Monthly Archives: March 2006

Oh what a night…

…late December back in ’63…

  1. If you like movies like the original Matrix (my personal favorite movie ever), or Ocean’s Eleven, go see Inside Man. Dumb title, great movie. Jared and I saw that tonight, and wow. I could not have better spent my $5.75. Plus the $0.75 I gave to Jared so he wouldn’t cry about having to carry around change. So, all $6.50 well spent. Go see it; it was amazing; I couldn’t ask for more in a crime/robbery movie.
  2. I finally beat Mason in a game of Racquetball tonight. It’s about damn time. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t win the match. He beat me two out of three straight out of the gate, but I got the third game, and didn’t lose so terribly in the first two this time. That was the first time I’ve won a game this semester: how pathetic.
  3. Memphis sucks. I really needed them to win today, and they really let me down. Who ever heard of an NCAA Elite Eight game ending 50-45? Nobody. Lowest-scoring Regional Final since at least 1986, i.e., in my entire life. And the stats… I could cry it was so boring. UCLA was like 6 for 19 on freethrows in the first half, and even though they picked it up in the second half, both teams still played terribly. Quote from espn: “Memphis’ only field goal in the first 8:24 of the second half Saturday didn’t even go in the basket. Washington got credit for the points on a goaltending call.” Neither one belongs in the Final Four.
  4. Don’t create a semaphore in Windows with an lMaximumCount of INFINITE. If you do, CreateSemaphore will return you a pleasant ERROR_INVALID_PARAMETER (#87), and a NULL handle. Boo. Why can’t I have an infinite semaphore? And don’t give me lame excuses about the need to represent the count in datatypes whose bounds are finite. That’s just a lack of creativity talking.

That’s all for tonight.

Real Time Music Video Synthesis by Reconstruction

The world truly is full of wonder.

You have to check this out. A guy named Sven König, who I assume is from Germany, wrote some amazing software for creating music videos in real time. The idea is, you feed the system existing material (anything from existing music videos to someone giving a filmed interview). The system analyzes the input media, breaking it apart into sound/video snippets that are, say, as long as a quarter note in the input song, or an eighth note, a sixteenth, etc. It then creates a sound signature of each sample (I assume performing some sort of time/frequency analysis), and stores all the samples along with their signatures in a database. Then, when you run the software, you sing/talk/beatbox/make random noise into a microphone. The software now takes apart your voice coming in, and generates signatures in the same manner. It mathes those signatures to the nearest existing sound samples in its database, and plays back the sound/video clip corresponding to the closest match, instead of just playing back your own voice.

What ends up happening is that if you were to say “Hello” into the mic, the computer would break that apart into maybe “Heh” and “Low”, and search its databse for some moment in time in one of the source media you fed it at the beginning, where it sounds like “heh” or “low”, and play back those two clips in order, thus reconstructing output sound that sounds like “Hello,” but isn’t being said by you.

I’m not sure if that made any sense, but check out this video of Sven explaining his “sCrAmBlEd?HaCkZ!” software, and pay attention to the examples, and I think you’ll understand better. It’s a really awesome idea. I don’t know if just nobody’s thought about it before, or if nobody has done it completely, or if I just wasn’t aware of it, but as a sound guy, I think it’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen a computer do.

cat /var/log/messages

  • My 1GB SD card is full… my camera won’t take any pictures.
  • Birthday updates:
    • Here’s what my door looks like:

      How cute. I’m sure at the beginning of the year I checked “[X] Yes” under “Would you prefer not to have your birthday celebrated by the Hall?” Not that I mind, just that it’s kindof awkward having my door decorated when I had to introduce myself to someone on our floor just yesterday in the elevator, when she realized I had already keyed 9 and must live on the floor. Hrm…
    • In better news, despite being overjoyed every time I was gone for interviews over the past month, Nate (my roommate) doesn’t actually hate me, and, in fact, even devoted some of his precious relaxation time over Spring Break to making me a card to attest to that fact (in crayon, no less):

