Thursday, July 15, 2010

Homeless people of the world: don't steal my idea.

If I was homeless this would be my shtick to get the monies.

I would have a sign with a question on it, like “Which is better Coke or Pepsi” and then have room for tally marks underneath. Then I would hold a sign that says “1 vote is free, 3 for $1, 20 for $5, 100 for $10” and then ask people what they think and make sure that everyone sees me adding to the tally board so that they know it is a legit survey.

I would then make sure I was always was in the same place so that people could “check in” to see how the tally is going, and then rotate to new questions every couple of days. The reason it works is because people want something for their money, and the one thing that everyone wants to share is their opinion, so they might feel that they are getting something in return for their money given. Heck, if I saw it I would give a buck to vote (and I don’t give money to homeless people).

I would be so rich if I was homeless.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Can I get a Witness?

I was going to write a post about creativity and wit being something that make humans unique. But while putting it off because I didn’t know how to address it I was luckily saved by something else I did. [But on the topic of wit. 1) It is something I just don’t think that robots will be able to learn how to do, I think true wit comes from making new ideas, not just searching through patterns in old ideas. 2) Likewise if a person is not capable of creativity or wit what good are they beyond a complex robot? OK, on with the more compelling post.]

At work I have a myriad of little “toys” that I play with while thinking about things or reading emails. They are things like push pins, bent paperclips, pencils to tap, and the like. I usually have these objects strewn all over my desk so at any time I need it I have one ready.

Today I went to Sonic for lunch, but it wasn’t just any time at Sonic, I went during Happy Hour (2-4 pm). So during lunch I got a half price Route 44 cranberry iced tea (light on the ice). I enjoyed the tea immensely while I ate my Sonic burger and medium onion rings (dipped in ketchup with salt). Everything was going swimmingly. And you know, since today has been a good day I thought I might extend the Happy Hour joy into my work hours, so I went crazy and got a (half price) 44oz strawberry lime slush to drink at work.

Back at work my plan was going fine. I had some emails to answer and a 44oz slush to hold me over. Nothing could go wrong. Well that is unless when I go to set down my slush I placed, no –merely grazed, the bottom of the cup on one of my “point sticking up” push pins. Queue a slush stream to come rushing out of the bottom of my cup. Slush was going everywhere! Not knowing what to do I set down my cup to assess the situation. Here’s how it looked: One cup with 42oz of slush in it. Said cup had a hole in the bottom of it. Holding the cup up made a stream of slush to come out of it, but currently the cup is heavy enough to not allow the slush to come out from it, but since the hole was not on the edge of the cup I knew there was a pool of slush already waiting for me under the cup.

Solution: Chew one piece of gum until all the flavor and things that make it extra squishy are gone. Then quickly pick up the cup, note the large area of slush under the cup that was set free when I lifted the cup, lick the area around the pin hole clean, and then quickly place the gum on the bottom of the cup and then set it down on a post-it note so that I don’t gum my cup to my desk. Result: 40oz of drinkable slush, the gum on the bottom of the cup made a perfect seal which froze hard because of the slush, and one cool cat with emails still to respond too.

Let’s just see a computer come up with that solution. Also, my arm is now sticky.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

A DMV by any other name

For those that need to define people in terms of political affiliation, I am Libertarian, or as I see it: the party that expects citizens to be responsible and punishes those that are not. I agree with the party ideals that government should be as small as reasonably possible, without their meddling in my personal life. So I bet you will never guess what I am getting ever more mad at –the government turning over things such as motor registration, licensing, and tax collection to the private sector. That leads to a smaller government right? Well, no.

Let’s take the example of motor vehicle registration. At some point the government decided that this would be a swell way to make money. So they make everyone pony up when they switch from ponies to motor vehicles. OK, this is a bad idea, but that decision has already been made and “is the way it is” (<- I hate that phrase), so let’s skip on past this point. So now the government is making money on this new tax or fee or whatever they want to coat it as. Fine. But then lo’n’behold the government says: “Whoa, we are spending a lot of money collecting these fees, let’s outsource them and just collect a percent.”

See that? Right there. That can not happen. Now private businesses are making a profit from fees that the government can’t be bothered to collect. So now there is a host of private businesses that are feeding from the hand of the government, I hesitate to call them private though since they are really working as a proxy government office. In my mind government has been expanded by this act. Sure the government isn’t using taxes more, but they have given authority of something that they deemed mandatory to another group of people. Since I HAVE to now deal with these people they are still, from my perspective, part of the government. We should be looking for ways to actually reduce government and not just reduce taxes collected, which is not the same thing, and we should keep that in mind. Anyone that has government ordained power over us is still the government, no matter where the money ends up in the end.

