving Harvard donation. I don't know how the case ended, but this was how it was presented to me.

The argument behind that story was, that people can be ruined by what is posted about them on the internet. So it is better to be private. So that nobody can unearth any 40 years old pornographic movies. I don't agree with the point completely. But I did not research this specifically, so here are just some of my thoughts.

It is true, that we now have more information about other people, that we had most if not all of our evolutionary history. So we are not very adapted to this. For most of our evolutionary history, we spend a lot of time getting information about other people, because this was a valuable decision making tool and commodity. That is why gossip and things like that are so widespread. It is also why we don't want to be rejected by the people, we consider a part of our group. And this can again lead to some other anomalies. For example, in deliberating about a problem in a group, people are much more likely to share the information, that is already know to other members. And we also like people that share information that we already know more. So people are unlikely to share new information, even though the aggregation of all information leads to better decisions.

And this is not likely to change. Evolutionary speaking, we don't change that drastically that quickly. It is going to take quite a while. But I think culturally, the change might not be that slow. The reason, why information like that can have a drastic effect is because the people making decisions did not grow up with these technologies. And our memory is so, so, far from being reliable. The people on the highest positions right now no longer reliably remember, what they were like, when they were that age.

But the people growing up with these technologies will have a very different experience. They will be reminded again and again about the things that they did. So when they will be older, there will be a lot of people on the highest positions, that will have something embarrassing in their history, that they will know it was true. And I think this will allow them to be more open to dismiss the surfacing information about a person, if it does not pertain to what they know them for.

It is also true, that disagreeable people are more competitive. That means, that they will want to be in the higher positions in the society. And they are much less likely to take other people's considerations into account. I remember reading about a doctor, that figured out how to cure one of the children's caner with high mortality rate. What he was trying to do could be considered torture. We are talking about blood letting and having multiple needles stuck in them for hours. But for these children, he was also the only doctor, that tried to do something about it. And because of him, these days mortality for this cancer is minimal in the Western world.

Sure, these stories spreading on the internet could effect the type of patients that kind of doctor would get. A lot of parents would decide not to go to him. But I would prefer this kind of doctor for at least myself.

And this brings me to the next point. There are a lot of individual differences between people. I remember once reading a blog post about the different expectation of American and Europeans in the bar. How Europeans would complain, that the American waitresses were all smiley and they would constantly interrupt them. And the Americans would complain that waitress in Europe were mean and that they sometimes they had to wait 10-20 minutes for the waitress to get there. But there are a lot of differences inside the country as well. I know that I have problems working in a groups, that they can't handle the honest feedback. Because eventually something will bother me enough, that I will say it out loud.

But the one that get a much more attention recently is the political divide. The people on different ends of the political spectrum have different personality. The right wing are more ordered and industrious. The left wing more open. The people for political correctness are more agreeable. But they also don't read the same books, don't read the same news, they don't hang out with each other and so on. One fan fact that I read today in book Infotopia is, that blogs are a lot more likely to cite somebody that is on the same side of political spectrum.

If it would be easy to convince everybody in the same way, then there would be no point in niching oneself. The society would still benefit from people specializing, the people themselves maybe would not. Yet, it seems that people always want to put you in a box. If you make it easier to do it, they are much more likely to give you opportunities. Again, they are people, that act differently, because of individual differences.

But it is hard to not offend anybody. It also means, that some opportunities get closed when one specializes (though they open on the path of specialization). This can be clearly seen in how people in Slovenia take education. I always confuse them, because I work as a programmer, but I studied economics and cognitive science. It is even worse how some study programs are taken. If people can not think of a job, that these people could do with this knowledge, then the whole program is worthless. The professor of that subject does not count for them. But in my opinion, the education can be useful, even if the specific knowledge is never again used by this person. I act differently in the world, because I studied economics and cognitive science.

So we all make decision, that will allow people to make judgements about us. But apparently some information on the internet has a lot bigger effect than all of the other informations? That I somehow don't really believe. And I know, that people are irrational. I have studied economics, but I am also cognitive scientist. I know that there are informational cascades. I know that people have many, many biases. And I do believe, that for first impression all this information can have a huge effect. But because of the conformational bias, I don't believe, that it can have a huge effect once the person is already know personally.

