Descent of the Phoenix Lander

Eric | May 28, 2008

image I am truly amazed by this picture of the Phoenix Lander, parachuting down to the surface of Mars. Not only does this image come from a planet that’s damn far away, the photo was also shot from an incredibly large distance. MRO was 760km away from the lander when it took this shot. I would like a camera like that!

 

imageThis second image is not less remarkable, showing the lander itself (top left), the discarded heat shield (middle) and the parachute (bottom left).

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Heroin against cough?

Eric | May 24, 2008

BayerHeroin It’s really true: you live and learn! Today I browsed Wikipedia to look up Aspirin, only to find out that the produce Bayer once advertised Heroin as cough medicine!!! Look at the ad! Well, who knows – it probably really helps, but that’s one of the few things I’d rather not wanna figure out by myself though.

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Why God Never Got Tenure

Eric | May 24, 2008

image Credits go to this webpage ;-)

  1. He had only one major publication.
  2. It was in Hebrew.
  3. It had no references.
  4. It wasn’t published in a refereed journal.
  5. Some even doubt he wrote it himself.
  6. It may be true that he created the world, but what has he done since then?
  7. His cooperative efforts have been quite limited.
  8. The scientific community has had a hard time replicating his results.
  9. He never applied to the Ethics Board for permission to use human subjects.
  10. When one experiment went awry he tried to cover it up by drowning the subjects.
  11. When subjects didn’t behave as predicted, he deleted them from the sample.
  12. He rarely came to class, just told students to read the Book.
  13. Some say he had his son teach the class.
  14. He expelled his first two students for learning.
  15. Although there were only ten requirements, most students failed his tests.
  16. His office hours were infrequent and usually held on a mountaintop.
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Research

varargs is patented!?

Eric | May 23, 2008

imageVarargs is a feature that allows you to pass a variable-length list of arguments to a method, e.g. in Java 5. The implementation in Java boxes these arguments automatically into an array, which makes the implementation backwards compatible. As I just found out, this technique has actually been patented by HP. Interesting… I wonder whether Sun actually licensed that technology for Java somehow.

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Unbelievable! Robert Muraine on "So you think you can dance?"

Eric | May 23, 2008

Check out this guy, Robert Muraine, a “Popper” from LA. He so gotta be not from this world… Unbelievable!

Montreal auditions start on Tuesday ;-)

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Protected: Von brennenden Autos, Weltumrundungen und "Dooring"

Eric | May 17, 2008

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Better not have a bike accident in Quebec

Eric | May 17, 2008

imageDooring” is a popular sport in Quebec and involves sitting and waiting in your car until an innocent biker rides by and then opening the door just at the right second so to cause maximal damage to the biker and his bike, probably even at risk of damaging your own car.

Happened to me right today in Montreal. The result: I injured my knee and my bike is partially damaged. The car’s door now has a huge dent, so at least this moron gets to suffer a bit too. The “funny” thing is that Quebecers apparently like dooring so much that they have decided that it’s not necessary to provide the poor biker with any kind of compensation! Both the car driver and the police that I called made it almost look like it was my own fault to drive close to a parked car!!! How can I dare to drive not in the middle of the road but on the right-hand side? Excuuuuuse me!??

Read the rest of this entry »

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A visitor from Germany who came all the way by bike!

Eric | May 17, 2008

IMG_1761 (Medium) This week I got a visitor from Germany, Markus Schorn, an old friend of my sister. Markus is on a tour around the world, by bike! He started on February first and has already had quite some interesting experiences touring through western Europe.

During his time in Montreal I introduced him to the customs of eating Poutine and Smoked Meat. However, for some reason I think Markus was most impressed of Montreal’s underground city. But he’s right – it’s truly something special about Montreal, too. Markus left yesterday and should be on his way to Toronto right now. He better make sure to stop at White Mountain for an ice cream in Kingston – they are the best!

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Racer: Effective Race Detection Using AspectJ

Eric | May 7, 2008

image

I am happy to announce the availability of my latest publication (joint work with Klaus Havelund, to appear at ISSTA 2008). This time it’s about how to detect data races in multi-threaded Java programs using three novel pointcuts that we implemented as a language extension to AspectJ, and using a novel algorithm called Racer that makes use of these pointcuts. We applied our implementation to the NASA K9 Rover Excecutive and found 70 data races, only one of which was known to NASA developers, although extensive studies had been performed on the code, using all sorts of error detection tools, at a time where 68 of these races were already present!

Download the paper here, our extended Technical Report here, or continue reading here.

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AspectJ, Bug finding, Java, NASA, Race detection, Racer, Rover, Semantic pointcuts

McGill's Teaching Assistants still on strike

Eric | May 1, 2008

In case you didn’t know yet: McGill’s Teaching Assistants have been on strike for serveral weeks now, demanding, among other things:

  • n1219822718_20185_2150 (Small) a sufficiently fair representation of TAs within McGill
  • an official person that will act as a negotiator when it comes to working overtime or other TA related grievances
  • a workload form that describes precisely what the TAs task are (and not!) for the given term
  • and a substantial pay rise.

AGSEM, the TA union has been negotiating with the McGill administration since October but only after a strike was called in early April did McGill begin to move. The first moves were however to intimidate current TAs by firing them from additional jobs that some of them had, as invigilators or research assistants. Whether that’s actually illegal or not is currently being fought out in court, but no matter how this process is going to end, it certainly is bad for McGill’s reputation in general.

To find out more from the union’s point of view, watch the following video or go to http://www.agsem.ca/. (links to media coverage included) To find out more about more about McGill’s point of view click here.

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