Posted on 2007-04-09 14:56:00
The Washington Post convinced violin virtuoso Joshua Bell to pretend to be a street musician and play outside a Metro station. Great experiment! (via kottke)
Pat Venditte is a switch pitcher, the only one in Division I baseball! (via kottke)
13 TV Shows That Should Never Have Been Cancelled - it includes Firefly and Arrested Development, so it gets a thumbs up from me. (via digg)
Alberto Gonzales deathwatch - up to 86%!
Posted on 2007-04-05 20:15:00
(not all scandals end in "gate", stop the madness!)
Here is an excellent summary of what's happened and how the White House keeps making things worse. (via waxy)
Posted on 2007-03-29 15:41:00
Tags: haskell congressvotes
Allergies seem to be on the retreat, thanks to a little extra sleep today and tons of tea and orange juice and hot chocolate.
I should have worked on congressvotes yesterday, but I didn't have the activation energy. The problem is that parsing the XML and extracting any sort of data gets really really really slow - like 37 minutes to do a little bit of stuff to all 600ish votes from 2006. I've looked at the code and I can't find anything in particular that's inefficient about it, but I'm pretty new at Haskell. The next strategy is to do an offline transform to some sort of friendlier text format with just the information I need, and hopefully the web service, etc. can just use those text files. Hopefully I'll give this a shot sometime soon. (for some reason this post about premature optimization spoke to me; it's a good general philosophy!)
Wow, are there really going to be Kwik-E-Marts? I could go for some Krusty-O's...
Posted on 2007-03-28 14:31:00
Tags: pictures links
I'm not sure what happened, I felt perfectly fine Monday going to bed, and yesterday I woke up with bad allergies/congestion. I stuck it out at work but after a night of waking up a lot (I hate trying to sleep when my nose is all messed up!) I gave up. Hopefully I'll be back to normal tomorrow.
Anyway, it gives me a chance to catch up on stuff. Like put up pictures! And link to some random things!
- To promote their new book, zug.com staged a prank at the Super Bowl - unfortunately the intended message didn't show up as well as hoped.
- damninteresting.com is making a book!
Extortion is profitable!
Posted on 2007-03-22 08:55:00
Tags: haskell congressvotes
Man, I feel productive! (not in a work sense, but in a doing stuff at home sense) Last night I wrote the LJ-Blog adapter for fairydust1 - as she mentioned, all of the posts on her blog will become friends-only posts on the account boltonblog, so friend it if you haven't already! It only took a couple of hours (partially because I had code from ljbackup for interacting with LJ, and partially because I backed off a little from my goal and just posted the summary text from the RSS feed here ), and I was happy I could knock it out and it seems to work. (and sorry for the flood of posts, but I was even more afraid as I went to bed that it would keep doing that every hour!)
I also made some more progress on my congress votes project. Learned how to download files in Haskell - as with anything involving IO, it's a little tricky and I haven't quite got the hang of it yet, but I managed to make it work. The next hard part is figuring out which votes are "important" and which aren't from the Reason on the bill, such as "On Motion to Suspend the Rules and Pass, as Amended", "On Motion to Recommit with Instructions", "On Agreeing to the Amendment", etc. Some of these I'm going to have to ignore if they deal with amendments because that information is hard to find. And I need to make sure voting "Yea" means voting for the bill and not against it!
Episcopal Bishops in U.S. Defy Anglican Communion - it's really nice to see the leaders of your church say this:
We proclaim the Gospel that in Christ all God's children, including gay and lesbian persons, are full and equal participants in the life of Christ's Church.
new project: congress ratings
Posted on 2007-03-19 18:48:00
Tags: haskell projects programming congressvotes
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
back to the grindstone
Posted on 2007-03-19 14:16:00
So destroyerj came up and visited this weekend, and lo, it was fun! (except for the whole flight being cancelled Friday because of snow/sleet here) We went to DC on Saturday and saw the National Cathedral for the first time. Unfortunately, it isn't near a Metro stop so we walked .75 miles there and .75 miles back. (apparently there are buses that go there from some stops, but the walk wasn't too bad) It's a very pretty and awe-inspiring place; I took some pictures (that we later viewed on the Wii Photo Channel!) that turned out pretty well that I hope to put up before the end of the week. (wow, apparently there's a Darth Vader sculpture there, although hidden by construction; thanks, Wikipedia!)
