December 7, 2018

BABAM Takes Music To The Streets from Julia Maruca on Vimeo.

December 7, 2017

Is it just me or are conservatives a lot more likely to use a term like "wonderful" non-ironically than liberals? And is Trump leading that or just part of a trend or larger reason for that?
AI AlphaGo Zero started from scratch to become best at Chess, Go and Japanese Chess within hours - This is pretty incredible stuff, and damn near my idea that "I'll be impressed when the same program that wins at Go wins at Chess, and for the same reasons."

I remember hearing about the core idea (setting a game-playing AI against a copy of itself to improve) used in Arthur Samuel's checker playing program back in the late-50s.

All the games AlphaGo Zero plays are "perfect information" games. I wonder how it would do with games of ambiguity and bluff and randomness, like Poker (or Stratego, even.) I suspect when you have a computer play a version of itself, you're vulnerable to the "hill climbing" problem (i.e. if you always head towards the highest ground NEAR you, you might end up stranded on a local high peak, but not the highest in the land) - that you get a certain type of genius at playing another certain type of genius, but vulnerable when playing a more wildcard player, and that vulnerability is increased if you don't know the full state of the game.

Of course, my favorite emergent chess program behavior remains the stories around Atari 2600 Video Chess; the screen would blank as the computer was "thinking", and sometimes when the board returned you'd find some pieces weren't quite where they were before...

UPDATE: better summary The future is here – AlphaZero learns chess

December 7, 2016

Wears a hat of someone else's choosing
A sunset lover
Smooth elbows
A man with specific mannerisms
Sleeps diagonally
A perplexment
Rides the carousel
An evening botanist
Classically athletic
Wears a light wristwatch
Gives a careful handshake
Gives too much change for a dollar
A fluent swimmer
A keen-eyed birdwatcher
Fond of his mother
Built on an uncertain foundation
A real jackdaw
Avowed bachelor
A gentleman of the piers
Born with the caul
An aesthete
In the way of uncles
He throws a party with an open guest list
Son of the moon
A boy from Eton
Always rings twice
Has a silk bathrobe
Not quite up-to-code
He hitchhikes instead of taking the bus
Stays ahead of the game
A skillful mountain climber
Salutes another flag
An upside-down chimney-sweep
--from code words for 'gay' in classic films

advent day 7

"I feel like one of my life goals should be getting a lifesize cut-out made out of me. Would you want one?"
"You're such an only child."
--Me and Melissa

December 7, 2015

advent day 7

"Turns out the most valuable thing you gain from making something is the experience of making it. You can use that experience to make more, better things, and whether you're looking for a creative career or just the emotional fulfillment of making something awesome, you're further down the road now than you were then."
--J.F. Sargent in Cracked's 5 Ways Creative Peoples' Brains Mess With Their Heads

animal advent ala emberley day 7

December 7, 2014

The other week I was doing bachelor boy shopping at the Porter Square Star Market and they had Progresso Soup that was marked down from $3 to $1 per can, so I stocked up a bit but probably not as much as I shoulda! (And its been a nice switch up from my usual low cal bachelor boy dinner of popcorn, at not too many more calories.) I've been lucky enough in life that I've never had to be much of a coupon clipper (and distracted enough that I didn't want to be) but is there a good system of alerts out there, when certain stuff is cheap at certain places?
RIP Ralph Baer, father of video games

It wasn't a bad month for music, but nothing really jumps out as great.
"We'd like to show you a picture of our office, but we actually are never in it. BECAUSE WE ARE TOO BUSY HUSTLING RIGHT NOW. BRING YOUR RAIN COAT!CAUSE WE ARE TRYNNA MAKE IT RAIN IN Q4!"
--Detroit Team for Millennial Media

December 7, 2013

December 7, 2013

advent day 7

December 7, 2012

December 7, 2012

advent day 7

javadvent day 7

December 7, 2011

Take some time to think about time.
On my devblog, a pretty nifty double helix animation in processing.js

flynning for the winning

December 7, 2010

-via Miller -- I'm not sure if lightsabers add a ton to the classic duel but it did make me look up an explanation of the fencing techniques the combatants talk about...
UI engineers think they're geniuses for the blatant over application of "Fitts' Law". The whole stopwatch UI metric thing is not fully baked - Teller reminds me why I don't dig puzzles, even w/ the MIT Mystery Hunt looming. - Folks resent Pluto's deplanetization because they think science is a collection of facts, not the ongoing process of consensus and self-correction that really makes it the best way of understanding the physical world.
Two rants, both using the parable of the Good Samaritan: Slacktivist uses it to unask the question "do all paths lead to God",
Fake Steve Jobs uses it to point out how so many Christians are in total denial about how their faith contradicts the actual teachings of Jesus.

