Posts with mood excited (99)

We got married!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2014-09-20 21:01:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 200

We just got back from our vacation in Hawaii (pictures, etc. coming soon), and we got legally married while we were there! See:

What does this mean? - right now it's a little confusing. Twenty some-odd states recognize our marriage, as does the federal government (after the Supreme Court overturned DOMA last year), but twenty some-odd other states, including Texas, don't recognize us as married. Fun times ahead!
Why wasn't I invited? - since we had a ceremony with our family and friends five years ago, this was just a quick civil ceremony. (although Jonathan and Sarah were there, but they were in Hawaii already :-) )
Are you changing your names? - Nope!
Are you changing your email addresses? - Umm, nope!
Where are the real pictures? - coming sometime once we settle back into Austin life. If you like pictures of us with varying proportions of happiness to nervousness, you will not be disappointed!
So...not to be rude, but is this a big deal? - Good question! Sort of yes and sort of no. We already considered ourselves married after our previous ceremony, but "making it legal" does have some meaning to it. And of course this means we get to file taxes together, etc.


link thursday: World Cup, Bill Watterson returns!, checklists, World Cup
Mood: excited
Posted on 2014-06-12 13:05:00
Tags: links
Words: 157

The World Cup starts today! Woo!

- Ever Wished That Calvin and Hobbes Creator Bill Watterson Would Return to the Comics Page? Well, He Just Did. - awesome! Watterson sounds like a nice guy, albeit extremely reclusive.

- How mistakes can save lives: one man’s mission to revolutionise the NHS - sad story, but it sounds like medicine could use a more air safety approach to accidents.

- Nation’s Cable Companies Announce They’re Just Going To Take $100 From Everyone - ah, the Onion!

World Cup stuff:

Firstly, let me reiterate: woo!

Now, let's not forget that FIFA is "cartoonishly corrupt", and lest you worry that the US is falling behind, we have our own kinda corrupt soccer guy (known as Mr. Ten Percent). While you're watching, here's how to watch the World Cup like a true soccer nerd, and the Onion advises which World Cup teams to watch. If you're not into soccer, here's the World Cup of everything else. (thanks Ben!)


Austin Code-a-thon: come work on a Windows Phone app!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2014-02-05 21:23:00
Tags: windowsphone
Words: 98

In the Austin area? Come and work on a Windows Phone app! If you make significant progress(*) on a Windows Phone app, you'll be eligible to win a JBL Wireless Charging Speaker! There will be a few other surprises in store for everyone. Pizza will be provided for dinner.

When: Thursday, February 13, 7-10 PM
Where: Microsoft's Austin office
10900 Stonelake Blvd., Suite 225
Austin, TX 78759

Registration: None necessary, but please drop me an email at if you know you'll be coming.

Hope to see you there!

(*)"significant progress" is the sole determination of Greg Stoll.


David and I with George Takei! with pictures!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2013-09-02 20:41:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 62

We waited in line for quite a while (some of it in the heat), but we got an autograph and picture with George Takei!

(click the thumbnails for the full images)

<- David and I with George Takei! We chatted briefly - he was a nice guy even after signing autographs for hours!

<- his autograph

<- someone made a balloon Enterprise!

<- waiting outside

<- waiting inside


Hospital price data - now in a handy SQLite database!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2013-05-12 15:27:00
Tags: windowsphone projects wpdev
Words: 73

Well, I got so excited at the hospital prices data released by the government that I wanted to make it easier for people (myself included!) to write apps with it. So: here's the data in an SQLite database which includes geocoding data and some basic calculations.

I would love to see some cool apps based on this data. Let me know ( if you're going to be working on something for Windows Phone!


same-sex marriage map in a textbook!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2013-05-06 22:42:00
Tags: gay projects
Words: 49

My same-sex marriage map is in a print textbook! Here's "The Gendered Society" textbook by Michael Kimmel:

and on page 181, we find:

Thanks to the good people at Oxford University Press for sending me a copy!

(this is the real-life application that spawned the "red dot" problem, FWIW)


Storing data on Windows Phone
Mood: excited
Posted on 2013-03-28 22:06:00
Tags: windowsphone wpdev
Words: 925

This post is adapted from a presentation I gave at the University of Texas IEEE Computer Society on March 6, 2013

Storing data on a device is one of those things that is different on every platform, but it's crucial to most apps. (especially if you want to make them work offline) Windows Phone has a lot of good options for storing data - let's look at four of them:
- Resource packaged with the app - an ideal way to ship data with your app
- Isolated Settings - best for lightweight and small data, such as app settings
- Isolated Storage File - best for storing full files
Serializing to/from JSON - a brief aside; useful when packaging a resource with the app or storing data in an Isolated Storage File
- Local database - best for fully structured data that needs to be high performance

Resource packaged with the app
This is a great way to ship static data with an app. For example, in my Marriage Map app, I ship a static version of the marriage data so that if the phone is offline during first launch of the app, we can still show some data. (if the phone is online, it downloads the current data and saves it to Isolated Storage)

Anyway, this is pretty straightforward. Add the file to your project, select the file, and in the Properties window set the Build Action to Content. After this, you can read the file with:

var resource = System.Windows.Application.GetResourceStream(
new Uri(@"Data\stateData.js", UriKind.Relative));
using (StreamReader sr = new StreamReader(resource.Stream))
string allDataString = sr.ReadToEnd();
If you're going to be storing data in this file, I'd recommend using JSON format - see Parsing JSON for details.

Isolated Settings
Isolated Settings are great for storing very small bits of data, like user preferences. If you want to make a settings page and have that data automatically stored in Isolated Settings, see my previous posts on adding settings to your app and adding enum settings to your app.

The class we'll be using is System.IO.IsolatedStorage.IsolatedStorageSettings - it's implements a simple Dictionary<TKey,TValue> interface to read and write. To write data, use

IsolatedStorageSettings.ApplicationSettings["NumQuizzes"] = 3;
and to read it, use

int nQ = (int)IsolatedStorageSettings.ApplicationSettings["NumQuizzes"];
Isolated Settings are backed by an Isolated Storage File, which we'll talk about next!

Isolated Storage File
For more complex data, you can move up to using the full Isolated Storage API to store data in files. There's a full filesystem you have total control over. (which is only accessible to your app, of course!) I use this in FlightPredictor to store the user's flights.

The main class we'll use is System.IO.IsolatedStorage.IsolatedStorageFile. To write to a file, use

using (var store = IsolatedStorageFile.GetUserStoreForApplication())
using (var stream = store.OpenFile("flights.json", System.IO.FileMode.Create))
using (var streamWriter = new StreamWriter(stream))
streamWriter.Write("{\"flights\": []}");
and to read from it, use

using (var store = IsolatedStorageFile.GetUserStoreForApplication())
using (var stream = store.OpenFile("flights.json", FileMode.Open))
using (var streamReader = new StreamReader(stream));
string flightsString = streamReader.ReadToEnd();

There are other methods on IsolatedStorageFile like CreateDirectory() and GetFileNames() if you want to really use isolated storage as a filesystem.

Serializing to/from JSON
See this post for comparing parsing time for different file formats, including JSON
Note that these APIs let you read and write text to files. Usually, you'll want to store more structured data, and I'd recommend using the JSON format because Json.NET makes it very easy. Here's how!

First, you can use the DataContract and DataMember attributes on an existing class. For example, here are the first few lines of my Flight class:

public class Flight : INotifyPropertyChanged, IComparable<Flight>
public string AirlineName;
public int Number;
public DateTime DepartureTime;
Then, to turn a list of Flights into a string, use:

List<Flight> flights = new List<Flight>();
string flightsString = JsonConvert.SerializeObject(flights);
and to read a list of Flights, use:

List<Flight> newFlights =
If you'd rather not create a whole class, you can also deserialize "raw" JSON, which is very handy when you're getting results from a webservice. For example:

JObject o = JObject.Parse(responseString);
JObject flightsJson = (JObject)o["flights"];
int numFlights = (int)flightsJson["total_entries"];
JObject flightJson = (JObject)((JArray)flightsJson["array"])[0];

Local database
You can also store data in a full database. This takes a bit more coding, but is useful if you need to do queries, etc. I use this in PhotoNotes - each photo gets a row in the database with a caption and audio filename. (which are stored in Isolated Storage Files!) Here's the topic on MSDN about a local database, but briefly, the steps you need are:
First, declare your DataContext:

public class PicturesDataContext : DataContext
// Specify the connection string as a static, used in main page and app.xaml
public static string DBConnectionString = "Data Source=isostore:/PictureNotes.sdf";

// Pass the connection string to the base class.
public PicturesDataContext(string connectionString)
: base(connectionString) { }

// Specify a single table
public Table PictureNotes;
Then on your table class, you need the Table attribute:

public class PictureNote : INotifyPropertyChanged, INotifyPropertyChanging
and then member fields with the Column attribute are columns in the table:

public string FileName
Now, to insert rows, you can create new instances of the PictureNote class and call InsertOnSubmit() on the table:

_noteLensDB.PictureNotes.InsertOnSubmit(new PictureNote()
{ FileName = shortFileName, NoteText = noteText,
NoteAudioFileName = _lastSavedAudioFileName });
And to query the table, you can use the totally cool LINQ to SQL. For example:

var query = from n in _noteLensDB.PictureNotes
where ((n.NoteText != "" && n.NoteText != null) || n.NoteAudioFileName != null)
select n;
var numPictures = query.Count();
foreach (var note in query)
string name = note.FileName;


See all my Windows Phone development posts.

I'm planning on writing more posts about Windows Phone development - what would you like to hear about? Reply here, on twitter at @gregstoll, or by email at


Interested in developing for Windows Phone? I'm the Nokia Developer Ambassador for Austin - drop me a line at!


a few quick pre-India links: tea steeping strategies, NFL fans analysis, SimCity
Mood: excited
Posted on 2013-01-31 13:32:00
Tags: links
Words: 275

- Tea: Does bouncing your tea bag actually do anything substantial? - you don't need to sign up for Quora; the first answer is pretty comprehensive!

- More documents came out in the lawsuits about the no-hire agreements between Apple and other high-tech companies, and Jobs's letter to Palm includes the following:

I'm sure you realize the asymmetry in the financial resources of our respective companies when you say: "We will both just end up paying a lot of lawyers a lot of money."
Ouch! Some of the other documents are pretty damning as well - even if the only policy was "don't pursue people from these companies, but it's OK to hire them if they come to us", I think that's still kinda wrong.

- NFL Fans on Facebook - a comprehensive analysis of which parts of the country root for which teams. Good stuff! I love when Facebook does neat stuff with their data.

- SimCity vs. The Suburban Sprawl - I got to play the SimCity beta last weekend and I'm looking forward to the real release!

- Hackers in China Attacked The Times for Last 4 Months - yikes, cyberwarfare is becoming a thing...

- Republicans' No-Fingerprints Strategy on Gay Marriage - clearly this is just happening in bluish states, but this is still an amazing turnaround from not so long ago!

- Dan and Me: My Coming Out as a Friend of Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A - written by an ardent LGBT activist.

- Sewers, Curfews and a Ban on Gay Bias - or "Tiny Kentucky Town Bans LGBT Discrimination, Defies Stereotypes"

- Disney's Oscar-nominated "Paperman" debuts online - I hadn't seen it before and it's really very good.

- Cute Child of the 90s ad for Internet Explorer

1 comment

Going to India!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2013-01-27 19:05:00
Tags: travel
Words: 93

I'm going to India this week! I'm leaving on Thursday and will be working in Bangalore for two weeks.

I've never been there before, and as such I'm excited and nervous in various proportions depending on my mood. Any travel tips would be greatly appreciated!

I've always enjoyed travelling, but as I get older the downsides are becoming more apparent, mostly the whole more likely to get sick/be exhausted thing. Hoping to avoid that this time around, but with more than 24 hours of travel to get there(!) we'll see how it goes...


Big new promotion for Windows Phone apps: Pointstravaganza!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2012-11-30 21:07:00
Tags: nokia windowsphone
Words: 131

If you've been thinking about writing a Windows Phone app (or already have some in the Windows Phone Store), there's a big new promotion happening in DVLUP!

From now until the end of the year, you can earn 1000 XP for _each_ new WP8 app or game, and an additional 1000 XP for _each_ existing WP7 app or game updated to WP8!

