Thursday, August 30, 2007

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

compare apples and oranges

or harvard vs. yale, frogs vs. bears, etc. here:

see how many people on the web love/hate one thing over another, at least according to what google search results turn up. you can compare up to 4 things; it's rather nicely done.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

amusing discovery in "similar links" to my webpage

i finally got around to updating my webpage this morning. i decided to google myself (i come up as the 2nd "jean yang" but my webpage has descended to the 8th result). what i found really amusing was that the following link comes up for similar pages: Summer Plans for Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders. i searched all over my page for signs of me being a child with ADD, but nowhere did i mention that:
  1. i am a child, or
  2. i have attention span problems.
i do, however, mention summer... those of you who know my work habits closely may be quite amused.

anyway, view all similar pages if you are so inclined. the others are less interesting, but they do a good job i suppose.

uploaded old robocup videos to youtube

youtube is actually kind of amazing. :)

2006 highlights (world cup in bremen, germany and us open in atlanta, GA):

2006 us open (atlanta):

image resizing video

holy crap; this image resizing video is amazing. they show how they have targeted resizing of images based on features etc. they can also nicely cut people out of pictures. it sounds boring but it's the coolest video i've ever seen.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

robocup world cup '07 video

listen closely to the soundtrack. binary solo!

special thanks to michael parker for allowing me to spend all 10,000 hours involved in making his video at his home, on his windows machine. also thanks to mp for keeping me sufficiently hydrated for all 10,000 hours--no small task.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

facts of the day

song of the day: God wrote in LISP. the end of the song says it all:

And when I watch the lightning
Burn unbelievers to a crisp,
I know God had six days to work,
So he wrote it all in Lisp.

Yes, God had a deadline.
So he wrote it all in Lisp.

i must point out, however, that God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, which translates into his having infinite memory and processing power. memory- and processing power-constrained mortals may often need to program in lower-level languages...

link of the day: gethuman. see/do company ratings for getting a human at the other end of the line.

new food discovery of the day: japanese curry. (i had it for the first time at hurry curry on sunday).

Monday, August 20, 2007

lynn conway

read more at her site. transgender female computer scientist at university of michigan; has a fascinating biography and autobiography on the site. she did a lot of groundbreaking work in computer architecture and wrote introduction to VLSI systems.

the joys of google calendar

look at my schedule.

that is actually 3 different calendars:
you can show multiple calendars in a single embed by concatenating them like this:
(you can also view page source on my schedule)

i think this is pretty amazing. also, these things have been around for a while but not many of my friends use them, so i'd like to tell you that you can do the following with google calendar:
  • add other people's calendars to your view so you can choose to overlay their schedule on top of yours to schedule things.
  • invite people to events via google calendar. (there is an invite guests option in event details.)
  • get e-mail/text message reminders of your activities.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

exercise promotes neurogenesis

read the NY times article lobes of steel. a summary: though the human brain begins to shrink in your thirties, experiments on mice suggest that neurogenesis still takes place and that aerobic exercise promotes neurogenesis. this article also mentions other studies that show positive correlation between exercise and good brain health--it is on the whole very pro-exercise.

an interesting thing to note is that marijuana, moderate amounts of alcohol, and chocolate also seem to promote neurogenesis.

this is the most amazing thing in the world--i think i'm in love. rememberthemilk is a site integrated with google things that lets you make to-do lists using a very nicely done ajax interface.

some of the nice things about it are as follows:
  • you can have different categories of task--think firefox or igoogle tabs. (some default categories are personal, work, and study.)
  • you can set various things about a task, such as the due date and priority. you can get reminders via e-mail, IM, or SMS at a pre-specified period of time before the task due date.
  • you can have task contacts and send/receive tasks. you can also share tasks. (this seems really good for organizing things in clubs etc.)
  • the site has a really good look and feel and the ajax makes you feel like everything is very fast.
  • you can also use this app offline.
  • it's integrated with maps etc.
i haven't fully explored it yet, but some things that would be nice for it to do are:
  • make it easier to specify task due date (by popping out a calendar or something) and other relevant information about a task.
  • allow the user to put more details involving a task. (sometimes you need to store notes, addresses, etc. having to do with a task...)
  • allow for specification of a specific time of day as a deadline.
  • allow for priority as a function rather than flat setting. (an e-mail i need to write in september has low priority now but will have much higher priority as the "due date" approaches.)

