Thursday, August 25, 2005

Pro T folding

The title of this post was meant to have you think about Protein folding, but actually refers to T shirt folding.  I thought it was worthwhile bringing it to your attention, (1) because it is very cool, (2) if you do it, it will save you time, (3) it is a very effective instructional video and  (4) it was posted on Pavel Curtis's blog and Pavel is a legend in software.  You can  read Pavel's  T shirt blog entry with ya link to the relevant video, here.  (If you have difficulty accessing it, send me mail.)

Here's a bio of Pavel I scarfed from this MIT website,

Dr. Pavel Curtis received his bachelor's degree from Antioch College in 1981 and his
master's and doctorate degrees from Cornell University in 1983 and 1990, respectively.
Since 1983, he has been a member of the research community at the Xerox Palo Alto
Research Center, where he has worked on aspects of the Smalltalk-80, Interlisp-D/Xerox
Lisp, and Cedar programming environments and other projects related to the design and
implementation of programming languages. He led the SchemeXerox project, which
explored large-scale software development in the Scheme programming

Dr. Curtis is the founder and chief administrator of LambdaMOO, one of the most popular
recreational social virtual realities on the Internet. Since 1992, as co-leader of the Network
Places project, he has been working on bringing the benefits of network places to a broader
range of users and applications.

I will discuss some of the topics including MOOs in a later post.  Pavel is a legend in software and (good) hacking circles.  His work (along with others of course) with Interlisp, Cedar, Smalltalk and Scheme formed the basis for how we develop today.  He is a luminary of computer science well worth knowing.

Since my title alluded also to protein folding, a bit about that reference.  My personal iMac at home (melmac, a G5 2 gig beauty) when not dealing with me, happily runs protein folding, climate prediction and SETIBOINC, software from UC Berkeley manages these apps and it is a great experiment in GRID computing and a way to donate cycles to your favorite scientific research.

However, if you are not interested in delving into any of these topics, please at least view the  t-shirt folding video.  It is fascinating and, for the laundry folders, could give you more time to enjoy these last days of summer.  Later!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


The title is actually a takeoff on the recent movie Sideways.  I liked it because it was a decent movie, featured Saabs, has great scenery and inspired me to investigate pinot noir

Enough digression, what the title Slideways refers to is my tendency to provide a ton of viewgraphs for my classes.  I rarely go through the bulk of them in class, but I do feel providing a comprehensive set is important since it can provide a quick, topic based resource when work or research insists that you dive deeper into a topic.  They also are accessible, since I provide electronic copies during the semester and have them available at my homepage (except between semesters when I am doing site cleaning, but you can always email me and ask).

During the classes, students are not always convinced, as they have to wait for the slides to be printed and lug them to class or wade through them when studying for a test (then again they provide decent summaries of the readings, useful as a study aide).  However my main purpose was to provide a resource that lasts longer than the class.

What inspired this post was an email from yet another student who actually found that there was life for the slides past class. In his case it was investigating software metrics.  I use them for my work too and initially that is what motivated me to obsessively provide them for you and start the web page on the external internet so that they would be available to you.   I would appreciate feedback from anyone else who has found the slides, the site or the blog useful

So as this semester begins and you yawn as the printer churns out a seemingly endless stream of slides, know in some not to distant future it may save you time, so that you can spend time with your family, watch a movie, take a ride in the country with the top down, enjoy some pinot noir or your-choice-here.  Later!

Sunday, August 7, 2005

Emotional Talk

I attended AAAI last month and was on vacation so that is my excuse for zero posts last month.  A few of my posts in August will discuss the conference.  This is the first of them and it is a discussion of Marvin Minsky's keynote address.

There were two main themes of his address one was a discussion of his upcoming book, The Emotion Machine, hence the title of this blog entry.  You can find the first eight chapters of the new book by going to his main web site.  He also recommends reading Push Singh's Ph.D. thesis which can be found on Push's web page here.  I will provide some commentary on both of these over the next few months, but wanted to provide you with the references immediately,

The second theme, related to the first was that AI needs to be refocused.  He said that recently AI has gotten Physics Envy, trying to find general methods, but yet most of the programmtic successses in AI, according to Minsky, have more to do with Moore's law (computers became more powerful and could search more) than with advances in AI.   The talk was great, for example, he declared that in AI and psychology Occam's razor is the wrong idea; you are describing a complex system and it is not simple!
To quote from chapter 1 of The Emotion Machine:

So this book will embark on the opposite quest: to find more complex ways to
depict mental events that seem simple at first!

As I said, more discussion on Minsky's ideas will be forthcoming as I read the book.  Just wanted to provide you with more possibilities  to read as you hopefully take to the beaches in August.  Check back, as the Fall term starts getting together I should be posting more frequently -- and catch up posting some of my student's blog entries.   Later!