For some perspective: 750 XP will get you a $50 Amazon or Starbucks gift card, or a year of Xbox Live. There are a bunch of other great rewards you can earn - check them out here.

There's more information at the official Pointstravaganza blog post. If you're planning on working on an app, drop me a line - I'd be happy to help or test or whatever I can do!


New Nokia developer program for Windows Phone: DVLUP!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2012-11-08 10:53:00
Tags: nokia windowsphone
Words: 75

I'm happy to announce Nokia's new developer program for Windows Phone: DVLUP!

The program has challenges (i.e. "write an app using geolocation") and other ways to earn points, and you can spend the points on cool swag, or even shiny new hardware! Here, check out the video (it's only 90 seconds):

DVLUP is in private beta right now, but I will have invite codes. Like developing for Windows Phone? Drop me a line at!


Surface review
Mood: excited
Posted on 2012-11-01 21:06:00
Tags: windows reviews
Words: 427

Well, it's been a week since I waited in line for 3 hours to buy a Surface, so it's about time for a review. Unfortunately it's been a busy week so I haven't had as much time to play with it as I would have liked, but here goes:

- The Surface itself feels very solid and light at the same time. I really wish it had wireless charging, but oh well. I've been using it throughout the day and it's been fine on battery life.

- The Touch Cover takes some getting used to (since the keys don't move), but I'm already typing pretty quickly on it - not quite as fast as a real keyboard but much faster than a virtual keyboard. (I'm typing this review on my Surface) I played with a Type Cover at the Microsoft Store today, and while it is a little thicker it felt exactly like typing on a real keyboard, so that might be worth the investment if you're going to be writing novels.

- The kickstand is nice although it would be nice if it could work at different angles. The kickstand itself feels very, very solid.

- The OS itself feels pretty fast and fluid, although some apps are a little laggy. The mail app in particular is really not that great and kinda slow. The store app can be a little laggy too. But overall I've been pretty happy.

- I haven't used the split screen view much, but I'm typing this while watching Netflix which is super awesome! Look here!

- The Windows Store is coming along - it still seems like new apps are being added at a good rate.

- Having Microsoft Office is really pretty handy, even if it's not totally designed for touch. The Skydrive service (Microsoft's version of Dropbox) and app are pretty handy as well.

- I got a free year of Xbox Music, which means I can download and stream a bunch of music for free. The app was acting a little funny earlier, but the idea is pretty cool and the selection is good. The speaker volume is acceptable but I wish it would go 15% louder.

- The Kindle app is fine enough, although following footnotes is surprisingly slow. The screen brightness makes it very pleasant to read on.

So all in all: two thumbs up! The hardware is eye-catching (I went with the cyan Touch Cover) and for the first few days people were stopping by at work to play around with it. I'm looking forward to travelling with it and seeing how it holds up


Exciting Windows Phone stuff: new WP8 features and cheap developer registration! #wp8 #wpdev
Mood: excited
Posted on 2012-10-30 16:16:00
Tags: windowsphone
Words: 100

The official Windows Phone 8 launch was yesterday, but there's some exciting stuff trickling out from the //BUILD conference:

- Here's a good list of new features in Windows Phone 8, and Joe Belfiore showing them off.

- For developers, the SDK is now available, and this post mentions some cool new stuff, including sharing code between Windows 8 and WP8 apps.

- If you're interested in getting into Windows Phone development, drop me a line! Microsoft is offering $8 Dev Center accounts (normally $99), and Nokia is offering a Premium Developer Program which includes some goodies like a license for Telerik RadControls!


I'm the Nokia Developer Ambassador for Austin!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2012-10-24 09:59:00
Tags: nokia windowsphone
Words: 92

Exciting news - I am officially the Nokia Developer Ambassador for Austin!

What does this mean? Well, I'll be even more enthusiastic about Windows Phone (if that's possible!) and getting developers to write Windows Phone apps. I'll be more visible at events, and I'll be writing more about how to develop for Windows Phone.

With Windows Phone 8 right around the corner, together with exciting new devices (like the Lumia 920!), it's a great time to jump on the Windows Phone bandwagon. Contact me at or @gregstoll on Twitter if you're interested!


quick thoughts on Surface pricing
Mood: excited
Posted on 2012-10-16 09:20:00
Tags: windows essay
Words: 279

The pricing for the new Microsoft Surface leaked this morning - supposedly it's $499 for the 32 GB version, $599 for the 64 GB version, and a touch cover will run $119.

First: yes this is just a leak, and I saw some wishful thinking that the leak was on purpose and the real prices will be $100 lower. This seems pretty unlikely given that things leak all the time, and since it's coming out in 10 days someone probably just pressed "Publish" too early.

As a Windows 8 app developer, I wish Microsoft was giving these away for free :-P But I think $499 is a reasonable starting price - you can argue that it's cheaper than the iPad (since the $499 iPad only has 16 GB of storage), but the cheapest one is the same price (although this is ignoring the old iPad 2's that start at $399...and I'm guessing Apple still sells a lot of those?). Of course, that's what the TouchPad started at and that didn't turn out so well, but Microsoft can always cut the price later to juice sales if they want.

And they've already started running commercials, and I think it will get a good amount of press since it's launching with Windows 8.

The touch cover is interesting - my gut reaction was "$119 for a cover??" but then I remembered how awesome it is. Nice that they're featuring it in ads, and I think if people play with one at a Microsoft store they'll understand why it's worth the price.

(for the record, I am totally planning on getting one...probably the 32 GB version with a touch cover. Haven't decided on colors yet :-) )


FlightPredictor gets love as an "airport survival app"!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2012-05-30 10:15:00
Tags: windowsphone projects android
Words: 63

FlightPredictor is number 2 on this list of five airport survival apps! The blurb is nice and specifically calls out the airport maps, which I spent quite a bit of time on. It even lists all the platforms it's available on.

Based on my referer logs, a good number of people are reading the article and clicking through to the FlightPredictor page. Yay!

1 comment

Demoing FlightPredictor at Nokia's Mobile Monday Austin!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2012-04-27 17:13:00
Tags: windowsphone projects
Words: 45

I found out today I'm going to be demoing FlightPredictor at Nokia's Mobile Monday Austin! Very excited about the opportunity...and man I wish I had some Windows Phone business cards to hand out. Oh well!

(if you're in the area, come say hi on Monday!)


links: same-sex union ceremonies in the Episcopal church!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2012-04-27 13:31:00
Tags: gay links
Words: 210

- The Episcopal Church in Texas is going to allow same-sex covenant ceremonies! It sounds like one church in Houston and one in Austin will be allowed to perform them, and St. David's church in downtown Austin is being asked to be the one in Austin. Wow wow wow!

- Most of the brain-training type of games only help you get better at that specific task, but there's some evidence that an N-back test can help short-term memory. My short-term memory stinks...maybe I should try it!

- A good article on ego depletion. (although if you've read the Willpower book, it covered ego depletion more thoroughly)

- IT'S OFFICIAL: Keynes Was Right - strike up the band!

- Might upgrade to the paid version someday - why I limit the trial version of FlightPredictor to adding 6 flights.

- An interesting article about a checklist that seems to be lowering domestic violence in Maryland by prompting the victims to get help. Since 2007, domestic violence homicides there are down 40%!

- 8 Core Beliefs of Extraordinary Bosses - doing my best...

--whimsical links below here--

- This is an extremely trippy story, from a NY standardized test, of all places!

- Steve Jobs' Plan for a Willy Wonka-Style Celebration of the Millionth iMac - I really really really hope this was true. Really!

1 comment

beta links!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2012-03-09 13:25:00
Tags: links
Words: 271

Good crop today! In descending order of personal interestingness:

- 6 Things Rich People Need to Stop Saying - a bit over the top (and NSFW language), but I mostly agree. The one that annoys me the most is when people talk about "punishing success", as if taxes are imposed punitively to piss people off as opposed to, you know, paying for things the government provides. Wait, no, the one that annoys me the most is "If I Can Do It, So Can You!", implying that the only reason rich people are rich is that they're just better/work so much harder than the rest of us. Of course, many rich people did work hard, but so do lots of people that aren't rich and weren't as lucky. Wait...well, they're all pretty good.

- The story of Keep Calm and Carry On - the poster was never actually publicly seen during WWII! Nice short video, though.

- Four Reasons to Root for the Windows Phone - yay Windows Phone! (do yourself a favor and ignore reason #4...)

- A cool visualization of entitlement spending across the US over time, broken down by type. That unemployment insurance view is kind of depressing.

- Looking for new webcomics to read? I am not, but if I were I'd do it through Just the First Frame, which is exactly what it sounds like.

- Pretty charts of where NBA players score the most points from - interesting that there is a "low-point scoring gap" between very close to the basket and further away.

- Amusing ad for

- How I Helped Destroy Star Wars Galaxies - mostly for destroyerj, but I have some fond memories of SWG...

1 comment

FlightPredictor for Windows Phone - looking for beta testers!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2012-03-07 10:04:00
Tags: windowsphone projects
Words: 71

FlightPredictor for Windows Phone is in beta! If you're interested in beta testing it, contact me (twitter/facebook/email me at a comment here) with your Windows Live ID, which I need to give you access to the app. I'll email at that address with instructions on how to get up and going.

It's a good app and I'm proud of it, but with your help I can make it even better!


FlightPredictor for Android was reviewed! (and I respond)
Mood: excited
Posted on 2012-02-15 20:06:00
Tags: projects android
Words: 839

Thanks to the magic of Google Alerts, I saw that FlightPredictor for Android was reviewed by Android Tapp! Excerpts and my comments below:

The app provides some of the basics you would expect, such as the ability to search for flights by either the flight number or by the route information, and you can search up to a day prior and six days ahead. It would be nice to be able to add flights booked further in advance so you have them entered and can forget about them until it’s time to travel, but that’s a minor complaint overall.
Interesting - you should be able to add them 90 days ahead. I noticed she tested it on a Galaxy Tab 10.1, while most of my development was on phone-sized screens, so I'm guessing either she didn't notice that you could scroll the spinner dropdown, or it's somehow broken on the Galaxy Tab.

I do like that you can access overall airport delays in a dedicated screen, so if you just want to take a quick look to get an overall picture of how on time the system is overall, or if there are any major issues you need to be aware of as a traveler, this is a quick and easy way to do it.
Yay! I added this feature mostly just because I thought it was cool.

Where this app separates itself from the flight tracking pack, however, is in the maps. When you travel, most of us will have to spend at least some time wandering around an airport waiting for boarding time. Having the full airport maps at your fingertips, without needing a Wi-Fi connection to access them, is a really, really nice thing. My only complaint is that right now, the maps are limited to a few of the major U.S. airports, although the developer has posted that more are going to be added in time.
Yay again! To be fair, there are more than 30 airports that have maps, so I think this hits almost all of the major US airports. (users: if there are airports you want to see, let me know!)

I did find that occasionally the maps themselves were a bit slow when moving between various sections, but the convenience of having them outweighed the wait.
Interesting - it's using a standard WebView to render the map images (easy way to get panning, zooming, etc.), so I guess it's not too surprising it can be on the slow side.

The app claims to use the Android notification system to let you know about delays, but to be honest, I found this part of the app a bit sketchy. This was the only thing that didn’t work well for me, with the app either not notifying me at all, or notifying me long past when the flight landed and the information was no longer relevant. I had a good network connection, but I can’t rule that out completely, so keep it in mind when you grab this one.
That makes me sad. I thought I tested the notification system a decent amount, but it's hard to test all situations...

Note that the free version allows for six flights before requiring an upgrade, so you should be able to get a good idea of whether it will work for you before you buy.
Woohoo. I'll probably do a similar thing for trial mode in the Windows Phone version.