  • Eating lunch in Pop’s this morning, I overheard the girls behind me (not trying to eavesdrop, just unable to avoid hearing them, seeing as they were loud) discussing the different clubs and orgs that one of them was in. Props to her for starting up a club that was doing something with sending medical information to other chapters of the club in India, to spread real medical facts to impoverished regions there. The other thing I overhead before I left, which made me wonder and was more the point of this bullet, was that she wanted to join some co-ed business frat, for “all the hot, smart business guys” that would be in it. Do girls really go for smart guys? idk.
  • You can install Windows on an Intel-based Mac. When they finish up the video drivers for the x1600 in the MacBook Pro (and if they get 3D acceleration support somehow), that could make for a pretty cool laptop… OSX for normal use, but able to dual boot into XP when needed for specific apps or games. Maybe I’d even buy one in a year or two. We’ll see.
  • Bonus picture as I was cleaning out my camera:

    My sister Kaisa and I on Sanibel Island, FL, (I think) during our family vacation last summer.

I can take a hint…

I got back from the Engineering campus this evening to find a letter from my former employer on my desk. The letter read, in essence, “Thanks for applying and interviewing for the network analyst intern position, but we have given the position to an internal candidate.” Now, I don’t take any offense to that, despite the fact that on some level I could be considered an internal candidate. In truth, I had already decided to persue other options after having my on-site interview and learning more detail about the position being offered. BUT, I did find it rather humorous to receive the letter, given that I also received another letter over spring break, dated three days prior to today’s. It read, “Thanks for applying and interviewing for the network analyst intern position. After reviewing your resume, we are unable to offer you consideration at this time. These decisions are difficult, etc…”.

Yeah. I got the hint the first time. You’re not going to offer me the position. Thanks. No need to rub it in.

Interlude from Nate working busily at his Transport Phenomena homework: “Oh Hell No! I am not doing H parts!” That’s what you get for being a Chemical Engineer, my friend.

Ich bin zwanzig Jahre alt

I turned twenty today. Jeni made me cupcakes 🙂 It was kindof creepy because I had actually thought about making some myself this weekend, and then wiring a bunch of LEDs to candles for festivity since lighting flames in the ECB would probably be frowned upon. Needless to say I didn’t get around to that, but I still got cupcakes out of the deal, which was awesome! CAE’s network alternated today between completely down and “router trouble”, a.k.a. dropping 999 out of every 1000 packets across the wire, and was no better during the Enlight meeting tonight. So, we packed up and went out to eat for my birthday instead. We went to Dotty Dumplings, which was a really good time, culminated by the first (hopefully last?) time I have ever seen a TI-89 employed in figuring out a restaurant bill. lol. Thanks guys, I had a great night.

In other news, I’ll be working for Microsoft this summer, pending a phone call tomorrow morning to my recruiter. I also had really great job offers from Intuit and Heartland Business Systems, but after weighing various factors and waiting a whlie for my subconcious to make the best choice, I’ve decided to head out to Redmond, WA.

In still other news yet, I finished Knife of Dreams, which was excellent. Having completed the book, though, I expect my productivity to rise on the order of 10x.

Finally, an interesting memory came to light this weekend, when one of my birthday cards had been modified from the Hallmark original to read, “Happy ‘Golden’ Birthday.” Now, I seriously don’t think that I have even thought the phrase “golden birthday” since elementary school. I can clearly remember, in fact, walking into the Forest Glen Elementary school cafeteria line one day, oh-so-many years ago, and being jealous of a friend (I don’t remember who) who was having their golden birthday. I distinctly remember thinking to myself how much it sucked that so-and-so got to have their golden birthday now, when I wouldn’t get mine until I was really old.

So I guess that makes me really old. Dad, what does that make you?

Airplanes are safe.

