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October 26, 2010

Generic AS3 CSV Parser

As part of my work on the Zeo Data Explorer I found myself in need of a generic CSV parser that could handle quoted text, escaped commas, etc. While I found a few solutions none solved the problem completely or correctly. To that end I wrote a pure AS3 implementation of RFC 4180 (Common Format and MIME Type for Comma-Separated Values (CSV) Files) specification.

It does require Flash Player 10 as I really dig Vectors. I haven't done optimization of it as the speed was good enough for my purposes. For the time being this code is bundled into the Zeo Data Explorer project, but the files can be easily found in the parser package. If you have any suggestions or bugs leave a comment below.

Tags: as3 csv

Initial Zeo Data Explorer Released

I'm pleased to announce the first release of Zeo Data Explorer. For anyone that uses a Zeo to track their sleep, I've been playing with different ways to visual my sleep data, which some of you may have heard me talk about at BarCamp Boston 5. To that end I put together a generic library for parsing the CSV file you can export from the myZeo site. Along with the generic parsing library I've started exploring different ways to visual my sleep, beyond what you can do on myZeo, in an application called the Zeo Data Display. All of the source code is available on bitbucket at Zeo Data Explorer. This includes a pure AS3 library for parsing the data and a sample Flex application for visualizing it. For those that don't have a Zeo I've included a sample of my own data to get an idea of what it tracks. As time permits I hope to add additional visualizations to the tool now that the overall framework is in place. Enjoy and let me know what you think.

Tags: as3 flex zeo

October 16, 2010

The Shape of Inner Space

The Shape of Inner Space: String Theory and the Geometry of the Universe's Hidden DimensionsThe Shape of Inner Space: String Theory and the Geometry of the Universe's Hidden Dimensions by Shing-Tung Yau

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An approachable book covering a range of complex and compelling topics in string theory and geometry. The book focuses on discoveries in geometry from the perspective of Shing-Tung Yau, a Fields Medal winner, and how the growing collaboration between mathematicians and physicists is advancing both fields. I didn't come away with a deep understanding of the topics covered in the book, I suspect a second or third reading would be required, but did come to appreciate the problems now being tackled. A worthwhile read if the topic is of interest.

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Tags: books mos

October 13, 2010


Last week I overloaded on True Blood. By that I mean in the space of a week I watched all 24 episodes comprising Seasons 2 and 3. Previously I had caught random episodes here and there but it wasn't until half way through the 3rd season that I really started watching it. As a result there was some back story I could see I was missing in various character interactions. While Netflix doesn't stream it, the main reason the first season wasn't included in my binge, RCN's HBO On Demand did have the aforementioned episodes.

In thinking about recent articles I've read about television's cultural impact and study habits, I have to think that cramming in a series like I did takes away from it. Part of the joy and frustration of watching a show unfold weekly is that you have that week to contemplate what just happened and think about what's coming next. When instead all you need to do is hit next episode, that reflection time is lost.

I don't know if that means that I've lost something or if that will just mean I'd get more out of rewatching the series, something I don't frequently do. As a counterexample I spent this past Saturday rewatching all of the Matrix (1 or 3 depending on who you ask) and the Animatrix. If I hadn't already seen these movies countless times before, I don't think I would have walked away from that experience with as much appreciation as I do having seen them as they were slowly released. Hard to retroactively perform such an experiment on myself. In thinking about that I suspect it plays on the notion of delayed gratification and anticipation. Alas at this point I've strayed too far into matters I know nothing about. Suffice to say True Blood is an awesome series and at some point I'll need to get around to watching Season 1.

Tags: trueblood tv

October 6, 2010

Jupiter's Travels

Jupiter's TravelsJupiter's Travels by Ted Simon

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

The writing in the book is as bumpy as the roads the author traveled on, frequently crashing into a jumbled heap. His observations and caricature descriptions of different cultures seemed to be tied more to the weather than his personal interactions. The book's pacing is uneven with excessive detail in the beginning and some countries towards the end getting no more than a one line stereotypical summary. There are some well written vignettes scattered throughout the book but overall I'd give it a pass.

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Tags: books