Monday, December 24, 2007

Hornets, Saints

Originally uploaded by DixiePistols.
On Saturday I went with my parents to watch the Hornets (N.O.'s NBA team) play the Timberwolves. It was great, and I cannot stress how talented Chris Paul, our point-guard, is. Not only is he one of the NBA's leaders in assists per game, but he is also the leading scorer on our team. We absolutely crushed Minnesota, and we're going to another game next weekend! I took a few pictures and posted them.

Yesterday I went to the Saints game, which did not go so as well. No pictures either. I guess it's turning out to be a very sporty Christmas or something.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


I am watching The 100 Greatest Song of the 90s, on VH1.

I always knew this, but it definitely helps reinforce how great pop music was in the 1990s, and I'm wondering if we'll ever have another decade where the quality of pop music is so high.

Friday, December 21, 2007



I currently write from Chicago airport! There was a problem with my plane, and it was fixed or is still being fixed. It is hard to tell. Anyway, you can tell that I have been here a long time because I actually shelled out $7 for the one-time use Internet, something I normally consider to be an outrageous proposition.

But, dear readers, I believe I owe you a bit of closure. I did eventually submit my paper, although not until 4 in the morning. Normally I call it quits way before that, but I was writing with some friends and that gave me the strength to push forward.

The next day I bought Guitar Hero 3 for my roommate's Wii. It is great in many ways,

I am also going home today, which should be a lot of fun!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Stay on Target...

I am still writing my paper! The deadline isn't until 6am, but hopefully I won't have to stay up that long. However, due to some last minute experimentation, things are going to take a bit longer than I would have hoped... On the bright side, my experimental results now look better than they did!

I charge forward!


This website is both terrible and interesting. Terrible because of it's hilariously bad descriptions of stock trading, software and the general get-rich-quickness of the whole thing. I like that they call the software a robot.

Interesting because stock trading software can now finally be bought by your average Joe Schmo. Now I'm not saying managing your own investments is a good idea, but it seems like if you wanted to, you might want tools similar to what big financial firms are using, and from what I have heard, most actual stock trades are made by computers, and even many trading decisions are made by computers.

Oh wait, I was wrong. It seems like you can't actually buy the software, you can only subscribe to the newsletter where they tell you which stocks "Marl" recommended.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

GoogleCal SMS Messages

Most recent GoogleCal SMS Message: Reminder: ECOOP Deadline @ Wed Dec 19, 2007

Oh man! I knew I was supposed to be working on something, but I couldn't remember what it was...

The Final Push Towards the Sun

I am in the final stages of writing this paper.

The proof has been TeX-ified. All the experiments that we will do have been done. I have to finish writing one last section, and then it's binge proof-reading. I have a feeling that I will need to make changes, but that's cool 'cause I want this paper to be rad. It's not due until tomorrow night/Thursday morning at 6am, but hopefully I won't have to use that much time.

After that? A little hangin' out in the 'Burgh before some full-scale hangin' out in the City that Forgot to Care. Be back for the new year.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Car Troubles...

My car has been a very frustrating part of my life for the past couple of weeks, and it all came to a head this weekend. The first thing that you should know is that it's always been very hard to lock myself out of my car. I have this number pad on that outside of my passenger door that I can use to type in a code that will let me into my car even if the keys are inside. However, when I went to Buffalo, NY for Thanksgiving I made the unwise decision to remove snow from my side windows by lowing the windows all the way down. Instead of the snow falling outwards, as I would have liked, it fell inwards. "Eh, what the hell," I thought. "It's just water. Nothing the interior of my car can't handle." Think again Nels!

The next day my power locks stopped working, along with the "one-touch" window lowering functionality and my keypad. Looking at my car's manual, I could see that all three of those items were on the same fuse, so I figure the water must have shorted it out. "Oh well," I thought. "I'll put in a new fuse at some point."

Flash forward to Thursday night! I discover two parking tickets on my car, $25 each. Apparently my residential parking pass expired a month earlier than I though. I was really lucky there were only two, since I basically never drive my car. I talked with my roommates, and they gave me the "visitor's" parking pass, because we only get two real parking passes per address. It says things like, "you may not use this on your own car" and "may never be used for more than 5 consecutive business days" all over it. I am worried.

Sure enough I discover a third parking ticket on my car last night. The description says, "Using Own VPass." Boo. That's three parking tickets in three days, for those of you playing along at home. And at this point I am not entirely sure where I am going to put my car on a regular basis. Status: Still Unresolved

Nonetheless, this morning I decide to try and get the fuse in my car fixed, and in the process of pulling the old fuse out of my car, proceed to lock my keys inside. No number pad to bail me out this time, because it was precisely what I was trying to fix at that very moment. I don't know what to do. I go inside Pep Boys. They don't have the fuse I want. They don't have a door opening service. I call up AAA, join, and they send some guy out. On the Rad Side, I got to see the AAA man jimmy open my lock with a Slim Jim. I think I'm going to buy one of those. On the Bad Side, after I got back into my car, I went to Car Quest, found the correct fuse, and it still didn't fix the problem. All this while I was supposed to be working on my paper! Status: Still Unresolved

Friday, December 14, 2007

Rock Band

I just played Rock Band for the first time in my life, and it was absolutely incredible. Definitely one of the best video games of all time, at least from my music loving, constantly beating my hands on my leg in rhythm perspective.

It took all I could muster to leave the lounge and come back up to my office to work on this paper.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Writing in a One Horse, Open Sleigh

I am currently writing a paper for the ECOOP deadline next week! (It is the academic conference for all things object, or so the web site tells me.)

Actually, you should be scolding me for taking even a small break to post! Nevertheless, I actually think the writing is going rather well. I can't say that I actually enjoy it, but at least I understand the story I want to tell and it's work that I am somewhat proud of, so I want to do a good job. Yay! The only lame part is that I will be spending almost all my remaining time in Pittsburgh working on this paper. The deadline is next Wednesday (actually, Thursday at 6am), and I leave next Friday.

Okay, well back to work for me! Let me know if anything important happens in politics or global finance that I should be aware of but am not because of my not watching TV.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

That Movie 'Proof'

I know none of you guys may be wondering why I haven't been updating for a while. The answer is that I am trying to get stuff done for a paper deadline that occurs on December 19th. It's for a conference, the European Conference on Object-Oriented Programming. The main tricky thing that I've been spending all my time on is this proof, see. I am trying to develop a baby programming language that doesn't allow you to violate certain atomicity properties. To show that you can't in fact write code that violates your own invariants, I have to do this proof of soundness, and basically it's been pretty slow going for me. I will say that I have learned a ton, but it's pretty nerve-wracking to do a proof that may not actually turn out to be true.

The only kind of lame part is that the 19th is like right before I go home, and the day after our department holiday party, so basically I won't have much time to hang out around here with the cool Pittsburgh people before I go home. Sad face.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


Saint Louis CathedralThis weekend I am back in New Orleans for a wedding! 

A good friend of mine from high school, former band-mate and current guitarist for the band Cowboy Mouth is getting married, and so far everything has been really nice! We went out on Thursday for some last minute celelbrations of bachelorhood. Last night we had the rehersal dinner and (as I found out a little bit too late, because I was supposed to be there!) the actual wedding rehersal. But the dinner was great. It was full of toasts and great food at a restaurant called, Muriel's which is right on jackson square. The wedding starts at 3 and probably will go on the rest of the day, but it takes place at the St. Louis Cathedral, which is really kind of awesome inside and out!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Find Him/Keep Him

Will He Propose?While sending a congratulatory email to a friend who passed her thesis proposal, GMail gave me this gem. For some reason I find it reassuring. Don't think I can articulate it.

And no, I won't apologize for the lack of posts, so there!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Kanye West Report

Yesterday on the radio I heard, for the first time, Stronger, by Kanye West. It was notable because I immediately recognized the sample as being from Daft Punk's Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger, an all-around great song. I was a little bummed by the fact that it was slowed down so much, since a lot of the awesome of the original song came from the fact that it was uptempo. BUT, nonetheless, I think it's a pretty good sample to rap over, and the end product is pretty good. The only bad part? The weirdo robot harmonies when Kanye says, "That's how long I been on ya." Best part? The line, "Since O.J. had Isotoners."

