Posts with mood pensive (12)

Mere Christianity: on morality
Mood: pensive
Posted on 2014-01-30 23:18:00
Tags: essay
Words: 212

I recently reread Mere Christianity and I had forgotten how much good/interesting stuff is in it. (also in it: stuff I disagree with!)

One point in particular that struck me this time around is his thoughts on morality. (specifically Christian morality, but this point has relatively little to do with Christianity per se) He says that if someone has a psychological condition that makes them deathly afraid of cats, the act of facing that person's fear and picking up the cat may show more courage than a healthy man who wins the Victoria Cross. (word of advice: don't search for "Victoria Cross") Conversely, someone who can appear quite nice may be that way only because of their heredity/upbringing and has never tried to be nice, and you should be judged on what you have done for yourself, not what you were born with.

Reading that made me think: Hey, I do this to myself! (in a bad way) I'm a pretty patient person most of the time, and I can feel unduly proud of that. Two things:
- I'm probably not as patient as I imagine myself to be, given rose-colored glasses and all that
- But more importantly, I'm mostly patient by temperament - it's not really something that I've worked particularly hard at.


a dream, Steve Jobs, and some armchair psychoanalysis
Mood: pensive
Posted on 2011-10-20 10:23:00
Tags: dreams essay projects
Words: 320

I spent most of last night working on FlightPredictor for Android. I was happy to be working on it (paying off some technical debt!) but a little dismayed as I looked through the code and realized how much there was left to do that I had conveniently forgotten about. It's coming along though, probably about 65% done. (pending any new issues that come up when I test on a real device)


Then I had a dream about Steve Jobs. (maybe brought on by the Apple tribute website I visited yesterday?) Jobs had already died, but I was back in time somehow the day before, and he was answering questions in a town meeting of sorts. I don't remember the other questions, but when he called on me I just said "Thank you", and he looked back at me with sadness on his face. He knew that he was going to die the next day.

I left the meeting (maybe it was the next day) and sat down outside, and was overcome with tears for a while. Then I woke up, feeling sad and being a little creeped out.


One of the reasons Steve Jobs was so good at what he did is that he was (from what I've read) is that he was insanely dedicated. I don't know about his family life, but he clearly devoted much of his time to Apple. I think last night I was feeling guilty that I don't have more time to work on my non-work programming projects, and there are definitely times where I have a very strong urge to create something. (actually, these days most of my non-work time I feel like "accomplishing something", whether it be finishing a book, writing a review, etc., etc.)

But I need to back off a bit, because I don't want my projects to consume my life. And I need to learn to be OK with that.


What do I want out of app development?
Mood: pensive
Posted on 2011-08-30 23:10:00
Tags: essay palmpre projects
Words: 443

As I mentioned happily, FlightPredictor HD was chosen in the latest six-pack of free webOS apps. So when I looked at the sales reports for that day, the results were...impressive. I feel weird throwing out numbers, but the total I got from that promo is more than I've earned, total, since I started webOS app development in 2009. It's nowhere near life-changing money but it's more than I expected, especially since I didn't have an inkling on Sunday that it would be featured at all!

Anyway, it's a good opportunity to step back a little and remind myself why I'm doing app development and what my goals are.
- Money: Well, the money's definitely nice. I have no illusions about making enough to replace my day job - even on iOS it's tough to do, and requires a lot of luck (as I understand it). I'm pretty happy as long as I'm making enough to subsidize purchases of webOS hardware, accessories, and the occasional trip to meet webOS folks and learn stuff. With this latest boost, I'm set on that front for a good while.
- Satisfaction: I still get a jolt when I think about people deciding to spend their own money on one of my apps...especially if they like it afterwards! 5 star app reviews and especially emails are very very fulfilling to me. Obviously this promo didn't do a whole lot to further this since the purchases were on HP's dime, but I did get a few good reviews and nice emails.
- Craftsmanship: I like creating things that are high-quality, and that I enjoy using myself. Almost all of my apps fall into this category for me, and most of them were created to "scratch my own itch".
- Programming: Closely related: I like programming, as you can see by the list of random stuff I've done. Some days the high I get from creating something and turning an idea into reality is almost intoxicating.

I like my day job a lot, and I think writing apps full-time would be exciting at first, but after a while I'd be about as happy as I am now - certainly the novelty would wear off! (and not having a fixed salary would stress me out, I'd imagine)

Anyway, that's been on my mind, and I find that writing up my thoughts usually helps organize and clarify them. So...there you go!

