Running a shell script with a timeout

In my line of work, deadlock is always close at hand. Running multithreaded programs through prototype compilers, runtime systems, or simulators (and sometimes all three!), there is always the chance that a bug will trigger a deadlock in some layer of the system. There’s nothing like setting off a bunch of experiments, going to sleep, and waking up the next morning to find that the first experiment (or, inevitably, the experiment that ran right after I stopped checking on things) deadlocked and prevented everything else from running. After being burned by this particular variant of Murphy’s Law countless times, I learned to always run benchmarks with a hard timeout. Knowing that my experiments won’t hang forever is honestly right up there with fancy foam mattresses in terms of helping me sleep at night. Continue reading


New Computer Architecture/Compilers Conference Map

The Computer Architecture/Compilers Conference Map is an indispensable tool in designing a research agenda that has high impact (on your/your adviser’s travel budget). It’s a Google Maps mash-up that plots upcoming conference deadlines on a world map, so you can decide where you’d like to travel and then go about doing some research to get you there. Ah, the scientific method at work! Continue reading

“jumpy” jQuery slide animations

I recently decided to add paper abstracts to my academic website, to allow people to get a quick overview of a paper without downloading the whole thing.  I wanted these abstracts to be hidden at first, and then revealed by clicking on a link.  The perfect excuse to dabble in a bit of Javascript, and whip something up in an hour or two, right?

With Google-given example code I was indeed able to get something basic working pretty quickly that made the entire abstract either visible or not, by twiddling the display CSS property.  Then I started thinking: what would it take to have the abstract appear with a “slide in” animation, instead of just suddenly becoming visible?

Well, at least I had good intentions to start. Continue reading

thunderbird to (hosted) gmail

My school (UW) recently allowed students to switch their school email accounts over to one of 2 providers: Google (via gmail) or Microsoft (via Outlook Web Access).  Feeling the inexorable pull of the cloud, I decided to take the plunge and switch to gmail, but one thing held me back.  I have used Thunderbird for a few years now and have accumulated roughly 1GB of archived messages that are generally unimportant but occasionally vital.  I’ve also espoused Lifehacker’s Trusted Trio email organization system and so many of the emails in my archive are tagged for easier organization.

I’d like to have this email archive searchable from gmail.  And I would really like to have all those tags I’ve accumulated over the years show up as gmail “labels”.  Fortunately, this isn’t too difficult thanks to the following: Continue reading