New Blog Design

- - posted in design, meta, robots

I think a lot of developers have this intention of creating and maintaining a blog. I started this one over a year ago and have published a whopping two posts. I’d call it a success!

After those two posts, I felt it was obviously time for a redesign. The main purpose of this post is to give credit to some people that contributed in one way or another to this redesign.

This site is powered by Octopress, which is a pretty cool framework for blogging. You get to write posts and pages in Markdown, which is a pretty pleasant way to write in plain text. Unfortunately, the default Octopress theme is… maybe not “ugly” per se, but certainly more utilitarian than attractive. The Octopress website is a good example. Fortunately, there are lots of themes for Octopress. I went with foxslide, by Adrian Artiles. Foxslide uses a great css library called Twitter Bootstrap.

I also want to give credit to the Princeton University President’s Lecture Series. I extracted the background image of this site from a poster that was prepared (presumably by their graphic designers) for a lecture by Naomi Leonard, my Ph.D. Advisor. There is a video of her talk on youtube; it was titled “Flocks and Fleets: Collective Motion in Nature and Robotics”. I helped prepare a couple of her slides.

The reason I chose this particular background is because it was constructed using a figure from my research. The figure shows the trajectories of a group of agents circling a common point with oscillatory speed. Part of my Ph.D. research was coming up with provably-stable control laws to coordinate such formations. That work was motivated by observations that banded killifish behave in a similar fashion. One benefit of motion with oscillatory speed is that the fish move relative to one another in a regular pattern. We showed that such motion can lead to faster decision making at the group level.