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Year Three in Chicago

I wanted to continue the tradition of writing an annual review post reflecting on how another year in my PhD program went. Links to previous posts are at the bottom of this page. Also, I am using a somewhat different format this year with the following sections largely highlighting what went well this year. Research In the professional arena of my life, this was quite a good year. I submitted three first-authored paper drafts for peer review and another two with collaborators. [Read More]


My granddad (Bawaji1) passed away early this week. My mom broke the news early Tuesday morning. He was getting weaker and weaker over the last couple of years. I have some of his pictures in my Google Photos collection spanning a decade that show his body frailing over time. Here’s a photo from December 2009: And here’s another from April 2018: Most of the recent pictures that I have of him are from celebratory times such as those from my parents' 25th anniversary, weddings in the (extended) family, etc. [Read More]

Chicago: Year Two

I wrote an annual review last year celebrating and looking back at my first year in Chicago. A year later, I feel obligated to review and write down how things have turned out since. What went well I am done with my coursework requirements in my PhD program. The next milestone is a master’s thesis. It might be my second master’s in CS but this time it will be more rigorous. [Read More]

Growing a Language

Authors Guy L Steele Jr Venue/Journal Invited talk at OOPSLA ‘98 Higher-Order and Symbolic Computation (Oct. 1999) DOI/Authoritative Link(s) https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1010085415024 YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ahvzDzKdB0 Summary In this invited talk, Guy Steele discusses the difference between small and large languages. He claims that while designing a language neither a small language is a good choice nor a large language, rather one should design a language that can grow. The smaller language will have too few primitives to be usable and the larger will take such a long time to design that users will go away to some other usable solution that is available even if it is sub-standard. [Read More]

You Are the Product!

A detailed critique of Facebook. Excerpts: On The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble to Get Inside Our Heads by Tim Wu: Wu argues that capturing and reselling attention has been the basic model for a large number of modern businesses, from posters in late 19th-century Paris, through the invention of mass-market newspapers that made their money not through circulation but through ad sales, to the modern industries of advertising and ad-funded TV. [Read More]

Chicago: One Year In

Today marks a year since I moved to Chicago to begin my PhD at the University of Chicago Computer Science Department. It’s the end of an illustrious year full of new challenges, opportunities, friends and experiences. It’s also a new beginning as the Department has just finished its move from the ~125 year old Ryerson Physical Laboratory to the new space in John Crerar Library and we officially begin to use the new building today. [Read More]

Vulnerable: To be, or not to be

Ironically—and this is key—the very unusual personality traits that make me so unlikely to be an offender, are also what throw off my accusers’ detection algorithms, and make them double down on their wrong theory. When I’m trapped, I tend to fall back on the only tools I know: argument, openness, frank confession of my mistakes and failings, sometimes a little self-deprecating humor. Unfortunately, I find this often backfires, as my accusers see in my vulnerability a golden opportunity to mount another wretched evildoer above their fireplace. [Read More]

Subscribing using RSS

I shared this new blog with my old and new friends recently and asked them to subscribe using RSS. One of them asked me what was the feed URL. I thought it might be a good idea to share different kinds of feeds that my site supports and provide handy links to subscribe using popular RSS readers/clients. The software that I use to generate my site – Hugo – generates feeds for each category and a general feed for the whole site so you can choose to receive only high-quality reviews or stories from my site and avoid links, for example (all power to you! [Read More]

Blog Broke the Web... Wait, what?

Here’s the crux of the problem: When something is easy, people will do more of it. When you produce your whole site by hand, from HEAD to /BODY, you begin in a world of infinite possibility. You can tailor your content exactly how you like it, and organize it in any way you please. Every design decision you make represents roughly equal work because, heck, you’ve gotta do it by hand either way. [Read More]

Results: Virtual Flip Phone Challenge

My challenge is officially over. Here are some observations:

Time spent during the Challenge Week (#24) vs past 5 weeks

The following table shows time spent on the top 10 apps on my phone sorted in decreasing order of those used in the challenge week:

[Read More]