Feb 042012

Recently, when I was in Atlanta, I was told I had to try these magical things called “Totchos.” They are tater tots, with nacho cheese on top. Being someone who has never really liked either tater tots, nor nachos–and trust me, I’ve been labeled a heretic many a time for these opinions–I was far from certain that I would enjoy the Totchos.   So after checking into the hotel, here’s us about to head out from our Midtown hotel to hit up the Nook. The Nook turned out to be a dark, dingy restaurant that specialized in burgers, totchos, and other American items, all with a southern twist. Later in my second trip there, I would  have their stuffed burger, [more . . .]

Aug 042011

We live on a former Superfund site, so when I started planting in the garden a few months back, I was worried that there would still be some residual contamination from heavy metals and other deadly chemicals. I sent in a soil sample to the UMass Extension Service for testing, and just got back the results. The good news is that the dangerous stuff are all pretty low. Trace of lead (30ppm), very low cadmium (0.1ppm), etc. The interesting parts were actually the nutrients and soil composition. The pH turned out to be 7.5, with nitrates at just 3ppm, and extremely high calcium levels (20187ppm). The soil is buffered at a pH of 7.4, probably because of the high concentration [more . . .]

Aug 042011

I was doing my daily blog rundown, and this video caught my eye. Go watch it. It’s pretty cool. Of course, a recorded demo doesn’t say that much about the actual technology accomplishments, so I went ahead to check out the lab’s web site. Their technology is named SOINN–Self-Organizing Incremental Neural Network, and their page is here. It seems that SOINN is essentially an online variation of the Self-Organizing Map (SOM), using pretty standard Hebbian learning, and also something called Growing Neural Gas (GNG), which I haven’t heard of before. The SOINN algorithm itself is really interesting, but doesn’t seem as revolutionary as HuffPo and Engadget are making it out to be. It’s another online unsupervised learning algorithm. I’m more interested [more . . .]

May 312011

A few weeks ago, I was walking past the Lorry Lokey labs and the Mudd Chemistry Building on Stanford campus, when I noticed how interesting the bamboo that lined the exteriors of the buildings looked in the evening light. If you just let your eyes drift, the bamboo is so thick that it creates this relaxing background. And if you look closer, and near the ground, where it’s dark, the bit of light that filters in gives the bamboo shoots some incredible highlights.