Tuesday, April 23, 2013

From Nand to Tetris

As an employer and tech guy I've often been frustrated by recent college graduates who have earned a degree in computer science but who don't know how computer systems are really put together.

While researching a DSL (domain-specific language) project I ran across an interesting approach to computer systems education. It's a book, The Elements of Computing Systems, MIT Press, by Noam Nisan and Shimon Schocken and a companion web site at www.nand2tetris.org.

The idea is to, in a semester or two, take students through the process of an entire computer system from scratch.

Here's a visual look at the course outline (lifted from A Synthesis Course in Hardware Architecture, Compilers, and Software Engineering, SIGCSE 2009.

Very cool concept!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Santa Tracker: 37.5 percent

I don't believe in Peter Pan / Frankenstein or Superman / All I wanna do is...

Okay, so I only moved the Santa Tracker 5% today, but it was an imporant 5%. I'll say nothing more just in case my 2yo twins read this.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Santa Tracker: 32.5 percent


Yay, Internet!

Santa Tracker: 19.4 percent

A little better all the time

The redhead reminded me of some purchases we'd already made. Also, we did some shopping.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Santa Tracker: 5.6 percent

The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.

Okay, so Santa Tracker 2012 is not off to a great start. It's been a busy time. We'll make it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Santa Tracker 2012

Pooh-pooh to the Whos!

Christmas, Christmas time is near
Time for toys and time for cheer
We've been good, but we can't last
Hurry Christmas, hurry fast
Want a plane that loops the loop
Me, I want a hula hoop
We can hardly stand the wait
Please Christmas, don't be late.

Debuting in 2007, reappearing in 2008, continuing in 2009, very nearly getting started in 2010 and almost getting complete in 2011, the Santa Tracker is back for another year!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Dark Knight Returns deleted scene


...is stealing jewels from a castle. She is interrupted by Queen Renaldi...

...who pulls off Catwoman's mask and cries "Mia Thermopolis! Princess! What are you doing?"

Just then Penguin attacks...

...threatening Mia with an umbrella sword. His attack is parried by the umbrella of Queen Renaldi, who is actually Mary Poppins.

An umbrella duel ensues but is interrupted when a taxi crashes through the castle wall, driven by Elaine O'Connor-Nardo...

...who knocks off Penguin's top hat to reveal that he's her dispatcher, Louie De Palma.

Suddenly Johnny Dangerously...

...dives through the window, kisses "Elaine" and announces that she's secretly Johnny's girlfriend Lil.

But we know he's really Batman.

Batman's identity is confirmed when Batgirl...

...puts a mask on him, only to have her own mask yanked off by Jorge...

...revealing her to be Lynn, who washed hair in Jorge's beauty shop.

All eyes are now on Jorge.

There's an awkward pause.

"All right," Jorge says as he yanks off his wig. "I'm Kevin Bacon."

Monday, July 23, 2012

Banjo joke on Star Trek: Voyager

To boldly pluck...

I just got a sci-fi banjo joke from 17 years ago and 67,000 light years away.

In the 2001 pilot episode ("Caretaker") for Star Trek: Voyager we learn the show's premise: Voyager is pulled across the galaxy by a mysterious caretaker and must make its way back home.

The caretaker assumes several forms, including that of an elderly banjo player...

Hello there stranger, how do you do?

...who plays a few licks here and there.

The joke (such as it is) occurs when the crew approaches approaches the banjo man asking as he's sitting on a lawn couch, plucking idly. I think he's playing "Go Home."

If you've got Netflix you can check for yourself around the 35:40 mark in Star Trek: Voyager in Watch Instantly.

Cross-posted at J.R.'s Banjo Hangout blog

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Cutie mark couture

I'm a guy who likes his comic book shirts in the logo style, so I much prefer...


So what's a brony to do when dressing his 16-month-old daughter in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic clothing?

Most of the MLP:FIM wear out there is in the style of drawings...

...and I'm a logo guy.

Fortunately, Inktastic can help a brony out. I just grabbed some PNG files of cutie marks from Wikia, used them to create custom toddler wear at Inktastic and voila!

Applejack Rainbow Dash Twilight Sparkle Rarity Fluttershy Pinkie Pie

I'm just getting the three on the left for now, mostly because I don't think the other three are a very good color match.

I'll keep on the lookout for a site that will let me print custom onesies in the correct colors for Rarity, Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy.

Flatt & Scruggs on Netflix Watch Instantly

I just noticed that The Flatt & Scruggs TV Show is available on Netflix Watch Instantly.

