August 31, 2008

I Love Whiteboards

Going back to Thursday, running a lab was ... interesting. I certainly know a few things I have to improve. But I think the main thing was it was the first time these people had coded in a while, so things should become easier.
I also gave one on one help to someone a couple of days ago - much more fun. And I discovered that sometimes the best way to teach code is not on a computer. Whiteboards are so much easier, and faster.
Today I have extra help hours. Hopefully people will show up so I'm not bored silly (ironically, I never went to extra help).
In other news, I am thirsty (though I'm sure most of you know this already). Since arriving in Pittsburgh 7-8 days ago I have downed eight 2L sodas and a jug of grapefruit juice. And that's just in my dorm.

August 30, 2008

What's in a Name?

The newest CMU-built dorm has been renamed. For the past couple of years it has been called "New House" (yes, very creative). However, at some point over the summer it became "Stever House" - and since this was poorly advertised, it is throwing everyone but the freshmen through a loop (until I saw the new signage I thought it was a joke). That aside, this is what I really want to know:

  1. How much money does it take to rename a dorm?
  2. Who (other than this mysterious "Stever") has that kind of money?
  3. Why hasn't my cost of tuition or housing dropped?
Cause really, wouldn't it be nice if the university passed the generosity of Stever on to the students?

August 29, 2008


So my family has gotten a new puppy - an australian shepherd. I haven't seen it, but I'm told I should imagine "a black puppy" like one of these "with white paws and chest".

August 28, 2008

Me Update

So today's just going to be real quick.
My classes aren't that bad (but, you know, they're classes). Today is also going to be my first time actually doing CA stuff for that programming class. I'll be leading my section in lab work. I'm looking forward to it. It's kind of strange though, cause the people in my class are actually people I know, who are the same year as me (some are even IS).

August 27, 2008

Party Tricks

Everyone needs a party trick or two. You know, when you want to draw attention to yourself, or you need to do something to un-bore everything. Easy example: magic tricks. My father likes hanging a spoonfrom his nose (apparently this is hard for people who haven't broken their noses).
What do I do? I've got a few - but I always like to whip out old student IDs from when I had a different haircut. Also fun: I can hack into a Mac in less than five minutes* (and no, no damage is done, and I don't take it apart).
*Before you say that this is a massive security problem, it isn't (I'll spare you the whole discussion, but trust me, I'm an expert).

August 26, 2008

Surprise Maintenance

I really like the maintenance guys for CMU housing. They usually get right on top of problems (esp. if it's important). But sometimes it's also a bit startling.
I've only been around once when maintenance actually showed up (and I was in the shower nonetheless), but they have this habit of fixing things - without telling you. For example, I requested a mildew-free shower curtain last night. I get back to the apartment today and walk into the bathroom, and something is different. Low and behold; new shower curtain. But they didn't leave a note or any other indicator that they were there. This is fine, easily noticed - but that's not always the case.
Some of our lights require special bulb replacement when they burn out. So after requesting a new bulb you just have to flick the switch every one and a while to see if maintenance has been by to fix it yet.
I don't know, I just find it odd considering we've had paper for millennia, and email for decades.

August 25, 2008

Year Two, Day One

Today is the first day of classes. My schedule is from 9:30AM to 9:30PM, but the three classes are dispersed throughout hat time. Yes, my Monday is wretched.
Luckily, the first one is actually my new job. I'll be CAing (Course Assistant) for a programming class (15-111). Simply put, a CA is like a TA, but not as intense. It's going to be a lot of fun!

August 24, 2008


I just played a totally wicked game of Risk, which I won (and I never win). For Risk players out there - this will be fun:
I started my turn with 8 + 15 armies from cards. In an all-or-nothing effort, I fought another player down to the wire, and beat him. I then took his 4 risk cards, in addition to my remaining 2. Due to some fun bits of game rules I had to immediately cash in cards, and luckily I now had 2 whole sets. So I had 20 + 25 armies to place in the middle of my turn. At this point the 2 remaining players forfeit.

