Gesticulations and Other Geekery » Posts in 'Life (other than code)' category

California: June

I have been in Mountain View, CA for 2 weeks now. The internship at Google has been going well. The basic time line has been as follows:

  • I arrived in Mountain View on May 31st.
  • My first day at Google was Jun 2nd.
  • They did “on-boarding” for most of that week. Which was kinda painful at times, but I did learn a lot about how Google works.
  • On Friday I finally got a chance to start to do a little real work and I started to figure out what project I would be doing. More on that below.
  • The next week (last week) I had only one class I had to attend so I finally started to get real amounts of work done.

I’ve been meeting lots of good people both at Google and from my housemate Dave’s social group. There are board games every Tuesday night and dinner and movies every Saturday, so I have not been suffering from lack of socialization which has been nice (it keeps Arthur from getting even more crazy). Yesterday I went on a hike with a bunch of Google interns. It was fun though the group was a bit too big and for some reason everyone wanted to walk really fast, so I ended up at the very back keeping track of the stragglers and taking pictures. The stragglers where actually a really fun group of people it turned out.

The hike was to the beach at Reyes Point (click the link to see a map of our route). It was a really nice hike (though longer than I expected). I got some good pictures and even a couple panoramas. I also met several really good people and chatted about all sort of nerdy things (these are Google interns after all).


My Google project is related to type checking Python code. I probably shouldn’t go into too much detail online since I don’t know what is secret and what isn’t, but I know I can tell you about the code that is open-source already. I have been working with PyTypeDecl and a metacyclic Python bytecode interpreter called Byterun. It’s been quite interesting and I think the I will be proud of the results.

So overall California is treating me well. Tomorrow I will be back to work and trying to push forward with my plan of action. And trying not to eat too many snacks. Oh, that reminds me. As some of you I’m sure know, Google has free food all over the place. They have cafes all over campus that are all free (for Googlers), and they actually produce very good food. I mean not everything is great, but it’s better than most of the $5 lunches I could get around UT. Also they have kitchenettes on each floor which have a lot of snacks and tea and stuff like that. I guess their theory is a well fed programmer is a productive programmer. I don’t mind being pampered a bit, but the chocolate they have is good enough to be really dangerous. ;-)

Posted in Grad School, Life (other than code), Programming Theory, Travel

Almost there

My father and I just crossed the Texas border. We are still a 7 hour drive from Austin but this is the last leg in some sense. We will be spending the night at a motel somewhere along I-10. And tomorrow moving into my apartment.

Last night I tripped in the camp ground and skinned my knee and mildly sprained my ankle. I managed to see some of carlsbad caverns today anyway. So that worked ok.

It’s hard to take pictures in a cave, even a lit one. So the carlsbad pictures will be mediocre at best. Though I do have an interesting idea about post processing: could I merge the sharp image of a flash picture with the color and brightness of a natural light image to get a sharper version of the natural light image?

And by the way, we live in the future. I’m posting this while moving at breakneck speed (75 mph) across the west Texas desert on US-285.

Again there  will be more text and pictures about this trip in coming weeks as I work through my picture (around 1500 of them I think) and write up some discussion of the trip. However as a preview. The main take away from this trip is you really need 2-3 days at most of the locations instead of 4-5 hours.

A VLA dish (I’m in front of it, look for the ant sized creature)

Rocks and plants at the Valley of Fires Campground we stayed at last night. (where I hurt me self)

A drapery at Carlsbad Caverns in the “Big Room”.

Posted in Life (other than code), Travel

Driving to Austin (Preview)

I said I would try to post so here is a quick one. I’m in a KOA campground in Holbrook, AZ. So far the neat stops have been almost all canyons, with one exception:

  • Crooked River
  • The Bonoville Saltflats
  • Kolob Canyons (in Zion National Park)
  • The Grand Canyon

We have been camping (except for one night were we cheated and went to motel). The next couple of days will be the VLA (Very Large Array Radio Telescope) and maybe Carlsbad Caverns.

Here are a few pictures. Many more have been taken and will be shared later.

Bonoville Saltflats

Kolob Canyon (Zion National Park)

Grand Canyon (from Imperial Point)

Posted in Life (other than code), Travel

Visiting Japan: Part 3

This is the third of three posts. The three parts are 12, and 3.

May 28

Once I parted ways with Martin, Kyoko, and Sarah I got on the Shinkansen to Nagoya for the next conference.

That night I stay at a Ryokan, a “traditional” Japanese hostel of sorts. It was of course a tourist trap, but it was also pretty cheap and sleeping on Tatami was interesting. It was pretty good night. I failed to find any of the restaurants I went looking for for dinner, so I ended up just getting convenience store Sushi, which is pretty good in Japan. Also I got a red bean danish, which was awesome. In fact I really wish I could get themhere. That and the awesome green tea ice cream bars. I should try to source them in the US.