This would have been counted as both banjo and TV for the Banjo versus TV project.

Cross-posted at J.R.'s Banjo Hangout blog

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Santa Tracker: 75.4 percent


It might not look like it but we're fine, really. We're not seeing a few people until after Christmas.

Also, we're done with Christmas shopping for our dog.

Don't tell her!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Santa Tracker: 66.2 percent


So how is it that the Santa Tracker moves so fast?


Monday, December 19, 2011

Santa Tracker: 52.5 percent


Wauwatosa! That's where that one hard-to-find item was hiding. So we're having them ship it to us from Wisconsin and it should be here in time. Yay!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Santa Tracker: 24.4 percent

Better not pout

Okay, our earlier Santa Tracker wasn't entirely accurate, but it's traditional for the first tracker to show 0%. Here's the real deal: We're at 24.4%, which isn't bad for a week before Christmas.

Santa Tracker 2011

You're as cuddly as a cactus, you're as charming as an eel

Christmas time is here, by golly
Disapproval would be folly
Deck the halls with hunks of holly
Fill the cup and don't say "when"
Kill the turkeys, ducks and chickens
Mix the punch, drag out the Dickens
Even though the prospect sickens
Brother, here we go again

Just as we did in 2007, 2008 and 2009 (and as we would've done in 2010 if that wasn't such a freaky busy December), we are proud to present the Santa Tracker!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Set your DVR: Orange Blossom Special - The Story of a Bluegrass Anthem

The Banjo versus TV project is over, but I still get automated reminders of TV programs that are of interest to banjo players. Here's one that my DVR will be recording tomorrow.

Orange Blossom Special: The Story of a Bluegrass Anthem

Orange Blossom Special is a provocative and moving salute to one of the most enduring fiddle tunes of all time. This is an exploration of an extraordinary song that helped define Bluegrass before it had a name. Covered by musicians around the world. Orange Blossom Special is a song that challenges the virtuosity of all who play it and provides inspirational room to be different each time it is interpreted. Named after a seasonal train that ran down the East Coast to Florida, Orange Blossom Special was written in 1938 by Ervin T. Rouse and made famous by Chubby Wise and Johnny Cash. The song's evocation of the train's sound and speed has been interpreted in every musical form on festival stages around the world. Featuring the music of Vassar Clements, Johnny Cash, Bela Fleck, Charlie Daniels, The Del McCoury Band, String Cheese Incident and others.

The program airs tomorrow (Friday, Feb 4) on Ovation.

Cross-posted at J.R.'s Banjo Hangout blog

Sunday, December 26, 2010

That's it for the Banjo versus TV project!

It's time, my loyal readers (Hi Mom!), to end the Banjo versus TV project and to start a new banjo(ish)-related project in its place.

"Why?" I hear you ask, because you're kind of loud when you cry out in surprise.

Because TWINS! That's why.

From left to right: Baby B, J.R., Baby A

I've really enjoyed doing the Banjo versus TV project since I started it in 2008 as a new year's resolution. I have, since then and with only a short break, kept that resolution and have spent as much time on my banjo as I spent watching TV. It's been very, very good for my banjo playing.

But with the twins here, a few things are changing. For one, the redhead and I are determined not to have the TV on all the time as we're raising the twins. If I'm only going to watch a meager amount of TV, what's the point of matching that with a meager amount of banjo time?

Also, too: There's just not going to be a lot of time for blogging.

If I'm going to continue exploring the banjo — and I am — I'll need to try a different approach. An approach which will...

  • take into consideration the limited amount of time in a new father's schedule,
  • figure out how to integrate amateur banjodom and parenthood,
  • be a little more forgiving of delay than a track-my-time-really-carefully and blog-about-it-once-a-week project,
  • but still be fun.

So watch this space for my next project: New Daddy Banjo.
Cross-posted at J.R.'s Banjo Hangout blog

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Zuni Elf on the Shelf

The redhead and I were discussing how creepy Elf on the Shelf™ is, which led to me suggesting that we just get the Zuni doll from Trilogy of Terror and put an elf hat on it, which led to Photoshop, which led to this.

Zuni Elf on the Shelf

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween 2010: Stork with twins

2010 Stork with twins 2010 Stork with twins (closeup)

This year's addition to my gallery of Halloween costumes: Stork with twins.

Note that this is 100% costume. The actual twins will arrive soon, when the actual stork brings them.