Sunday, October 30, 2005

Memory Lane

A friend recently mentioned the nostalgia associated with playing (or in his case hearing the soundtrack of) a decade-old game.

I just took my own trip down memory lane with my recent purchase of the 3-DVD 10th Anniversary Myst edition, containing the first 3 games in the series: Myst, Riven and Exile.

Nostalgia indeed!!


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Here we go again...

Dr. Jumper finally saw what I've been secretly dreading/expecting. My eye troubles are starting up again -- this time in the left eye.

The bad news:
  1. There are a few inflammed veins on my retina, and tiny spots of bleeding.

The good news:
  1. The regular tri-monthly checkups over the last year have caught it early. Based on my vision alone, I had no clue (way better than what happened the last time around).
  2. If everything goes well, the drugs will take care of the problem and I won't have to go through the surgery again.
  3. The right eye looks good.

Time to cross fingers again...


Monday, October 24, 2005

Upcoming Shows

Recently, Jayita and I have been splurging a little. We've just realized that we have quite a concert schedule ahead of us:

Nov 5th: Bobo Stenson
Nov 5th: Ornette Coleman Quartet
Nov 6th: Konono No. 1
Nov 11th: Youssou N'Dour
Feb 9th: An Evening With John Cleese
Mar 30th: Ladysmith Black Mambazo
Apr 28th: Michael Feldman's Whad'Ya Know?
Apr 29th: Zakir Hussein's Masters of Percussion

The next 6 months are going to be fun :)

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Monday, October 17, 2005


As much as I love open-source software, sometimes using it can just be really frustrating.

Since yesterday afternoon, I've been playing with GnuPG. This is the first time I've mucked about with encryption and signing so my first stops were the man page, and The Gnu Privacy Handbook which were resources every other page pointed me to. While the handbook provided an excellent overview of the process of creating and managing keys, there are some basic aspects that we're just left to guess at.

Take the output of the gpg --list-keys command. It spits out the following:
pub 1024D/460E03D0 2005-10-18 My Name and id
sub 2048g/9BB40D91 2005-10-18

Why can't I find a simple explanation of this output? Some components are obvious (e.g. 2048 is the key length), but others (like the 'g' after 2048) is cryptic. Nowhere have I been able to find a concise explanation of this. Additionally, the idea of subkeys (the "sub" on the second line) is pretty much ignored in most documentation.


Update: I finally found some decent documentation.

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Political Compass

On a whim, I took the test at That placed me firmly here.


Sunday, October 16, 2005

Over the Hedge

One of my favourite comic strips is turning into an animated movie. I hope they do it justice. Go R.J., Verne and Sammy!


Friday, October 14, 2005

A Little Numerical Music Theory

Here's an interesting bit of music/physics trivia:

Let's say the frequency of the note "middle C" is x, here are the intervals corresponding to simple multiples of this base frequency:
  • 2x: Octave (C)
  • 3x/2: Perfect 5th (G)
  • 4x/3: Perfect 4th (F)
  • 5x/4: Major 3rd (E)
  • 6x/5: Minor 3rd (E-flat)
Interestingly, as the ratios get more esoteric, so does the dissonance in the sound of the interval. It also works out nicely that since the interval of the perfect 5th is composed of a major and minor 3rd (C to E, and E to G), the frequencies ratios are (5/4)(6/5)=(3/2).

I like the way that just fits.

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Nail on the Head

A couple of days ago, Michael and Lauren joined Jayita and me for a concert at Yoshi's. At the end of the concert Lauren had to know why during the performance I often chuckled at exactly the same moment that some of the bandmembers did.

While I was fumbling to explain how the particular chord progression used was interesting, Jayita chimed in and said: "It's as if they cracked a musical joke, and you understood it".

I love this woman. She doesn't always get jazz, but she gets me ;)

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Visit to LA

So I was back in Los Angeles today. The company I work at is on a little hiring spree, and needed USC alumni to tag along. Now you can take the man out of grad school, but you can't take the grad school out of the man, so I'm saying to myself "Woot! Free trip!". This is how we'd get motivated to write conference papers (read IROS 2001 in Maui).

Our lab's moved to a brand spanking new building on campus. Very slick. Slicker still is the Peet's coffee shop on the first floor. Got to catch up with the old sensei, and a couple of members of the lab clan. Stefan even tried convincing me to take a "sabbatical" back to the lab ;)

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Monday, October 10, 2005

George Brooks' Summit @ Yoshi's

Always my favourite venue for jazz in the Bay Area, Yoshi's had George Brooks' Summit performing last night. The group consists of George Brooks (saxophone), Fareed Haque (guitar), Kai Eckhardt (bass), Steve Smith (drums), and the much loved Zakir Hussein (tabla).

Stellar performances all round, but the highlight of the evening was the percussion solos by Zakir and Steve. I've attended several concerts featuring Zakir Hussein, but this was my first with Steve Smith. He's really impressive, and not just because he could hold his own against the tabla master.

Great way to close off our vacation :)