benchmark analyzer!
Mood: proud
Posted on 2009-02-24 10:20:00
Tags: projects work
Words: 164

So I wrote this benchmark analyzer to analyze benchmarks that have many parameters and try to figure out what the important ones are. To that end, it creates a decision tree in R, and also generates lots of boxplots to visualize the different parameters. Here's a sample report (with boring data). It also (somewhat cleverly) saves the original .csv file with the web page it generates, so you can save the page and send it to a colleague who can play with the options and rerun the analysis.

It occurred to me as I was prettying this up that most benchmarks don't involve lots of parameters, and so the probability that anyone else is going to find this useful is pretty low. I'm OK with that because
- it's useful to me right this very moment for work stuff
- I had fun writing it and learned some more about R
- pretty graphs!
- it was good to work on something other than for a while


anti-gay monday!
Mood: amused
Posted on 2009-02-23 12:56:00
Tags: gay politics links
Words: 158

- Anti-gay ad in the Salt Lake Tribune - this is good wingnut territory. Takes a quote about "enhanced equal rights" and says that "Gays will have MORE RIGHTS than anyone else". I'll be sure to let you know when that happens, but equal rights would be just fine with me. Also apparently there was a Homosexual Declaration of War in 1987 where the gays want to sodomize your children? News to me.

Also, my word is this an ugly ad! Lots of random BOLDING and capitalization :-)

- Gay Snipers Attack Marriage In West Virginia Campaign Ad (VIDEO) - the gay snipers appear at :58 and it just gets better from there. (foreboding music! whooooo will think of the children?? religious liberty is losing to the gays!)

I certainly don't feel discriminated against on a daily basis, but it's good to remember that just because I'm lucky enough to live in Austin doesn't mean crap like this isn't going on other places.


friday links
Mood: okay
Posted on 2009-02-20 10:18:00
Tags: weight links
Words: 164

- If I were unhealthily obsessed with my weight, I would say I should get sick more often. But then I remembered I got my hair cut too! I should have kept it to weigh it and correct for growing hair weight...

- 25 reasons we love Austin - Salt Lick! cupcakes! breakfast! bookpeople! alamo drafthouse!

- The Clinton Economic Record and Rising Tides - that first graph was startling. The obvious point is that the poor did as well as the rich under Clinton whereas they did much worse under Reagan/Bush I/Bush II, but everyone did better under Clinton than they did under any of those.

- The Futile Pursuit of Happiness - long but interesting article. People generally underestimate their long-term emotional resilience; losing a partner/family member makes our "emotional immune system" kick in and we feel better faster than we think. The "immune system" doesn't kick in with chronic annoyances (that door that won't close, that aching ankle) and so they make us more unhappy than we predict.


a slight geek-out
Mood: geeky
Posted on 2009-02-17 14:26:00
Tags: referrer
Words: 42

qwantz (the guy who writes Dinosaur Comics, which is awesome and you should totally read) just linked to me! (for finding an article he remembered)

I think I have now extracted all the joy possible out of this moment. Back to work...


early morning links!
Mood: hopeful
Posted on 2009-02-17 07:31:00
Tags: politics links
Words: 256

I took quijax to the airport this morning and am now at work, so here are some links so I don't fall asleep!

- George Will writes a column saying global warming is bunk. (and then I had to check my nonexistent watch to ensure that it was still the year 2009) Nate Silver and Talking Points Memo point out the crazy inaccuracies.

- I was grabbing breakfast and caffeine at Starbucks this morning, and happened to see this story in The USA Today: Supreme Court case with the feel of a best seller. The lede:

In a small town, a local resident claims wrongdoing by a big corporation and wins a multimillion-dollar award after a jury trial. The corporation's CEO then pumps enough campaign money into a judicial election to get a new judge on the state supreme court. During an appeal, that judge casts a critical vote siding with the corporation — and reversing the resident's victory.
It's a Grisham novel and West Virginia, all in one! That is some terrible...something.

- Michael Lewis (he of Moneyball fame) writes a basketball piece about Shane Battier of the Houston Rockets. (go Rockets!) Despite his terrible "traditional" statistics, he does a lot of things that make the people around him play better, especially defense. I haven't watched a game of basketball in a few years but still enjoyed the article a lot.

- 10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know

- Nate Silver predicts the Oscars - he's kinda the golden boy of predicting things now!

