Posts with mood determined (16)

link friday: anger at politics, penguin galaxies, Parkinson's treatment
Mood: determined
Posted on 2013-07-12 10:44:00
Tags: politics links
Words: 356

First I'm going to get angry about politics, then some more uplifting stuff:

- Lessons of the Great Recession: How the Safety Net Performed - pretty well, although there are still a lot more people on food stamps (SNAP) than before. Speaking of which:

- House Republicans Push Through Farm Bill, Without Food Stamps - the Republicans say they'll pass a food stamps bill later, but they separated them so they can more easily put in the cuts they want. I'm really pretty angry about this. Also see: Yes, You Should Be Totally Outraged By the Farm Bill (um, hooray!)

- Remember that scandal with the IRS targeting conservative groups? It turns out they also targeted liberal groups, so that should pretty much put an end to that. Honestly, I don't mind the IRS having stricter scrutiny of tax-exempt groups that are politically oriented, and I'm not thrilled with the fact that they get tax breaks to begin with. (on both sides!)

Uplifting stuff
- State-based fun! Here's the most "significant" TV show set in every state where "significant" is defined as "whatever the guy who made the map thought" (here's the readable version of the map), and here's the most famous brand from each state. (thanks, Pai, for the latter!)

- Colliding galaxies take on the shape of a penguin guarding its egg - awwww! (thanks, Jessica!)

- No Parkinson's with the flip of a switch - wow, I had no idea we could treat Parkinson's this well!

- 8-Year-Old Little Leaguer, 31-Year-Old Professional Given Same Hitting Advice - from the Onion - the headline is the joke, but I laughed :-)

- Anatomy of a pseudorandom number generator - visualising Cryptocat's buggy PRNG - funny how a simple off-by-one error can lead to such a "broken" PRNG. Crypto is hard! (although I'm not sure how much faster you could break the crypto with this error - I guess if you're guessing what random number it picked, you have more likely places to start..)

- What Does It Take to Stop Crips and Bloods From Killing Each Other? - Interesting article from the NYTimes magazine about a new approach to curbing gang violence that seems to be working.

- A few tips for sleeping better


FlightPredictor progress, a few links
Mood: determined
Posted on 2011-12-02 13:41:00
Tags: projects programming links
Words: 407

The sales of FlightPredictor for Android have still been pretty flat, but it did at least get 2 5 star ratings! And it looks like more people are downloading FlightPredictor Lite, which will hopefully translate into more sales down the line. (as for the ads, I have made a whopping 3 cents so that's not looking too promising)

Having said that, I'm excited to jump into the Windows Phone version. Having just finished a port makes it easier to know how to start, although I'm trying to be careful to port it intelligently, using the nice features of C# and XAML, rather than just making it a direct port. I plan on working in Windows Phone for the foreseeable future so I'd like to take the time to learn how to do things right.

One of the big wins from the Android port was being able to test the updating in the background functionality relatively early. This is one of the riskiest parts, as it's done almost entirely differently on every platform, and it's also somewhat time-consuming to test. I've made a list of basic stuff I need to have ready before I can test that, and I'm just working down the list...there are a lot of parts to FlightPredictor and just sitting down with no plan can be overwhelming, which this helps with.

In the meantime I've been reading a lot about Silverlight and such, and I discovered this free ebook by Charles Petzold(!) about Windows Phone programming, which has been excellent so far. (ironically enough, it's been very handy to read on my TouchPad...) There's also the 31 Days of Mango covering features that are new (and less discussed elsewhere).

A few links:

- The Democrats are trying to extend the payroll tax cut, but the Republicans won't vote for it because they're paying for it by raising taxes on people that make more than one million dollars a year. People affected by the payroll tax: 160 million. People that make more than one million dollars a year: ~350K.

- News Corp (parent company of Fox News) made a gay marriage guide! I know corporations aren't people (ahem), but the cognitive dissonance level is still pretty high.

- Crazy story from the New York Times: apparently Ambien can help people in vegetative states become more responsive and, in some cases, recover to some extent. This makes the long-term prognosis for people in vegetative states even more uncertain...