Finding this on YouTube caused me to also search for the video, Diamonds from Sierra Leone. There's a funny thing about this song. When I first heard it, it was nothing but a song on a mix-tape for me. I didn't know what it was called and hadn't heard anything about it. I thought it was great, but nothing more than a fast, fun, hip-hop song. I was a little surprised to find out that this song was politically motivated, and that Kanye was getting credit for making bold, political statements. (This was right around the time that the movie Blood Diamond came out, as well, a great movie with much more substantive commentary on the diamond trade.) Why was I surprised? Well, as I originally thought and now have confirmed upon re-listening, Kanye doesn't actually say anything about the diamond trade in the song! Almost literally, the closest he gets is to say that his listeners should, "throw up their diamonds like they're bulimic." Instead, he spends most of the time talking about the fact that he was constantly doubted by the music industry, and now he has shown those people. And while it's true that the video itself is obviously about the diamond trade, well Kanye's a musician, so his video don't really count, in my eyes, as far as gaining him political points.

That being said, I guess it's weird to talk about Kanye without mentioning the recent death of his mother. Therefore I must say that I do feel sorry for him and hope he is holding up. Bottom line, Kanye makes great music, and I hope he continues to do so.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Get the most out of HeadCat with these cheat codes!!!

As some of you may have seen, Team Brazil has finally released HeadCat. Some of us were worried it might be vaporwear. Take your game to the next level with these cheat codes!

n - Add more robots to the screen.
m - Move the kitty.
. (period) - Change background.

Armed with these pro-tips, you will be an unstoppable robot, with a cat on your head.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Liberal Bias

Even though I disagree with underlying premise of Adbusters magazine, this is a pretty good-slash-entertaining article about liberalism in USA. Here's a teaser.

While it’s true that we’re still fighting against unjust wars and that there’s unfinished business on the fronts of women’s rights, civil rights, and environmental preservation, there’s no generational battle left for America’s rich kids to fight. In the sixties, college kids had to fight for their right to refuse to become bankers, soldiers, plastics executives or whatever other types of dreary establishment lifestyles their parents were demanding for them. And because they had to fight that fight, the interests of white college kids were briefly and felicitously aligned with the blacks and the migrant farm workers and the South Vietnamese, who were also victims of the same dug-in, inflexible political establishment. Long hair, tie-dye and the raised black fist all had the same general message – screw the establishment. It was a sort of Marxian perfect storm where even the children of the bourgeoisie could semi-realistically imagine themselves engaged in a class struggle.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I don't know where this picture is from...

Originally uploaded by kiddostudio.
But I love it. I found out this morning that an experience report I submitted to a conference on software architecture was rejected. I am a little sad about it because the reviews were generally positive, but since it's not my primary area of research, I'm not letting it get me down.

Giving a guest lecture this afternoon at 5:30. The suspense is killing me!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Lou Pearlman: Exposing Exposé

Depending how in tune you are with popular culture, you may or may not have heard of Lou Pearlman. He's the Orlando music mogul who singlehandedly brought us The Backstreet Boyzzz and N' Sync, as well as shows like Making the Band, and correspondingly O-Town. He also brought us a ton of other boy bands you've never heard of. But I do follow popular culture, and so I remember how, at the height of Lou's fame, he was everywhere; VH1, MTV, Entertainment Tonight, E, and all that other garbage you never watch. He was rich, and he was famous.

Now, it turns out, not only did he have a knack for cranking out terrible bands with weirdly catchy songs, he was a pyramid scam-er, old-people defrauder, possible sexual predator and all-around creepy guy. True story. He's in jail in Florida right now, after fleeing the country.

I learned about this last night in Vanity Fair, and fortunately for you, the article is available free online. It's a little long, but amazingly well written, and extremely fascinating. Do yourself a favor and check it out. This is, honestly, the stuff that movies are made out of.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


This weekend is going pretty well so far!

This morning I finished Baudolino, which I have been reading for the Patrick Gage-organized book club. Good book! I recommend that you check it out, even if the subject doesn't intrigue you (as it didn't intrigue me). Quasi review located here.

Last night I went to see Randal Munroe of XKCD fame talk at the CMU gym. I was pleasantly surprised. While there was a fair amount of fanboy-ism from the audience (example questions include, "who would win a fight, a raptor or a zombie?" and "who would win a fight, a minotaur with a crossbow or some other garbage I can't remember"), but I got the impression that Randal himself was actually a pretty well-adjusted guy. He was neither a super-nerd, nor a power-mad leader of the nerds type, which I appreciate.

Tonight I am going to see Broken Social Scene with Brianne and others. What up?!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Researcher Stats

After some conversation last night, I believe we have developed some good metrics for measuring a researcher's performance! ("Awesome," you say sarcastically, "another means by which my advisor can tell that I am slacking.") Okay, fine, it may not inspire too much self-confidence, hence the friends-lock, but it is at least fun to calculate!

Here are the two metrics:
Batting Average - Just like in baseball, your batting average is the ratio of accepted papers to submitted papers. I can't really think of the research equivalent of a walk, but I'm sure one of you can. Walks, of course, would not be factored in to batting average. Maybe we can leave that for on-base percentage. My batting average is .667, but this is mainly due to my not having submitted many papers at all. (6 submits, 4 accepts)

Slugging Percentage - Now this metric I believe to be much more illustrative. Just like slugging percentage in baseball, a researcher's slugging percentage is the number of accepted publications over submitted publications, weighted by strength of venue. One could imagine several orderings depending on how things are done in your field, but for now I will go with 1x for workshop papers, 2x for second-tier conferences and journal special issues, 3x for standard journal articles and 4x for first-tier conferences. Here, due to the relative poor quality of my publications, I don't do nearly as well. (2w.s. x 1 + 2s.t. x 2) / 6 = 1.000. Good for baseball maybe, but not particularly stunning in the research world.

What do you guys think? Am I opening a horrible horrible can of worms? Am I a bad person? Any other stats you'd like to see?

Gmail, You're My Only Friend

Gmail is new and slightly more radical. Most of the new features I don't really care about, but the contacts manager is much improved, and you can now use your browser's back button, since different pages now have different URLs. Nice!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Blue States Lose!

Originally  turned me onto this, but you really should all be reading Blue States Lose on a regular basis (it comes out every Friday). It's snarky commentary on pictures of hipsters at nightclubs, and I love ever minute of it. Where else could you get hipsters in zombie costumes? Check out their ironic expressions!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Grad Student Tip!

Here's a tip for a productive career in grad school:
Don't suck on the open end of that plastic tube that you find inside of a ballpoint pen during a meeting with your advisor. The ink could in fact go into you mouth, all over your tongue and teeth, and then you would have to run out of the meeting to flush your mouth with water and scrape ink off of your teeth.

Good luck!

Monday, October 29, 2007

OOPSLA Recap Part II: Technical Stuff

Now that I've given this talk on my summer work (it went quite well, thanks for asking!) I thought I'd pick out a few of the technical highlights from this year's OOPSLA. I describe it in a cut-oriented style, to save some of you some pain.

Interesting thing 1: The Scala tutorial!
After reading Scalable Component Abstractions, by the Scala people, I got a little bit worried.
It seemed to me that Scala, the language I thought had everything I wanted, was in fact way too complicated. Well it may be too complicated, but after the Scala Tutorial that I attended last Monday, I have a new respect for the power of Scala, and believe that it is a great programming language right now. The absolute highlight of the Tutorial was seeing the guys program a Excel-style spreadsheet with real formulas and cell dependencies in 200 lines of code right there in the room! The ease of programming seemed to be due to a few things, but one was the fact that parsers can be programmed right there into the language using something called parser combinators. Neat. Also, they built a simple layer upon the Swing library which allowed them to program in a reactive style (similar to Erlang maybe) when responding to GUI events. It was dope. I also met and got to hang out with two members of the Scala team, Sean and Gilles. They both were really nice and seem to know what they're doing. Awesome, right?

