The Jewish Council for Education and Research made a pretty funny video to encourage young voters who have Jewish grandparents in Florida to fly there and convince them of voting Obama: "The Great Schlep".

(Naturally, don't take it too seriously).

Read more…

RememberTheMilk is an online todo-list tool that I use to keep track of my everyday chores as well as, lately, the next steps I need to take for my master's thesis. (We are in the 21st centure, pencil and paper are overrated ;) )

Recently I took a look at their page's source code, and it seems, they have a Latin motto:

The Latin "Non vi sed virtute, not armis sed arte paritur victoria", for my readers whose Latin is a little rusty, means "Not by force but by virtue, not with arms but with art, victory is won."

And thanks to a little digging I can even tell you the (probable) origin of this quote: According to an article in the American Numismatic Society Magazine (yup, coin collectors), the Latin quote appears in the Sacrorum Emblematum Centuria Una (Cambridge, 1592) of Andrew Willet (1562-1621), an Anglican divine who believed that reasoned argument was a tool superior to persecution in attempting to convert Catholics to the Church of England. This sentiment is encapsulated by the Latin motto.

Read more…

Today I signed the steel beam for the Gates Center, the big, new, not-yet-shiny computer science building on the CMU campus (now called the "Gates-Hillman-Complex", after the Hillman Foundation donated additional funds).

It's a white painted steel beam that will be built into the building later. Very neat idea!

Here are some pics: <!--more-->

If you happen to be affiliated with CMU: The beam is available for all students, faculty and staff to sign on September 25-26 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. It is located behind Cyert Hall on Cyert Drive (access is available from Forbes Avenue).

Read more…

As only the most attentive readers may have noticed by now, I redesigned my blog. It's been a while since I have done that, and the former layout started to bore me a little.

So I went ahead, got myself a template from freecsstemplates and tweaked away. It wasn't a Wordpress template, so there was quite a lot of work to do, but I am quite pleased with the outcome.

Gone: The old design.

There are a few advantages of the old vs. the new layout. First, more room for more awesomeness: The articles used to be only 500 pixels wide (and that was already stretched from how the old layout came out of the box). This one has 575 pixels, plenty of space even for bigger pictures.

"New car" scent not included.

Second, due to the famfamfam icons I built in it should all look a little neater and be hopefully quite intuitive. Just for fun, I also added "magazine-style" quotes, just like the one you see on the right.

At last, my comments now differ visually from everybody else's:

I hope you like it. Oh, and if you find anything out of the ordinary, let me know!

Read more…

Surfing around on for affordable destinations for my planned, hopefully then-deserved post-master's-thesis vacation, I browsed through the list of travel destinations, glancing over Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, ....

Wait a minute. Cuba?

Sure enough I was curious, so I clicked it and got the following message.

Ah. Everything's still in order, the trade embargo hasn't been lifted without my knowledge, Pennsylvania liquor stores are still safe from the invasion of evil Cuban rum, cigar stores can still sell Dominican cigars with the slogan "taste almost like Cubans" with only mildly ridiculing themselves, and saved itself from committing treason at the last minute. Phew, time to dry the sweat off my face.

Read more…

Google's Picasa Web Album supports downloading an entire album, however, it requires the Picasa software to do so. Bummer if you are on a Mac, or don't want to (or can't) install Picasa on your computer.

There's another tutorial online that suggests using a Greasemonkey script to surface the download links, then use the DownThemAll Firefox extension to grab the links.

Sadly, the Greasemonkey script in question stopped working after a recent code change on the picasa website. I was able to easily fix it, but due to the lack of an open license, I am unable to share the script with you :(

However, I found an alternative solution: The album's RSS feed! Along with the aforementioned DownThemAll extension, you can easily download a complete album off Picasa Web. Here is how:

Go to the desired Album, and click the "RSS" link on the right hand side:

Firefox will show you the RSS feed in a more or less appealing way. Note that each of the pictures shown has an "attached" JPEG file underneath:

The only thing we need to do is download all of these with DownThemAll. For that, right-click, and choose "DownThemAll". In the "links" tab, it'll automatically grab all pictures for you:

Just hit "start" and let it load!

Hope this helps!

Read more…

Just coming back from a career fair at CMU's University Center, where I went to say hi to the people who manned the Mozilla booth. As I hadn't come to engage in recruiting discussions, I neither carried a resume binder under my arm, nor was I dressed in a black suit like every other person who went there.

Quite amusingly, while the students dressed up in order to show off their seriousness, all of the recruiters were dressed casually in t-shirts or polo shirts and jeans in order to show how relaxed they were. Funny sight.

Lucky as I am, I also got a USB stick from the Cisco booth (thanks Rob for giving me yours, since you got the last one!)... It has 1GB, that'll make for a great new root drive for my Slug (which currently runs on 512M). By the way, why can OS X's Disk format an ext2 partition, but OS X can't mount or read it? Very odd.

Oh, and just in case anyone was wondering how high the percentage of international students at CMU is:

Read more…

So there is this guy, who says he has eaten 23.000 big macs over the course of 36 years and obviously, kept all the receipts.

If these were the presidential elections, I would demand a recount, but in dubio pro reo and all, let's assume he is right. Of course I wanted to know how many big macs that totals per day, so I entered into Google:

23 000 / (36 years)

and what did I get back? Obviously, big macs per second:

By the way: Using more conventional units, this totals between 1 and 2 big macs a day.

PS: Random fact I am sure none of you wanted to know, Heinrich Hertz, the guy whose name became the unit of frequency "hertz", was a professor at University of Karlsruhe (my home uni), where he discovered the electromagnetic waves.

Read more…

As I signed up for twitter during a period of "high maintenance" (that's polite for almost-constant brokenness), I encountered the fail whale quite often---and learned to like it, in its own way, because it had become a tradition of sorts, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

Twitter's Charming "mascot", the Fail Whale

And funnily, every time I visit the page in my Firefox instance, the Awesomebar keeps reminding me of the times when the whale was ubiquitous:

How nice: Nostalgia 2.0.

Read more…

Look at this way awesome "CERN rap" explaining particle physics and the CERN's Large Hadron Collider (which was switched on just today):

Looks like they've got awfully little to do down there in Geneva ;)

Yo! (And by the way, if you understand very little of what that all means, don't feel too bad: I just noticed my last physics class was a while ago as well).

(Thanks for the link, Christian!)

Read more…