It's like being dead

I was looking at the webcam that is set up in the library at CMU. You can move it around and zoom in over the web. You can see the whole cut and most importantly for me, AEPi. It's good for seeing how things are going in Pittsburgh. Today, I was using it to spy on how the boys are doing on booth this year. Maybe it is making me over excited before I really aught to be, but I like it. I was talking to Alex at lunch about what I had seen. He remarked that being able to look down on people and comment on what they do without them knowing about it is kind of like being dead.
Keywords:Carnegie Mellon
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Media Lab Woofie

At work on Wednesday, Alex and I settled on an idea for a joint project for our Ambient Intelligence class. This was a load off my mind. First of all, the toughest part of a project is getting the idea. Being able to brainstorm with someone else was only the beginning of what make me prefer not working alone. Having an idea is a big load off my mind. Also, knowing that I'm not going to have to do it alone, but will have someone to help me get over the obstacles, makes it feel much more bearable. I'm glad to be working with Alex both to be working on any sort of group project and because we are good friends and it will be good finally to be able to discuss a project we have a shared investment in. Finally, I think our different skills and preferences will complement each other well.

The idea is one based on a concept we frequently talk about so it is good to have something that already interested us to work on. The project is basically implementing the woofie system from the book Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. He shared this book with me and I loved it. We frequently talk about their respect based economy, woofie being the name of the "currency". While I don't particually care for that name, the idea of respect rating systems is a good one. It's not original, but whether you call it karma, kudos, plusplus, props, or woofie, there is no existing electronic system that is ambient and pervasive like described in Cory Doctorow's book and like we want to build. Most are restricted to a single website or IRC channel for a limited domain of people. Although for our project and demo it will probably still only cover the media lab, it won't be intrisically tied to this population. Not that I expect our idea to take off, but it's fun to think about.
Keywords:Classes | Media Lab | Projects
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A Beautiful Day

The date says Friday, being just after midnight the night following a wasted Thursday. The day I refer to was Wednesday. The weather outside was so nice. Warm and sunny. I went out to lunch with a friend from AEPi who works in Cambridge but I rarely see. Hirsch and I walked across the bridge into Boston to a sub shop on Charles Street. It was the perfect day for it. It was nice to walk around and get into the city instead of wasting away the whole day in the Media Lab, without even looking up until dark.

Hirsch wasn't the only friend I met on this find day. That evening I went to see Emily, who I hadn't seen since I visted the Media Lab last March. I scootered all the way over to her place on Beacon Hill. The other two people there were also from Sharon. Although one was Emily's roomate, Kermit, who I already knew, They were all the same 3 years younger than me. When we went out to eat we picked up one more person, Laurel, one of Emily's best friends from Elementary school. Such a chance occurance is exciting, particularly for Emily. However, the shock for me, several hours later, was that despite the age difference and her moving out of Sharon before we could have ever been in school together, I knew who she was. I realized that I had been friends with her older brother, long long ago. These are the types of things I usually forget about, but become nostalgic when I remember. In this case it was at least slightly amusing.

After a while hanging out, I headed home. Scootering down the hill, across the bridge, and all the way home was so relaxing.

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Keywords:Friends | Nostalgia | Sharon | Spring
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It's new to you

Yay! I'm only minutes away from making Thought Repository and the new version of my website live. At least for a little while this will be the first entry that you'll see. I wanted to use this space to introduce people who've visited my old sites to this new one. The entry About Thought Repository explains a little about what this new site is and how it works, with a little of this motivating history. The entry Backlog explains how the initial set of entries is comprised of old journal entries, old static pages reformated as entries (with made up dates), and a set of new entries written recently to cover the 6 months since I last wrote in my old journal (back dated to when I should have written them). If you've read my journal before, it is this last set that you will probably be most interested in as well as the ability to comment on new and old entries. Happy surfing.
Keywords:Website Projects
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ETC Acceptance

I found out on Monday that I got into the ETC, again. Pattie had asked me if I had made a decision because she needed to know whether or not to accept another student. I emailed the admissions coordinator and found out that they too were mailing letters on Monday and that I had gotten in. So now I'm back the big decision again.

