Welcome to Peter Gabel's personal site

 

I am the CEO/CTO of Headspace Sprockets, LLC. We have a lot of exciting new applications and tools - we are still a bit in stealth mode as we work with some initial customers - if you are interested in finding out more, contact me!

This site contains material that reflects some of my interests including cognitive science, linguistics, knowledge representation and reasoning, rich data analytics, software development, and more. I plan to update it frequently. The perspective that I wish to impart is the interconnectedness - the interdisciplinary aspects - of these areas and how new opportunities emerge for learning and practical application when traditional divisions between specialities are erased.

A wee bit about "we"

Lone ranger silver 1965

 

My college roommate Bob told me a joke about the Lone Ranger.  It went something like this:

The Lone Ranger and Tonto are on a long and lonely ride into unfamiliar territory.  Suddenly, they spot on the ridge above them an angry Apache war party preparing to attack.  The Lone Ranger turns to Tonto and asks, “What do we do now, Tonto?”  Tonto, clears his throat and says, “What do you mean by ‘we’, kemo sabe?”

Words often seem to have many senses, although the way senses might be distinguished or gradated is controversial.  A sense enumerative lexicon such as Princeton’s WordNet has many senses assigned to open class words such as “set” or “play”.  A continuing research problem in semantics is the recognition of different lexical characteristics that are salient in text understanding.

Even a seemingly simple word such as “we” can show remarkable sense variation.  Five sense variants of “we” (and “us”) can be easily distinguished:

  1. “Intimate we” (“we” as in “you and I”)  “We should go out sometime.”
  2. “Narrative we” (“myself and others but not you”)  Question: “What did you do last night?” Answer: “We went to a movie.”
  3. “Instructive we.”  (“I say we but I mean you”)  A teacher chastising students: “We do not talk during exams!”
  4. “Haughty we.” (“we as I”) “We are not amused.” Mark Twain once said, "Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial 'we'."
  5. “Tribal we” (“like-minded people” – a favorite of politicians and preachers) “We need to take back Congress.”

Understanding requires a knowledge of context, even for "simple" function words.  This is hard but it speaks to the performance limitations of text analytics that do not attempt deep parsing and reasoning.

  Read more about A wee bit about "we"

Category Theory

I like to dive into something new every Winter holiday.  I usually dive into some area that I may have touched on in the past but did not have the time to linger and learn.

This year, I have started learning something about category theory.   This is a branch of mathematics that addresses some of the ways that mathematical structures may be described and formalized in an abstract setting that is useful for analogy and comparison.  Category theory enables ideas that apply to different mathematical fields or sub-fields to be related together by identifying certain structures as instances of categories and then related through functors.  (I will not here be providing all of the mathematical machinery, but merely characterizing what this is all about.)  Category theory appeals directly to my interdisciplinary instincts. Read more about Category Theory

How many monitors are enough?

I have enjoyed for years developing with more than one active monitor.  I like having lots of windows open simultaneously.  My current set-up takes this to a new extreme.

I recently purchased a Seiki Digital SE39UY04 39-inch 4K ultra HD monitor. 4K. Four times the fun of 1080p.  The kicker:  I got it for $450 from Amazon.com (today it is listed at $499.99).

 

Now, you can spend more on a 4K monitor.  Lots more.  And the Seiki is limited to 30 FPS so you gamers out there might not be as happy as I am.  But I use it for development and I find it is crisp, reasonably color accurate (enough for me), and just the right size. 

I do need to dial the brightness back a bit and set sharpness to 0.  Beyond that, it worked out of the box and I am convinced it improves my productivity.

So back to our topic:  How many monitors is enough?  I’m not sure but this is the current setup for my main development rig:

I have a very nice laptop: Asus G750J with an Intel Quad Core i7-4700HQ at 2.4 GHz, 12 Gb memory and a NVIDIA GEFORCE GTX 770M.  The laptop simultaneously drives its own 1080p display, an Acer T232HL multi-touch display at 1080p, a LG E2241 display at 1080p, a Pluggable UGA-2K-A USB graphics adapter connected to an Insignia 22" monitor at 1080p, and the Seiki 4k monitor, all at full color depth.  Occasionally, there is a slight glitch coming out of sleep, but I can play videos (DVD or YouTube) on any monitor other than the Pluggable in a window or full screen easily while working. Read more about How many monitors are enough?

