Walt Mankowski

All glory to the hypnotoad

Dissertation Now Online

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I just put the final version of my dissertation online.

I made two PDFs. One is the version I submitted to the library. This is in the traditional, anachronistic thesis style, where the text is double-spaced and formatted to be printed on one side of each sheet of paper. The other PDF is formatted more like a normal book, with single-spacing and different formatting for left and right pages. They both have exactly the same content; the only difference is the parameters I passed to our LaTeX style sheet.


Federal Jury Duty, Day 2

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Tuesday, June 26 was day two of my federal jury duty. This is my very belated report on what happened.

I think the reason they limit it to two days or one trial is that after the second day, you realize that even though they tell you to be there by 8:30, you don’t really need to be there until 9. They took attendance at 9 to make sure nobody decided to play hooky, and then we sat around until around 11 before I got selected for another juror panel.

This time I had a much lower number, 26. Unlike Monday, when the judge had each potential juror come up and discuss her or her issues in private with the attorneys, this time the judge did most of the voir dire by having people say their issues out loud. The 4th of July holiday was the following week, and nearly half the panel had vacation plans. I, however, did not, since I’d decided to hold off on any vacation plans until after I was done with jury duty. By the time we broke for lunch I was sure I was going to end up on the jury.

Before we left, the judge said that he was going to talk to the attorneys over lunch to see if they could speed up the jury selection process. When I got back from lunch this was apparently still going on. The doors to the courtroom were closed, and all the jurors were waiting out in the hallway.

About 20 minutes later the doors opened and a number of people left the courtroom and walked past us to go to the elevators. Shortly afterwards we were told we could enter the courtroom. We sat there for about 45 minutes, and finally the judge entered. He apologized for making us sit around so long, but he had good news: the defendant had accepted a plea deal. It turned out they’d been in negotiations for months, and he could have gotten a much better deal if he’d accepted the original offer. As it is, he’s facing up to 54 months in prison. When the judge sent us back to the jury room, I hadn’t seen so many happy people since the Phillies won the World Series back in 2008.

By the time we got back, it was already late in the day, and within a short time we were excused for the day. Since I didn’t get picked for a trial, my federal jury duty was over. When I got home, I found a report on the case online.

The following day I was supposed to report to Media for Delaware County jury duty. But when I called them up, I learned that they didn’t need any jurors that day, so I was excused. My perfect record of never serving on a jury remains intact!

Federal Jury Duty, Day 1

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This is a busy week of jury duty for me. Today I had my first-ever federal court jury duty, so I was down at the federal court house at 6th and Market in Philadelphia bright and early at 8:30 AM. Around 11:30 I was one of 65 jurors selected for a panel for a criminal case. Voir dire lasted the rest of the day, and I came very close to getting picked. They gave all the jurors numbers, and I was number 44. They picked 12 jurors and 3 alternates, and the last person they chose was the gentleman sitting next to me, Mr. 43.

It’s 2 days or 1 trial, and clearly I’m going to have to step up my game tomorrow. But even if the feds don’t want me, that’s not the end for me. On Wednesday I get to report to Media for Delaware County jury duty! (If I do end up on a jury in federal court, I can get a postponement for Delaware County.)

Plumbing Woes

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I had some unexpected major plumbing issues in my condo today. Something broke in the wall behind my tub. My unit’s fine, but there’s water damage in the 2 units below mine. The repair involves removing wall tiles to get at the pipes and the diverter. It’s insanely expensive, but at least it should only take a day to fix. One good thing is that this should finally stop my leaky bathtub faucet that I never got fixed because it was so insanely expensive.

Since they had to shut off the water to my bathroom to stop the flooding, I decided to spend the night at a hotel in Center City.


Final (I Hope!) Thesis Draft

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A few days ago I sent another draft of my dissertation to my committee. I hope this is the final version, but the committee can still ask me to make changes. You can still read it online. If you do, please let me know if you spot any typos so I can get them in before my defense. This version is in Drexel’s official thesis format with its copious amounts of white space.

