I have been only using 10% of my power!

Order of the stick has updated! This is my favorite webcomic, although the update schedule is... so... damn... slow. Which is specially frustating when the author is going full dragonballZ (never go full dragonballZ). Other comics that I often read include XKCD, SMBC, PhD Comics, Strong Female Protagonist, Erfworld and Oglaf (NSFW). On other news, I have started a new libGDX project. I will try to write updates here from time to time, but no promises yet.

Taking it easy

Yesterday I spent a lot of time reading books, I guess today was computer game day. Halfway has great graphics and a veey imteresting story, but the gameplay and level design were kinda dull. Prison architect has finally released a version 1.0. Lots of interesting systems. Still havent got the hang of preventing tunnel escapes, though. Played also a few hours of FTL. This game is perfect, except that it does not have an Android version... unlocked the type C kestrel. Finally, a friend recommended me Monument Valley, and I bought it yesterday. The game not only is gorgeous, it is also incredibly intuitive. Managed to finish the first storylime without getting stuck, but also without getting bored. Thats for my sunday. Starting tomorrow, I am back to being a productive member of society. :)

Well, that didn’t work

Another aborted attempt at blogging regularly. After that post on Sunday, I just couldn't pull myself to write again. I wonder about my thinking process. When I am in the bus or train, my random thoughts always have this little "I should blog this" part -- this also happens sometimes when I am taking a break at uni. But when I return back home, I can't pull myself together to write. I either break down into lump, procastinate (gaming/redditting), or shamble through my unfinished work. This week was brutal. I had to finish my Kakenhi application, and at the same time prepare my weekly class. At least this year I had some extra help to prepare my kakenhi. Got some older professors to comment on my project, and got some accepted projects from other colleagues as samples. But I'm still not confident. Thinking about it, my previous applications were all classified as "Grade C" (lower 50%). I don't think they were THAT bad, so I guess I'm eating some handicap by writing them in English. Unfortunately, that just can't be helped. The other thing was the Joho class. Computer literacy. I remember when I first heard about this subject, I was really looking forward to teaching it. But teaching it is proving to be more grueling than I expected. Part of it is that I have two big walls between my knowledge and the students: Japanese and English. No matter how I look at it, my Japanese still sucks, specially if I have to speak for any length of time (such as in a classroom). Also, for this class Windows use is mandatory (windows 7), which means that I don't know many of its tricks, and that the environment where I prepare the class is different from the environment where the students have the class. Case in point, last class I had huge problems with encoding making my notes looking like gibberish at the student's computers, and I had no good way to diagnose the problem in Windows. Which leads to the other part that this class is difficult for me: Large classrooms. In my graduate school classes, I have a much smaller group of students, so when something unexpected happens, I can just walk the student having trouble with it. In this class, I have forty students. This means that trying to solve the problem of one student means leaving 39 unattended. I'm sure I'll find a way to deal with this, but it has not been easy. To deal a bit with my Japanese language problems, Ayako has been borrowing simple books in Japanese from the city library. I've read a few illustrated novels, some children's books (even my little prince), and now I got the Japanese version of "Truckers", by Terry Pratchett. To be honest, I still can't finish most books before I have to return them to the library, but I keep grinding, since this is how I learned English in the first place. I just noticed I wrote a lot. I still feel like I have more to talk about (like when I re-found my old blog, and my forum nostalgia), but I will try to leave this for another blog post. Let's see if this strategy works. :-)

Cute kittens

I've recently finished The Martian in record time. It was a very fine book. A large part of the book is narrated in "Blog" format from the protagonist, which made me think of my own semi-abandoned blog. How many of my passing thoughts have been lost to the void? Maybe it is better this way for most of them... on the other hand, you never know when your passing thought is another's person inspiration. I should know that -- silly afterthoughts that I left on the internet have led, at least three times, to variations in my own story. Today I finished one of my grant application projects for this year. That took me the entire weekend of straight writing, plus an unaccounted amount of time gathering materials and my thoughts in place (that is a very nice way to spell procastination). I sent the application to some professors for feed back. I was planning to start working on the other application tonight at home, but I just couldn't get anything done. So tomorrow I need to start working on project number two, and on this week's class, but I will probably get sucked into finishing my admnistrative tasks... At least, I found two super cute cat gifs on reddit: Cute Kitten 1
Cute Kitten 2 I also found this guy exploring my desk when I got home: Jack Kerman