- Magenta Ain't A Color - neat, weird.


book review: Dreaming in Code
Mood: happy
Posted on 2009-02-15 23:01:00
Tags: reviews books
Words: 314

Dreaming in Code: Two Dozen Programmers, Three Years, 4,732 Bugs, and One Quest for Transcendent Software is a book about the creation of Chandler, an email/calendar/todo list that works on Windows, Mac, and Linux. It starts by talking about how Mitch Kapor came up with the idea for the product and decided to fund it as an open source project and takes it through three years of development. It does a good job of explaining technical decisions made along the way and capturing the spirit of a lot of hackers.

What the book is really about is why software is so hard. Time and time again the people on the project would dramatically underestimate the amount of time it would take to complete features - indeed, it took basically three years before they had a "dogfood" worthy release (one that they could use themselves everyday - this is known as "eating your own dogfood"). Because the scope of the project was so large to begin with, it took a long time to really nail down what it was going to do and how it was going to do it.

Software development is hard - very hard, and the book does a pretty good job of explaining why that is. The techniques that we have now work reasonably well for smallish projects but just aren't very well suited for large ones. (see Virtual Case File, Windows Vista, etc.) This is not unlike when we first started building bridges - many collapsed due to poor design, but eventually we figured out how to do it well. Of course the problem with software is what the author dubs Rosenberg's Law: “Software is easy to make, except when you want it to do something new.” and its corollary “the only software worth making is software that does something new.”

I enjoyed the book and suspect that even non-programmers would find it illuminating.


whereslunch - deleting!
Mood: okay
Posted on 2009-02-15 22:49:00
Tags: whereslunch
Words: 15

Now you can delete restaurants and locations on, in case you make a mistake!


Mood: happy
Posted on 2009-02-13 21:38:00
Tags: movies reviews
Words: 148

I was in a pretty crappy and tired mood going to see Coraline this evening, and the crowd of high schoolers around the movie theater didn't help. (it's not showing at the Alamo Drafthouse, oddly enough)

And for some reason I thought Coraline was going to be...dark and brooding and whatnot. And then she was a fairly typical whiny kid and I was disappointed.

But then! The whole movie has kind of a LittleBigPlanet feel about it, which I like. The plot was kinda OK, but the visuals were really impressive, especially in 3D. And the music was charming in its own way - very moody and such. So it left me in a good mood, which in the end is really all I can ask for.

Although there were a lot of kids there and a lot of stupid kids movie previews. That I could have done without.


*insert witticism here*
Mood: okay
Posted on 2009-02-12 10:34:00
Tags: links
Words: 109

- Jon Stewart Nails O'Reilly on Right to Privacy - pwnt! That last clip is priceless.

- After watching last night's Lost episode (and really, all of Season 5 so far), this Time Travel for Dummies article was quite helpful. It was written before last night's episode, so no spoilers for that. Also, here are some Jackfaces.

- Is the world ready for an Asperger's sitcom? - article about "The Big Bang Theory" and how Sheldon demonstrates a lot of Asperger's characteristics. (although the show's writers deny that was the intention)

- 10 Take Aways From the Bush Years - living in reality is a good start. Also, Rumsfeld sure comes off as a jerk.


book review: First, Break All The Rules
Mood: happy
Music: Boyz II Men - "Water Runs Dry"
Posted on 2009-02-11 13:54:00
Tags: reviews
Words: 297

First, Break All the Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently is one of those books that would be on the NI official reading list, if we had one. It's based on a series of Gallup surveys and interviews in which they asked employees hundreds of questions about how satisfied they were with their work environment, and then correlated that with profitability, turnover, and such.

It turns out that happy employees are in fact more productive, and that most of their happiness comes down to their immediate manager. This book is aimed at managers, and the "break all the rules" part means that there's no one way to manage people - you have to take their personality and abilities into account and handle everyone differently.

Another important point is that people have talents that are fairly unchangeable. I, for example, am terrible at confronting people - I get nervous and fidgety and overly defensive and it leaves me very fragile. Now, if I were to practice confronting people and work on it for a while, I could probably overcome some of these physical side effects, but I would never be great or even good at it.

So the point is figure out what talents your employees have and make sure they're in a good position to use those talents. This is a big theme of Now, Discover Your Strengths, which I might review someday.