The interface is very, very simple. It’s a dark background with lighter text, which was occasionally hard to read, especially for some of the links in blue. This is the one area where it feels like it could be a bit more polished and professional, instead of feeling almost like a “my first app” interface. Not to say it doesn’t work well, just that visually, it’s not the most compelling app out there. It does the basics, and that’s it.
Hah! No argument here, honestly. This area is the opposite of my strong suit. Rating

3.45 out of 5 stars

Should you Download FlightPredictor? Overall, this is a solid app that does what it says. I like the addition of the airport maps, but with all the real data coming from FlightCaster, which has an app of its own, I’m not sure this brings a whole lot of extra to the table. It’s a good app, but I wouldn’t call it the best of show, especially since you have to pay to track after six flights. If you’re a frequent traveler, however, this is worth trying out since it does do what it advertises with a minimum of fuss.
Wait - FlightCaster has an Android app of their own? I'm pretty sure that isn't the case, although there are a few other apps that use the FlightCaster API. But they all seemed pretty simple, and I think my app is considerably better than them :-)

Anyway, this whole thing has the feel of the Bluth family cheering over their stock being upgarded to "Risky", but I'm excited anyway!


FlightPredictor for #WP7 - it's getting close!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2012-02-13 22:06:00
Tags: windowsphone projects
Words: 228

I've made a bunch of progress since I last posted about FlightPredictor for WP7. Here's the updated list of "stuff to do before release":

- make it tombstone-safe (i.e. save state when backgrounded) done!
- show airport delays done!
- show airport maps done!
  - will have to download these after app install - figure out how versioning will work! downloading's done, need to implement versioning (but I know how it's gonna work)
- about screen (attribution) mostly done, need to add more help
- settings screen (necessary?) yes, and done
- flight info - add when it was last updated, make sure nothing else is missing - done
- make live tile have an image with status/prediction for its background instead of text - done! and they look good!
- TODOs in code (down to 20 or so) down to ~8
- show airline contact info done
- make reloading flights on main page consistent meh, good enough
- send all flights (email/SMS) done
- make real icons for app nope
- decide what to do about trial version and do it nope, although I have an idea of what to do
- mutex in background agent for communicating? done
(new stuff)
- upload maps to Amazon S3
- prompt when update on Marketplace?
- make "Tap for more info" have accent color

I'm excited that the app is really coming together! Looking forward to starting some beta testing soon - handily, the Windows Phone Marketplace supports it nicely.


First Windows Phone 7 app published!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2012-01-14 11:11:00
Tags: windowsphone projects
Words: 29

My first Windows Phone app has hit the Marketplace! It's a port of PasswordHash for generating passwords from a master password and a domain, and here's the Marketplace page.


Nokia Lumia 800 - probably my next phone
Mood: excited
Posted on 2011-10-26 13:48:00
Tags: palm
Words: 80

Nokia announced the Lumia 800, their new flagship Windows Phone, and it looks pretty sweet. Unfortunately it's not coming to the US until "early next year", but I think I can wait that long.

Why Nokia? Well, they make nice phones, and I have a soft spot for formerly big mobile companies (my first phone was a Nokia!) who have fallen a long way but are now starting over with a new mobile OS. (or: Nokia's Palm moment has arrived)


FlightPredictor HD in the latest webOS app pack!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2011-08-29 13:52:00
Tags: palm palmpre projects
Words: 51

There's a new pack of free webOS apps, and I was pleasantly elated to find that FlightPredictor HD is one of them!

I somewhat jokingly suggested it after the last pack of free apps, but I had no idea they'd consider it and it would make the cut! happy happy happy


FlightPredictor featured in webOS developer newsletter!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2011-05-31 17:46:00
Tags: palm
Words: 4

Here's a screenshot:



Palm TouchPad conference!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2011-04-25 14:00:00
Tags: palm palmpre
Words: 89

"Time… is what keeps everything from happening at once" - Ray Cummings

Time is falling down on the job for me. But, later this week I'm going to Sunnyvale for a HP/Palm TouchPad developer session! Very excited to get to try out my apps on the TouchPad and see how it feels.

The webOS team will be there as well and I'll have a chance to ask them questions. So - anything people want me to ask? (please only questions they can answer, i.e. not "Will the Pre3 be on Sprint?")


links a million
Mood: excited
Posted on 2011-04-19 14:11:00
Tags: links
Words: 119

- Justice is served, but more so after lunch - the more recently the judge has eaten/taken a break, the more likely he/she is to grant parole. We're only human, after all...

- A nice profile of David Eagleman (a Rice alum!) and how the brain measures time. Long (it's the New Yorker, after all :-) ) but worth reading!

- The White House has a "tax receipt" so you can see what your taxes go towards. The top three categories for income taxes are "National Defense", "Health Care", and "Job and Family Security".

- Ignore the customer experience, lose a billion dollars (Walmart case study) - or, why asking people what they want is really unreliable.

Portal 2 is out! Looking forward to playing it tonight...

1 comment

I get spotlighted! (spotlit?)
Mood: excited
Posted on 2011-04-12 09:52:00
Tags: palm
Words: 47

webOSroundup did a developer spotlight with me! It's a great kickoff to my "webOS awareness tour", wherein I'll be driving, busing, and taking the train around the country to spread the good word about webOS!

(one of those sentences is not intended to be a factual statement)


Awesome things we got at the Sherwood Forest Faire
Mood: excited
Posted on 2011-03-27 22:08:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 30

An adorable steampunk penguin! Look at him:
Also, Firefly-themed teas from the Austin Browncoats - specifically Simon and Hands of Blue.

Also, unrelated: a few more random pictures from this month.


New webOS app: State Lines
Mood: excited
Posted on 2011-02-20 20:30:00
Tags: palmpre projects
Words: 93

FlightPredictor, my top-selling webOS app, just sold it's 1000th copy this weekend! To celebrate this milestone, I'm proud to announce:

State Lines, the popular iPhone app, is now available on the Palm App Catalog! An indispensable resource when traveling, it's also fun to browse nearby states and see how their laws differ from yours!

This port was made possible by the good people at Two Steps Beyond and my inability to sleep over the past few weeks. For more exciting developments brought on by the lack of sleep, stay tuned later this week!

1 comment

FlightPredictor featured on palm homepage!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2010-07-15 12:50:00
Tags: palmpre projects
Words: 24

As with LJ for WebOS before it, FlightPredictor is now on the Palm homepage! Screenshot:

(it's the "plane with clock symbol" at the top)


The World Cup starts tomorrow!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2010-06-10 14:25:00
Tags: soccer links
Words: 108

and in its usual awesomeness, the Alamo Drafthouse is showing a bunch of games at Lake Creek and at least the US/England game at the South Lamar location. Tim League (the founder) recently took over as CEO of the Drafthouse, which means cooler events and preshow stuff at Lake Creek, like this!

A comprehensive calendar of World Cup games, organized by team, group, stadium, and date.

A neat visualization of which countries are most successful in the World Cup (hint: Brazil, Germany, Italy)

Personally I'm rooting for the US and Italy, but I picked Argentina to win it all, and I'm just happy to watch some good soccer!

1 comment

happy memorial day!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2010-05-28 11:28:00
Tags: links
Words: 108

Austin news:
- According to Kiplinger, Austin is the best city for the next decade. Yay!

- Parts of Second Street will be renamed for Willie Nelson, who incidentally cut his trademark braids a few days ago. (this made the NPR news :-) )

Other stuff:
- Yesterday the House voted to repeal "Don't Ask Don't Tell", although it still has to be passed by the Senate and the amendment lets the repeal happen after the Pentagon finishes studying it and it's signed off by the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. So...still a ways to go.

- A very bizarre profile of Lady Gaga. Text is NSFWish.


FlightPredictor released!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2010-05-03 10:30:00
Tags: palmpre projects
Words: 61

FlightPredictor, the best way to know ahead of time whether your flight will be delayed, is now available on the Palm App Catalog! Here's the official homepage, and here's a video walkthrough of how FlightPredictor works.

It's powered by, a San Francisco-based startup. Many thanks to them for making their API available and responding to my questions and suggestions quickly!


Palm Developer Day trip: Day 1
Mood: excited
Posted on 2010-04-23 21:01:00
Tags: palm travel
Words: 490

I'm in Sunnyvale, CA for the Palm Developer Day. The story thus far:

When I booked my Alaska Airlines flight on Orbitz, there were only like 2 seats available, so I reluctantly took a middle seat. This morning, I checked in online, and there were suddenly more seats available, so I chose 6F, the only window seat.

Andrew graciously drove me to the airport, and I had grabbed lunch (tacos!) and was sitting by the gate when I heard the gate agent mention to someone else that row 6 was right against the bulkhead. This meant that I wouldn't be able to put my backpack in front of me (since there was no seat), so after a little deliberation, I decided to switch, even if it meant no window seat. So I went up to the agent, and she moved me to 7C, an aisle seat. As I was leaving, she said "Thank you, Mr. Johnson". I paused, but didn't see anything on my new ticket that said "Johnson", so I didn't say anything.

Anyway, we boarded, and two people were assigned seat 6D (aisle seat), one of whom was named Johnson. So the gate agent came on and said that Johnson was supposed to be in 7C, so I got up and sat in first class with another displaced passenger while the gate agent went back to the terminal to try to sort things out. Finally after another 10 minutes she said we could just stay in first class!

I felt a little bad that the whole situation seemed to be my fault, but first class is pretty sweet - cushier seats with more legroom and horizontal room, complementary food and drinks (even alcohol! Shoulda taken advantage...) and a personal entertainment system on which I watched an Arrested Development and a Simpsons, and started The Fantastic Mr. Fox before changing my mind and reading.

Continuing the theme of "Greg makes mistakes at other people's expense", upon arriving in San Jose I called the hotel about their shuttle, and after a moment the clerk told me to just take a cab and they'd reimburse me. Pretty sure I was supposed to schedule the shuttle in advance. Oh well.

After arriving and relaxing a bit, I went out walking in search of dinner and something to take notes in at tomorrow's sessions. Dinner was easy to find (an Afghani place right next to the hotel), but finding a place with a notebook took an hour of walking.

Tomorrow should be fun! I just read on Twitter (search for #palmdev for the latest info) that attendees today got a Palm Pre Plus developer phone, so I'm hopeful I will too :-) The hotel loses points for no WiFi in the rooms (cabled only) but gets some of them back for providing tea bags...

Apologies for the length - maybe I should add support for lj-cuts to LJ for WebOS :-)

Posted via LJ for WebOS.


new external HD, project, life
Mood: excited
Posted on 2010-04-05 13:51:00
Tags: palmpre projects programming
Words: 433

My backup strategy as of last week was to copy the really important stuff onto my 16GB USB thumbdrive relatively frequently, and more infrequently copy everything onto an external hard drive. Feeling rather clever at the time, I bought an enclosure like this, so I could buy a cheaper SATA hard drive and stick it in there and plug it into my computer via USB. Then when I wanted to upgrade drives I could just buy another SATA drive.

This sounded good in theory, and indeed kinda worked, but it was very slow for some reason - copying 200GB over to the drive and then untarring the 200GB file took around 3 days. Because of this I backed up way less often than I should have.

As luck would have it, the SATA drive seemed to die last week, and so after doing a little research I bought a Western Digital Elements USB Hard Drive with 1TB of space for $90. It was easy to get it to mount on Linux, and took less than 24 hours to do the same copying/untarring procedure. And it doesn't look totally cobbled together! So I'd recommended it if you're looking for an easy backup solution. You can also get a version with fancy software and an e-ink label on the outside that was actually kind of tempting.

I've been working for a little while now on my next WebOS app, which is called FlightPredictor. (unless I decide to change the name :-) ) It's an interface to, which can predict airline delays ahead of time and generally has lots of interesting data. (see a sample report) They already have iPhone and BlackBerry apps, so I'm happy to bring a third platform into the mix. (and before Android, even!) I'm just putting the finishing touches on it and incorporating some API changes, but right now the best part is that it does WebOS notifications to let you know when the information has changed so you can always keep on top of things.

The last few weeks have been quite busy, and I'm starting to wear down a bit. Between squeezing any time I can to work on FlightPredictor, plus a lot of yardwork we've been doing (planting a few new trees, making a rock garden), plus the usual weekend errands, plus volunteering at the tax's getting to be a bit much. Hopefully things may quiet down soon but it's conceivable we/I'll start flaking on things to stay sane...

Baseball season has started! Here's a handy map to what parts of the country root for which teams. Go Astros!