Interesting thing 2: Alex Buckley, Lord of the Java Spec. I also met and spent a fair amount of time with Alex Buckley, the man who is now officially in charge of the Java specification.
We spent a fair amount of time talking about what he does (mainly answer question from the Eclipse people and other compiler writers clarifying the specification as well as handling the JSR process) and talking about potential extensions for Java (such as a quasi-ML-sort-of-like module system called "super packages." No functors though...). Even though he just finished his PhD, he was quite knowledgeable, especially on the theoretical stuff. I was left with the feeling that Java is in sane hands.

Interesting thing 3: Dan Grossman, and his work on transactional memory. I got to talk with him a bit, and he was extremely interesting. This is worth saying outside of any cut; if you have even a passing interest in transactional memory, you really ought to read Dan's essay,  The Transactional Memory / Garbage Collection Analogy. Do it for me.

Interesting things: Other papers on my, to-read list:

Transactions with Isolation and Cooperation - If anything, this paper caused me to realize something about the semantics of the 'retry' statement that I never understood before. Normally using the 'atomic' statement allows us to use purely local reasoning. Unfortunately this isn't always the case, in particular with retry. Suppose you are trying to create a barrier, a point that all threads must reach before any can proceed. You might use code that looks like the following:

foo() {
  atomic{ x++ };
  atomic{ if( x < 10) retry; else ... }

Unfortunately, if a function that calls this function is already inside an atomic block, this code will no longer work, thus getting rid of our nice local reasoning. Boo.

Lost in Translation: Formalizing Extensions to C#
- A nice, straightforward paper about using type theory (of all things!) to formalize the new features of C# 3.0, translating them to C# 2.0 where appropriate, and formalizing the old features where necessary.

Okay, that's all. It was an interesting trip!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

OOPSLA Recap Part I: Photos

Arret already
Originally uploaded by DixiePistols.
Well I've certainly taken my sweet time in giving you guys a recap of my experiences in Montreal, but what can I say? I was busy pretty much the whole time I was there, and now that I'm back I am hurriedly preparing for a talk that I have to give tomorrow. Nevertheless, I think that putting up some fun pictures of my trip won't take too much time, and it should pique your interest for Part II of my OOPSLA recap, wherein I will describe the interesting research talks I attended, and the interesting people I talked to.

Friday, October 19, 2007

OOPSLA: Pre-Hype Edition

As you may have heard by now, I'm headed to Montreal tomorrow for this year's OOSPLA conference. I am pretty excited. I'm going as a student volunteer, and plan to see and do a lot. I thought I'd put up a list of talks, tutorials and keynotes that I'm planning on seeing or think I should see.

Here's the run-down:

Tutorials: Tutorials are usually hands-on sessions about a particular technology; they teach you how to actually go about using all these fancy tools that come up in the technical talks, and usually consist of a bunch of demos.
Keynotes: Keynote speakers are usually pretty well established in the field, and get to talk about whatever they want. This is usually either some kind of retrospective ("back in my day, we only had 128k of main memory!") or free-form talks on the speaker's most recent interest, which may or may not be of publication quality. These are often the most entertaining talks of any conference, but the lowest on technical content.
Technical Talks: Actual presentations of research papers, these talks constitute the primary purpose of the conference.
What about you? Going to OOPSLA? What are you excited about seeing? Don't care at all?

Whoa-La! Google Maps

Just recently learned that in Google maps you can create little side-trips to your driving directions, just by dragging and dropping a route! Rad, right? This is especially helpful to me because I want to stop by a Citibank ATM in the Citi of Buffalo, NY so that I can pick up my last paycheck from my summer job in India. Sound ridiculous? You betcha! Here's our new and improved route:

To Montreal:

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Depending on your idea of what make a beautiful programming language, you may enjoy this blog that I just found!

Also, getting excited for the big trip to Montreal next week for OOPSLA! Once I take a look at the actual program, I'll post a few talks that I am excited about...

Monday, October 15, 2007


A Catch represents one half of a try-catch statement. Specifically, the second half.

(From, Polyglot API documentation)

Friday, October 12, 2007

Java Technology; So Simple!

Reading about Java, I found this little gem on the web:

The assertion facility in J2SE 1.4 and later versions is not a full-blown design-by-contract facility. Adding such a facility would require substantial changes to the language and might subvert the simplicity of Java technology.

Which naturally made me LOL out loud, as Java is anything but simple. The name alone refers to about sixteen different concepts simultaneously.

As an aside, if you want to actually use assertions in Java, make sure you turn them on! Use the "-ea" flag at the VM. They are off by default!  Boo! I think this officially makes it the only runtime checking that is off by default in Java.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Dear Firefox, You Suck to the Max

I am experiencing a really annoying bug that has existed in Firefox for many versions, and as of yet has no solution. Boo!

So I guess the point is, if I send you an email that sounds really stilted because I am using no contractions whatsoever, it is probably because of this.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

UrbanHike Scavenger Hunt, October 21st!

The Steelers have a night game, so what else are you going to do all afternoon?

We always wrap up our hike season with a scavenger hunt, and this year, it's in Shadyside (and bits of other neighborhoods like East Liberty). If you haven't experienced one of these before, here's what you need to do: 1)Gather up a team of 3-5 people. 2)Make sure someone on your team has a digital camera, and clear it of photos (especially the embarrassing ones). Bring the camera and its connection cord to the hunt (so we can download your photos onto our computers and show them to the world).

When: October 21, 2007. Clues distributed at 1:30 pm; hunt ends at 4 pm. Post-game show featuring prizes and your finest photos from 4 till about 5, or longer if we're still enjoying each other's company.

We'll start outside East Liberty Presbyterian Church, 116 S. Highland Ave. Street parking is pretty easy to come by (you don't have to feed the meters on Sundays).
Ending location: Double-secret. But we can tell you there will be refreshments available (pay your own way).

From the Parkway North (I-279 southbound):
Take the Veterans Bridge (I-579) to the 6th Ave exit. Follow signs for Mellon Arena.
Take a left and follow signs for Bigelow Blvd. Continue onto N. Craig St, then turn left on Baum Blvd.
Turn left at S. Highland Mall.
From the Parkway West (I-279 northbound):
Take exit 6C (Convention Center/Strip), follow around to 11th Street.
Turn left on Liberty Ave, left on 40th, right on Penn, right at S. Highland Mall.
From the Parkway East (I-376 westbound):
Take exit 8B toward Wilkinsburg. Continue onto Penn Ave. Turn left at S. Highland Mall.
From the Liberty Bridge:
Take the ramp to I-579 north and exit onto Bigelow Blvd. Turn left on Baum Blvd. Turn left at S. Highland Mall.
Questions? E-mail

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


I just found out I was not nominated by CMU for the MSR fellowship. Bummer. I would have like a new laptop... oh and the prestige!

Google Street View Pittsburgh

(Friendslocked, so that the entire world doesn't know where I live.)

Check out the google street view!

The Palace

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Why I Left Linux Land

I thought I'd talk a little bit more about why I finally decided to switch from Linux back to Windows. I will admit right off the bat that some of these issues are due to my inexperience as a Linux maintainer. However, my inexperience does not make me embarrassed at all. From what I have seen in the past two years, the investment required to become a Linux guru is not worth it in the end, at least not for me. My priority above all else is to be a productive graduate student.

