Compiling a Leiningen Project from Maven

For those of you with experience with Maven, you might be wondering why anyone who is using Leiningen to build a project would then want to run that build tool from Maven, which is itself another build tool. There is a reason why I even ventured down this path. I would like to share what I have found so far, in case it benefits anyone else, but I would also like to get feedback from people who know of a better way of accomplishing the same goals.
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Using Prefix Trees for Thamil Language Processing

Thamil computing has made a lot of progress in the past 10-20 years. Much of the work that has reached the public has been in the areas of fonts/rendering and input methods. Thanks to the continuing efforts in these areas, most of those issues have been solved, Thamil text has standardized on a single character set (Unicode), and we have nice fonts and input methods for major operating systems and mobile devices. The new environment has enabled the widespread creation and consumption of digital content in Thamil.

Now, the next set of problems to solve are handling Thamil text that is written using the Unicode character set. Unicode is designed for all languages’ fonts to standardize, but the slight cost to Thamil language processing has been its complexity. But the challenges can be handled easily by representing the data in a suitable data structure, which in this case is a prefix tree (or “trie”).

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Speaking at Clojure/West 2015!

I’m excited to be selected as a speaker at the upcoming Clojure/West 2015 conference next month in Portland! I’ll be talking on how Clojure can be used to program in other human languages (other than English). There are interesting opportunities related to diversity and access. I will be drawing on my experiences with programming in/for Thamil in the clj-thamil library. And I’ll see what other interesting, related ideas I can slip in (turtles that draw?)… and put a bird on them.

Organizing a Hack Day

I have been pushing for 2 months to institute a monthly Hack Day in the company, and it has happened finally on Feb 13-14! Having a company culture that fosters creativity and engagement is important when you work with technology. Technology is all about the new, and the new is all about synthesizing new ideas to create and adapt. The environment in which you are can make a big difference. Whether you talk about the network effects of being in the city that speaks to your interests Cities and Ambitions, or you are talking about opportunities that come with family upbringing, or the general attitudes and behaviors of the workplace, it’s amazing how your surroundings can be so important and yet subtle and difficult to quantify. I’m proud of the efforts I’ve been making so far, including the monthly Hack Day, to make committed first steps in introducing tangible, bottom-up, creative spaces. Continue reading

Slides for Clojure for Beginners Workshop Available

The Clojure for Beginners workshop at the Oakland Workshop Weekend a couple of weekends ago went well. Everyone who came to the workshop came into it curious about Clojure and they all stayed engaged and curious to the end! They all wanted the slides, and after a few fixes, I’ve uploaded them to my Github project page for the presentation here.

Just FYI, here are the considerations I had when creating the slides, from an instructor perspective:
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Clojure for Beginners at June 2013 Oakland Workshop Weekend

I’ll be teaching a short workshop at the upcoming Oakland Workshop Weekend that is a beginner’s introduction to Clojure. The Clojure workshop is currently slated for the Saturday, June 22 at 5pm (until 7pm).

Workshop Weekend is a full 2-day long event where you register and can take as many courses as you can attend in those 2 days. Some of the classes for the upcoming June iteration include cheese making, aquaponics, negotation, soldering, and web hosting 101. It’s worth attending, especially if you’ve never been (and even if you’re not attending the Clojure workshop, which rumor has it will be super-awesome, natürlich!).

If you have any questions or suggestions about the Clojure workshop, drop me a line!

Update (6/14/2013): You can get a $10 discount on the registration if you use the code CLOJURE0613.

Review of Polk Audio Ultrafit 500 Sports Earbuds

People lavish praise for Apple’s attention to design details and the lessons from Steve Jobs (the good ones, at least). But it’s odd to see when those ideas don’t translate into what we expect. When it comes to designing things well, the earbud market seems to me like an Apple and a bunch of PC makers. Are most earbud makers aware of their lack of quality, or are content to take advantage of consumers’ naivete? Within the first minutes of using the Polk Audio Ultrafit 500 earbuds, I had made up my mind that these guys (Polk Audio) have actually done a thorough job in designing the earbuds, and I already had started to make up my mind just from opening up the package. My claims are a little over-the-top, so let me explain.
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Essence of Productivity

For a while, now, I’ve been trying to explain to people what makes someone effective — productive and efficient to do programming and/or science research. Until very recently, I was working in a genetics research lab, and I was asked by coworkers about what it takes for someone to be productive. Whether it was in terms of programming productivity or ability to intuit scientifically, I had been on both sides of the non-/productive divide. I distilled the differences to being resourceful and resolved.
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What are the alternatives to Ubuntu 11.10?

Ubuntu has rolled out with version 11.10 of its distribution (or should we say that Canonical rolled out with Ubuntu 11.10?). This is the second release that features Unity front and center, but unlike 11.04, there is no backup option to allow users to drop back to GNOME 2. To make matters more complicated, GNOME has pushed GNOME 3, also similar to Unity and a complete break from the GNOME 2.x line of desktops. Just as the options for Linux desktop environments is growing confusing quickly, so, too, are the options for a stable, functional distro itself.
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Doing Things the Berkeley Way

You’ve got to love the “Berkeley way” of doing things. Not that citizens here think that they’ve really cornered some secret of how to live. They’re just very conscientious and considerate of their place in the world. They live well, but they also let live just as well. Here’s how some things go in Berkeley, and some of the local tips I’m learning as I’m getting myself set up.
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