Friday, September 28, 2007

Lab outing...

Originally uploaded by bentley79.
After what was a pretty horrible morning at work, I had a fantastic afternoon and evening! We had a lab outing to a forest preserve near rockford and a corn maze also near there. The forest preserve was fun and we grilled veggie burgers (and meat for meat eaters), rode a horse, played horse shoes, and just enjoyed not being at work for a while. As you might have guessed by the picture, we also had Yuengling brought in by a lab member from PA. SO awesome! That alone totally made my day :)

After the BBQ, we went over to a corn maze. Actually it was two mazes in one. For those who have never been to a corn maze, it's basically a big field of corn where various paths have been cut into it. In a dozen or so places there are wooden posts with numbers on them and hole punchers. You're supposed to find all of the posts and punch a card to show that you've found them all. It's actually a lot of fun! :)


Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Due to a long chain of events, I'm spending the week writing server code for about 10 hours a day. It's sort of fun and nice to know I haven't forgotten how to do all of this :)


Sunday, September 23, 2007


I'm proud to say that I did absolutely no work today :) Instead, I got a copy of the Sunday Times and read it on the train and then down at the beach. What a nice Sunday afternoon!

Now Sunday will end with a round of vegan chocolate chip cookie baking :)


Friday, September 21, 2007

two degrees of MIT...

It's always said that an MIT alum is never more than one person away from any other MIT person. In this case it happens to be the girl who was arrested at gunpoint at Logan today for wearing a t-shirt with and LED breadboard attached to it. It seems she was there to meet a friend who was flying in and asked at the counter about the status of a flight and was then put at gunpoint and arrested for failing to explain her shirt (which by the way said "Course VI" on it) :) probably not the best idea to wear something like that to an airport, but seriously, what's the big deal. It seems she wore that shirt most places she went and likely didn't even think twice about it according to Christy's account of things. This is just one more example of how this country is restricting more and more the rights of its citizens - and almost killing innocent people (the Globe quotes the police as saying she's lucky she didn't end up in the morgue!). And it just frustrates me to no end.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

tutoring time...

It's the start of the school year, and that means time for tutoring to start again at 826CHI. I made it down there last night for my first afternoon of tutoring this semester and just had an absolute blast! I've missed the kids and the fun and randomness of it all.

It seems like the wednesday tutoring crew will be a fun one this year and I'm looking forward to many fun afternoons of reading and writing (and occasionally some "everyday math" and science) with k-12 kids in wicker park!


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

are photos not as special anymore?

I've been thinking a lot about photo sharing lately and it seems to me that photos just aren't special anymore. In the age of film and developing and paying by the copy, photos were a gift that took a lot of foresight, effort, and planning (both to bring the camera in the first place, and to get the prints to the right person afterwards). But now with the proliferation of camera phones and sites like facebook, flickr, and myspace to share and post photos, how special is the gift of a photo anymore?

I remember in high school and the beginning of college taking photos with friends while out (in itself an activity that had to be planned and orchestrated) and then printing extra copies for people and the huge smile on their face when they got them. Now if someone takes a photo it's almost expected that it'll go up on flickr and be available to everyone quickly (instantly if they use zonetag!).

Is lack of effort really correlated with lack of appreciation? It sure seems like it. And what does that mean for media sharing systems and their effects on social communications?


Monday, September 17, 2007

long days...

Sorry for the lack of posting lately. It's been more or less non-stop work during waking hours for the past week. We kicked off a user study tonight though which was great, if not a bit stressful. Not really much else new going on.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

caught up

I slept for 11 hours last night and man did it feel good. Of course I worked for 12 hours today which did not. :)


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

jamba in CA

So before I get to the topic of this post, I just wanted to say that my talk went really well at the motodev summit and I'm back in Chicago now after 3 days of craziness in the bay area! now to the point of this post. Jamba Juice. Most of you know that I'm addicted to the stuff. And the other day when I was in a jamba in chicago I thought about how crazy it was that they come in styrofoam cups. Seriously, didn't we stop using styrofoam in the 80s? So I go to Jamba in Berkeley and guess what, paper cups. I was happy! Other Jamba differences: on the menu board in the bay area it explicitly states that the soy protein is vegan. Also, the protein berry workout is sponsored by nike, which is a bit odd.

