Sunday, November 25, 2007

crazy journey with an awesome ending...

So my trip to Mexico City today was a bit longer than planned. The plane was late in arriving at o'hare, then they put all of the luggage on the wrong plane, then we hit turbulence and had to fly lower (=slower), then when we landed we didn't have a gate, and then the luggage carousel got stuck. But I didn't let any of that get to me, and soon thereafter, I arrived at my hotel, was given a glass of iced tea while walking to the check in desk, then a "tour" of my room, and was offered free earl grey with my wakeup call. Y ahora estoy muy contento :)

And I saw another street corner on the way here that made me laugh...Darwin and Leibniz.


Saturday, November 24, 2007


So many of you know that I've been doing some work down at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City these past few months. This Friday, I'll be attending the finals of the Copa Sudamericana to see team América face Arsenal (the Argentinean Arsenal, not the British one) :) It should be a really amazing game! The sad thing is that I can't TiVo it. While all of the Mexican League games are free on Telemundo, this one is on Fox Español, which of course I don't get. Anyway, if any of you get that channel and could record it, let me know!

In other semi-related news, I now have two cable cards in my TiVo. And as of a few minutes ago, they both receive all the channels I'm supposed to get. That only took two visit by techs, 4 calls from me to Comcast, one trip for me to the office in Mount Prospect, and a missed MythBusters episode because one of the tuners wasn't getting Discovery. But now all is happy, and I even have my SlingBox hooked up so I can access everything from Mexico next week :)


Friday, November 23, 2007

the battle with comcast...

So the other night, I bought an HD TiVo and talked to the Comcast people at the mall about getting some cable cards for it and switching my service over to HD. They seemed very knowledgeable and said, no problem, someone can be out tomorrow afternoon. I was quite excited and was about to write a post about how awesome Comcast was.

Well, the installer came with a cable card, that didn't register in the device. Then he went out to get another one and that one registered, but for some reason couldn't be provisioned. The installer thought it was all ok though and left telling me it should start working in a hour. Well, when it didn't I called up Comcast and they said I could come to the office and pick up a new one. Of course when I get there, they tell me that they can't give out cable cards over the counter. I asked a few more times and finally one of the guys said he could go get one.

Luckily that one worked, however, it was only a single tuner card and I must have asked 10 times to make sure it was a multi-stream. In any case, I currently have 1 stream of HD which by itself is pretty awesome :) And they are sending another guy this afternoon with the second card.

Despite the hassle to get it set up, I must highly recommend that HD TiVo. It's a pretty incredible device and HD is just so amazingly sharp! The added "aspect" ratio button on the TiVo remote is quite handy as well although I've found the device does a really good job of figuring it out on its own, unlike the SD tivo I had before.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Marching to Tetris (and other classic games)...

This is quite possibly the coolest thing I've seen all week :)


Sunday, November 18, 2007


Free Rice


Saturday, November 17, 2007

mexico...part I

mexico 010
Originally uploaded by bentley79.
So I had a quick little three-day trip to Mexico City this week and had a very wonderful time! It's a really incredible and lively place down there and I can't wait to get back and see more of it soon.

I flew in on the red eye Tuesday morning and landed around 7am. It was pretty freezing cold down there with temperatures in the low 40s. From what I hear (and experienced this week) it's very cold in the morning and there's a lot of pollution before noon and the pollution keeps the temperature down. In any case, I jumped in a cab and made my way to the hotel in Polanco. Along the way, I had about an hour to practice spanish with the cabbie and talk about US government, education, iraq, and the state of mobile networks in mexico. It was fun to be able to talk in spanish for so far the most spanish I've used in about 8 years :)

Tuesday afternoon, I had some free time and walked over to the anthropology museum with my manager. We had a great time and got to see a ton of Aztec and Mayan artifacts as well as learn a lot about the cultures. Mexico is just such a fascinating place with all of its rich history. I wish the US would have embraced and documented earlier civilizations here as throughly.

The neighborhood that we were staying in was really nice and definitely safe to wander around in at night which was really nice. I went down there hearing so many horrid stories of kidnappings and muggings, but the area we were in was quite safe. It's also full of fun restaurants which I also enjoyed...japanese, chinese, italian. Yum!

Wednesday and Thursday were "full" days of work down at the stadium. Now a "full" day in Mexico is like 9-4, so that didn't give us much time to finish all we wanted to. But it was nice to get back to the hotel rather early and have some free time in the evenings for once. I actually got to watch one of the Club America games on TV wednesday night. And because they won, I'll be attending the Copa Sudamerica finals in a week and a half down there!! Yay!