I talked to Kevin (who is studying to be a pilot, for those who don’t know him) tonight and I’ve been reassured that airplanes, even those flown for bankrupt airlines, are safe. Just don’t crash in them. Or at least, plan on dying in the event of a crash, to spare yourself the experience of trying to get out of a crash-landed plane. One travel tip: when the stewardess tells you to locate the nearest exit row, keeping in mind that the nearest exit may be behind you, you are wasting the effort unless you also count the number of rows you have to travel to get there. Trust Kevin on that one, or ask him for the reason. It’s… comforting.

I thought I’d share that with you in light of the recent air travel I’ve been doing, as well as Tim’s trip home tomorrow from Hawaii, and because I like planes.

In other news since two weeks ago, I had an interview trip to Microsoft last week. Getting my homework done so I could fly out last Thursday kept me from posting that week, and general laziness (and a bit of embarassment over a computer issue) kept me from blogging this week. More details and some pictures to come on the interview trip and the computer issue in a future post, when I have time (mid-week?). In summary: It was the hardest interview I’ve ever had or even dreamt possible, but it went well, was actually fun in a cognitively-stimulating way, and, most importantly, resulted in a job offer. By Tuesday I’ll have to be able to tell you whether I’m working for Heartland Business Systems, Intuit, or Microsoft this summer, and consequently where I will be located (Little Chute, WI; Mountain View, CA; or Redmond, WA; respectively), because that’s the deadline on Microsoft’s offer. All three positions sound really cool as summer jobs, and all have some definite advantages, so it’s not a decision I want to make. I hate having to make choices when there’s multiple good, mutually-exclusive options.

Hm. Other than that, this week was Spring Break, which gave me time to do some spring cleaning of my computers and one of Jared’s, though unfortunately I didn’t spend nearly as much time on schoolwork as I had planned. I blame that on the unfortunate decision to start reading Knife of Dreams, the 11th book in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. I’ve read about 2/3 of it, and though I’m really enjoying reading it, it is nevertheless consuming my free time. I don’t know how I ever read those books in 4 or 5 days each the first time through (junior year of high school). I also finally bought a copy of The C++ Programming Language by Bjarne Stroustrup, which fortunately I didn’t need for my Microsoft interview. (Though it would have helped had I read it before my Intuit interview… who knew that virtual meant, essentially, “turn on polymorphism”? I sure didn’t.)

I think I need to stop writing now, because I think I’m babbling. Stay tuned for updates on why you should not ask me to clean your computer as well as details on my trip to Seattle.

A classic

One day René Descartes walks into a bar.
The bartender says, “Can I get you a drink?”
René replies, “I think not,” and instantly disappears.

Silicon Valley

Well, it took me a week to get around to it, but here, finally, is a post about my interview trip to Intuit in San Jose, CA. The interviews themselves went pretty well. Out of five timeslots, I had three interviews. One purely technical, writing some code, answering some questions about C++ and Java, designing test cases for a function. Then I had one that was behavioral, but all the questions were really tough; Tell me about a time when you failed to meet the expectations of a project. Tell me about troubles working with a team member. Tell me about a time when you did your best but the result wasn’t good enough. I mean, wow. Tough. The last interview I don’t know what to make of. I basically just explained the Maquina project in detail for 20 minutes, and then asked questions about Intuit. I have no idea what the recruiter was looking for, or what I presented of myself. So we’ll see how the interviews went.

The coolest part though, was just being in Silicon Valley. We stayed at the Cupertino Inn, which was literally three blocks from Apple’s corporate headquarters. Check it out: (The inn is actually the quadrilateral building just southwest of Google’s green marker, the one with the weird angle due to the on-ramp)

Wow. Awesome.

The first major clue of this good fortune was walking over the overpass on the direction of the shuttle driver to find something to eat for lunch. Going around a strange corner in the sidewalk, we encountered this:

Turning to look across the street, we see this:

There it is: Apple’s corporate headquarters at 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA.

Unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit any closer, needing to get some food, take a shower, iron clothes, and catch the shuttle to Intuit, but it was still awesome to be right across the street from Apple.