I've talked with many people about it. Alex, Steve, Sabrina, Pattie, and Dad so far. Originally, I was wondering if it was still worth it. I have been feeling a little better here. Although, the more I think about it, I realize I've been feeling better as in I don't feel as strongly about wanting to leave, but I don't really feel much more excited by the stuff I'm doing than I did before. The past few days were sponsor meetings and I wasn't very enthusiastic about my demo. What's more next year the group is really going to be focusing on ambient intelligence. I'm pretty convinced that the ETC is entertainment and that's what I want to be doing and MIT is not. My talk with Sabrina was probably the most helpful. Not so much because of anything she said, but I think I just started really seeing what I wanted to do. Also because I was able to ask her some questions and alleviate some concerns and uncertainties about the ETC. I'm not 100% but at least 80% I think. I still have to talk to Mom at least.

This may be a good time to mention the email I got from someone at Sun. Seems he is an MIT alumnus and that he is looking to fill some openings on the Java team. Pattie and Bruce had both recommended me. I was flattered that they thought of me, especially Bruce, who I don't feel I know that well. Still, I think I should at least finish some grad school. Plus, while I may be right for the job, I don't know if it is something I want to be doing, at least not long term. Maybe a summer internship. Something to consider.
Keywords:ETC | Grad School
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Hebrew Class

For the last four weeks I've been taking a hebrew class at the hillel. I saw an email advertisement for it and thought I should check it out. Being in this class really reminds me of how hard languages are for me. It is humbling to know there is something that I'm truely bad at learning. While I'm best at certain things, I usually feel that I can learn anything that can be taught. Language is just really hard for me. I think very slowly. While the words may make sense to me, I can't even hear them, let alone translate, at the speed the teacher goes. It is a struggle, since I'm not used to feeling the stupidest person in the class. Especially with such a small class, it is very stressful every time it is my turn to do something. Each week I am convinced that I should give up and not go back. I do think I'm making progress and learning some things. Maybe some real college class would be more appropriate.
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Survivor: Toontown Central

Toontown Central is the major fansite for Toontown and I often read and contribute to the forums there. Recently some toons (as I call my fellow Toontown addicts) decided to hold a Survivor-style competition in Toontown. The idea was to organize two teams of toons, to hold immunity challenges twice a week, and to vote toons out in the same manner as the popular TV show. The original "cast" was 10 toons including myself. In addition to the two teams of 5, there are two hosts, Reff Robst and Bucky Teeth.

Each team had to come up with their own name. My team decided on Going Bananas, based on my suggestion. The other team was the Water Coggers. My team was made up of Rupert, Purrfect, The Professor, Maiden Tai Wan, and me, Julius.

The first challenge was a game of find-the-toon. Loosy Goosy was hidding somewhere in TTC on Nuttyboro and we had to find him. We devised a great plan. To split up the streets. Two people down each, one for each side. I would get the playground and then start on the 3rd street, with everyone else helping once they finished theirs. We would have won. Loosy said he saw Maiden walk into the shop where he was hidding. Unfortunately, Maiden failed to see him, and so the other team found him. Maiden got voted out for the mistake.

The next challenge was a scavenger hunt; we had to take pictures of certain objects from around toontown. I made a map of the where they objects were and decided what the most efficient 4 routes were. I gave each team member a route.

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About Me

My name is Ben Buchwald. I was born on July 10, 1981. That makes me 22 as of the writing of this entry that will be out of date in a few short months. I am originally from Sharon, Massachusetts. I lived there through high school. Following that I went on college at Carnegie Mellon University. I started as a drama student then switched to computer science. After only 4 years I graduated. After that I went to MIT to be a master's student at the Media Lab. All this and more you can read about in their own entries.

Who am I? I'm a nerd, but I like to think of myself as a balanced nerd. Computers are definately my forte. I have been programming since I was 11. What I'm really passionate about is helping and entertaining others. That's what I like using my talent to do. I'd probably say that my dream job would be working on theme park attractions.

I try to be balanced though. I like skiing, ice skating, camping, and all sorts of other stuff. I'm a big movie fan. I have a large collection. I'm always up for a new adventure. Hopefully I'll have a few to write about. Until then...
Keywords:About Me
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About Thought Repository

What is a Thought Repository? This website. Thought Repository is not a blog. It may seem like one, but it isn't because I say it isn't. Yes, it is a website where I can put my thoughts on a number of issues such as my life, work, hobbies, stories, and opinions.

