Archive for April, 2008


I had to give a presentation about some of my research on Friday. I didn’t have that much time to prepare for it, since I’m busy, but I knew the topic quite well, since I’ve been busy revising the conference paper about it. I thought the presentation went all right, but my advisor said my presentation was “very good”! W00t!

Also, Megan attended, so by now she’s met most of the people I know at school. I imagine it fleshes out the stories I tell.


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Hiking and other disasters

We (a bunch of mostly grad students mostly in the 4th year) went on a hike to a waterfall on Sunday. It was on the North peninsula near Stinson Beach. (I’m familiar with Stinson Beach since that’s the landing zone for hang gliders launching from Mt. Tamalpais.)

It was a pleasant hike with greenery and little lakes/ponds with no streams in or out. I presume they’re groundwater-fed. At the end, we had to climb down this steep crumbling rock face.

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A city swallowed up….

Last night, a misty city was swallowed up by fog. You can practically see the wave of fog crashing down on San Francisco:

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Flying high

This weekend, I launched my hang-glider from the 1700-foot hill for the first time. It certainly got my pulse racing, mostly out of fear, but the flight was so long that I calmed down. After a minute or two it felt like I knew what I was doing. I always find myself surprised by the degree to which I need to correct the glider, though–there is enough turbulence to turn you around if you don’t stay in control.

In any case, that means I’m nearly ready to fly at another site. I just need to practice stalling first. Of course, my first flights at another flight will be just simple rides down, in the morning before the air gets too turbulent.

In any case, I’m pleased. It’s real progress.


iPod replacement

I already ordered my iPod replacement: this (except with 16GB of storage). It has a radio tuner and gets 50-60 hours of battery life. The sound quality is good, it plays OGG and FLAC, and it will even record. Also, it lists Linux as one of the operating systems that work with it, and I find that gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling about the company.

People complain that you have to use the lock key a lot, because the interface is sensitive. But I always use the lock key, because the thing sits in my pocket always. I listen when I’m walking from place to place, or jogging, or doing chores–I won’t hold it in my hand on a regular basis. So its flaw shouldn’t matter much to me.

Perhaps I should be more careful with my money and not buy stuff whenever I feel like it, but I find that audiobooks make my life better, and I don’t want to do without.

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So much for Apple

My iPod kicked the bucket. It had been acting up for quite a while–locking up and the like. But each time, I popped it open and made sure the cables were tight, and it started right back up. This time, nothing worked–the damn thing just sits there. The main screen doesn’t turn on, and the drive doesn’t move even one zig.

I’ll have to decide whether I want to buy a new MP3 player, now after I’ve paid my taxes, or if I should wait.

It’ll be a long run this morning, let me tell you that. I won’t know what happens to either Jonathan Strange or Mr. Norrell! (At least this time, I was listening to the audio form of a book I have, so I can always pick up the paper copy.)

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Body Mass Index

My Body Mass Index is 24.4. For reference, normal is 18.6-25. Apparently, I’m nearly overweight. Um, what?

Of course, I am reassured by the statement: “If you’re muscular, your BMI may overestimate body fat.” I must be muscular, then!

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More on paper acceptance

The paper that got accepted was the one in which I used my guinea pigs as an example. I quote, “For instance, Chester likes only hay, and Milo likes only carrot, but greedy Louis likes both equally.” Now Louis’s greediness is exposed to the world, and will be published in a respected academic conference proceedings. That poor little fatty doesn’t even realize that he’ll be recorded for posterity.

But the tastes I describe are actually not true, and of late Chester has been greedier about veggies than Louis. Still, I’m highly amused to put the pigs on display.

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Good news everyone!

Good news everyone! I’m going to Finland!

My paper on reinforcement learning was accepted to ICML 2008, so hopefully Srini and Jerry will send me to my first conference in all my 4 years of grad school. And it’s in Finland in the summer, which I hear is a nice time to visit. And I got into a good conference! It’s good news for sure.


Photographic update

I have obtained some pictures lately during my adventures, and it’s time to share.

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