An animal after my own heart

Is this bird the coolest in existence? Maybe, maybe.

Our host calls it an interior designer, but I was more torn between a collection development and a cataloging librarian. I guess more collection development, because I didn’t see any surrogates for the items. Maybe it works on an OPAC in its spare time?


the process of learning

When I take a class, I take notes in that class. I write down interesting things; I try to replicate the structure of the lecture; I add my own thoughts when they come up (in boldface, since I type). I rarely ever look over my notes again. They simply allow me to commit to memory the content of a lecture by the act of typing them down.

I’ve been trying to learn scheme, and more importantly larger program design principles. I have not taken any notes. Why? Because there is no “big person” some 10-30 feet in front of me telling me all about these things. That situation does not sufficiently change my need to write down what I learn so I remember it. Duh.

I’m taking notes now. Here.

Part 4: Conditional Expressions and Functions

boolean values = truth values = true or false responses to conditions
think of x < y , x > y , x = y . these can be combined into compound claims

Scheme has:
= , < , > , <= , >=

(< 4 5)
[not a number!]

(and (= 5 5) (<5 6))
(and true true)
[for and, all conditions must be true for the whole expression to be evaluated as true. or and not follow like you’d think]

I’m getting used to (define). Yay!

Intervals (between 6 and 7) and combinations/unions of intervals (between 6 and 7 or over 10)

I need to remember that contracts and purpose statements clean up my thinking. Very useful to write.

not reverses the > and < signs (when writing on a number line)

(more to follow)


I’m not well trained in statistical methods for social research. But I can recognize a poorly designed survey instrument, and I can definitely recognize horridly (under)analyzed data. These things make me angry. Well, they don’t make me angry on their own; I get angry when work of this caliber gets published.

More on this later.

Only rotated sometimes?

While allowing myself to be distracted from writing an altogether too lengthy set of requirements for what’s looking to be a PIM system, I saw on Pandora that the music I was listening to had the artists’ names rotated. I selected the Classical genre station (Chamber, Baroque to be precise), and all the artists look like Bach, Johann Sebastian and Corelli, Archangelo. But on other stations I have, the names aren’t rotated. At first I thought maybe I’m thinking of bands, whose names shouldn’t be rotated. (I mean, Punk, Daft? No.) But I looked and saw that specific people’s names aren’t rotated either. (Bob Dylan, for example.)

Is this a function of the genre stations in general? Is it because of the specific genre I’m listening to now? Is this more about how the metadata is captured? (I think this has at least a healthy chunk to do with it.) Should I get back to my paper?

I know the answer to one of these questions!

Also, damn Trent for introducing Pandora into my cognitive life. I get so OCD-fixated on it!

Power in programming, and another research idea I’ll never have time to get into

I have friends who code. Some of my most favorite friends code. We talk about coding, and since I don’t really do it (not yet, anyway) I let them talk at me and over years I’ve started to develop some understanding of the experience.

One thing that has regularly popped out at me in these conversations is when they talk about power and things in coding-land that are powerful. I think, “What does powerful mean? Code can’t move itself, can’t move at all. It doesn’t generate or expend energy. It can’t punch me out. What is power in computer science?” So I started asking these questions out loud and got what I can only describe as fuzzy answers (which indicated I was on to something). And I think I’ve finally developed a working definition of what power means in the coding/computer science context.

My hypothesis: when something is described as powerful, it means that that thing realizes some higher objectives particularly well. For instance, if one objective is expressivity (apparently this is a word only in biology), something is powerful if it allows for a high degree of expressivity. But there are I think two issues here: 1) power is only really used when multiple objectives are realized with minimal mutual sacrifice, and 2) to some extent, people disagree on which objectives are important.

I look forward to teasing this out, particularly that last issue, in my own informal grounded theory way.

(And seriously, are linguists looking at the extent and degree of metaphor used in computer science terminology? They really ought to be.)

And my random research idea stems from this post over at The Shifted Librarian, which is a reference to another post altogether regarding using tag cloud mechanisms for “pattern recognition.” I want to call it text analysis, or coding as it is often done in qualitative research studies. In any case, my idea is to conduct some kind of study on qualitative research(ers), with a control group doing traditional coding of interviews, and an experimental group using this automation hack, and see if conclusions differ. I wonder if there’s any way to test the influence of the display, since that’s what many find so evocative of tag clouds.

Yet another thing I will do in my copious spare time with my massive resources. Indeed.

Scheming again, this time with spinach

I’ve decided to take some notes, since there are a couple things I keep forgetting when I go back to the scheme stuff.

So, when I’m defining functions that I know will be nested in other functions, this is what I want to do: once (define (spinach vitamins)) is defined, I just want that to be called spinach. When I want to use the definition for spinach I’ve created, I want to be able to say something to the effect of

(define (nutrition veggies-consumed)
(+ spinach ...))

I can’t do this yet. I still have to articulate the terms under which spinach is considered. Out loud. In writing.

(define (nutrition veggies-consumed)
(+ (spinach vitamins) ...))

I’ve now written spinach so much it doesn’t look like a word anymore.

Also, the functionality options for massaging the content of a post in this WYSIWYG editor is flippin’ ridiculous. I’m more frustrated by this than by figuring out scheme syntax.

Is Lubetzky awesome? Yes, yes he is.

Despite the fact that reading one of his papers is giving me major snoozles, I really like him. I hope one day to be just like him. Actually, I hope I already like him in fundamentals, and only lacking in experience.

(that’s actually a joke, but still true)