Why I hate calling myself "pragmatic" but do

For many years, I resisted calling myself “pragmatic”, even though the evolution of my personal philosophy as well as my concrete actions have for much longer been one that broadly should be called pragmatism. The thing is that for much of my life, I was not a pragmatist in any sense of the word. I think it was only about twenty years ago that I began my journey toward some of the characteristics of pragmatism, both in the broad popular sense and in the philosophical sense, and it was only in the past couple of years that I’ve finally embraced the adjective as an accurate description of my attitude toward not only philosophical issues (about which I will not say more in this post), but also to living and decision-making. Read On →

Announcing a new blog: "The Conscientious Programmer"

I have created a new blog devoted to computer programming, called The Conscientious Programmer. I will continue to post here on all non-programming topics!

Pittsburgh Scala meetup: Introduction to Actors Systems

Josh Suereth spoke again at the latest Pittsburgh Scala Meetup event. He gave an introduction to actors using Akka. I’d attended a version of his introductory talk over a year ago, actually, when he gave it at the first Pittsburgh TechFest, so it was basically review for me. However, the discussion during the presentation and afterwards was what the meetup was really about, and I found that really useful. Sadly, I still have not yet written a real actor-based software system yet. Read On →

Hiking in Boyce Park

Abby and I did a tiny short hike together in Boyce Park. We’ve barely done any hiking at all this year, because of her accident breaking a foot and my doing the Pittsburgh Marathon and then getting poison ivy on a hike I did with a friend last month. We thought we’d combine a hike with a trip to Monroeville to Patel Brothers to buy Indian groceries and then eat at Udipi Cafe, so we did. Read On →

Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival 2013: dancing salsa to Eddie Palmieri

Music stage

Abby and I went downtown in Pittsburgh to check out the great Eddie Palmieri and his salsa orchestra, one of the main attractions of this year’s Pittsburgh JazzLive International Festival. Although I have a number of Eddie Palmieri’s music recordings, this was the first time I saw him live.

We arrived later than intended, so the place was already packed. There were guards for a taped-off seating section in front of the stage, apparently reserved for VIPs. However, we were asked if we were dancers, and we said yes, so they let us into the dancing area, which was already pretty packed with hardcore Pittsburgh salsa fans.

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Celebrating National Running Day quietly in Frick Park

Last year, I made something of a big deal of celebrating National Running Day in Schenley Park in Pittsburgh, for sentimental reasons. This year, I celebrated more quietly, by simply running one of my standard easy runs, a 5-mile run in Frick Park. I have nothing to say, other than I’m happy to be out there running. Luna Mono Sandals I wore my Luna Mono Sandals, which is much thicker (12mm) than the Luna Venado Sandals (7mm) that I wore a lot last year. Read On →

Some thoughts on starting to give talks a year ago

One challenge always, in giving a technical talk that is of limited length (in this case, no more than an hour long), is that of how to be helpful to an audience of mixed background knowledge, and in particular, when planning a talk that is geared toward giving an accurate and appealing taste of the gist of some ideas. I started giving talks only last year, and I have been learning more and more about how difficult the task is to reach people, to be helpful in giving an introduction, a survey, that aims to help them solve problems in their life. Read On →

Pittsburgh Tech Fest 2013: my talk "Stop Overusing Regular Expressions!"

At Pittsburgh TechFest 2013 (full report here), I gave a talk for a one-hour time slot before lunch.

This was my first talk at a conference in three years, and only my second at a conference in my life! I feel that I have much improved as a presenter since then.

Here’s how it went.

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Report on the second Pittsburgh TechFest, 2013

Last year (my report here), I attended the very first Pittsburgh Tech Fest, held at LaRoche College.

My second year

Pittsburgh TechFest 2013

I was very excited to attend it again this year, with a twist: I reported last year that I was inspired by seeing people I know giving talks, and two months later, after the very first Steel City Ruby Conf decided to finally start giving talks myself, starting with user group talks. When the organizers of this year’s Pittsburgh TechFest put out a call for presentations four months ago, I knew I wanted to submit some, and so I did. My talk “Stop overusing regular expressions!” was accepted!

This year I had a goal of enjoying the conference even more than I enjoyed last year’s, and I succeeded!

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100th anniversary: remembering the first time I heard Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring"

There’s been a crazy amount of media coverage about the 100th anniversary of the performance of Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” that caused riots (what great publicity then and even now). I’ve been bombarded with a lot of commentary. Some of it was interesting and insightful, but eventually I got tired of reading any further.

I decided to go back to the source, and listen to it again, and also actually watch it for the first time ever!

Read On →