Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Happy Holidays!

I'd like to wish everyone safe and happy holidays, and a joyful and productive new year!

There's a lot to do in 2007. I anticipate building my first integrated circuit for my thesis project, watching Dexter's AI and sensor systems come together, and having good time in general.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Don't worry!

Tech support kitty is too cute.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Got my laptop back!

It was returned to me this morning along with the rest of my stuff. Oh, happy day!

In other news...

I'm in the Observer this week! (But Dexter is the real star...)

Case enters DARPA challenge

My laptop walked away

Sigh, it's been a long day. Here is the post that went out to the department, it pretty much sums it up.



I am asking everyone to please keep watch for a black leather bag which was left in Olin 314 about 11am this morning (11/9/06). The bag contained several notebooks, a USB thumb drive, a laptop, a digitial camera, and some other things. The most important thing is the notebooks which contained all Bradley Farnsworth's research data for his Master's thesis!!!

Please keep watch for this black bag and the contents in case they have been dumped somewhere around the department or anywhere on campus. If you have any information about the location of the bag or its contents (ESPECIALLY THE LAB NOTEBOOKS!!! ) please contact Bradley Farnsworth or campus security. If anyone has the bag, it or any of its contents may be dropped off in the EECS Department's central office in Glennan 321, no questions asked!


Dr. M.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Dexter - DARPA Urban Challenge

Who's that sexy beast? Why, it's Dexter, the representative of Team Case in the DARPA Urban Challenge (Wiki with nice Dexter pics)! Check out some Nova footage (look for Team ENSCO). He's come all the way from Ensco in Virginia to come live in the Bingham building at Case! I'm working on Dexter's image processing and computer vision systems (along with the normal research fun...) It's a neat project and I'm glad I can get involved. If you'd like to meet Dexter up close and personal, let me know... or come to Case's Almni Week!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

"Regular" Expression

Ah, I love Case. The controversy never ends! Case has erected a new "expression" wall near Thwing, without any fanfare or even much more than murmuring. (Because Cleveland doesn't have enough graffiti already, duh!) Well, now it has a "regular" expression on it. Yeah Case --errr, CWRU-- email!

But seriously. We are just ripping off CMU. Maybe it has something to do with a certain Provost who was a former Dean of Engineering there. Or maybe we just think we're being original... something like the teenager who plagiarizes an author she read in elementary school, but now thinks the ideas are her own. Who knows?

If you want even more nitty gritty, we have a Wiki entry, a Forum thread (or two), and press!

Well, I guess all there is to say is... RIP Steve Irwin!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

What if Dubya's serches were leaked with the AOL DB?

This is satire... but it's FUNNY. Enjoy:

Slate Discovers Another AOL Search Record.

Thanks to fark for the link.

For real AOL searches, some of which are funnier and/or scarier... check out this Something Awful link. The ones you want are the "AOL Search Log Specials."

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Some new photos posted

Check out my photos on the Case Screensaver site. I posted a few pleasant ones tonight. And if you're at Case, enjoy your first day of class tomorrow! (And I'll see you if you're taking Dr. Mohseni's EECS 600 class).

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Case Crime Map

I was speaking to Brian Beck the other day and asked what he's been working on. It turns out, he's writing a web application that uses Google Maps to display locations of crime incidents on the Case campus. He parses the information on the campus security website and pulls down geocoded GPS information from the Case Wiki. It turns out that he spent the better part of a day recently logging the GPS location of the center of every parking lot on campus. Well, somebody has to do it!

What are the nitty gritties? Here's what Brian has to say:

First it tries to grab the wiki page by the location name. This is desirable over grabbing markers.php because the location is often abbreviated (the BRB, for example) and our wiki has lots of redirects for such abbreviations.

If the wiki page doesn't exist or isn't geocoded, it uses a regular expression to search for a street address (or even just a street name). If found, it queries Google's geocoder and only uses the return value if it's an exact match.

So there are a lot of locations missing coordinates from these two methods. I'm going to geocode more locations on the wiki, and probably manually do the rest (things that wouldn't be useful as wiki pages). Or let users give coordinates to the missing ones.

So, there you have it!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

SoaP Fun

On Friday night, I saw Snakes on a Plane. I would call it the polar opposite of a "chick flick." My favorite line?
-Remember the first thing you told me?
-What the $#!@ does that have to do with anything?!
Yeah, can't beat that. Plus we all got free posters in exchange for them taking our picture with them. I wonder where those pictures will end up...

It's funny that it only made $13.8M in the box office this weekend. The movie had great Internet hype... but only Internet hype. It was definitely pure fanservice for the 16-30 year old male audience. It was almost as good as Jesus Christ, Vampire Hunter.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Going to WWDC!

