Energy Datapalooza 2012

So I thought I’d talk about my recent trip to Washington D.C. to attend the Energy Datapalooza conference. First thing I noticed in D.C. was this: the Metro system there is really nice. I mean really, really, nice. Cleveland’s RTA system could surely take a leaf out of D.C.’s book when it comes to the cleanliness of its stations.But I digress, the conference was very interesting. It started out like this: waking up at 6 in the morning and trying to not to look like a zombie. Getting to the conference was easy (see above: the Metro there is nice!).

Who is that dashing young man on the left? Oh! Thats me!

Ok ok, the conference. It started out with some really great talks, I especially enjoyed the one by the Found and CEO of WattzOn, Martha Amram. WattzOn has definitely got some good stuff going on, and a new app they just released that helps you choose new appliances that are both low-cost and energy efficient. There were quite a few good talks, and then Secretary of Energy, Dr. Steven Chu, gave a great speech on how there is such a large market of energy related applications that are just waiting to be developed.

Oh, and you see the back of that kid’s head on the right side of the video? Thats me too!

There was also an award ceremony for the Apps For Energy contestants, where we were invited onto the stage to shake Dr. Steven Chu’s hand and get our picture taken.

Ok, so after all the presentations, we went up to the 4th? floor and setup our table. I think we took the prize for the most screens on a single table, 2 phones, two tablets, and my laptop (my gorgeous Retina Macbook Pro). Various people walked around checking out the displays. I got to talk with a lot of people and demonstrate our application. Even Martha Amram (WattzOn) stopped by and gave me her business card (which I was excited about). We definitely got some great feedback, so now its a matter of incorporating those suggestions into our application and releasing an update. When your one of two programmers, that can definitely take some time, but I’m working on it!


Update 10/8/2012:

Another video surfaced about the Energy Datapalooza.

Energy Datapalooza

It’s hard to believe that only a few months ago, my team and I won second prize in the Student Division of the Apps For Energy Contest. It still hasn’t quite sunken in yet… we won a national competition….that is just amazing. One of my teammates was talking about it to a friend during a car ride (late Chinese food run), and she was totally amazed. Me?… I was amazed at her amazement. Did my team really just place in this national competition? I still feel like the same person. The whole thing just seems so surreal, like it was all a dream.

As a winning team, we have been invited to Washington D.C. to attend the “Energy Datapalooza”, with a booth demonstrating our application. I just got this in the mail, which drives home the impressiveness of what my team has achieved. I’m really proud of my team, but we have a lot more to accomplish before we can rest.

Unleashing the power of data to advance our energy futureThe White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Council on Environmental Quality, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cordially invite you to join us for an “Energy Datapalooza,” highlighting innovators and entrepreneurs who are using freely available data from the government and other sources to build products, services, and apps that advance a secure and clean energy future.

Monday, October 1, 2012
8:30 am – 2:00 pm

Eisenhower Executive Office Building
South Court Auditorium
Washington, D.C.

Special Guests:

Steven Chu
U.S. Secretary of Energy

Todd Park
Assistant to the President
U.S. Chief Technology Officer

Bob Perciasepe
Deputy Administrator, EPA

Nancy Sutley
Chair, White House Council on Environmental Quality

Heather Zichal
Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change

VLDB2012 – Very Large Databases 2012

Just a few weeks ago, VLDB 2012 concluded, which is a conference devoted to research in the field of databases. My Masters Thesis advisor and his wife (who just happens to be the General Program Chair), pointed me to this conferences website, and some really great research articles that were discussed.

If you head over to: and scroll down to “Program At A Glance”, you can see a variety of papers on various topics, such as Crowdsourcing, MapReduce, NoSQL, and much more. As if I am not busy enough already, I will most certainly be looking through some of these articles.

To think that 10 years ago, a “VLDB” was considered to be 2GB. Nowadays, companies like Google are processing 20 petabytes of data every day.

