Picture of Liam Moran

I’m Liam Moran and this is my blog, which I’ve written to on and off since October, 2001. I typically write about baseball, but have other interests that I occasionally feel like commenting on.

I’m currently working towards finishing my dissertation in the department of Linguistics at the University of Illinois. My research interests are in formal semantics and computational linguistics, but I’d also like to study signed languages at some point in the future. Formal semantics involves formulating a system that translates natural language sentences into expressions of a logical language such that the meaning transparent in the formal translation is consistent with our intuitions about the meaning of the natural language input. Computational linguistics is a field so ill-defined I can subscribe to any of dozens of contradictory models and still be taken seriously. It involves writing computer software to help answer questions we have about how languages work. If asked about what I’d call my current research, I think I’d answer, “Corpus semantics,” because I’m attempting to leverage specifically structured sets of documents (corpora) in order to infer how descriptions of events are encoded in the text.

I also work full-time in the Digital Media group at ATLAS, the technology-support department at the University of Illinois. My unit produces and hosts professional-quality multimedia curriculum materials for the college of Liberal Arts and Sciences. I get all sorts of work to do, the bulk of which is in videography, video editing, audio recording and editing, graphic design, planning out tricky cable runs for live events, repairing equipment (including legacy machines like 1/4″ tape decks), configuring media servers, and training our undergraduate staff on how to advance their skills. I also spend whatever time away from production work writing software to improve or automate parts of our workflow or to improve the deployment of media to campus. Probably the coolest thing I’ve written is an ffmpeg daemon that runs on a rippin’ 16-processor server. It allows us to create watch-folders on-demand to initiate encoding an edited video file on our fileserver to distributable content on a media server. This greatly improved our productivity and will soon allow us to provide multi-bitrate streaming flash video. My current project is developing an IITAA-compliant video player that looks sexy and the infrastructure to convince people to use it.

Finally, the name of the blog:

When a baseball coach communicates a series of signs to a player, most of the signs are decoys in case the other team is trying to steal the signs to know in advance what sort of play they intend to run. Only one of the signs is the actual message for what play to put on and that sign is indicated with the hot sign. Since my research interests are in extracting useful information from large bodies of text and I write mostly about baseball, that’s what I named the blog. Also, the name wasn’t already taken as far as I could tell. I’ll stick in the blog header some pictures of Jose Oquendo signing at third once I snap some this season.

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