Latest posts

  • Test early, test often, and keep your master branch stable

    This evening I gave a talk on software testing at RPI. I modeled it after an informal talk last year by the Director of Technology at Asemio, Floyd May.

  • NerdSwipe

    NerdSwipe is a personal project I’ve been working on for the last six months. It is a web application that presents users with random Wikipedia articles, book synopses, and other summaries from large corpuses. After reading a summary, the user can rate how interested he/she is in that topic.

    The system incorporates these ratings into an “anti-recommendation engine” for further summaries. The goal is to recommend things that are similar to what a user likes, but different enough to surprise and engage. People tend to live in bubbles of their own design. It’s important to step outside occasionally, and give ourselves opportunities for serendipitous learning.

  • Jazz at SPAC

    Last night I saw the Philadelphia Orchestra and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC). It was my first time in Saratoga, and my second hearing the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.

  • Walter Gropius

    This weekend I finished Fiona MacCarthy’s new biography of Walter Gropius. Gropius was a modern architect and the founder of the Bauhaus. Before I started the book I only knew a little about the subject. As an undergraduate in Berlin I took a class on 20th century design, taught by the then-president of the Bauhaus Archive. I’d also read some of Alma Mahler-Werfel’s autobiography Mein Leben.

  • David Lynch on ideas

    The Guardian recently interviewed David Lynch about his season at the Manchester international festival. I love this quote:

  • Bedside notes

    Most of my personal reading time these days is just before bed. I have a notepad there to write down things I’d like to find out more about.

  • The Guardian

    The Guardian is my main source of news these days. I also read several of their columns and features regularly.

  • Halston

    A few years ago I went to a traveling exhibition at the Des Moines Art Center called Halston and Warhol: Silver and Suede. Valerie Steele gave a lecture about the designer as part of the opening.

  • Mike Nichols

    Amazon Prime has a few older episodes of PBS’s American Masters documentary series. The one on Mike Nichols from 2015 is based on a long interview he did with Julian Schlossberg. This exchange struck me:

  • Principa Discordia

    This morning a colleague inadvertently reminded me of the Principia Discordia. I still remember reading that in high school, along with Robert Anton Wilson’s The Illuminatus! Trilogy.

  • Tom Jennings

    Over the last few days I’ve been reading Wikipedia articles about BBSs. I started my first BBS in 1993, and soon joined FidoNet. I’d heard of Tom Jennings, but I didn’t know he did so many interesting things besides Fido.

  • The CEO as Salesman

    I just read “Portrait of the CEO as Salesman” as part of a Coursera course. My favorite quote:

  • Golden Record

    I recently read William Poundstone’s biography of Carl Sagan, which spurred me to read about the Golden Record. A good soul has created a playlist of its tracks on Spotify.

  • Midwest Junto for the History of Science

    This weekend I went to the meeting of the Midwest Junto for the History of Science in Kansas City. The history of science and technology is my favorite subject. I’ve read broadly in it, and I took several classes as an undergraduate, but I’d never been to a conference.

  • Orneriest man

    A life goal: to be the orneriest man of somewhere.

  • ThingsWorth

    ThingsWorth is a personal project I’ve been working on sporadically for the last two years. It’s a way to describe the things you believe are worthwhile: worth learning, worth experiencing, worth sharing. What are those things? How do you learn them? Why should you?

  • Japanese literature

    Reading this obituary of Donald Keene reminded me of roaming the stacks of the Bizzell Library at the University of Oklahoma, browsing for new books about things I knew nothing about. I discovered 20th century Japanese literature that way: Natsume Soseki, Eiji Yoshikawa, Kobo Abe, Yukio Mishima, and others.

  • Herbert Simon

    I had no idea that Herbert Simon had such a fascinating life – and won both the Turing Award and the Nobel Prize in Economics. I thought he was mostly known for his work with Allen Newell.

  • Caro

    I’m excited to read the last volume of Robert Caro’s biography of Lyndon Johnson. This New Yorker article reminded me what I love about his writing and approach to research.

  • George Winston

    Last night I went to see George Winston perform at the Performing Arts Center in my home town, Claremore, Oklahoma. He played the “winter” set, with some tracks from December and many others. It was lovely.

  • Strange Loop

    This weekend I went to The Strange Loop in St. Louis, my first time there. I heard some great talks: