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diverging since 2008

Entries tagged "life"


Finally switched from ion to xmonad. I still haven't fully adapted my workflow to the new window manager or vice versa, but I'm getting there.

ido for emacs is a great incremental tab-completing buffer switcher and file selector. Think iswitchb-mode and then some more. Another nice find are the up-line-or-search and down-line-or-search actions in zsh. They enable you to type for example sudo emacs and then browse through commands starting thus.

On a more personal note, I had my hair cut and have started packing for my impending move to Pasila. I've also been offered a chance to work at zendroid, the hottest startup in town. I'll probably have to decide between them and continuing at HIIT in a few weeks.

A couple I knew just broke up. Some of my friends are depressed. My girlfriend thinks we've wasted the summer. I myself feel as though I were slowly awakening from a very long sleep.

Additionally, you can start expecting part two in my attribute grammars and compilers series, it's well under way.

The semester is starting in a few weeks. I'm aiming at completing my candidate (bachelor for you foreigners) degree for christmas. Sadly there aren't that many interesting courses this fall, but I guess that's just good if I'm to be working part-time.

Tags: conf, life.
2008-08-26 17:25

The last two final courses for a candidate degree here at Univ Helsinki CS are Ohjelmistotuotantoprojekti (Software Engineering Project) and Tieteellinen kirjoittaminen (Scientific Writing). The former is a programming project for groups of about eight with make-believe real software engineering processes. The projects also have proper clients, though these tend to be other departments or research projects.

Like most universities nowadays, Helsinki is a Java school. You can probably feel the dread I had for executing a largeish project in Java with a bunch of Java programmers. Thus my exuberance on finding out that one of this year's projects would be extending a research project coded in LISP. Earlier this day our group tutor mailed us a link to Practical Common Lisp. Things are looking up :)

In other news, the move to Pasila went ok. The interview with zendroid is coming up.

Tags: life, programming.
2008-08-28 15:37

The interview at Zendroid on tuesday went smoothly. I saw some interesting demos and enjoyed talking to the guys. If you're still wondering, the company wants to implement cool robotics-mixed-with-machine-learning stuff that's feasible right now. Needless to say I can't tell much (NDA), but Zendroid is very much the sort of environment I want to work in. Also, they are using extensive unit-testing and git, i.e. doing things properly.

A few hours ago, I got an email telling me I was accepted. I'll be starting some time next month. It'll be interesting to see what working at a startup is like, especially after all the propaganda by Paul Graham and others.

Tangentially, I've recently been making mixtapes and brushing up on my DJ skills. I was also asked to play at a student party next month. Things are progressing very nicely on the music front, and I hope to have a proper mix on-line soon.

Tags: life, work.
2008-09-18 01:10

Lately I've been studying swedish, working on my candidate's thesis and the software engineering project, working at Zendroid, founding a new student organisation and doing part-time teaching. Despite or because all of this, I've been feeling more upbeat and productive than in ages. Somehow having merely much to do is more stressful than having an abundance of tasks. I guess the diversity of projects is what's keeping me going. Also, the job is turning out to be really interesting and inspiring.

In addition to time-management skills, all this multitasking has been improving my emacs technique. I've resumed using emacsclient and keeping one master session open at all times after a few years pause. Working on a large software project once again offers an opening for all sorts of tools and tricks I'd forgotten.

Working intensively also made me switch back to ion from xmonad. A dynamic window manager just isn't enough when dealing with a plethora of windows. A tag-based one might have worked better, and of course heavily customising xmonad would've probably gotten me something I could use. But in the end ion is what I enjoy using and have many years' experience with; I've no reason to switch.

BTYL, got real stuff to do.

Tags: conf, life, work.
2009-01-15 11:35

The CS Dept. at Helsinki University mostly does machine learning, data analysis and bioinformatics nowadays with some oldschool algorithmics for the fogies. There has been a demand for hard theory (complexity theory, type theory, adv theory of computation) among the students and we've finally gotten the wheels rolling.

This fall a bunch of us got together and held a course (site in Finnish, includes lecture material and excercises) on lambda calculus here at Helsinki University. Over 120 people participated and about 80 held with us to the end. The course focused on practical aspects of λ-calculus instead of grinding through parametricity and other mathematical properties.

This spring the same group is lecturing Introduction to Functional Programming, a course whose teacher left our university a few years ago. Again we have over 120 participants. Lectures are held in the second largest auditorium here in Exactum and we're enjoying full support of the administration. The course is about the basics of functional programming as a software design paradigm with Haskell as main language.

What's fabulous is that both of these courses were in the top three in participant numbers for respectively the fall and spring semesters. Also, the department (of CS) has arranged a possibility for undergraduates to hold free-form workshops for extra credit. We have a bunch of people interested in going through post-TaPL type theory and another group that wants to do cool practical Haskell.

I've heard that the department is overjoyed by the activity students are exhibiting but is afraid that we'll want thesis advisors and postgraduate positions from these hot fields nobody is researching here. Let's see what happens in a few years ;)

Tags: haskell, life.
2009-04-22 18:30

Went to Ruka for some downhill skiing with my folks over easter and had a great time. I retried telemark style after many years of concentrating on polishing my alpine technique and found it very invigorating. The kind of joy I hadn't for years experienced on Finnish slopes (preferring the Alps) was there as sharp as ever. Also, the naturalness of the free-heel turn caught me by surprise. I'm sold, I have to buy a set.

The thing that kept me occupied after a hard day of sliding down the fell was D. B. Weiss's debut novel Lucky Wander Boy, a book that left my head spinning for hours. LWB is a nerd book that doesn't glorify nerds but also a prime example of postmodern fiction that starts off very innocently and ends somewhere out there. Outwardly a straightforward story in three acts, the bulk of the book is just a well-disguised buildup to an out-of-the-box conclusion. Read it, please.

Tags: culture, life.
2009-06-17 01:30

Trying to overcome my writer's block by jotting down some random thoughts.


My life is a cyberpunk novel. I rise tired after minimal sleep, slam stimulants into my system and run through a DDR-esque concrete ghetto to the tram stop. I only wake up properly at work where I juggle abstractions and try to teach robot hands to pick up cubes in a virtual reality.


The Haskell project course is chugging along nicely. People are encountering frustrating and sometimes even interesting real-world problems like FFI, installing libraries and handling exceptions in pure code. I plan to blog on the exception issue soon.

Also, we've been thinking about the future teaching of functional programming at Univ Helsinki. There's a course on formal type theory (with Coq!) coming up this fall.


At work we've moved to Roundup, a pretty pleasant issue tracker that is easy to customize. The default templates could be a bit cleaner tho. (E.g., there's support for storing different queries in the db but the menu uses hard-coded GET parameters).

I've been working on compiling our stream computation DSL to jvm bytecode that just loops over a bunch of arrays. It's been sweet so far.


Foundations for Programming Languages is a great book. Tackles some type theory but mainly other cool stuff such as algebras (as featured in algebraic datatypes), different models of lambda calculus and logical relations. A good complement for TaPL.


Have travelling to do this summer:

  • The IMC competition in Bulgaria
  • A trip to Austria, including hiking in Hohe Tauern national park and some Vienna
  • Cottage and boating trips with parents & grandparents

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