First picture with new camera!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2010-03-23 10:42:00
Tags: pictures house
Words: 42

...and it's of our new tree! I just set the camera to auto and it did a pretty good job in the darkness:

There are more new pictures in that gallery, too. Coming soon - a picture of the tree after being planted :-)


LJ for WebOS featured on palm homepage!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2010-03-16 17:22:00
Tags: lj for webos palmpre projects
Words: 20

LJ for WebOS is currently being featured on the Palm homepage! (it's the lower right of the 3x3 grid)



Heavy Rain review (no spoilers)
Mood: excited
Posted on 2010-03-01 10:23:00
Tags: reviews games
Words: 568

We picked up Heavy Rain on Tuesday (its launch day) and passed it on Sunday, which marks a personal record for passing a game, mostly because we don't buy many games on launch day :-) I liked it a lot - here's ars technica's spoiler-free review, and my thoughts are below.

The environment of the game is really striking. In the first scene you're at home on a nice day in a beautiful house, and although it was pretty clear the game wasn't going to be this way for very long, the calmness and beautiful music really hooked me early. (waiting for the soundtrack to come out...) Some have complained that the game takes a few hours to really get going, but I enjoyed even those first few hours.

The game itself is like an "interactive movie", in that there are a lot of cut scenes and a lot of "quicktime events" (i.e. "press X to do this action, and you better do it fast"). While I find quicktime events annoying in small doses, when used consistently throughout the game it made me feel a lot more engaged.

The control scheme is pretty interesting, too - it has you use the right analog stick for a lot of actions, some of which are ridiculously mundane. Different gestures are used at different times to do different things, so you don't have to remember them, but they always feel at least somewhat natural (pressing right and then clockwise to turn a door handle). These aren't usually too challenging, but again it contributes to the "I'm making this happen" feel.

The way you walk is sadly, a bit annoying - I consistently had trouble getting my characters going in the right direction, especially in close quarters where the view kept shifting. This wasn't too bad except for one scene in particular where I had to move fast...

You have choices throughout the game, and these choices affect how the story plays out. For a while, I was a little in disbelief about this, since I'm used to games forcing you to make the "right" choice, but after chatting with others playing the game I would often find that they had done something different, and something happened differently later. There are whole scenes that I haven't seen because of the choices I made. Handily, the game allows you to go back to any scene and play it again, either while saving changes (so you can continue the story from there) or just to see how that scene plays out if you make another choice. Now I'm eager to watch other people play to see what they do differently and how their story turns out.

The game is rated M and definitely earns it, especially for its dark storyline. This makes me glad we still have companies like Sony and Microsoft willing to publish more "adult" games - I can't imagine a game like this ever showing up on a Nintendo console.

Anyway, if you're a fan of games I'd definitely recommend picking up a copy and supporting an original game that tells a story and does a good job of it.

As an annoying epilogue, last night when Andrew was trying to play, some weird Playstation firmware bug (that seems to only affect the older "fat" PS3's) made it not launch, which is pretty terrible. Not Heavy Rain's fault, but here's hoping it gets fixed real soon.


The snow is sticking!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2010-02-23 10:06:00
Tags: pictures snow
Words: 5

Posted via LJ for WebOS.


budget numbers and LOST day!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2010-02-02 15:06:00
Tags: links
Words: 62

Obama released his proposed 2011 budget - here's a neat graphic showing the differences from the 2010 budget broken down by department. Here's a breakdown of the various stimulus bills - these aren't new but I still found it interesting.

LOST Season 6 premieres tonight! A bunch of LOST links to celebrate, including Michael Emerson (Ben) reading "Little Boy Blue" in a creepy way.


a few LOST links
Mood: excited
Music: Muse - "MK Ultra"
Posted on 2010-01-29 14:22:00
Tags: lost
Words: 64

Lost premiere is Tuesday! Wheeee!

Haven't been keeping up, or want a refresher? Here's a 8:15 recap of Seasons 1-5...blah, no direct link, but it's near the bottom of this article.

Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune did a 10,000 word interview with Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, the executive producers. Here's part 1 which is definitely worth reading (no spoilers for Season 6).


my first WebOS app published!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2009-12-16 16:49:00
Tags: palmpre programming
Words: 235

PasswordHash is now officially available on the Palm App Catalog! After some initial hiccups I was able to install it to my Pre and it works just fine. Hopefully my other app will be approved soon...

Speaking of my Pre, I had been having some problems with it lately - it thought that headphones were plugged in to the headphone jack all the time, and so I couldn't listen to music or use the phone except on speakerphone, which got annoying pretty quickly. I tried some internet-suggested remedies that worked for a little while, but this weekend even those stopped working, so I took it in to Sprint to see what they could do.

I dropped my phone off at the nearest Sprint service center, got lunch and returned to have them tell me I'd be shipped a new phone and it would probably arrive the next day. And they let me keep my phone in the meantime (and ship it back when the new phone arrived). Lo and behold, yesterday it arrived, today I took it in to be activated, and it seems to work like a charm. After being careful not to nuke my existing backup (not actually sure if this is a problem anymore, but better safe than sorry!), it transferred over my contacts, apps I had installed, and even bookmarks! So +1 for Palm and Sprint for taking care of the problem.


craving HDL
Mood: excited
Posted on 2009-06-18 09:31:00
Tags: health work
Words: 91

I had a physical yesterday, and like last time my HDL is still low. (it's 28...somethings and normal is 40...somethings) The good news is that my triglycerides and LDL were normal this time. Oh, and I need to lose some weight, which I already knew.

I got my results on a nice little sheet with the normal values and what I could do (non-medicationwise) to improve the values. On literally every measure, the first two items were "Lose weight" and "Exercise more". Um, great.

Also, I moved at work today! Exciting.

1 comment

I am the law!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2009-05-08 17:03:00
Tags: essay jury
Words: 2228

I recently got called for jury duty and served! My incredibly long story within...

The summons said to be there at 1:30 - parking was terrible to find given I wasn't sure about whether I'd be able to feed the meter (they only go for 2 hours and I was short on change anyway), so I ended up parking 8 blocks away in an expensive garage. That kinda sucked.

As I walked in I had to go through a metal detector/X-ray thingy. The security guard (who looked a lot like Dr. Kelso on Scrubs) told me I should get a man-purse since I had so much crap in my pockets :-)

In the criminal justice center, they had a lot of airport-like screens all over the place listing names, times, and cause numbers. I never did figure out exactly what the deal was - I figured they'd be cases being heard, but for example the court I was in had a list of 10 or so people for that day, and as far as I can tell the court never did anything with them. The cause number included the year - about 80% of them were 08, most of the rest were 07, and there were a few outliers like 94.

26 people had been called for Voir dire - I think all ended up showing up. I was #6, which I figured meant I had a pretty decent chance of getting chosen.

After we lined up and sat down, the judge talked to us for a few minutes about the process, which I was already somewhat familiar with (see previous jury experience). He said the court was misdemeanor court and the case should be done by Friday.

Then the prosecutor got up and started. (interestingly, or perhaps not, both prosecutors and defense attorneys were women, as were the bailiff and court reporter) Her name was Ms. Trumm, and she said she had taught high school before getting a chance to get to law school for free (she made it sound like it just happened out of the blue, and we never heard anything else about it) and ended up wanting to work in the "women & children" (words mine, not hers) department...but she was just starting out so she was doing this instead :-) She was quite young and she seemed a bit nervous. She had a powerpoint presentation that covered a lot of the same stuff as I had seen the last time - if you don't believe in judging people or in the one-witness rule, etc., this isn't the right case for you.

She also said the crime was a DWI, and although they weren't allowed to discuss the facts of the case, it was pretty clear that there was video evidence but no breathalyzer test.

The defense attorney seemed better organized (she also had a powerpoint presentation) and she asked a series of questions that we had to answer on a scale of 1 to 6 (1 = strongly agree, 6 = strongly disagree). Some of the questions were "Do you trust a police officer more than a citizen just because he/she is a police officer?" (hint: the correct answer is no; under the law, you're allowed to take into account the officer's experience and training, but not the fact that he's a police officer) and "The police never make a mistake." Anyway, her partner was writing down all of our numerical answers which was kinda neat.

It was pretty obvious some people near me were going to be disqualified - the woman whose husband is a firefighter (and so sees lots of DWI crashes), the guy who had been in a house that was raided by the Austin Police and then they realized it was a wrong address, etc. I had a feeling from my answers that I would be picked, and lo and behold I was juror #3. The judge dismissed everyone else and the bailiff showed us to the jury room (which was not as awesome as the judge last time had led us to believe :-) ) - it had a table, some chairs, a fridge and sink and a TV with a VCR/DVD player. The judge told us to report here at 9 AM the next morning and instructed us not to talk to anyone about the case.

The next morning, I dropped David off at NI at 8 to make sure I had plenty of time to get downtown and park. This time, I had a parking pass which made things a lot easier - found a spot two blocks away and walked in. Arrived around 8:30 and had some time to chat with the other jurors (who all ended up being pretty nice) and try to not fall asleep.

Then the bailiff brought us in to the court (one of the jurors showed up late so we didn't enter until around 9:30). The judge swore us in and then the opening arguments began. The prosecutor went first (it was neat when she said "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury" and she was totally talking to me!), and she again seemed somewhat nervous, but explaining that we would see a videotape of the defendant clearly intoxicated. "Intoxicated" according to the law means that they've lost "normal" use of their physical or mental faculties as a result of alcohol or a drug or some combination of alcohol and drugs. (or it means a BAC above .08, but that didn't come into play here since the defendant refused a breathalyzer test) She finished up by saying something like "After seeing all the evidence, I think you'll find the defendant not guilty...I mean guilty." The defense's opening argument was more polished, and outlined their plan: the defendant was tired, and not a bright guy who didn't understand the tests that the officer performed that we would see in the video.

The prosecutor called her first (and only) witness, who was the officer who made the stop. Actually, she called the witness, then left the courtroom for a good 90 seconds before returning with the officer. It was somewhat anticlimactic. Anyway, turns out the defendant had run a stop sign and the cop had to slam on the brakes to avoid him, then he did a traffic stop and did the field sobriety test. Luckily, APD has video cameras on all their cop cars so we could see the defendant doing the tests. As it turned out, the defendant only spoke Spanish - the cop spoke Spanish too but there were some translation issues that came up later...

The first test is to follow a pen with your eyes while keeping your head still. The defendant had a big problem with this - he kept saying that he was tired and wasn't used to doing this sort of thing so he kept moving his head (at least according to the police officer - the video was zoomed out enough we couldn't see very clearly). The second test is to walk nine steps forward heel to toe while watching your feet and keeping your arms at your side. This was somewhat bizarre - he clearly was having trouble understanding and took a few steps asking the officer if he was doing it right. Then he did nine steps pretty good and then took nine steps backwards, without turning around. Apparently in Spanish the phrase for "nine steps back" and "nine steps backwards" are pretty much the same, although the officer demonstrated so I'm not sure what the deal was.

The third test was to stand one one leg with the other leg raised six inches off the ground and hold that for thirty seconds (counting "one thousand one, one thousand two..."). Obviously there was a misunderstanding again, because he lifted his leg, counted "one thousand one", then stepped forward, lifted his other leg, and counted "one thousand two" in a Pink Panther-esque walk.

Anyway, we got to watch this in court, as well as a court-appointed transcription/translation to English. At one point, the prosecutor asked a question, the defense attorney objected but the officer answered anyway, which made the judge kinda peeved.

It was interesting to watch how they had to introduce something into evidence: the process was ask the judge to approach, show the evidence to the court reporter, ask the witness to describe what it was, then bring it to the other attorney to see if she had any objections. At one point she did but didn't want to talk about it with us around, so we got led back to the jury room while they hashed things out.

The whole process was pretty interesting: it felt kind of odd that obviously all the lawyers were very prepared and such and their audience was us: six basically random people off the street. I guess that's how the system's supposed to work, though. It was kind of awkward at times - we saw them outside of court once or twice and they didn't say a word to us - in fact, they'd often look away to ensure nothing improper happened :-)

Wording was clearly important to both of them: the prosecutor always used the term "field sobriety test" while the defense almost always said "coordination exercises" or "government test". In fact, the defense called the prosecutor the "government attorney" a few times, which the prosecutor actually pointed out in her closing argument!

The closing arguments were pretty short - interestingly, the prosecutor went first, then the defense, and then the prosecutor again, which the judge justified by saying the state "had the burden of proof", which is of course true but seemed a bit off to me. Then (right around 5:00) we retired to the jury room - the judge said to let them know in 30 minutes or so if they wanted them to order dinner for us.