We watched A Scanner Darkly on the TiVo that we had rented from Amazon Unbox. All in all, the unbox -> tivo thing worked beautifully, and I'd definitely do it again. (especially since we have $11 in credit left!) The movie itself was good - the rotoscoping really added to the "unreality" of the whole movie, in addition to looking really really cool (particularly the scramble suits, which rotate through faces and clothing)
I started my next project which will indeed be in Haskell. I'll save the details for when I'm at home and can properly ask my questions.
What does Thursday mean to you?
Posted on 2007-03-15 07:55:00
Tags: haskell worldofwarcraft tivo programming
It hit 70 degrees here yesterday! It was absolutely beautiful. Of course, it's going to be cold again tomorrow, but it was nice to have a touch of spring.
I finished and posted my latest WoW guild data project. It was fun, but nothing too tricky about it.
So I read about the Amazon Unbox downloads on the TiVo, so I signed up. (free $15 if you link the accounts by the end of April!) We rented A Scanner Darkly to try it out (you have to watch it within 30 days, and once you watch it it expires in 24 hours), and it downloaded in like an hour. Very very cool stuff. It's also neat because if you buy something, Amazon saves it and you can redownload it at any time. (except if the stupid copyright holder doesn't let you, grr) Also, they have a small number of TV series including 24, Firefly, and Arrested Development.
My attempt at comprehending Haskell continues. I read through A Gentle Introduction to Haskell which, despite the title, is not really gentle at all. I'm also looking through the Haskell Wikibook which is a little too slow-paced for me, but it's a nice change of pace after the other one! I'm starting to get some of the ideas, and remembering why functional languages are so cool. As a crazy example, you can do something like
y = x * 2
x = 2
and it will still work, since variables are only assigned to once, so I guess it can figure out the order things should run in. (I should note that I can't find the reference for this anymore, so it may not be true. Also, this seems like a crazy thing to do in a functional language anyway.) Maybe my next Haskell project will be to write a bot for WoW! (*)
I've gotten in to work at 7:45 every day this week, surprisingly enough. I've also been to the gym every day.
I got two nice "Congratulations!" cards in the mail from my relatives for my engagement. Yay!
(*) - Just kidding. My next project won't be WoW-related. Also, this is borderline crazy to try to do.
Posted on 2007-03-14 08:09:00
Tags: haskell programming
So it's been a little while since I've learned a new language, and I keep hearing rumblings about Haskell (programming.reddit.com really loves it). So I started to read A Gentle Introduction to Haskell, and...wow. 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...
Posted on 2007-03-13 08:14:00
Tags: dreams music microresolution worldofwarcraft
It's weird leaving the apartment before my daily cron job runs...
So my latest project is taking data from the WoW armory and showing neat stuff with it. I'll probably put the public page up tomorrow. Microresolution: my next project will not be WoW-related.
Weird dream: I dreamt I had made a few friends and then I found out a friend was stealing them away from me (i.e. they weren't going to be my friend anymore). I was very upset about this and was ready to write a scathing LiveJournal post!
I've been listening to a lot of Avenue Q lately. My thoughts, after the cut:
At first, my favorites were the obvious ones - "Everyone's A Little Bit Racist", "The Internet Is For Porn", "Schadenfreude". After a few listens, I think my current favorites are "Mix Tape", "Schadenfreude", and "I Wish I Could Go Back to College". Here's why!
The Avenue Q Theme - cute little ditty. Does a good job of sounding like the Sesame Street without really "borrowing" any melodies.
What Do You Do with a B.A. in English?/It Sucks To Be Me - A nice peppy song. I like the little harmony part when they all start singing. The first "appearance" of Gary Coleman, whose stage representation has a really nice voice. I should take this opportunity to say that the Japanese character (don't know her name) has a really annoying voice. Ugh.
If You Were Gay - Rod's voice is a little bit off at the beginning. ("how can it get any better than this?") I do like the song because the comedy is done well, especially Rod's indignance. :-)
Purpose - I guess this is supposed to drive the plot a little, but this song is more or less boring. The guy's voice is reasonably nice, though.