So here are the reasons why I left, culminating with the straw the broke the camel's back:
  1. I had a facilitized machine - This is more of a meta-reason, but I was using a CMU facilitized Linux box. This provides a few benefits, like support for when things break (which I needed on numerous occasions), backups and easy access to the printers. However, it makes it impossible to find help on the Internet that actually applies to my system, since my configuration was non-standard in so many ways. I briefly considered installing Debian or Ubuntu and separating from the CMU/Facilities industrial complex, but decided that I don't have time for that sort of thing.
  2. XMMS Doesn't work - For whatever reason, the XMMS media player crashed on my system whenever I tried to play a song. It was a gnarly error that had to do with its inability to create a new thread. The internet had no helpful advice and 'yum update' did not bring me any respite. I wanted XMMS because it's what I used to use last year before my harddrive failed and CMU upgraded me to Fedora Core 5.
  3. RhythmBox - So I wanted support in the music player that I did use. Turns out, the version of RhythmBox that comes in the Fedora Core distribution is an earlier version that does not yet have support for The package that did have the latest vesion only worked on FC6 and above. I wanted support so badly, that I downloaded from source and built the newest version. The only want I could get the build to work was by removing some random lines from the Makefile. Every time I launched RhythmBox, it gave me an error about visualizations not working, and still support was spotty. It would only record that I had played a song when it damn well pleased. This all brings me to my next point...
  4. The Fedora package system is crazy - I like how the linux world has attempted to make software installation easier with the use of package managers like Yum. This is good. What is not good is how a given Fedora package will only work for your exact version of Fedora. If I want RhythmBox version 3.3, for instance, and the FC5 package only has up to version 3.1, tough luck. I am essentially running an incompatible operating system for all intents and purposes. In the Windows world, I can easily and run a program from the Windows95 days, and it will work almost every time.
  5. Flash - Again, I have been told that this was a problem with having a facilitized machine, but Flash never worked, in my two years of trying. Flash! I tell you, it really sucks having everyone and Katy Couric talking about some YouTube video that is sweeping the nation and not being able to watch it.
  6. Eclipse - And finally, the end for Linux. Eclispe 3.3 had been working for a month. All of a sudden, it started crashing on launch, and no matter how many times I reinstalled it, nothing was solved. I even had a bonafied Linux/Eclipse guru come in, and he basically told me I was screwed. I need Eclipse for a project I have just started. What else can I do? Added to this fact that Eclipse was always much slower on Linux that Windows, and I am way happier now.
Most of these problems aren't Linux's fault per say. Savvy Linux friends gave me reasonable explanations for each of the problems I experienced, and I was sympathetic. But at some point, I just need to get work done, and I need my computer to work. As  pointed out, there are definitely benefits to using a mainstream platform. In the Windows world, you rarely have a problem that no one else in the world has ever experienced. In this Linux world, this seemed to happen on a regular basis. Windows sucks in many ways, but at least the programs I need to use generally work. Okay... that is all...

Dear Linux, It's Not Me, It's You

After two plus years of using Linux on my work computer, I am switching to Windows permanently starting right now. It's a bit of a story, and I've got a few rants stored up, but I'm excited about the switch and excited about returning to productivity land.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Posting to your blog is for suckers, that's why I haven't

Whoa! Turns out I spent the latter half of this week applying for a fellowship that is due right about now. (Don't worry, I submitted already!) I didn't actually find out about it until Tuesday and didn't know I was going to be applying until Wednesday morning, and while it was kind of tricky getting things together, I think in the end it was a positive experience. For example, they basically want to see a thesis proposal, or something in the same vein. I had nothing of the sort, and therefore had to start the soul-searching process of figuring out what exactly it is I am going to be doing for the next few years. Good, because for the first time I had to write down some ideas I had been having. Hard, because this is a brand-new project, and I still don't understand everything!

The only bad part is that me and all my CMU friends are competing to get one of the three (?) departmental nominations. It's too bad because, you know, in general I like my friends at CMU...

Anyway, I shall be getting back to my regular research with renewed vigor.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Java 'finally'

I have learned about a feature of Java that interests me. Actually, according to this web page, it's one of the shameful things about Java:

In a try/finally block, the finally code really is called in all situations. That's good, because we want to be able to do some in all cases clean-up code a lot of the times. But what happens if you 'intercept' normal control flow? For instance, the code inside the try block wants to return, but we don't let it? Turns out, this code will not return.

void foo() {
  while(true) {
    try {
    } finally {
} } }

While this seems a little bit wild, it's actually really helpful for my current project. You see we're translating some new programming constructs into straight-up Java. The problem is, a user could call return in his code when, according to the semantics of our new features, the method shouldn't return. In summary, I was glad that this was the case, because it lets met avoid some gnarly rewriting of the input code.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I like today's Questionable Content. It's the sort of joke that I like to make, and no one likes to laugh at.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Anyone know what girls like for their birthday?

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I just heard big news from my sister: she and her boyfriend just got engaged!

I am so happy for her! Congratulations!

Oh yeah, forgot to mention the best part: they met while evacuating from Katrina. How funny is that?

Friday Night Lights

I've been hearing about it for long enough, but finally the younger brother (whom I have never met) of my college room mate convinced me, via his blog that, I should be watching Friday Night Lights. I ordered season one on DVD from Amazon. It was only $20, so I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I just finished stringing up my acoustic guitar, something I haven't done in about a year.

I've been picking around a little bit too, trying to get my callouses back into shape.

Just in case you haven't heard, Pittsburgh is about to get Sick Ridiculous.

Java 5 Concurrency

Now that I have a little extra time, graciously granted to me because of my completion of two paper submissions (ICSE and WICSA), I thought I'd point out some cool things.

The Java standard library has at least two concurrency features that I was unaware of, and am now intrigued by.
The first feature (new in Java5) is atomic objects. Java's atomic objects make the development of non-blocking algorithms and data structures actually possible, by providing atomic compare and set operations for primitive and object types. The neat thing about their implementation is that they automagically use the fastest underlying implementation available on your hardware, which is neat, since sometimes really fast compare and swap primitives actually exist.

The other feature is Futures, which allow delayed, concurrent computations. Futures have been a feature of functional programming languages for a while (and honestly, are probably a more appropriate abstraction in their world), but are still neat nonetheless. They allow you to compute some value off in the background, in a parallel thread. When you need the result of that computation, the library blocks until it has finished. So in practice, you get a little bit of extra concurrency without much intellectual overhead.

The point is, if you're programming concurrent code in Java, there's a lot of stuff already available, and it's worth your time getting familiar with the library in order to avoid reimplementing anything.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Papers & Passers

Well it's been a crazy last two weeks, but finally I submitted my paper on Friday night, and I'm back to the world of the living. I am relatively happy with my submission, but were are a few last-minute SNAFUs, probably worth mentioning only at another time when they aren't so fresh in my mind.

After that, this weekend went pretty well. Things were really crowded in Shadyside due to the annual Walnut Street Art festival. I didn't buy anything, but I sure had a tough time parking my car, so in that way I guess I can say that I did get the "experience."

Saturday night B. & I had some drinks at Kelly's, then went to E's b-day party, before joining up with the remnents of the CS first year pub crawl that was going on. It was great seeing everyone, and at last call they gave us all the Boot with a capital B.

Sunday I went to the Steelers/Bills game at Heinz field. It was great. We had endzone seats, which theoretically sucks but practically is awesome. It's so great being able to see right down the field. You can see who's open and whether or not there are holes for the running backs to bust through. It's just a totally new perspective on the game. They are trying to give us a little bit more of this with the follow cam (that little camera that is suspended on two wires above the field and in my opinion is a feat of modern engineering), but they never really use it much, and therefore it does us little good.

Of course I got a snarly sunburn. I was so tired from the whole thing (and staying up until 4:30 the night before) that I crashed at 7pm and didn't wake up until this morning.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Paper Part Two

I am still working on this paper, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! The deadline is 11:59pm Apia time on Friday night. Fortunately for me (or is it unfortunately?) Apia is really far away, and therefore my paper is not due until 7am the next morning! The paper itself is actually in pretty decent shape. I just sent off a second draft to my advisor who is on vacaction.

However, I am still working on running the experiments, so there are no numbers in the paper itself. I need numbers. But I'll take care of that right now and until it's done, hopefully. Wish me luck.

BTW, if you're interested, here's another GIF animation of my work! A quick word of warning, however. The file is pretty big since I haven't figured out how to make ImageMajik optimize GIFs, so you may want to download it to your computer before viewing.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Working on a Paper: The Bleh Edition

I just spent three hours trying to fix a bug that dissapeared as in as strange a manner as it appeared. I did a 'make clean' on the whole simulator, and all of a sudden I Linux wouldn't let me create all of the threads I needed. It punked out with some "Resource not available" error. And yet as far as I know, I am creating less than the available max and always have been. Moreover, I don't think I've changed any of the code that would affect thread creation recently. Finally, I hit make enough times that whatever black magic I created was undone.

I don't know how I am going to get things done for Friday at this pace.