Saturday, August 18, 2007

find the jean

since i never take any pictures of my own, you may try to find me in these:

Thursday, August 16, 2007

hammer factory factory

this has been going around the internet for a while, but here is a link to joel spolsky's satire on software factories. as someone said, "there are too many nouns in java."

sexual harassment policy facts

i don't quite remember all the details, but we had a sexual harassment seminar earlier this summer and some of the facts i learned were quite incredible. apparently it is important to be educated on what constitutes sexual harassment because it is one of the things that the company is not responsible for--the court could rule to have me (the harasser) pay the whole settlement. (usually they rule for the accused to pay for part of it and the company to cover the rest--it is often half and half, maybe?)

anyway, this lawyer who deals with this sort of thing came in and told us about some of the cases they dealt with. he said that usually borderline cases go to court, so you usually don't hear about the extreme ones.

here are some things i learned about sexual harassment policies:
  • for verbal harassment, the plaintiff needs to give notice before filing a complaint.
  • for other sorts of harassment, no notice needs to be given.
  • intent doesn't factor into the ruling because most people do not intend to harass.
i learned the following about the ramifications of such policies:
  • not laughing apparently counts as "giving notice." there was a case in which the plaintiff found a coworker's sexual jokes offensive. thought she never gave notice, the fact that she never laughed was enough.
  • if you have a screensaver that shows images from the internet and accidentally shows pornography, someone could successfully file a complaint against you.
  • if you have an offensive piece of art (or photograph), someone could file a complaint. (perhaps this is why we only have rothko reproductions around the office.)
  • even if the person you are harassing enjoys it, someone else could become offended and successfully file a complaint. the courts consider third party harassment legitimate.
  • doing anything obviously harassing is considered harassment and you/your company could be forced to pay a lot of money. (these sexual harassment cases seem to settle for far higher than family leave cases, for instance.)


some facts of food:
  • did you know that cupcake shops are a trend? well , they are. there was an NY times article a while back about how people were leaving the movie industry etc. to start bake shops. today i tried yummy cupcakes for the first time. quite good--seems to be me mostly frosting. i see why people like them, but i really don't know why they would be so big. why cupcakes, of all desserts? (not cookies, or scones, or danishes?) such things are beyond me.
  • following the theme of trends of deviating from health-consciousness, it is apparently the thing for girls to emphasize their appreciation of red meat. (there was an article "be yourselves, girls, order the rib-eye" about this in the NY times.) apparently all sorts of women emphasize (truthfully or not) it is still trendy, however, for guys to be vegetarians because it is the women who are judging them.
  • eau de vie seems like a nice, sophisticated thing to drink.

some facts of life:
  • some high schools are now having students pick majors. (read related article here.) the reasoning is that these schools haven't been doing too well on standardized tests, so giving students majors will help keep them engaged and give them an edge in the college admissions process. i am not sure how well it is working--the article quotes students feeling locked in, parents worrying about students not getting exposed to a broad range of things, etc. i think this is a fairly terrible idea because it is patching a symptom rather than getting anywhere near the source of the problem. the fact that students are not engaged in high school is a result of failure in proper education during in elementary and middle school years; the fact that something that seems as meaningless as a high school major could provide an edge in college admissions reveals grave problems in what college admissions are valuing these days. these days i believe the fact that college degrees have come to mean very little shows that this system isn't really working out too well for us; our society forces people to spend (often wasted) years paying money instead of earning any with the threat that if they don't do this, they won't be able to find a decent job down the road. many of these people still end up not making the experience worth real cost + opportunity cost... i don't have a good solution in mind.
  • on a similar note, some colleges are now charging different tuitions for different majors, with more lucrative majors costing more. i don't know how i feel about this yet.