Everyone's A Little Bit Racist - So I definitely like some of this song. The melody is nice, and I do like the message that perhaps we shoudl relax a little bit about race, and that no one's truly colorblind (a la Stephen Colbert's "I don't see race"). But it goes a little far (needlessly?) in kinda implying because of this, it's OK to tell racist jokes, make fun of people, etc, instead of maybe trying to make things better. See above re Japanese character's voice. Also, Gary Coleman saying "Whatchoo talking 'bout Kate?" is pretty funny.
The Internet Is For Porn - Cute song. I like Trekkie Monster. Kate's indignance is pulled off pretty well, too - her voice fits her character very well.
Mix Tape - I like this song a lot. The melodies going on in the background are very pretty (and catchy!), and the whole premise of the song (that you can tell if someone likes you by the songs they put on your mix tape) is pretty funny. "Fat Bottomed Girls" indeed!
I'm Not Wearing Underwear Today - Huh? Maybe this makes sense in context. At least it's short.
Special - Meh. Don't really like her voice.
You Can Be as Loud as the Hell You Want (When You're Makin' Love) - Funny. Again with liking Gary Coleman's voice. I should add I feel weird listening to this song at work :-)
Fantasies Come True - This song is...OK. It's really more sad than anything. Poor Rod...
My Girlfriend, Who Lives in Canada - Even though it follows the sad song, I can't help laughing. The frantic voice totally makes it! I like the way he says "Canada" too.
There's a Fine, Fine Line - Not bad. Voice is good.
There Is Life Outside Your Apartment - A cute song, but it doesn't quite click with me.
The More You Ruv Someone - hate hate hate skip
Schadenfreude - Funny, upbeat, and lots of Gary Coleman. What's not to love? I can put up with the meanness!
I Wish I Could Go Back to College - Really pretty song, and who hasn't wanted to go back to college at some point? Best song on the album, if just for the a capella section.
The Money Song - Cute song.
School for Monsters/The Money Song - It's OK. I do like Trekkie Monster.
a bunch of reprises - Not bad.
For Now - Good ending song. Everything is temporary!
I honestly forget the point of this. Oh well. The point is, good album.
I like charts
Posted on 2007-03-09 14:40:00
The top 100 Wikipedia pages viewed in March. Heroes is more popular than many sex-related terms!
The top programming languages by number of posts to their comp.lang.* newsgroup. LabVIEW is #10! (via waxy)
Look what we can do!
Posted on 2007-03-09 09:07:00
Tags: pictures worldofwarcraft programming
Last night, I accomplished the following things:
- grocery shopping
- mole check
- wrote a script to download data from the World of Warcraft Armory, and set it up to download every guild member's stats nightly. At some point I'll do something neat with the data. (to do this I used the new Python XML library elementtree, which is better than the builtin stuff, but not nearly as nice as e4x) I had to solve a bit of a mystery - when I would fetch the URL http://armory.worldofwarcraft.com/character-sheet.xml?r=Maiev&n=Tsouzer in Firefox and the HTML page would show up, but I could view source and see the raw XML data that I wanted. When I fetched it with wget or curl, I would always get the HTML page, not the XML data. The key is to fake out the user-agent: I guess if it thinks you support the fancy XML processing it does (with XSLT, I think?) it will give you the data, otherwise it gives you standard HTML any browser can handle. Neat idea, I guess.
- fixed my automatic del.icio.us bookmark backup script (the API had changed a little).
- seemingly fixed the problems with sending email from my computer, although it still complains that it can't write to the log file.
- put up a (very) few pictures.
- updated my backup script to back up some more databases
A lot of this stuff had been hanging over my head for a while, so I feel great today!
orange juice morning, noon, and night
Posted on 2007-03-08 09:43:00
Tags: health worldofwarcraft
I went to the doctor last week to get a physical for the first time in, oh, three years. I guess I should go more often, but I've been pretty lucky when it comes to health problems. Anyway, my precious bodily fluids were also taken and sampled, and I found out my good cholesterol (HDL) was lower than it should be. (my bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides were a tiny bit high as well) Apparently diet and exercise help a lot, as well as certain foods (orange juice), so I'm really trying to stay on the wagon with the whole losing weight thing. I find it's almost impossible for me to avoid eating when I'm bored (especially at work), so that's something to work on. No sodas before dinner this week is going pretty well, though.
Did a similar analysis for jewelcrafting as I did for alchemy (which things can be crafted for profit on the auction house) - there seem to be some decent possibilities there but I don't know much about the items.
