MIT/CSAIL life

Adding Shoenfield, Brachman books to my bookshelf?

Submitted by connolly on Mon, 2006-10-16 13:08. ::

In discussion following my presentation to the ACL 2 seminar, Bob Boyer said "Shoenfield is the bible." And while talking with Elaine Rich before my Dean's Scholars lunch presentation, she strongly recommended Brachman's KR book.

This brought John Udell's library lookup gizmo out of the someday pile for a try. Support for the libraries near me didn't work out of the box. It's reasonably clear how to get it working, but a manual search showed that the libraries don't have the books anyway.

In the research library symposium I learned that even some on-campus researchers find it easier to buy books thru Amazon than to use their campus library. I have no trouble adding these two books to my amazon wishlist, but I hesitate to actually order them.

I make time for novels by McMurtry and Crichton and such, but the computer book industry is full of stuff that is rushed to market. If there's a topic that I'm really interested in, I can download the source the day it's released or follow the mailing list archives and weblogs pretty directly. By the time it has come out in book form, the chance to influence the direction has probably passed. So when I consider having my employer buy a book for my bookshelf, I have a hard time justifying more than $20 or so.

I devote one shelf to books that were part of my education... starting with The Complete Book of Model Car Building and A Field Guide to Rocks and Minerals thru The Facts for the Color Computer, OS/9, GoedelEscherBach, SmallTalk-80 and so on thru POSIX 1003.1. You might try the MyLowestBookshelf excercise. I had some fun with it a few years ago.

I do keep one shelf of Web and XML and networking books; not so much so that I can refer to their contents but rather to commemorate working with the people who wrote them.

I have Lessig's Free Culture on the top shelf, i.e. the "you really should have read this by now" guilt-pile. But I had better luck making time to listen to the recording of his Wikimania talk over the web.

For current events and new developments, I'll probably stick with online sources. But I think I'll order these two books; they seem to have stuff I can't get online.

postscript: for an extra $13.99, amazon offers to let me start reading the Brachman right now with their Amazon Online Reader. Hmm...

RDF, Microformats, and Javascript hacking in person at the 'tute

Submitted by connolly on Thu, 2006-05-04 16:14. :: | | | |

My regular schedule of working group meetings and conferences had a gap in April, and my list of reasons to chat with Ben was growing, and we're recruiting some UROPs to work on the tabulator project this summer, so I flew up for a visit to MIT.

I didn't have any particular appointments the first day, so I used the few spare minutes on the T between the airport and MIT to scare up contacts using my handheld gizmo. It turned out Aaron was in town and available for lunch in Harvard Square. We talked about life in start-ups, standards orgs, and research. He suggested layout stuff from Java and Apple should make its way into CSS and offered to write up a few details.

I spent much of Thursday with Ben working on javascript hacks to explore calendar data in RDFa. We did some whiteboard noodling about RDFa and microformats. He showed me the JavaScript shell, which is pretty cool... it gives a read-eval-print loop and tab completion in firefox... just like a lisp machine ;-) Elias dropped by and mixed in some javascript hacking he's been doing to connect SPARQL with the google calendar. Ben and I didn't get around converting my itinerary to RDFa like we planned, but we got pretty close; he sent out a New RDFa demo the next day. That same day, he came down to meet with me again, but I had to go work on a DARPA report, so we were trying to figure out next steps, and he came up with a cool idea and sent it out: Proposal: hGRDDL, an extraction from Microformats to RDFa. Elias and I did some whiteboard noodling too, in the neigborhood of JSON and templates and microformats.

Elias is learning more than he ever wanted to about calendars and timezones. It's like Dougal Campbell said to microformats-discuss:

My server is in timezone A, but I live in timezone B, but I'm posting information about an event that will occur in timezone C. Shoot me now.

On this trip, a Samsonite Dimension Notebook Case from SAM's replaced my aging W3C bag in my travel kit. I think I like all the little pockets and such, but I'm not sure; sometimes I miss the simplicity of one big compartment. I'm sure that I'm not happy that my Kensington K33069 Universal AC/Car/Air Adapter stopped working somewhere between MIT and MKE.

That's one of the reason that I always pack some light reading on dead-trees. I enjoyed escaping into Scott Lasser's Battle Creek on the way home. Baseball and fathers. Good stuff.

