Michael Daum

Jacob makes the grade!
March 29, 2007, 8:18 am
Filed under: kids

Just a quick note because tomorrow’s the deadline for my UIST submission.

Jacob came home this week with his first report card!  Of course I didn’t need to read it to know what a terrific guy he is, but some might say I’m biased.  Nonetheless, it was great to read all of the great things that Ms. Lundy, his JK teacher this year, had to say about our little man.

The central theme of the report seemed to be the classroom’s “Big Blocks” area. Jacob was observed to seek out the big blocks, to use complex strategies in organizing multi-child big-block designs, to share the big blocks well with other children, and to organize and perform excellent big-block cleanup activities.

Ms. Lundy also spoke highly of Jake’s reading, and general love for and good care of books.  He was encouraged to continue participate heavily in the classroom’s “borrow a book” program.

For his father there was only one sour note:  Jacob seems to really enjoy using the computers.  After the big blocks, this was his favorite activity.  He particularly enjoyed the “computer buddies” program in which he and an older student collaborate on various electronic pastimes.  Let me be clear:  I won’t stand in his way, but I know this path well.  Danger.

So in a nutshell, Elena, Imelda, and me are very very proud of our little guy.  His first foray into the realm of judgment by authority has gone smoothly.  I look forward to many to come.


Various programming language notes
March 25, 2007, 8:37 pm
Filed under: geek

So for my entire time in industry, the issue of whether a particular language was better than any other lay for the most part dormant within me. Every product had already made its decisions and every problem seemed to indicate a particular solution.

Or something.

At any rate it’s been a while since I picked up a new language, or even thought in terms of the relative merits of the ones I already new.

But now that I’m safely inside of the ivory tower, these kind of rumblings are arumblin’ once again, and I find myself learning not one but two languages.

The first of these is Python, which I figured I’d learn because it’s the foundation of scons, the build system I use. Plus I need it for Software Carpentry, a course I’m taking. So what could go wrong. Well, I mean, let’s start with:

>>> a = range(5)
>>> print a
[0, 1, 2, 3, 4]
>>> b = a
>>> a[2] = 10
>>> print a
[0, 1, 10, 3, 4]
>>> print b
[0, 1, 10, 3, 4]

Yucky, no? Now the Pythonistas will tell me that I should have used

>>>b = a[:]

To get the deep copy I wanted. Clear as mud, boys. But if I play your game, then why don’t you tell me about:

>>> a = [1]
>>> a[1:1] = [2,3,4,5]
>>> print a
[1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

Now were you gonna tell me that the semantics of the ‘:’ slicing operator depend on whether they’re being applied in an lvalue or rvalue context? No, I guess not. In fact, my best guess is you haven’t really thought about it that much. Then again, how much do you really expect one guy in his basement (sorry…Google’s basement) to be able to do? It’s not like there’s an ANSI standard or committee for Python. Funny, that.

Score one for the little bro’
March 16, 2007, 2:21 pm
Filed under: General

I’ve long had the theory that my brother Jer is a bellweather for the latest trends among the hipster elite. Now he’s done it again, pre-empting the lastest on Digg with his post here.

read more | digg story

State the nature of your complaint
March 16, 2007, 8:55 am
Filed under: General

My bike has a flat, and I’m so far too lazy to fix it.  As a consequence, I have the pleasure of walking to school every day and taking in the delightful sights and sounds of downtown Toronto.

One of the last things I pass is Queen’s Park, the seat of the Ontario provincial government.  Usually someone is protesting something.

Today’s treat was a  lone man standing in the neutral ground in the middle of the very busy University Avenue.  He had a triangular sign on the ground in front of him which described something about family courts being secret child abusers…I can’t say I’m familiar with the issue, but let me state unequivocally that I am right against child abuse.  It’s right out with me.

But the man was holding a pole.  And on that pole there was a blow up sex doll wearing a bright red scarf and a black cape.   An effigy of a judge?  The unlikely hero who will deliver the children from the courts?  Who’s to say?

It left me a bit unsettled.

Palo Ghraib
March 9, 2007, 4:33 pm
Filed under: General

Funny, I always thought that the Stanford Prison Study was apocryphal. After watching these videos, it’s pretty clear that it’s not only real, but more vivid and difficult than any of the descriptions I’d heard. I suppose it doesn’t really come as a surprise to a crypto-misanthrope like myself; but that doesn’t make it any easier to watch. I’m reminded of the feelings I had during Katrina, and which persist: that our entire society and day to day reality is 5 days away from Mad Max.

UPDATE:  Unfortunately this video seems to have been nuked as a copyvio.  I’ll have to see if I can find another.  Shame…it was really good.

Extreme Things on Earth
March 9, 2007, 3:29 pm
Filed under: General

Makes me think of Jake. Can’t wait to show it to him…it’ll take us months to digest all of these enormous things!

read more | digg story

Why won’t they take my money?
March 9, 2007, 2:18 am
Filed under: General

I find myself often in a situation where I’ve enjoyed the services of one musical group or another, and I’d like to compensate them.  The trick is that I can’t seem to find good ways to do so without giving a large fraction of the money to someone else: a record label, music store…

I always thought that it would be a good idea for bands to put up a paypal account on their websites through which they could accept donations.  That way I’d be able to kick in when I felt the urge without feeling like I was lining the pockets of them that don’t deserve it.