I also find it a bit weird, that I would go research the people I know (not that weird), but I would then be influenced by what would I find (that I find weird). I mean, I had checked the personalities of a couple of people that I know, if I had enough text. The IBM gives the possibility to do this. But I have never changed my opinion based on that.

I mean, I remember my last interview for the job. I was asked about a couple of things, that could be found on the internet. My results of the mathematical tests in the primary school and my karate participation. And my GitHub account, but this one was not surprising at all, since it was a programming job. But this was because they did not know anything about me. I would feel very weird, if somebody that already knows my would have done the same thing.

I also don't think that being private is the best way to do this. There is a reason why the advice for correcting the online image is the way it is. The advice is, to bury the unflattering information with other information. So the way to make this information more prominent, is to have a lot more information about oneself on the internet. This can be simply achieved, if one has a lot of active social media accounts (which I don't) and their own website and then post on other websites with their real name. I guess the way to do it would also be to be a guest on lot of podcasts.

Also, here is where network comes into play. The information about a person is something that evolutionary is important. But it is even more important, if it comes for the person one knows.

On the end, public perceptions can also provide a pressure to confirm. Not to the society, but to the image, that they have of you. Somebody that has always been know about their opinion of something, it is quite hard to change it. For example, there was a group of people, where I was quite vocal about the importance of negative feedback. Something that I still believe in. But it would be harder for me to argue for the opposite, if I ever change my mind.

The only point to mention is, that people also differently define, what for them is private information. What would be something to keep private for one person, it would be something to share for another. Some people prefer sharing their thoughts, some what they did and some who they know. And I am sure I missed something. Also, for me my thoughts are a lot more intimate things to share than what happened to me. That is why there is a lot of my thinking, that I am not sharing. And the reason that I am not sharing what is happening to me is boredom. I don't live objectively interesting life. Not a lot of interesting things happen to me. So I don't say anything about it.

There are a lot of things, that I did not touch upon. The EU has a legal framework to remove references to information from the internet, if the information is outdated, misleading and could hurt a person, but it is not in public interest to be knows. Something is this direction. Privacy itself is also another topic, that I only touched upon, and could be greatly extended.

But on the end, hearing about a couple of stories does not mean, that this is something simple to try and solve, even on the personal level.

What's the Deal with Agreeableness?

I have never really understood the agreeableness. When starting with the very short descriptions, it seemed that the agreeable people are nice and cooperative and empathic. Disagreeable people, in contrast, were hard, and competitive and direct.

When I take the personality test, I always score low on agreeableness. No matter what norms am I compared to. But actually, comparing gender, the women tend to be more agreeable on average (with quite a lot of overlap). So I should understand, why disagreeableness is like. What I did not understand is, what the other side looks like.

So I tried to figure out, what is the difference. And one of the models explaining that was based on the me vs. other difference. So the agreeable people put others higher then themselves. While the disagreeable people put themselves above the other people.

So that have additional effect. The agreeable people are more likely to be interested in other people. Because they put other people more highly, they are more likely to be cooperative and more empathic.

Alright, so they put other people above themselves. But if that is true, why are they always upset with my actions? Why are they always resentful about people getting what they want. Why are they a lot of times about being fair? I could not understand it.

I still remember giving an evaluation at the Toastmasters. My evaluations were not for the weak. I was asked to not evaluate the newcomers. But I was evaluating one of the older member and I was looking at the person I was giving the evaluation to. That person was listening, but while I did not feel like we have a conversation, I also did not see any negative reaction to it.

But then a couple of days later, I get an email for them, where they are asking me, when am I going to apologize. I remember looking at that email, wondering what was it about. So I wrote back that I have no idea, what was I supposed to be apologizing for. Well, the answer came back, saying that I should know that I emotionally wounded that person or something is that direction. I wrote back, that if that happened I apologize, since this was not my intention. But in my head, I was screaming 'WTF!?'. I could not process that reaction at all.