Connecting DIG Student Projects to the MIT UROP listing

Submitted by connolly on Mon, 2005-12-19 00:51. :: | | |

A couple MIT students have found their way to the #dig channel and asked about UROPs during IAP. I'm still learning about student rhythms at MIT; I was never a student here; I got my degree at U.T. Austin. My ten years with W3C has exposed me to the terms UROP and IAP before, but I have paged most of it out. Let's refresh our cache, shall we?

The Independent Activities Period (IAP) is a special four week term at MIT that runs from the first week of January until the end of the month. IAP 2006 takes place from January 9 through February 3.

IAP overview

In UROP info for supervisors, I see there's a form for listing projects. Hey... it would be cool if the student projects category here in this blog were automatically syndicated via that form. A meta-student-project?

Meanwhile, we do have a few notes on student projects among our DIG info for MIT students.

I'm not sure how items syndicated from Danny/Eric via the WordPress plug-in can get categorized; I suppose we can do it manually, after-the-fact?

I see a bunch of UROP openings for this time of year. The Building Games to Acquire Commonsense Knowledge project looks cool.

NOTE: It is expected that UROP students are supervised in the laboratory at all times, per the Institute's "no working alone" policy .

UROP safety isses

Sounds a bit like a "no coding alone" policy that I've been pushing around W3C and DIG, since discovering the value of pair programming, or a variant of it.

Brought my hockey skates with me this time

Submitted by connolly on Thu, 2005-12-15 11:06. :: |

A couple years ago, my flight to BOS for some meeting (the TP?) got me in at about 8:00 on a Tuesday night. I arrived with no plans for the evening, and couldn't scare up anything interesting to do. When I got to CSAIL/stata the next day, I found a flyer about csail hockey on Tuesdays. Darn! If only I had known!

On another trip to BOS about a year later, I managed to get out on the ice with them. The format was great: there's one group that knows what they're doing (the "B/C line"), and another group that tries not to fall down too much (the "D line"). The B/C line goes out there for 2.5 minutes and then a whistle blows and they all clear the ice, and the D line (including me) fumbles around for a 2.5 minutes, and the cycle repeats. After an hour of that, I was totally exhausted.

I was using all borrowed equipment, and I think the skates didn't fit me well.

So this time, I brought my skates. Yes, that meant trusting the airline with checked baggage, something I haven't done for years.

This trip took me to Montreal for a big W3C membership meeting and then to CSAIL for a TAG meeting. There's a rink in 1000 de La Gauchetière across the street from the meeting hotel, and I got in a couple hours on Saturday. Then during the TAG meeting lunch break on Tuesday, I did some skating at MIT Johnson ice rink.

the MIT hockey team takes the ice That evening, I watched the MIT varsity hockey team play a pretty exciting, high-scoring game; it ended in a 5-5 tie (see mobolg photos).

And finally, at 11pm Tuesday night, I played CSAIL pick-up hockey with my own skates. This time, there was no separation of D skaters from B/C skaters. I figured out that my main job was to get out of the way when they started skating real fast (I know from coaching little-league soccer what a waste it is for two attacking players to be taking the same lane). I think I made one or two useful defensive plays, and when the puck was passed to me a handful of times, I think I passed it to one of my team-mates more often than I gave it to the other guys.

Though I didn't feel as completely wiped out as last time, I did get a good work-out, and since the game ended around midnight and I got back to my hotel around 1am, that 7am alarm for my flight the next morning came pretty early.

tags pending: travel. Hmm... how to connect to earlier episodes: to Edinburgh for September TAG meeting, Atlanta in November for XML2005.

I'd rather be...

Submitted by connolly on Mon, 2005-10-31 14:03. :: | |

skipping rocks
Originally uploaded by DanC.

... skipping rocks.

This post is prompted by a desire to test the flickr posting mechanism, but I do love that photo. Mary took it at the CSAIL offsite meeting. Walking in the park is another of my favorite moments from that trip.

The posting mechanism has a glitch... the body text got mangled with the title. I had to clean it up manually.

This is also a policy aware web use case, since I had to give my breadcrumbs password to flickr to get this to work. Does OpenID solve that problem, or do we need something more flexible?

Fire at Southampton... hope everything's alright soon

Submitted by connolly on Mon, 2005-10-31 11:59. ::

Fire at Highfield campus... Fire destroys top research centre ...

Good to hear the SemWeb people aren't effected[sic] -- folks in #swig

SteveH says they lost most of their networking infrastructure. He's got photos.

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