random stuff

I've been storing some of these up for a while, but it's high time they get posted. These links run the gamut from artsy videos to a Bayesian inference package. And yes, I intentionally don't say much about each one so you have to click. Maybe you'll discover something new!

leap motion controller
arial photos of tulip fields
beautiful nature GIFs
CONTACT: a LEGO masterwork
Henry VIII: the game
geometric projection art
floating temple
why wives don't out-earn husbands?
longest roadtrip
dynamic target tracking
night stroll
♥ Stan ♥
updated egg box
time is finally finished

It is time.

This is what I get for opting to use the lovely Old Reader as my Google Reader replacement: the developers have decided to make it private, which means I'll be booted off.  Sigh.

I've been wanting to write my own RSS reader for a while, and have snippets of it done, but it''s not the the point where I could use it daily. There are a few things that I'd like:

1) grouping articles/posts about the same story together and being able to mark them all as read at once; sorting these by their anticipated preference.
2) Displaying different quantities of content depending on the time of day, the duration of time since the user last used the site/app last and the quantity and type of posts since their last visit.  For example, when I'm at work, I shouldn't be reading loads of comics, but the most important tech and news posts might be okay.
3) integrating RSS with mailing list emails-- they're about the same level of importance to me, and it'd be nice to check them both at once.

One day I'll have the time for all that, but for now, it might be worth building the most basic reader so that I can play as I get the time.


off by an inch (little moment of compulsion #6)

Today I was doing some small tidying when I did a double-take of one of our bookshelves. We have three of them, you know, all from Ikea. One tall and wide, one tall and narrow, and one short and wide, sitting smartly on top of a dresser of the same color and width. I did my double take of the last one, noticing that it was crookedly situated.  I prowled around it for two minutes, looking at it from various angles, including above in order to see the distance from the wall. Yes, indeed, it was most certainly off by an inch--an inch too far away from the wall on its right side, to be precise.

I felt a mix of confusion, anger, and embarrassment--all mild, it was only a bookshelf, after all--since it had been like this for two years and before I noticed.  Two years!  Gah!  We're hoping to move out of university housing in the next few months (once we find a place we like), but I knew that this would bother me every moment I looked at it.  So, I did what any sensible person would do: I took out all the books (and some miscellany), dusted down the shelves, and pushed the right side in an inch.

Then, before putting everything back, I did a second round of dusting and inspected everything to see if we actually needed it.  I even went through every pen in our jar-o-pens (which lives on that bookshelf) to make sure that they all worked.  The whole process didn't take too long, but I probably should have been doing laundry or vacuuming instead.


taking up tennis

This beautiful photo is Copyright Arvin Rahimzadeh.
Several weeks ago, N came up with the brilliant scheme to have of play tennis regularly.  We went out and bought the cheapest rackets we could, as well as two cans of balls, and started the same afternoon.

In my obsession with planning, I decided we would go every Monday and Friday thereafter, to which the gods decided they would make it rain every Monday and Friday.  We've therefore been playing sporadically, and often on wet courts, if not in the rain.

I'm terrible at tennis, and when I started, I'd guess about 10% of my serves were legal.  This meant I was (and still am) thoroughly trounced any time we played a set.  Two weeks ago, I decided that I would have to complete 50 successful serves before we could play a game.  Fate being what it is, of course, the first time I tried my 50-serve goal, a thunderstorm commenced after I spent a half hour reaching 15 legal serves.  We waited it out, finished my goal with soaked tennis balls, and played two games before going home.  N had to serve both since my arm was sore.  Incidentally, he also won both.

In addition to giving my arm a harder workout, the wet tennis balls forced me to serve overhand, since bouncing them for an underhand serve was rather difficult.  Although everyone seems to be recommending me to do underhand serves to start, I find overhand to be more intuitive, and it's obviously more powerful too.  The only problem is that now that I want to hit everything overhand, which doesn't get as many balls over the net.  One step at a time, I guess.

Since then, I've gotten much better at serving.  I'm good enough now that it's boring for N for me to do my warm up--before he had to both be encouraging (so I would keep going) and run around a lot more when my aim was worse.  As a result, I've reduced it to 25 legal serves before we can play.

Tennis is definitely less of a workout than running or biking, but the game aspect gets me to do it more frequently, so it's hard to say which is better long-term.  I don't like that one arm gets more of a workout that the other, but I'm ambidextrous enough that once I get decent with my right arm, I might play with my left arm occasionally to balance things out.

All-in-all: it's lots of fun, but I've got a long way to go.  Any tips, pointers, or suggestions are welcome.


Happy Monday!

I've taken a bit of a break from the digital world; the cause was part accidental, part intentional, and part circumstantial.

In the meanwhile, N and I took a trip to India and Nepal, I started my summer internship at Microsoft, the garden exploded, N and I dressed up as pioneers and herded teenagers, and many other small and lovely occurrences worked their magic.

There's a slew of half-written posts lined up, so be prepared for the imminent return of regular updates.