Developing for webOS versus Android
Mood: determined
Posted on 2011-08-29 13:20:00
Tags: essay palmpre projects programming android
Words: 544

Over the weekend, I spent some time working on porting LJ for WebOS to Enyo, and after I got stuck there, I worked on porting FlightPredictor to Android. Since I was developing in both environments, I thought I'd give some more thoughts on Android (here's part 1):

I'm definitely learning more as I go, but there are still some areas (well, most areas) that developing for webOS is way easier than Android. I admit I'm biased in the matter since I've done a ton of webOS development, but sheesh:
- The Eclipse I'm using is decent in some ways and really frustrating in others. (I'm using MOTODEV Studio, because...well, I had an email from them and I just picked something) Keep in mind I'm used to developing in a text editor so the bar's pretty low here. It took me a while to realize that when you start debugging something you then have to switch to the "Debug" perspective to actually see what's going on. And 90% of the time when the app crashes, the only info I can see is that a RuntimeException was thrown, somewhere. (even when it's something easy, like a NullPointerException in my code!) Worse is when none of my code is on the call stack and I don't have the Android source code, so it gives me very little idea of where to start looking.

Honestly, the Intellisense is nice, but it just doesn't feel quite right, and often gets in my way. Hopefully as I get used to it I'll stop fighting with it so much. And the emulator is slow - it takes 15-20 seconds to get from pressing "Debug" to the app actually starting, and given the limited information I get back from the debugger it's almost not worth doing. (although if I know where the problem is, I can set breakpoints, etc., which is nice)

- To include a big list of structured data (i.e. a list of airlines), for webOS I just have to include a simple .js file assigning a big JSON array to a variable. For Android I have to generate an XML file (or a JSON file, I guess? Didn't try that...), and write initialization code to parse the XML file and store it.

- In webOS, doing an asynchronous web request is drop-dead simple - just use an XmlHttpRequest! Yay! In Android you have to spin up a new thread and post messages back and forth and such. Just reading that section of the book I'm borrowing depressed me, and I'm sure when I get to that it will suck.

- I wanted to have a Spinner (a list selector) that displayed a string and would return the associated value if it was selected. You know, like EVERY LIST SELECTOR EVER. Except, no - you can easily display a Spinner with a list of strings, but if you want to do something crazy like associate a value with it, you have to implement some interface and things generally get more complicated. What's so hard about a freaking templatized value type?? This makes me angry.

Anyway, nothing so terrible that I'm giving up, but a lot of annoyances and I really have to be in a tolerant frame of mind or I will start throwing things and cursing.


Prop 8 trial liveblogging
Mood: determined
Posted on 2010-01-12 14:13:00
Tags: gay politics
Words: 27

As I mentioned yesterday, the Prop 8 trial started this week. has been doing a liveblog of the proceedings, which I've found to be pretty interesting.


A few late Friday links
Mood: determined
Posted on 2009-10-09 15:45:00
Tags: politics links
Words: 116

Weekend here yet? No? OK:

- Play this game of driving while texting! I am 0.78 seconds slower while texting and missed 10% more gates, considerably worse than the average.

- Carl Sagan, autotuned

- New survey shows rising support for civil unions - 57% of Americans support civil unions, 39% support same-sex marriage. We're getting there! Surprisingly, 49% said "homosexual behavior" was "morally wrong", so I give credit to the at least 8% that said that but also support civil unions.

- Paul Krugman answers readers' questions - interesting stuff.

- Some people said some nice things about National Instruments.

- Anyone else on Google Wave? Haven't quite figured it out, but let me know and we can be wave buddies or something!


Rice pictures
Mood: determined
Posted on 2009-10-01 10:20:00
Tags: pictures programming
Words: 388

I visited Rice for some recruiting this week, and tried to document all the things that have changed since I graduated. The result is here:

This has been, for various reasons, a crazy few weeks. I'm hoping things have settled down a bit now.

One of the things I've been doing is competing in the Google Code Jam, an online programming contest. The structure is interesting - each problem has a small set and a large set of data to solve. The small set you can usually get by doing a straightforward program/algorithm (although not always!), and you have 4 minutes to download and submit your solution. If it's incorrect you get notified right away and you can try again on a different data set. The large set is much, well, larger, and you usually have to do something pretty clever to solve it. You get 8 minutes to download and submit it, but you only get one shot and you don't know whether you succeeded or not until the contest is over.

The first round was the qualification round (you had to get one small set and one large set to advance) and after that was Round 1A. There were also rounds 1B and 1C, you could compete in any/all of them, and the top 1000 from each round advanced to round 2. I did well enough to advance, so I started doing more practice rounds from previous years with varying levels of success. This culminated in trying round 2 from last year the day before the contest and getting 0 points. I was kinda frustrated at this but it sorta worked out well because I was resigned to probably not advancing. In the actual round 2 I got 2 small sets and 1 large set, which I considered respectable - it put me in 1078/3000 people, but only the top 500 advance (and get a T-shirt :-) ). So I'll probably do it again next year but without a lot of practice or something I'm not sure I'd ever see the ways to do most of these; Google publishes a contest analysis of each round after the fact, and those round 2 problems are doozies.