Monday, November 12, 2007


I just got back from a very fun evening at the Field Museum! The Princeton and MIT clubs of Chicago held a wonderful event there to celebrate the opening of their new exhibit on maps. That's right, maps. And you all know I'm a giant map nerd, so it was paradise! The evening started with an hour to go through the exhibit (which was so not enough time and stacie and I were running through the end of it!). They had over 100 original maps of great historical significance including a few from the Queen's collection, one from the Pope, and others dating back to the 1200's in all varieties from all over the world. Favorites included the map that was hand-marked at the Treaty of Paris, a turn-by-turn pictorial map from Chicago to Lake Geneva, a 60-foot long japanese scroll depicting the route from kyoto to tokyo, Lindbergh's hand-annotated map for his flight to Paris, and of course what exhibit on maps would be complete without Beck's London Underground Map. Amazing!

After the exhibit, we had some dinner (not much in the way of vegan food sadly) and then the curator of the exhibit gave a fun talk on some of the items in the collection and a little story of how it all came together. All in all, a very fun night!

Everyone should definitely check out the exhibit and the larger Festival of Maps in Chicago!


Thursday, November 08, 2007

wonderful day!

It's been quite the busy day here, but a really nice one :)

The day started with a trip up to Libertyville for a meeting. Along the way, I spotted a new restaurant on 45 advertising vegetarian organic food. As that's a pretty rare thing up there, I definitely made a point to stop on the way back to Schaumburg at lunch time. The owner was really nice, as was the food. Definitely a stop I'll be making again!

After a few hours in the office in Schaumburg, including a fun rant from my lab manager that involved handing out stickers, I made it over to Evanston for a talk by Paul Dourish at Northwestern. He's been doing some work into location sharing and privacy and provided some great inspiration for presence systems from studying a group of parolees with ankle bracelets. After the talk, I finally had a chance to connect with some of the Northwestern faculty working in the HCI/Communications area which I've been meaning to do for years now! Hopefully we can get some great collaborations going and some talks to learn what everyone is up to. It was just so wonderful to get back into the academic world locally. It's been months since I've been at a proper talk!

The evening ended with an MIT interview. I still can't believe these students applying were born in the 90s! Tomorrow is looking equally busy with a fun MIT happy hour in the evening. Then I have to face the reality that I'm heading to Mexico Monday night and think about what all I need :)


Sunday, November 04, 2007


My tivo captured a recent episode of Nova on marathon running that followed a group of people as they trained for Boston. That and talking with a friend last night about running has gotten me back in the running mood and thinking about races for next year. These are all of the ones on my list of possible races right now. If you're interested in running any of them with me, add a comment and let me know!

03/XX/08 Shamrock Shuffle 8k (Chicago)
05/18/08 Bay to Breakers 12k (San Francisco)
07/XX/08 Race to Taste 5k (Chicago)
07/20/08 Napa to Sonoma 1/2 Marathon (Napa, CA)
08/24/08 Chicago Triathlon (Sprint Distance) (Chicago)
10/12/08 Chicago Marathon (Chicago)
01/XX/09 Disney Marathon (FL)


"this is frank...we used to ride bikes and play basketball"

I just got back from a very fun night with some very old friends. My grade-school friend Ryan just got married today and the reception was a collection of a bunch of people I hadn't seen in a very very long time. Great fun was had by all and it was so good to actually have time to sit down and talk with great old friends that I don't see nearly enough anymore!

It still continues to amaze me that food service people in IL still do not understand the concept of vegan. They tried to feed me something with chicken, and then something with cream sauce. :)


Saturday, November 03, 2007

phones and education...

I've started talking with a teacher in Chicago about investigating how phones could be involved in k-12 learning. There's a possibility to build and try out some things with a very tech-friendly school in the city. If anyone has some ideas and would be interested in collaborating, let me know!



So I'm always fascinated by what different radio stations can play on the air. Some stations bleep out some of the strangest words and some leave them in. And it's sort of unclear to me where that decision gets made. Case in point, the song Rockstar, which everyone seems to be playing lately. (Note: Totally not a fan of the song, but have always been fascinated by how much of it is bleeped out in Chicago)

So in the Chicago market the following words are bleeped out "drug dealer" "drugs" "assholes" "ass" For some reason, all of those words are allowed in the Madison, WI market. The funny thing is that with the words bleeped out, I always assumed the song was a lot worse than it was. "The girls come easy and the *bleep* comes cheap" I mean that could be a lot worse than "drugs"

Also interesting is that the word "god" is bleeped out on Chicago radio, but only in music. Talk radio, religious music, it's ok. Pop music, it gets the beep. And as far as I know, all those words are OK on prime time TV.

It's unclear to me why different markets call their own rules and how some words get bleeped only in certain contexts. In any case, bleeping out "drug" or "god" seems a bit over-reacting to me.