Words, words, words!

For quite some time I have been thinking about writing a blog entry about lexical issues.   Computational lexicons are things that I have been wrestling with for many years.  Not only are there new terms (lexemes, abbreviations, emoticons, etc.) that are “listemes” – meaning that they can be found in dictionaries (even emergent ones like the urban dictionary) but English is amazingly productive in many ways. Read more about Words, words, words!

Some thoughts about JavaScript

I love JavaScript.  It is my second favorite language.  Sure, I know about its ugly parts but it has real beauty.  And beyond beauty, it has all of the attributes that count: efficiency, momentum, a vibrant infrastructure and community, and a future.

Developers tend to be an opinionated lot.  This isn’t necessarily bad but I see a lot of unfounded opinions stated as if they are fact about JavaScript.  Often developers are so taxed for time that they must choose development tools and techniques out of expediency or precedent or ignorance.  Sadly, these choices become subject to cognitive dissonance and often then misperception and denial.

JavaScript elicits strong opinions and hyperbole.  For anyone who might be interested, below I am providing a few paragraphs about my own opinions about JavaScript. Read more about Some thoughts about JavaScript

Eico 460

In 2013, I immersed myself in electronics of various sorts.  Great fun.  A contracted project calls for innovative thinking and development for omni-channel marketing. Most of the work is software (and very much pushing the state-of-the-art) but some custom hardware is required including computer control of lighting with individually addressable LEDs and device control (servos, motors, etc.) for product demonstrations in a new retail environment. 

Headspace Sprockets embarked on a path filled with Raspberry Pis, Arduinos, Gertboards, UDOOs, and lots of custom circuitry. I created a lab bench in my office with lots of equipment and set to re-learning things that I had not touched seriously since college.  Everything is new – including a Rigol DS1102E 100MHz oscilloscope, a nice GW Instek analog function generator, a lab quality power supply with 3 current limited outputs, a soldering station, and various other tools and materials. (I could use a logic analyzer but for now, what I have suffices).

Even more gratifying than the equipment are the materials that I used to re-familiarize myself with electronic design.  I watched many videos on YouTube (particularly enjoying those of David Jones and his blog at www.eevblog.com).  I bought and read some great books; I recommend The Art of Electronics by Paul Horowitz and Winfield Hill, despite some sections that are obsolete and The Circuit Designer’s Companion by Peter Wilson. Read more about Eico 460

Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi (www.raspberrypi.org), Model B is a small and unexpectedly powerful computer a bit bigger than a credit card that has a GPU capable of delivering high-definition (1080p) video, a 700MHz processor and 512Mb RAM.  It costs approximately $35 and requires an SD card (I recently bought for less than $20 a 32Gb ultra speed (10) SD card on Amazon.com). I also bought from Amazon.com Edimax wireless nano USB adapters for less than $12 each.

Below is a picture of the Raspberry Pi showing connections for wired Ethernet, HDMI, 2 USB, and power plus an SD slot and some more specialized connectors.

Read more about Raspberry Pi

Arduino

Arduino boards such as the Uno R3 are microcontrollers that can be used to create interactive objects.  Sensors and actuators of an almost bewildering variety are available or can be readily constructed.   Arduinos are at the forefront of the “open hardware” movement, comparable to the “open source” software movement. http://www.arduino.cc/ Read more about Arduino

UDOO

I recently acquired an UDOO Quad (http://www.udoo.org/).  It is a single-board computer that runs either Linux (for example, I have been booting Linaro Ubuntu 12.04 LTS) or Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean).  The Quad version that I have is roughly equivalent to four Raspberry Pis plus an Arduino Due.  It is incredibly configurable with an abundance of ports, built-in WIFI, Gigabit Ethernet, and SATA support. Read more about UDOO

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