Posted on 2007-03-05 10:10:00
The FoxTrot comic strip has been reduced to Sundays only, and the show with zefrank will be ending on March 17. Watch it while you can!
Music: "Sweet Georgia Brown", whistled (IMH)
Posted on 2007-03-05 08:47:00
Tags: dodgeball microresolution
We had an action-packed weekend! <cut to commercial> We got together to play games Friday night, I played dodgeball Saturday night, we had quijax and thaneofross over on Saturday and Sunday, and Sunday night we went to a Harlem Globetrotters game.
Saturday morning was the dodgeball tournament - we lost in the first round, as expected, but we did win a game. (and had a "no decision", when it was down to one on one and their guy hit our guy in the head, which means they're both out. I thought it should a tie, which would give us another .5 points, but to no avail) We ended up losing 13-1 or something like that. Although I did get the last person out in the game we won :-)
Hosting people was fun, too - we walked around Annapolis for a while, found a new good Chinese place in Columbia, and played a good game of Starfarers of Catan (as well as some Rayman Raving Rabbids).
The Globetrotters were...interesting. It was fun, and I liked the way they mixed the "real" basketball and the comic asides. I keep thinking that I've seen them before - not a full show, but maybe they made a cameo at a Rockets game once upon a time? Anyway, the Wikipedia link above has lots of information - they played the New York Nationals, which I discovered is the new name of the Washington Generals.
Microresolution: no soda this week (until Friday, inclusive) before dinner. I've gotten into the habit of having one with lunch, which is a bad thing. (although the caffeine helps me get through the afternoon...but if I'm really desperate I can have tea instead)
An article on how to be an optimist (and why it's good for you)
Posted on 2007-03-02 14:20:00
It's a beautiful day outside - temperatures were in the 60s when I went out to get lunch! There's still a tiny bit of ice on the ground but it's by and large gone. Spring is coming!
The Boring Store (not a secret agent supply store) (via kottke)
This one's for tehfanboi's Boston rant - Boston Police Blow Up Suspicious Looking Man (no, not really)
Swiss Accidentally Invade Liechtenstein - yes, that's in the New York Times. (via daringfireball)
little bit o' everything
Posted on 2007-02-27 10:25:00
Tags: microresolution worldofwarcraft programming
We went to an Oscar party this weekend. It was fun! Ellen did a good job hosting.
We've been playing a lot of World of Warcraft. I posted to the guild site about an analysis I did (using my auctioneer data lookup) about what potions you can craft to make money. I'm gonna try taking my own advice and see if it works! I also have been working on an Adobe Flex version of that interface which is almost done. The SDK is free and works on Linux, and since Flash Player 9 was just (a month or so ago) released for Linux I thought it would be a good time to try it out. Working in a data-driven language takes some getting used to but the resulting code is a lot simpler than the AJAX version. And it looks nice!
Via Fire Joe Morgan there's this delightful piece which compares sports bloggers to homeless people or...something. It's really hard to tell what the point of the column is, although from what I can tell the point was to be stupid.
The cablecards in our TiVo seem to be going on the fritz. Luckily Heroes recorded last night, although we haven't watched it yet. I reeeeealy don't want to have to call Comcast and get them to come out and fix them, especially since they work some of the time so you just know they're gonna work when the people come out.
I really really need to address and send those darn letters. I think it's the final step that makes everything "real" and I don't want to deal with. But sheesh, get over it. Microresolution: address the letters by Thursday night, send them by Monday.
Posted on 2007-02-24 12:37:00
We lost at dodgeball this morning, but it was close - 8 games to 6. Had we not started out so slowly (we lost the first 4 in a row, I think) we might have had a shot.
On the way back, I heard "Ladies and Gentlemen" by Saliva. I've heard the song before, and it's not bad, but it irritates me a bit. I think I've figured out why. The rhyme scheme for the verses is AAAA (clever, no?), and the rhymes are usually pretty bad. Like, for example:
Hold tight cause the show it not over
If you will please move in closer
You're about to be bowled over
By the wonders you're about to behold here
Ah, a day off
Posted on 2007-02-19 17:15:00
Days like this make me wish I didn't have a job at all (but still had money somehow). Although I'm sure I'd get bored after a couple of weeks and want my job back.
We got a new vacuum cleaner which I'm oddly excited about. It works very well (the Eureka Boss Smart Vac Ultra 4870 - thanks Consumer Reports!) and even self propels itself a little, which means vacuuming is like talking a dog for a walk.
