News, news, news

One of the best essays I read last year was a case on why you shouldn’t read the news.

It’s amazing how much more productive you become when you aren’t constantly trying to fill voids of time with consumption of news, articles and tweets  You instead become a producer rather than consumer.

Ofcourse it’s not that ideal to be completely oblivious to the the world around us, but a good rule of thumb is that if there is something important happening, you’ll hear about it somehow 🙂

The shortened version of the essay (by Rolf Dobelli) is here:

3 things I learnt from not reading a book

I’ve been wanting to read a ‘A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose‘ by Eckhart Tolle, as people have said amazing things about it for a while now.

Someone once told me their takeaway from the book (thanks Babs) in 3 points and the advice has helped me in my day-to-day.

1) Be free of judgement of others
You don’t know what situation or circumstances the other person is going through, there’s no point in drawing brash conclusions, chances are you were probably in the gutter at some point. They could probably use a friend who smiles, encourages and listens to their problems. Be that person. 🙂

Note: Having opinions is fine, otherwise life is boring. However there is a subtle difference between opinions and judgement.

2) Be free of materialism
Things shouldn’t define you, soon you’ll no longer exist and the only things that will matter are your relationships with people around you and your legacy.

3) Be non-resistant
The only constant we can depend on in life is change, there’s no point in resisting it, embrace it and leverage that change for the better. You’ll look back at that inflection point in a few years and it won’t matter anymore!

One day, I’ll get around to reading the book….

New year resolutions

So it’s that time of year where people have figured out that they were guilty of certain things in 2013, which they are giving up for a few weeks in 2014 (i.e. new year’s resolutions).

I’m guilty of not reading as much as when I was a kid, so I’ve decided to take the ’52 book week challenge’ for 2014, on average a book a week. I’ll be keeping track of my progress in this post, and hopefully as it’s public I’ll try and complete the challenge!

Only time will tell…

Current book count = 3

1) Choose Yourself – James Altucher
2) Bloomberg by Bloomberg
3) The 4-hour body – Tim Ferriss
4) Eleven Minutes – Paulo Coelho
5) No Exit – Gideon Lewis-Kraus

EDIT : As it’s nearly midway through the year and I’m busy, this target has been changed to 20 books!

Maximum continous sequence profit

An interesting concept in Finance and Computer Science is if we have some historical data about the price of a security and we want to see the maximum profit we can make. (Assumption: we can only carry out one buy and one sell action)

Let’s assume that time is represented by natural numbers as opposed to timestamps. With this, we can represent the prices as an array and the index of the array representing the timestamp value (the lower values being earlier prices).

So given the array: [4.5, 6.0, 4.2, 4.4, 7.0, 3.2] the maximum profit we can make is 7.0 – 4.2 = 2.8

The solution may seem tricky as there are local sub-array problems that need to be solved, for example if we have gone through the first four elements of the array above, we can’t really say anything about the profit until we see more elements of the array.

The solution that I came up with had two variables and keeps track of the current maximum profit by continuous calculation and the minimum price value. This concept surprisingly leads to an elegant solution.

My solution (implemented in Python) is below, it’s got a complexity of O(n) – there has to be at least one element in the array.

[sourcecode language=”python”]

def max_profit(array):
profit = 0
min = array[0]
for i in array:
if i < min:
min = i
if (i – min > profit):
profit = (i – min)
return profit


Summer 2012 – Silicon Valley

A little over a year ago, I came back from an amazing summer at Silicon Valley in California. Here’s a small guide / story for anyone thinking about going out there to work, or if you’re just curious about my experience there.


As part of my degree requirements at Imperial College London, we were made to apply for 6 month placements in the industry. I had interned at Goldman Sachs in London, so I was looking for a different experience to the conventional finance route that the City of London offered.
After relentlessly preparing for interviews by going through algorithm and data structure questions I got into a few companies in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York.

My first choice however was Palantir Technologies, where I was offered a place as a Forward Deployed Engineering Intern for their Metropolis platform. There were around 4 non-US interns and they sponsored our visas for the internships as well.