Thankfully, I recently had an opportunity to talk to somebody who was very agreeable, but who also aware of these theories. So we did not have to spend a lot of time figuring out what vocabulary to use. And there was a lot of interesting tidbits taken from that conversation, but one story stuck to my mind.

There he was explaining, how he sometimes he would forget an umbrella. And that there is a person, who said something like: 'You are always forgetting an umbrella.' And he said, in that moment I felt deeply wounded, like this was an emotional attack.

There the light went off for me. I sometimes say things like that, but these are just sentences. The words, where the other person was not taken into account at all. Overgeneralized observations. In a way a person would say that it is always raining. The people constructed my words as an attack, when I did not even think about them at all.

The difference in the me vs. others is a more general one. Because they are always putting the other people in front of them, they assume that other people also think about other people in the same way. That is why they assume that everything a person does is connected to other people in some way. So things, that are some for some completely different reason get constructed as things that are done for their sake or as attack on them.

Puts a part of my childhood in a different perspective. :)

This is also why not saying everything that I want to say works. Because if I simply don't act, then it can not get misrepresented. I can't act the way people want me to, if it goes against my thinking or feeling, but I usually don't have problem with not doing something (just don't stab me in the back, because I will retaliate :) ).

But even knowing a bit how agreeableness work now, I still don't think I really get it.

I presented the same topic and point at the Ljubljana Python Meetup in July 2019.

Presenting UExperience on MyData Meetup

Today, I am having a presentation on MyData meetup. It is a weird feeling, because for the first time I am actually presenting something, that I am getting paid to do.

What I am presenting today is UExperience, an app to allow people to study their experience. What do I mean by that? Well, let me ask you, how do you feel right now? Are the feelings strong? Are you experiencing your body? What are hearing anything? Do you feel your personal state?

This is what I mean by experience. And I made an app, that allows you to study the parts of experience one is interested in.

There are some interesting studies done with experience. In the decision making, there is an interesting article. It is something that I recommend as reading to anybody interested in decision making.

My presentation can be found on

Some more information about the app can be found on GitHub or my very disorganized and incomplete documentation or the original site.

Added 2019-07-29: A friend of mine was kind enough to record me. You can download the video here (100 MB).

My MeiCogSci Presentation on the Topic Modeling of Cognitive Science Abstracts

I am a bit behind on my blog posts. I mean, right now writing about my presentation, that I had about a month ago tells me, that I had not written anything for at least a month. I guess it was a busy month. :) Well, last month I had a presentation on the topic modeling of the abstracts, that were published in this very conference in the last decades and some. So that can give us a pretty good indication of what people in our study program find interesting. That was a fun project, that probably took about two months of my life.

I have spend a lot of time playing around with different models. On the end, I used the model with 21 topics. Looking back now, I think I would get a better results with less topics. That is my intuition, because I also played a lot with different number of topic models and I think the ones in the 10-15 topics were a bit clearer and more straight forward. But in the end, I ended up using the best model based on the numerical indications. Also, for most of my time, I was really annoyed, that the three topics were together: constructivism, sense-making and empirical phenomenology. To me, these were separate topics. Or at least more separate topics than reinforcement learning and neural networks, that got divided.

Well, the model was right and I was wrong. The feedback that I got was that these is how it should be. I got the info that the constructivism-phenomenology group should be together. Apparently Varela, who is one of the most prominent empirical phenomenologist, went through both constructivism and sense making. At the presentation, I found out that people have a strong opinion of why neural network and reinforcement learning were supposed to be separate. The first explanation was, that reinforcement learning is just one method of neural networks, but otherwise they are separate. The second has to do with explainability of the model? I don't think I completely understood that explanation.

Well, all this feedback came to late, so I ended up with a model with too many topics. Maybe what I can learn from that is, that if there is something that appear no matter the preprocessing and number of topic selection, it will probably be right, so don't mess up the model to try and correct it.

The visualization of the final model can be found on my page. I also included the simplified model as a web app, so everybody can check the topics of any texts (but if used on text other that cognitive science ones, I can not guarantee any sensible results). Feel free to play with it.

Now, for some interesting results, that I have gotten. Probably a lot more interesting for the people connected to the study program than anybody else. The analysis could be found on my github.