A corollary of this is that not everyone wants to go into management, and you should create a career path for people who are happy and good at what they're doing now. That way people won't feel forced to do something they're not good at to get more money, prestige, etc.

It's a good book with a bunch of interesting anecdotes. I'd recommend it!


psychology is weird
Mood: chipper
Posted on 2009-02-09 15:34:00
Tags: work
Words: 35

It's weird that I started the day in a meh mood, got very frustrated this morning, and now that the source of the frustration doesn't apply anymore I'm happy. Mood is not a conservative force!


a few links with no coherent theme
Mood: okay
Posted on 2009-02-06 14:43:00
Tags: gay politics links
Words: 97

- The world gets its first gay head of state (although it's a little backdoor - the actual head of the party is taking a leave of absence).

- Obama Justice Department Re-Hires Attorney Fired By Goodling Because Of Lesbian Rumor - aww, nice! Also, that's a pretty crappy thing to do in the first place.

- Obama explains why we need a stimulus bill in an editorial in the Washington Post. The best line is the tagline: "The writer is president of the United States."

- Surveillance Pic Shows Man Robbing Stores With Klingon Sword - the clerk recognized it as a Bat'leth.


progress marches on
Mood: thoughtful
Music: "World of Goo" soundtrack
Posted on 2009-02-06 13:41:00
Tags: essay gay wedding
Words: 170

At some point during this whole wedding process, it struck me (more poignantly than usual) we've come a long long way.

When I first started dating in 2000, I was heavily closeted, out to very very few people. My nightly phone calls to djedi I wandered around the Will Rice quad (because I didn't want roommates overhearing), and when people asked who I was talking to I would have to be awkwardly mysterious. Anti-sodomy laws were still on the books in Texas and some other states (way to go Legislature!)

Since then, anti-sodomy laws were struck down by the Supreme Court. Gays can now marry in two states, have a civil union in five others, and be domestic partners in four others (source). I am now fully out (non-protected post FTW!) to my family, friends, coworkers, and anyone I meet on the street. And we're planning our holy union.

This is why I'm not nostalgic for the "good old days". We've made progress and it only gets better from here!

1 comment

riddle me this
Mood: amused
Posted on 2009-02-05 08:45:00
Tags: dreams
Words: 162

In my dream last night, I was at home for Christmas and kept catching bits of this new movie on TV. It was a sci-fi movie, and the protagonist (and kinda his girlfriend by extension) was being hunted/stalked by this girl from another civilization. They had a recording of the bad girl and kept trying to figure out who it was by analyzing the voice but the voice was fairly incoherent and slurring words, etc.

Anyway, the few times I saw it on TV I always came in in the middle, but then finally I got to watch from the beginning, and it turns out you see the bad girl at the beginning talking to the protagonist. And during her monologue, she's eating paint off the walls! It turns out her civilization was dying because of this custom of eating paint (presumably lead-based paint), and that's why she was slurring her words.

Even in my dream it sounded like a bad movie :-)

1 comment

the world is depressing links
Mood: grumpy
Posted on 2009-02-03 10:22:00
Tags: essay links
Words: 784

I was pretty grumpy last night, and while I'm somewhat less so, I also had to get into work 2 hours earlier than I usually do. So, behold:

- The pope promoted an ultra-conservative Austrian bishop who said things like Hurricane Katrina was "God's punishment" for New Orleans' relaxed attitude towards sexual promiscuity and homosexuality. He's also your more standard fundamentalist with regards to Harry Potter books being evil, and apparently blamed the 2004 Asian tsunami on "rich western tourists" who had "fled to poor Thailand". Good to know where the Catholic church stands on such things. *sigh*

- This article about the new Battlestar Galactica by the guy who played Starbuck in the old one is really pretty amazing. I will excerpt, but you should read it all to appreciate teh crazy.

