1. 2023
    Jan
    26

    Goodbye SoundHound

    Unfortunately my first post for 2023 is a bit of a downer. My five-and-a-half year journey with SoundHound has come to an abrupt end, as I was among nearly half the company affected by a massive layoff and restructuring earlier this month. Honestly, though, I don’t feel too bad about this (at least not for myself) — stick around and I’ll tell you why.

    To be clear, working at SoundHound was an amazing experience, and my coworkers there are, I’m convinced, the best a person could possibly ask for. From day one I felt welcomed as part of a community who are extremely talented while also being humble, kind, and collaborative. Whether I was engaging with other developers, language specialists, IT/ops support, the talent acquisition team, data engineers, the office managers and front desk staff, or even the executive team, I consistently felt appreciated, supported, challenged, and enabled to do my best work. And a lot of those coworkers are my closest friends. There’s a reason why many of us still hang out together, even people who have moved on to other workplaces years ago.

    Beyond that, SoundHound was a fantastic place to grow into my …

  2. 2022
    Dec
    31

    Giving Back

    Yeah, I’m just running with the most cliché possible title for this post.

    One of the things I’ve always liked about Stack Overflow is their “Stack Gives Back” program. Each December, they donate some amount of money to open-source software projects that the Stack Exchange sites use, as well as to five or so charities with the allocation chosen by the site moderators. I always thought that was a really nice thing to do: when you benefit from the work of volunteer open-source developers, it’s only fair to support them if you have the means to do so. And back when I was a moderator on Physics Stack Exchange, it was nice to be effectively given the choice of where to donate $100 so I could support organizations that were meaningful to me, especially at times when I couldn’t really justify making a donation from my own money.

    So now that I have the means, I’m going to do my own round of “giving back”. In the past few days I’ve made donations to the following projects:

    • €50 to KDE, the desktop environment that I use every day at home and work and the …
  3. 2022
    Apr
    03

    Celebrating arXiv Fool's Day 2022!

    Academia, sometimes you amaze me. This year produced a record-breaking fourteen new entries to my list of April 1 arXiv joke papers, which I’ve been “diligently compiling” for several years (and “definitely not” just reading and repeating from Twitter and Stack Exchange).

    As usual, astro-ph carries the pack, accounting for twelve of the papers (though several are also cross-listed in other categories). Exoplanets continue to be a hot area of research, both on the experimental side, with a flurry of new exop(lan)et detections, and on the theoretical side, with a startlingly precise prediction of when exoplanets will be discoverable inside our own solar system. The latter paper smartly raises some concern about runaway growth in the exoplanet discovery rate and proposes the solution of sending astronomers to the exoplanets for further study. Fortunately, science has covered the need for parking lots. Cosmology is also well represented, with an inspired new measurement of the Hubble constant and a proposal for the nature of warm dark matter.

    Of course, more terrestrial matters are also well represented. I think we’ve all been waiting for the definitive answer to whether a hot dog is a sandwich. And there’s an …

  4. 2021
    Apr
    02

    Happy arXiv Fool's Day!

    When scientists the world over turn their attention to the floofy objects on their keyboards and Taylor Swift’s emotional state, that means only one thing: time to make an update to the list of arXiv joke papers! That’s right, it’s April Fool’s Day 2021, academia style. Here’s my wrapup.

    This time, with some help from Twitter, I found eleven submissions covering a wide range of fields. Representing the stalwart astro-ph, we have the aforementioned floofy object rotation paper and an infectious model of dark matter. From high energy theory, we have a prediction of when publication of conjectures is going to bring on the heat death of the universe. In the category of popular physics, there’s an investigation of curious behavior involving a laster pointer — with one of the best paper titles of all time — and a very practical study of how certain tasks always take longer than we think (and why I never finish writing blog posts). There are also two excellent artificial intelligence studies that definitively settle whether Jaffa cakes are cakes and tell you which Taylor Swift song you should be listening to. Taking an interesting “meta” perspective on arXiv Fool …

  5. 2020
    Dec
    25

    Hope Is Born Again by Jim Brickman and Point Of Grace

    For the coveted final spot on my list, I’ve made a choice that surprised even me when I first considered it. Hope Is Born Again combines the exquisite piano ornamentation of Jim Brickman with an uplifiting melody sung by Point Of Grace. And to top it off, the string and percussion accompaniment beautifully complement the piano and vocals, all parts blending together without overwhelming each other. No other piece of music better captures the idealism of the holiday, making this the perfect song for Christmas Day itself.