Later in the day, some unfortunate miscommunications that caused the hotel to have to call us a taxi to get to Intuit… half an hour late, so we missed the CTO’s presentation. On the upshot though, the taxi drivers had no idea where they were going, so instead of taking us to building 11 on the Intuit campus, they drove us right through the Intuit campus and into Google’s. So in one trip we saw Apple, Intuit and Google. Silicon Valley is awesome!

Of course, the one downside to having a trip to California last Monday is that we arrived in the middle of a storm. Now granted, 60-degree weather is nothing for me to complain about, but its a bit harder enjoy a stay in an open-air hotel when the weather looks like this, and when an outdoor picnic table blew over in front of my eyes during my final interview:

And finally, just because I love flying and the view was awesome, here’s a lame attempt at photographing the Rocky Mountains through double-paned plastic airplane windows on the way from San Jose to Tim’s house. I thought about trying to photograph as much of Denver as possible, as well, just to see if I could get Tim’s actual house by any chance, but they had already said to turn off and stow all electronic carry-on items. Boo.

I think that’s all for the Intuit trip. Since then I’ve had 3 midterms and another job interview, this time at WPS, where I worked last summer. Next Friday is my final job interview, onsite with Microsoft. I hope that goes well, but unfortunately if I get any more job offers (I have only one right now, from Heartland Business Systems), then I’ll actually have to make a choice, and I’m horribly slow at making choices.

That’s it for the time being. Now I have to decide if I’m going to try and get some decent sleep tonight, or stay up anyway… it’s a tough call because I have no homework to feel guilty about not doing, which usually sends me to sleep earlier. At least, I don’t remember any homework that I should be doing, which is pretty much the same thing.

There and back again: A Headphones' Tale

Tolkien is awesome.

For those who didn’t hear, I broke my awesome Bose Triport headphones. They were in my laptop, which i set on the couch. I then stood up, the laptop clattered to the floor, and the headphone plug took the brunt of the fall. So I was left with a scratch in my PowerBook and a cock-eyed headphone plug that was touchy… if I didn’t touch it while playing audio, I got monaureal sound that was severely lacking in mid to high frequencies. That was no good. So that’s the story. Happy to provide you someone to laugh at. Anyway, I emailed Bose support to ask what my options were forgetting them fixed. Despite me saying that I broke them in the email, Bose offered to replace them free of charge (which is Awesome).

They arrived today. There was much rejoicing. Yea.

Anyway, for the visual learners, here’s the story in pictures:

The old headphones, after my best efforts to repair (straighten) the plug with two sets of pliers failed.

The new headphones, like magic.

Size comparison: sleek new Bose Triport vs. my old beloved Aiwa headphones, which, though bulky, survived 4 years of intense use at the mixing board at my high school. I brought them back from home as backup until Bose shipped the new headphones to me. I loved those headphones; I wore out the head strap part to the point that it broke once a week, and I stripped out the screws from taking the headphones apart and fixing them.

And a bonus picture that Scott pointed out to me. See here: Microsoft Software Piracy Protection

In other news, Jeni and I took Flash 2 from the software training for students program at DoIT tonight. Let me just say that Flash is the most convoluted “development environment” (not sure what else to call it) that I have ever worked in. Yes, even more convoluted than PicPro. Imagine PicPro, but for every wire you wanted to draw, you had to make obscure clicks on 3 different panels or modify settings in hidden panes. On the upshot, it has a really good undo feature, with a pretty long history, which beats PicPro by a factor of 1/0. The only downside to the Undo is that it didn’t undo the changes I made to my ActionScript. …wha…? It will undo my every mouse click but not the changes I made that completely hosed my ActionScript? Or maybe I just missed something…. In any case, Flash is messed up, and the antithesis of every accessability, usability, and compatability standard ever created. But it was kind of fun to make one of those “Loading…” screens for a change. I even figured out how to get a caption that tells you what percentage is complete, though I didn’t have time to convert the 15+ digit decimal into a nice round percentage, and it only updated the percent after the completion of each animation loop.