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!