Last Livejournal Post...

Hey guys.

Well, I'm no longer using Livejournal to run my blogs. I'm over at Blogger now.

If you get to this page by typing in www.blogface.org, then you never should have gotten here in the first place, you should have been redirected to my new site. But, on the offhand chance you don't, well now you know.

RSS users can subscribed to the feed, feed.blogface.org, and I guarantee that this will forever point to my blog's feed, even if I move it again.

I'll keep this journal up (at least for a while) for posterity. Or I may decide I hate Blogger...

The Dissatisfactory Doily

The most recent incarnation of SIGBOVIK, the annual celebration of all that is computer science humor, occurred on April 1st. I didn't have much time to recap it earlier, but it went very well. With the exception of being just a tiny bit long, this may have been the best SIGBOVIK ever. If you're interested in a (free) electronic copy of the proceedings or a ($7) paper copy of the proceedings, go back and click those links!

But I mostly wanted to talk about my own paper, The Dissatisfactory Doily. The premise of the paper is this: You own a sports team. You are jealous of the Pittsburgh Steelers and their ability to sell $10 Terrible Towels. You's like to make your own, but you don't have a clever, alliterative name. Well look no further than the Dissatisfactory Doily, a random name generator for Terrible Towel knock-offs. It takes a list of adjectives (synonyms for terrible) and a list of nouns (cloth-related) and spits out your new product name. For a long list of examples, please see the paper, but some of my favorites are, The Wanton Wall-to-Wall Carpeting, The Abominable Afghan, and The Horrendous Hanky.

In further news, this was likely my last year as SIGBOVIK MC. It's been a lot of fun, but my jokes are getting stale. Time to pass the torch!

Technical Report: Polymorphic Access Permissions

I've recently been working on an approach to add parametric polymorphism to our Access Permissions methodology. Access Permissions is a fraction-based means of reasoning about program aliases statically. It turns out in certain cases, it's really nice to have parametric polymorphism over permission specifications, for many of the same reasons that it's useful to have traditional parametric polymorphism (e.g., Java generics).

Our paper on the subject was recently rejected from ECOOP, but I think there are still some neat ideas in here. We've posted the paper as a technical report, and work on the subject will continue. You can find the technical report on the ISR page.

In other news, I've also started keeping track of the movies I've watched, mostly due to a recent binge.

Berlin Pictures, at Long Last

Originally uploaded by DixiePistols.
I finally posted some of my pictures from my most recent Berlin trip. I had a great time. Here are some highlights:



Originally uploaded by DixiePistols.
The last weekend I was in Berlin we went on a tour of Tempelhof airport. Tempelhof, now closed, was one of the oldest major airports in Europe. Orville Wright flew at the location in 1909. The later terminal building is a great example of architecture from between the wars, and is absolutely enormous. Some of the highlights of the tour were the basketball court, used by American servicemen, the large main terminal hall, and the underground bunkers. Click through for plenty more pictures.


The Beast
Originally uploaded by DixiePistols.
Well, you may have heard this already... You see, I've been very excited. I got the chance to change my return flight from Berlin. Something went wrong with my original itinerary. When I was rebooking, I saw that the A380 was an option, and I was pumped. It didn't matter that I had to fly an extra leg to take it. I wanted to.

Okay, I know it's not that big of a deal, but this was the first time I had ever flown on the A380, and it was a lot sooner than I expected. For the moment, it's mostly being flown by Asian carriers which I never fly since I have never been. I remember seeing the A380 at the 2005 Le Bourget air show in Paris when it was still being tested, and now that I've flown it "only" five years later tells you something about the slow pace of airplane development.

The first thing I noticed when walking through terminal 2E was that its tail was so much larger than all the other planes in front of it. I couldn't see it, but I could see its tail. When I finally got near by, I took a couple of pictures. Other people were having their picture taken in front of it, which was kind of funny. I was on the top deck or "pont superior," so I got to go upstairs to the higher jet bridge. The A380 has two decks, but the upper deck is not merely for super rich people like on the 747. On top, the configuration is 2-4-2 (bottom 3-4-3) and I was sitting in the aisle, but in one of the pairs of seats near the window. 93-K was my seat, which I thought was pretty awesome.

Was it all that different? Well no. In fact, from the top deck, you feel strangely like you are on a 767 or something. It's a funny thing knowing that there are another 300 passengers sitting below you, our of site. But there were a few cool things about it. One is the personal entertainment system. It's common on most newer planes, but Delta's 767 don't have them, so that was worth changing my flight by itself. I watched Funny People and JFK. One cool addition is a messaging service that allows you to chat (like on AIM or something) with other passengers on the plane. The entertainment system does give you access to the three cameras mounted on the exterior, one facing forward from the nose, one from the tail, and another one facing straight down. That was very cool, and allowed me to see our gnarly off-axis landing (crosswinds, etc.).