The upside is that it made me want to jump back in to my other programming projects, so hopefully I'll get to do that soon!


reviews of stuff I generally like
Mood: determined
Posted on 2009-09-17 09:52:00
Tags: movies reviews palmpre games
Words: 468

After spending another month with my Palm Pre since my last review, I thought I'd take a minute and reevaluate. I'm still happy with it in general...

Battery Life: This has gotten a bit better since my first review - I still charge it every night, but just taking to the office and browsing a little with it during the day still leaves me with plenty of juice. Even traveling with it and playing games for a while on the way back from Niagara Falls I was able to use it most of the time.

WebOS: One big annoyance is that, when the phone is in landscape mode (which is better for reading web pages, etc.), you don't get the notifications on the bottom, and the keyboard is obviously in the wrong place. This leads to a lot of switching back and forth between landscape and portrait mode, or just giving up and leaving it in portrait mode.

Apps: There are now 50 apps on the store, and supposedly paid apps will be available next week. Here's hoping!

Last night we watched Spirited Away which was really pretty amazing. It struck the same "magical environment" tone for me that Coraline did. Here's a good review of it with a few clips to get a good taste of it. The director's newest film is Ponyo, now showing at the Alamo Drafthouse Village.

This week (busy week!) we also picked up Scribblenauts, a new game for the Nintendo DS whose tagline is "Write Anything, Solve Everything". The basic idea is that you have a series of puzzles to solve, and you can write any object (no trademarks or profanities) and it will appear, which you can then use to help you. It's a pretty cool idea and the dictionary of words it recognizes is huge. (according to someone who extracted it, it's over 22000 words!)

There are two types of levels - puzzle ones, where the goal is to do something specific (like collect the flowers and give them to the florist, or help the birthday boy break open his piƱata) and action ones, where the goal is to get to the starite and overcome whatever obstacles are in the way. The puzzle levels are a lot of fun - they aren't too difficult but you master the level if you beat it three times in a row using none of the same objects. The action levels are an exercise in frustration, because the control scheme is fairly terrible. You tap on objects to manipulate them, but you also tap to move Maxwell (your character) to a spot on the screen. We've already died many times because of mistaps and there sure isn't any undo...

Anyway, it's a cute game and fun to play and watch. I just wish it was less frustrating!


the advantages of living in a medium-sized city
Mood: determined
Music: Foo Fighters - "Let It Die"
Posted on 2009-03-06 14:15:00
Tags: car projects
Words: 92

2.5 years ago: My car's check engine light turns on, I have to drive 40 miles early Saturday morning to get it checked out.

Today: My car's check engine light turns on, I drive 3 miles to drop it off during the middle of the day. (and hitch a ride back with destroyerj) Life is good!

My next project: This guy genetic algorithmed his way to a Mona Lisa with translucent polygons, and then this guy did something similar. I like images and especially genetic algorithms. Hopefully will have pretty results soon!


debate on
Mood: determined
Posted on 2008-09-26 10:58:00
Tags: politics
Words: 126

CNN reports McCain will be there tonight, so that's good. (apparently if only Obama were there, it would count as a contribution to the Obama campaign so I guess they wouldn't air it or something?)

Washington Mutual basically failed last night, with JPMorgan Chase taking over most of it and the government taking the rest. All deposits are safe (they're FDIC-insured up to $100,000, but it was taken over so even above that they're fine). Slate argues this is the way it should work and it doesn't show the need for a giant bailout. But it'll happen anyway, and if it helps stabilize things, whatever. I'll get out my checkbook...

Also, we're not headed for a depression. So, that's nice.

David Letterman - still mad at McCain.

1 comment

random stuff friday!
Mood: determined
Posted on 2008-08-08 10:01:00
Tags: asmc politics links
Words: 164

Back to the summer musical grind tonight. It should be fun though - only one show and then the silent auction and a cash bar! Wooo!

random stuff:
- What I Learned Buying a Rug in Turkey - a narrative of good salesmanship. By the end I want a rug, too!
- The Tire-Gauge Dust-Up - contains this gem from Obama: "It's like these guys take pride in being ignorant."
- Women would rather carpool with Obama: because that matters for the leader of the free world. I'm glad Obama's winning that question (and the coveted "Who would you rather vacation with?"), but come on people!
- Nasty Democratic primary ends - I think "Jew-baiting" is a little strong for the ad that was aired, but it was nasty, and she lost.

