Monday, February 28, 2005

make a difference

I just got done watching Man On Fire (Denzel Washington) for the second time, and it really made me feel good. I've been feeling a bit blue the last couple of days, but that movie put things in perspective.

I'm not usually one to be affected that much by movies, but it's a really good one -- a good movie that makes me want to do something productive with my life.

Watch it if you haven't seen it.

Friday, February 25, 2005


Powerpoint is not the world's greatest tool.

"Nobody should be surprised that PowerPoint does not measure up to the great speeches of history, such as Lincoln's Gettysburg address. And it is certainly a shame when a potentially interesting presentation is dumbed down by another formulaic over-application of PowerPoint. But when PowerPoint leads not just to boredom but to bad decisions, it is a tragedy, not just a shame."

~ Peter Norvig

Check it out. (Link)

the concorde

"The Concorde Doesn't Fly Anymore," says Moti Ben-Ari's opening slide at this morning's SIGCSE keynote. Moti is an interesting story of a grad student who typed up an Igloo book on concurrent programming -- published twenty years ago. He thinks that in computer science, we are only tweaking our field just as the whole idea of airplane development. Thus the connection to the Concorde. In CS there are no longer many big new re-designs or epiphany, just small refinements.

Ben-Ari voices "a plea for maturity." In most fields, there are principles and artifacts. Principles are core knowledge (math, science, theory) and artifacts are facets of the field that specialists will study (such as AI, vision). Most CS curricula are half and half, but an engineering degree covers more of the principles. He thinks that maybe CS should mature to do this too...

With regards to older computing technology, Ben-Ari asks why in physics students learn Newtonian stuff first. If we taught CS students old languages first, we'd get yelled at, yet physicists come up with new stuff all the time. He says, "Pascal is a great improvement on languages that came later." Maybe he's right. Maybe we've forgotten the past and need to stop re-inventing things.

"We spend a lot of time trying to make computer science easy -- I think we should spend more time for some students to make CS hard." Amen.

Things for me to look at:
  • Ben-Ari and Burns "Extreme Interleavings." IEEE Concurrency 6(3), 1998, 90. Initialize a variable to zero. Spawn two concurrent threads to increment the variable ten times each. What's the resulting number? This article shows that it could not only be in the range of 10 to 20, but it could also be nine... Let me know if you find a free copy of this article.
  • Nasa Quote: There was an amazing technological advance that landed someone on the moon. How can we make another step like this?
  • Hobbes' Internet Timeline
  • Project Gutenberg
  • The Victorian Internet. Shows how the telegraph made as much impact on society as the internet.
  • Profession by Isaac Asimov. (Creativity only comes through long study of lots of areas. )

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


I'm spending this week at a SIGCSE conference in St. Louis. I volunteered to help out with registration, so I get to see about a third of all the attendees. I ran into a couple of friends here so far: Paul, Steve Wolfman, Rhys Price Jones, Bob Beck (who is strangely teaching calculus for biology majors) and various other attendees who I befriended last time. This is fun, lots of cool people I see all too infrequently.

Tomorrow the real fun begins: paper talks!

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


I've been meeting lots of cool people lately, and it's fun! Last week I met Alma Whitten, then this week I've met Helger Lipmaa and Ken Shan (another Link). What's next? I get to have lunch today with Helgar, that will be a blast.

Friday, February 11, 2005

heartwarming story

This was just such a wonderful story, I had to share it.

Kyle was valedictorian of our class. I teased him all the time about being a nerd.He had to prepare a speech for graduation. I was so glad it wasn't me having to get up there and speak. Graduation day, I saw Kyle.He looked great. He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school. He filled out and actually looked good in glasses. He had more dates than I had and all the girls loved him. Boy, sometimes I was jealous.Today was one of those days

(Link). Thanks gymdancer21!

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

dippin' dots

Indiana weather is strange. I was walking to school today, and it started sleeting outside. By the time I got to my office, I looked like a walking cup of Dippin' Dots.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


Well, a paper I've written on polling with crypto got turned down from a major magazine today. On the upside, one of the executive editors for that publication really liked the article and hopes I'll try again. Hm.

Monday, February 07, 2005


Great quote from the lab today. I was working on something and a Professor asks the room:
"Is that a variable number of balls?"

Took me a while to figure out that he was talking about a "juggling" screensaver on someone's computer...

stupid taxes

One of my office-mates brought to my attention that the payroll department is not withholding federal taxes from his paycheck. I looked at my stub and found the same depressing dilemma. This needs to get fixed. Why would they not do this? They have a copy of my W4 from last year (and this year) on record... they got it in September. Blargh.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

magical food

What is nougat? Why is it so yummy?

I just bought a bag of Munchies (classic), and there was a surplus of rye chips in there. That made my day -- they're my fav.