The most popular topics are constructivism, society, learning, decision making, neuroscience, language, perception, modeling, movement, neural networks and reinforcement learning. I put them so many, because of the next difference.

There are difference in which topics are popular in which place. In the study program, there are currently four universities: Ljubljana, Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest. So I also analyzed one of the years (2015) in order to see which topics are popular in which places. There were not enough abstracts from Budapest in that year, so I only used the other three.

For Ljubljana, the most topics of interest were constructivism, learning and neuroscience. In Vienna, the topics were society, decision making, constructivism and perception. And in Bratislava it was reinforcement learning, learning, modeling and language. In the general perception it is, that you go in Ljubljana in you are interesting in first-person research and neuroscience (which is shown), Bratislava if you are interested in computational modeling and maybe language (which is also shown) and in Vienna if you want something else or have no idea what you want to do, since they were supposed to have the most variety.

For the people in Ljubljana, we have to hear a lot about the connection between the first-person and third-person. So it was interesting to see that neuroscience and constructivism have the least amount of collaboration. But what it can also be seen is, that the amount of interdisciplinarity is increasing through the years.

I also checked which topic humanizes the participants and which do not (according to how one of the people in the audience described it). I only checked if the used subject or participant. The topics with most human participants were study of perception, attention, non-typicality, categorization, neuroscience and decision making. The humanizing ones (using participants) were studying of language, decision making and attention. The others (using subjects) were neuroscience, neural networks and the studying of pitch.

I also checked the differences in personality. More agreeable are people studying health, non-typicality and decision making. Less agreeable were people studying reinforcement learning, neural networks and systems. More neurotic were people studying reinforcement learning, systems and tasks. Less neurotic were people studying non-typicality, health and pitch. The most extroverted researchers were the one studying decision making, society and attention. The least extroverted researchers studied neuroscience, TMS and health.

So these are some results, that I ended up finding about this data set. There are still many interesting questions to ask, but I think I will take a bit of a break and maybe return to this topic models later.

Why Our Parliament is not the Only Weird One

Sometimes it might seems like, our parliament is a really weird one. You don't believe me?

I remember once watching a parliamentary session, where the person had a couple minutes talk about, how there is the smell of glue. And that maybe there is a lot og glue in the air. So they all might have ended up high. Which, according to that speaker, would explain why people are giving the suggestions they do.

Or a more recent one. There was a meeting. A person admitted on the camera, that they stole a sandwich. Called it a social experiment... well you can imagine what happened in the end.

So, in order to counteract these, I am going to list some of the thing that are weird in the British parliament:

  • They sit 2 sword lengths apart, so that they are unable to cut opponent head off
  • They can't have a debate without a golder mace listening to them
  • They can not address each other directly (I guess they invented passive-aggressiveness?)
  • They are not allowed to say, that something is not true
  • They vote by walking to the room

Topic Modeling of Python Conversations on Tumblr

I had presented a lightning talk on May Python Meetup.

What I did was take all the Python tagged posts from Tumblr. Then I topic analysed them and tried to figure out some interesting things.

Here are the interesting things:

  1. Python is connected to three big topics: nature (the dark night with a dog barking one), startups and coding.

  2. When ignoring the nature one, the trends show that from 2013 to 2016 there was a lot of interest in learning python. But then the interest shifted to startups. (Not sure why. Would be interested in finding out...)

  1. There are people posting python code with comments in Japanese. So, a Japanese python community? (not sure, why it is on Tumblr...)

  2. People really like to create chat apps. (again Why???)

My slides and code are also available.

Sort of MBTI of Problem Solving

This is the idea, that I am toying around with, and I am trying it out from time to time. Not sure, how successful it is practically, but it might help with some people. What it basically does, is to try and see on the problem from different perspectives, in this case, perspectives of different functions.

MBTI was designed based on the Jung's function theory. So Jung's said that we have four functions: Thinking, Feeling, Intuiting and Sensing, and each can be oriented inside or outside. I have to admit, I understand a lot more about inside and outside orientation, since I took first person research. Before, they would sometimes get mixed. For example, I could not understand introverted intuition, but if I think about it like an extroverted intuition oriented in the inside, it makes sense. But it did not make sense, until I started to observe myself.

