Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Cubs Game!

Last night my dad and I headed down to wrigley for our annual cubs game together. We had some good seats just to the 3rd base side of home and saw quite the match up between the cubs and brewers! Who would have known back in February when I got these tickets that it would be the number one and two teams in the division! Hill had a great game with 9K's including 5 in the first 2 innings!

One thing to note for any el-riding wrigley-goers, the evanston express is now stopping at Sheridan instead of Addison because of the construction at Belmont. Also northbound trains are not stopping at Addison after the have to walk up to Sheridan.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007


So last week's storm was crazier than I thought. Luckily I made it home before the worst of it hit. But I really appreciated how bad it was after a trip to the grocery store this weekend. The whole store was wiped out of all of its refrigerated and frozen goods and most of the fruit had been attacked by a ton of fruit flies that were still all over the store. I was just totally unprepared to see that as you just sort of assume that grocery stores just keep functioning. They had a sign up that they had a backup generator, but it wasn't powerful enough to keep their coolers running.

Fortunately I never lost power and being up on a higher floor means no flooding. The people across the street though got *feet* of water in their houses as the reservoirs all overflowed into the street. Including the one down the street that is over 1/4 mile across and about 30 feet deep. Crazy.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Palatine 3k

So today I ran the shortest race I've ever been in, a little 3k fun run in Palatine that went right past my house. It was a nice little run with my neighbor and high school friend Jen through the streets of Palatine. We finished in 15:35 which was an 8:21 pace. Not so bad for not having run in two weeks due to the non-stop rain that we've been having. There were a lot of really fast little kids in the, when I was 10 I know I definitely could not run an eight minute mile :)


Thursday, August 23, 2007

no more ammonia

BP won't be increasing it's dumping of ammonia into lake michigan thanks to 50,000 people who wrote their state senators and representative about BP's plans. Yay democracy in action and yay clean water!

If you're also wanting to get involved in more democracy and love public transit as much as I do, there's a rally at the Thompson Center next Tuesday at 11:30. And please write your representative about it. Maybe they will be more sympathetic than mine who wrote me back basically saying that he doesn't support public transit and that it's a "complex issue"


rained out...

This Sunday night I attempted to go to a Cubs game with a friend of mine who was in town. It had been raining off and on all day, but the forecast looked promising. After some delicious Chicago Diner food, we walked over to Wrigley and took our spot in the bleachers about an hour and a half before game time. It rained a bit, off and on, but cleared up about 15 minutes before game time. I checked accuweather and they said the rain would be ending for good by 8pm so I thought we were all set! The first three innings were great and the weather stayed rain-free and in the 60s. Zambrano had quite the start to the game and things were all scoreless when the downpour started in the third.

Needless to say, it poured all night with big thunderstorms and overall ickyness. The game was rained out (so at least I get a refund). Overall, still fun to sit in the bleachers, even for 1/3 of a game. And I'm heading back next tuesday for my annual game with my dad (although we don't sit in the bleachers) :)


Sunday, August 12, 2007

recycling fluorescent bulbs

FYI, if you're looking for a place to recycle old fluorescent bulbs, you can take them to IKEA. In most places it's illegal to throw them away since most bulbs contain mercury.

And me throwing away bulbs means that I finally got my ugly fluorescent light in the kitchen down. When they built my condo, apparently they were lazy and used a nail gun to nail the fixture to the ceiling using expanding concrete nails. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't make any headway to drill off the heads or pry them out in any way. In the end, it took a lot of chiseling and dremmeling and cutting to get it all down, but my new light is up now, finally! :)


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Speaking in CA...

For those interested in mobile development, I'll be speaking at the MotoDev Summit in San Jose next month on taking J2ME apps beyond simple games. It'll basically be my MIT class in 45 minutes instead of 12 three-hour sessions :) I'll be covering what you can do with the camera api, phonebook, bluetooth, network, SMS, and cell id APIs to make rich applications and I'll be showing some mobile apps that we and others have created that have shown novel experiences in a J2ME environment. Should be fun! It's the 'Truly Mobile J2ME Applications: Location, Media Capture, and Connectivity' session.

And for those of you in the bay area, I'm looking to be up in SF that sunday evening if people are free for dinner someplace.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Event Clustering of Photos...

So starting about five years ago now, I worked on some software to automatically organize digital photos into events. We did some studies showing its accuracy with participant's own photo collections and incorporated it into our "Media Browser" solution that we wrote about at ICME '05 and again for the Ubicomp PICS workshop. We were hardly the only ones doing work in this area as we were inspired by the work of Graham et al at Stanford, Gargi et al at HP Labs, and others.

My point is that automatically "eventing" personal photo collections is something that's been known for quite some time. And it's always really bugged me that it hadn't made it main stream into any of the big photo tools. All of our research and the research of many others who have studied how people manage print and digital photographs saw that the most salient concept was the event, so why is it 2007, 5+ years after all of this research that it makes its first major appearance?

To me, a lot of it lies in inefficiencies in taking something to a product. But a lot of that is from the motorola perspective. Picasa wasn't even a dream back at this point and clearly they could have put something like this into their app from the start. In any case, it has finally arrived! So go pay your $80 yearly apple tax and try it out!

So, I'm sure you're all wondering how the apple algorithm fared. For me, it worked well with all of the photos I had added to iPhoto after first getting my old mac (2003). But for some reason, it didn't run its algorithm on older photos and stuck those in one giant event. There's a nice interface for splitting and joining events, so the few it did accidentially split or combine were easy to fix. I'm excited to keep trying this out on new photos that I take. This is the #1 feature I've wanted for photo management since we first did our algorithm/study in 2003!


Tuesday, August 07, 2007


So I've become addicted to this website called Walk Score which gives you a score as to how "walkable" a certain neighborhood is. According to this site, Palatine is more walkable than where I lived in Evanston...which I guess is sort of true, but a moderate walk from where I lived in Evanston was everything I could ever dream of, vs. here when some things are super close, but others are miles away. Anyway, an interesting thing to play with. This graph shows the walkability of places I've lived...yay matlab...

In other news, my coworkers rock for going out for beers with me after an insane day at work yesterday!!