August 23, 2008


Here at I keep three sets of traffic logs (plus download logs); one master list of my own, as well as two third party ones (Google Analyics and StatCounter).
Right now this data isn't really important, but it's still really fun. For example, I can see who is linking to my site (I was able to understand the German blogger - but not the Japanese one). I can also see where people are (for some reason the Germans have always given me a lot of attention - second only to the USA). And thankfully there are more hits from Mac users than Windows users!
If you haven't already, be sure to check out the visitor map (based off my own logs) to see a piece of this in action.

August 22, 2008


Late today I'll finally be able to get into storage. You know you don't really notice things like cups - until someone lock all yours up in a closet and won't let you have them when you need 'em. Other things I'd like to have:

  • Other Tableware
  • Cooking Stuff
  • Towels
  • Real Shampoo
  • Other things that are in storage, and I forget are there - but will want. 

August 21, 2008

This Blog Now Written in Pittsburgh [Updated]

Time to unpack!
But first - apologies to my sister who I neglected to say goodbye to. Love ya!
Update: It's also via an 802.11n Wi-Fi connection!

August 20, 2008

Love Chicken

Have you ever played love chicken?
Seen how close two people can get
Before one of them starts kissin'?
But tell me this; who wins the bet?
Oh how many times have I lost this game?
I was tempted to just let this one sit without a word (though obviously I'm not). I just like the idea of two people hurtling towards each other; not necessarily toward their own destruction, but toward something infinitely better.
I wrote this down the shore one day - and unlike many of my other poems, I wrote it in a state of utter happiness.

August 19, 2008

Last Days

So I've entered that bittersweet timeframe before heading back to Pittsburgh where everything seems to be a last time. For example, yesterday was my last official day as Manager of the Barclay Farm Snack Bar. And while not having to go to work is nice, I will miss the experience. I've never had a job quite like it before (and depending on how things work out, may never again).
Then again, I'm already lining up some awesome future employment ... but more on that later.

August 18, 2008

Speedy Voicemail

You ever get sick and tired of listen to those obnoxiously long voicemail messages? Sometimes it feels like forever before the beep. Not only are some people's recordings long, but the automated machine just keeps talking and talking (no, I do not want to page this person - I don't even know what that does).
Well, I've* discovered a way around all that. Usually you can skip right to the beep by press a just one button - but it changes depending on the carrier of the person you are calling. This results in one tiny, little problem - you can't just randomly hit the jump keys because some carriers have other carrier's jump keys assigned to other functions. For example, "*" is Verizon's jump-to-voicemail key, but is also AT&T/Cingular's key to check voicemail. So what do you do?
Well, in my experience, trying the jump keys in the following order has resulted in no problems:

1 - * - #
Just be sure to check between tries - you don't want to accidentally record key tones in your message.
In case you're curious, these are the carriers I know (if you know any others - comment!):
  • AT&T/Cingular: 1
  • Verizon: * or #
Now I just need a way to block peoples' ghetto-rap ringback tones.
*Special thanks to E. N. D. for his help.

August 17, 2008

One Month Streak Celebration!

Today marks one whole month of straight posting. Starting July 17th I've posted once a day, every day.
In celebration I am going to let you all see the totally wicked (I think) visitor map as plotted on Google Maps:

Go to Visitor Map
It's always been there - you just didn't know it. It shows the approximate location of the last 100 unique visitors. (So do your part and keep your marker on the map.)
Here's looking to another great month!

August 16, 2008


You know those scenes in movies where they start with focus on a particular thing and then "zoom-out" until you can see the entire Universe? Well you should try that. Only don't think about the scene (as I usually do), but focus on yourself.

Start by picturing just yourself. Then Jump back until you can see the building you are in, then the city you are in, and then the country you are in. Remember to focus on where you are. Now imagine where you are in the Solar System, and then the Milky Way, and then the Universe.
Trust me, if you do it right it's an interesting experience.

Meditation Imagination

Every once and a while I like to challenge my mind. While imagining something can be fairly easy - it is far harder to simultaneously conceptualize something in it's entirety.