And each function wants something. The thinking wants order, the sensing wants information, the intuition wants creativity and the feeling wants humanity. And then each one is turned in one side, the thinking wants order, but introverted thinking wants order in the thinking, and the extroverted thinking wants order in the external world. The same with sensing, the extroverted sensing gets the information from the world, and the introverted sensing gets the information from the inside us. The extroverted feeling wants to express humanity toward other people, so that we are more human to each other, the introverted feeling wants to express inner humanity, which is why it is connected to the values a lot of times. And so on and so on.

Penelope Trunk actually summarized what makes each type (not function) makes one happy and refuel them. I copied the information in the table below:

Type Activity
INTJ Needs to create order and structure from theoretical abstraction.
ENTJ Needs to visualize where an organization is headed.
INTP Needs to generate new theories or to prove or disprove existing theories.
ENTP Needs to understand the world they live in.
ISTP Needs to understand the way things work.
ESTP Needs to take action and get the job done.
ISFP Needs to feel immersed in the world of senses.
ESFP Needs to feel excitement and drama.
ISTJ Needs to fulfill their duty.
ESTJ Needs to enforce rules and/or traditions.
ISFJ Needs to create harmony and cooperation.
ESFJ Needs to make people feel good about themselves.
INFJ Needs to see the world of hidden meanings and possibilities.
ENFJ Needs to bring out the best in others.
INFP Needs to make the world a better place.
ENFP Needs to inspire and motivate others.

(As the unrelated note, this can also be used to help type people :) )

So, going from that tangent (but this approach can also work with the needs above), how to use thins to solve problems? Well, when we have a problem, we can think about, how each function would approach this. How can be bring order and use this to solve problems? When can be get more information? Is there something else we did not consider? How do we bring fourth our humanity.

Pydays Vienna 2019

This weekend, I have attended the This time I am not going to talk about the stuff I learned on it. Even though the Workshop: Analysing 200 Years of Political Debate was both funny and informative.

This time, I went with a friend of mine. And there are some things that I learned just from that.

I prefer buses to the cars. Mostly because I can read and work in peace and because I have more space. Mine friend was great and very understanding, but there is still a social pressure to not just put a laptop out and work on it.

Not to mention, the parking is expensive and it takes a lot of time to find the parking space. It is annoying.

The other point is, that I like travelling with other people. Having the company during breakfast and somebody to share the whole trip was surprisingly refreshing and nice. I am grateful, that I had company.

And that this company was better than the women in my room. They were not bad, but when we went out, they most of the time talked about travelling and men. The first is somehow interesting, the second not at all.

But it does have a negative side as well. Having him there, it gave me the excuse to not socialize with new people. I never noticed this explicitly, but thinking back, that has always been the case. Something to keep in mind.

I don't mind going to the events alone, I have a lot of practice, but it is nice to know, that I need to go somewhere, I don't know anybody, if I want to learn something new.

I also had this weird phase of knowing somebody, where I met them before, I remember them, but I have no idea, how to act around them. Maybe this is why I have problem making regular friends? Something to keep in mind.

Another thing that I noticed is, that recently I have a lot of signs to talk more at the events and to start organizing the events. I noticed both of them. Even more, I noticed that I started to seriously consider this. So this is something, that I need to keep in mind. Which makes me wonder, when will I ever get a normal job and a normal life?

The last thing, that I can remember, is that I finally understand, why I don't like the current feminism. I decided, that instead of attending the lightning talks, I will try to attend the woman-only mentorship meeting. What I realized is, that their complains are small. It is that they don't want to be brushed off (everybody is at one point, and standing for oneself works) and that culture changes, when there is more women (which is probably true, but that does not mean, one is better than another). But they framed everything like a battle.

Which is weird, since gender is not the only interesting difference between people. I wonder what people would say, if there would be groups like that for right-wing people in social sciences or groups like that for old people in the athletic sports or groups like that for sociopaths in teachers in early education.

Plus, I had not draw that many pictures in a day in a log time. You can see them here:

Otherwise, I got some things to think about, some blog posts to write and some code to correct. So overall, it was a productive weekend.