And speaking of my defense, it’s scheduled for Tuesday, June 5. I’ll be spending the weekend working on my slides. Wish me luck!

Thesis Draft

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Well, my Ph.D. dissertation, entitled “Canonical Behavior Patterns”, is nearly finished. If you want a preview of what I’ve been working on all this time, I’ve put a draft of it online. It’s fairly big, and my net connection is fairly slow, so please be patient while it downloads.

Just about everything is there, but there are still a few small parts that need some work. I’ll be continuing to edit it for about another week and a half or so. I might post some updates from time to time, but the URL will stay the same. (It’s also not in the final format my committee gets, but it’s easier to read this way than when it’s double-spaced.) I’ll post the final version of the document after my defense and take down the draft.

Of course, if you spot any typos or have any comments or questions, please let me know.

Finding Unicode Characters in LaTeX and BibTeX

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Yesterday I discovered what I thought was an odd bug in BibTeX. For one of the journal articles in my bibliography, I had the BibTeX entry

journal = {Human–Computer Interaction},

but it was appearing in my bibliography as HumanComputer Interaction.

The error turned out to be that the innocent-looking hyphen between “Human” and “Computer” was actually a Unicode en-dash. I didn’t intentionally insert it, but I guess I must have copied that bit of text from a Unicode-enabled website or email. LaTeX and BibTeX are happiest plain ASCII characters, and once I changed that character, it looked fine.

But that got me wondering if I had anymore Unicode characters in my dissertation project. They’re nearly impossible to find by hand, so I wrote this little perl one-liner to find them for me:

perl -ne "print if /[^[:ascii:]]/" *.bib *.tex

I discovered 3 more bad dashes, and also a smartquote tossed in as well.

Kids These Days

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Highlight of my day so far: getting an undergrad to use the phrase “kids these days.”

Kyle Blanks’ Hometown

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The regular season of Major League Baseball started this week, and that means it’s time for the annual free preview of MLB Extra Innings. The idea behind MLB Extra Innings is that you pay Comcast some extra money and you get to watch nearly every major league baseball game for every team, all season long. (There are similar packages for the NBA and NHL.) They always have it turned on for free during the first week or two of each season to try to get baseball fans hooked on it.

Yesterday was opening day for some teams so as I sat down to eat dinner I went to that block of channels to see what was on. The only game they were still showing (all the other games were day games in the east) was the Dodgers-Padres game. It was the Dodgers feed, and the play-by-play guy was Vin Scully.

Now Vin’s a legend — he’s been calling Dodgers games since 1950 when they were still in Brooklyn — but he’s also 84 years old and he’s not as sharp as he used to be. At one point the Padres sent in a pinch hitter by the name of Kyle Blanks. Blanks, Vin tells me, is originally from outside of Philadelphia (he was born in Souderton, the same hometown as the great Jamie Moyer) but he currently makes his home in Moriarty, Mexico.

That’s interesting, I thought. Since he plays in San Diego I figured maybe he was living across the border to try to save a little money. I’d never heard of Moriarty, but I assumed it must be a suburb of Tijuana. Must be hell trying to cross the border everyday to get to the ballpark, but whatever.

After the next pitch, Vin continued. “Moriarty, Mexico,” he said, “is a tiny town of about 2,000 people. It’s about 40 miles east of Albuquerque.”


Finding Duplicate LaTeX Labels

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Last night, as I was working on my dissertation, I noticed that LaTeX was giving me a warning message:

LaTeX Warning: There were multiply-defined labels.

Since LaTeX didn’t feel the need to tell me which labels were multiply-defined, I had to find them myself. As anyone who’s ever used LaTeX can tell you, finding them by hand in even a moderately complex document can be next to impossible. I wasn’t even sure if the the duplicates were in something I’d just added, or if they’d been there for a while. I didn’t even know how many duplicates there were.

Fortunately it’s easy to find duplicate LaTeX labels with a perl one-liner:

perl -nE 'say $1 if /(\\label[^}]*})/' *.tex | sort | uniq -c | sort -n