Bits: Archive

Hmm, not spending much time on my website these days...

April 18 - Nice charts on the actual historical stock market returns including dividends and inflation, along with historical data on college tuition increases above inflation. Plus, let's throw in health care growth too just to round out the picture.

January 2 - Happy New Year! Enjoy today's palindrome date: 01022010

April 29 - For those looking to downsize their house: Tumbleweed Tiny House Company.

September 23 - Obama and McCain give their opinions on a number of science questions.
September 22 - These days it seems like money is often discussed in terms of billions of dollars, which is a really big amount. This site helps visualize just how big a billion dollars is.
May 1 - The importance of duct tape, even on the moon.

November 4 - CMU just won the Urban Grand Challenge robot vehicle race. Congratulations to the Tartan Racing team!
March 30 - A robot that can dance to the beat.

November 22 - This Saturday is the Dirty Dozen bicycle race up the 12 steepest hills in Pittsburgh. The steepest hill has a 37% grade and may be the steepest street in the world despite what Wikipedia says.
November 7 - On this voting day, an argument for negative ads: "The difference between a positive ad and a negative ad is that the negative ad has a fact in it"

June 30 - I defended my Ph.D. yesterday (my golden birthday). This morning I slept in, and when I went outside to get the paper I stood there and realized that I was actually relaxed for the first time in 6 months. I smelled the air, I heard the birds, and it felt great.
June 17 - Too busy finishing my thesis to find any interesting links
May 28 - I may be confuzzled, but I think these words are great!
May 16 - Bike to Work Week
April 22 - Robot Camel Jockeys
April 7 - A nice satire piece by Ben Franklin about what has now become Daylight Savings Time.
April 2 - Happy 200th birthday Hans Christian Andersen, a talented writer of fairy tales like The Emperor's New Clothes and many other works and the namesake of my elementary school.
March 7 - Science as art: beautiful images come from looking at things very large and very small.
Feb 28 - Check out this commentary on postmodernism. It's a bit tough to get through, but really interesting at the end.
Feb 7 - This is fun - a combination of two of my favorite things: Lego and iPod
Feb 3 - The Day The Music Died (also commemorated by Don McLean's song American Pie)

Dec 12 - I've been using Google Scholar to find research papers lately. It offers a nice search interface to a number of subscription services, but it doesn't seem to include results from personal author web pages.
Dec 1 - Check out this camera that uses multiple flashes to find object edges in order to automatically create a useful line drawing of the subject.
Nov 20 - Rolling Stone came out with their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. I'm not sure about Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" as the top pick, but then these lists are made to be disagreed with. Last year they did the 500 Greatest Albums.
Nov 18 - Panic Software, a cool little mac software company, recently retired their pioneering audio player, Audion. This was my music player of choice until iTunes came out. It turns out that this application has a very interesting story behind it, and luckily you can read about it here.
Nov 12 - Here's an interesting piece that argues that the journalistic desire for "balanced" stories may run counter to good scientific reporting.
Nov 7 - My college roommate Andy Caffrey just set up his new website. I really like its layout :)
Nov 1 - Election fun - the result of the Washington Redskins' last home game before the election has correctly predicted the outcome of every presidential race since 1936. The Packers beat the Redskins yesterday, which predicts a Bush loss. But regardless of a football game, GO VOTE TOMORROW!
Oct 28 - Last night there was a clear night for the lunar eclipse. It was also the first lunar eclipse to occur during a baseball playoff game. The planets were aligned. Go Red Sox!
Oct 27 - This guy makes some serious lego creations, including a biped walking robot and a device that can solve an arbitrary Rubik's cube!
Oct 26 - After delays and waiting and then waiting again after my computer was DOA, I finally got a working new G5 mac a few weeks ago, and so far it has been great and I love it. I added a new page about my computer, programs I like, and hints to get the most out of a mac.
Oct 6 - This past weekend I won my fantasy baseball league. I joined on a lark and used a magazine as a guide for who to draft. I know very little about current baseball players so I treated the whole thing as an optimization problem with uncertainty. Perhaps not being distracted by baseball knowledge actually helped me (like in Scrabble).
Sep 21 - After 3 delays and over 2 months of waiting, I finally got my new G5 mac today (FedEx made it ontime even though my street was under construction). Unfortunately, its fancy liquid cooling system had a problem so I have to send it back and get a new one. Back to waiting...
Sep 16 - The science journal Nature asked Kerry and Bush 15 different science policy related questions. Read their responses here.
Sep 14 - After two delays, my new G5 mac was supposed to ship today, but once again Apple delayed it even further with no explanation. Apple sucks.
Sep 8 - Politics! See where you stand at the political compass and check current vote predictions and trends at
Sep 3 - Arrrgh! After being delayed, my new G5 mac was supposed to ship today. Instead of getting a shipping notice, I received another delay with no explanation from Apple at 6pm today. This is very poor customer service. I will never again pre-order a new Apple product.
Aug 20 - If your language only contains the numbers one, two, and many, can you count to five? Maybe not. (For more in-depth information, see this pdf)
Aug 17 - I ordered a new dual G5 mac over a month ago, and they keep delaying shipment. Here's a chart showing order dates, delivery estimates, and actual delivery times (the red ones are late). Mine is under Herman (ordered 7/13). Delays like this are very frustrating. I want my new computer!
Aug 2 - This weekend I saw Howard Shore conduct the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra playing music from the Lord of the Rings. The music stood on its own, but it was enhanced further with the projection of concept art from the movie. It was an amazing show.
July 20 - I made fancy plots to try to win the iTunes 100 millionth song contest, but it didn't work out. At least I got some good music.
July 6 - I saw Kerry announce his VP choice at a rally here in Pittsburgh. I didn't get to shake his hand, but I did get to see him work the crowd.
June 19 - I just got a gmail account ( from a friend of a friend of a friend of someone at google. The interface is nice, but the whole thing is a little creepy.
May 27 - Next month I'll be renting a car in Ireland, where they drive on the left. Here's some explanation about why different countries drive on the left and the right.
May 24 - Every computer user's nightmare: my hard drive failed. Much of it was backed up. Quite a bit was not. Don't let this happen to you - set up a systematic backup plan.
May 18 - It's national Bike-to-Work Week. Try riding your bike today. I did.
May 5 - Added a new page about conservation.
May 4 - Our system of time is confusing. Here are explanations for the names and order of the days of the week. Personally, I think we should get with the program and switch to metric time.
May 3 - Dublin, Ireland had a laser light sculpture that could be controlled from anywhere over the web. Check out pictures of my design or an article about the sculpture.
April 22 - Happy Earth Day! The environment keeps getting better but there is still a lot of progress to be made.
April 17 - Today was CMU's celebration of the Indian festival
Holi where you throw color all over eachother. Check out our pictures.
April 16 - I ran CMU's Random Distance Run - two dice rolls determine the race length, but the 2nd die isn't rolled until someone completes the first part. The 1st roll was a 2 (yay!), but then the 2nd roll was a 6 (ugh!). At least it was a beautiful day to run 2 miles.
April 11 - My Mini Cooper just got stripes and a custom license plate. A new web page showing before and after pictures is here.
March 31 - Ever wonder why your toast always lands butter-side down?
March 27 - Spring is finally here. I took down the winter plastic on the windows and got some fresh air in my house. Warm weather is good.
March 13 - The Red Team only made it 7.4 miles in the Grand Challenge today, but they still made it farther than anyone else. It's a hard problem.
March 13 - Complete redesign of my website. (more)