This weekend, I am heading off to San Francisco with Kara to attend the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) for the second year in a row. I've been fortunate enough to receive a scholarship from Apple to attend. I'm looking forward to unlimited geek-out moments, a glimpse of Apple's new Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, and hopefully some new Apple hardware (Core-derivative Xeon processors on high-end machines, and possibly Core 2 Duo (Merom) upgrades for iMac or PowerBook. I'm crossing my fingers for built-in virtualization in Leopard, but I will be at least satisfied if Apple finishes its Windows drivers and adds NTFS read/write for Mac OS.

Anyway, wish me safe travels...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Universal Binary Keyserver Available

Hello! If you use the keyserver on an Intel Mac to access Case software center programs (or other keyed applications), you might be interested in this news...

The universal binary version of Keyaccess has shipped:

You can download the new client here:

Thanks to David Carlin for pointing this out!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Gamedev 2006

Last night I partied with the Case Gamedev 2006 team. I found out that in an alternate world, I am a "death protein." Go figure... anyway, we went to Aladdins for dinner and partied like the old days at Scott's apartment afterwards. We took a nice group photo too, hopefully I'll get that uploaded once I get my hands on it.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

My MacBook is Sweet

I've been using my MacBook for a couple of weeks so far... here are my feelings on it. Note: I am pretty critical in this review because I am focusing on the negative aspects of the machine. Overall it is an exceptional notebook, and most of the problems have to do with running Windows on it. It is a sad Mac any day of the week when it has to run Windows... anyway:

1. Dual-Boot is very useful.
I was booted into WinXP for most of the IGVC competition (see below post) for all the robot vision work. The code was written in C++ using Visual Studio 2003 with support utilities written in MATLAB. The MacBook handled some harsh development conditions in stride, even in the WinXP environment. However there are some problems with dual-boot...

2. WinXP is not quite right on the MacBook...
Where should I start? First, Apple hasn't written a trackpad driver for the MacBook under WinXP yet. So, the trackpad is jerky and unresponsive. Wonderful! I'm sure this will get fixed in time, but for now, it is pretty annoying.

Also, the network connection seems to be flaky under Windows. When connecting to a network gateway via one of its wired connections, sometimes after waking from stand-by in Windows, I couldn't reconnect to any of the machines on the network until I not only rebooted, but rebooted into MacOS X and then back to Windows! Argh...

To get the keyboard and mouse working as expected, I highly recommend Input Remapper to get the brightness, eject, and other keys working, as well as a right-click option.

Otherwise, Windows seems to be pretty happy. Of course, the built-in camera doesn't work, but again, that's just a drivers issue.

3. Glossy screen is OK
I had my doubts when I first heard that the MacBook had a glossy (read: reflective) screen as opposed to the matte-type LCDs used on all other models. The screen is pretty nice, actually. There are only a few circumstances where I see distracting reflections in the screen, and those can usually be fixed by adjusting my seating position or changing the angle of the screen. I can also see the screen pretty well outside (probably better than on a matte screen) so that is cool too.

Overall I'm happy with my purchase and would recommend it to anyone who wants a lightweight, powerful, versitile and inexpensive laptop. Of course, if you are getting one, make sure you try out MacSaber. Thank me later.

Intellegent Ground Vehicle Competition

Last weekend, I went to Michigan with the rest of the IGVC Team from Case with our robot, Roberto. We had high hopes of bringing it all together after a month's worth of long days (and nights) trying to get all the robot's systems integrated for our first showing at the competition. We made it so far as to qualify our robot for competition, and we also won $500 for implementing their wireless robot control protocol over UDP. Unfortunately, the USB cable connected to our hub dangled into the chassis of the robot and touched the +24V terminal of the lead-acid battery, which toasted our NI DAQ's, serial-to-USB adapters, digital compass, and the hub itself. We stayed up all night rebuilding, got it to the point where we completed the wireless command challenge, but a subsequent electrical failure killed our replacement DAQ and ended our bid to compete.

Going into next year, we have a much better idea of what challenges we must overcome, as well as a lot of the work already being done. As of Sunday morning, all sensor systems were functional and data was being integrated and logged - we were just nailing down final bugs... with a year to rebuild, we will definitely have a strong showing next year.

I worked with Scott McMichael on the vision system for the robot. I was primarially responsible for integrating vision with the rest of the robot, making sure the vision data was being used properly for mapping and planning, and providing as much functionality as possible given our vision data. Also, since Scott couldn't make it to the competition, I was the resident vision "expert" in case anything went wrong (of course things went wrong!). Vision was up and running well for the competition, but we never got to run the full challenge due to the electrical problems we encountered. Hopefully this summer, we will be able to test robot vision more thoroughly.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

MacBook Ordered

Well, I decided to order a new 13.3" widescreen MacBook computer. It should be in next week. Here are the specs:

  • Intel Core Duo 2.0 GHz

  • 1 GB RAM

  • 80 GB Hard Drive

  • SuperDrive (Slot-loading DVD Burner)

  • Gigabit Ethernet

  • 802.11b/g AirPort

  • Bluetooth 2.0+EDR

  • Integrated Webcam

  • It will be able to drive my Apple Cinema Display as well, so that's pretty awesome. I'll post more when I get my hands on it - especially my thoughts on the new glossy screen.

