the useless personal
web log of adam mathes
Apparently I'm too lazy to be bothered with updating frequently. Not that this matters, since nobody reads this.
I hate voodooextreme and they're stupid fucking wannabe pimp-talk. My pals at old man murray feel the same way, and created Marvin Sedate which is a dynamically updated news page that rips off the actual content of voodooextreme but strips out Billy Wilson's stupid ass comments. It's genius. If i still cared about computer games I'd read it daily.
Damn. jjg's infosift is no more. My Ass Is A Weblog too. No, the point of this weblog is not "revolution" or anything, nor do I harbor delusions that it is, nor do I think weblogs are even that great. I just think it's a useful way for me to organize sites I'd like to remember, and in the unlikely event someone reads this, share these sites with other people as well.
I finally gave in and got a Neo*Geo Pocket Color. It's just so damned good. Death to game-boy. The controls are great, it's just the right size, and the games are fun and addictive. I mean, Bust A Move, Metal Slug, and King of Fighters in your pocket? That's got to be one of the greatest things ever. I've yet to find any really good ngpc sites other than Sector: NGP.
I've been taking CS200 (last year's site) to convince myself being a CS major at Stanford is really all that nifty. And to possibly find some undergraduate research opportunities, but all the faculty members' research projects were either too removed from the real world, or too "let's finish this up fast, quit Stanford and find a way to make a startup based on this research." Every Thursday night I keep meaning to write up little reviews of two speakers for that week, and I have not done it a single time. So here are the highlights that I can remember:
Baker discussed her work on Mosquitonet,
a project to create a "personal proxy" that would allow people
to contact you the best way possible, automatically. Interesting stuff,
but I still see cellular phones, pagers, and laptops as things chaining
employees to their jobs after hours. Mary discussed the possibilities
of the proxy as a complex filter, which you could customize to accept
or deny communication as you deem fit. Maybe. As soon as you can explain
to your proxy "don't take any calls from my boss when i'm supposed
to be working but at the beach" and it knows what you're talking
about, I'll try using it. Hopefully, I'll be rich and powerful enough
one day to afford a real, live
David Dill talked about formal verification. It was boring.
Armando Fox talked about "invisible" computing. I don't know why, but whenever anybody, whether it's Apple, or Sun, or a Stanford professor, try to explain how cool invisible, pervasive computing is going to be, they always use this one example: imagine you run out of milk. When you use the last of the milk, your bar-code enabled refrigerator realizes it, and adds it to the grocery list. Then, when you're coming home from work the next day and you're near a grocery store, your gps-enabled car "politely" reminds you that you are out of milk, and the grocery store you are driving near is having a sale on milk. This is apparently the best example people can come up with because it's the example people always use. And it's really stupid. First, it's not that hard to keep a fucking grocery list and go to the grocery store, so it's not as if there's some huge need or convenience factor. Second, do you really want your smart ass car telling you you're out of milk? I don't. Besides, if you're dorky enough to actually want your car to talk to you and you need it to tell you where the grocery store is that you pass everyday on your way home from work, then you don't need groceries since you spend 80 hours a week at the office and live off of jolt cola and cold pizza.
Chris Bregler discussed some interesting work being done in computer graphics, especially in the area of modeling accurately human facial expressions. Now I know why all those Final Fantasy characters' faces all look like shit; that stuff is fricking complicated. Mark Levoy's work in computer graphics was also fascinating. Mark worked in the cartoon biz for a while, which I thought was cool. He talked quite a bit about The Digital Michelangelo Project which is just cool in its own right, but the science behind it is also interesting.
Terry Winograd is the human-computer interactions professor at Stanford. He explained why he moved away from artificial intelligence to hci, which I found fascinating. And he discussed some of the issues in hci, which was also interesting. Just a really cool overview of hci.
The real treat of the quarter though was the final presentation by John McCarthy, artificial intelligence guru. John has done little things, like coming up with the term artificial intelligence, writing the first paper on ai, and developing LISP. John has been working on the problems of artificial intelligence for over forty years, and some people (like Winograd) really think that it might be hopeless, or that some intense revolution is necessary to move the field forward. John's presentation was sort of inspiring in that he too believes that some revolutions are probably necessary in the field, but that we may be the ones to have the crazy ideas that change the field. It was the only talk that made me feel like cs is a real academic field with really complex, important problems that I want to dive into. But I don't know if I want to spend the next forty years on problems that might not be solved for generations.
I'm giddy. I just pre-ordered Troma's b-movie classic Teenage Catgirls in Heat. I never saw it in theatres, but I remeber seeing it a few years ago on USA Network's Up All Night. Obviously, I didn't get out a lot when I was in high school.