Liam Moran

I’m Liam Moran and this is my blog, which I’ve written to on and off since October, 2001. I took a long hiatus from writing between 2011 and 2014.

So let’s see, who am I and what is this blog all about.

I’m first and foremost the father of a wonderful little girl who will be referred to as Swee’ Pea on this website to protect her privacy from identity bots and other internet monsters.

My career is doing research and development of instructional technology for the University of Illinois (although all views written on this website are my own, and sometimes in collegial conflict with IT trends on that stately campus) for the CITLATLAS Instructional Resources team. Most of the time, I’m what’s now called a full-stack developer, a self-congratulatory term for a technological dilettante with a very broad range of skills: system administration; database operations and schema design; selection, configuration, and deployment of various servers; programming in whichever language best solves the problem you’re attacking; and front-end work like designing actual websites that all the other stuff makes possible. It’s a role that requires a lot of humility, the ability to work well with talented colleagues who specialize in any of those things, but enough stubbornness to take on big projects and see them through. The end goal of my work is to provide students and teachers with web applications to make possible the best learning experience manageable. For much of the rest of the time, I’m producing or assisting in the production of educational video for the new courses my team is working on. I also mentor student workers in the kind of software development I do, which has been a very rewarding experience.

Prior to that, I worked in the food service, construction, and live event production industries. I did my undergraduate work at Truman State University, majoring in English (Bachelor of Science, believe it or not) with a concentration in Linguistics, and a minor in Philosophy (mostly 18th century Europeans and classical Greeks). I came to the University of Illinois to pursue a PhD in Linguistics. My research interests are in formal semantics and computational linguistics and my research involved using Pitch F/X data aligned to the text descriptions of what happened in baseball games to answer questions about how people like their textual explanations of things structured and other ones where that kind of fine-grained data is useful. Unfortunately, I was far better at the work that led to my current career than pure academic research, so I never finished the dissertation. That decision was likely best for me personally, but I’ll always carry guilt for consuming the time of the many academic mentors that had such positive influences on me without giving much back to their field.

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. While there’s much useless nonsense on the internet, my intention with this blog is to add content describing my own solutions to problems the search engines couldn’t find answers to, write marginally original things, and highlight whole websites that are of value (see the sidebar) to provide a wispy foil to the viral clickbait you see on Facebook of junk scraped from Reddit.

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