At this point I had gone back and forth about the case a lot - the defendant had definitely failed some of the sobriety tests, but it did seem possible that he just didn't understand some parts of them, and on some parts he did do pretty well. Of course, he also ran a stop sign. Upon entering the room, I asked who wanted to be the presiding juror (i.e. the foreman/woman) to which there was 5 seconds of silence and the guy next to me said "the first one who says something". So, yes, I did become the presiding juror, which I was kinda excited about.

I wanted to take a straw poll at the beginning, but other people wanted to talk for a bit first, so we went over the evidence and quickly decided we wanted to watch the tape again, so I submitted a request for that to the bailiff. We watched it and talked again and realized we were going to be there for a while so we had them order pizza and soda for us (thanks, Austin taxpayers!) At some point we took a straw poll and the results were: 3 not guilty, 2 (including me) guilty, and 1 undecided.

Pizza came and we ate and chatted some more. The discussion got a little heated at times - the guy next to me, who was the other "guilty" vote, was prone to making inflammatory statements which pissed others off, and the guy next to him had a flair for the dramatic and brought up totally irrelevant points. ("What if he's an illegal immigrant?" Well, we don't know that, and if he is or isn't, so what?)

Eventually I came around and decided that, while he was probably drunk and definitely shouldn't have been driving, there was enough doubt that met the burden of "reasonable", so I switched to "not guilty", and at 7:20 PM the last holdout also changed his mind. (turns out he used to work crazy night shifts and often drove tired) I signed the "not guilty" line of the charge, we filed back into the court, and the judge asked me if we had reached a verdict, to which I replied "we have, your honor" which was awesome :-) He then read the verdict (without asking me if it was correct!) and then thanked us for our service.

He then said that we were free to talk about the case (or not if we didn't want to) and that the lawyers were usually interested in talking to the jury. So I hung around and talked to them, which was pretty cool. They said they usually tried to pick who they thought the presiding juror would be but guessed the guy next to me, although they did say that I seemed to be enjoying the experience (guilty as charged!). We talked about what we discussed in the jury room and why we eventually voted not guilty, although it was a close case. On the way out I chatted with another lawyer who explained that in voir dire, they only get 3 peremptory strikes of potential jurors - all the other strikes have to be "for cause" (i.e. if both sides or at least the judge agrees there's a possible bias).

Anyway, the whole thing was a fun experience, even though I had a ton of work to do, and I definitely hope to do it again some time, even though there were long stretches of boredom and I was tired most of the day. I felt proud to be part of the legal system :-)


gay marriage in iowa!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2009-04-03 09:12:00
Tags: gay politics
Words: 108

See here! And it was unanimous!

Also, regarding the possibility of a constitutional amendment forbidding same-sex marriage (like Prop 8 in California):

Lobbying began immediately for lawmakers to launch the long process of a constitutional amendment to define marriage as only between a man and a woman.
No such legislation will be approved this session in the Iowa Senate, McCoy said. Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal won’t allow it, he said.

Such an amendment requires the votes of a simple majority in both the Iowa House and Iowa Senate in two consecutive sessions, followed by a passing vote of the people of Iowa.
(from this article, emphasis mine)


Exciting news from Rice!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2009-04-01 10:26:00
Words: 483

I just saw the following email from David Leebron:

Dear Rice community,

Rice faces a changing world in its second century, and we must embrace the
challenges of the years ahead not as individuals but as a community. Recent
events have shown us that our future leaders will have to be concerned
with the human element of the future, as well as the technological. It is
for this reason that we have elected to move forward in our negotiations
with the Baylor College of Medicine. We believe, and feel confident, that
timely action will better allow us to prepare our students for the challenges
ahead. It is thus with great pride, and with the backing of the Board of
Trustees, that I announce to you our great institution's merger with the
Baylor College of Medicine.

In addition to this important milestone in Rice's history, an addendum has
been made to Rice's Vision for the Second Century. Although Rice has long
been known for--and indeed committed to--providing quality education for
tomorrow's scientists and engineers, we must continually look to the future
in order to stay at the forefront of higher education. It is for this
reason that a plan has been introduced whereby Rice University will
transform, gradually taking upon itself another identity. As the global
demands for healthcare continue to grow, we've chosen to make medicinal
studies a priority--a priority that, unfortunately, requires sacrifice in
other areas.

Although the details have not been finalized, a five-year plan has been
approved by the Board of Trustees whereby the current undergraduate
engineering curriculum will be gradually phased out to make room for
promising medical fields. Our hope is that a focus on medicine will attract
a host of creative, intelligent undergraduates to the Rice Premedical
Institute. The plan also calls for modifications within other departments
to emphasize this new direction. Although some might view these changes
with resentment, we strongly believe that such changes are necessary if
Rice's Vision for the Second Century is to be successful.

As is to be expected, the recent economic crisis has lent an urgency to
Rice's planned changes. History has shown that maintaining competitive
undergraduate programs in uncertain times is both financially risky and
ethically impure. As demand for certain fields wanes, it is our responsibility
as an institution of higher learning to ensure that Rice students study
within areas that not only show promise but also are financially viable.
As always, Rice will continue to adapt and grow as global demands shift.

Thank you for the suggestions and insight that have helped shape our
decisions so far. We continue to welcome your ideas going forward and
sincerely appreciate your understanding and cooperation in this matter.

With regards,

David W. Leebron

I think this is great news for the university - dropping the undergraduate engineering curriculum to establish a world-class medical program seems like a good bargain to me!


Mood: excited
Posted on 2009-03-31 13:14:00
Tags: links
Words: 236

- Texas Senate approves drunken-driving crackdowns - I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, a checkpoint where you stop everyone who's driving and make them take a sobriety test seems pretty authoritarian. Admittedly it's only allowed for four hours a day and there are loads of exceptions, but I was pretty surprised to learn it's legal in 39 other states. On the other hand, 1300 people die in Texas each year (well, in 2007 anyone) because of alcohol-related crashes.

- This Austin Energy power-generation game is pretty interesting. (although the sound is annoying and there's no way to turn it off) Drives home how expensive solar power is - yikes!

- On Square Miles - that's a pretty big difference. (and I remember djedi mentioning the editorial on Sunday...)

- GM's Problems are 50 Years in the Making - fivethirtyeight is still going strong! The important stat is that GM pays $7 billion a year (from 1993-2007) in retiree pension and health care. And GM has never made more than $10 billion profit in a year. This sounds almost like a Ponzi scheme - the company does great at the beginning because it's deferring all these costs (and so can pay its workers less), but boy does it suck for them now.

- Lead Blizzard Dev Outlines 9 WoW Quest Problems - interesting points. And I never do that stupid Green Hills of Stranglethorn quest unless djedi gathers the pages for me :-)

1 comment

The Daily Show and Colbert Report firing on all cylinders
Mood: excited
Music: Smashing Pumpkins - "The Beginning Is The End Is The Beginning"
Posted on 2009-03-05 13:29:00
Tags: politics links
Words: 205

Last night was a prototypical example of these shows doing what they do best. Here's The Daily Show finding an assortment of clips from CNBC showing just how wrong they were (and why perhaps being self-righteous about homeowners who bought big houses is hypocritical):

Good stuff. (although presumably some people knew they were buying houses that were too expensive for them, but it's unfair to tar everyone that way)

And here's The Colbert Report talking about a Glenn Beck recurring segment - here he sets them up:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c

and here he knocks them down!

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c

Seeing Watchmen tonight! Very excited!


Mood: excited
Posted on 2009-01-16 10:11:00
Tags: whereslunch programming
Words: 122

I've been working on for a while now, and I've finished everything I thought I'd need to release it. But I'd really appreciate any feedback y'all have about how to make it better before I do that :-) Please give it a shot!

Some things that might have changed since you last used it:
- Fully supports IE7 and IE6
- You can edit tags on restaurants you create
- There's a small FAQ
- less buggy!

Also under the category of "things I wrote", I'd like to make my ThumbnailCopy extension for Firefox public (so anyone can download it, rather than having to be logged in), but it needs more reviews before they'll do that. So if that's your kind of thing, I'd appreciate it!


Texas Bowl was awesome!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2008-12-31 14:13:00
Tags: pictures travel essay
Words: 477


That was a lot of fun! We got to the game early and walked to the stadium (avoiding the $20 parking), got some food and sat in our seats. We were literally four rows away from the field, at the 35 yard line. Visibility would have been better had we been a bit higher up, but being that close to the field was pretty fun. Reliant Stadium is huge!

I haven't watched a Rice football game since I graduated, as far as I can remember, so the team was very different. When I was there it was a lot of running, and a pass play almost qualified as a trick play because they happened so rarely. Rice ended up running a decent amount, but their passing game was stellar. Chase Clement (their senior QB) is quite good - he ran for Rice's first touchdown and threw for a few as well. He was good at avoiding the pass rush too - on one particularly nice touchdown throw he did a neat little turn to throw off the rusher and had plenty of time to step and throw.

Jarrett Dillard (Rice's All-American WR) was pretty amazing too - he made some nice catches (my dad says he has a 42" vertical leap!). James Casey sometimes lined up at tight end, sometimes at fullback, and he returned punts and was the holder for the field goal kicker :-)

Rice tried a few trick plays including a flea flicker (QB hands off to the fullback who takes a few steps, tosses it back to the QB who then throws a long pass) which didn't work, and a reverse followed by an attempted pass which would have worked but it was a bad throw. One that did work was with four wide receivers lined up on the left, Clement quickly threw to Dillard and then took off to the right. Dillard took a few steps, stopped and threw it to Clement who waltzed in to the end zone. It was awesome :-)

Here's the game recap - it was never close at all (Rice won 38-14 but went up 38-0 and then started taking out first-string players). The downside was that it wasn't that exciting per se, but it was nice the coach got to take out Clement and Dillard to a standing ovation.

The stadium was reasonably full and there were unsurprisingly a lot of Rice fans, including NI's former VP of R&D who I ran into. We got some good cheers going and stuff :-) I went with my dad and sister (not wonderjess, the other one who refuses to get a LJ account...) and had a lot of fun! Got to use my new camera for the first time and it performed well - took a lot of good pictures that I'll post when I figure out how to download them...

Edit: pictures now up!


The Real Change Exchange!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2008-12-12 10:05:00
Tags: dollarcoins
Words: 61

The truck where I fell in love with the $1 coins and got a free T-shirt to boot is going to be around this weekend! Per their ad in the paper:

Today: 2-8:30 at Gateway Shopping Center (9607 Research Blvd)
Tomorrow: 10-6 at Barton Creek Square (2901 S. Capital of Texas Hwy.)
Sunday: 12-6 at Lakeline Mall (11200 Lakeline Mall Dr.)


$1 coins!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2008-12-07 13:52:00
Tags: dollarcoins
Words: 95

This afternoon we went to the Arboretum Barnes & Noble to do some Christmas shopping. As we pulled up and walked there from the parking lot, there was some music blaring from a truck or something. It turns out the US Mint was there promoting the 1 dollar coins! For real.

Of course I had to check it out. They had four people and a bunch of shirts and they said I could get a shirt if I traded in a $20 for 20 dollar coins! So I did, and here's why dollar coins are awesome!


happy election day!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2008-11-04 09:39:00
Tags: politics
Words: 115

and one last time, VOTE! Even if you're not in a battleground state, there are downticket races that matter, and the popular vote margin matters, and you'll feel good about yourself.

I should have taken today off and worked for Obama or Larry Joe or someone. Oh well. Maybe next go-round...

Nate's top 10 reasons exit polls are useless

I really think Obama's gonna win and we'll look back on this as an historic election, unlike the disappointing 2004. For a look back in catchphrase form, there's This. Fucking. Election. I barely remember some of this stuff - it was so long ago!

Finally, here's Big Bad John (who will probably win today) one last time:

1 comment

see? no reason to panic
Mood: excited
Posted on 2008-09-19 22:45:00
Tags: politics
Words: 8

Obama now 71.5% to win according to

1 comment

Batman in IMAX?
Mood: excited
Posted on 2008-07-28 09:00:00
Tags: movies
Words: 21

Anyone interested in seeing Batman in IMAX (at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum) next Monday (August 4) at 6:30?