May 29

In the morning I had a “traditional” Japanese breakfast involving eggs cooked at the table over a flame and various fishy things. It was good. Then I headed to the conference (WFLP). I was the first to present in the morning and I presented my abstract on evaluating functional programs in parallel using random traversals, “The Random Traversal Technique for Parallel Evaluation of Functional Programs”. It went well and someone told me I was wrong which I was pretty happy about. I mean at least it was interesting enough for someone to have an opinion about. WFLP was only a single day. Read more »

Posted in Travel

Visiting Japan: Part 2

This is the second of three posts. The three parts are 12, and 3.

May 26

In the evening I got on the Shinkansen and went to Tokyo to meet with Martin, Kyoko, and Sarah. I met them at Shin-Yokohama and we went to Minato Mirai and rode the large farris wheel. It was pretty cool.


Then we had Sushi. Which was interesting. Raw fish is subtle, but tasty. Honestly I learned through the trip that I prefer raw fish to cooked fish. Also the rice is amazing in Sushi. In fact the rice Shuyu, Wasabi combination is my favorite part. I ate Fugu (puffer fish) but I was not actually that impressed. It was good but not impressive deep fried, but the raw Fugu was really tough and kind of boring. However I really enjoyed the Unagi (I think, it might have been a different eel) and what I think was some kind of tuna. Overall it was very good. Sushi is the only meat that I ate in Japan that I kinda wish I ate more often, but I think I will be happy with vegetable Maki because rice and sauce are my favorite part. That being said, if I go back to Japan (which I would like to do) I would probably eat more Sushi.

Then we went back to Martin and Kyoko’s apartment.

Read more »

Posted in Life (other than code), Travel

Visiting Japan: Part 1

So better late then never like they say. This trip was almost 2 months ago, but I’m only now getting to posting about it. Life has been distracting. I was in Japan for 8 days from May 22 to May 30. And I’ll give a quick day by day with some pictures.

This is the first of three posts. The three parts are 1, 2, and 3.

May 22-23

Rice paddies

I traveled for 24 hours straight from Portland to Los Angeles to Tokyo to Kobe. The flight from LAX to Tokyo alone was around 10 hours. It was exhausting, but went pretty well. As we came into to Narita Airport (Tokyo) I say a bunch of “fields” that made me think of coming into Kansas and seeing all the wheat. But it hit me this was not wheat. They were rice paddies. Eventually I made it to my hotel in Kobe.

May 24

This was my first day at FLOPS and it went well. I say some talks and I talked to people. It was interesting. That night was the conference banquet so they loaded us onto a bus and drove us to Arima Onsen where we had some time to wander around a little resort town of sorts and we had a rather fancy meal. I spent my free time walking around on my own. I saw some Shinto shrines and a Budist temple. It was all very beautiful.

Read more »

Posted in Life (other than code), Travel

A quick update

It’s been a while since I posted. Sorry about that. And this will be a short one. I just thought I’d post a quick update.

  • I got back from my Japan trip (which I will post about soon I hope with lots of pictures). Japan was interesting and I presented two papers.
  • I have submitted what I believe is the final version of my thesis.
  • I walked for my graduation and I should officially graduate in a month or so.
  • I am planning my move to Austin, TX and I’m visiting Austin next week to find an apartment and all that. I’m also going to talk to a few faculty members and maybe start some research thought.
I’ll try to post again soon. Hopefully with Japan pictures.

Posted in Life (other than code), Uncategorized

Going to Japan

I’m in the airport waiting to leave on my trip to Japan. I’m insanely early, but it seems to be one of those things where if you get there early everything goes fast, but if you are running late you get later. So I am over 2 hours early for my flight.

I am on my way to Kobe, Japan for FLOPS 2012. I will be traveling for roughly 24 hours: 2.5 hours to LAX, 11 hours to Tokyo, and finally 6 hours on a train to Kobe. That doesn’t add up to 24 hours, but there will be time in custom and things and I’m not sure how I estimated it in the first place. Maybe it will be less.

I will spend 3 days in Kobe and then head up to Tokyo to visit Marty for 2 days and then back down to Nagoya for another conference (WFLP) for my last day and then back up to Tokyo for my last day. It’s going to be quite a trip with lots of time on trains, but I’m kind of excited about the trains so that’s OK.

I have a JR pass (similar to the Eurail Pass) for 7 days (it just hit me yesterday that I will be in Japan for 8 days, so I guess that last trip up to Tokyo will be in addition to the JR rail pass cost). The JR pass does  not cover Nozomi (the fastest of the Shinkansen, “bullet trains”) but all of  the Shinkansen are fast which should be fun.

I am presenting a paper at both conferences. At FLOPS it is a paper I co-authored with my adviser (Sergio Antoy). At WFLP it is a Work-in-Progress extended abstract that I wrote my self based on a class project I did last fall. I’m excited about both, but slightly more so about WFLP because I am the sole author and because I’ve been working with the subject of the FLOPS paper way too much because it is also the subject of my thesis.

In other news, I passed my thesis defense earlier this month and I submitted the final version of my thesis yesterday. So I’m finally done with that and I will be graduating in June with my Master of Science in Computer Science. This is pretty exciting to me. ;-)

In my last post I mentioned the camera I was eyeing. I did get it and I’m pretty darn happy with it. You can see some pictures at my google plus album. I’m thinking about starting to use flicker or something like that for better photo sharing.

