Review of Coursera's Fall 2012 "Functional Programming Principles in Scala"

In fall of 2012, I completed the initial offering, through Coursera, of Martin Odersky’s “Functional Programming Principles in Scala” online course, which was held from September 18 through November.

This is a review of the course, which is planned to be offered again (so those of you who missed it the first time can sign up for the second iteration when it is available).

Also check out the instructor report.

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Classical Revolution: Pittsburgh's AquiTango delivers passionate traditional tango

So I got word of a relatively new movement called Classical Revolution that is spreading around the world, and has reached Pittsburgh, which has its own chapter (Facebook page). The point of Classical Revolution is to perform chamber music in non-traditional settings.


I saw that the local Pittsburgh tango group AquiTango (Facebook page) was going to perform at Bar Marco.

AquiTango was to perform traditional Argentine tango music. I had actually encountered, a decade ago, an earlier incarnation (with some member changes since then) of the group, when I was taking Argentine tango classes and dancing; it was formerly Tangueros de Ley. I remember when Julieta Ugartemendia was in the group, playing clarinet and singing, and she also danced! In any case, the group has been revived after she left, as a quartet.


I decided to attend, not only to check out what the experience of “Classical Revolution” in such a venue is like, but also for my own special reason: to be inspired by some good tango performances, because I am actually planning to soon play tango on flute and also sing it for the first time!

So here’s my review of the concert.

(Update of 2012-11-17)

Three days later, I did in fact perform tango, at a party!

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Round 1 of Pittsburgh Chess Club tournament: revenge of the Knight

Panoramic view of round 1

So I started another Pittsburgh Chess Club 6-round Tuesday night tournament, the 16th Robert P. Smith Memorial. (I reported on my previous Tuesday night tournament here.)

Today’s lesson

In my game for round 1, we see the power of a good Knight, especially in contrast to a bad Bishop.

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Pittsburgh Chess League Round 3: back to chess after a month off

Round 3 in progress

I had a break from chess

I took a whole month off from playing chess, after completing both a six-round Pittsburgh Chess Club Tuesday night tournament and a round of the Pittsburgh Chess League.

I welcomed the break because there were many projects I had temporarily put on hold during my comeback to chess. But after about three weeks, I mysteriously began to have chess dreams arrive in my sleep, and I felt the craving for battle. So I looked forward not only to round 3 of the Pittsburgh Chess League, but also signed up for the next Pittsburgh Chess Club Tuesday night tournament, which starts this week!

Today’s lesson

In this round of the Pittsburgh Chess League, round 3, our team, the CMU Tartans, was paired against the Phalanx Lords. We ended up winning another match (we won our match in round 2, and had a byte in round 1). My game was the next-to-last to finish, taking almost four and a half hours to complete. I was so exhausted afterwards!

Today’s lesson: passive moves are not only bad, but often clump together psychologically, magnifying their badness!

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I decided to resign myself to continue voting

My voter receipt 2012 Last year I wondered aloud about the act of voting, being unsure about how to justify my annual participation in this ritual. This being a presidential election, avoiding getting sucked in is a perpetual chore, given that it is impossible for me to completely avoid people’s political pontifications on their blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. I even had to stay home from work in order to avoid politicians annoyingly disrupting the workplace. Read On →

The start of a local Haskell study group

Haskell logo Recently, I had a conversation with Bill, who was asking about resources for learning more about functional programming. I did some serious thinking about how to advise, but eventually decided to recommend that he use the Haskell programming language as a vehicle for getting into the theory and practice of functional programming. (To fans of Standard ML or Caml or Scala or Clojure or Racket or other languages: I will explain my rationale later. Read On →

Attending the annual Pitt Jazz Seminar for the first time: day 2

42nd Pitt Jazz Seminar poster

Yesterday, I attended some morning sessions of the annual Pitt Jazz Seminar. I went back for more today.

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Attending the annual Pitt Jazz Seminar for the first time: day 1

42nd Pitt Jazz Seminar poster

This year I decided to attend events of the 42nd annual Pitt Jazz Seminar for the first time. I’ve never had any instruction in jazz, and frankly have only a little bit of experience trying to play it myself, so I enjoyed the opportunity to attend presentations by great performers who could talk about what they do, where they’ve come from, and demonstrate their craft.

I went in to Pitt campus on a Friday morning to learn from some master musicians.

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PodCamp Pittsburgh 7: review

This year, I attended the two-day PodCamp Pittsburgh yet again, for my third year in a row (and this is the seventh year of its existence). (I wrote a little bit about last year’s PodCamp Pittsburgh (6) here.) This year’s theme was “Build your digital toolbox”. This year, I got Abby to come with me to part of it to see what it was about, since I had raved about 5 and 6. Read On →

Singing and playing bossa nova favorite "Chega de Saudade" at Dunkin' Donuts for J-Jam

CMU Klezmer Band performing

Yesterday evening, I ended up unexpectedly singing alone in public for the first time in my life.

This evening, I ended up unexpectedly singing again, with guitarist Cantor Ben Rosner accompanying me: the first time in my life singing with an accompanist for the general public, and the first time I’ve worked with a guitarist.

We had just met for the first time this evening, and had only a minute ahead of time to agree on a suitable tempo and have him quickly sight read chords before we just launched into the music.

I had not come to the local Dunkin’ Donuts in Squirrel Hill expecting to sing at all, actually! What happened?!

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