If you can't tell by the randomness of this post, I'm running on 3 1/2 hours of airplane sleep last night and a full day of work today. :)


Sunday, September 09, 2007

I love the bay area...

Everytime I make my way out west to the bay area I love this place even more :) Today was an action-packed day of wonderfulness around the north part of the bay. I got in early this morning and drove up to chrissy field, parked, and walked up to Lettus, one of my favorite veggie restaurants for some lunch. Then it was back in the car and up to Muir Woods for some relaxing and hiking among the redwoods. That was totally the relaxing break that I needed and I just sat for a few hours deep in the woods and read a book and felt that total separation from the world that is so hard to find.

The evening ended with a fun dinner in Berkeley with my roommate from freshman year at MIT and a friend of mine from Yahoo Research. We tried out the new House of Curries, which is still confusing to me as it seems to be the same as Naan And Curry, but a block down the street, and a little cleaner. In any case, it was great to catch up and have a nice dinner outside.

I'm down in San Jose right now, trying to figure out how I'm possibly going to do everything that I want to in the next 48 hours before I head home. It's going to be two crazy days!


Friday, September 07, 2007

Teaching...closer to home...

This afternoon I gave a guest lecture at an Interaction Design course some design colleagues of mine are teaching at IIT's Institute of Design. It was a fun talk and was a slightly less-techy version of the talk that I'm going to give at the MotoDev Summit next week. I basically talked about some of the interesting affordances of a mobile device and how mobile computing is (or at least can be) different from desktop/web computing. I focused on location, media capture, and social connectivity as three main areas of difference and even touched a bit on how people are using mobile information apps (micro-moments, boredom, etc). The talk went super-well and the students were engaged and asked a ton of really great questions when I was done. And hopefully it helped them in understanding some of the benefits and limitations of what you can enable on the mobile.

As a total aside, It's pretty cool to walk to where you're teaching. I'm so used to my MIT class and having to make a day out of teaching each class. ID was a nice little 5 block walk from Moto's downtown office.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

mobile mondays!

So there are these events called Mobile Mondays in the bay area where a bunch of people interested in mobile apps get together once a month. There are speakers and general talk of all things mobile. Well, this month the topic is mobile ^ social...oh my and guess what, it's this coming monday...when I happen to be just a few miles away :) I can finally attend!

It's also at Nokia Research in Palo Alto which I've always wanted to visit so that'll be fun as well. And to add even more fun to the event, a housemate of mine from Student House will be there! I had no idea she was even into mobile stuff!

And a final reminder to bay area people...anyone interested in dinner in Berkeley on Sunday, let me know! And anyone with free time on Tuesday around San Jose, come hear my talk about mobile apps utilizing location, media capture, and social connectivity!


Saturday, September 01, 2007

stop global warming with greenpeace...

So my mom sent me an email this morning that greenpeace would be in palatine today at the farmer's market with their stop global warming campaign. Well, I obviously had to walk over since the market is about 3 blocks from where I live. They had a fun solar-panel equipped van that was powering some blenders and they were making "solar smoothies" for everyone who stopped by and wrote a congressperson. I asked one of the volunteers if the smoothies were vegan and she was like "would greenpeace give out anything that wasn't?" I thought that was a pretty good answer :)

The farmers market was totally different today than in past weeks. Maybe it was the presence of greenpeace that brought out a different crowd, but as I walked around I seriously felt like I was back in cambridge or in berkeley. And the vendors actually had fruit and veggies instead of being a bunch of really old people selling nuts and flowers. And they even had a guy playing the acoustic guitar and singing folk songs. So fun!