Wednesday, May 30, 2007

drm-less itunes...

So I was excited today when the new iTunes downloaded on my computer. The new "feature" is DRM-free downloaded music. So I can get AAC files that will play on my Ming! I was quite excited! But only one of the major labels has signed on to this so far, and when I went in to "upgrade my library" there was only one song that I could get. Oh well...hopefully there will be more soon!

I also think it's interesting that DRM-free is considered to be an "upgrade" by Apple. I certainly think so, but it's weird to see a big company put it that way :)


Monday, May 28, 2007


Today was a fun-filled day "off." I took a morning train downtown, sat outside and then in a B+N reading papers and writing reviews, walked up Michigan Ave, took the el up for a nice dinner in Evanston as my little 'yay I'm done reviewing' celebration, read all of Vonnegut's "A Man Without a Country" on the train back home, and went for a nice little two mile run before it got dark out. All in all, quite a wonderful day!

Back to work tomorrow...


Sunday, May 27, 2007

working together...

So most of you know that these past few weeks have just been insanely busy for me. I've had a lot to do with work, traveling, speaking at conferences, and reviewing a ton of papers for this year's ACM Multimedia conference. It's been pretty stressful, but I haven't had much time to relax.

So yesterday, my friend Stacie recommended a fun alternative to all of the solitary work. We met up at B+N for some coffee and each spent half a day working on what we had to get done. It was fabulous and a great throwback to MIT days when doing things like that was the norm for a saturday afternoon.

After all of that work, we did take a nice break and watched Pirates. I really want to know what those people were on when they made that movie. The rocks? The brain? The multiple Jacks? I won't say more in case you haven't seen the movie. But oh my, whatever they were smoking must have been pretty damn good!


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

subconscious dreaming in tastes

Do you ever have really intense tastes or sounds or tactile sensations in dreams? Or dream about something and then see it the next day? The other night I was dreaming and I made some toast in my dream and spread out some jam on it and took a bite, and man was it good! It was a tart jam, raspberry-like. Now I've actually never had raspberry jam before, but I was like, man, this is good stuff.

I woke up the next morning and thought, man, I really need to go out and buy some raspberry jam. I was all ready to put it on the list of things I needed from the store. And then I was making toast and got out a new jar of jam that I had bought at the store a few days before and spread it on my toast and took a bite. And you know what? It was raspberry. And it was just as good as in the dream :)

I totally must have subconsciously seen the "raspberry" on the label when I picked it up at the store. As far as I knew in my conscious mind, I had gotten another jar of strawberry the same as always. It's really interesting what the mind can do that you're totally not aware of. It's also pretty amazing how it's possible to taste in a dream a taste that's so accurate and strong and remember that taste when you wake up. Dreams are amazing...


Friday, May 18, 2007

a beautiful day for a ballgame

Originally uploaded by bentley79.
This afternoon I made it down to Wrigley for the first game of the crosstown classic between the cubs and white sox. Of course all decked out in Cubbie Blue I was strongly supporting the north side :) The game began with a Wayne Messmer national anthem and included a 7th inning stretch sung by Ron Santo. Seriously, how much more could you really ask for? A Cubs win? Yep, got that too! The game ended with a 6-3 score, but up until the 8th it was really anyone's game.

So much fun!


yikes! seriously??

yikes! seriously??
Originally uploaded by bentley79.
I have no words for this sign...but wanted to share...


Thursday, May 17, 2007

twistable colored pencils... one of the kids I was tutoring today at 826 had these twistable colored pencils that were just amazing. They totally blew my mind. No sharpening, just twist the top and you get more colored "lead" out the bottom. Wow.

I also got to explain phase transitions and conservation of energy to a 5th grader :) It was a fun afternoon!!


Monday, May 14, 2007


I've been driving a lot these past few days. Some thoughts...

1) iPass/EZ Pass/Fast Pass is the greatest system ever. I love driving down the highway and not needing to worry about getting out money to pay tolls or having enough cash around to pay the crazy fees on the NY State Thruway. The negatives to all of this have no idea how much you're actually paying and you don't get the little ticket that has all of the rest stops on it.

2) Construction is bad. Especially when there are big signs on the side of the road that say "Expect huge delays" I wish such signs were a bit more turned out that I sat in one place without moving an inch for 20 minutes and then it took me over an hour to move the next two miles. I guess that's a pretty huge delay!

3) Getting in and out of canada is too easy. Going there, the customs guy just asked me where I was from, where I was going, and when I was going to return to the states. He never took my name or even looked at any ID. That's a bit odd. Coming back was almost as easy, but with the added 2 second look at a passport.

Anyway, now I'm in boston!! And driving back to my hotel from Susan's place tonight reminded me of how much I absolutely love this city!! That and dinner at Grasshopper and ice cream from Emack's


Sunday, May 06, 2007


CHI was a fun and hectic week. Lots of fun surprises for sure and lots of great people! I ran into one of my thesis advisers who was in from Sweden! I hadn't seen him since December of 2002, so it was fun to catch up. Lots of others from that time were there as well so it was fun to see the MIT crowd that usually doesn't make it to CHI. And a colleague of mine who's away for the year in Europe was there as well presenting a poster about a study that I'm helping to analyze the data from. I had no idea she was going to be there, but it was definitely fun to have 3 people from our lab out there!

Overall, there were some good talks and certainly some interesting conversations with many different people. I thought my talk went well, even though it wasn't the best attended being at 9am the night after all of the parties. Speaking of which, Google threw a pretty impressive one at the Tech Museum in San Jose. They rented out the whole place and had excellent food and drink for 2,600 people :) It was complete with Segway rides and google gear giveaways. I felt like 1) I was in college again and 2) it was 1999 in the middle of the boom. In any case, it was a fun event!

That's probably about all I have to say about CHI this year. I'm back home now...for a little bit!

Other random factoids:

1) My new tivo came while I was gone. I called DHL to have them put the box on hold for me so I could pick it up and from the address the guys was like, oh yeah, the tivo box, sure, we'll hold that for you. I show up at the desk and the guy was like, oh yeah, let me grab that tivo box for you as soon as he saw my address. So either they have no volume at all at that place or the guy was just really obsessed with tivo :) In any case, it beat the Fedex and UPS experiences of package hold hands down.
2) The Red Elvises are coming to Chicago and Madison this June! If people want to go see them, let me know! They put on a really awesome show and the keyboard player is just amazing! As is the fact that one of the guys plays a bass balalaika.