Main Site:

Stylish Android QR Codes

I was working on my resume today, when I had this idea of embedding a QR Code for Budget It Yourself. I wanted to somehow distinguish that this QR Code was for an Android application, and not a website or iPhone app (but that’s coming someday I hope). After a little bit of experimenting, I found I could overlay colors and images over the QR Code without affecting its readability. I made a few different mockups, so now I have to decide which one I like best. They all seem to scan perfectly fine on my Razr Maxx and Droid X, but there is always that possibility that another phone may not understand them. I could definitely see using a technique like this to display QR Codes for multiple devices (Android, iOS, etc) on posters or spots where space is limited. There is no need to say “HEY! SCAN THIS ON ANDROID ONLY!”.


Budget It Yourself QR Codes

Setting the nofile limit in upstart

While working on a Java project that executes multiple sub processes, I found it necessary to increase to the file descriptor limit. By default, processes spawned in Ubuntu had a limit of 1024 open files, but changing that limit via ulimit or by /etc/security/limits.conf had no effect. I discovered that changes in /etc/security/limits.conf (and subsequently /etc/pam.d/common-session ) are only applied to process spawned by a login shell. Programs that launch on startup via “upstart” do not get these limits applied to them. Thankfully, upstart provides the limit stanza that allows you to modify some of these parameters, including the maximum number of open files. To see the limits on process, grab its PID, and cat /proc/<<PID>>/limits

The following is an example of increase the maximum number of open files to 4096 for a given upstart job:

limit nofile 4096 4096

You can checkout the full set of limit options at:

Note: Some of these limits (if not all) are transferred to any children that are forked by the parent

Check out upstart at:

Codonics Mid Co-op Report

Check out my Final Co-op Report Fall 2011


During my Co-op at Codonics, I have gained experience in testing software, and developing new features for the Codonics Safe Label System, a medical device used in Operating Rooms to help reduce the number of medical mistakes in syringe labeling.


At the beginning of my co-op with Codonics, many of my responsibilities revolved around testing software that was near its release. I verified that known bugs were successfully fixed, and performed tests that revealed the existence of new bugs. As the software was updated, I updated test procedures to reflect new changes.  After I had become more familiar with the software, I formulated and wrote my own test reports, and developed custom scripts that were needed for the tests.

Once I had familiarized myself with the software, I was given task of fixing a few bugs with the software. Once the software was released, I began adding new features in order to allow the hardware to connect to wireless networks. Currently, I am continuing to improve and stabilize the wireless code, as well as develop a solution to restrict user access in the Linux terminal.

Continue reading “Codonics Mid Co-op Report” »


One of the things that I enjoy setting up are MySQL databases, its like my anti-drug. I enjoy the feeling of setting up tables, related via “PRIMARY_KEYS”. There is just a thrill to setting it all up, although I can admit the data entry part isn’t always fun if you have a large set of data. I think I started using MySQL databases when I was a kid, and as I grew, learned more and more about them. I will not pretend to be an expert by any means, but I feel as though I have grown over the years to really become familiar with  PHP+MySQL ( soon to include Python + MySQL I hope).

During the Fall 2010 Career Fair at CWRU, I heard about one of the visiting companies,, was giving a talk on MySQL database optimization and use in a large scale environment. I was fascinated by the very though of it. I have always used MySQL for my own personal projects, but have never gotten a chance to see how it would withstand to a large base of millions of users. All the queries, page views, tracking, logs. The database must be huge, and the larger the database, the slower it will become. How do they manage to handle such a load, not to mention the backup servers they must use to prevent the loss of such critical data.

As a kid, I stuck with MyISAM as my default storage engine for MySQL, it seemed the defacto standard, and I didn’t need to worry about transaction locks (unlike in Android, where problems always occurred without them, but thats’ a rant for another time). — So you can imagine my glee when I learned that non-crucial information, could be stored in a very fast table that uses the MEMORY storage engine. Now, this information is extremely volatile, and if the server crashes or goes down, that data will be lost. For some statistical data however, it could be all you need, and the performance benefit would be valuable. If you wanted, you can have a cron job or back scheduled to collect this data at defined intervals. As long as this data is require or crucial to your website, you may want to consider using this type of table storage for your tracking or statistics.

For a list of storage engines in MySQL 5.5, check out Chapter 13 in the MySQL Reference Manual

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