A piece by Fast Company recently called out social entrepreneurs for focusing on making trendy but ultimately unhelpful techology, at the expense of solving mundane but important logistical problems. They’re right–these inventions are misguided–but that doesn’t mean we should ignore the potential of technology entirely. It just means we should be wiser about how we employ it.

“I suspect that finance companies ask this question to weed out the mathematician’s tendency to favor the elegant and legible over the intuitive and practical. If you ignore the intuitive ridiculousness (“what? nothing is infinity dollars!”), bite the bullet and say you would never take the gamble, you’ll leave a lot of money on the table–and conversely, if you’re willing to pay any price to take it from someone else, they’ll take you for a ride. So beware bad models, even the elegant ones!”

As of today, benkuhn.net is open source! You can find the source code here. Probably not much of interest, unless you feel the need for a blog that supports Markdown with inline TeX, but just in case it’s of use (or you want to submit a pull request to make it work with Edit in Emacs…)

Today I realized that Facebook’s newsfeed isn’t useful. So I replaced it with a kitten.

Someone pointed out that my “fun linear algebra problems” post would be more useful with solutions. Here’s the solution to problem 1, about counting linear maps between spaces over finite fields, and problem 2, on the Fibonacci sequence.

While TAing a linear algebra class last semester, I discovered that there aren’t many resources for good problems in linear algebra. I only found a few problems over the semester that I was really happy going over in section (in that they were both the right difficulty, and exciting). I’ve collected them here in case anyone else finds them cool or useful.

A couple people have asked me why I’m taking a course on operating systems this term. Presumably they ask because I’m officially studying math and systems programming is very un-theoretical. But there are a couple reasons why I think it was an awesome decision. The first (which needs no explanation) is that it’s definitely the best-taught CS course I’ve taken. The second, and more interesting, is that it’s really helpful to learn how abstractions work in practice.

While updating my DNS for the redesign, I had to decide whether my canonical URL should be `benkuhn.net`

or `www.benkuhn.net`

. Like all irrelevant website-related decisions, this has erupted into some sort of pitched battle.

I recently decided I should get over my learned helplessness at web design. I thought my personal website was a good guinea pig, since I had about zero chance of making it look worse and it does have a little bit of an actual use case.