Personal

Dragon NaturallySpeaking working

Wednesday, January 25th, 2006

So, I promise that I would start blogging again once I got Dragon NaturallySpeaking working. Well now it is working and fully trained and surprisingly my voice is controlling my computer. I’ve been laying off my right hand very much, and had a custom splint made him by an occupational therapist who has also been prescribing a steady treatment of anti-inflammatories, ultrasound and cortisone therapy, ice and heat. So far my symptoms are going the way; specifically, pain that used to radiate up into my right shoulder has completely disappeared and pains in my right wrist are subsiding. At first, I wasn’t going to be very optimistic, but I really like the way this is going.

I’ve been thinking a bit about how carpal tunnel syndrome seems to be more congenital than it is acquired through repetitive strain. That’s not to say that repetitive strain does not exist; only that some have a predisposition for acquiring the painful symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome. My mother had carpal tunnel syndrome — which she got over through conservative treatments — so it would make at least some sense.

I don’t want to come to any conclusions at this point, and I’m enjoying the break that I have from computing, so I will continue to lay off this blog for a while, at least until all of my major symptoms subside. Until then, keep thinking about all the issues that you think are important, and maybe while I’m taking a rest for my thinking chair, you’ll stand up and act. For starters, how about we oppose this horrible reconstruction of Washington Square Park which is going to ruin my commencement/graduation from NYU?

Hand trouble

Monday, January 9th, 2006

Many of you who know me know that I take computer ergonomics very seriously. I started doing so in my sophomore year (~1.5 years ago at this point), where I started to experience symptoms of a RSI from my intensive computer science classes.

Last semester, I took a long break from computers and saw my RSI symptoms disappear. Once I got back to work last semester, they came back even worse than before, and it even affected my performance in classes and such due to the strain and time I had to spend nursing the injury.

This break, I’ve been researching ways to get over this problem. I am still not sure if what I have is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, DeQuervain’s Syndrome, a muscle inflammation or pinched nerve (or all of the above), but I’m trying self-treatment by immobilizing my right wrist in a wrist splint, taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (i.e. ibuprofen) and using my left hand for as much as I can.

We’ll see how it goes, but I have to take a break from this blog for a couple weeks, most likely. (Unless I get Dragon Naturally Speaking working under Windows!)

2 Sleepless Nights Later

Thursday, December 22nd, 2005

and Finals are over! I need to get some shut-eye.

My Facebook Profile, and Everyone Else’s

Sunday, December 11th, 2005

-“You need to change your Facebook profile.”
-“Why?”
-“My friends all think it’s weird.”
-“Why?”
-“Because you mention things like ‘corporate power’ on it.”
-“So?”
-“The Facebook is supposed to be fun, you’re supposed to not take it seriously.”

So here, let me propose my new Facebook profile so it can be more amenable to social pressures. I’ve decided that the Facebook has become just as insane as real life, and, unfortunately, just as predictable.

Here is my Facebook profile for the alternate reality in which I care about making Facebook friends:

Relationship: Married to someone of my own sex even though I’m obviously straight. Hah hah, I’m so ironic.

Political Views: Moderate, even though I’m obviously liberal or conservative, but I don’t want to offend anyone. It’s not cool to talk about politics!

Interests: in truth, none whatsoever, so let me just write cute unfunny stuff here, like “Drinking with roomie,” or “duh, The Facebook.”

Favorite Music: A mish-mash of hip-hop, indy rock, and classic rock, because then you’ll know my musical palate isn’t vulgar.

Favorite Movies: here’s my chance to wow everyone with how cultured I am, so I’ll have at least one Coen Brothers movie here, and one or both of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or Waking Life.

Favorite Books: I don’t read on my own, because that’s not being social. So here are my choices: (1) my textbooks, because that’s ironic, and dodges the issue; (2) Catcher in the Rye or 1984, because I read that in high school and maybe no one will notice; or, (3) obviously bad books I’ve never read and no one will think I have, like “Treason” by Ann Coulter.

Favorite Quote: Something my roommate said while drunk. Isn’t it funny? Isn’t it? No, really, it’s funny… you had to be there. Or, if I take myself a bit more seriously that I can at least allow a quote, make sure it’s something about postmodernism or from a modern poem that makes minimal sense.

Now that you guys see I am capable of writing a Facebook profile exactly like all the others, perhaps you’ll stop asking me to. In the meanwhile, to make you all more comfortable being apathetic, I’ve censored political content from my interests. I’ve also deleted references to a comedian you’ve never heard of from my quotes section. If you’re lucky, I’ll promptly replace them with Jon Stewart quotes. (Politics is cool, apparently, only if it’s on TV.)

Can you tell it’s finals?

Thursday, December 8th, 2005

I haven’t posted here in a week. Eek.