(programming note: I actually have some links queued up, but it felt like that was all I posted to LJ, so I wanted to back off a bit. And then this webOS thing blew up and now _that's_ all I post about. So...links tomorrow, unless I forget :-) )


Why gays should come out at work
Mood: pensive
Posted on 2011-07-01 16:32:00
Tags: essay gay work
Words: 262

David sent me a link to Why gays should come out at work and I almost broke my neck from the vigorous agreeing that followed.

When I started at NI in 2003, David in I weren't out in general, and so I was naturally closeted at work. This was isolating - people asked if I was single or not, and so I said I was single. And then when people asked what was I had been up to last weekend, I would have to leave out things or outright lie.

It probably doesn't sound like a big deal, but it was very uncomfortable at the time, and made me feel dishonest because, well, I was being dishonest!

Even after we did come out to friends and "the world", I felt like it was weird to come out to coworkers, like I'd be making too big a deal out of it. (and I was still fairly uncomfortable with it myself) So I continued to be closeted at work until I left the company in 2006.

Of course, the reason I left the company was that David got a job in Maryland. I wanted to be clear to my coworkers that that's why I was leaving, not because I was unhappy at NI or anything. So I ended up coming out at a group meeting and saying I was leaving. It was fairly terrifying at the time, although everyone was supportive.

Since then, I've been out at all of my jobs and everything's been fine. I even have a picture of David on my desk :-)


the weekend, non-summarizingly
Mood: pensive
Posted on 2008-04-28 13:46:00
Tags: essay
Words: 625

I'm trying to move away from the "here's what I did this weekend" style of post because it's usually pretty boring to write so I'd imagine it's even more boring to read.

Instead, some interesting stories from this weekend! (note: stories may or may not be interesting, and are superseded (yes, it's spelled correctly even though it doesn't look right) by local laws)

- We were visiting my folks in Houston to celebrate my birthday, and hung out at the International Festival for a while. We saw the Mario Kart Wii promotional tour and I got a Mario Kart drivers license! (picture to come) We also saw more Bob Marley paraphernalia than you would believe.

- Saturday night we went out to the Rice Philharmonics CD release concert. I didn't make the connection before we got there that it was also their last concert of the year, which made it kind of sad (as with high school, the thing I miss most from college is the group I was singing with). It also drove home the point that I know no one in the Phils anymore, which isn't a surprise but still feels weird.

It also reminded me that I enjoy singing in concerts much much more than I enjoy going to them as a spectator. This seems vaguely hypocritical to me but I'm not sure that it is. Singing is much more fun than...listening, I guess.

- Speaking of singing, I sang in church Sunday and although my "stamina" wasn't back, at least my voice sounded normal and it didn't hurt. Finally my week-long throat thing is gone, whatever it was, and I'll be OK to audition for ASMC in two weeks. Although I need to pick a song first. Ack.

- On the way back we wanted to get some more of that delicious St. Arnold's root beer. The hours on the website were kind of unclear, so we stopped by and there were lots of cars in the parking lot. We walked in and the doors were unlocked but no one was at the front desk, so we kept on walking. Before we got to the brewery area (where they usually sell the root beer) we could hear a guy talking on a microphone, and it sounded like some sort of company meeting.

This was a little intimidating, but dammit if we don't make it out there much and we wanted root beer so I opened the door and stuck my head in. The guy with the microphone was standing just to my left and acknowledged me, saying "Come in!". I was really close to doing so before realizing this would be a big mistake - I'd be sort of awkwardly trapped there with a bunch of employees. So instead I said jovially, "Oh, no, I just wanted to buy some beer". The guy said back that unfortunately they legally couldn't sell beer (stupid blue laws) and I said, stupidly, "oh, I meant root beer". Just then a woman came over to help me and we walked back towards the front desk to pay and stuff. I heard the guy on the microphone say "well, we're not going to turn down a sale!" and everyone laugh.

Best part: on our way out she said "Let me just lock this front door..." :-)

- Last week I was going to praise our new Lady Americana mattress and how it's so ridiculously comfortable and awesome. Unfortunately it means that sleeping on my old mattress at home apparently does some bad things to my back because it's been pretty painful the last few days. Hopefully a few more nights on our super-bed will cure it, but I'm not thrilled with my back turning into a mattress snob after only a few weeks.