Ever had that experience where, months or years after the fact, you discover there were crazy things going on you never expected behind the scenes that would have totally changed how you acted or felt? That always weirds me out.


progress on the netflix front
Mood: determined
Posted on 2006-10-11 08:39:00
Tags: netflixprize
Words: 493

So, although djedi's parents were here most of the last week, I managed to make some progress on the Netflix Prize. (probably at the cost of being a bit rude - sorry!) Most of the time I spent was building up a test framework so I could easily test rating schemes, so there wasn't a whole lot of note. The one big things was that I restored the data provided to us in a binary format, so it takes up 500 MB on disk instead of 2 GB, which means the loading time is down to 15-20 minutes instead of 40 minutes.

So the way it works is that there is a real set of ratings to be made that counts, and there is a "probe" set of ratings to be made. The "probe" ratings are all already known (they're included in the 500 MB of data), so it makes it easy to exclude that data, run your algorithm, and then see how good your data is. Last night was the first time I got to actually run some algorithms and see how they did on the probe data. The scoring method used is RMSE (root mean squared error), so lower is better. For comparison, Cinematch (Netflix's algorithm) scores 0.9514, if you get below 0.9419 (1% improvement) you can win $50,000, and if you get below 0.8563 (10% improvement) you can win $1,000,000. (here's the current leaderboard - note that someone qualifies to win $50,000 already!)

Just taking the average movie rating for all movies and applying that gives an RMSE of 1.13 or so. Taking the average movie rating for each movie and using that on a per-movie basis gives 1.05. The two other things I tried were first to take the average movie rating and average user rating and average them - this gives a modest improvement to 1.015. I then weighted them by the inverse of their standard deviation (since a higher standard deviation would mean there was more variability in that data and thus it would be less reliable), but that only improved it to 1.013.

So now I'm calculating the correlation between every pair of movies using the dot product. (I ran this overnight and it took around 7 hours, but I need to store the data in a different format so I started that before leaving for work). Once I have that data it should be fairly straightforward to apply that to all the other movies a user has rated and come up with a new rating. I think this might push me below 1.0, which would be really nice...and I might even submit that even though right now it needs to be below 0.9884 to make it on the leaderboard.

I also found a good paper that I'm reading through and I might try next, although it looks computationally really expensive.

Anyway, that's most of what's been on my mind lately. I like getting to play with raw data!


early morning thoughts!
Mood: determined
Posted on 2005-12-12 09:49:00
Tags: links
Words: 84

Well, not really early, but you know...

Yahoo! bought late last week. Between that and flickr, Yahoo has some pretty nice stuff these days. Good for them!

Good tips for using

I'm now level 2 on Yahoo! Answers. Woohoo! Next up - level 3!

If you're looking to get a USB drive for someone, why not get them a weird USB drive? I can't decide which is creepier - the thumb or the Barbie whose head you rip off to plug it in. Heh.


some thoughts
Mood: determined
Music: Francis Dunnery - "Good Life" (from the Scrubs soundtrack)
Posted on 2005-07-26 13:52:00
Tags: asmc referrer
Words: 392

So djedi and I visited his brother and sister and Houston this past weekend. We watched a few movies - "The Importance of Being Earnest" (rented) and "Bewitched" (in the non-Alamo Drafthouse theater). "Earnest" was pretty good - I have the vague recollection of either seeing a movoie version, or reading the play, or something before, but not enough that I knew what was going to happen. It was entertaining! "Bewitched" was...OK. I guess I didn't realize it was a romantic comedy, which it very much is. And it was a bit sappy at times. Will Ferrell was good (as expected), and Nicole Kidman wasn't bad. Plus Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell had small parts, so that was kinda neat, too :-)

It was interesting - they had placards in front saying that taping movies was illegal and they would kick you out (or arrest you? can't remember...), which I think are relatively new, or maybe I haven't been to an Edwards theater in a while. Then, during the movie, an usher walked in (with a lightsaberish thing so he could see a little) and walked across the theater and then back to the entrance. This happened twice, so I'm wondering if he was doing it to (somewhat) surreptitiously check for people filming it. *shrug*

Aside from that, we grilled hamburgers (which turned out well, although a little less done than we would have liked), played some video games and board games, and went out to supper. Rehearsal started at 1 on Sunday, so we had to leave early to make it back in time (which we did!), which was a shame.

