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My customizations are now a WordPress child theme

This website uses a theme called Storefront. It’s a minimalistic yet elegant theme from Automattic (the creators of WordPress). I literally browsed hundreds of modern and ‘top’ themes at various sources before falling for this one. It was a good fit in its vanilla form and required only little customizations to suit my needs.

Yesterday I logged into my WP admin after a few days and saw several updates piled up. Storefront was one of them. I didn’t upgrade right away for I knew my customizations would be go away with its previous version. I had committed the cardinal sin of modifying the theme directly.

When I found out about the concept of child themes, I said to myself, “shit, I should have guessed already.” A child theme is one that contains files and assets you want changed in a ‘parent’ theme. So, rather than directly editing style.css or functions.php in a parent theme, one can create a child theme and add their modifications there. That’s what I did then. I created a child theme called Storefront AB, derived from the beautiful Storefront theme.

That was fun. It’s live now!

WordPress is a beautiful, sophisticated software, built to scale to millions of websites globally. A lack of something like the concept of child theme didn’t just feel right. I should have trusted my instincts earlier.

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Declarative Programming

One of my latest obsessions is GraphQL. While reading a tutorial, I found out that GraphQL follows declarative programming paradigm. The video tutorial gave examples to differentiate imperative paradigm that REST technologies use from declarative paradigm that GraphQL uses to make our lives easy. It was not the first time I’d come across these two terms, just that in all previous instances I didn’t care enough to investigate them in detail. When I, however, did dig deeper I was pleasantly surprised.

This stackoverflow thread does a good job in explaining the contrast. So, what some people see as convenience features of C# (when comparing with Java) is actually its declarative style of programming. As a developer obsessed with convention over configuration, it was not hard to fall for this style.

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Flutter is riding the adoption curve

It’s getting serious everyday. It’s not just the internet, a lot of people around me are talking about it. So, it did not come as a surprise when I found that a popular Indian app was built in Flutter. Dream11 is what people are talking about this IPL season. Given the massive fan following of IPL and the craze for safe online betting, one thing is sure — Flutter can damn well handle scalability. I do not use the app myself, but it sure looks pretty on friends’ phones.

I am getting more and more impatient now to build my next mobile app in Flutter. Until that happens and I have stories to tell about my time with Flutter, watch Dream11’s Flutter story:

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A little bit of LaTeX

I’ve been busy watching videos. A lot of them, as part of my learning process for quantum computing. To concretize my learning, I’ve been taking notes. As quantum computing is hardcore math, it’s impossible to not have some sort of equations in notes. I’ve never needed to learn or use LaTeX before: all simple algebraic equations can be written in plain text using some jugaad, say using superscripts for exponentials. But how do you represent column vectors and matrices? That’s where LaTeX comes super-handy. As I’m using it more, the more fun it gets.

Auto-LaTeX Equations is an excellent add-on for Google Docs that makes it super-easy to write LaTeX code and convert it into good-quality images of math stuff and equations.

An example LaTeX render from my notes is this matrix that represents the phase shift quantum gate:

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Building a Career in AI

COMWETT 2019 poster at WCTM featuring Anurag Bhandari
COMWETT 2019 poster at WCTM featuring Anurag Bhandari

A couple days back I spoke at World College of Technology and Management in Gurgaon. My topic Building a career in Artificial Intelligence was directly aimed at students at the cusp of starting a career. Without going into deep technical details, my session was designed as an eye-opener for students (and teachers alike) who have wondered today’s hot question–what does it take to become an ‘AI engineer’?

The keynote presentation (by Nishith Pathak) talked about the importance of AI, the various possibilities it opens up and some industry use cases. My session having been scheduled right after the keynote benefitted from the expectations the keynote speaker had set about AI. While the keynote highlighted the functional and business aspects of today’s arguably #1 buzzword, my presentation dived a little deeper into uncovering the skills and knowledge required to try and enter this amazing field of study. I say field of study since most of the useful work on AI is still purely scientific and even academic. But since corporations are increasingly adopting the set of ideologies that define AI in an attempt to create intelligent solutions for their clients, job opportunities have started to open up for people who know the science and math behind AI. As any sufficiently technical person would know, machine learning is at the heart of developing AI solutions. And, so, my presentation put focus on ML and the skills required to learn it.

A special thanks to the organizers at WCTM college (especially Dr. Pooja Sapra) for inviting me over and giving me the opportunity to connect with at least a hundred students about something I’m passionate about. And thanks to Nishith Pathak for recommending me at this event.

I leave you with a preview of my presentation, hosted at Google Slides. I hope absolute beginners will find it useful. People already working in machine and deep learning, please do let me know your thoughts on how it may be improved.