I've had a personal webpage since approximately 1998. There have been numerous new designs and revisions, none of which I was statisfied with for long. The idea was always to provide information about the things I like to do, and the things I know well for the benefit of others. From a small set of pages to the advanced code that runs Thought Repository, the progression has been from something that is hard to maintain to something easy to add to on a more regular basis. So, while it may be like a blog in ease of posting, the goal is the same as it always, to inform and entertain.

In the past it was very defined what was my personal website and what was just another one of my sites (which all happen to reside on the same box). Thought Repository, while it is the core of my new site, is only one part of what I want in a personal site. Within Though Repository there are longer entries that I have written, and also shorter descriptions of interesting links to other good sites on the net. Besides Thought Repository itself, there is my picture gallery, inherited from the last version of my site. Although these two are the main parts, there are some applictions (like Set) and some miscelaneous static pages that could be considered part of my personal site or seperate entities. I no longer wish to make any distinction about seperate websites. All my applictions (link on the left) are part of the experience. Happy surfing.
Keywords:Website Projects
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After the long, hard work of building the Thought Repository interface, the task at hand is to fill it with an intial set of entries. There are couple different classes of entries that result.

I took the journal entries from my old site and back dated them. The times have been changed to protect the innocent. The old journals were written fairly infrequently with large amounts of information lumped together. This is at odds with the small focused post idea that Thought Repository is based on. Some of them I split, mostly, I included the headings the way they originally were and summerized the long posts. These of course tends to have more Keywords than most entries will, because they cover multiple topics.

As for the pages on the old site, most of them are just going to get lost. It is a pity. They describe activities that it would have been nice to capture at the time. However, since it was only brief summaries, it was basically useless. I'm not catering to the totally unaware. This is for my friends. Some of them that described how I felt about certain events have been preserved as entries that are back dated to either when they were originally written, or when the event described happened.

Finally, since I haven't written in my journal since September there is a lot to tell. I have attempted to fill in this periods by writing now, the entries I should have written then, and back dating them. The dates are basic guesses.
Keywords:Website Projects
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A long walk home

URL: As far as the facts, I'll let the website speak for itself. A man decided to walk a long way and document the trip. His wife is a friend of mine through Toontown, which is how I found out about this. I am really intrigued by his journey and the website. Although it took a long time to get caught up, reading his journal was a lot of fun. It's one of those situations where I find me putting myself in his shoes. Could I go though that? Sadly I don't think I could. Maybe I could handle the walking. I'd like to believe that anyway. There are so many things I couldn't handle. I'm not that good at talking to strangers, asking for free stuff, and all the logistics. I'd never be able to get up every morning knowing what lay in store for me and sucessfully resist the urge to sleep it. The first rainy or especially cold night in a tent would probably do me in, as my friends who went camping with me know. I'm just not that adaptable to conditions or culture. Maybe that's why I'm not good at travelling. It impacted me enough that I felt I had to write something about it before I forgot, even though barely enough code has been written to even allow me to type this. This is the first real entry into my new website, though I'm sure there will be an official "first post" later on as well as much back dated material before this. Eric, I just want to wish you good luck.
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Edgerton Ski Trip

Today was the Edgerton ski trip. When I woke up at 5:30 in the morning and it was raining, I wasn't very excited to go. I was tired and grumpy. The idea of sitting on a bus for 4 hours with a bunch of strangers did not apeal to me. I was worried that skiing wouldn't be fun it I had to go around all by myself. With expectations like these the only place the trip could go was up.

We went to Wildcat in New Hampshire. When we were nearing there, Adam, who had prearranged the rentals went around collecting the money. Because we had given him all the information that goes on a ski rental form, he knew I was the only other renter that was a level III skier. We decided to ski together. I was glad to have a buddy and someone it seemed would be close to me in ability.

The weather too, turned out to be a blessing. The rain in the morning was light. We got a little wet but not as badly as I expected. At least it was warm and not too cold, I was wetter because I was sweating inside my jacket. I ditched my hat and fleece after lunch. The rain only lasted an hour or two. By the afternoon it was sunny and beautiful out. Best of all, the slopes were empty. No lift lines.

The skiing was great too. The lift was fast and the runs were very long. There were some great moguled runs, as well as some that were just nice and fast. Adam was a very aggressive skier, who pushed me to my limits. Since I hadn't been skiing in two years, my legs and back really too a punishing, but it was so much fun. Also worth mentioning is that even before our first run, I bumped into Angie, a friend from Carnegie Mellon. Quite a coincidence, even though I did know she was living in Boston!
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Thought Repository » March 2004