(Side note, the only way a private business can even exist doing the government’s collecting is if they are getting a cut, which means that the government has set the fee at a level that includes them outsourcing the collection in the fee itself.)

Friday, July 02, 2010

Outer Knowledge in Dreams?

In my dream last night I was visiting Garden City and I was late for a concert (Jars of Clay if you want to know what band). Well, it turned out I was really late because it was 8:20pm and the concert started at 8, oh, and look, the concert is in Hutchinson. OK, here is where it gets interesting. In my dream I didn’t know how far Hutch was from Garden, like I just had no reasonable guess, and when I did guess I said about an hour, but the people riding with me knew it was about three hours, which turns out to be correct (three hours and seven minutes on Google maps).

So here is the question: who am “I” when I dream. Obviously the characters in my dream had knowledge that I know when awake, even though when I was sleeping my first person self did not remember that fact. This makes sense - I am making up this whole world in my sleep so these people must have my knowledge and not their own, but I had always thought that the other people in my dreams were more of “rag-dolls” that I can interact with but not really gain any knowledge, at least knowledge that my first-person self in the dream did not already have.

Does this mean that really anyone that I dream about is just different aspects of myself in that dream? Do they know things that I don’t know consciously, and that knowledge turns out to be (more-or-less) correct? If all these other people are more of me, why am I still stuck to myself in my dreams, why can’t I dream from the direction of anyone else and see myself in third person? I never really took much of dream interpreting to be real, but since others in my dream have knowledge that I didn’t consciously leads me to think that there may be at least something at a very basic level that could be true about it.

Also; sorry Dave for bending the rear spoiler on your car when I jumped on it in my dream… I was just trying to jump over the car so I could get into the van to go to the concert, I didn’t think I would bend it so bad.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Tableau and Football Dynasties

I have been working on two of the things that I like at once, football and spiffy graphics.

The above graph is made from Tableau, a free data visualization program. The data is my NFL Dynasty data (more about it here from last year). From the graph we see that the Colts, even though they lost the Super Bowl, are now the "biggest" team in the NFL beating out the plummeting Steelers.

Click around on the graphic it should have interactive filters.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Unobtainium in 3D

I recently watched "Ferngully II; Dances with USB enabled 10 foot tall Smurfs" (Avatar). The movie was good, the story was very thin but I only had one "cringe worthy" moment: they are mining for something called "unobtainium ". Really guys, is that all you could come up with?

But that is not that is not what I want to talk about, my big thought coming from the movie is that "3D" technology is heading in the wrong direction. Sure Avatar is darn good use of the current technology but I don't think we aren’t going to be able to get very much further on the road that we are traveling.

To me the current "3D" movies seem instead as 2D with depth. The problem is that the movies are still be recorded with one focus point, that means that while the movie is going on there is only one thing that is in focus, and if I am not looking at that then everything is going to be blurry. Take this to contrast real life 3D, whatever I am looking at is in focus while everything else is blurry. The result of this type of 3D is that we get a superficially looking 3D movie but the viewers are still restrained to look at a specific spot and depth in the movie.

I think that this is a good first step, however, since we are about to get ESPN broadcast in this 3D technology it may take a while to move on to something that is better.

Oh well, for now we will just have to put up with those stylish glasses in the theatres... and soon at home.

Monday, January 04, 2010

I got it!

Let's just get past the obvious things, so I can get on with the other stuff.  Nicole and I are expecting our first baby in May, Christmas and New Year's was great and Caesar Salad dressing made with Egg Beaters takes the same as with raw eggs (so just use that instead).  Nicole does a much better job of keeping up with the events of our lives so check out her blog to see details.

For Christmas I got a set of metal puzzles. After I figured out the pattern of how they work I made pretty quick work of all but one of them. I sat and worked on it for a good 10 minutes before I decided to work on it some more, but from in front of the TV. I worked on it a good time more (maybe 30 or so more minutes... but to give me credit I was watching TV at the same time.) Anyways, I couldn't get it.

Nicole's mom asked to try, so I gave the puzzle to Nikki, my 3 year old niece to pass on over. I the time it took her to make it to Niocle's mom, she says "I got it!" and the two metal pieces are separated.


Let's see her try to figure out how to check for type I error rates in the way that we have implemented neural networks. She wouldn't get that one in 10 seconds.