    Monday, May 15, 2006

    Trip to Put-In-Bay

    Above is a picture of me and Jamie in front of Perry's Monument, which recognizes Oliver Hazard Perry's victory over the British in a naval battle in 1813, located in Put-In-Bay, Ohio on South Bass Island in Lake Erie, west of Sandusky and north of Port Clinton. We got to experience the humming lightning rods on top of the monument (time to get off the platform!) and see an awesome view of the whole island - the monument is taller than the Statue of Liberty! The Case senior class of 2006 went en masse to Put-In-Bay on Saturday. Lots of fun! I also got to tour the Heineman's Winery which is located on the island. It was definitely a fun trip!

    Mobile Autonomous Soccer-Playing Robots

    Mobile Robot Team Alpha: from top center, going clockwise, is me, James, Scott, and Mark. Our robot, Robbie, is in the center. We are sitting in the middle of the autonomous robot soccer playing field. The image is taken from Gort the web-enabled camera we used to recognize the state of the soccer field during the competition. Robbie was completely autonomous and performed really well, scoring many goals on his oppnents, and even making one (intentional) save as a goalie! Robbie's brains were on a PC in the lab, which connected to a HP iPaq strapped to Robbie's back via 802.11g, which issued commands to a Lego RCX brick via a stereo-to-IR adapter and custom-generated audio command files. The class, EECS 396L: Special Topic on Mobile Robots, led by Dr. Wyatt Newman, was very interesting and a lot of fun.

    Next on the agenda is to complete Case's submission to the IGVC (Intellegent Ground Vehicle Competition). We are using a lot of the image processing and object recognition code from our soccer-playing robot for this other project.

    Friday, April 07, 2006

    Research Showcase, Ollie Lobby

    Today was a really interesting day. To get things started, I got to visit Dr. Hardin's Motion Studies Lab at the Wade Park VA. Her grad students demonstrated how to fit a subject with the little reflector balls used by their 7-camera motion capture system to record body movement for gait analysis. Neat.

    Next, it was off to Research Showcase to present my poster. I had some really good questions from folks passing by, and it was fun to see what everyone else is working on too. If you're interested in reading more about my research, I'll be keeping that page updated as I make progress.

    After that, I had the privilege of attending the Case School of Engineering Dean's Advisory Council Dinner as a member of the 1st annual Case School of Engineering Senior Class Gift Committee. The dinner was really quite nice and I met some very interesting people.

    Dean Savinell congratulated several faculty who were nominated undergraduate teaching and mentoring awards. He also dedicated the new "Ollie Lobby" on the 5th floor of Nord, named for 1959 CIT graduate Oliver Poppenberg. Mr. Poppenberg is a long-time supporter of the CSE and plays a big role in the Pittsburgh-area alumni association chapter, helping to steer smart kids towards Case instead of That Other School. Ollie will be involved with picking new, comfortable furniture for the lobby to make it a nice place for CSE students to study, socialize and relax.

    Ollie's family was there to support him in full force:

    Ollie and his wife are on the right in the next photo:

    Friday, March 31, 2006

    Ben takes nice photos!

    I was browsing through Ben Chodroff's image gallery and found a nice photo of myself from the Engineer's Week Banquet posing with Dean Savinell of the School of Engineering.  I'm rehosting it on my site so I don't steal his bandwidth.

    Wednesday, March 15, 2006

    Blogger Dashboard Widget

    I just downloaded the Blogger Dashboard Widget for my Mac.  Very convenient!  I guess it works if you're reading this.

    Thursday, February 23, 2006

    Sad Laptop

    Last week, my iBook stopped booting. I bought it used a few months ago, and the 1-year warranty expired in December. One day, it simply wouldn't wake from sleep. After resetting the power, the fan comes on, but that's it. It's a classic symptom that the CPU isn't coming online, so there is a problem with the motherboard or CPU. I took it to the Apple Store and they quoted me $800 on the repair (more than I paid for the unit!). So, eBay it is. It was a nice machine, hopefully someone has the parts on hand to bring it back to life. I'll likely wait to buy a new machine until the 12" MacBooks come out later this year.

    Monday, February 20, 2006

    Pac-Man on the Quad

    I don't know who did this, but it's brilliant! Yea Case.

    Monday, February 13, 2006

    Three Great Birthdays

    Count 'em, three. Abe Lincoln, Bradley Farnsworth, and FARK.COM. What would the world be like without Feb. 12??

