Friday, October 24, 2008

Return to the 'Burgh, OOPSLA

So after the whole wedding thing, I went to Nashville, TN for OOPSLA 2008. I didn't get to spend a whole lot of time exploring the city, which is really too bad. It actually reminded me a lot of Austin, TX. They have a big street there called Broadway where every single bar has free live music every night, and even during the day. Not only that, but it was mostly older-style country music, which really sounds cool. We only heard one band, but it was great! I also ate plenty of BBQ.

But of course I was really there for the conference. I gave a talk at the doctoral symposium, where I present a mini proposal talk to a bunch of researchers who are not my advisor. I got some really good feedback which I even incorporated into my research talk. That was on Wednesday. I was pretty nervous leading up to my real talk, but I practiced a lot (a lot!) of times. When it came time to give it, I wasn't really nervous at all. I even got some questions that weren't too hard to answer, and a bunch of people came up to tell me that they liked it. That was good! I put my slides up on my presentations page. The full paper should be up on the ACM portal soon, but isn't yet.

Finally, there were a ton of people from my research group there, along with George who flew in from CO. It was great to be there with everyone and it kind of felt like our research group was taking over, in a way. Three people in my group won awards at the conference! Congratulations dudes! Now I'm back home, and trying to figure out what to do about this whole research thing... Gotta get cracking.

Return to the 'Burgh, Wedding

I am back! I feel like I've been gone forever, when really I was just out for a week. I hate to blog dump, but I did a ton of stuff last week, and because I had no computer, I'm going to have to post on all of it today! Don't worry, I'll keep it short and break it down for you guys.

Last Thursday I went to New Orleans for my sister's wedding. It was really an amazing time and an amazing wedding. There were a lot of friends and family from out of town, and I did do a lot of meeting/greeting while I was there. But mostly it was just fun. The rehearsal dinner was great. It was at Antoine's, so the food was fantastic, and there were tons of people there, mostly his family from Tennessee. (My extended family is actually pretty small.) It was so big, it felt like it could have been the wedding reception!

The next day, the wedding was really nice. The church was packed. The wedding party was big. I think there were about 15 groomsmen and 15 bridemaids. There was a little SNAFU where someone in a wheelchair got stuck on the access lift at the church, and we started a bit late, but other than that, everything went off without a hitch. The reception was at the art museum, and it was really nice to be able to sit down in the gallery right next to the artwork. The band was also very cool, and the night ended with an official "second-line" dance party.

All and all, definitely the way to go. Congratulations to my sister and Chip! I am so happy for them!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Business Jerk

Hey! I've got my own business cards! Make sure to ask me for one next time you see me. 

Monday, October 13, 2008


 I've been working on a pretty simple program for my dad. It was my present to him for his 65th birthday. It's a program that converts documents written in WordPerfect v.4.2, an old DOS word processor that my dad still uses, into some more modern formats.

Right now, it's pretty basic, and it only outputs to HTML, but I've got a Google Code site set up, and a Java Web Start application, so you can actually run it all pretty easily, assuming you have a JRE installed!

Doing all this was not extremely easy, because to have a webstart application that can read and write files, it has to be signed. Here is a pretty good tutorial explaining how to do it.

Then, for some reason, Google Code does not serve .jnlp files (Java webstart files) with the proper MIME type. Here is a post explaining how you can fix it through svn. (Scroll down to the bottom.)

All this is necessary to make a Java program that can be run by my dad. He's okay with computers, but he's no Bill Jobs.

The Googs: The Phone

Google and T-Mobile have finally released their Android phone! Check it out here. I saw this from an add in my gmail. I think I want one. I played around with one recently and I have to say I am excited about the QWERTY, the Android, and the touch-screen. Sweet. Pros are that I already have T-Mobile and the phone is relatively cheap. Cons are, well it's not an iPhone and the service may cost more. I haven't looked into that...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Verified Program: Thread Shared and Back

 As you may or may not know, my research work has to do with the verification of object oriented programs, in particular those that are concurrent and use or implement object protocols. The name of my tool is NIMBY, and it's a part of PLURAL which is Kevin's single-threaded verification tool.

I recently was able to mostly verify the implementation of a program that creates an object, shares the object between two threads, and then permanently reacquires thread-local permission to the object. This is sort of a litmus test for many concurrent analyses, and I was quite happy at how naturally it fit into our analysis framework. You can take a look at the verified code here. Other verified programs I tend to post here.

Sports Talk with Nels & Nels in the Morning

  • Is there anything more pointless than pre-season NBA basketball? Please. The NBA regular season is already quaisi pointless and at least prolonged, given that it lasts forever and just about half of the NBA teams get into the post-season. Is there really a demand for this?
  • Sports "journalists," can you please stop calling the Dallas Cowboys, "America's Team." I've lived in three states and I still don't know a single Cowboy's fan. And my girlfriend is from Dallas!
  • A friend of a friend just got picked up by the New Orleans Saints! He is a defensive end, and his name is Jeff Charleston.
  • This weekend I won my first fantasy football game of the season. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

While the Tom is Away, the Nels Will Play

Tom is out of town. So, acting in a completely unauthorized manner, I posted some songs that we recently recorded, for free, on You can hear "Custom Party Music," which is what I'm calling the collection of all the songs that we wrote for a specific occasion, and you can download all of the songs.

Highlights include, "Birthday Control," and "Unfairbanks," which is about the sad economic state in which we find our country and my friend George Fairbanks leaving Pittsburgh. "Sick Day," isn't really custom party music, and in fact is just a demo.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Room mates? Apartments for Rent?

Hey guys. I am looking for your help. I need one of the following:

Roommates! Are you or cool people you know currently looking for a place to live? Preferably starting January 1, but many arrangements could be made. My landlord/friend Chris is extremely flexible, but he is moving so he is looking to replace himself and one of our outgoing roommates.

- or -

An Apartment! If that whole above thing doesn't work out, I will be looking for an apartment starting January 1. I would really love to keep living in Shadyside, so I would be looking for a place to live, and I would certainly appreciate living with you or your cool friends.

Let me know here or via email, and I can give you the full details about either the apartment or what I am looking for in an apartment!