some facts of jean:
  • perfume of the day: davidoff cool water wave. smelled nice, but too generically nice. liked bright crystal better.
  • today was the birthday of john in my team. his status message was "8 + 16 = 25?" which makes perfect sense given that he turns 25 on 8.16, but i, being too dense to understand this, IMed him about his incredible mental math. (well, it was only an off-by-one error...) to make up for this, i made him a birthday page.
  • i originally titled this entry "8.16.06." my attention to detail is incredible.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

some facts i have learned this summer

i have learned these mostly from reading the new york times. some facts are from other sources.
  • vitamin C may not actually do that much to prevent colds.
  • echinacea, on the other hand, is effective in boosting the immune system to protect against colds.
  • while it may look like they are exhibiting phototropism, palm trees in LA are leaning away from prevailing winds.
  • there has been local selection among human populations in the last few thousand years. some evidence for this is the prevalence of lactose intolerance in european and asian populations and things like that. differences also include those in brain development/function.
  • i also learned a lot about sexual harrassment policies and how goofy they are. perhaps i will discuss this in its own post.

supporting the enforcement of namespaces

yesterday i was plagued by a terrible bug for a very long time. what was happening was this: i was using a class X* that was calling some third-party library that included a class Y*. i was calling a function in X that caused the destructor of Y to be called. whenever i called this function, i would get a seg fault occurring when the destructor of Y was called. some odd symptoms of this bug were that a string destructor was being called, but there were no strings anywhere, and i did not experience the bug when i took out certain linking dependencies.

when my host finally figured out what was going on, i had to laugh because it was so incredible. it turned out what had been going on was some dependency was bringing in another class Y had contained a string. when X called the destructor for its Y, the other destructor was being called, causing all sorts of problems. this should have been something caught by the linker, but for some reason it manifested itself as a runtime error.

lessons to be learned:

  • the linker does not always know best. trust nothing!
  • everything should be in a namespace. such problems could have been avoided if we had a n1::Y and a n2::Y.
  • C++ is a beautiful language with very good enforcement of abstraction barriers.

one of the above statements is not like the other.

*names have been changed to preserve anonymity.

ma vie

this is going to be a long post. haha, every time i say that i usually have to take it back sometime later due to my highly reliable attention span giving out. :) this is going to be the post in which i tell you about what i have been doing with my summer--as if you care. i will label each section of this post with a relevant heading so you can pick which parts to skip.

so, dear friend, i will begin by describing the superficial circumstances of my life. as you may recall from from episode the previous, i have been living in sunny southern california toiling away in the document mines by day and biting the necks of unsuspecting victims by night. this is only on weekdays, of course. on weekends i lead a normal socal existence, usually spending my saturdays going to the beach and then out to dinner with some of the other interns and my sundays hanging around and doing nothing. sometimes on saturdays i'll go for a really long run down to and along venice beach.

the fascinating climate of santa monica.
santa monica is truly paradise on earth--it never rains and the temperature along the coast hovers around a balmy 70-80 degrees. apparently we enjoy this good weather here because of something called the marine layer. (i had never heard of such a thing before moving out here, but it is a layer of cool air formed from cool ocean water that seals in the comfortable weather.) one day i asked john, a guy on my team, why it had been cold that week and he explained that everywhere else in LA it was actually quite hot--in the valley it is often in the 90's. california weather is quite fascinating.

google santa monica, most beautiful google on earth.
i would not have said this a week ago, but this past week we move to our new office on the corner of 2nd st. and santa monica ave. (Click here to see where it is on the map.) it is a triangular-shaped building with tiered balconies 2 blocks from the ocean. google has the 3rd and 4th floors, so from the balconies/windows we get an unobstructed, amazing ocean view. if i look to my right from my 4th floor desk through a layer of plexiglass and then the glass of the balcony door i see something like the following inspiration poster--except it is real:

the great part is that the balcony actually has a hammock on it. :) i am certainly not complaining.