Start easy. Relax, close your eyes, and block everything else out. Now begin imagining a wooden pencil. Build it up. Start with the graphite core. Hold that in you mind as you add the wood, and the yellow paint, and the eraser, and the metal bit that holds the eraser on. When you have the entire pencil, every part of it together, in your mind, just hold it there a long as you can. Your mind may be tempted to focus on just one part at a time - but you must focus on every part at the same time.
Once you've got that, work your way up to more complex things. If you want a challenge try skipping to something really complicated - it's exhausting.
If you're wondering where I got this one, I got it out of the Ender's Game series by Orson Scott Card. Near the end of that series the (totally sci-fi) theory is posed that if a being could hold the entirety of an object in their mind, then they could essentially teleport that object anywhere in the universe. This was, of course, impossible for any human mind to do. But just for fun I like to try to try anyway.

August 15, 2008

Tech on TV

Never believe the things you see on TV - especially when it comes to technology. First off, when you see the screen of a device on TV - realize that is not the real screen. It has been added in in post-processing CGI. The easiest way to tell this is when an idiot actor holds a device, like the iPhone, upside down - but the screen is magically right-side-up.
But what really gets me foaming at the mouth is the bullshit technology they use on some detective shows. If Numb3rs can hire mathematicians to verify math, then why can't CSI: NY put a geek on staff? Surely a geek is cheaper. Sometimes it just seems like writers got hold of a list of hacker terms and figured they could pull the wool over the viewers' eyes; the terms are all real, but they aren't used in the right way. It's absolutely ridiculous.

August 14, 2008

Free Energy by Meditation

Sometimes when I'm feeling tired, this exercise really helps me out. It's especially good when just waking up.

Find a comfy chair, or perhaps your bed. Relax. Look around you.
Now close your eyes and steady your breathing. Make sure all your muscles are relaxed. Imagine the room your are in - visualize that which is around you.
Now focus on you body; your skin, your fingertips, where your body comes in contact with something else. Keep focusing on that.
Now begin to draw energy from the world around you. Feel your body and mind draw strength straight from the air around you. Feel it gather on your skin, absorb through your pores, and energize your body.
When you have had your fill, open your eyes and enjoy your rejuvenated spirit.
Granted, this doesn't always work. But if you can manage to suspend your disbelief, you should give it a try.

August 13, 2008

Something Meditative

I wouldn't necessarily say I meditate, though I do tend to do a lot of contemplation. There are so many reasons to just think (other than when you need to, of course). For example, I like to be aware of my own self; to evaluate my life, and my actions; and to contemplate that which is around me. And these pondering can result in any number of interesting consequences.
I'm sure you all have you own little mental exercises. And for those of you sitting there thinking, "Goodness gracious, I don't." I have good news; I'm going to start sharing my mental rituals with you. And I encourage everyone to try them - like I said, they have interesting consequences.

August 12, 2008


So I love RadioShack - seriously, how can any geek not? But sometimes they just get under my skin. Not only do they sell things they shouldn't, but I always want to spell it "RadioSchack" (like it's German!). Oh, and their latest ad campaign has a funny flaw.
The ad suggests that RadioShack and technology equals peace. In fact they use a graphic similar to the following:

+ + + =

But let's take a second and apply some algebra:
- = + +

Does that mean that if we had peace, and had no RadioShack then we'd all have technology? Sometimes over thinking is just plain fun!

August 11, 2008

A Rhyme Thing

Another one pulled out of cold storage:

They all want to hold her hand,
But she claims they do demand.
So she runs from ev'ry suitor-
Even those that would suit her.
Sometimes rhymes help the flow of a poem. But sometimes I just enjoy the essence of a rhyme. This one fits so nicely, but it is also kind of ... unexpected.

August 10, 2008

Back Up!

I have recently become painfully aware of the importance of backing up computers. I myself experienced hard drive failure during the end of last semester, and a close friend of mine just lost everything this weekend.
Don't think that it'll "never happen to you", because it probably will. Despite the fact that modern technology works marvels to prevent data loss, bad things still happen to good people. Your drives may be old, they may be poor quality, or you may have jostled your laptop just a tad too much - it doesn't matter why, it's just plain devastating when it happens.
And it's preventable. There are so many products out there that can save your digital life. Apple's Mac OS X Leopard even has automatic backup software, called Time Machine, built right in. All you need is an extra hard drive to back up to. Best of all, if you look in the right places, hard drives are dirt cheap these days (i.e. a 500GB drive for $60, or these others).
It's really easy to set up, you don't need to have it plugged in all the time, and you can still use the backup drive to store other things.
So don't let me say, "I told you so!".