Anyway, wish me luck in Japan. It should be exciting. Sadly, I’d really rather have sleep right now, not excitement (and not just because it’s 5:30am). I am looking forward to getting back from Japan and getting some real rest. It has been a really intense term.

Posted in Grad School, Life (other than code), Uncategorized

An update on plans and schools and being an academic

So it’s been a while since I posted and, just in case there in anyone who reads this who I don’t regularly talk to, I thought I’d give an update.

I have decided (3 weeks ago) to go to Austin for my PhD. I’m scared but it’s the right choice academically. I will definitely lose something, since I have a several very good friends here in Portland. But who knows maybe I will be able to come back someday. I do like it here.

Regardless, it is decided. So in Aug I will be moving across the country again. Not quite as far as last time, but it’s still a ways. I’ve been thinking about logistics: I will either ship things (FedEx) or drive a mini-van or similar. I’ve already started making some contacts in Austin and I will probably visit there in July before I move. There are a couple reasons. One is that it will allow me to get an apartment. The other is that there are some people at UT that would like to talk to me before the semester starts, including a student who is leaving and I will be continuing their work to some extent (probably, nothing is set about what I will do and there are a lot of options).

Also I submitted my Master’s thesis to my committee. I will be defending it on May 10th (if you are in Portland you would be welcome to come to the defense just email me and ask for location and time), so I still have a lot of work to do to prepare for that and once that is done I need to prepare for my presentations in Japan (see below), so I’m still quite busy but I’m relieved to have the thesis out of my hands for at least the moment. I will still have to do another revision after the defense.

In other news, I’m going to Japan for a week in late May. I have a paper in FLOPS (First author is Sergio Antoy) and will probably have an extended abstract in the WFLP Work-in-Progress session. I will also have 3 days to be a tourist. I have a 7-day Japan Rail Pass, so I will be able to run around Japan in most of the trains. It will be pretty exciting, but also scary. I still have logistics to work out.

I’m planning on buy a semi-fancy camera for the trip and because I like to take pictures of things currently I plan on getting the Sony Alpha NEX-5N. I will be buying it very soon, probably today, so that I have it for my trip.

Also my websites got hacked a while back and I didn’t even notice. Grr. I feel like an idiot. I have now fixed everything and upgraded everything. I am 99% sure there are no lingering backdoors. :-/ I’m going to set up some monitoring scripts, so I will get notified immediately if it happens again.

Posted in Grad School, Life (other than code)

Random stuff I don’t need and can’t afford (But I kinda want anyway)

1. A computer

Yes that’s 64 cores. It would cost around $5000. Honestly not that bad for more than 50 cores.

Uses: Research into multicore and parallel programming and compilation techniques.

2. A sound system

A pair (or maybe 8 for ambisonics!) of Meyer UPM-1Ps. They are beautiful and durable and loud as heck. So really studio monitors are probably more realistic. But I have a soft spot for UPM-1Ps because I had a pair in my office for years.

They are around $1800 per speaker. So a pair is $3600 and a cube worth is $14,400.

Uses: Awesome playback of paraphonic audio. Out doing my neighbors sound system by several orders of maganitude. For instance I might be able to do justice to the cannons of the 1812 Overture if I didn’t like my windows too much. I think that would out do the hip hop my neighbors play.

3. A Camera with wide angle lenses

Probably a Nikon DSLR of some kind or maybe if I’m particularly insane a large format Red camera. Then a fish eye lens and a hemispheric lens.

Uses: Panographic photography.

4. A paraphonic microphone array and a multi channel portable recorder

This is the equivalent of a panoramic camera setup except for sound. There are 2 approaches: a ambisonic microphone (4 or 9 channels, first and second order respectively), or a 2d (or 3d) microphone array and some pretty advanced software (this works by measuring the phase differences between the mics and building a model of the sound field). The second case it more accurate than ambisonic because ambisonic encode only the pressure vector at a single point where as the array actually gets you some information about the wave fronts. So a mic array will in theory have be able to give you information about the sound over some small area instead of at a point. This could result in better playback over an area; ambisonic tends to have a sweat spot outside of which the localization degrades quickly.


So whenever I think about audio and image capture gear I always find my self wanting to capture the essence of a place more than any specific image or sound. I want to take a panorama and 20 minutes of audio and then show it to people. Because in some small way it would allow them to be there. Far more than a single picture or just a few minutes of mono audio. They would hear the cars drive by and see the whole sky and hear the bees that investigate the microphone. I really want to try to do that at some point.

As a side note. I actually do think it’s time for me to own a digital camera. Probably a Nikon COOLPIX P7100 or P7000 or something similar. I like having a view finder and I want a full manual mode. Though I might give up on the viewfinder. All the cameras from listed here look good: The Panasonic looks pretty good too and you can get an external viewfinder for it (attaches to the shoe). I’m not sure when I will do it but I think I’d like to have a better camera than my phone.

Posted in Computers, Hardware, Life (other than code)