Palantir Technologies

We build software that allows organizations to make sense of massive amounts of disparate data

The company is based in downtown Palo Alto and the office I was working out of was the ex-Facebook headquarters, 156 University Avenue. For interns they provided free housing 5 mins from the office, bicycles and intern specific nights as well as the conventional perks for full time employees including free breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Palantir is one of the most relevant companies in the information age where we have terabytes of data floating around and no one has the tools to make sense of it. This is especially the case for large organizations.

Apart from all the fun and games, I was given a fair amount of responsibility during my summer projects. There was pretty much an open door policy at the company and I often found myself talking to interns, full time employees and directors late into the night about life, philosophy and code.

Fun, games and Silicon Valley

One of my friends (Rafal) from university was interning at ClassDojo on California Avenue and we often found ourselves going to Stanford over weekends where you can pretty much go around the whole campus and read under the beautiful lawns.

Once term time started I would often go to Stanford events where one of my Kenyan friends, Elahe was studying.

Cycling around Palo Alto is the best way to get around as everything is so close.

When you get bored of suburban Palo Alto, San Francisco is a stone throw away. The Caltrain goes into the heart of the SOMA district.

For our main Palantir intern event the company hired out the Exploratorium in San Francisco and had a party at Peter Thiel’s house (founder of Palantir and early stage investor in Facebook).

I also got the opportunity to visit the Dropbox HQ where some family friends are working.

Weekend getaways

Weekends were also spent traveling to attractions near and around California.

A few of my friends were interning at Amazon (Seattle, Washington) and we spent a weekend there which is ~2 hour plane ride away.  One evening we ended up at a beautiful restaurant called Ray’s Boathouse, which I would highly recommend.

Another weekend was spent in Los Angeles.

We had hired a car on these trips and didn’t have an issue with non-US driving licences. However, one thing to be wary about is that if you are under 25 then you have to pay a premium. They often require a credit card as well.

Rafal and I also drove to Yosemite despite the Hantavirus scare at the time.  We climbed up to Vernal Falls and were brave enough to take a plunge in the ice-cold water.

Freezing water!
Freezing water!

My last week of the internship was spent working out of the Palantir New York office in Manhattan, where I was staying in the vibrant Meatpacking district.

Interning for a company in the Valley is something that I would definitely recommend if you are student or have recently graduated.

Get in touch if you have any questions!

My final piece of homework

I just recently completed my degree at Imperial College London and my masters project was on ‘Performance Evaluation of Cloud Services’ (yes, I didn’t even know what this mean’t when I chose the project).

Essentially what I tried to accomplish was to look at the performance and cost implications of hosting cloud computing applications. My main focus was on Amazon EC2 instances (they are used by major internet companies like Instagram). I used a fancy mathematical topic called queuing theory to try and model requests to EC2 instances and I looked at the response times for these requests. They were database and web server requests.

If you are more interested in my work and conclusions reached have a look at my report on Github here.

The end of the password

Came up with this way of getting rid of the password entirely.

  1. Let your web app X allow people to log in by inputting their email address
  2. Send them an authentication link in their email address.
  3. Let people use this session link to log in.
  4. When they click on logout then destroy this session and start again from step 1

No where was a single password inputted.

Now, just need to write some libraries to implement this method of authentication. 🙂

The end of structured life

Today is the last day of my second last term at Imperial College London. We operate on a trimester system with engineers usually doing a 4 year degree so I’m done with 11/12 of my degree or more than 90%.

Since we are around 6 years old our life has a structure. We know that there is nursery school, followed by primary, secondary and finally university education. Within this time frame all the experiences we have are not really appreciated until we make a jump. When making these discrete jumps, for example from high school we are nostalgic about our friends and experiences, but we know that there is still a while to go and university still awaits us with all that it has to offer…

The jump from university to life however is a different one. All my peers have had a very similar trajectory within our structured lives and the only variation has been grades, internships, holidays, girlfriends/boyfriends.

It’s quite a challenge to describe all the adventures and learning experiences that university has taught me. I learn’t much more outside of my lectures and department and have come to believe that paying for university is worth it just for the life outside of academics. Everything else can be learnt on Khan Academy or YouTube!