Keeping busy

Gosh, what have I been up to since my last journal post two weeks ago?

The day after that post, I went to see my first Dorkbot in NYC, which was excellent. I really enjoyed John Arroyo’s presentation on rhythmic research. He’s using Principal Component Analysis (PCA) to analyze drum beat patterns in songs. Originally he was doing it to help classify music into different categories, but then once he had the principal components, he realized it would be interesting to use them to generate music as well. Very cool stuff. I was one of only a few people who had any idea what he was talking about (since I used PCA extensively for data analysis at one point), which was also fun.

Jeff Han’s presentation on his multi-touch interaction research was jaw-dropping. He was only showing videos and people in the audience were audibly gasping (oh, wait, maybe that was just me). If he’d had a live demo, he never would have gotten out of there. Check out the videos on his site; the ideas his group has for how to use a multiple touch interface are pretty well thought-out and make for some neat possibilities.

In a random coincidence, I ran into mim, who turned out to be a classmate of the first presenter, John. Small world. So mim and his friend and I went out to dinner at some place around the corner, the name of which I’ve forgotten, but which was really good.

That was Wednesday night. Thursday night I packed, and Friday night I flew back to Oakland for Seppo‘s wedding. In another coincidence, my mom was in town for a trip with some high school friends that weekend, so we met up for brunch on Saturday morning before I ran off for the wedding on Saturday afternoon. Sunday was an all-day brunch affair at the Isle of Tortuga, and I flew back Monday.

On Wednesday, a couple of the boys from Squid Labs were in town for some reason, so I had dinner with them and some of their pals. After dinner, Limor showed us around Eyebeam, the gallery at which she is artist in residence, and then we headed back to Wonderland to hang out. Wonderland’s an awesome space – a warehouse loft where about ten people live, all of whom seem interesting. I need to go hang out there more.

Thursday and Friday night, I was studying for the GRE, which I took on Saturday morning. I’m planning to apply to an executive master’s program in technology management at Columbia, and they wanted GRE scores. Apparently, ETS only keeps official scores for five years, so my scores from 1993 (!!) are long gone. It was no big deal. The computer-based version of the test was pretty entertaining; because I knew it used adaptive questioning, where it picks out questions based on how I answered previous questions, I started meta-analyzing how I was doing by the questions it was giving me. At one point in the verbal, I got three sets of reading comprehension questions in a row, which made me wonder if I’d missed a question on the first set. But given that it was starting to make up words by the end, I was pretty sure I was doing well. It was also nice to be able to go at my own pace – I test fast, so I was out of there in less than two and a half hours rather than the four hours alloted. And being able to get the scores right away is pretty gratifying, although I’ll have to wait and see how I did on the essay writing sections.

Wes is in town this weekend, so he got a bunch of his friends together to all meet each other last night. Unsurprisingly, it’s an interesting group of folks, with an eclectic mix of geeks, singers, and artists. Fun times. I might write up thoughts on one of the conversations after this. Oh, and for my own reference, one of the folks last night recommended Cast Party, an open mic night at Birdland, where lots of Broadway folks hang out and try out new material. Sounds like a fun time – I might have to check it out one of these weeks.

Today I took the west-side bike trail all the way up to the northern tip of Manhattan. It ends around 205th st or so. It’s a wonderful ride – up in the northern part of Manhattan, it goes through some trees and there’s not many other people around. In places, there were trees blooming with flowers, a definite sign of spring. And being out near the river on a nice sunny day was excellent. The bike ride definitely had my legs hurting a bit by the end, which made me feel pathetic until I got back and Google-mapped the ride and found out that I’d ridden about 18 miles, which seemed a bit less pathetic than I’d originally feared.

Oh, one last New York experience. I was walking back from the grocery store yesterday afternoon, when I heard somebody say “Perlick?!” It was a friend of mine from MIT who I hadn’t seen in several years. He’d been a grad student at Berkeley, disappeared into his thesis for a while, and I never knew where he’d ended up. Apparently he’s doing a postdoc at Princeton now, and is often in New York on the weekends. And I ran into him on the street. New York is so cool! Yet another advantage of walking everywhere rather than driving – more opportunities for chance collisions.

P.S. Question for my small but loyal readership – my posts will generally split into one of two main categories: journal posts about things I’m doing, and thought posts about things I’m thinking. Oh, and review posts about things I’ve been reading if I ever get around to catching up on my backlog of book reviews. Right now you can separate them out by subscribing to individual RSS feeds (e.g. the journal feed or the thoughts feed), but if you just visit the main page or use the main feed, they’re all mixed together. Do people mind this jumbling? Would it be more convenient if I did journal type posts at a separate location? If you have an opinion, either comment or email me. If you’re fine with the status quo, do nothing. I’m just feeling guilty because I’m doing less thought posts and more journal posts because I’ve been running around so much, doing fun things. But maybe that’s okay.

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