Happy WWDC day!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2008-06-09 09:09:00
Words: 3

I can't wait!


gay marriage in california!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2008-05-15 12:21:00
Tags: politics
Words: 7

California Supreme Court Overturns Gay Marriage Ban


post-WoW doldrums
Mood: excited
Posted on 2008-05-13 10:09:00
Tags: math projects worldofwarcraft
Words: 147

seem nonexistent. (anyone know a good antonym for "doldrums"?) Last night we bought some exciting new books, I bought GTA IV, got a graduation present for my sister, and committed to working on my new project. (calculating the probability of satisfying target cards in the game of Target)

It seems that my computer is under attack from a botnet. I pretty frequently get ssh requests coming from wildly different IP addresses trying out a dictionary list of user names. I'm not too worried about them guessing a username/password combo but the fact that they're hitting my box in general is a little scary. I've started turning off ssh at night but I do use it occasionally during the day...

things younger than mccain

If you're in to electoral predictions (for the general election), is a godsend. Probabilities that each candidate will win each state, cartograms, graphs...


super smash bros. brawl
Mood: excited
Posted on 2008-03-09 12:08:00
Tags: smashbros wii
Words: 1



TX voting information
Mood: excited
Posted on 2008-02-22 13:25:00
Tags: politics
Words: 179

So, early voting is going on already for the Texas primaries. Here's a PDF voting guide from the League of Women Voters of Texas, a nonpartisan group. These are endorsements from the Austin Chronicle and from the Stonewall Democrats. (if someone has a concise link to Austin American-Statesman endorsements, I'd be much obliged) Here are the early voting locations in Travis County - we're gonna vote at Highland Mall tonight.

Now, the tricky part is that Texas has both a primary (which determines 126 delegates) and a caucus (which determines 67 delegates). Yes, this is crazy. There's more information here but the gist of it is, there will be a caucus at your polling location (find your polling location here) at 7:15 on March 4. It's not like the Iowa caucuses as I understand - you just have to show up and vote again. Here's some more information about the caucus. So be sure to show up and then you get to vote twice! (if someone could explain to me why we have this crazy system I'd be happy to learn)

1 comment

tgif? I dunno
Mood: excited
Posted on 2008-02-15 13:39:00
Words: 206

I played ultimate frisbee last night for the first time in 2 years or so. Wasn't planning on going since I wasn't feeling my best (although much better than previous days), but they needed 1-2 more people so I gave in. It turns out I can still throw a frisbee and I'm still out of shape, as expected :-) It was fun and a good workout. (even if I did a lot of walking near the end...)

Here's a big Guild Wars irritation: when you go out of a town into the world, and do a quest, and the last step of the quest is to return the people to the town. If you mistakenly walk inside the town before the quest "completes" you lose all your progress and have to start over. (one time we sat around for like a minute before it completed, last night the people to return were following me and djedi was a little ahead and so entered the city before they got to the right spot) This sucks, and I can think of two or three ways to fix it off the top of my head.

I cannot stop being excited about Smash Bros! March 9th can't come soon enough!


smash bros.
Mood: excited
Posted on 2008-02-05 23:07:00
Tags: smashbros wii
Words: 56

I have looked into the future and lo, it is good, and takes a while to relearn controls for the Wiimote, and there is lots of Japanese. Final Smashes are lots of fun and good but not game-breaking, Captain Olimar is fun to play. All is well.

Up watching Super Tuesday results. Having fun! Kinda wired.

1 comment

Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Mood: excited
Music: new Smash Bros theme music
Posted on 2008-01-31 16:56:00
Tags: smashbros wii
Words: 15

Raise your hand if you absolutely can't wait for the new Smash Bros.

*raises hand*


puzzle pictures
Mood: excited
Posted on 2008-01-23 14:55:00
Tags: phone pictures projects work
Words: 266

I took pictures of the latest puzzles we've completed, whereby "we" I mean "David, Miriam, and sometimes me". The last two were taken with my new phone, which is why the color is pretty messed up. (I tried to fix it in iPhoto but I may have just made things worse) So: having a camera with me at all times: pretty neat, but I'll stick to the real camera when it's available.

Speaking of the new phone, it's pretty neat! The screen is much nicer than my old one, and it's my first clamshell phone, which I think I like. It has pretty good web access, although my one big complaint is that it doesn't let apps access the network, which means that I have to use the kinda crappy web version of Google Maps instead of the super awesome one(*) that runs on the phone.

I got my car's oil changed today, which revealed that the rat that used to live(**) in our garage was gnawing on my air filter. Luckily it didn't gnaw all the way through; I don't know what implications that would have, but I can't imagine they're good.

Work is going really well today - between that and a new project at home(***), I am really peppy!

(*) - I've never seen or used said version so it may not be super awesome.
(**) - "used to" because we haven't seen any signs of it in a while, so it seems likely it's gone. We're moving out soon anyway. Whee!
(***) - which I will post of the results of hopefully tomorrow. Thanks to destroyerj for the idea...


last links of 2007!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2007-12-31 15:40:00
Tags: links
Words: 26

Minesweeper: The Movie - this is awesome. Just awesome.

The HDMI cable scam - I was just grousing about this at Fry's a few weeks ago! Digital > analog...

1 comment

Theorycrafting: upgrades from Kara
Mood: excited
Posted on 2007-10-18 11:31:00
Tags: math theorycraft worldofwarcraft
Words: 181

Since my last set of calculations, I've gotten a lot of upgrades, and so I'm wondering what's left out of Kara that I want. Here's an updated list (including all gear from Kara since it's basically on farm status), using my mage DPS calculator:

DPS after changing one piece of gear
GearDPS vs lvl 73(boss)/DPS vs lvl 70
Brooch of Unquenchable Fury (Moroes)688.3/700.6
Shadow-Cloak of Dalaran (Moroes)687.7/703.4
Nethershard Girdle (Moroes)681.1/706.5
Staff of Infinite Mysteries (Curator)694.1/717.0
Malefic Girdle (Illhoof)686.2/711.8
The Lightning Capacitor (Illhoof)someday I'll figure it out
Tirisfal Wand of Ascendancy (Shade)691.5/701.0
Adornment of Stolen Souls (Prince)685.6/706.5
Nathrezim Mindblade (Prince)715.0/739.8
Ruby Drape of the Mysticant (Prince)695.4/700.9

It's kind of a bummer that I can't get the two biggest upgrades (one's a 2 handed staff and the other's a dagger), but the good news is that I had forgotten about the Nathrezim Mindblade which is the biggest upgrade out there. And we downed Curator last night but not Prince, so there's still hope for me!


Mario Strikers Charged friend code:
Mood: excited
Posted on 2007-07-31 19:10:00
Tags: wii
Words: 8

416718 540068
Feel free to respond with yours!


pretty pictures!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2007-07-16 13:46:00
Tags: microresolution
Words: 111

So the project I mentioned is basically a web version of Pretty Pictures with Genetic Algorithms. (the final comp314 project) It mostly works - I need to fix it for IE, write it up and add the ability to load genotypes into a current generation, but I'm hoping I can do that tonight or tomorrow. I'm excited - the project turned out well and it's fun to play with :-) The only downside is that rendering large images is kind of slow...the backend script that draws them is done in Python, so I could probably speed it up by rewriting in C++ or D or something.

Haven't been much in an LJing mood lately.


epic flying mount!!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2007-06-20 09:07:00
Tags: ljbackup baseball rice worldofwarcraft
Words: 200

With the help of djedi, I bought my epic flying mount last night! (big screenshot of required money) It, in a word, is awesome. I will have to see about getting one of the cooler looking ones (right now it's green) but it is super fast.

One of the advantages of putting my sample LJ backup online (created with LJBackup</shamelessPlug>), besides the neat statistics, is that when people do searches and click through I get to see it. Like, I'm one of only two results on Google for "homer 3d" "fermat's last theorem" (the search leads to here), which someone clicked through to last night. Oddly enough, Google doesn't find the original LJ post...

Rice plays NC State today (and tomorrow, if necessary) at 2PM Eastern - if they win one of these games, they advance to the championship series! Go Owls!

Also, LiveJournal will be selling permanent accounts starting Friday for one week. They cost $150 and you're a permanent member for life (like being a paid member but you get more space and userpics). I considered it but I think I'm going to pass for now. (the last permanent account sale was in 2005 so they're pretty rare)


vi, ngrams, hats
Mood: excited
Posted on 2007-05-18 09:42:00
Tags: vi ngrams
Words: 378

I found this great article on why vi is so awesome yesterday, which includes some handy tips that I didn't know. (my vi-fu is not particularly strong, although I do use it a lot) On the same site there's a wonderful graphical cheat sheet that I now have at my fingertips. (literally!)

Here's the first little applications using the Wikipedia n-grams - a simple interface to count the number of times a word shows up. Problems: it doesn't work in IE (sigh...I'll fix it soonish) and there's no progress indicator, so wait a minute after clicking "Submit". Edit: also, there are some crazy results: "zi" (1841) is more common than "carrie" (1361). Another sigh.

So there's this neat hat problem that's been making the rounds. n people (who are allowed to discuss strategy beforehand) each have either a red or blue hat put on (so you can see the other n-1 hats but not your own). Then, without communicating and simultaneously, each has to guess what color their hat is, or decline to guess. If at least one person guesses and all guesses are right, they all win; otherwise, they all lose. Here's an article that describes the problem and the optimal solution for 3 people. Apparently there are very good solutions for 2^n-1 people (3, 7, 15, ...), but the solution for 7 people, say, is way less elegant than the one for 3.

A coworker and I were talking about this problem yesterday and how to find the optimal solution. For the n person problem, a strategy for one person can be described in 2^(n-1) characters of "R" (guess red), "B" (guess blue), "N" (don't guess), since this covers all the cases of the hats that person can see. So, a complete strategy is 2^(n-1)*n such characters. It's pretty clear how to evaluate what percentage of the time a strategy will work (just try all 2^n possibilities), so if the number of strategies (3^(2^(n-1)*n)) is small enough you could just try everything. For the 7 people case this works out to 5.6*10^213 strategies - clearly too many! But you could use a genetic algorithm to breed solutions together based on their fitness.

So anyway, I may take a break from n-grams to code up some stuff relating to this.


new heroes tonight!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2007-04-23 15:22:00
Tags: heroes
Words: 18

It's about time!
Recap of what everyone's up to (I have a terrible memory!)
Cute article about Hiro


happy birthday to meeee
Mood: excited
Posted on 2007-04-20 09:39:00
Tags: movies congressvotes
Words: 164

Yay, I'm 25! I get a discount on my car insurance (I think at least), and I can rent a car without any problems! Also a perfect square, and the smallest hypotenuse squared in a Pythagorean triple. And (25 mod 10)^2 = 25. I think I'll stop now.

I hope I never get blasé about my birthday. I love special occasions! Tonight we're gonna eat at Copeland's (note to self: eat small lunch) and maybe see a movie. Hot Fuzz opens today, made by the same people who did Shaun of the Dead which I really liked, so we might go for that :-)

I joined Facebook yesterday, which probably makes me user #1 billion or something. It seems neat enough.

Article about long commutes and why people do it. Yikes!

Last night I worked on congressvotes and it's almost ready to go! The weirdest problem I had was that in most votes "Yea" and "Nay" are used, but some use "Aye" and "No", confusingly enough.


Mood: excited
Posted on 2007-04-13 15:14:00
Words: 44

It has been a long week in terms of stressfulness. I can't wait for the weekend, to relax and go flying around the Outlands :-)

A story about a kid's first day as a NY Yankees batboy - this story really brightened my afternoon. (via kottke)


new project: congress ratings
Mood: excited
Posted on 2007-03-19 18:48:00
Tags: haskell projects programming congressvotes
Words: 421

So my next project is fun and neat. I can't remember how exactly I got here, but I noticed that all roll-call votes in congress are accessable in a handy XML format (Here's an example vote - note that the page you see is that XML file after being processed with an XSLT stylesheet, so you'll have to hit View Source to see the raw data). My idea (a little vague at this point) is to take all of the votes, and then figure out which issues I care about and which way I would have voted, and then "rate" representatives as to how closely their votes align with mine. This is a little grand in scope.

Anyway, it took me a while to get HaXml (a Haskell XML parser) installed, because I kept not being able to compile it from source for various stupid reasons. Anyway, I finally figured out that it was in fact in Debian in the libghc6-haxml-dev package, which made my life about 5 times easier.

