A life ordinary by Amit Sarkar - Issue #45

Welcome to another edition of my newsletter.

Me and Rinat published the two podcast episodes we recorded in Feb. The first one was on Social Media Addiction, and the second one was on the Impact of AI on Jobs. Hope you enjoy these episodes. We have recently recorded another podcast episode which we will publish hopefully in April 2024.

I also completed my first-ever half marathon in Lisbon. It was a great experience as this was my first big running event since Vitality London 10,000. Read more below about my whole experience.

After my half marathon and running over 650 kms in my New Balance shoes, I decided to get a new pair and went to do a gait analysis at the Run & Become store and bought myself Hoka Clifton 9 Wide shoes. I can’t wait to run my next half marathon in Berlin on 07-Apr-2024 in my new shoes.

Since my last newsletter, I have watched Dune 2 and went to a social dinner event organized by Vegan Runners London at Wulf & Lamb, Marylebone. Loved the soundtrack of Dune 2 and the dinner at Wulf & Lamb was exquisite. It’s incredible to see plant-based restaurants doing well in London.

I also took part in the application process for the Machine Learning Institute’s Deep Learning System Design Bootcamp but unfortunately couldn’t join their cohort starting in March 2024, even though I did get selected. However, the whole journey was quite enlightening and helped me get introduced to a lot of machine learning concepts. Hopefully, I will be able to join their 8-week cohort in the later part of this year.

I have also registered for the Open Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge in April 2024 and this has been on my list for a long time. The total walking distance is 39.2 kms and the three peaks include Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough. Let’s hope the weather is good that day.

I also enjoyed playing Squid Game Virtuals at Sandbox VR with a few of my friends. This was an exhilarating experience with VR headsets and motion capture. The experience felt very real and I would highly recommend this as a group activity. We were drenched in sweat by the end of it.

It was Holi last weekend and we celebrated it with a few local friends and participated in an event organized by my wife’s dance school in Wembley.

In this edition

🏃🏻 EDP Lisbon Half Marathon 2024

I recently took part in the EDP Lisbon Half Marathon 2024. This was my first-ever official Half Marathon and I aimed to finish the run in under 2 hours.

I arrived in Lisbon on 15-Mar-2024 with the race scheduled for 17-Mar-2024. I collected my race bib from the event expo on 16-Mar-2024 and relaxed for the rest of the day. Preparing for the run meant figuring out what the weather would be like and what would I need for the run. I also got my kit ready the night before to ensure I could leave on time for the run. I also needed to check out before I left for the run, so I needed to plan and pack the night before.

I had planned on taking 4 Maurten Gel 100 for the whole run - 1 just before the run started and 3 during the run itself. I already stored music on my Garmin fēnix 6X Pro watch for offline listening using my Shokz OpenRun headphones. This kept my mobile phone free for use and saved its battery as I didn’t need to use Bluetooth or any mobile data for listening to music.

The places I ate in Lisbon served vegan food which was quite good -

  1. Organi Chiado - All items on the menu were vegan which was such a relief.

  2. Jardim das Cerejas - Chiado - This restaurant serves vegan buffet lunch and dinner with a varying menu.

  3. KOPPU RAMEN - This was a nice place to have some good ramen before the run.

I also stayed at the Living Lounge Hostel in Lisbon. It is centrally located and has good transport connectivity. The rooms and bathrooms were very clean. And breakfast is included in the price. The staff also was very helpful and I would highly recommend this place if you are travelling solo.

Public transport was free for all the runners on the day and it felt incredible to see so many runners out there.

The run started from a very long bridge and the views were amazing. There were a lot of people at the start line warming up, chatting away, or queuing up for the toilet.

This run is also part of the SuperHalfs series. It’s a series of 6 Half Marathons across 6 major cities in Europe. I am doing three of them this year (highlighted in bold).

  1. Lisbon

  2. Prague

  3. Berlin

  4. Copenhagen

  5. Cardiff

  6. Valencia

This was my official time with the official splits.

I performed better than the average field in the second half of the race when it became very hot. This was due to the gels I had been taking and also the water and energy drinks I drank at all the aid stations during the run. I used the water to hydrate myself and also poured a bit to cool myself down. There was a sprinkler in the run as well which showered water on us as we ran underneath it.

