Unicycle Madness

Unicycle Tshirt If you’ve seen me at University, you probably already know this, but if not, there is a post for you… It is about my recent involvement in the vast unicycle conspiracy.

It all started last summer when I, once again, pondered the unsuitability of the bicycle for the campus commute. You see I’m terrible at getting to class on-time, and so am in dire need of a efficient mode of transport to and from class. And, as you could probably guess, the usual choice didn’t suit me.

On campus bikes are a pain. To use a bike on campus you need to make all sorts of accommodations for it. Bikes need storage space; you need to use bike racks at each of your destinations (any of which can be crowded, inconvenient, or both). You need to lock them up everywhere, they usually require municipal registration, you can only ride on bike paths, and they demand the use of a helmet.

Blech, riding a bike would mean making all sorts of inconvenient compromises – not things which I’m keen on doing…

Now back to my pondering- I had considered trying the skateboard, it’s small and quick, but also a bit dangerous to use on a crowded footway. Remembering once seeing a student ride a giraffe through our engineering quad, I had also joked to my brother I should see about using the old unicycle in our garage. But for the most part I resigned myself to plodding to and from class on foot.

Long story short, when I returned home that summer from California my brother had picked up the unicycle and was prepping to bring it along with him to school. It took me a few more months, but by November I had a new unicycle in had, a few more weeks subsequent I was pedaling about on the ultimate class commuting machine.

Coming soon: The internet-famous, wild parties, and traffic incidents!

Snowed Out…

UIUC Quad in snow

Wow, today the midwest is getting pounded by a heck of a snow storm which, surprisingly enough, has resulted in the rare cancellation of the day’s classes here at the U of I.

Needless to say, I’m quite excited by the possibilities that a free day (and accompanying delay in coursework) offers.

By the end of this day, I hope to write my poor and neglected blog once more and am resolved to make further progress on the actively developing of LaserLine 2.0.

Update: According to the Daily Illini, this last happened in 1979. (thanks Joey)
Update: I now have wednesday off as well, this is indeed unheard of.

Eric Weinstein Speaks

Last Thursday the Matrix math club and Pi Mu Epsilon here at the University hosted Eric Weinstein, founder of Mathworld.

For those who don’t know, Mathworld is an (excellent) online encyclopedia of mathematics from Wolfram Research.

His talk was interesting, and a good time was had by all.

He spoke about how Mathworld got started, first as a giant word document of class notes. He went on to talk about how he then put all those notes onto a website “Eric’s Treasure Trove of Mathematics” when that internet thing was getting started. How he got sued, taken down, and then then a year later (2000), how it returned as the site we know and love today.

We also got a nice preview of Mathematica 6.0. I’m no Mathematica user, but I saw a few things that impressed me. Mathematica now supports anti-aliasing (the jaggly lines it draws currently have always been a turn off for me). Smooth Shading (makes surfaces much nicer). And also a cool little deally where you (as far as I can tell) treat graphics as objects (or whatever they are in Mathematica) – so their no longer static and stuff like that… cool.

There were also some other nifty tidbits as well – he commented a bit on his role as an advisor to the CBS TV series Numb3rs (I haven’t seen it myself but I hear it’s good). I also found out that in the not so distant future we should be able to expect a Mathworld podcast (awesome) and that (surprisingly) the entire site is, by-in-large, still a one person show.

Oh – yea, almost forgot, I got this nifty Mathworld shirt too! – rock on.

LaserLine 2.0?

As noted on my projects page, last year I worked on an inspired little app, LaserLine.

Last week Joey Hagedorn (LaserLine’s progenitor) shared some of his recent brainstorms for the next iteration of LaserLine (he’s already started building new and improved hardware), and I must say I’m rearin’ to go.

Seeing as spring break is starting soon, and I’ll have a whole week’s worth of free time (well almost) I think I’ll try and devote a sizable chunk of it to refreshing that old code.

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