Thursday, April 15, 2010


I seem to have some sort of strange web virus. Yesterday, it left me confused for awhile as I tried to go to Google and found myself instead at the Stanford homepage (which I had never previously visited). Thinking that my search for some computer science related term had somehow landed me there, I tried other ways of getting to Google. No such luck. All paths led to Stanford. Try going to update this blog? Stanford (with a "this page does not exist" error). Google news? Stanford. Gmail? Stanford. Another web browser entirely? Stanford. It seems that the virus somehow does a string replace for "" with "" Great. Without Google, I even had trouble searching to find anything out about the virus. Resorting to the tried-and-true method of computer geeks everywhere, I restarted my computer. It's almost back to normal (note the Stanford mini-icon):

Of course, all searches containing both Google and Stanford just lead to information about Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

Thinking myself free, except for the mini-icon haunting, I celebrated with many Google searches. Now all attempts to get to facebook take me to Windows Live...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


A power outage at my home last night took me back to my days living in Ghana: It was complete. It went on for awhile (6 hours? I was asleep by the time it ended...). It was unexpected (by me) - yet apparently planned (by the power company). As my reminders from Monday attest, this is a week with many deadlines, which makes me wonder:

  • If you are someone who experiences such outages frequently (perhaps you live in Ghana, or just in SE DC), how do you deal with this in relation to work? Do you submit "early and often?"
  • Do PCs care if this is why your submission is late? Would you contact them and ask for a personal extension if this were the reason? Should they care? Either way, is this another advantage that those "in the know" have over everyone else? (One "in the know" advantage seems to have been done away with at ESA this year.)
  • Is this yet another subtle way that the conference system fails?
  • When wondering at the lack of diversity (in terms of race or international participation (is this a problem?)) in our field, is this one of the causes? Or, to think about this more generally, is lack of access to electricity and electronics still causing our field to remain "small?"

Here, in the nation's capital, I'm reveling in the fact that the lights are on and so is my computer.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sensor Data Sets

As part of some recent work, I've been looking around online for data sets of moving objects. I've come across some incredibly useful ones, some incredibly boring ones, and some horribly maintained ones. I'm not going to talk about any of those today. Instead, I present here the ones that made the process amusing/exciting/interesting. Of course, some of these also turned out to be useful. None were boring.

  • The Owl Project: MIT Media Lab: Strap cell phones to trees in the forest. Program the cell phones to sound like owls when they ring. Call the cell phones. Record the responding owl hoots.
  • Moose Research: Watch moose movements on online maps. Aren't moose just always funny?
  • Finding a Cab in NYC: Are you constantly standing confused on a street corner in NYC wondering where all the cabs are? Do you live in Queens? A cell phone app can let you know what street corners near you had the most cab pickups at this time/day. It can also show you that you really can't get a cab in Brooklyn.
  • Birds with Backpacks: The picture above really says it all.

Monday, April 12, 2010


The ESA 2010 deadline is tonight at midnight Honolulu time.

The MASSIVE 2010 deadline is Wednesday.