Mood: pensive
Posted on 2007-03-14 08:09:00
Tags: haskell programming
Words: 289

So it's been a little while since I've learned a new language, and I keep hearing rumblings about Haskell ( really loves it). So I started to read A Gentle Introduction to Haskell, I haven't done deep functional stuff since college, and I made it about halfway through before my brain up and revolted.

It has a lot of neat features that you would expect in a functional language, and it has the neat Prologish way of defining functions by pattern matching. For example, here's my first Haskell program!

leng [] = 0
leng (_:xs) = 1 + leng xs

main = print (leng ['a','b','c'])

This is defining a function leng ("length" is built in to the standard library) that returns the length of a list. Note that you don't say what to do to calculate the length, exactly, you specify that the length of an empty list is 0, and the length of any other list is 1 plus the length of the rest of the list.

It took me a while to figure out the exact syntax to define this, but I finally did and compiled it with the Glasgow Haskell Compiler (ghc). It took 6 seconds, which seems like a really long time for something so simple. Maybe there's a fixed amount of overhead or something. And the resulting executable was 370KB!! I'm guessing this is because it compiles it to a binary executable, which I wasn't expecting, so you don't get the benefit of an interpreter. It runs instantly, as you would expect.

Anyway, I'll keep reading and thinking what would be a good project to do in it. I/O looked weird, but that was about when my brain shut down yesterday so maybe I'll start there today...


crunch, crunch, crunch (data)
Mood: pensive
Posted on 2006-10-18 09:35:00
Tags: netflixprize
Words: 287

So the Netflix Prize just changed a rule - now instead of only being able to submit once a week (see my earlier screwup), starting tomorrow you can submit once a day! This is good in general, but given the progress that people are making, it leads me to believe that the contest might be over in January (the earliest it can be over under the rules). Neat that people are doing so well, but I feel a bit outclassed. At least they added more people to the leaderboard so my next submission has a shot of making it on there!

But for now, I'm continuing to crunch data. In my WoW-addled state last night I started computing the correlations between all pairs of users and storing all that data, before realizing that since there are around 500,000 users this would be 250 billion lines of data, which I don't have the hard drive space for and, given how slow file IO seems to be, would take forever. Lo and behold this morning just under 2500 users were done, which would mean it would take around 9.5 weeks to finish. So now I'm only storing the top 100 results for each user - we'll see how big a win that is when I get home. I might have to go to a probabilistic approach if even that is going to take too long (right now it still calculates all pairs of correlations, just doesn't write them all to disk). Had a conversation with djedi this morning to solidify some ideas about how to manage that data...

After work we're planning on going to LL Bean and getting a real jacket, although it's nice weather out today (high of 77!).

1 comment

na nanana nana na na...
Mood: pensive
Posted on 2006-05-31 09:35:00
Tags: movies pictures ruby palmtogooglecalendar
Words: 451

...Katamari Damacy! djedi bought WeKatamari yesterday before he left (thanks!) so I played last night. Goood stuff. I love doing the flower level (collecting as many flowers as you can) - very relaxing. Quitting without saving and losing my data was somewhat less relaxing, but if you think I'm not going to redo those levels tonight, you'd be sadly mistaken.

I have the top Google result for "pic6"! Unfortunately it goes to this picture, but you can't win them all.

Speaking of pictures, I put pictures from Jessica's graduation up last night.

Speaking of things I did last night, the palm to google calendar thing is basically done. I have a few tweaks to do, but I'm going to link to it soon. fairydust1, want to test it?

So last time I talked about getting the ruby script to return that it was done while forking a new process. I was almost correct, but instead of doing this in the new thread:

# Create session and return session id to browser
pid = fork do
# Do long-running stuff

you instead just need to do this:

# Create session and return session id to browser
pid = fork do
# Do long-running stuff

Closing $stdin and $stderr just leads to problems (which was why passing parameters weren't working before).

Speaking of...umm...lj-cuts, I saw X-Men 3 this past weekend.
I liked it, all in all. The parallel between mutants and gays was extremely striking in some parts. I also liked the shift of power that the vaccine gave the humans - now they had a weapon against the mutants so it wasn't just a case of "watch the mutants kill the humans, who have no hope of ever retaliating". I like Storm the character (especially with the white hair!), but I didn't think Halle Berry did a good job acting this time around, especially during the scene where they're debating whether to keep the school open. It felt very fake to me.