August 9, 2008

She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain When She Comes

I am now the proud owner of ... (drumroll please) ...! This was my favorite, and I'm glad you all agreed.
It may not look like anything right now - but I'll be sure to let you all know when things get cooking (I'm sorry - I had to, just once).

August 8, 2008

Hello World!

If all has gone according to plan you are now accessing this blog on the new and improved, out of beta, website. Those of you with old bookmarks may have gotten 404 errors when trying to get your fix today - so update your bookmarks accordingly.
Please be sure to let me know if you are experiencing any growing pains. I know that there may be some issues with browser compatibility - but I'll continue working on it. However, all seems to be working on the latest versions of Safari and Firefox, and the Blog can be accessed safely via the archives if need be. Browser compatibility is currently an issue do to Ajax on some of the pages. For example, the Closet Poetry page always fetches the latest version of a poem from GDocs, and the Blog exercises some server-side caching and automagic page updating (that's right - you never have to reload the Blog page!). Also improved are certain pages' load speed (though this could also still use some tweaking).

August 7, 2008

Square #5

What do I want,
Or I believe?
I've got two lives;
Now which to lead?
Have you ever been at a crossroads of you life - and been able to tell?

August 6, 2008

Carmen Sandiego

As you get older, you realize just how foolish you've been in the past. Take, for instance, Carmen Sandiego. I used to love playing those games. But I never really questioned the things which she stole; like, the Eiffel Tower.
To start off, why would anyone want to steal the Eiffel Tower? Second, how would you be able to steal the Eiffel Tower? It's huge and it's surrounded by people constantly. But let's just say you felt like stealing it and actually pulled it off; Where would you hide the Eiffel Tower?

August 5, 2008

Sound Off!

I'm making a new cookbook web app. Mainly because I want to access my mother's recipes from wherever I am. But I'm thinking of hosting on its own domain. The problem is finding a good one that is available. Which of these sounds better:,,,,, or
Sound off in the comments!

August 4, 2008

Release Your Inhibitions (Feel the rain on your skin)*

I haven't challenged you in a long time, so here we go:
All of you with portable music players (iPod, CD - cassette if you must), I want you to take it with you everywhere. Make sure you've got some music that really moves you - physically that is. Cause here's the challenge;

Next time you find yourself in a public area where no one knows you,
just start dancing to your music.
That's right; break it down, pop it, pump it, grind it, boogie oogie oogie till you just can't boogie no more**.
Yeah, no one will no what you are dancing to (they won't even be able to hear it). They will likely give you funny looks. Forget them. They do not know you, you do not know them, and you will likely never see each other again. Do it in the supermarket, parking lots, or where-ever (my favorite place is BJs). Enjoy the dance and revel in your freedom!
Want extra bonus points (on top of the ones you get for completing this challenge)? Record yourself dancing and send it to me!

*from Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield
**from Boogie Oogie Oogie by A Taste Of Honey

August 3, 2008

More From the Archives

The archives are huge. But frankly, it's becoming hard to find the stuff worth sharing anymore. Here's something I think makes it though:

The thoughts inside my mind are gib'rish,
With poems of love and dreams of kisses.
I'd wish for you with all three wishes;
You are the one which my heart misses.
No analysis; I think you get the idea.

August 2, 2008


I got a visit from the health inspector yesterday. And guess what, the BFSC Snack Bar passed! We had a couple of minor problems - but nothing serious, and it was certainly better than years before. And of course, this is the first time that passing was actually my responsibility. But the whole thing was lightning fast (maybe 15 minutes), so I couldn't be happier.

August 1, 2008

Riddle Me Poetry

How would you know what up feels like
If you had never felt so down?
And could you ever just stand still
If you'd never spun round and round?
The idea is that you need to feel the whole range of emotion before you can understand your self at any given time. More simply put; it's all relative.
I actually tried really hard to expand this thought, but it was just too strained. So here it is now in its petite glory.