Thursday, March 12, 2009

Keep Up The Pace

I've been trying to get myself back into shape lately. It has been a long winter and the softball / kickball seasons are just around the corner. I gotta get back into playing shape if I want to return to Vegas this year.

Right now I'm running two miles a day at an eight minute mile pace. Not terrible but I have a long way to go to get back to my peak of five miles a day at the same pace.

An eight minute mile works out to be 7.5 mph. Tonight I started to wonder what kind of pace marathoners run at. A marathon is of course 26 miles long. Could anyone possibly run an average speed of 7.5 mph over 26 miles?

As usual I turned to wikipedia. In September 2008 Haile Gebrselassie of Ethiopia set a record marathon time of 2 hours, 3 minutes, and 59 seconds. That works out to be (on average) a 4.8 minute mile or 12.7 mph.

Damn. So when I stop after 2 miles he has already done 3.4 and could continue for another 22.6.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

U2 Somerville Concert Updates on Twitter

Last week I wrote about the rumor that U2 was playing a secret concert in Somerville. That posting was one of the top search results on google for "U2 concert in Somerville" and I got a bunch of traffic from it. Pretty cool for just linking to someone else's news story.

Well the rumor is legit. I had an eye appointment near there today and passed through Davis Sq. Lots of activity going on and had a few minutes so I stopped to take some pictures. Check out twitter / twitpic if you are interested. The best one yet came after I finally found Waldo. Apparently he is a U2 groupie and was taking pictures "for charity".


I walked down there tonight to check out the scene. Lots of people hanging out in the square walking around and eating ice cream. Everyone was really excited and trading theories about where the band was and where they might be going after the show. One guy claimed that they would surely be going to The Burren because he's "pretty sure" they know the owner.

Even though I'm not a U2 fan I think it is really cool for our town.

Bono in Davis caught on tape by wicked local somerville

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Meeting Richard Stallman in '99; Predicted Future

In 1999, as Computer Science undergraduates, my friend Tim and I participated in the ACM Student Research Competition. We submitted a paper and were invited to New Orleans to present our work at the conference.

For me the most memorable part of the trip was listening to, watching, and briefly meeting Richard Stallman who delivered the keynote at the awards dinner. In geek circles Richard Stallman is referred to only by his initials & username "RMS". He is a living legend in the software industry and is extremely controversial for his views on software licenses, intellectual property rights, and politics. While many disagree with him on some of these topics (myself included) no serious person can debate his genius or his contribution to GNU Linux and the free software movement.

He is also well known for his physical appearance. If you saw him on the street you would probably avoid eye contact and cross to the other side assuming he was homeless, crazy or both. Inside this conference hall though people hung on his every word and lined up for hours to meet him. I watched (and was part of) a crowd entranced by their Messiah. It was fascinating but I don't think Tim was quite as impressed as I was.

The topic of Stallman's talk was interesting but at the time it seemed a bit far fetched and idealistic to me. He discussed the idea of creating a free online encyclopedia where by which teachers around the world would contribute articles (for free) on the topics they knew well. It seemed like a good idea but I had trouble imagining it ever really working. I didn't think about his talk much after the show ended.

Two years later, in 2001, Wikipedia formally launched and it wasn't until a few years after that when I recalled the topic of the RMS talk and made the connection. I guess the lesson is to always listen carefully to industry leaders speak. They might just tell you the next big thing.

The picture above is one of my only "celebrity pictures" but my non-CS friends and family always have to ask me, "Who is that bum you are with?" To which I reply "Oh, that's just my friend Tim."

Thursday, March 5, 2009

U2 Concert in Somerville?

Rumors are spreading that U2 will be having a "secret concert" on Wednesday in Somerville, MA at the Somerville Theater in Davis Square. That theater is smaller than my middle school auditorium. Wonder if it is really going to be U2 or just Improv Everywhere?

Bono, if you do come to my town make sure you don't take a cab.