I hate C++.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Welcome Home BBQ

Originally uploaded by DixiePistols.
Now this was at least two weeks ago, if not more, but check out some pictures from the welcome home BBQ that we had at my apartment! It was pretty fun, although I was feeling a little ill from my first hockey practice in many months, and therefore didn't feel up for much. There are a bunch of neat headshots in this bunch. If you think they look really nice, it's probably because I didn't take any of them...

Urban Hike, Washington PA!

Originally uploaded by DixiePistols.
I was waiting to post this entry until I got my pictures from the hike onto my computer. I lost my USB cable, but replaced it with something better; a compact flash adapter card (PCMCIA styles) for my laptop.

Anyway, last Sunday was my first Urban Hike since I've been back in Pittsburgh. Washington, PA is in Washington county, the center of the whiskey rebellion for you history buffs. It was a fantastic hike, and the weather was amazing. It was such a quaint little town, and it made the 30 minute drive from Pittsburgh totally worth it. We finished the whole thing off with a Washington Wild Things baseball game. This is an independent minor league baseball team (outside of the whole A through AAA system), but they had a great park and nice fans.

Anyway, I started a Flickr photo pool, so if you guys went along and took pictures, you ought to go ahead and add yours to the mix!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


Today I made some pretty good progress on this paper deadline I am supposed to be working for. Not writing, mind you, but implementation at least.


Keep in mind those are supposed to be robots. This is actually a fully distributed algorithm, so the implementation is non-trivial. Um, also I am going to Cleavland tomorrow night.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Mouth Full of Cowboy

Hey guys,
It just so turns out that my friend Pretus, the rock star, is going to be rolling into Cleavland this Wednesday night with his new band Cowboy Mouth. Okay, it's not so much his band, but he is the new guitarist, and I'm going to go check them out as a way of showing my support. Anyone who wants to do this baby road trip is more than welcome, and I can get you on the list.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Fantastic Fantasy

So for the first time in my life I am playing in a fantasy football league. It's a pro league, and it seems to be a relatively easy-going one, but I know how this things can turn into smack talking festivals. My roommates got me into it because they and their friends have been playing in for a few years. Last night we had a draft, which was mercifully short. I remember my friends spending hours and hours on theirs in high school... Anyway, here's my roster, so you can tell me how I made all garbage picks. I am already a little worried about what seems to me to be the biggest downside of fantasy football; having to cheer for players you hate. Why am I worried? Well I already have one former LSU player, one former UCLA player, and one current Falcon. Will see if I become jaded... Here are the picks, in order of position:

  1. Donovan McNabb
  2. Brett Favre
  3. Jake Plummer
  4. Lee Evans
  5. Joey Galloway
  6. Kevin Curtis
  7. Derrick Mason
  8. Joseph Addai
  9. Maurice Jones-Drew
  10. Duece McAllister
  11. Alge Crumpler
  12. Owen Daniels
  13. Chicago's Defense
  14. Oakland's Defense
  15. Some kickers...

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sewing, etc.

Does anyone know a cheap tailor/seamstress/alteration person around CMU? I went to the drycleaning/tailoring place on Ellsworth this morning, but because they charge by the square foot of fabric cut, it was going to end up costing like $21 for a $50 curtain, and I'm really just looking for a makeshift job here...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I never knew this before India, but Coriander and Cilantro are the same thing! It's a conspiracy!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Pittsburgh Party PhD People?

Hey I heard from Tom that the CMU Computer Science PhD program was developing a reputation as, the party Computer Science PhD program. Anyone else heard anything like this care to ellaborate? I mean, it certainly sounds like a good thing to me, but I'm wondering how this all got started.

Friday, August 24, 2007

City Paper

Yes, I am back in Pittsburgh, and yes, it does feel pretty sweet.

I just read this week's City Paper and thought I would mention of few of the things that I saw in hopes that other people were interested (and also because I can never remember anything).

  • There is an interview with Sharon Lippincott who has written a book called, The Heart and Craft of Lifestory Writing: How to Transform Memories Into Meaningfuly Stories, and I have to say I like the idea of writing short stories about very specific and important/funny/interesting parts of your own life.
  • The Dance Alloy Theater School has non-competitive dance and movement classes for all ages! 12 weeks starting September 15th, and there is a $10 discount if you register by August 31st. Eh? EH?!
  • This play called Private Lives, which I've heard is pretty funny, is playing at the Stephen Foster Memorial Theater until September 9th.
  • I've seen some reviews for a movie called This is England, and it looks pretty good. It's about this 12-year-old kid in 1980s England who is kind of a loser, but ends up hanging out with this group of skin-heads, and kind of gets sucked into their world.
  • Still want to see Superbad...

Sunday, August 19, 2007


There have been times in my life where I have regularly watched a lot of movies. This past week has been one of those times. Since last Saturday, I have watched the following movies:

  • The Simpsons Movie
  • Knocked Up
  • Deja Vu
  • Blood Diamond
  • Idiocracy
  • Shrek the Third (Twice!)
  • Guru
  • Blades of Glory
  • Hot Fuzz
  • Fever Pitch
  • Paris, Je T'Aime

I will admit, being so awesome is a little tiring.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Los Angeles

While I am waiting for Rand, his room mates, and the rest of Pizza! to finish band practice, I'll let you guys know a little bit about my trip to LA. First, there was my trip back from Bangalore. I already talked about my wait on the tarmac of LAX, so I think I should just sum up the earlier part of the flight in pictures. Here goes:
So that sucked... On Sunday we did a lot of shopping and hanging out. As usual, I went to Amoeba records, which was a glorious experience. I picked up a CD by The Fratellis (recommended to me by another summer intern), an Of Montreal CD that I love but have never bought, and James Taylor: Greatest Hits, since I have had "Fire and Rain" stuck in my head for about the last two months.

Staying with Rand had been great so far. He's got adorable cats, is located in a fun area (Echo Park/Silverlake) and has been nice enough to drive me all over this large city of ours. And because it didn't feel like enough of a vacation, yesterday we went to Disneyland! Camp melanoma might be a better name though, because it was just a little bit hot. Heat aside, we had a ridiculously large amount of fun, and I can't believe it had been so long since I had gone.

Today, while Rand was at work, I got a haircut, of which I was in desperate need, and I saw "Knocked Up," a Judd Apataw movie. I would recommend "Knocked Up," if you haven't seen it (it came out while I was in India). It's an impressive combination of vulgar humor, over the top sentimentality, and realistic arguments. It's win/win/win if you ask me.  Tonight, we're going to get hot wings, or something like that, and then tomorrow it's back to New Orleans for me! I haven't been here too long, but I think it's been just long enough that I'll want to come back again when I leave. Always good to keep 'em wanting more...  

Blue Blockers

Blue Blockers
Originally uploaded by DixiePistols.
Well I have more pictures, but frankly they're not all that good, and really I just wanted to get this one out there. So, here we are, at Disneyland!

Airport Party

This seems like kind of old news to be me now, but I did want to mention that after my flight back to Los Angeles, after two consecutive ten hour flights, we found out that the immigration computers at LAX had gone down, and we were forced to sit on our plan for five extra hours before we could get off. Since I was able to sleep it wasn't so bad, but it was really hot and sweaty which I did not enjoy.

Anyway, yesterday we went to Disneyland, and I have a bunch of pictures to post. Today I am just lazing around LA while Rand goes to work...

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Then You Get the Money

In response to yesterday's post, Chris' blog is mostly correct, particularly with respect to the issues that actually matter. You need to go to Citbank, and go around to the side, upstairs area. You need to talk to the person at the desk in back on the left side, although her name has changed. You need to bring your account info (both accounts) address of the bank in US, the amount of money you want to transfer (remembering that the whole thing costs 1125 RS) and copies of your paystubs and emails detailing any reimbursements that were deposited to your account (This is necessary, because you have to prove that you earned all the money that you want to transfer). 

Just go, sit down, and follow her instructions.

The only thing that gave her a little worry was the reimbursement for my flight. She wasn't sure that was good enough for proof that I had earned the money... Anyway, we'll find out if it worked or not in two to three business days.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

First You Get the Money

Hey MSRI Interns!

Pavol found a blog of a former MSRI intern who discusses how to get your precious precious rupees back into the United States. Check it out, and then I'll tell you if it works later today.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

8-Bit Power

Apparently I have been immortalized in song form.

