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Showing posts from 2011

162

I'm sitting myself down tonight after a long baseball season to watch the Cubs for the final time this year. After Ron Santo died last winter, this season I decided to upgrade myself from MLB.com's Gameday Audio to the full MLB.tv package so I'd have access to every Cubs TV broadcast this year. I watched every one. I might not have watched them live, and for quite a number the game became background noise as I worked on something else, but in one way or another I've watched every single game this season. It's not quite like getting season tickets and attending every home game, or like visiting all 30 major league ballparks, but it's something.

I certainly didn't pick a memorable Cubs season to watch. Early in the season, an injury-riddled Cubs lineup proved that they were a pretty poor team. Later, when they got healthy, the best they could do was still pretty average. There were way too many blown saves and about a billion men left on base. I know the Cubs…

Why Eleanor Roosevelt Would Have Liked Google+

And why Google+ won't be replacing Twitter or Facebook for most of us anytime soon
"Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people."
-- Eleanor Roosevelt

I know too much already has been written about Google+ and its place in the world of social networking, but I've recently developed a new perspective which might help some of you who are trying to decide how and when to use Google+ versus Twitter or Facebook.

Eleanor might have said "small minds discuss people," but there's more than one way to discuss people and none of us are consistently small-minded. People are important, and the people who are most important to us are those with which we have mutual friendships or family relationships. This is why Facebook is best at people: it enforces (if we ignore fan pages) a symmetric follower model, ensuring that we are connected to people who want to also be connected to us. Those connections, often with people who we don&…

Fall Semester, 2011

Tomorrow I begin my second year in the doctoral program in the School of Education at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Being a doctoral student isn't quite like being a student at any other level. Doctoral work is more of an apprenticeship, although there are plenty of classes to attend and papers to write. I imagine there are a number of qualities our faculty look for in us doctoral students. During our first year, they see if we can grasp the fundamental methods of quantitative and qualitative research, and they test our understanding of the major political and philosophical issues in our field. During our third year, we'll take a comprehensive exam to measure if we have the focused expertise and vision necessary to go on to pursue work towards a dissertation that will contribute new knowledge to the field. So what do they look for in our second year? If my schedule is any indication, they must be seeing if we can maintain our sanity despite heavy workloads. I hope I&#…

Time-lapse video of clouds over Boulder

We tend to get a lot of sunny days here along Colorado's Front Range, but right now we're enjoying some much-needed rain. After a couple rainy days earlier this week, the clouds broke Friday morning and we got one clear day before the clouds and rain returned today. Anticipating a nice scene when the clouds broke, I set my Kodak Zi8 on a tripod in my window and let it run. I cut out a 15-minute piece of video using Avidemux and then used modified code found here and here to prepare the video. First, I extracted two frames from each second of video:

ffmpeg -i 2011-05-13-original.mkv -r 2 -f image2 png/%05d.png
I then made a text file with the names of all the images and used mencoder to make a 30fps video:

ls -1tr > files.txt

mencoder -nosound -ovc lavc -lavcopts vcodec=mpeg4:vbitrate=5000 -mf w=1280:h=720:fps=24:type=png mf://@files.txt -o time.avi

I then went to Jamendo to get some Creative Commons-licensed music to use the in the background. I chose "Shooting Star&quo…

Doctoral program year one...done!

I really don't get excited about the coming and going of school years. In fact, the end of a spring semester always makes me a bit sad. Teachers and students are working at their peak (or their limit), showing off all that they've learned and accomplished and then it just stops and suddenly it's summer. My transition into summer will be smooth, as I'm still working for my advisor and I'll be taking at least one class in July. But I suppose getting this far is an accomplishment in itself. I don't know how much longer it will take for me to finish my doctoral program, but I know I'm now one year closer.

Now that we first-year students have some breathing room, my friend Jackie and I headed out yesterday for a photography excursion. Our destination was Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater, located west of Denver near Morrison at the edge of the Rocky Mountain foothills. Red Rocks is, by almost all accounts, the best natural amphitheater in the country, if not one o…

How to lose backed-up data (Or: How to have a disappointing day)

I'm pretty thorough about backing up my data. Here's my typical routine:

Any school-related files are in Dropbox, so they're available everywhere and backed up.A rsync script cron job makes a new "snapshot" of all my data to an internal 2TB drive inside my computer. The script runs every 8 hours and keeps the 3 most recent snapshots.The same rsync script run manually copies to an external, encrypted 2TB drive that I take to my office.So that's three copies of data in two different physical locations. Good strategy, right? But here's where things go wrong: Remove original boot drive and replace with SSD and fresh Ubuntu installation.Copy old files into /home on new drive. (Now I have 4 copies of data!) Instead of copying everything, directories are moved one-by-one to avoid importing cruft and unnecessary hidden files.Set up rsync script cron job again. (In 24 hours, all the old snapshots are gone. Now I'm down to 3 copies of data again.)After making sur…

March "Matness" 2011

The NCAA Division I wrestling tournament starts tomorrow and I thought I'd throw out a few hastily-chosen predictions for the finals and team race:


125: Robles (AZST) over McDonough (IOWA)
133: Graff (WISC) over Long (PSU)
141: Thorn (MINN) over Russell (MICH)
149: Caldwell (NCSU) over LeValley (BUCK)
157: Taylor (PSU) over Jenkins (AZST)
165: Burroughs (NEB) over Howe (WISC)
174: Reader (ISU) over Lewnes (CORN)
184: Bozak (CORN) over Rutt (WISC)
197: Simaz (CORN) over Foster (OKST)
HWT: Trice (CMICH) over Bradley (MIZZ)

If any of those finals matches even happen, I'll be shocked. I really didn't spend much time on them, but a Taylor-Jenkins match at 157 could be the story of the tournament (unless Robles wins a title, which I would love to see). Here are my predictions for the team race:

1. Cornell
2. Penn State
3. Oklahoma St
4. Iowa

So while the rest of you figure out your brackets of 68, I'll be focused on the 330 wrestlers hitting the mats this weekend in Philadel…

West Regional 2011

My friend Jordan and I went down to the Air Force Academy today to watch some Division I wrestling action at the West Regional. I went to support my UNI Panthers and, judging by the results, my support wasn't enough. UNI came in second behind Wyoming and UNI only had two champions, Ryan Loder and Christian Brantley. Loder's final over Wyoming's Joe LeBlanc was quite good, with Loder avenging a loss two weeks ago by controlling LeBlanc from the top position in the third period. It was a good match between two very evenly-matched wrestlers.My biggest disappointment came in Brett Robbins' true second match against UNC's Justin Gaethje at 149. Robbins upset Gaethje in the dual last month, and ever since I've been a proud member of the Brett Robbins fan club. Today's rematch was close and the score was tied 4-4 with about 10 seconds left when Robbins was penalized for stalling, giving a 5-4 victory to Gaethje. I don't often dispute an official's call, bu…

2010 Year in Review

I think this is the kind of thing most people put in their Christmas letters, but I don't write those. It's also something more organized people manage to write and publish in the last few days of the old year, not nearly a week into the new one. But a lot happened for me in 2010 and I'd like to get it in print before a new semester starts and time slips away.

I started 2010 having just applied for the Ph.D program in the School of Education at CU-Boulder. I had already finished a semester of work towards a master's degree, but I knew the opportunity and circumstances were right for me to finally pursue a doctoral degree. I think I was notified of my acceptance in February and in March I participated in the CU's recruiting weekend activities. There I met my new advisor, Finbarr Sloane, a very smart, very hardworking, very enjoyable person who is really helping me develop an interest and expertise in statistics education.

The spring semester finished strong with pap…