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](http://www.derf.net/truestory/20050503_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](http://www.unicycling.com/garage/giraffe.htm) through our [engineering quad](http://uitours.ncsa.uiuc.edu/engineering/bardeenquad/), I had also joked to my [brother](http://thetalik.net) 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](/2006/07/09/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](http://flickr.com/photos/bluebike/232214464/).

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](http://www.crh.noaa.gov/showsigwx.php?warnzone=ILZ045&warncounty=ILC019&firewxzone=ILZ045&local_place1=Urbana&product1=Blizzard+Warning) which, surprisingly enough, has resulted in the rare [cancellation](http://www.uiuc.edu/resources/announcement1.html) of the day’s classes here at the [U of I](http://www.uiuc.edu/).

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](http://www.acm.uiuc.edu/projects/LaserLine).

Update: According to the [Daily Illini](http://media.www.dailyillini.com/media/storage/paper736/news/2007/02/13/News/University.Cancels.All.Classes.Due.To.Weather.Conditions-2715763.shtml), this last happened in [1979](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1979). (thanks [Joey](http://www.joeyhagedorn.com/))
Update: I [now](http://www.uiuc.edu/resources/announcement3.html) have wednesday off as well, this is indeed unheard of.

Eric Weinstein Speaks

Last Thursday the Matrix math club and [Pi Mu Epsilon](http://www.math.uiuc.edu/PME/) here at the [University](http://www.uiuc.edu/)
hosted [Eric Weinstein](http://mathworld.wolfram.com/about/author.html), founder of [Mathworld](http://mathworld.wolfram.com).

For those who don’t know, Mathworld is an (excellent) online encyclopedia of mathematics from [Wolfram Research](http://wolfram.com).

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](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Wide_Web) thing was getting started. How he got [sued](http://mathworld.wolfram.com/about/erics_commentary.html#lawsuit), 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](http://www.wolfram.com/products/mathematica/index.html) 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](http://www.cbs.com/primetime/numb3rs/index.shtml) (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](http://store.wolfram.com/view/misc/popup/mathworld-tshirt-pp.html) too! – rock on.

LaserLine 2.0?

As noted on my [projects](/projects) page, last year I worked on an inspired little app, [LaserLine](http://www.acm.uiuc.edu/macwarriors/projects/laserline/).

Last week [Joey Hagedorn](http://joeyhagedorn.com/) (LaserLine’s progenitor) shared some of his recent brainstorms for the next iteration of LaserLine (he’s already started [building](http://www.joeyhagedorn.com/category/laserist/) 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](http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0060521996/sr=8-1/qid=1142401672/ref=pd_bbs_1/104-1479412-7800751?%5Fencoding=UTF8) [almost](http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0596000480/qid=1142401729/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/104-1479412-7800751?s=books&v=glance&n=283155)) I think I’ll try and devote a sizable chunk of it to refreshing that old code.

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