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Controller against controller, or dangers of copy-pasted code

One downside of Angular, or any / most kinds of Javascript frameworks is that a lot of times when you make an error, the error message you'll get won't point you to a place in your code. No, the error will be entirely in the Angular stack, and it will be your own business how to tease from it the actual thing you did wrong.

For example, when writing frontend code using Angular.js, you sometimes get an error: " <controller name> is not a function: got undefined". Hmm. Well, this controller certainly exists. For the sake of the argument, let's give it the very boring name MyCtrl. You do the sanity check: is it being included in the HTML page? Yes, it is. What could it be, then? Does the controller have a syntax error in it? You run it through JSLint. No, the syntax seems to be OK.

Biologically Inspired Robots: a Linucon 2004 panel

P548 The Babbling Robot Head, a Robot Group project exhibited at Linucon

The panelists reiterated the relevant discoveries that were new in 2004: growing organs in another location of recipient's own body (whether human or animal) -- while those discoveries weren't about growing a robot from biological cells, that could potentially be a potential future use. Modeling robots after roaches, rats, or other small animals that can pass through narrow spaces -- for example, to lay computer cables. Attaching sensors to a swarm of very small, fast, disposable robots the size of a grain of rice. What the state of artificial intelligence looked like in 2004, years before the significant advances made by neural nets -- not very promising. Our panelists thought that since our brain is wet and analog, we won't be able to simulate it in digital systems. Researchers are inspired to generate power from biological sources, because batteries running out are a common problem with robots, whereas a human body can do a whole lot on just a peanut butter sandwich.

Brian Greene in Austin, March 2005

P640 Brian Greene in Austin in March of 2005, promoting his book "The Fabric of The Cosmos".

On March 7, 2005 Brian Greene, a string theorist and author of "The Elegant Universe" and "The Fabric of The Cosmos", gave an interview at a Barnes & Noble in Austin. He was interviewed by Jeff Salomon from Austin-American Statesman and took questions from the audience.

The topics involved: What kind of experiments can possibly verify string theory? How and why would you look for astronomical evidence of strings? Would it make sense to look for confirmation of string theory in the possible violations of the Second Law of Thermodynamics? What is Brian Greene's own interpretation of quantum entanglement? What does it mean that space and time are not fundamental? In what sense is space-time analogous to temperature? What's next for physics after TOE? Will there be anything left to do, or will science come to an end? And, umm... does Brian Greene feel a need to reconcile psychic phenomena with the unified physical theory?

The talk also revealed some things you would not immediately think of Brian Greene. By his own admission, he finds physics hard and visualisation helps him enormously to understand physics concepts. That's one reason why he never condescends to his audience. (Another may be that he is simply a nice person.) Also, did you know that Brian Greene's books can cause people to quit drinking and start reading?

Note: I could not hear everything that was said or write it down verbatim, so I paraphrased some places the best I could. Most of them are in angle brackets.

Ted Chiang on lifelogging: a speech and a discussion with the audience at ArmadilloCon 2014

IMG_1482 Ted Chiang speaks about lifelogging at the ArmadilloCon 2014.

Lifelogging is an emerging trend of recording every, or nearly every moment of your life. A simple example of lifelogging would be wearing a video recorder that would record continuous video and audio of everything you see and do. Ted Chiang used this example to speculate about how lifelogging would change our society. At the end he answered the audience's questions and engaged in a discussion regarding some points, such as: would lifelogging encourage us to craft our lives as stories, and thus become better people? Doesn't forgetting play a big role in getting over a trauma? Doesn't forgetting go a long way towards forgiving? What if your memories are hacked? Who has control over shared memories?

Getting all the notes in a notebook with Evernote API and Python

My impression of Evernote API documentation is that it is not very friendly to Python beginners, and rather short on examples. So I wrote this document on how to write a simple script that will get notes from a notebook.

Virtual machines, Vagrant, rails-dev-box, and how they make developer's life easier

These are slides from a lightning talk I gave at Women Who Code (a meetup for women software developers) Austin chapter on January 5, 2015.

Ruby uniq method with ActiveRecord

Recently I was surprised to see that Ruby uniq method didn't seem to work on ActiveRecord. Suppose I have a bunch of ActiveRecords and I want to select just the ones that are unique by some field.

Stubs in unit tests using Mocha, a Ruby mock/stub framework

These are slides from a lightning talk which I gave at All Girl Hack Night, an Austin meetup for women software developers.

RailsBridge: when a flicker of WiFi makes a difference

It only took a flicker of WiFi to make a difference between a productive workshop experience, and a waste of time. The workshop was RailsBridge, a free Ruby on Rails workshop for beginners. I have been dabbling in Rails for a while now, but there is only so much you can do in those minutes before sleep, when you are finally done with the day's work, and finally think you can sneak a smidge of time for your pet project -- only to find yourself faceplanting in the keyboard. So I went to a RailsBridge to learn "proper" Ruby on Rails development, complete with things like unit tests, that I tend to skip if I have just 15 minutes in the evening to learn a new framework.

RailsBridge was part of Lone Star Ruby Conf 2013 in Austin, TX, and it was lead by the main instructor, Sarah Mei (founder of RailsBridge workshops), and many coaches. The students were divided into groups of approximately 4-6 people. The process of dividing ourselves was interesting, and worth a paragraph, but since it was nonessential to the workshop, I put it at the bottom.

Creating a RESTful WCF service that returns JSON data

When I was looking for documentation or tutorials on how to create a RESTful WCF service that returns JSON-formatted data, I found lots of partial information and code examples, none of which completely worked. So when I finally figured out how to create it, I decided to write this article for those who may be in the same predicament as me.

This walk-through uses .NET 4.0, and Visual Studio 2010.