It was definitely nice flying on Air France. We were given a menu for lunch, aperitifs beforehand, and they even set up a self-service bar that was accessible for the duration of the flight. I helped myself to some champagne.

The interior of the cabin is nice even back in coach. They have some kind of LED mood lighting that simulates the passing of the sunlight. The windows are larger than normal, and under each window there is a storage compartment, usable by the person sitting next to the window.

While overall the experience is pretty similar to any other new plane, it is a very large plane. Ours had 536 people, completely full. When walking through the jetbridge, it almost felt like I was boarding a cruise ship or something. And when the plane took off I got the impression that everyone around me was amazed; it just seems so improbable.

In summary, I would definitely recommend a ride. Airplane fanboyism is now complete!


I am lucky enough to be in Berlin during the Berlinale, the annual film festival. It turns out to be a pretty big deal, and while I was initially skeptical, I have bought into the whole thing, and we've bought tickets to see five different movies. So far, I've just seen two, but they were both pretty good:
  • Summer Wars is an anime about a boy who is paid to be the popular girl's boyfriend during a family reunion. During this reunion, hackers compromise the all-encompassing Google-like network called Oz, and wreck havoc. The nerdy main character has to rescue the world. I thought this movie was pretty good. I guess I like anime a lot more when it's not in the fantasy genre, my least favorite genre. Of course it contains its moments that are cringe-inducing in their cutsiness, but I think that's par for the course. Best part? The artificial intelligence behind the virus came out of "a Pittsburgh robotics laboratory." Wonder where that could be?!
  • Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll was a biopic about Ian Dury, the singer/songwriter for some punk/new wave bands like The Blockheads. Actually I thought I was going to see a documentary, but that idea was dispelled about fifteen seconds into the movie. Also, I didn't know anything about Ian Dury. I'd maybe heard the song Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll once or twice in my life. But still, it turned out to be a pretty good movie. Ian had polio as a child, so a lot of the movie is kind of about his struggles as a kid, and the parallel struggles of his son's life, since he, you know, has a father who is largely absent. Best part? This movie contains the actors from The Office (U.K.) who play Gareth Keenan and Chris Finch!
All that, and three more movies to see by Sunday. I'm pretty pumped. The only funny thing is that the Berlinale has some of the worst lines I have ever seen in my life. They are both long and completely disorganized. Like any true American, I love and respect lines. I guess when the line philosophies of dozens of nations come together in one city, it's pretty much a recipe for disaster. People love complaining about roped-off lines and how they make you feel like cattle, but at least you know where you stand, to use a pun.

Also, new Sick Ridiculous song Duckles Chuckles. Please check it out!

Berlin, February 2010

Well folks, I am back in Berlin! I'm here for the next three weeks, and looking to see some neat stuff as well as continue some cool research projects I am working on. I've just been here since Wednesday, and most of that time has been spent either working on recovering from jet-lag, but there were a few highlights:
  • In Pittsburgh, I showed up to the airport early and asked them to put me on an earlier flight. They did! And I credit this decision for my ability to actually get out ahead of the impending snowstorm. While NYC also had an impending snow storm, it was slightly less, um, impending, so my 8pm flight was just fine.
  • In Berlin, it's cold! Much colder than it was in November, and just about as cold as Pittsburgh. Strangely enough, no one shovels their sidewalks here. It's a complete joke. There is a thick layer of ice everywhere. I sort of thought Pittsburgh was bad in this way, but by comparison to Berlin, Pittsburgh is awesome.
  • Last night we went out for dinner at a burrito place! It was actually pretty good, believe it or not. It's rare to get good Mexican food in Europe (or say anywhere outside of Mexico and the southern United States) but this was pretty tasty. I had flautas!
  • Also last night we went to a Ping Pong bar called, "Dr. Pong." At Dr. Pong there is only one table, but dozens of patrons, so what happens is, everyone gets a paddle and then walks around the ping pong table, hitting the ball back and forth. If you miss, or hit it out, you're eliminated, and then at the end the final two people play a game to five. The best part is when there are three people left, so they're really running around the table to keep the ball in play! Apparently these bars are pretty popular here, especially with hipsters, and I could see it catching on in the U.S. Gooski's anyone?
  • Tomorrow I want to go to the Museum of the German Resistance. We'll see how that goes...
Okay, I guess that's about it. I sure do love bullet points... They really help me organize my thoughts...