Also, I loooove Ian McKellen. Maybe it's the white hair talking, but I like the obvious mutual respect he and Professor X have for each other. When Magneto lost his power, even though he was clearly a bad guy, I felt very bad for him since his identity was so wrapped up in his power.
If you go and see it, be sure to stay until after the credits end! There's a final scene that's actually very significant.

I'm looking forward to a number of summer movies - at some point I'll post the ones I want to see and y'all can make fun of me. Oh, there was a trailer for Snakes on a Plane, and it was good.


Mood: pensive
Posted on 2006-05-05 08:57:00
Tags: robolab palmtogooglecalendar
Words: 246

Yay, Friday! I've been in a very linky mood lately, so expect tons of links later.

After trolling the Google Calendar API group for a bit, I found a post that describes the same problems I'm having with recurrences (and apparently it's being looked into). It's nice to know I'm not alone, at least. Now I need to decide whether it's worth turning the recurrence events into individual ones for now so it will work. The downside is that that clogs up the Palm calendar even more. Maybe I'll do that anyway just to see if I can get it working...

Wednesday was my last Robolab for the year. It started off poorly, as the kids were fairly unruly (legos were thrown...*sigh*) but since it was the last one before Mindstorms Mania (which I won't be able to go to), the ones that had work to do did end up getting to work fairly quickly. I was helping a more rambunctious kid work on programming. At first he was totally not paying attention and kept going across the room to talk to his friends, etc., but I did finally get him working, and he finished his program! I was very proud of that :-) Anyway, I'll probably have to stop by next week sometime to pick up parts I lent them, but that'll be it. I don't deal well with kids (especially around middle-school age), but I think being exposed to them is probably good for me.


Mood: pensive
Posted on 2005-10-14 15:32:00
Words: 31

A woman in NYC gets Chris Rock's old cell phone number - a cute story.

Librarian gets back at junk-faxer - good stuff!

I like reading - he has lots of interesting links.


quick poll
Mood: pensive
Music: Upscale - "Rockin' Robin"
Posted on 2005-06-21 13:11:00
Tags: death penalty poll
Words: 19

( evangelization will resume after this post)

I was just interested in what people thought, so here's the poll:


thoughts on my birthday (well, about my birthday, since today isn't my birthday)
Mood: pensive
Music: Dexter Freebish - "Leaving Town"
Posted on 2005-04-18 14:11:00
Tags: essay birthday
Words: 539

"Every overhyped lj post has a beginning..."

I've been thinking about birthdays and, more generally (but not much more generally!) age lately. I skipped first grade, so I've always been young for my age, and I usually took math classes that were a few years ahead of my grade. The upshot of this is that I was usually the youngest kid in the class by far.

So I think because of that, that kinda became my identity. It didn't matter that I wasn't the top student in the class (although I sometimes was) - for a while I was a novelty because I was so young, but even after that I could always tell myself that, even though kids did better than I did, I was younger than they were, so it didn't matter. In my mind, when I would consider my ranking in the class (I was pretty competitive academically for a while in middle/high school...), I was kinda in my own category, so I always won.

Another effect was that I started to identify as the young kid. So, even when I came to Rice, I wanted people to know that I was young, because that made me special. In the past, this had provided me with other people who would sorta hang out with me a bit just because I was young. (at Rice, I had the additional "specialness" of being a professor's son) And it did sort of continue at Rice, to a point (hanging out with djedi and blamantin wasn't just because I was young, but it certainly was a not-too-infrequent topic of conversation :-) ).

So now I'm out in the real world, and all of a sudden I'm not the youngest at work. And I felt kinda weird about that, and it took me a while to figure out why, and the preceding is what I came up with.

But now things are different (not that I'm making this change now, just that it happened a year or so ago). I don't feel the need to be "special" in some obvious way. I have good friends, a good job, djedi, and I don't feel like I need a "gimmick" to have people interested in me. This is healthy and a good thing.

And so, I guess I've become a lot more relaxed about age - I know occasionally people get sensitive about getting old and whatnot, and I do have those feelings occasionally as well, but I'm usually able to shake it off pretty well. Maybe it's like my rebelling against the hypersensitivity I used to feel to my age, but I just feel like it's something that happens and there's no point worrying about it. I used to be really bad about trying to change the past (when I was in high school and I would misplace something, I would always beat myself up as I was looking for it, wishing that I had put it in its right place), and now I just try to deal with things in the present as they come up.

The End...?

(Disclaimer: nothing in here is meant to blame djedi or blamantin for my age issues - I definitely had them before coming to math camp/Rice. That is all.)


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