ASMC Tech week is going pretty well, although I'm tired after every rehearsal (our choreographer says that if we're not sweating by the end, we're not working hard enough. I'm working hard enough!) It's fun to see the show come together, though, and it definitely is coming together.

Random referrer: Searching for built-in bookcase on Ask Jeeves brings up a picture of my apartment (with, in fact, a built-in bookcase). Nifty.

Work is going well...have another project that hopefully I can wrap up by the end of next week. That would be sweet! There are some interesting NI blogs written by employees, which would be kinda neat to do at some point. Maybe. I never know how much I can talk about "publicly"...


I am moody, hear me roar!
Mood: determined
Music: Tori Amos - "Jackie's Strength"
Posted on 2005-04-13 09:06:00
Words: 345

Hopefully I'll get some work done today. But that's not what this entry is about!

Last night we visited Sarah in the hospital (after her surgery) - she's doing quite well, we had a nice conversation, and she'll likely go home tomorrow. But that's not what this entry is about either!

I can be a very moody person. Yesterday, for example, I was in about 5 distinct moods (giddy in the morning (almost a heightened sense of awareness type thing, like I had had a Coke for the first time in a long time), a bit more mellow in the afternoon, excited when I got home, depressed on the drive up to Round Rock, happy talking to Sarah, really tired all of a sudden at wildrice13's). And I've definitely had worse days. It's like being on a roller coaster, but in a bad way.

I think the giddiness in the morning was a sort of manic state - from the little I've read about bipolarism (ism?), it seems to have a lot in common with that. I feel like I could do anything I could put my mind to, everything is wonderful, and I feel super-productive (and I usually do get more done, although sometimes it involves starting very ambitious projects that I don't finish). The good thing is that I can recognize when I feel this way, so I can let it not get too far out of control. Also I usually don't have the urge to spend money, which is a good thing. I've read that for bipolar ppl, the manic part isn't really the problem, and they don't want that to change (it's the depression that follows that is the problem), and I feel the same way. So maybe I am a little bipolar? The depression on the way up to see Sarah came on suddenly and it was kinda harsh, sort of a feeling that I wasn't making a difference in the world, etc. *shrug*

Anyway, what was the point? Um, I dunno. I'm moody and stuff (which certainly isn't news to djedi...).


Easter weekend
Mood: determined
Music: Vertical Horizon - "We Are"
Posted on 2005-03-28 09:37:00
Tags: robolab challenge
Words: 284

So the weekend was pretty good - for details, I'll refer you to djedi. I took some pictures of people, and lots of the nephews hunting for Easter eggs that I'll hopefully find time to put up this week. A few random thoughts about the weekend:

- I played tennis and then basketball (around the world, 21, and then 2 on 2) on Saturday. That's the most exercise I've gotten in a while, and I was really sore Saturday and Sunday (mostly better today, though).

- If you're driving around here, check out the wildflowers! I saw a bunch on the way down and back, but they're along MoPac and I-35 as well. Good stuff - makes me feel like spring is here, even though it can still be kinda cold.

- *counts to self* 11 people is a lot to have in a house for a weekend - I still get overwhelmed at times. There's always something going on, people trying to get a game of something together, or watch a movie, or go out and grab something. I'm more used to it than I was at first, but it's like crazy different from my family in that aspect.

- My sister Carrie got confirmed this weekend - congratulations!

Busy week ahead of me - game night tonight, normal volunteer stuff on Wednesday, and I said I'd work on robolab stuff (we have an internal competition coming up two weeks from last friday, and I perhaps foolishly signed up to be in a group. It's a lot of fun, but finding the time to work on it is difficult...) tuesday and thursday nights. And friday we leave for beer-bike. So, yikes!

Hopefully I'll make some progress at work today. That would rock!


Mood: determined
Music: Outkast - "Happy Valentine's Day"
Posted on 2005-02-15 09:09:00
Words: 71

David and I saw "Hitch" this weekend with some friends. I had read mixed reviews, but I do like Will Smith a lot, so we thought we'd give it a shot (and there doesn't seem to be a whole lot good showing right now...). Anyway, it was a good movie - I'm usually not huge on romantic comedies, but this was quite funny. Also, I like Will Smith (did I mention that? :-) )


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