heh, park street red line totally smells like weed, transit cops are walking around.

javadvent calendar day 7

(1 comment)
December 7, 2009

Since covered phones can't be admired by anyone but their owners, there must be some unspoken pleasure in the idea that you--and you alone--can lift that burqa of molded silicone. --Slate on smartphone covers. I always thought they seemed silly myself, not to mentioning spoiling to cool pebble-like physicality of an iPhone.
While it's not setting the world on fire, it's gratifying to Google on "javadvent" and see where its gotten. (There were only 2-3 hits for the word prior, mostly with this "jav/Advent.htm" variant.)
"I really, really hate my brain. Luckily, I'm slowly killing it with alcohol, so in the end, I'll win. Eventually. I suppose."

why don't you make like a tree and pine?

December 7, 2008
This morning went out to a pick your own Christmas Tree place, Oaknoll Farm. I guess these things aren't generally "cut your own" (liability being what it is, I imagine) but Emil, the proprietor, was good company and very patient with EB and co.'s selection process.

For worse or probably better, EB got his wish of a nice picturesque first snow of the season...

EBB standing in the snow...

...and following EBSO

Sneak preview of their Christmas Card this year...

I had to give in and admit it was a pretty day...

Finally, hail to the conquering tree-dragging hero.

how high?

December 7, 2007
I thought of one of those Microsoft-style brain-teasers, meant less to get a single answer as to see how some thinks through a difficult mathematical e

So everyone who is born is born at a certain altitude, and everyone who dies dies at a certain, probably different, altitude. Do you think net altitude over the course of humanity is a net positive or a net negative? Would an astronaut who died in space throw that off?

Superhero of the Moment
--First of The Superest, a series of superheroes, each one designed to nullify the one that came before. The artists seem to be having a great time, reminds me of a game of Mr. Snowman.

Gameshow of the Moment
On Family Feud:
Richard Dawson: "A number you have to memorize...."
Contestant: "7."
--via Bill... I love that answer.

Nostalgia of the Moment
I was surprised to see the headline story at was the 25th anniversary of the Commodore 64 computer. It was an ok article, but saying that peopel considered its "graphics weak in comparison to the Apple II and Atari 800" was just backwards... they were right that it had the worst BASIC but graphic wise it was pretty clearly the best. (Not to mention the best selection of pirated games...)

ride 'em, codeboy

December 7, 2006
Yesterday I had a small situation that had a reasonably happy ending, but reminded me why some of my concerns about "intractable problems at work" exist. It's hard to explain without going into details... basically, I have to ramp on webservices, a lesser-used corner of my company's project that this client is interested in. So I started with some example code we had kicking around, but the code was rough, and took a lot of manhandling just to get it in runnable shape. And all through it, I didn't have 100% faith in the system, but I figured I just need to adjust some things that had been hardcoded in order to fit in with my laptop environment, and get a few files that were left out of the distribution, and then just take a look and figure out what was going on.

So I ran into a problem, fixed my code, ran into another problem, tried a few things, fixed the problem, etc. But I ran into a problem I didn't think I understood at all, but probably was an issue with my code, so I asked my manager about it, and he said the symptom was of a specific breed of bug, but he thought they had cleared those out... and indeed, it turns out I was running the test software against a slightly older version of the product. The bug wasn't in the code I was working on but as a result of using an older version of the product.

So problem solved, right? Well sure, but take my manager out of the equation, and I'm potentially beating my head against this error message for hours. Well, frankly it just couldn't be done, not by me in the time frame I had allotted, and not without working up a damn profound knowledge of some sections of my company's product's infrastructure. And that was after I gave up trying to fix my local code, figuring that the problem was most likely there.

This story has an ok ending, but... I dunno. The concept of not knowing if I should throw up my hands or persevere concerns me very much.

Yeesh. If I had been one of those guys who like, played sports in high school, or just in the neighborhood, is this one of the lessons I would have learned? Learning to deal with other teams that are just better, and playing on through situations that may or may not be utterly hopeless?

Image of the Moment
--of all these kitties, this one, sans caption was my favorite. Invisible Bike was pretty amazing though.

A lot of the photos are plays on "im in ur base, killing ur d00ds", here's an explanation... but this page has a different theory about the origin, claiming it was a novice player killing his own forces. It's a more satisfying story, but is that likely to happen in Starcraft?

happy one billion seconds to me!

December 7, 2005
Today at 2:05 in the morning (Eastern), I was one billion seconds old! (Give or take a minute, but still, that's like 5 decimal places of accuracy!)

Funny, I hardly feel a second over 900,000,000.