Tom 7 has written the Theme from nbeckman, which I still haven't listened to, but you should go ahead and hear it in all its 8 bit glory.

More importantly, however, someone has finally gotten on the ball and introduced what I have casually been referring to as "Wikipedia: Pants Edition." You can now search wikipedia via text message. I predict this will be crucial for settling those bar disputes that come up at the Harris Grill, and we can see once and for all how utterly full of crap I am.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Badami (Still Rhymes With Salami)

Originally uploaded by DixiePistols.
This weekend, my last in India, I went with some Microsofties and Co. to Badami in northern Karnataka (the same state that Bangalore was in). I'll admit that I was a little nervous about the whole thing, everything work out great. If there's one thing I've learned about India, it's that you should just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Why was I nervous? Well we only had train tickets to a place called Hubli, which was something like three hours away, and we didn't have any good idea of how we going to make that final leg of the trip. Well, stumbling of the train at 5:30 in the morning, we managed to make our way to the bus station where we found a bus that would take us closer, but not quite to, Badami. In fact it was my first bus experience in India, and for the first time here, I began to feel like I was in fact, Off The Beaten Path (TM Lonely Planet Inc.) We were riding down some bumpy roads through what can only be described as villages; Animals, and little children running around naked, goats blocking our path (and later) what appeared to be some kind of farmer's uprising. It was pretty wild. But our fellow riders were nice, and very excited to ask us questions. ("From what country?" "What is your good name?" "Do you know George W. Bush?" etc.)

Of course, I am playing it all up for effect. In fact for the first time I felt like I met and interacted with a lot of Indians, and they were almost all extremely nice and helpful.

(Aside: on this trip I was told that a.) I was a handsome man, b.) that I had nice pants, and c.) that I had the best height. Not just a good height, mind you, but the best. height, because really, once you get to 6'3", that's just too much.)

Anyway, on to Badami. Badami was the former hub of the Chalukya, and is filled with ruins going back to the 5th century. The most interesting are a series of cave temples (guarded by the monkey menace!) that overlook a sort of small lake. Due to the relatively difficulty we had in getting there, there weren't nearly as many tourists as, say, Hampi but the sights were definitely on par.

The second we hired a driver, Suresh, to take us to two smaller towns, Pattadakal and Aihole. (Aihole is actually pronounced ay ho ley, but we had our own, unique way of referring to it...) More temples, which again were fantastic, but the trip was somewhat marred by the constant rain. It is in fact monsoon season, so we sort of knew that ahead of time.

You wouldn't have guessed by his flip flops, but Suresh was a bit of a thug behind the wheel. He was passing cars and hitting gaps that I never in my right mind would have attempted. I, of course, caught all this from the front, and most dangerous seat in our Jeep-like vehicle. Was their a seat belt? Sure. Did it have anything to plug in to? Not so much. I'll be honest though, on some of those one-lane dirt roads with animals and children on both sides, I think 80kph is a bit fast. Anyway, if you're reading this Suresh, you are truly a man's man, at least behind the wheel. I think we may have made his month when we gave him a 300Rs tip, but I feel that he earned it.

A little train ride home, and I'm back to my last week in Bangalore!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Cowboy Mouth

I just found out that a high school friend of mine, who was also the drummer for our band, has been hired as the new guitarist for the band Cowboy Mouth. This may mean nothing to you if you didn't grow up in that NOLA, but is a pretty freaking big deal as far as I am concerned. They're going to be playing in Cleaveland in September, so I'm going to try to make the drive. Let me know if you're interested.

In other news, I have been sick for the past few days with a cold, but it finally seems to be breaking, so I'm pretty stoked about that. Tonight we're leaving for Badami (rhymes with Salami) for the weekend. There are supposed to be some neat temples there, and other cool things, so wish me luck. This will also mark the beginning of my last week in India. We've had some good times, India and I, and I'm going to be sad to see her go. But I'll be honest, I'm excited about my reunion with my old love, Mrs. USA-A-OK. My first stop when I get back is going to be the LAX In-n-Out Burger, for a Double Double. It's going to be my first taste of beef in three months...

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Notice of University Debt

I just received an email informing me that I have a debt of $103.95 to the University! Boo! It was for a book on the C programming language that I can't for the life of me find! I was sure I returned it, but I guess that's life.

In unrelated news, I am an idiot.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Snarly Weekend

This weekend was great. We had a grand old time even though we didn't go anywhere. Bangalore still has some good times left in it for us. It went a little something like this...

  • Wednesday: Bollywood Night - On Wednesday we went out to a club called Zero G for Bollywood night. Bollywood night is great. They take the already awesome Bollywood movie music and spice it up with a little techno beat. It is awesome, and it's always packed, or at least it has been the twice that I have gone before but, you know, I am extrapolating.
  • Saturday: Bangalore Expatriot Club - Saturday night found my friends and me at Park Hotel on fabulous M.G. road, for the Bangalore Expatriot Club's Hollywood meets Bollywood night. The idea behind the club is that it's a way for all these foreigners in Bangalore to meet one another, and have a good time (but don't worry, there are plenty of locals who hang out as well). The idea behind the night was that people would dress up in Western or Indian-style fancy dress, and have a grand old time. There was dancing, food and merriment. Afterwards (and because everything stops are 11:30 around here) we rode a gaggle of rickshaws back to my apartment for a hang-out sesh. Good times.
  • Sunday: RSE Lunch & Lalbaugh Park - On Sunday, the head of our research group invited us over to his house for lunch. The food was delicious, and we had a little X-Box fest while waiting for some of the other guests to arrive. Afterwards we went on a little walk around Lalbaugh Park, and even later to a restaurant he claimed had the best Dosa in the city. Not only was he totally 100% correct, but this restaurant was rediculous. There place was tiny, and there was no order whatsoever. Because there were no seats available at first, we had to go stand inside the place, right next to the customers who were eating their meals. There was no room, and the waiters had to push around all the waiting people so that they could serve the people sitting down. Then when a tabled opened up, we basically started sitting down right as they were getting up. (It happened again when we left; a guy was coming into my seat while I was trying to get out and blocking the only way for me to get out!) It was fun and hectic and pretty much was exactly what I was looking for.
That is all good sirs.


Originally uploaded by DixiePistols.
A few hangout pictures posted to Flickr. You'll get more enjoyment out of it if you're my flickr friend, but considering I am friends-locking this one too, you probably already know that...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


To whom it may concern:

I have built up quite a collection of postcards, with zany phrases and and mumblings. They are filled out and ready to go, but they want for just one thing; your address! If you would like to receive an international communique, then please email me a mailing address where you can be reached.

This Guy

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Cochin, alias Kochi

Originally uploaded by DixiePistols.
This weekend Pavol (another intern from Slovakia) and I went to Kochi. It was great, and a wonderful break from all the hard work I had put in (or was telling myself I was putting in) to get the paper out before the deadline. In the spirit of full disclosure, though, I must point out that my camera ran out of batteries within hours of my arrival, and therefore I have almost no pictures. Boo. It's my own fault too. Many times while walking around my room, I saw my battery charger, thought, "Man I wonder if my camera needs to be charged..." and did nothing.

Anywho, Kochi is on the west coast of India. It was used by the Portuguese as a trading post, and therefore has a heavy European and Christian influence. The architecture was great! The food was great! Weather, not so much... It felt a lot like Central America, or should I say Guatemala, since that is the only place in Central American I have actually been to. At the same time, there were parts that felt like Southeast Louisiana, the backwaters in particular. Here are the highlights in no particular order:

  • Finding a roach in my bed on the train car... Just kidding. it really freaked me out, and I was jumpy for the rest of the night.
  • Fish! Seafood! I ate some bomb coconut curry fish and some shrimp in the "Kerala style."
  • When a group of riskshaw drivers were suggesting places where they could take us, one of them yelling "a barber shop," and putting rubbing in hand on his beard area. Yes folks, my facial hair situation is getting pretty dire!
  • The backwater cruise. Although if it were any longer, it would have ceased to be fun.
  • Some seriously reckless passing on a bunch of tiny two-lane roads by a host of hired drivers.
Uh, yeah that's about it. Only two weekends left folks. Where will I go? Only time will tell!

