About Me

Lee JacobsonHi, my name is Lee.
I'm a passionate developer who loves to learn. Here you'll find articles and tutorials about things that interest me. If you want to hire me or know more about me head over to my about me

Recent Posts

22nd January 2015 at 20:58

Twenty Four, New Starts and Updates

I suppose it's about time to dust this blog off with another annual update. So first off I'm now twenty four, which even after two months still scares the heck out of me. Where do I begin? This year has been a really strange one. I've frequently found myself questioning things that I was almost certain of a couple of years ago, and for the first time in a while I'm feeling increasing lost and confused about the direction I'm heading in. When I look back I guess I've always had quite clear goals for myself and I always thought I knew the path I needed to take to get there, but I'm not sure I really did anymore. I think another factor is simply that I'm really quite content with where I am right now, I've got a lot of the things that I wanted over the last few years and now I'm struggling with how to start a new chapter.

Another thing that's bothered me recently is how I react when I hear these 17 year old kids at tech meetups tell me how they're going to make the next big website or product. I no longer get excited, I just worry for them. It's been nearly 10 years since I started that journey and honestly, if there is one thing I've learnt, it's that 99% of the time it'll get you'll get no where. And the problem is sometimes it distracts you from the things that actually can get you somewhere, studying, work experience, etc. Perhaps more importantly though is how it can distract you from just living in general. It kills me to think about the amount of hours, days and weeks of my youth that I've pour into projects that go less than no where. Time is extremely important, maybe the most important skill we can ever learn is to manage it effectively. You don't need me to tell you that spending 5 hours a day watching reality TV isn't a good use of your time, but I promise if you're spending that 5 hours working on a project that goes nowhere and teaches you nothing it's almost just as wasteful. If you're putting a considerable amount of time into something each week, whether that be TV or reading, it's important to routinely consider how that activity is impacting your life. Does it make you happy, and would you be happier if you were spending that time in some other way? Does it help you open doors, or does it just keep you where you are? Ideally everything you do should be both enjoyable but also assist you in achieving the goals you're shooting for. To bring this concept on to startups I vow that this year I will not start a project and potentially waste my time unless it meets the following criteria:

  • It's interesting and enjoyable to work on
  • It won't take more than two months to reach MVP
  • It requires me to learn something I know absolutely nothing about that I'm interested in learning
  • There is a clear and identifiable market and revenue model
  • I, or the people I am working with have all the tools necessary to build, market and sale the product

Something else I want to talk about is new starts. I don't really care much about the "new year, new start" mantra - the only thing that's really ever new is the label we use to describe it. But, this year it seems quite fitting for me at least. My house was robbed about a week before Christmas and with it, a bag with all the memories I had kept. Postcards, zoo tickets, recipes, notes. Just little things that I could keep to remind me of happy times I've had. I have no idea why they took what was, to anyone else, just a bag of paper. But, they did, and I just need to accept some of the memories I had attached to those silly bits of paper are now gone forever. So now I'm here. I'm twenty four. Caught somewhere between a past that I have no record of and a future I have no idea how to start. And I'm excited to see how this will play out.

Finally, I have a lot of topics I want to write about this year. For the past three years I've been keeping track of everything interesting I've learnt, condensing it down into little bites of information that I want to start publishing here. So with a bit of luck there will be some more content here over the next few months.

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2nd April 2014 at 9:37

Autobots and Beyond

Record fast new technology derived from artificial intelligence has surfaced in every part of society, especially in the last year or so! Companies are no longer waiting on scientists to invent the "next best thing" but taking steps of their own, doing their own research, and providing unheard of, state-of-the-art machines who are adding a wondrous advantage to all who are interested in acquiring them. Experts have done massive research on the effect that these new contraptions will have on society's future, and they unanimously agree that a profitable benefit will come their "iron" existence. Just recently, developers announced the creation of robotic, life like fish, extrinsic Lego autobots, and even more interesting, the Intel Open Source Robot.

Until recently, soft robotics, or so its called, did not exist. However, contemporary advancements in the field have changed the face of robotics, into the future and beyond. Soft robotics is now full of new creations, like that of the robotic fish. Although small, this fantastic "pet" needs no caring for and, on top of that, moves just like a real fish with the ability to maneuver it's body in a fraction of a second. Surprisingly, the reason behind the soft feel is so that when interaction between humans and robots begin, skin on "skin" contact will feel much more comfortable. Soft robotics creates a safer possibility for synergy with our species and cuts out the high variable for possible accidents caused by collision.

