This site has temporarily been censored. Updated November 20: I have now removed the black-out banner and popup that I had put up for American Censorship Day. I hope some of you in the past couple of days have looked at the link to understand the issues involved. The code was as follows: <script type="text/javascript" src="http://americancensorship.org/js"></script> <a style="width:400px;height:100px;vertical-align:middle;text-align:center;background-color:#000;position:absolute;z-index:5555;top:50px;left:50px;background-image:url(http://americancensorship.org/images/stop-censorship-small.png);background-position:center center;background-repeat:no-repeat;" href="http://americancensorship.org"></a>

My first Pittsburgh Clojure Meetup: Ambrose Bonnaire-Sergeant on core.logic

I finally attended a meeting of the local Pittsburgh Clojure meetup group, for the first time!

I came to this meeting largely because I heard that Ambrose Bonnaire-Sergeant, a student in Australia, was visiting the US on scholarship to present at Clojure/Conj and was happening to be in town in Pittsburgh, and therefore was going to visit the Pittsburgh Clojure meetup group and talk about his recent work on logic programming.

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On duets with dead musicians

I came across a story about technology-created video and audio recordings of current musicians “performing” with legends no longer alive. There were vehement comments on the story.

Amusingly, the story had ended with the observation that “Perhaps there’s a greater sensitivity to such projects in the classical world, which is so often occupied with – and maybe even paralyzed by – very strongly held notions of received tradition and respect.”

Without vehemence, here are some of my thoughts on these “re-performances”.

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My PowerBook 145B

I’m not sure what to do with my old Apple Macintosh PowerBook 145B laptop. It still boots, but is obviously not of much use to me any more.

Here it is booting System 7:

PowerBook 145B booting System 7

The machine had crashed years ago before I booted it:

PowerBook 145B booting after crash

Finally, boot is complete:

PowerBook 145B up in System 7 Finder

Some personal history and observations:

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Back to piano too

Just a couple of days ago, I started playing flute again, after an absence of decades. To get going again, I’ve been working through I Used to Play Flute picked up from the library (it comes with a nice play-along CD of mp3 tracks). Of course, now that I’m not just an unenthusiastic kid in school, I should also get systematic on technique, as I have tried to be on recorder.

Guess what? Today, I started picking back up on piano as well. I have a digital piano that I bought in 1998 that has not seen much use in the past half decade:

Yamaha digital piano

I’ve mentioned previously playing around with piano. I will try to get real on piano too, now that I’m old enough to figure out how to maximize use of infamous Czerny and Hanon technical exercises. Meanwhile, I picked up from the library a seemingly highly-rated Alfred Basic Adult Piano Course, which also comes with a CD (which, by the way, is absolutely horrid: soulless metronomic synthesized utter crap that doesn’t even belong in a mall).

With these two new musical instruments back in my life, I face a dilemma.

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Starting a mini Digital Sabbath

I’ve been writing at least one blog post a day now for 42 days. I had started the blog bent on making it a real habit to maintain, and felt that forcing myself to write and upload every single day was necessary to keep the momentum going. I’m sure I was right, but now that I am confident in my self-discipline to maintain regularity, I am going to relax the arbitrary rule I set for myself, and start observing a mini Digital Sabbath in which I take a day off every week from blogging. Read On →

On not reading concert program notes

I have a confession to make. When attending a music concert or dance performance, I never really look at the program notes they pass out. Furthermore, I feel sufficiently guilty that I always take the printout or brochure home, “just in case” I feel like actually sitting down and reading it. I never do. Several years ago I finally took a whole box of Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra programs and recycled them, never having ever read any of them.

Also, when I check out a CD or DVD from the library, I don’t really look at the liner notes either.

What’s going on? And should I feel guilty? And what should I make of tonight’s dance performance Abby and I “accidentally” ended up watching because we didn’t know the full program up front?

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Seeing the inventor of the abstract data type

(Important update added to the end of this post.)

Barbara Liskov accepting Katayanagi Prize at CMU

Today at CMU, I finally had the opportunity to see a living legend, Barbara Liskov, computer science professor at MIT and winner of the Turing Award in 2008. She won it largely for her invention of the abstract data type, a concept that is so foundational in modern software development that a programmer ignorant of history is likely to react, “What, she got a Turing Award for something so obvious?”

But that’s the beauty of computer science: it is such a young field that many of the ideas we take for granted now were not so obvious decades ago, and had to be discovered and codified and explained.

I had to leave Liskov’s talk right after she was done (it had already run over time), so I missed the question-and-answer session, unfortunately. I had been considering asking some questions, but since I lost that opportunity, I will pose them here instead.

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Taking up flute again after decades?!

Franklin's flute

Tonight, on a whim, I decided to try out my flute yet again. Every couple of months for several years now I have pulled it out to see if I might want to start playing it again. Each time, I encountered serious problems with producing a decent sound at all, and thought that maybe I wasn’t meant to play the flute, because the embouchure is such a problem.

Interestingly, for the first time in several years, I found that maybe I can get back into playing flute.

This possibility pleases me, because the story of me and flutes goes back decades, and is actually rather sad but perhaps instructive.

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I don't know if I should vote but I did

I don’t like politics, and I don’t like voting. When I turned eighteen years old, I didn’t celebrate by getting registered to vote and participating in the presidential election the very same year. The first time I ever voted, I was twenty-two. In recent years, I have been voting almost every chance I have.


Franklin's voter receipt for 2011

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