    Friday, February 10, 2006

    "21" Came and Went all too Quickly

    Well, hello! First and foremost, TGIF. I've got a lot to do this weekend - but that's okay! I am going to feel a lot better when I can scrub a few things off my to-do list. Plus, I will be celebrating my 22nd birthday on Sunday. I'm going to have a little party with my family and maybe go out to dinner with some friends from Case. (Want to come?)

    In one of the projects I'm working on, I'm almost to the point of testing something we've been talking about for a long time. It's pretty exciting, and I may even be able to publish something this semester *crosses fingers*! However, it's frustrating that I can't just "get it done" due to all the other things I have going on, most notably my classes. I think I took a step in the right direction though - I mentioned in my previous posting that I was considering not going to Japanese 301 anymore. I thought it might come to this from the start, so was just sitting in on the course all along. Well, I decided to drop it. It was a tough decision to come to, but the 10-15 hours a week it freed up are invaluable to my research (and my sanity) right now.

    After this semester, my schedule is definitely looking up. First of all, I'm graduating in May, so I won't have to worry about undergraduate requirements anymore. Secondly, I will have 8 credits of thesis and 12 credits of grad-level coursework (4 courses) by the end of this semester. That means that I'll only have to take two more grad courses plus 1 credit of thesis per semester to graduate with my MS degree. That leaves a lot of time open for getting research taken care of! It will certainly be nice.

    We're having our SIGMAC meeting on Wednesday at the Apple Store in Legacy Village. We've done this once before and it was a great success last time. Hopefully it will be fun again! The folks at the Store are going to demo some of the new Apple applications like PhotoBooth and FrontRow, and maybe Aperture if we ask nicely.

    The EECS Graduate Student Town Hall meeting was today. I heard some encouraging words from Dr. Tien, our new Department Chair and Fearless Leader. He's very excited about the future of the Department, and that's pretty refreshing. He is planning to expand the department from about 35 faculty to 50. Also, he pledged financial support for an EECS grad student organization. I think that's just spiffy - and I'm going to try to get involved. I'm already on the ECE Curriculum Committee - and doing this stuff will be even more fun!

    Kara is coming to town to visit next weekend, and I can't wait! Our two year dating anniversary is this month (can you believe it?). We're going out to dinner on Saturday night with my aunt and uncle - where should we go? I've never been to the Barking Spider, and I hear that's a pretty cool place. Or maybe I should just take Kara there and go out to dinner elsewhere. Any experiences or suggestions? I have a few places in mind, but what are your favorite places to go around Cleveland? Post in the comments, por favor.

    Friday, January 20, 2006

    Is it really Spring 06?

    Well, the first week of classes for my last semester as an undergrad is behind me. Some finality is starting to set in about this being my last undergrad semester, and the prospect of graduating in May is very real, indeed. I met with Dean Cawley yesterday to go over my graduation requirements - mostly as a CYA to make sure I am not doing anything to break the system with my aggressive BS-MS scheduling. It turns out I will have exactly the number of credit hours needed to graduate after subtracting off my four grad-level courses that won't count towards my BS graduation requirements (but do count towards my undergrad GPA!). Anyway, I basically have the green light to walk in May, which is pretty nifty. And, better yet, I will only need to register for two more grad courses next year to fufill my MS graduation requirements (not including my thesis, of course). I may not graduate any earlier by doing BS-MS, depending on how the research goes, but it will definitely be cheaper than paying for all those credit hours!

    I have tentatively decided to sit in on JAPN 302 this semester. I took a one-year Japanese hiatus after taking JAPN 301 in Fall '04 due to a scheduling conflict in Spring '05, so I'm a little bit rusty. I'm really torn about this decision because I realize that I will need to invest a lot of energy to bring my Japanese level back up to speed to participate in class. The problem is exacerbated because there are only 4 people registered for the class (and I am the 5th), so I will need to participate actively in class on a daily basis - it's not like sitting in on an engineering lecture. So, even though I'm not registered for it, it is still a large time commitment, and I don't know how well it's going to mesh with my other responsibilities. Anyway, I am going to try it for now, and see how it goes. It would be really sad to pass up this opportunity, but it may be unrealistic. We'll see.

    In more chipper news, I'm going to the Senior class party at the new Johnny Malloy's in Conventry (in the remodeled Centrum Theater) tonight. Their grand opening is next month so it will be neat to check it out. It sounds like it will be fun, and it will definitely be a nice end to this first week of class.

    Over break, I went to visit Kara at her parent's house in St. Louis for a few days. I got to tour the Anheuser Busch brewery (earning the title of Honorary Beermaster in a taste testing event), go to the top of the Gateway Arch at sunset, fix Kara's cable TV distribution, and generally have a good, relaxing time. Below is a picture of me at the base of the arch.

    Mmkay, that's it for now. Toodles.