An amazing addition to the creation of objects built with legos, is a fantastic new autobot named Cube Stormer. This machine can solve a Rubiks Cube faster than any Guinness world record on file (which is 7 seconds, this speedy cyborg solves the puzzle in less than 5 seconds). Built by Mike Dobson of Robotic Solutions, this toy intertwines two childhood fascinations, the Rubiks Cube and Legos. Although trivial in meaning, this robot paves the way for other artificially intelligent machines to become important parts in solving other complexities.

Last but not least, but certainly most extraordinary, is the newest creation from Intel called an Open Source Robot. This robot has the ability to complete simple, every day tasks like cleaning up your desk. Fascinating as it may sound, developers are trying to find a way to extend its battery life so that this robot would be capable of working for longer durations. Currently, operation time is only twenty minutes. Intel has previously made a commitment to A.I. development through their "Twenty First Century Robot Initiative". The announcement of the Open Source Robot was in precedent to this previous guarantee that was made to the public regarding the advancement of robotics.

No matter how far we take this artificial intelligence the fact remains that it is "artificial". Many times we forget the foundation of the society that once existed. Caught up in the technology of today's world, we only see what is directly in front of us without being aware of our surroundings. No doubt, these futuristic concepts have changed our existence with positive results but we must never forget where we came from. Relying too much on this artificial world may take us away from the natural beauty that encompasses our lives everyday. As we enter a new "robotic" era, we must always remember to respect and honor humanity for what it once was!

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19th March 2014 at 20:11

Workplace Automation

Workplace productivity has always been a top of the line priority for all types of industries throughout the job market. Potential employers interview potential employees with the hopes that these new prospects will provide a quality addition to the team and increase productivity for the company, as a whole. Many times workers will give 150% of their effort to the business, only to find out that what they are giving, and what is expected out of them, is not the same. These characteristics that I am describing can be attributed to being a human. Unfortunately, we can only work as hard as our bodies will let us. This fact behind human physiology has inspired many corporations to turn to artificially intelligent workers. Not only do these "iron workers" speed up production, but they are also cheaper to keep running because no weekly paycheck is needed for their effort. Statistics predict that by the year 2020, half of the United States workforce will be done through automated machines.  Depending on your career choice, this cyborg invasion could be good or bad with results that could easily help or hurt your intended job market.

One of the newest ways on the market to use artificial intelligence in the workplace is located within the legal field with the intention to help attorneys sort through their case load of information. Just recently, California Attorney William Green, was faced with of 1.3 million documents to decipher with no idea where to begin. Instead of becoming frustrated and giving up, this determined lawyer sought the help of an artificially intelligent program that helped him minimize the needed files to exactly what fit his needs. This allowed William to only sort through 2.3% of the 1.3 million documents, at hand. That is an amazing difference in number. This machine saved time and money by searching and submitting the correct documents to Mr. Green in a timely manner with 100% accuracy. This is a step up for anyone studying, or looking to study, the legal system. The effect that this new system will have is going to be that of an astronomical size allowing lawyer access to more efficient and timely information.

Have you been to your local pharmacy lately? It might surprise you that most, sometimes all, medications are being mixed and dispensed by pharmacy robots who can do their job with much better accuracy than a human. Automated dispensers have taken over the pharmaceutical industry leading the way for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to attend to more important things. For the pharmacist, this allows them to have more one on one time with patients. Technicians refrain from the duty to dispense, but the amount of pills dispensed, as well as the dose, must be checked before it is given for administration.  Also, technicians of the pharmacy have the responsibility of filling the machines in order for them to have the capability to provide medication as needed.

These great advances in technology are providing many different industries with needed improvements to their industry. It worries me, however, that our culture is becoming much more reliant on these machines and the result in the future could lead to less jobs being available for the everyday citizen. With the mounting debt that our country has already incurred, more people on food stamps, medicaid, or AFDC could devastate the nation into financial turmoil. Just because it is easier to do everything with machines, does that make it better?

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Recent Tutorials

26th March 2014 at 21:16

Introduction to Artificial Neural Networks Part 2 - Learning

In this tutorial we will begin to find out how artificial neural networks can learn, why learning is so useful and what the different types of learning are. We will specifically be looking at training single-layer perceptrons with the perceptron learning rule.


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5th December 2013 at 7:42

Introduction to Artificial Neural Networks - Part 1

This is the first part of a three part introductory tutorial on artificial neural networks. In this first tutorial we will discover what neural networks are, why they're useful for solving certain types of tasks and finally how they work.


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