This and other feats of extreme chronological geekification can be performed on my good old date toy, the same one that told me that August 16th was my 10K Day. (And yes, I had the exact same "funny, I..." joke back then. Same (and forgetful) minds think alike.)

In other news, I start my new job today. At a place called "Refresh". Maybe I should try to work it so the obvious symbolism of that name, plus starting my second billion seconds, has real meaning.

Aside of the Moment
Pet peeve: I don't know if my phone has a better workaround for this, but I hate when you call someone on cell, their voicemail kicks in, and then you get a message that they're calling you far as I can tell there's no "hangup on this call (voicemail), don't just switch to the incoming call" option on my phone, so you end up leaving a big message of silence on their voicemail. I found a work around, at least for when I'm calling someone's Sprint voicemail: hitting * brings up a menu, and * again cancels the message. So it's good to know how to do that at least.

Quote of the Moment
"The quickest way to a man's heart really is through his stomach, because then you don't have to chop through that pesky rib cage."
--J. Jacques

despair and eggs

December 7, 2004
Recipe of the Moment
Ingredients: 1 large casserole dish
Place the casserole dish in a cold oven. Place a chair facing the oven and sit in it forever. Think about how hungry you are. When night falls, do not turn on the light.
--excerpt from the Jean-Paul Sartre Cookbook, via Sawers

Link of the Moment
A long time ago I liked to the site's starship gallery, but the Star Trek site Ex Astris Scientia has lots of other cool (at least, cool as measured on a scale of "1" to "Star Trek") stuff, like the Inconsistencies page...the page on Trek's view of religion is very telling about the culture and creators that spawned the various incarnations of the show.

cold day

December 7, 2003
Hope everyone in nor'easter land is muddling through. We've shoveled 3 or 4 times. People just shouldn't be living this far north.

Anyway, in the interest of this blog's secondary function of keeping people informed about The Life of Kirk, I'm gonna mention that it looks like Mo and I are going to break up. I think it's fair to say it's her decision. There's a bundle of reasons, each one has had its turn feeling more or less important; her feeling there's a connection we haven't made all this time, not enough shared activities, that our admitted difference in ambition (she tends to be very driven to pursue various projects, I tend to have a less pro-active, take it as it comes approach) is something she can't deal with in a life-partner, the usual waxing and waning of sex drives, her feeling she's missed out by never having lived alone for any significant time. Over the past month or so we've been talking a lot, a bit of couples therapy, writing e-mail, I've been trying to convince her that our life together is really something good, and can be made better, especially now that she's finally talking about what's bugging her. But I fear she's not so easily persuaded.

I find giving up on a relationship or any commitment to be an incredibly painful thing to do (I really think that tenacity shows in weird places, like the strength of my commitment to music groups I've joined; if I'm not super-delighted about the direction of the group I'll gripe about it, but I'm the one that's always there) though I saw that possibility of giving up for the first a week or so ago, a line in the sand to cross, and yesterday when she said she'd be leaving me, I guess that was that.

It's amicable though, almost weirdly so. It's definately one of those situations where it would have been useful if she had identified some of these issues before the wedding and the purchase of our house, but hey. (Or as Brooke pointed out, it's like Adam Sandler says in The Wedding Singer: "Once again, Things that could have been brought to my attention YESTERDAY!") Still, within the context of doing what she thinks she owes it to herself to do, Mo is trying to be as kind and nice as possible, and does seemed pained by the hurt this kind of thing is going to cause me and also our families.

I'm glad to see she's started her own livejournal. You can see some of her thoughts and point of view there, but she wanted me to mention that it isn't the "true, deep representation" of how she feels about all of this.

Art of the Moment
I was contacted by Marissa Saradpon, because for a Design Layout class she had illustrated my old story Yee and Lan...the resulting work is really terrific, and her timing was great...I made it the feature for this month's Blender of Love (which saved me from writing up some horrendous essay about the breakup of me and Mo.)

Toy of the Moment
Your chance to rock the world of the holiday snowglobe dwellers. Really amusing. And a pretty good metaphor for how this holiday season is going for me...

from poop to policy

December 7, 2002
Funny of the Moment
In the beginning was the Plan
And then came the Assumptions
And the Assumptions were without form
And the Plan was completely without substance
And the Darkness was on the faces of the Employees
And they spoke unto their Supervisors saying
"It's a Crock of Shit and it Stinketh!"
And the Supervisors went unto their Department Heads and sayeth
"It's a Pail of Dung, and none may abide the Odor thereof."
And the Department Heads went unto their Managers, and sayeth unto them
"It is a Container of Excrement, and it is very strong, such that none may abide by it."
And the Managers went unto their Director and sayeth
"It is a Vessel of Fertilizer, and none may abide its Strength."
And the Director went unto the Vice President and sayeth
"It contains that which aids Plant Growth, and it is very Strong."
And the Vice President went to the Executive Vice President and sayeth
"It promoteth Growth, and it is very Powerful."
And the Executive Vice President went to the President and sayeth
"This Powerful New Plan will actively promote the Growth and Efficiency of the System."
And the President looked upon the Plan and saw that it was Good
And the Plan became Policy
--via rec.humor.funny.reruns. It's really great how it plays with language.

