Thursday, March 30, 2006

working hard...

I was talking to this Cornell alum on a plane a few weeks ago on the way back to Chicago. We were talking about our respective schools and I thought one of her comments was really interesting. She was saying that at Cornell things were really competitive and people wanted to show each other how smart they were and would brag about how fast they would finish psets. But her perception of MIT (which I think is dead on) is that people brag not about how smart they are, but by how much they have been working (e.g. I stayed up until 4am working on this pset!).

It's an interesting comparison and looking back is one thing I really loved about MIT. It is this environment that really cherishes hard work no matter how "smart" someone might be or how fast they can catch onto something. People take up enough to fill all of their time and more and love to keep themselves really busy.

And busy is good.


running in the woods...

So while Palatine might not be the most happening town, we do have some nice trails! After seeing how amazing it was outside at lunch time (70 and sunny for those of you not in the chicago area), I decided to head out of work a little early and get a good run in today. I had seen some trails in the woods near my condo, but had never tried them out. It turns out that if I head out by the train station and the up this trail through the woods up to Dundee and Quentin and then back down to my place again it's 4.78 miles which is a nice run! Especially since I'm running 4.97 miles on Sunday!

All in all a nice run on a nice trail through the woods, past some ponds, past some swampy area, past a golf course, and lots of trees and hills. I've never been much of a hill runner, so it's a bit interesting...but I have a feeling I'll get to know that trail a lot better this summer. It also connects to a gigantic forest up at the north end, so I can get in even longer runs by extending onto those trails.

Why haven't I tried these trails sooner???


Wednesday, March 29, 2006


I just finished the online Jeopardy quiz to get a spot on the show and totally sucked at it. I maybe only got 30 of the 50 questions right. It was actually much harder than I thought it was going to be. Oh well, I can always try again in a few months.


Monday, March 27, 2006


The answer really is 42 :)


Sunday, March 26, 2006

sad TVs

I wanted to run to West Wing tonight. I even got to the gym all on time, warmed up and then went to plug in my headphones and discovered that the audio was not working on any of the treadmills today. So sad!!! I tried reading along with the closed captions but the show just moves too fast and it's really impossible to figure out who's talking or in what order to read the captions. They put the captions near the person who is talking, but so many times it's the person off the screen talking. And then when the put the captions by the person who is talking it's usually in some odd order, never left to right. Oh well. I ended up just running a few miles, doing some weights, and then coming home and watching it off my tivo.


Saturday, March 25, 2006

WildStang takes Milwaukee

WildStang 2006
Originally uploaded by bentley79.
I just got back from the Wisconsin Regional where WildStang won yet again! That's two regionals in two weeks!! The robot is awesome this year and just rocks at the autonomous mode where it seeks in on the goal and scores quite a number of balls in 10 seconds.

I wish I would have had time to help out this year, but with the MIT class and everything I'm doing at work there was just no time at all. Good luck at nationals WildStang!!!

Oh, and Milwaukee is weird without Susan living there. I haven't been up there since she moved and it's weird not knowing anyone who lives there now.



iPass in chicago now accepts EZ-Pass. Does anyone know if NY and MA now accept iPass?


Friday, March 24, 2006

long day

It's been a long day at work. Lots of fun getting some coding done and eating some Thai garden in our kitchen at work tonight! And I found out today that our downtown office is opening up for anyone to use anytime starting in July! It's going to be awesome and so much of our lab is going to take advantage of it and work downtown!!! Yay!!!!! :)

Really not much else is new. I need to get out more! :) I'm off to Milwaukee tomorrow to watch robots as long as I can get myself out of bed in time!


Wednesday, March 22, 2006


So I voted yesterday on the new touch screen machine. It was really funny. I went in there and there was no one in there at all. They actually cheered when I came in because they hadn't had anyone in to vote in about 20 minutes. So they are like, you have your choice of optical scan or touch screen. And I was like, is that even a choice?? :) So they gave me the card to the touch screen. It was surprisingly simple to use. Cook County really picked a nice machine. When you're doing choosing, you can review your selections on the screen and just click on any one of them to change it. And when you're all done, it prints out a paper trail inside the machine, you can look at that, and then the paper rolls up inside the machine so the next person can't see who you voted for. Very very nicely done!!


Monday, March 20, 2006


\em{I love LaTeX} :) Seriously, whenever I write a paper in LaTeX I can't imagine why I'd ever want to go back to Word. It's so pretty, and so easy. Well, "easy" :)


Saturday, March 18, 2006

yay WildStang! :)

So I just got back from watching WildStang kick some butt at the FIRST Midwest Regional! We won the actual competition as well as getting the Chairman's award, which is basically an award for being a great team that does great things for everyone involved and for the community. The finals of the game were great with us going up against Beatty which is sort of our arch-rival/friend. They are always very good and we always meet them in the later rounds of competition or partner with them to win. In the best two out of three finals, Beatty took the first one, we got the second, and then we won the third to take it all. It was very exciting!! :)

So I think I'm going to go up to see them play in Milwaukee next Saturday! Who wants to go up with me???


Thursday, March 16, 2006

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Chicago River dyed Green
Originally uploaded by bentley79.
Happy St. Patrick's Day from the green city of Chicago!



If anyone wants to head down to UIC with me on Saturday I'm going to watch the Motorola/RMHS/WHS team at the Midwest Regional for FIRST! It goes from 10-3.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006


So I was really bored last night and watching this Modern Marvels about constructing Disneyland. The entire park was built and operational in a year!! Which got me thinking to how long it takes us to get a simple piece of software from our heads into a product. And by our I really mean the CE industry in general. Just think of how many circuits had to be built and engineering difficulties they had to overcome to turn an orange grove in CA into a theme park. All we need to do is get some code into a phone or website or operating system. And then I read about this 17 year old kid who just made a super kick-ass flickr competitor in three months. It ties into google maps, lets you annotate people, location, etc. Lets your browse by a map, by people, and of course by tag like Flickr. And at first I was like wow, and then I was like, you know, three months is about how long something like that should take.