The Grapes of Wrath

I finally finished reading "The Grapes of Wrath." It took a little longer than I would have liked because my reading time was rudely stolen by this project I was working on. I had never read it before. Maybe that tells you something about the quality of my high school, but I doubt it. Anyway, I loved it, but man is that ending sad...

Friday, July 20, 2007

NOLA Street Photog

Originally uploaded by InspectorOyster.
Found a sweet collection of New Orleans street photography. Definitely worth checking out. I hadn't seen anything in this style done in New Orleans before.


Here are two new euphemisms that I am trying to spread around. (Actually, one is a euphemism but the other is more like a catch-phrase.) Try to work them into your daily routines.

  1. You had me at Hello World - This is a phrase used to complement a programming language that you like. It is an allusion both to the concept of writing a "Hello World' program in a new language and a line from the movie Jerry Macguire.
  2. Applying for Dual Citizenship - This one is a bit more obscure. It refers to the act of, in a foreign country where an alternative means of bathroom sanitation is used (e.g., France's bidet or India's hose), utilzing both your home country's and the foreign country's means of sanitation. The logic goes something like, "well maybe their way of doing it is actually much better, but to be on the safe side I better also go with what I know works."

Do I see these phrases taking off? Not really. But I do feel the need to put my stamp on them, just in case the some day come to rule the world.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

25 American

This is friends-locked, because I don't want to brag.
But 25.75 years ago my parents made sweet love and the result was this man that you all see when you close your eyes at night.

Okay, seriously though.  We went to Opus for my and Christian (another intern's) birthdays and had a great time. Wednesday is karaoke night. I sang "fire and rain" by James Taylor. Frankly, it didn't go that well. But what can I do? I love karaoke.

Um, that is it. I am pretty crunk. Coming home in three weeks. Can't wait to see you all!

Guy Fantastic  

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Done With Paper! Weekend Planos

Today our project group at Microsoft submitted our paper to the POPL conference. We went from idea to implementation and paper in two months, so I'm pretty jazzed/stoked/pumped. It's in fabulous San Francisco, CA, USA, so wish us luck. (Actually, I have no idea whether I would even go to the conference, but it's always nice to know it's in a neat place.)

This weekend I'm going to Cochin, alias Kochi. I know almost nothing about it because I spent the last two weeks working and trying to avoid just about everything else. But at least based on the wikipedia article, it looks nice. Guess I'd better read up. I'll try to make it hot as usual. Expect many more pictures now that I'm actually going to get to enjoy India.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Time Goes On

Right now, as I sit at my desk at work, a man is washing the floor with a cleaning product that smells exactly like the one used to clean my freshman-year dormitory bathroom. The smell is taking me back to a time that I will always remember as being happy and trouble-free. It's hard to believe that it was six years ago. I feel like I was just there.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Mouth Full of Work

Just in case you were wondering if I'd run off to join the Indian National Ping Pong team, or was kidnapped by bloodthirsty Goan pirates, never fear! I've just had my head down, working to finish this project before a paper deadline. By Monday, 11:59pm Appian Time, I will know my fate and be back to enjoying life in India (we're trying to submit to POPL, a conference for programming languages nerds like myself, and those nerdier).

All the best,
Cpt. Tough Guy

Sunday, July 8, 2007

I Been Eatin' Mangos In Trinidad w/ Attorneys

This morning I am eating mangoes and bananas for lunch, and I felt like it was the perfect time to point out that I freaking love mangoes! I never really got into them before. I always saw mangoes as some trendy fruit eaten by health types. UNTRUE. Mangoes are objectively delicious, and here in India they have about 4000 different types, each tasty in its own way. Indians spend plenty of type arguing about which is the best. I prefer to eat them all. 

The reason all of this is possible is because Uncle Bill is nice enough to keep our kitchen stocked with mangoes and other assorted fruits, along with the normal tech-job free foods like coke, coffee and candy bars.

Today I'm working, like yesterday. The POPL deadline is coming up (next Tuesday), and it really would be awesome if we had something to submit...

Wednesday we did go out for Fourth of July to sing karaoke. I wanted to give 'em something USA themed, but when they didn't have "Coming to America," I just settled on "Happy Together" out of a total lack of creativity. Friday night we went to the south side of town to hang out with Astrophysicists at their apartment. Last night I just stayed home and worked on The Grapes of Wrath. Good times all around.

Monday, July 2, 2007

6 Weeks!

Nels' Bells
Originally uploaded by DixiePistols.
I also feel the need to point out that this past Saturday marked six weeks that I have been in India. This means that my foreign excursion is half-way over. It also means that, starting Saturday, I have now been in India longer than I have been in any other foreign country (the previous record being my six weeks spent in Madrid on the USC engineering summer abroad program). Great success!

Hampi Times

The Beast and the Coconut
Originally uploaded by DixiePistols.
This weekend we went to Hampi. It was fantastic. It was awesome.

Hampi, as I'm sure you all know, was the center of the Vijayanagara Empire (pronounced laughably close to a part of the female anatomy). It was sacked over the course of 7 years during the 1500s so these days it's basically a ton of ruins, but what a impressive ton it is. This weekend trip has been by far the highlight of this trip thus far. We saw some great architecture, did some out-doorsy sort of stuff, and had a good time hanging out with fun people.

I must immediately proceed to give shout outs to a rad group of astro-physicists; we met Natalie, Nick and Sonnett on the train ride there, as they had initially been planning to travel with our friend Christian (MIA). I had a fantastic time. Everything we did was great, but highlights include bike riding from ruin to ruin, seeing the Jain temples, watching my friends get "blessed" by an elephant (pictured) and taking one of the sketchy-est boat rides of my entire life.

The trip also ended up being somehow perfect for pictures. The light was perfect for portraits and my friends were more than willing to oblige me by hamming it up in front of the lens. You really should check out these pictures if you get the chance. I know there are a lot, but I couldn't help myself (and this is only like a third of them).

Thursday, June 28, 2007

High Five

And just because I sometimes make reference to this theme song and people don't really seem to get what I'm talking about...

"The Wayans Bros." premiered in January 1995 on the WB. The show starred real-life brothers Shawn and Marlon Wayans from the multi-talented Wayans family playing brothers Shawn and Marlon
Williams, who shared an apartment in New York City.

The show shadowed the brothers through their experiences with love, career changes and life. "The Wayans Bros." was sometimes funny, but mostly mediocre. The best part of the show was the catchy theme song with the unforgettable line, "
We're brothers / we're happy and we're singing and we're colored."

From here.

Books & More

Finished reading "One Night @ The Call Center" and "The Hotel New Hampshire!" See more here.

I applied to be a student volunteer at OOPSLA! It's in Montreal, and I desperately want to go, see the sweet programming languages research and also practice my French! Wish me luck!

We're finally going to Hampi this weekend! We've had some set-backs (our original trip was canceled to to some last minute shenanigans) but I expect a fun weekend of site-seeing. We leave tomorrow and get back Monday morning, just in time for work. Hopefully this train car will be as nice as the last one, and hopefully I'll be able to get some sleeps...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

This Dumb Paper

Well I found out yesterday that a paper I submitted this past semester was rejected. 

I  am disappointed.

This is the paper that I spent most of last semester preparing for. The reviewers focused on my weak evaluation section, which, frankly, I knew was pretty weak. But the acceptance rate at this conference turned out to be 50 percent. 50 percent!!! So I think that at this point there's no way that I won't feel at least a little disappointed. Boo.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

A Nice Indian Saturday

Today was a good day. Nothing special, no trips or anything, but still a good time in the city. I tried to get some work done during the day.   was there when I got there, and so we were working together. We have a deadline (which we've set for ourselves) to be done with some implementation by July 1st, and we really would like to hold it. On a somewhat related note, our mentor had a baby boy on Friday! Congratulations Aditya!