i got a haircut.
i don't have a good picture of me with this haircut yet, but aliza suggest i get my hair cut like jean seberg in a bout de souffle (breathless).

my experiences as a code monkey.
besides enjoying the good weather, i have really been enjoying my work this summer. it is the first time i've really had good coding standards (in terms of readability/efficiency) enforced upon me. for instance, before i hadn't really paid attention to things like passing in a pointer to a string to set the value instead of returning it to avoid the copy, appropriate use of "const," etc. etc. etc. i have learned to develop a tolerant appreciation of C++ as a language good for developing fast code on a large scale (in terms of number of developers). of course, for personal endeavors i still prefer C because it is much more conducive to being a speed demon, and when you are writing stuff on a smaller scale much of the objected oriented style is quite unnecessary.

i probably can't say much more about what i've been working on and that kind of thing, but i will say that they treat us quite well. i have 2 24" monitors, a pretty nice keyboard and mouse, and pretty good headphones. i will miss all of this greatly when i return to my 19" monitors and crappy mouse/keyboard/antiheadphones at school.

Friday, August 10, 2007

books, books, books

I am really too tired these days to write much, but I'll list out the books I've read so far this summer and some brief comments.

  • Laughter in the Dark (Nabokov) - I've commented on this one earlier. It's Nabokov's last book written in Russian, translated (of course) by N himself. How can you not love a book that begins: "Once upon a time there lived in Berlin, Germany, a man called Albinus. He was rich, respectable, happy; one day he abandoned his wife for the sake of a youthful mistress; he loved; was not loved; and his life ended in disaster."

  • Ethan Frome (Edith Wharton) - kind of nice? I wasn't in the mood for that whole gloomy New England life of misery business.
  • Pale Fire (Nabokov) - N messing with your mind and playing with the English language. A fun book.
  • Hitchhiker's Guide to the End of the Galaxy and Restaurant at the End of the Universe (Douglas Adams) - good, funny, but I would have enjoyed it more a couple of years ago.
  • Madame Bovary (Gustave Flaubert) - a nice read? For an 19th (?) century middle America version that is more obviously satirical, read Sinclair Lewis's Main Street.
  • Sons and Lovers (D. H. Lawrence) - you may know that I don't like Lawrence because he is a giant womanizer. I decided to give him a second (or maybe third) chance with this book because it's his most read, a staple of Modernist English literature, etc. etc. etc. Yeah, not impressed. The book (a semi-autobiographical work) talks about how all women in protagonist Paul Morel's life are in love with him. There is mother, whose life revolves around her love first Paul's older brother than for Paul himself. Then there is Miriam, based on Jessie something-or-other from Lawrence's real life, who hangs around Paul and hangs on his every word. (Real-life Jessie alleged never spoke to him again after reading his portrayal of her in this book. Good for her.)
  • Missing Mom (Joyce Carol Oates) - nice, but too contemporary for my tastes. :)
  • The Stranger (Camus) - a nice read? If you like that kind of depressing existentialist stuff. (I do.)
  • Confessions (Saint Augustine) - inspired to read this because my friend Liz is getting married in St. Augustine's church, I discovered this is quite a fascinating book. (I'm not very far into it yet.) Especially considering this was written in 400 AD or something like that, Augustine is quite the modern saint. Confessions is addressed to God and goes through Augustine's life. T.S. Eliot and James Joyce were two modern writers Augustine influence. Here is a great passage: "I came to Carthage, where a caldron of unholy loves was seething and bubbling all around me. I was not in love as yet, but I was in love with love; and, from a hidden hunger, I hated myself for not feeling more intensely a sense of hunger. I was looking for something to love, for I was in love with loving, and I hated security and a smooth way, free from snares. Within me I had a dearth of that inner food which is thyself, my God--although that dearth caused me no hunger."