So I saved a sample vote and have it parsing and I'm extracting simple data from it, which is exciting! I have a few questions, though: does anyone know the answer to these?

- I have these two functions:

nothing :: Maybe a -> Bool
nothing Nothing = True
nothing (Just _) = False

findElementContent :: String -> Content -> Maybe Element
findElementContent target (CElem el) = findElement target el
findElementContent target _ = Nothing

findElementContents :: String -> [Content] -> Maybe Element
findElementContents _ [] = Nothing
findElementContents target (c:cs) = if (nothing (findElementContent target c))
then findElementContents target cs
else findElementContent target c

findElementContent takes in a target tag and some data (Content), and returns the element that has that tag name if it exists, and Nothing otherwise. (findElementContents is just a helper function to do the same thing with a list of Content) But findElementContents looks pretty ugly to me - what I want it to do is return findElementContent target c if that isn't Nothing, and otherwise recur on the rest of the list. The code is correct, but is it inefficient since I'm calling findElementContent target c twice? My limited understanding says no, since findElementContent is referentially transparent since it doesn't use monads (i.e. if you call it again with the same inputs it will return the same thing, always), but I'm not entirely clear on this.

- As I mentioned, findElementContents seems a little inelegant - is there a better way to do this? Is there some builtin nothing that I couldn't find?

Resources I've been using:
- HaXml reference
- standard library reference, including the Prelude


Life imitating xkcd
Mood: excited
Posted on 2007-02-08 16:19:00
Tags: xkcd
Words: 9



I so want to solve this problem!


Public service announcements
Mood: excited
Posted on 2007-01-29 08:55:00
Tags: wedding
Words: 185

(or, "If everyone knew these things I think the world would be a slightly better place")

1) Some airports these days have cell phone lots, which is a convenient place to wait in one's car for the person you're picking up to call you. This way you don't have to circle the airport endlessly if you get there early (wasting gas and clogging up traffic), nor pay for parking. BWI has one, as does IAH in Houston. A short article with a comparison of some cell phone lots.

2) There is a one-time tax credit available this year (for overpayment of that federal excise tax that's been on your phone bill for forever). You don't have to itemize or provide receipts, just take the IRS standard amount. Info from the IRS site - don't miss out on an easy $30!

The wedding this weekend went well - it was a lot of work and I was totally exhausted by the end of it, but no major mishaps or anything like that. I have pictures that I'll put up before the end of the century.

Also, I'm engaged!


Mood: excited
Music: The Slip - "Airplane/Primitive"
Posted on 2007-01-22 10:04:00
Tags: music snow
Words: 131

It finally snowed here!! Started falling around 3 yesterday and continued until dark. We went outside for a few minutes and played in it. It was really pretty :-) No work cancellation, but some school districts did today. The drive in to work was fine, albeit a little slower than usual.

I'd like to get holiday pictures up soon, but I'm not sure it's gonna happen.

I feel borderline ridiculous about this, since they were hot in the 90s and I missed them completely, but I really like Radiohead. "OK Computer" is awesome and I might just pick up "The Bends" per y'all's recommendation. This weekend I bought a CD by The Slip ("Even Rats" was a bonus track on Guitar Hero 1 that I loved) and so far it's sounding good.


David Beckham to play in US!!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2007-01-11 11:49:00
Tags: soccer microresolution
Words: 32

Holy crap! I gotta get me some DC United tickets this season!

My microresolution from last time was a success! It's nice to occasionally see that I have some willpower.

David Beckham!


Wii story
Mood: excited
Posted on 2006-12-08 15:57:00
Tags: wii
Words: 860

Our story begins earlier in the week. In my usual calls to local stores, two different EB Games said they were scheduled to get more Wii's in Thursday or Friday. This was exciting news! Yesterday I drove out to a few of them around noon (which is when they said their shipments usually come in) and neither one of them had gotten them. So today was to be the day!

Anyway, I figured I'd take some time off to be sure I was there. I arrived at the closest EB Games at 11:30 and there were the Wiis! And people standing around, buying them! It took me a few minutes to realize that they all had numbers, and the store guy confirmed that they had received nine, and nine numbers had been given out, so I was out of luck.

Well, crap. I was pretty unhappy at this, what with the excitement of driving there and then the letdown. I called the other EB Games I had talked to earlier in the week, and they had gotten a shipment but it had sold out. (I later heard people at that store were waiting in line at 8 AM to get their number...)

So, I decided to head up to Arundel Mills (very large mall), since I knew there were an EB Games and a Gamestop around there somewhere. Stopped by a Circuit City on the way, no dice.

Decided that the most likely places for these stores would be in the mall proper (there are lots of strip malls surrounding the actual mall, but I had driven by those before and not seen either of them), so I parked and went in. Only been there once before, and that was for a movie, so I didn't really know where I was going. Pretty quickly I stumbled across the EB Games. They had received a shipment today, but they too had sold out of them.

I was feeling angry now about this whole affair. Not that it was anyone's fault, but man it was frustrating. So I grabbed a map and found where the Gamestop was. The mall is set up like a big racetrack and I decided to take the long way around to walk off some anger (and to see the rest of the mall). Lots of stores there - stopped in the Best Buy on the way, but no Wii.

Well, I finally arrive at the Gamestop and they haven't received their daily shipment yet! The guy said it usually came in around noon, and it was like 11:50 now so I decided to hang around. Gamestop and EB Games are now owned by the same company, so the odds of there being Wii's on the shipment seemed pretty good. While I waited, I deposited my driver's license and credit card to get a Wii controller to play with the demo unit. The demo unit had a demo of Zelda, which I hadn't seen before so I thought I'd give it a shot. When I walked up to the unit, the guy next to me (at the PS3 demo unit) expressed surprise that I got the controller. (I guess he didn't realize you could ask for it at the counter) He said he was waiting for a Wii as well, and he had gotten a number earlier.

Oh. Crap. That's not a good sign. So I went back up to the counter, and (after the counter guy got off the phone) asked if they were giving out numbers for Wii's. He gave me a bit of a furtive glance and said that they were, but to keep it to myself. (I guess he didn't want a big rush of people or something) And he hands me the number 8! Since the last place had nine, I thought my odds were good.

Anyway, to pass the time I played some Zelda. Took me a minute or so to get used to the controls, but man they're pretty cool. Was still figuring things out when the UPS guy came in with a big dolly of stuff. My excitement level is through the roof at this point! So a line forms for the counter and after a minute I figure I should get in it, just in case. Talked with the woman in front of me (who had number 1! She said she had gotten there when it opened at 9 to get it...) while we waited, and lo and behold, when I got to the front I got my very own Wii! (they had gotten in 15 units, I think)

So, I can't wait to play it tonight. And I'll post my friend code so people can friend me and share their Miis and stuff. Woohoo!

Sidenote: it is very cold here. There were supposed to be isolated snow flurries last night but I didn't see any when I checked a few times. The low tonight is 20 degrees! A few days ago I noticed that, even after we got in the car (parked in a parking garage!) to go to work, djedi and I could still see our breaths. Yikes!


Mood: excited
Posted on 2006-11-07 08:23:00
Tags: ljbackup projects
Words: 180

Vote today!!

Thanks a lot for y'all's comments on my post yesterday! I've decided to work on the LJ backup thing. For some reason I sorta half-started on it a while ago and was convinced that it was going to be really hard. Last night I spent most of the evening coding (djedi wanted to make sure I was actually enjoying myself and not just doing it because I felt I needed to be working, but I really do enjoy coding, especially at the beginning of a project!) and got to the point where I can fetch all comments to all of my posts and I can fetch my posts, so that's a lot of the hard part. I'm even displaying it decently, although I need to work on comment threading and prettification and such. I can even do neat statistics - 43 people have ever commented on my journal! (42 real users, 1 generic anonymous user)

Since I have to wait at home this afternoon for the cable people to come, I'm hoping on getting more stuff done as well :-)


on the leaderboard!!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2006-10-19 19:15:00
Tags: netflixprize
Words: 29

So I submitted my last entry and it got an RMSE of .9748!! (which is better than on the probe set) So I'm on the leaderboard! (look for teamgreg!)


netflix progress!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2006-10-16 18:40:00
Tags: netflixprize
Words: 170

(one downside of this netflix prize work is that my computer is heavily bogged down most of the time, so I don't get to check LJ, etc. as much as I'd like to...)

Breakthrough! So I've been working on some movie-based correlation ways of predicting ratings (if movie A is "like" movie B, and user U likes movie A then she'll probably like movie B). After some tweaking, I got some probe data to have an RMSE of 0.981815, which is just barely off the leaderboard (although the real data will be slightly different, so maybe I'll make it on!) I just finished computing the correlation scores for the real data (took about 24 hours of computer time) and tonight (after WoW) I'll start doing the ratings for them, so I might be able to submit as early as tomorrow.

I have some ideas of what to try next, but it's nice to see that I'm definitely making progress. It would be awesome if I were on the leaderboard again :-)


netflix prize away!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2006-10-03 09:09:00
Tags: netflixprize programming
Words: 162

Sunday I was feeling a little down, mostly because I didn't have a project to be working on and none of the ones I had on my long-term radar sounded very interesting (or possible). The very next day Netflix announced the Netflix prize, which is basically a competition to improve their suggestions engine (i.e. if you liked movie X and Y you'll probably like movie Z but not movie W). And they're releasing 700M worth of data to train on. I think I'll work on that next!

Since the amount of data is so massive, I decided to work in C++ instead of Ruby or Python - I'm a little worried about keeping all the data structures in memory, but we'll see how that goes. I got some basic parsing of the data done and hope to submit a very basic entry soon! (you can submit an entry once a week and it will score it to let you know how you're doing)

1 comment

world o' stuff
Mood: excited
Posted on 2006-08-31 21:21:00
Tags: moving pictures
Words: 103

As djedi mentioned, our stuff is here! I'm sitting in a chair now, which is very exciting!

Anyway, I took some time while the movers were hauling in our stuff to put up pictures from our move.

We bought an S-Video cable today. On the package, it says

For hook-up of a DVD player with an S-Video connection; carries video signal over two discreet paths

So, the misspelling of "discrete" is pretty funny in and of itself. But what does it mean, even without the misspelling? "Discrete" is the opposite of "continuous" (right?), so...what? It carries a signal over one path...anyway, I'm confused.


Greetings from the most anti-gay state in the nation!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2006-08-26 21:13:00
Tags: moving travel
Words: 650

Ah, Roanoke, Virginia. So nice to end up in such a nice nice hotel as this. There's a nice whirpool with rotating lights (and two mirrors), big flat screen tv, and the place is huge. Will put up pictures when we get there :-)

So, the first two days: fairly successful in terms of driving. Today, not so much. Since things had gone well we decided to stick with the plan of the Blue Ridge Parkway. First problem - I-40 near the North Carolina border was down to 45 mph (fairly curvy road - it was in a national park, so makes sense). But we stuck with it and took it over to the parkway. Now, the speed limit on the parkway is 45 mph the whole way, which we hadn't realized. Also, the drive is kinda scary if you go 45 mph - there are tight turns, especially with changing altitude (think roller coaster!) Finally, for some reason they let bikers go on the road (it's one lane both directions with absolutely no shoulder, and usually the trees are very close to the road). Now I'm sure it's an awesome (but tough!) ride with the scenery, but this is seriously dangerous because you have to either slow to a low speed to stay behind them or try to pass them quickly, which is scary because the road is fairly narrow and on a lot of the turns you're lucky if you can see a second in front of you. So that was scary.

Having said that, the view was absolutely gorgeous - we switched off drivers so we could both see the scenery. There are lots of overlooks where you can stop and take pictures, which I did :-)

So originally in my mind we were going to take the Blue Ridge Parkway the whole way to Roanoke, then spend the night in Charlottesville (another 120 miles). This was right out, because the 45 mph speed limit meant we would get there at like, oh, 3 am or something. (don't forget, we changed timezones which cost an hour as well) So we took the first "exit" off of the parkway (which were few and far between - I was a bit worried about running out of gas!) and decided to take some roads to get back to I-81. Apparently "state road" in North Carolina means "nice mountainous road where speed limits are 35 mph for long stretches of time", so this took for freakin' ever. Finally we were going to stop before Roanoke in Wytheville, but the hotels I called were all full up, so we bit the bullet and drove to Roanoke, where we are now. Yesterday we averaged 58 mph for the day, including stops (500 miles in 8.5 hours) - today it was 45 mph (500 miles in 11 hours) which makes a huuuge difference.