Product of the Moment
Someone had the same idea I had for using laptops on the desk. Still, I wonder if that's good for the hinge?

I first saw that thing in the latest Wired, which had the cover headline "CHINA:THE NEW CLONING SUPERPOWER". You know, when I think of china, and what it needs as a nation, a way of making more people isn't high on the list. (To be fair I think the article raises the same point.)

Comic of the Moment
This here is Drinky Crow from the comic Maakies. As Ranjit says, "you weren't already obsessed with Maakies? You should be." A brilliantly bizarre comic, with an interesting archaic style, it's kind of like Little Nemo in Slumberland's alcoholic and suicidal cousin, crossed with Itchy & Scratchy and with a streak of tiny Bazooka Joe cartoons underneath (but more misogynistic). Being the borderline obsessive compulsive that I am I had to read the entire archive. If you're in a hurry, I liked this one on kisses, this one made me laugh, this one had a strange poetic beauty, and this one's undercartoon was a bit like a Jack Handy routine. (I love the whole "DOOK DOOK DOOK" drink sound.)

dennett done it

December 7, 2001
Peterman called me 40 minutes before a talk by Daniel Dennett last night. He's my favorite philosopher, I loved his spirited defense of classical Darwinism and I find his definition and explanation of consciousness to be right on the money. I can't believe I didn't pursue any philosophy when I was at Tufts, where he presides. I'm also wondering if I didn't ask a clunker of a question in the Q+A; I thought it was a fair question given some indefinite areas in his talk, but it may have come across badly. Ah well, I'll take solace in this next quote (from my October 1999 PalmPilot journal) from Richard Feyman...

Quote of the Moment
"I'll never make that mistake again, reading the experts' opinions. Of course, you only live one life, and you make all your mistakes, and learn what not to do, and that's the end of you."
--Richard Feynman, "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" I don't know why, but I find it a very reassuring quote.

Link of the Moment
So I guess the segway, aka Ginger, aka "IT", has been in the news lately. (Oddly, I've heard more about the coverage than I've seen coverage itself.) It's an electric, two-wheeled self-balancing scooter. Some people praise it as the next wonderful thing, but this Piece in Salon points out that it's not replacing cars, buses or trains; what it's replacing is walking. Dean Kamen, a nation turns its chubby eyes to you.

KHftCEA 1999-12.1 December

"I had an exhilarating, deeply moving, sharing moment with the woman who brought you into this world"
--Loomis Farkle getting *nasty*
What is it to be in love? Well, I'm in love, and it means you feel you have sailed into port. At the end of the road, after each day of the petty struggle for power and glory, I get to be with this marvelous human being whose company is continually interesting, whom I admire, who can speak the truth to me, who I am loyal to and fond of to an excessive degree, whom I crave being naked with, and who reciprocates these feelings. There is deep bass drumming and there is also a high degree of civility, I believe. And it does exist. And it's worth your time and trouble to find a person you can be in love with. Surely there are many men you could be in love with, maybe as many as 214, and all you need to do is come across one of them when the stars are shining and the light is right for your complexion. He'll look at you and fasten himself to you for the rest of the evening and it'll be all you can do to shuck him and after a while you'll give up on it and marry him.
--Mr. Blue
My feelings for the KHftCEA reflect my opinion that profound, true things can be expressed in pithy(ish) quotes. So can lies and misdirections, and part of the fun is seeing which hold up when you think about them.

Had lunch with Lena- talked about this weekend: E, and odd kisses with new friends. In trying to understand me and Mo, she poses interesting hypotheticals that make me analyze my own motives and feelings in a very good way.

KHftCEA 1997-12.1 December

Kaekel's Conjecture: Any neural system sufficiently complex to generate the axioms of arithmetic is too complex to be understood by itself.
"He is the billboard of his own buffoonery."

Wow.  That was some party at Shayne's last night-- didn't get home 'til 5.  Note to self: don't be the token straight guy among a group of drinking lesbians playing "I Never" and "Truth or Dare" unless you really want to. Still to come, will much transpire from Mo's half-whispered suggestions of the FAFs?
Tough to lose the smirk.