But after that, we went to downtown Bangalore with a few friends for some bowling and good times. We started out at Amoeba which is like a fancy bowling alley for upper and middle class Bangalorians, so it was a little expensive by Indian standards, but still not so bad. It was crowded though! I don't remember the last time I had to wait to bowl (except maybe at Arsenal in Pittsburgh, but since that's hipster bowling that somehow always made sense to me). After that, we headed over to my new favorite place in Bangalore; Blossom books. They have the most amazing selection of English books. They have new one and used ones, but it doesn't matter; they are all as cheap as dirt ($2-$3 for most) and it really makes me happy. I went like two weeks ago and picked up three books (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Hotel New Hampshire, and Feakanomics) and now I'm just about done with the last of them. Tonight I picked up A Night at the Call Center, which takes place in Bangalore, and Bonfire of the Vanities, which I have always wanted to read.

After that we had some fantastic Punjabi food. Fantastic! Now a little chillaxing before what will hopefully be an equally dope Sunday.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Photos: Bangalore Site-Seeing

Originally uploaded by DixiePistols.
More pictures! Here I am site-seeing in Bangalore.

Photos: MSR Retreat

Pictures from our office's retreat to a resort outside of Bangalore.

Photos! (In Reverse Chronological Order): Mysore

Originally uploaded by DixiePistols.
Here are pictures from Mysore!

If you haven't guessed, we finally got the Internet at my apartment, after two weeks!


I may have mentioned this here before, but the power in India goes out so frequently that people at work don't even notice when it happens. So far today it's gone out four times, but it only affects us for a few seconds since we have generators or batteries or some combination of the two. But if you're out on the street at night it can be a big pain. Last night  and I were coming home from a little shopping expedition when the power went out, and it was freaking dark. We couldn't see the sidewalk, and the only light we had came from the headlights of passing cars. This did little more than blind us. 

Well yesterday I read a little bit more about the situation in The Hindu, the paper that we have delivered ever morning. I found out that when added together, Bangalore goes over three and a half days each year without power!  For comparison, New York City only goes ten minutes a year without power. They have a rolling blackouts policy here in India (sort of like they did in California for a while a few year back) because the demand is so much greater than the supply. Pretty hardcore.

Monday, June 18, 2007


This morning when I came into the office I was telling my mentor about our trip to Mysore this weekend. I told him that it was pretty sunny, and then I showed him a bright red triangle on my upper chest that my Polo neglected to cover. He looked at me quizzically before asking, "is that a rash?" As you might guess, the concept of sunburn was a little bit foreign to him...

The point is, yesterday we went to Mysore, and it was pretty neat, but one day was perfectly fine to see most of what it had to offer. We took a train because it's about 85 miles away. It was a three hour train ride each way so we left at 6:30 in the morning (!!!) and got back at 9 at night. First off, this was my first Indian train experience, so that by itself was pretty neat. When the train pulled up, hundreds of passengers began to push and fight to get on. There was a huge line at the entrance to each carriage, so I was a little bit worried about the whole thing. Fortunately, we reserved the seats in highest class car (about $9 each way). Our car, therefore,  was nicely air-conditioned, and had no line whatsoever. If  you want to draw the conclusion that I am a high roller, you probably aren't that far off.

Mysore has a few sights to see. It was the former center of the Maharajah empire, and therefore has a large palace. This was by far the coolest sight. There is also a famous/sacred hill, Chamundi hill, which has temples and a nice view of the city. We hiked down the hill, but got to top via the world's slowest auto-rickshaw. We did the whole 13km trip going at like 15 miles an hour (sorry you'll have to convert yourself...), and the whole time it sounded like the piston was about to explode through the top of the engine. We didn't mind getting ripped off on the price (Rs. 150) because that guy had some big auto repairs in his future. As you may have guessed, the hike down is where I got this gnar gnar sunburn. For some reason if I leave the house and it's not sunny outside, I can never remember to bring sunscreen... It was pretty much a disaster.

Finally, for the first time in India, we were in a place where we really had a lot of people (beggars, salesmen, conmen, children, etc) coming up to us and talking to us. I've had a lot of experience with this before in other less-developed countries, but hadn't seen too much until yesterday. Apparently, I have a lot more in my future from what others tell me!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Adventures in Moving

While I still don't have the Internet at my apartment (hence the two week flickr hiatus) today we were moved into a new apartment on a temporary basis, and apparently Tuesday we will be moved into what should be our final apartment for the rest of the summer. The apartment will be back in my original neighbor, putting me back in walking distance and removing my dependence on others for on-time work arrival. Excellent.

Tomorrow we are going to a little place called Mysore, which should be a fun day trip (6:30 am departure and 9pm return). I can't say much about it except there's supposedly an excellent palace to see, a great view from the top of a mountain, and it's not the sort of place you need to spend more than a day in. Good to hear.

Also, we've finally gotten into the habbit of going to bars on a semi-regular basis. This behavior is habitiual for me back home, but due to my poor knowledge of the local bar scene and (up until now) a lack of willing bar-partners, this natural behavior had been put on hiatus. Thursday night we went to a quiz night at Opus, a swank lounge sort of place within walking distance of work. It was great as the "tricky-ness" of many of the questions was fact they were about American pop-culture; our forté. However, we still managed to do pretty poorly and skipped out before the whole thing was over. Still, I plan to make it a regular part of my repertoire since I have the feeling we could dominate one week (unlike, say, at Brillobox trivia). Conincdentally, the same bar has karaoke on Wednesday nights! I don't really sense there are too many others here who are quite as interested in karaoke (besides of course) but at the very least we are going on my birthday, which I have figured out is a Wednesday. Singing is a requirement!

Let's see, I've been reading a lot recently, one of my favorite summer-time activities, and so as soon as I get the Internets back I will post three or so new reviews.

That's it for now. I'm working on a Saturday for the first time since I've gotten here, but we have a July 1st implementation deadline that I want to make sure we meet...

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Where I B?

I know what you're saying. 

"No updates? No pictures? WTF, I thought you were in India or something dude!?!"

It's twew, it's twew. But see here's the deal: On Friday I was told that I was going to have to vacate my apartment the next day. They moved us to an apartment that a.) it way farther away than my old one, necessitating early-morning haggling with rickshaw drivers, and b.) doesn't have the Internet! And because I am quasi serious about work, I try to keep the personal Internet time to a minimum... But anyway once I get the Internet installed (I love saying that, like the entire Internet is some appliance that 300 pound men carry into the back room of my house), I will be posting pictures from this past weekend, which unfortunately was not spent in Hampi.

In other news, this weekend we are going to a resort somewhere outside of Bangalore for the yearly employee retreat. There are going to be games and puzzle hunts and swimming and tennis and stuff like that. Rad? My opinion would be 'yes.'

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

This Better Be Good

Got up early das morgen so that my mentor and I could call  in the US of A. 8am for us was like 10:30pm for him, so it kind of wasn't convenient for anyone. Then afterward, he and I got some breakfast and had a long talk about "the new India" and all the money that is coming in from abroad, primarily in the technology sector. I am becoming more and more convinced that it (by which I mean outsourcing) is a good thing for both the US and India, but I'd be willing to hear doubts.

I forgot to mention the best part about the zoo that I went to last weekend. At one point this group of people came up and asked if we could "take a picture," which I assumed meant that one of us would take a picture of their group. Little did I realize, they wanted the picture to include us (me and my friend from Slovakia) I guess as sort of proof to their friends back home that they really did see two genuine westerners. Good times.

Going to Hampi this weekend via overnight train. I don't know too much about it, but it's supposed to be rad and I am going with a bunch of people from work. I should read up on it before I take off...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Le Tigre

Le Tigre
Originally uploaded by DixiePistols.
Today I went to a Zoo/Safari place about 12 miles south of Bangalore. It was amazingly crowded, and I had my first true Indian line experience. We waited in line for tickets for about 20 minutes, and it was literally nut-to-butt (as Nick would say) the entire time. The guy behind me in line was resting part of his body weight on my shoulder, it was that tightly packed. Anyway, the zoo was neat although not too different from any one you might see in the US. The safari was also cool, even if it did have the feel of something you might do at Disney's animal kingdom. The tigers were all very blase, and you got the feeling they had seen 10,000 other tour buses like ours. Although ambivalent predators do make for some nice pictures. Saturday also saw me taking pictures, this time in my local neighborhood. The outcome was mostly crap though. Click the link to see some of the better ones.