    May you all find something that brings you hope this holiday season. Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

    You can now get the entire series of songs as a Spotify playlist.

  6. 2020
    Dec
    24

    Hallelujah by Mannheim Steamroller

    Today’s post is a bit sentimental because Hallelujah From “The Messiah” is perhaps the song that was most instrumental (haha) in making Mannheim Steamroller my favorite band.

    When I was a kid, my favorite radio station played Christmas songs nonstop from the day after Thanksgiving until December 26. I liked Christmas music well enough, but most of it was kind of forgettable. Every once in a while, though, I’d hear a song that stood out from the pack, something that captured my interest so much that I’d stay up late every day listening for that song in the hope that the DJ would announce its name. Several of those childhood favorites are on my list; even among them, though, Hallelujah was special. It was the first Mannheim Steamroller song I’d ever heard; it was so different from all the traditional carols I’d heard before, so much more exciting and vibrant and full of holiday energy, that I just had to know what it was and who performed it. For years it was my white Christmas whale. And when I finally found out the name and the artist, I knew I’d be a fan for …

  7. 2020
    Dec
    23

    Sleigh Ride by the Boston Pops

    Today’s Christmas song is an all-time classic. The Boston Pops under Arthur Fiedler were the first to perform Sleigh Ride, back in 1949, and since then it’s become one of the most frequently performed holiday songs ever. This particular recording is from ten years later, but it’s probably as close as you’ll get in digital form to the original.

    As much as I love the modern pop version of Sleigh Ride, the Boston Pops’ orchestral version is unmatched in its elegance. Between the ever-present sleigh bells and the consistent beat, it really captures the feel of adventuring through a wintery landscape. And to top it off it includes the distinguishing feature of Sleigh Ride, the trumpet horse whinny at the end. This song definitely deserves a spot in any holiday music collection.

    You can now get the entire series of songs as a Spotify playlist.

  8. 2020
    Dec
    22

    Frosty The Snowman by Mannheim Steamroller

    Frosty’s gettin’ down in Mannheim Steamroller’s arrangement of Frosty The Snowman. I have no idea how they came up with this one, but it’s bold, kind of trippy, and a ton of fun. Very much unlike any Christmas song you’d hear from anyone other than Mannheim Steamroller.

    In fact, this song bears only a passing resemblance to the classic tune. It does include the original melody in some parts, but there’s only just enough of that to remind you that it is Frosty The Snowman they’re playing. Most of the music is a techno beat with different riffs played over it. The liner notes hinted at a video of Frosty doing a techno dance to this song, but I don’t think that ever materialized, which is a shame because it would have to be amazing.

    Have a listen and add some funk to your Christmas playlists!

    You can now get the entire series of songs as a Spotify playlist.

  9. 2020
    Dec
    21

    Winter Wonderland by Eurythmics

    Eurythmics’ version of Winter Wonderland, today’s Christmas song, might be a bit more of a niche taste than most other songs on this list. It doesn’t do anything fancy, in fact it sticks pretty close to the classic melody and lyrics, but the instrumentation has a distinctly 80’s style. I grew up on 80’s music, so I’m all for that, but unlike most of the other songs I’ve posted, it doesn’t do anything really special that makes me want to evangelize it.

    Still, it’s my list. I’ve been enjoying this song ever since I was a little kid, so it would feel wrong to leave it out. And I do legitimately think it fits well into a mix with a lot of my other favorites. See what you think!

    You can now get the entire series of songs as a Spotify playlist.

  10. 2020
    Dec
    20

    Carol Of The Bells by Mannheim Steamroller

    Today’s Christmas song is a bit of a wild one, but it’s an absolutely brilliant piece of writing. Mannheim Steamroller’s arrangement of Carol Of The Bells starts out with the classic melody but quickly jumps through so many different orchestrations, variations, and entirely new themes that you could almost call it an original piece inspired by Carol Of The Bells. It’s got bells of all kinds, a rockin’ drum beat, intense bass, and little brass fanfares sprinkled in throughout. Nearly half the piece is written in a major key, providing a great contrast to the minor key of the original.

    Of course, the original carol is really repetitive, especially without words, so they had to do something to make an instrumental arrangement interesting. But it could have been terrible. It’s a testament to the brilliance of Mannheim Steamroller that all the ornaments they added work together beautifully. Turn your volume up and have a listen.

    You can now get the entire series of songs as a Spotify playlist.