Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How to Survive a Robot Uprising

How to Survive a Robot Uprising [UNABRIDGED] How to Survive a Robot Uprising [UNABRIDGED] by Daniel H. Wilson

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is one of those books that is presented very tongue-in-cheek, similar to The Zombie Survival Guide: what do you do when the robots begin to take over the world? Anyone who's seen a sci-fi film in the last, well, ever, knows that the day is coming.

The secret to these types of books, where a completely ludicrous situation is presented completely seriously, is to never ever blink. The author has to maintain the illusion that he's serious the entire time, even though we the readers know that he's not.

The difference between this book and The Zombie Survival Guide is that this one is actually educational: Wilson was a PhD candidate in robotics when the book was written, so the book actually describes real, present-day elements of robotics development and what the future might hold.

The book is a quick, easy read, and I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in how robotics actually work, especially if you're willing to have a bit of a sense of humor about it.

View all my reviews.

I have a bad feeling about this

I have a project here at work that will be fully realized at 3:00 pm, January 15th, 2009. I'm trying to assess the threats to that project, and I made the following estimates:
  • There are about 40 independent problems that could cause this whole thing to be a catastrophic failure.
  • I know of about 20 of these problems.
  • I understand 10 of them.
  • I am currently working to solve 4 of them.
  • I figure maybe two of them have any chance of being solved in time

Sunday, November 16, 2008

We dance a lot at our house

Aretha Franklin is a popular choice.

Kids dancing from cbalmain on Vimeo.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Now send me money

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The most awesome birthday gift ever

Last week, for my birthday, Ann got me the most awesome birthday gift ever: clothes. Normally, clothes are the lamest gift possible (except for maybe deodorant - I actually got that as a gift once). But in this case, it was perfect.

Okay, let me explain. First, you have to watch the following clip from the classic comedy Three Amigos. To set the scene: it's El Guapo's 40th birthday, and he's feeling a bit self-conscious about his age, so Jefe is throwing him a party.

Three Amigos from cbalmain on Vimeo.

I was born on October 31st, 1975. So this year, for my 33rd birthday, Ann got me a sweater. And because it's such an inside joke for us, the inherent lameness of the gift is overcome by its staggering awesomeness. Thanks, babe - you rock.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What "Quantum of Solace" means

The new Bond movie, Quantum of Solace, comes out this week. Bond movie titles are often meaningless relative to the plot of the movie; this one however seems particularly bizarre. The title is actually that of a Bond short story that has nothing to do with the plot of the movie. In the story, Ian Fleming describes a Quantum of Solace this way:

"Quantum of Solace - the amount of comfort. Yes, I suppose you can say that all love and friendship is based in the end on that. Human beings are very insecure. When the other person not only makes you feel insecure but actually seems to want to destroy you, it's obviously the end. The Quantum of Solace stands at zero. You've got to get away to save yourself."

A quantum of solace is the smallest amount of feeling that a relationship requires to stay alive. Once that measurement reaches zero, there's nothing left to the relationship. Who knew that a Bond movie title could be so profound?

Oh, and QUANTUM is the name of the evil organization in the movie, but I'm sure that's just a coincidence.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

72 hours

Now that the election is over, here's what I hope for: 72 hours to get over it.

McCain fans, you've got 72 hours to mourn the loss, groan for what could have been, fear for what will be. Then, take down the yard signs, peel the McCain/Palin '08 stickers off the bumper of your Chevy, and get behind Obama. Because, for better or worse, he's the guy now, and if you don't get behind him, your fears may become self-fulfilling prophecies.

Obama fans, you've got 72 hours to celebrate, revel in the uniqueness of this moment, shout about the change that's coming. Then, take down the yard signs, peel the Obama/Biden '08 stickers off the bumper of your Prius, and move on. Because you can still screw this whole thing up if the spirit of divisiveness continues.

Mr. President-Elect Obama, you've got what you wanted. The American people have spoken, you've been given a mandate, and you've got a lot to prove now. I am very cautiously optimistic that you can pull this off, that you can raise our standing in the world and start to pull us out of this economic hole. You've been given the trust of our nation, now run with it. Prove to me this change you keep talking about is a good thing.

And Republican party, you've been given a mandate too. In four years, it's my sincere hope that you will present the American people with a good alternative, someone who people can embrace as much as they appear to be embracing Obama, someone who can be respected both by the nation and by the world.

And now, I shall step down from my soapbox.