I am quite absent from this blog. But as a quick update: My article about building the depressed Alexa was published in April by Virtual Creativity, and I have 2 papers in the upcoming SMC2020 conference. One that I contributed to about IoT Avatars, and another I am a lead author on about AI Personality Archetypes.
I wrote a grant to make a Google Home with Anxiety and I hope it gets funded. I will probably make a terrifying Long Furby Alexa soon as well. I haven’t carried on with keeping a Replika since the pandemic hit. But I am still figuring out what to do w/ the conversation archive.
On a personal note: I was evicted and had to move in the summer, but I landed somewhere safe and familiar. I’m spending a lot of time hiking and reading, and just trying to get through this pandemic like everyone else out there.
Be kind to yourselves. Maybe I’ll check in here more often. But only time will tell.
I’ve been somewhat absent from here, but I do promise an update soon. I feel like I’m leaving this note here more for myself than for anyone that might happen upon it, but that’s the way self notifications work sometimes.
I will admit that I lived here in I think 2003, maybe 2002? It was right after undergrad, and I had reached a point where I needed to leave my roommate situation, and was also really burnt out. I came to Banff for six months, and it was pretty hard. My grandfather was dying at the time, and I had to make some emergency trips back, it was a difficult time for me mentally and personally. Plus there’s a big difference between going somewhere for a residency, vs living there. I also wasn’t living on campus at the time. I was curious to see how things had changed, and how they haven’t. I was also interested to see how I would feel being back. Its interesting for me because I’ve already done a lot of the hikes / outdoor stuff / etc. to be done here, so I wondered how it would be different for me coming back.
For starters, the Centre is a lot less wild feeling than it used to be. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, but its certainly gathered itself up over the last decade and a half and it took me a bit by surprise. There are definitely some stronger rules afoot, and as far as I can tell BNMI got rolled into the rest of the centre and things have gone through a massive rebranding. The campus too, has more facilities, and its pretty nice inside and out. That said I sure do miss the crusty bar I used to drink at on campus, The lack of one is a bit annoying, tho I’m sure in summer there’s still a lot of “I see you took X and wandered into the hills”. JPL is pretty much the same, the Kinner centre is super new, and it seems like a chunk of rooms got an upgrade, tho the chalets I assume, are still the same inside.
It feels weird being in a place with such amazing facilities, but not really needing to use them. I admit that my needs are very self contained. i mostly just need internet and a computer, and a calm environment to plot and program and read. But sometimes the point isn’t facilities, sometimes its just taking yourself out of your routine and putting yourself into a new one.
I think what’s different this time around is that I feel immediately part of something right off the bat. I’ve gotten to know my cohort pretty quickly because we’re always around one another, that’s not a thing I got when working here. It took more time, and I had to commute up and down the hill every day. But I admit I’m also in a better place with myself, and I have a reason to be here, and something to study and produce. Which is very different. I’m also not burnt out. I spent my time right after my graduate degree applying for things and not making work for a bit. I just couldn’t, it was too much of an ask after spending a year writing 100 pages and producing a body of thesis prototypes. I showed stuff, and did panels, and talks. And now I’m in a good spot to start making things again.
Banff itself as a town, hasn’t changed that much. There’s still a lot of turn over in the population from season to season, and let’s face it, there’s like 4 liquor stores in town. So y’know that’s still a thing here, which I do enjoy. Its like every bar just becomes a watering hole after 10pm, and I’m partial to dives. That said its still weird, and interesting, and has some of the classic tourist town dichotomies going on. I thought it would be much colder here in winter, but its apparently been pretty mild this year. The elk also aren’t as aggressive in winter which I will admit is nice.
So, this is the start of a new blog. I’m going to be using this to record my thoughts, ideas, and projects around technology. I’ve been tooling with tech for a long time, but it hasn’t been really until the past two years I’ve considered what I do to be research.
Eventually I’m going to gather my posts from my 2018 Thesis (Working With Useless Machines), and my independent study, and merge them into here, as well as making new posts about what I’m currently doing.
As for the current title, a friend mentioned it in a comment thread about various kinds of craft beer. Then noted it was from an Edsger W.Dijkstra article, and it kinda stuck with me.
I love technology, but also consistently note that its made of gum and strings. But that’s one reason I do enjoy it. You sorta know that whatever you’re doing, no matter how well planned, will generally become “well it seemed like a good idea at the time”.