There's still a bunch of snow on the ground from last week's storm, and it encroaches on the road some places, eating up a half lane or so. This made driving in Baltimore more interesting than usual. (we went there for lunch yesterday and checked out the Lambda Rising bookstore) Another fun thing is that most places there's a layer of ice on top of the snow, which makes walking deceptively difficult.
Wrote my last letter today! Microresolution complete.
Posted on 2007-02-16 16:45:00
Tags: quiz heroes
You scored 41 Idealism, 45 Nonconformity, 54 Nerdiness
|My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:|
|Link: The Heroes Personality Test written by freedomdegrees on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test|
Posted on 2007-02-15 14:15:00
What a weird week. Yesterday was super nice - we got the day off from work because of the snow and ice and such, so we played WoW in the afternoon, djedi cooked me a delicious supper, and we watched that classic romantic movie "Transformers: The Movie". Hadn't seen it before - good stuff! The theme song is still stuck in my head. (also, why is "Dare to be Stupid" by Weird Al played during the movie? That's just weird) And Orson Welles (who does a voice in the movie) made a cameo in my dream last night!
Lots of snow on the ground this morning, so we got into work late and we were able to stop by the bank and take care of some stuff. I still need to address letters and send them out. Maybe next week.
Recent local laws...
Posted on 2007-02-12 11:51:00
Tags: dodgeball taxes snow poll
I heard about two proposed laws around here that I thought were interesting. One, in New York, would ban using electronic devices (such as iPods) while crossing the street (in response to the death of two such pedestrians) - the penalty would be a $100 fine. The other, in New Jersey (and proposed in Washington DC as well), would ban smoking in a car with children in it.
In my opinion, the New York law is way beyond the bounds of what the law should cover. It's common sense that you should pay attention while crossing the street - why not make it illegal not to look both ways?
The New Jersey one is a lot tougher...protecting children from secondhand smoke versus legislating what you can do in your car. I voted "No", but I could probably be convinced to vote "Yes". Maybe.
Anyway, I was just interested in what y'all thought.
Dodgeball was fun this weekend, except for getting the glasses knocked off of my face (they were OK, albeit a little more bent than before...I really need to get new frames at some point!) and running into a teammate which left my left cheek a bit tender. And this was in the match where the other team didn't have enough players! (so we lent them some of ours and played for fun)
There's supposed to be a big storm coming through tonight and tomorrow. Winter weather advisories and such. Hoping we get the day off!
Finally got around to doing my taxes this weekend - it was less painful than I thought and I ended up with a smallish refund. The state taxes thing was new, but you can do them online in a mostly painless manner. State taxes are high, though, especially considering that sales tax here is 5%, which doesn't seem like that much less than 8.25%. I guess property taxes are significantly lower, too?
Life imitating xkcd
Posted on 2007-02-08 16:19:00
I so want to solve this problem!
Posted on 2007-02-08 13:23:00
Tags: microresolution snow referrer links
It snowed yesterday morning! We got a few hours off from work (which we promptly converted into sweet, sweet sleep) so I'm feeling pretty good in general. It's also starting to warm up a bit - only got down to 19 last night!
My last microresolution was to finish the auctioneer lookup, which I'm declaring myself done with. There's possibly some more data that could be gathered if I did a lot more digging and the web service took a lot longer to respond, but I'm pretty happy with what it does now. I haven't decided exactly what my next microresolution will be, but it's probably either something related to taxes or addressing/sending letters. Or maybe playing around with Adobe Flex.
A few weeks ago I bought and installed Mint for my web site - it's a web site analytics program, much like Google Analytics, but with a much nicer view and more options (or at least, the options are easier to figure out). I'm pretty pleased with the results - you can see what a Mint install on another site looks like. It's also fun to see what searches people are doing that lead them to my site, like "working at national instruments", swat ride, texas shaped sunglasses (hmm, where's my result on there?), etc.
Yahoo! released Yahoo! Pipes today, but it's currently down. Here's an O'Reilly article about it, though, and I'm looking forward to playing with it when it comes back up!
Snickers ad pulled
Posted on 2007-02-06 15:41:00
Snickers ad pulled. (as a followup to my earlier post) Good? Bad? I dunno.
This backup was done by LJBackup.