By the time I finished the run, it was 22° Celsius. It’s very hot for a run. I managed to get boils in my toes and also my right toe-nail turned a bit black thanks to my tight shoes and the toe-nail hitting the front of the shoe throughout the run. I saw at least two people collapsed on the side of the road due to the heat. It was a fast run but if people didn’t fuel or hydrate themselves then they would pay a price by the last part of the run with their speed and endurance.

But overall it was a great run. Nice and flat with just a small hill and a long downhill. Amazing views, a good crowd and incredible hospitality. People in Lisbon are very warm.

I took a hot/cold shower back in the hostel after the run. They were kind enough to keep my luggage and allow me to shower even though I had already checked out. All in all, it was a good event.

💬 Chat with LLMs

Recently Large Language Models (LLMs) have been quite popular in the media and for good reason. I have used a lot of them and wanted to list out the ones I know that people can use.

  1. OpenAI ChatGPT 3.5 - https://chat.openai.com/

  2. Google Gemini - https://gemini.google.com/app

  3. Anthropic Claude 3 - https://claude.ai/chats

  4. Meta Llama 2 - https://www.llama2.ai/

  5. HuggingChat - https://huggingface.co/chat/

  6. Perplexity - https://www.perplexity.ai/

  7. xAI Grok - https://grok.x.ai/

  8. Mistral AI - https://chat.mistral.ai/

  9. Large Model Systems Organization (LMSYS Org) - https://chat.lmsys.org/

  10. Cohere Coral - https://coral.cohere.com/

  11. WolframAlpha - https://www.wolframalpha.com/

This list is not comprehensive but it covers the most popular ones which I know. Feel free to try them and see which ones are more suitable for your needs. For most, you would need a login.

Some prompt engineering guides offered by a few of them are listed here -

Happy prompting.

🧮 Step Count

Martin Lewis from Money Saving Expert publishes his yearly step count every year since 2015. And it’s incredible to see how much he does in a year. Some stats from last year can be seen below -

I have recently started enjoying my walks but the Half Marathon preparation meant I have had to taper down a bit for my body to rest and recover from all the training. After my Berlin Half Marathon, I intend to resume all my walks and training to my full potential.

The reason I wanted to share this article is because step counts are highly underrated. Moving around throughout the day helps our body and mind a lot. Ever since I started walking regularly I have noticed that my back pain has reduced considerably, if not gone completely. I get better sleep and I feel better. My mind is more open to new ideas and thoughts and I become less anxious throughout the day.

His big rule is that if he is talking then he is walking, especially for taking calls. And I tend to do the same if I don’t need a video for a call.

He also burnt close to 4000 calories per day as a result of his step count. Which is honestly a lot considering he is just walking.

Hopefully, this would encourage a lot of you to embrace walking in your local parks or on a treadmill. Getting out every day even for a bit is such a good thing for our mind and body.

❤️ Things I enjoyed

This section has been inspired by Ali Abdaal’s wonderful newsletter.

🎬 Video - World's Fastest Camera Drone Vs F1 Car (ft. Max Verstappen) and World's Best FPV Drone Shot? (extreme mountain biking) are adrenaline-fueled videos that I highly enjoyed watching.

📝 Article - Generative AI exists because of the transformer by the Financial Times explains how tools like ChatGPT work.

📱 App - I have recently started using Splitwise, based on my wife’s recommendation to manage our joint expenses. It's looking good so far.

🎙️ Podcast - Nvidia Part III: The Dawn of the AI Era (2022-2023) is an absolute eye-opener podcast about Nvidia, OpenAI and many things that culminated in the current AI boom.

📺 TV show - 3 Body Problem based on Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem book is a sci-fi crisis faced by humanity when they are about to be invaded by aliens. It is currently available to watch on Netflix.

🌐 Website - Calculatio - The best way to calculate things.

Thank you so much once again for reading my newsletter this week. Please feel free to Buy me a coffee if you enjoy what I am sharing.

If you want to follow me around the internet, then please do so here.

Until we meet again next week, stay healthy, walk more, eat good food and be grateful.

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