Starbuck was meant to be a lovable rogue. It was best for the show, best for the character and the best that I could do. The Suits didn’t think so. “One more cigar and he’s fired,” they told Glen Larson, the creator of the show. “We want Starbuck to appeal to the female audience for crying out loud.” You see, the Suits knew women were turned off by men who smoked cigars, especially young men. How they “knew” this was never revealed. And they didn’t stop there. “If Dirk doesn’t quit playing every scene with a girl like he wants to get her in bed, he’s fired.” This was, well, it was blatant heterosexuality, treating women like “sex objects.”
OK. You wanted to play Starbuck as a "lovable rogue", the writers didn't want that. Fine. I'll point out that treating women like sex objects maybe isn't the same as "blatant heterosexuality", whatever that means.
The Suits were not impressed. They would have their way, which is what Suits do best, and after one season of puffing and flirting and gambling, Starbuck, that loveable scoundrel, was indeed fired. Which is to say, “Battlestar Galactica” was cancelled.
Um, yeah, the show was cancelled. I guess he's better there was no Starbuck spinoff or something?
There was a time, I know I was there, when men were men, women were women and sometimes a cigar was just a good smoke. But 40 years of feminism have taken their toll. The war against masculinity has been won.
(bolding mine) Normally when I read a sentence about the war against masculinity is about when I stop reading.
In the bleak and miserable “re-imagined” world of “Battlestar Galactica,” things are never that simple. Maybe the Cylons are not evil and alien but in fact enlightened and evolved? Let us not judge them so harshly. Maybe it is they who deserve to live and Adama and his human ilk who deserve to die? And what a way to go! For the re-imagined terrorists (Cylons) are not mechanical robots void of soul, of sexuality, but rather humanoid six foot tall former lingerie models who f**k you to death. (Poor old Starbuck, you were imagined too early. Think of the fun you could have had ‘fighting’ with these thong-clad aliens!) In the spirit of such soft-core, sci-fi porn I think a more re-imaginative title would have been “F**cked by A Cylon.” (Apologies to “Touched by an Angel.”)
OK, that's actually a pretty funny title. But then:
One thing is certain. In the new un-imagined, re-imagined world of “Battlestar Galactica” everything is female driven. The male characters, from Adama on down, are confused, weak and wracked with indecision, while the female characters are decisive, bold, angry as hell, puffing cigars (gasp!) and not about to take it any more.
Maybe I've been watching the show wrong, and there are certainly moments when Admiral Adama is wracked with indecision, but by and large he's a pretty strong authority figure. And not all the female characters are angry. And I can't figure out whether that gasp is supposed to be sarcastic or not.
”Re-inspiration” struck. Starbuck would go the way of most men in today’s society. Starbuck would become “Stardoe.” What the Suits of yesteryear had been incapable of doing to Starbuck 25 years ago was accomplished quicker than you can say orchiectomy. Much quicker, as in, “Frak! Gonads Gone!”
Unless there's a major plot point I missed, Starbuck still has gonads. Also, methinks this is reading waaaaay too much into things.

Anyway, I guess we should go back to the days on TV where women were subservient and uninteresting and men were testosterone-driven sex machines and that would be more interesting. Or at least we could end the war on masculinity. I think the fact that my sarcastic comments are basically the same as the article means that it's a good time to stop.

1 comment

25 things about me
Mood: contemplative
Posted on 2009-02-02 14:18:00
Tags: quiz
Words: 473

(this is a thing going around Facebook, but I'm more of an LJ person...)

1. I actually sat down at lunch today and tried to make a list of 25 things, and didn't get very far. So we'll see how this goes!

2. I program for a living and also enjoy doing it in my spare time. I have a bunch of side projects up at

3. destroyerj and I got interviewed in Wired for one of them.

4. My current project I'm trying to push is!

5. Enough about that. My favorite TV shows on the air now are Lost and 30 Rock, with Chuck following close behind.

6. I live on tea at the office, especially now that I'm trying to cut out sodas. I'm talking at least 3 cups a day.

7. Growing up I loved math and always planned on being a mathematician when I grew up.

8. As such, I was an avid watcher of Square One. I cried when it was preempted by the Iran-Contra hearings.

9. I don't keep in touch with my family as well as I should.

10. I have a hangup about getting water splashed on me. djedi used to splash water at me from the sink and I hated it!

11. I am almost always comfortable in silence. The "awkward silence" doesn't really exist for me.

12. I just read through most of Did you know George Frankly has been in a lot of random shows?

13. I'm usually pretty socially awkward and kinda introverted.

14. I took piano lessons for 8 years. I should bust them out more :-)

15. I really enjoy singing!

16. When I was in middle school, I was in the Houston Boychoir for a year. We took a trip to Taiwan. I met a girl that I liked, although she didn't speak very good English (and I didn't speak Mandarin). Such is life when you're 14 or so.