Two weeks of traveling

Last week I was in CEC, in Sendai. The week before that I was in the ICPC world finals, in Morocco. It was nice leaving Tsukuba for a while. The World Finals went better than I expected. The transportation to and from the airport, which I was worried about, was quite smooth. Arriving at the location, everything was inside the same resort, so we could go everywhere on foot. Food could have a bit more variety in it, but it was quite fine. As for the competition itself, the Tsukuba team did well enough -- although I'm sure we can do better in the future (I have to work on my coach skills, though!)
A glimpse of the competition floor
A glimpse of the competition floor
CEC was a mixed bag. Sendai is a beautiful city, and the weather helped. I got to meet a bunch of interesting people, and realized that AI for Games academic community is bigger and more active than I imagined. I should really be putting some extra effort in that. I also got to do a bit of Geocaching. On the other hand, most presentations were rather weak, and my own presentation had almost no viewers, which made me quite sad. The hotel where I stayed (APA Hotel) was apparently owned by some right wing nut who filled the rooms with his self published books about how Japan "just wanted to unite all asia in equality"... yeah sure.
Right wing revisionist bull :-P
History Revisionism at its finest
The worst thing is that I went in planning to use the time away from work to catch up with my backlog: Prepare classes, read up on papers, etc. Of course, the monkey was stronger and that did not happen. During the ICPC trip, I spent most of my time re-reading Worm which, to be frank, is a hell of a good read, but reading it AGAIN was definitely not on my priority list. During the CEC trip, I did manage to prepare a bit for my classes, but I also spent most of my time reading "The Reluctant Swordsman", which was a decent read. And now I'm back home with 300 messages in my work inbox T_T Well enjoy the links, and see you on the other side!


Some of you might have heard that GrooveShark was killed. It seems that grooveshark lost a dispute with the infamous RIAA, and as a result had to hand them over all their assets. That sucks. But I think I have already found a good replacement. Enter Rainwave. I used grooveshark mostly for browsing playlists of game songs, and rainwave is a streaming site of game musics and remixes. Most of the musics seems to be very well done game-like remixes, which means that not only I will be supporting people loving their craft, this one is unlikely to go away anytime soon. Vila the Mix tape!

The Singularity is passing by me

This past week I have been doing a lot of introspecting about my self-dissatisfaction. Sometimes I evaluated what I have been doing with my life, sometimes I just wallow in self pity, sometimes I even delete games from my computer and draw strategies to turn everything right starting this very moment. It has been a wild ride. An acquittance in Facebook linked the blog "Wait but What", and I have devoured quite a few of their articles this weekend. The ones about procastination were very good, but what I wanted to talk about was the one about "The AI Revolution". Going back for a second to the Procastination article, it talks, among other things, about how we have to define what is "Important but not urgent". These are things that make us grow, make us be what we want to be. And in my confused state of trying to self-correct, I realized that for quite a while, a few months, maybe a few years, I lost track of what I am aiming for in my life. Not that I am lost in terms of short term important goals. I have plenty of those. I honestly like my job, and I am in a five four year race to prove my worth to remain in this job. The pressure is terrifying. But why am I here? When I entered college in Computer Science, I had read enough Asimov books to realize that AI and computers were really cool. But as I learned about programming in college, the dream formed in my mind to be one of the people to solve artificial intelligence. My original Master degree project was to create an intelligent system that could adapt itself around damage (think the terminator crawling out of the foundry with only the upper half of his body. I actually used that image in my work). My original PhD proposal was a "parent-children" teaching system to investigate the possibility of crowds of agents where older self-learning agents could give part of their knowledge to newer self learning agents. Let's not talk about how either of these projects ended up. At that time, I read Minsky, I read pinker, I read hofstader. I even attended a talk by Minsky once. I learned about evolutionary algorithms, and fell in love - this was the natural way to develop an intelligent machine, or so I thought at the time. Somewhere along the way I started looking down while I walked. I started taking shortcuts. My wildest dreams started breaking down, and I was publishing "5% more efficient" papers, and I started getting cynical. Suddenly it was all statistics, and Machine learning, and very sensible modeling projects that people do when they are walking while looking at the ground to avoid tripping into stones along the way. I even heard about the Singularity guys, and secured myself in the sense that these people had too much free time in their hands, and should be worried about actual problems in the world such as inequality and hate, hunger and disease. Not that my 5% better machine learning modeling papers were doing anything to solve those problems either. But hey, complaining is easy. I want to wonder again. Maybe AGI, maybe space exploration. If I can set my sights on these things in a realistic manner, then maybe I can be in my dream job, doing my dream work. If I could only tame that damn monkey once and for all. (for the record, I am not worried about an "unfriendly AI". Maybe I'm being egoist and short-sighted, but the thought of humanity being able to create a being that can transcend its creators is something so awesome that I don't really mind if the price is the end of our species)