Starting Dec. 22, I swear to write again. Finals are just kicking my ass this semester.

Disclosure: I have never read “Design Patterns”

Sunday, November 27th, 2005

But I decided I will now. Gonna buy this introduction plus the original by the Gang of Four in the next couple of days. Shame on me for waiting this long.

Met Runar, Discussed Software

Saturday, November 12th, 2005

I met with Runar (he’ll have a blog soon, I swear) today, and we discussed open source, Python, and all related goodness over coffee and vegetarian lunch free-riding on the ‘sNice wireless network.

We spent about 3 hours there, just talking about Runar’s project, “sqlstring”, my ideas about inferred typing and static source code analysis in Python, Python’s niceness in general, user interface toolkits, AJAX being a big, nasty hack, and web application frameworks in Java and Python. Our discussion really degrenerated into praise of vim once we discovered that we were both happy users. Text editors really bring people together.

Runar kind of convinced me that trying to infer all the types of objects is very “unpythonic,” which I guess is true since it discourages the crazy stuff you can do with Python. Maybe the best thing to do is judiciously eval code, as was my original impulse for getting nice completion out of Python? Not sure.

Or maybe I should just give up the idea and accept the fact that vim plus ipython is just about as good as it gets. That seems like a cop-out, though.

Regardless, Runar seemed somewhat willing (only half-willing) perhaps to give a small talk for Free Coders on Python, I’ll see if I can convince him that it’ll be fun. I suppose I could give the talk myself, but I already do all the talkin’.

Annotated and Hyperlinked Notes on Professor Dewar’s talk on Software Copyrights, Patents and Free Software

Thursday, November 10th, 2005

Below are a few notes I took at Professor Dewar’s talk the day before yesterday. I also annotated them a bit with relevant hyperlinks.

When I find a copy of Dewar’s slides posted online, I’ll link to those as well.

  • Libertarian thought: property rights are central. If you regard ideas as property, Ayn Rand’s position isn’t surprising.
  • Jefferson: private letter to Isaac McPherson 1813. “He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.”
  • Jefferson faction won on this issue, Intellectual Property Clause.
  • Copyright extension case, now life + 90 years.
  • England: history of copyright, fundamental moral right?
  • Software: special case of copyright infringement and trade secret violation simultaneously!
  • Computer Associates vs. Altai (source vs. object code copyrights, interesting read here).
  • Borland copying a macro language (interesting, if old, article by an MIT student), Supreme Court.
  • Derived works: fair use provisions. But fair use goes to juries, and it’s very vague.
  • Software will never fall into public domain, due to perpetual derived works.
  • Patent an invention, but not an idea, but in practice you can patent either. Europe turned down this law.
  • “Obvious” patents. Juries can’t really judge how obvious they are.
  • You can copyright a non-obvious combination of obvious ideas. Intermittent wind shield wipers.
  • Does a program express inventions and ideas? Is software is distinct from physical stuff?
  • Big risk for free software–patents can ask for damages. And patent is secret until it’s granted (this may not be true, I can’t really tell for sure: “To protect your privacy, we suggest that you delete such information from any documentation you send the office. Alternatively, you may request that the submissions be kept out of the public file, if appropriate. (See MPEP Sections 724. 02 to 724.06.) Please remember that all patent application files are published and made available to the public 18 months from the filing date, unless a non-publication request is made in the application. Additionally, all patented application files will become available to the public upon the grant of the patent.”).
  • Open Source business model can work–selling support and services, while keeping code GPLed.

George Carlin goes morbid

Thursday, November 10th, 2005

George Carlin’s last comedy routine was a little disappointing. He has become horribly bitter and depressed. He had a couple of good lines in it:

On feminism, “hey ladies, men are about 4 times more likely to commit suicide than women are. So, if you want that whole equality thing, you better start killing yourselves in large numbers.”

On necrophelia, “the great thing about necrophelia is that you don’t have to bring her the flowers. They’re usually already there.”

But he also had a 20-minute-long tirade about a 24-hour “suicide” network that was really difficult to watch due to its being more depressing than funny. And he used the phrase, “this depraved, twisted culture of ours” a bit too much. It is depraved and twisted, but after awhile you get the point.

I like his old stuff so much that I have to just let this “slide.” Like when he opened the show I saw in Burlington with:

“You ever notice that women who are against abortion are women you’d never want to fuck in the first place?”

and later on,

“Ah, women. Y’know, I never had a ’10’. But I once had five ‘2”s.”

He is a comic genius. But it’s hard to last as long as he has.

Sachin Kamdar on Andrew Montalenti

Saturday, November 5th, 2005

“But you, Andrew, I like you, man. Because you’re like 85% objective. Me, Dan and Eric, we’re subjective. We’re like 15% objective. But you’re 85% objective, and that’s awesome.”

The things drunk people will say…