So what's our problem? Why do we sit back and let it take four years for something to get from research to retail? Is all the process really that bad or are we just not motivated enough? Have we forgotten what it's like to be in school and have nothing we create take longer than 3-4 months? Or even four weeks at the end of a term. I think the whole software industry as a whole needs to get with it and just get stuff done. It's not rocket science, and even if it were, it only took twice as long as the typical research to retail cycle to get a man on the moon. And is space travel really only twice as hard as WinFS? :)


Saturday, March 11, 2006

free wifi weekends for t-mobile subscribers!

For all you t-mobile people out there, you can get free wifi at starbucks, borders, airports, or anywhere else with t-mobile hotspots on weekends! Go here for more info!


beautiful weather...

It was such a beautiful day here today. 66 and sunny! I had my first outdoor run of 2006 at the park down the street from my place. Other than the heavy winds all went well! I found out that I get a free beer with my participation in the Shamrock Shuffle in a few weeks! How awesome is that??

Other than the nice weather, not much is new. It's been a quiet weekend. If the rain ends by tomorrow morning I think I'll head downtown to the art institute or field museum tomorrow. It's supposed to be another beautiful day! If anyone wants to meet up downtown, let me know!


Friday, March 10, 2006

it's the weekend!!

I don't know why, but I've just felt really tired this week. So I'm really glad it's the weekend! And I have no plans at all which is a welcomed change :) If anyone wants to do anything, let me know. Otherwise I think it'll be a nice weekend of reading and relaxing. And some cleaning which is desperately needed.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

quick trip over...

So it was a good 20 hours in Boston :) I got to see a lot of old friends and teach a fun class on application design! I love teaching so much!!!

It's been a long day too...I made it into work this afternoon for hours and hours of meetings and then met up with Stacie for some PF Changs. Mmmmm. Good as always and always fun to catch up with someone who knows me so well :)


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I love this city....

I know I say this everytime I come to Boston, but I really love this city! I get on the Silver Line at the airport, and who gets on at the next stop? The old president of our student house board. We talk until she gets off at Park Street. And then two stops later I come out at Kendall and see my friend Katie randomly walking down the street! We talk down to the infinite and then I meet up with Susan and Alicia for a late lunch. I've been on the ground for two hours and already I've seen 4 people I know :) Gotta love it!


Monday, March 06, 2006


I'm in Boston tomorrow night. Come to CBC around 10pm or call me if you want to meet up!!!


Sunday, March 05, 2006


On my work computer the only apps that appear under my start menu now in the collapsed mode are Power Point, a few random Motorola tools, and Google Desktop. Ah!!!! I think it's trying to tell me to write that Ubicomp paper and code some more :)


busy busy week

It's been a crazy busy week since I got back from San Francisco. And it just feels like I haven't had any time to get anything done. But I did set up my new mac which I totally love. It's a little bigger than I had expected, but it somehow feels more like a real computer now :) And I totally appreciate the extra screen space.

I've been busy trying to get my plans together for my tuesday class this week. It should be really good. I'm doing a workshop on app design and hopefully by the time the students leave they'll have first version paper prototypes of their applications. Yay for three hour classes. There'd be no way I could do this in any less time :) And yay to Jessie for helping me formulate some ideas of design in a more cross-dicipline way! Speaking of the class, I found it really hard to find a good academic paper that explains task and functionality lists and prioritization. I love the treatment of it in Designing From Both Sides of the Screen, but I was hoping for something a little more concise and/or rigorous. Anyway, if anyone knows of anything like that, let me know!

Other than that, there's not really a whole lot new. I got an email from some old high school teachers that wanted to meet up in Boston this week. What a coincidence that I'll be there :)


Thursday, March 02, 2006


So I admit it, sometimes I like to just veg out to some pop/dance music and not think about anything, but tonight wouldn't let me do that. I put my radio on kiss fm (yes yes, I know, what was I thinking?) and I remembered why I didn't like the station at all. There was some good music on, and then the DJ started talking. This Indian guy was calling in asking for tickets and the two DJs must have spent 15 minutes making fun of him and making him say over and over again that he was from "Libertyville" in a very thick indian accent. I kept switching back and forth to other stations thinking that clearly they must be back to the music by now. But they weren't. And then I remembered all the other times I tried to put on that station and they were saying just as bad or worse things about people of all sorts of different backgrounds. As if there weren't enough people in this world totally closeminded and ignorant. Ugh.

So then I went to B96, I know, right...I haven't listened to that station since high school! But I was desperate at this point. And they were playing some song where the guy was basically singing 'be mine and do everything I tell you to do' and 'give it up when I say' or something like that. Ugh again. OK...can't there be a station like KISS-FM in Boston that has good music and is respectful of people??????

Speaking of music, this time in a good way, yay to Laura and Dustin for posting the songlist from their wedding!! RoboDJ was indeed awesome!! Now I think I need to go to iTMS and get some "new" music :)


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Networks flashback....

So I went to get a veggie burger from the grill section of the Sunnyvale Cafeteria the other day. And there was this little paper I had to fill out and check boxes for what I wanted and what I wanted on it and a little box at the bottom to choose fries or other sides. And I had this total flashback to Networks at MIT. Then I looked more at this little form and was like, this is *exactly* the same as Networks! And looked around and saw that the cafeteria was run by Aramark. Interesting...

More on the San Francisco trip soon!! I'm back in Chicago now!