Luckily tomorrow's drive will only be around 300 miles so we don't have to get up early or anything.

Last night we watched The Break-Up while in the whirlpool. The movie ordering system was weird - you had to tune the TV to channel 2, then pick up the phone and press the "movie" button (which was on a box also tapped in to the phone line), then use the remote to select the movie, then swipe a credit card through the box to pay for it. Seems unnecessarily complicated...

Random bits:
- This morning right before we checked out, a guy in the hall said "so, you're from Texas" (I was wearing my Texas ARML shirt). I said yeah and he asked where my Kinky for Governor bumper sticker was. I was surprised to hear this in Tennessee :-)
- At lunch today (Subway for the third lunch in a row!) the girl making my sandwich said I looked like George from Grey's Anatomy (which I haven't seen). After looking at the picture, I guess I can see a resemblance...

Columbia tomorrow!


more world cupiness
Mood: excited
Posted on 2006-06-12 15:05:00
Words: 132

So destroyerj and I watched the Iran v. Mexico match at the Alamo Drafthouse on Sunday - admission is free (presumably for legal reasons), and it was a lot of fun! The picture quality was pretty good (HD content looks fine on a movie screen), and it was just a neat environment. I could have done with more people (around 15 at the start, around 30 by the end), but it was cool. Apparently Austin soccer fans are more partial to Mexico than Iran, btw :-) (Mexico won 3-1)

US lost today 3-0 to the Czech Republic - the Czech's are a good team, but the US did not play well at all. They play Italy at 1:30 Austin time on Saturday...

Also, Rice is two innings away from going to the College World Series!


How 'bout that local sports team?
Mood: excited
Posted on 2006-06-10 21:35:00
Words: 548

So, wow. My sports day has been quite exciting.

I got up early to watch the England-Paraguay World Cup match (which started at 8 am). Luckily I TiVoed it, since I didn't start watching until 8:15 or so. I just get settled in, and bam! England scores (well, technically it was an own-goal on Paraguay, but it came off of such a beautiful free kick by David Beckham (yes, he bent it like himself) that it might have gone in anyway. After that exciting start, the rest of the game was fairly lackluster. England won 1-0, but didn't look like a great team.

After that, I watched the Sweden-Trinidad & Tobago match. This is Trinidad & Tobago's first World Cup ever, and nobody gives them a chance (Sweden's odds of winning are 44ish:1 - T&T's is something like 2000:1). Also, their starting goalie got hurt in warmups, so their backup keeper played the hole game. And what a game he played! He was tested quite a few times and came up admirably. Oh, and a T&T player got his second yellow card at the start of the second half, so they played basically the whole second half down a man. And they still pulled out a 0-0 tie, which they rightfully celebrated. For some reason I like a sport where a team can legitimately cheer a 0-0 game :-)

After the pride festival, we went rock climbing. It was fun but tiring and hard on the muscles! I climbed my first section pretty well and then waited up there for a while before I could convince my body that pushing myself backwards to fall was really the right thing to do. Climbed another wall and a half before my arms gave out on me...

Then I had root beer at NxNW. Yeah, not sports related, but that was seriously good root beer!

Then I came back here and was planning on watching the Rice-Oklahoma baseball game. Unfortunately, ESPN2 was carrying a different game, so I turned it off for a while. When I turned it back on, Alabama was ahead of North Carolina 4-2 in the middle of the 7th inning (I decided to root for North Carolina because they weren't ranked while Alabama was - make it more fun for me to cheer for someone :-) ). In the bottom of the 8th, North Carolina got a 3 run homer and later a double to take the lead 6-4. Then, in the top of the 9th, Alabama got a runner on base because of a throwing error. After a walk and a strikeout, they got a 3 run homer to go up 7-6! So now it's the bottom of the 9th. North Carolina gets an out, a walk, a stolen base and a strikeout. And with two outs, the same guy who hit a homer in the bottom of the 8th hits a walk off homer and North Carolina wins 8-7. What a game! (also Rice won 10-4 - yay!)

And if you think I'm going to miss the Mexico-Iran game tomorrow morning, you're sadly mistaken. It's irritating that I can't watch any of the games during the week since they're during the day, so I better make the most of the weekends. And they're both good teams so it should be a good game!


weekend, everybody's working for the
Mood: excited
Music: University of Rochester Midnight Ramblers - "Mr. Brightside"
Posted on 2006-04-28 15:35:00
Tags: links
Words: 91

What a crazy crazy crazy week.

White House press corps member asks Air Force One to change TV's from Fox to CNN - hehe. It's also amusing because it's an article on :-)

House Speaker Hastert gets out of a hydrogen car and back into his SUV a few blocks away from hold a press conference talking about high gas prices. Classy!

That's about it, I guess. Checking in code today that I've been working on for almost a month (yay!). Backwards compatibility is sweet for users and a pain for developers...


it's my birthday!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2006-04-20 10:04:00
Tags: birthday
Words: 134

Today's a little busy, so I'll cut to the chase - it's my birthday! I don't have time for deep birthday ruminations, but I'll do some quick hits:

- 24 is a good number! It's 4!, and the name of a fun math card game (as mentioned in Wikipedia!). And an interesting-looking TV show that I've only seen half an episode of.

- 25 will be even better - discounts on car insurance ahoy!

- I'm declaring myself not newly out of college anymore. Which makes me something of which I'm not entirely sure. (although I wish random people I meet would stop assuming I'm still in school at UT!)

- I don't know where I'll be next birthday, so that's exciting.

- djedi's dissertation is today! (also, I get cookie cake!)

- Chunky bacon!

Well, that's all I've got, I guess.


1,440 minutes
Mood: excited
Posted on 2006-03-02 10:15:00
Tags: dreams
Words: 328

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday I woke up cranky and not having slept well because of computer issues. Work was frustrating (doing lots of boring stuff) and I was unfocused and unproductive. Robolab was fine (fewer kids make it easier!), and tax center was slow and boring, plus I had a headache that kept getting worse. I got home and worked on my computer to upgrade software for about two hours, before going to bed, still with a headache. (although I finally did get most of the stuff on my computer working - haven't tried the new X server, though, which was the point of upgrading)

Last night I slept really well, and I'm feeling great this morning, although I still have a lingering mini-headache. I'm optimistic about stuff, and I have new exciting things to work on at work. Hooray!

I woke up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, and I was right in the middle of a dream including djedi and destroyerj. I thought, "Hmm, I should set up something so I can email people the morning after they were in my dream, with a brief synopsis of the dream and their role in it. And in the same email, I could include the application to be in the next night's dream!" This was a bit crazy for me even at 4 AM, which I quickly realized :-)

Of the two dreams I remember last night, both involved elevators. I've always been a little scared of elevators, but I haven't had a problem with it in real life in a long time, so maybe that's why they keep showing up? Mostly nothing goes wrong in the elevators, but they're always weird in some way - the one I remember from last night destroyerj was pulling on some sort of pulley or something to move it, and it could move horizontally as well. They're usually weird enough to make me uneasy in the dream...


Hook 'em Horns!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2006-01-05 10:14:00
Words: 192

Yay Texas! Very exciting Rose Bowl, all in all. I can't help but feel sorry for Reggie Bush for his ill-advised lateral attempt in the first half - that's a rookie mistake that one can only chalk up to nerves. And I did like the USC call to go for it on 4th and 2 at midfield when they're up by 5 with 2 minutes left - their offense had been rocking, and so had Texas's, so they were looking for any way to keep it out of their hands. Also, Vince Young is a hoss.

Lego is releasing a new version of Mindstorms that's powered by...wait for it...LabVIEW! There's also a long story in Wired about it that also mentions NI. I'm excited and can't wait for it to come out in August!

Futurama is maybe coming back - I'll believe it when I see it, but this does look promising.

I took a sick afternoon yesterday and hopefully won't have to do the same today - I think I have a small cold that's got me a little down, although the previous three paragraphs did excite me. Woohoo!

Hee hee...Arrested Development strikes again.


at the hotel!!
Mood: excited
Music: nothing at the moment
Posted on 2005-05-30 18:19:00
Tags: disneyworld
Words: 217

Wow, this freaking rocks! We made it to Orlando (Florida's bigger than I thought, especially the part that we had to go through) and we're in our room now, and this place has free Internet access included through the TV (and this wireless keyboard that's mostly accurate...) Yippee! Very nice hotel (I'd post a link, but I can't open another tab or anything to find it) - very nice and open lobby, and the room has a nice view of...well, something. It's technically on the Disney grounds but our room doesn't face that way. Oh well!

The drive was pretty good today - we took I-10 to I-75 to Florida's turnpike to I-4. I felt the need to say that for some reason. *shrug*

We'll probably chill out in the room for a while (and enjoy not being in a car for a bit!) and then explore the hotel some (there's supposedly an exercise room and game room downstairs somewhere) and grab dinner. We're planning on going to Epcot and MGM Studios tomorrow, although there's a 70% chance of rain irritatingly enough. But that should be fun, regardless. Looking forward to it (and the chance to get some good pictures!)

Oh, and blamantin gets a shoutout for transcribing my last entry - thanks!

Dinner soon, mmm, I'm hungry. Bye now!


leaving soon!
Mood: excited
Music: happy music (IMH)
Posted on 2005-05-27 16:20:00
Words: 99

So vacation is almost upon us! (where us=people going on vacation) I'm in a good mood because work went really well today, better than it has in at least a few weeks. And I'm excited about vacation!

For people who can't get enough Homestar Runner, here's a Homestar Runner Wiki I stumbled upon - has all the toons and lots of inside info. Good if you're looking for some time to kill.

CNN:DeLay angered by 'Law & Order' mention - hahaha!

That is all. Have a good Memorial Day weekend, and I'll be back in a week and a few days!

1 comment

Birthday post!
Mood: excited
Music: Evita - "Peron's Latest Flame"
Posted on 2005-04-20 12:55:00
Words: 159

The song I'm listening to isn't very nice. But it is catchy!

It's my birthday! Although April 20th and the 19th often have bad things happen on them (Hitler's birth, Rodney King riots started, the Branch Davidians standoff ends and the compound burns to the ground, Oklahoma City bombing, Columbine school shooting), everything seems OK this year. And it's George Takei's birthday, too (thanks, Wikipedia)!

So we have a new pope, Pope Benedict XVI. I wish him the best, but I'm not terribly optimistic about anything changing in the church - Cardinal Ratzinger was in charge of doctrine under John Paul II, and he labeled homosexuality "an intrinsic moral evil." But, you never know, and I was surprised to see today that he's interested in continuing the reforms of Vatican II. So, um, we'll see.

Going out to dinner tonight (steak!), and then the whole presents thing. Probably will just spend the rest of the evening at home with djedi.


good beer-bike jack
Mood: excited
Music: FFX-2 music
Posted on 2005-03-31 23:05:00
Words: 57

So every year Rice has Beer-Bike, and during the week before (Willy Week), the residential colleges "jack" each other (mess with them in a not too destructive manner).

Someone from Wiess put Martel up on eBay! The eBay page is here, and I've included an image below for posterity (since eBay is bound to shut it down...)

Martel on eBay


this is awesome!
Mood: excited
Music: Blue Oyster Cult - "Burnin' for You"
Posted on 2005-03-24 13:05:00
Words: 54

These flickr photos are very very cool. These people took pictures of the stuff behind their monitor and used it as a background image, so they look transparent. (but words can't do it justice, check it out!) (thanks to Engadget)

I had a breakthrough at work, so this will be a good day. Yay!

1 comment

tax volunteering
Mood: excited
Music: Vanessa Carlton - "White Houses"
Posted on 2005-03-04 14:14:00
Tags: taxcenter
Words: 306

It's Friday! Yay! And Barbara's coming down to visit, which should be fun.

Anyway, David and I have been volunteering at a community tax center ( where we do people's taxes and file them for free. It's a really neat service, and I've learned a lot about the tax code. Some random thoughts that I've had about it:

Um, that's mostly it. Anyway, it's good stuff.

1 comment

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