Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Good to See the Collorans Again

Been a long time since I took the drive from my parents house to theirs. It'll be one of the last times too, as Jim and Linda are moving down to San Mateo in a couple of months. By the end of this week, when all of Kenny's childhood friends are back in town for the wedding it'll be even more nostalgic.

Nice to talk again with the family that influenced so much of my childhood development. They're still making me feel like a right-winger, yelling about Obama being too far to the right. Well, Kenny at least. Should have some fun political arguments by the end of the week.

Anyways, I'm back to coding, see if I can get this finished up tonight. I don't know whether its that software design always takes longer than I imagine it will or that my ability to berate myself exceeds my ability to make myself work, but coding for someone else has always brought on a lot of stress. Lets hope I can get this done by the time Erik wants to go jogging tomorrow.

Back Home This Week

Spending this week back in Medford with the parents, hanging out with the Collorans as Kenny has his wedding reception. Damn strange to see my friends start to get married, but it should be a good week of catching up with friends and family that I haven't seen in several months.

At the moment, I'm spending most of my time reacquainting myself with writing software for various job applications. It's been a surprisingly long time since I've written software, so good to get back into it, I suppose. Now, if only I could find a job like Clay Shirky, and be interacting with technology and society in that sort of way, but I suppose I gotta prove my chops a bit as a software engineer first.

Speaking of that sort of work, I started reading The Whuffie Factor. Seems generally pretty good, haven't gotten too far through it though. We're still a long way off from Doctorow's imagined world of having Whuffie a currency reducible to an easily measured number, but good to see some progress on that, or at least talking about it. I've been toying around with ideas for that for years.

Well, I'm back to writing this damn code before my friends get back into town. I'll be spending the rest of my time reading, jogging, cooking, painting my parent's porch and writing more letters to the government.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


So far, being unemployed has been a blast. I haven't had this much free time since the summer of 2002. I've been getting around to things I've been meaning to do for ages, such as sanding and varnishing this furniture. And doing some coding for fun, which I haven't done since before college. That and exercising, reading, working out, etc. All those things that completely get put off when you're working or in school.

Of course, some might think I have a bit too much free time on hand, seeing as I'm relearning how to type in Dvorak, but ah well, I'll enjoy it while I can.

Unfortunately, my money will run out at some point, and if I don't have a job by then I'll start to panic. I've got my first interview coming up in an hour though, we'll see how that goes.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Thoughts on the Singularity in Relation to Modern Movies

I had the offhand thought that all of the reboots being done of movie franchises and TV shows might in some way be a sign of the singularity. They've been rebooting, what, Bond, X-Men, Batman, Battlestar Galactica, now, the Star Trek series. I've enjoyed all of the listed reboots tremendously. Looking at the Wikipedia page on reboots I realize that reboots have been around for awhile, but they certainly seem to be gaining in number and stature as of the last five to eight years. Now, I had the thought that this could in some sense be indicative of a singularity, in that it shows our culture is changing to the point that we cannot accept the universe previously created for these popular series, and we have the resources to rebuild them from the ground up. Or maybe it's just a fad, and I'm a ranting singularitarian. On the other hand, if this trend continues, or accelerates in the coming generation, I think that would be a pretty good sign that culture is changing more rapidly than before. If it gets to the point where they start forking these popular series, well, then we'd really have something.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Signs of the Singularity

I saw some recent pieces come out in Wired and Technology Review on automating scientific discovery. One was a computer program able to extrapolate some scientific laws, and another was an automated lab capable of testing its own theories. I've worked before as an intern on the Prometheus project, so I have some experience with the field. People have been working on such things for the last fifty years or, and making only incremental process. I'm not certain how much of a breakthrough these new developments are, other than to make Wired and Technology Review, but it looks like we're getting closer to the point where we can turn computers on large data sets from complex systems and have them explain, or at least greatly speed up the explanation of, what's going on. When we get to that point, well, we'll be a good step closer to the singularity. Now, to look up what's going on with getting computers to engineer things on their own...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Writing Politicians

One of the things that I've been doing with my recently graduated and still unemployed amount of free time is writing letters to my various elected officials. This was always something I'd meant to do, but never had any time for. Sadly, being a caring and informed member of the community seems to take a good bit of effort. Well, at least for someone who wants to do some research on an issue before yelling a Senator. But now that I've got the first few out and the addresses and proper letterhead figured out, it should be a good bit quicker to start spitting these out.

Then, as told to me by someone who had this job, the letters will be read by some poor intern who will then enter my opinion into some large spreadsheet that tells the politicians how their constituents want them to vote. Hopefully the adage that they assume every letter sent in represents 2000 people who felt the same way but were too busy to write a letter holds true. At least I think that's an adage.

Oh, and for anyone interested, the letters I have written or am drafting are on the subjects of greater environmental protection, reforming copyright law, anti-gerrymandering, instant runoff voting and other voting reform measures, ending the drug wars, lowering the drinking age to 18, anti-sprawl, ending Don't Ask Don't Tell, removing marriage from the legal system... actually I'm getting ahead of myself there, I haven't even started writing the last few.

Ah, but time for that later, plenty to read up on.

Slightly More Cybernetic

I finally got around to getting a smartphone last week. A friend of mine at Google gave me a G1 to play around with, and now I'm fairly hooked on it. Of course, I still need to find a job to cover the increased data plan, as well as my rent. But in the meantime, well, I can go back and reread Smart Mobs, Collective Intelligence, Natural Born Cyborgs and the like. Being constantly in contact with my email, Wikipedia, Google Maps and the like definitely do tie me in a good bit more. Hope that's a good thing. Well, we'll see. Now about that job...

Monday, April 6, 2009

Well, It Was Worth It

Four days ago I got my degree conferred, and am still enjoying the celebration. Feels damn good to have succeeded at getting good enough grades to get out of here.

So, for the next while, I will happily enjoy a period as free of work and stress as I've had since at least the summer of 2002. Of course, I'll be needing to get a job at some point, but I've got enough money saved up that I can put that off for a few months. Though, in a few months, if the economy actually is bad enough that I can't find a job, well, then I'll start panicking.

But for now, I'm enjoying relaxing, and will spend my time on various hobbies and errands I've let slip over the past year. Some of that will involve writing on this blog.