17. I am fascinated by infrastructure, especially highways and mass transit.

18. I'm usually pretty happy in solitude, except for missing djedi.

19. 6 more to go? Man...umm...I've only lived outside of Texas for a year, after which we quickly moved back here.

20. Austin >>> Houston.

21. I hate hate hate feeling nostalgic. I enjoy living in the now. And the future.

22. I kinda like driving.

23. scraping the bottom of the barrel here...I can smell cucumbers from a distance. I'm not sure if this is weird or not, but my family has led me to believe that it is.

24. Growing up I loved salad - my parents joked that they'd have to tell me to eat more pizza before I could have more salad.

25. I don't like tagging people. If you want to do your own 25 things, cool. If not, also cool.


ok, guys
Mood: angry
Posted on 2009-01-28 16:26:00
Tags: rant
Words: 51

I just answered a phone call that started "This is the second..." to which I immediately hung up, enraged, because I have literally gotten at least 50 calls for the past...3 months? 6 months? telling me that my automobile warranty has expired. What is wrong with you people?? STOP CALLING ME.


random amusements
Mood: okay
Posted on 2009-01-28 11:08:00
Tags: links
Words: 42

- Champion of Guitars - a Zork-like Guitar Hero.

- Do You Talk Too Much? - the stoplight idea is interesting. iPhone app?

- Ten sci-fi devices that could soon be in your hands - I've read about the invisibility cloak but the other ones are pretty interesting!

1 comment

kinda down
Mood: blah
Posted on 2009-01-28 09:47:00
Tags: whereslunch weight wedding
Words: 137

I was in a fairly crappy mood yesterday, seemingly the result of two things:
- is honestly pretty much done. I should tweak up the design a little bit, I guess, and try to promote it somehow, but neither of these are very exciting or appealing.
- this wedding crap is already starting to get to me, which is a terrible sign given how far there is still to go. Hopefully we can figure out a date this week (the new target month is July, it seems) but there's so much crap to do and blah blah blah whine whine whine.

Anyway. The good news is that despite being absolutely terrible yesterday, my weight dipped down a bit. Of course this means I'll be good today and will gain a lot tomorrow and then be depressed about it.


attention world
Mood: confused
Posted on 2009-01-26 20:27:00
Tags: wedding
Words: 46

Is starting planning now for a May wedding totally crazy and unreasonable? Because we've mentioned it in casual whatever a few times now (not asking about the date) and apparently everyone else thinks so.

(if it is, that's fine, but it would be nice to know...)


hello married people/people who know about weddings
Mood: thoughtful
Posted on 2009-01-26 14:39:00
Tags: wedding
Words: 77

So I'm doing some initial research into where we could have a reception, by which I mean I googled "austin reception" and got a long list of places, like 300! and this crazy place that looks like a castle!

Anyhow, anyone know a reception location that you've actually been to in Austin? A list of like a billion unverified places is really not that helpful, but real places that actually do host wedding receptions would be awesome.


more progress
Mood: happy
Posted on 2009-01-26 12:39:00
Tags: whereslunch programming
Words: 122

Over the weekend I
- added geolocation to the front page of - it should automatically forward you to your closest city now!
- made the map use more horizontal space (and got rid of the ugly gap between the map and the sidebar)
- made the page statically load the list of restaurants, which should improve load time a little and should help the ads be more relevant, hopefully.
- upgraded to the latest jQuery which makes things look a bit different, especially the sidebar. Not sure whether to keep this new color scheme (especially the filtering sliders), but I'll leave it for a few days and see what I think then. This should also improve performance a bit.
- a few minor random performance improvements


releasing into the wild
Mood: proud
Posted on 2009-01-21 10:31:00
Tags: whereslunch projects
Words: 17

Well, I'm asking for feedback on now. I guess that means I'm about done with it!


Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2009-01-20 12:38:00
Tags: weight politics
Words: 58

I've been kinda reluctant to post about my weight publicly, but in the spirit of shaming myself into shape, here are the graphs I look at each morning. (made in R!) Light jogging around the neighborhood has helped me feel more in shape...hopefully I can keep that up.

Also, I hear we have a new president or something?


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!


Go earlier/later

This backup was done by LJBackup.