1/31/2004

01-31-04 - 1

01-31-04

I hate that look that scientists give when they think they just said something really important and clever that you might have missed. They raise their eyebrows, their eyes bulge out, and they sort of smile. John Wheeler (string theory) does it, Craig Ventner (biotech) and Jim Watson (DNA), and in acting, Jeff Goldblum is the horrible despicable master of it.

1/29/2004

01-29-04 - 1

01-29-04

A laptop with 802.11g is a blessing from god. I walk around the house on the internet. Now if only there was a decent way to have a portable mouse (touchpad is shite!).

1/28/2004

01-28-04 - 1

01-28-04

I bought a laptop, to use as a portable and to replace my desktop, I'm now writing this on it. It's a non-brand (it just says "NoteBook on the case"). The chassis is actually an Aopen 1557G, which is Taiwanese. I got mine assembled from ABS, under the name "ZForce 2", but you can also get an iBuyPower Battalion-E or a CyberPower S4-3200, they're all the same thing. I've got the Hitatchi 60 GB 7200 RPM disk, the SXGA+ 1400x1050 screen, 1 Gig of RAM (DDR 266), the 1.7 GHz Centrino, all the top of the line stuff. Battery life is about 4 hours and weight is about 6 pounds. It's got Radeon 9600 graphics (DirectX 9) and a 15" screen. It's similar to an IBM T41p, maybe a little weaker, but about half the price. If you're loaded with mega-bucks, the T41p (it's a ThinkPad) is the way to go. These things are the best compromise I could find between great power and portability. If you just want a pure-power desktop replacement, Sager is the way to go. They put top of the line PC parts in notebook cases; I almost went with one of those, but my AOpen is nice and quiet and cool, as opposed to Sagers that are noisy and very hot. The hard disk is a bit loud on my box, but it's still much quieter than a typical PC. (if I had bought a desktop it would have been a "Silent PC" of some sort). As for speed, it's roughly twice as fast in all categories as my old 1 GHz Dell desktop. It's comparable to a P4-2.8 desktop with PC2100 RAM and a 7200 RPM disk. So, all is good in laptop land, except a few little things about it that aren't perfect - A) no DVI output, only VGA; sigh, my second monitor is an LCD and it's just not nearly as crisp with VGA feeding it instead of DVI; this really blows, but there are currently near zero laptops with DVI out. B) no Firewire 800, only Firewire 400; C) no Bluetooth, but it does have integrated 802.11g D) only DDR 266; the chipset is a little on the slow side; DDR 333 or 400 would have been nice; in the future Intel will release the Dothan line, which will give mobile processors a big upgrade. E) annoying keyboard; it's about the same as all laptops; it seems these keyboards are always designed by people who don't actually do any typing!! The big problems are : placement of the left Control, lack of right Windows key, and placement of Home & End. I may have to get the old Key Remapper out and do some fiddling. F) Damn the stickers! It's got "Windows XP" and "ATI" stickers right where I rest my wrists; I've got to get the stickers off but I'm afraid of making a dirty mess of stick-um. G) front-loading DVD drive is annoying; side-loading would be much better. H) it's fast, smooth, and beautiful, did I mention I love it like a son?

1/25/2004

01-25-04 - 2

01-25-04

All this "celebrity poker" on TV is just horrendous. It's excruciating to watch, really really unpleasant. The worst thing is that it's a tease to me - it says "look Charles, there's poker on TV, watch it", and go "ooh, Poker!" (in a Homer voice), and turn it on, and then I see someone go all-in with KTo or some shit like that, or get pocket aces and never bet them at all, and I go "wait a minute, this isn't poker! it's monkeys with a deck of cards!" (and then Homer voice says "I like monkeys" and I say "shut up!"). Anyway, this shit was obviously the idea of some TV producer type. He says "people like poker, and people like celebrities - let's put them together!". Um, no. They don't show celebrity baseball or celebrity basketball, etc. for a reason - when people watch sports they want to see players who are actually good and know how to play. At least Jack Black played pretty well, so I didn't have to lose all respect for him.

01-25-04 - 1

01-25-04

Most coaches and sports analysists really have no concept of game play study and theory. For that matter, most people who make and play games don't. Let me consider a simple typical case from the game I'm playing these days, Rugby. The correct way to analyze decisions in a game like this is using probability and EV (Expected Value). In Rugby you are constantly running with the ball and you must decide whether you should keep it or pass. Let's examine. Say if you keep it, you have a 10% chance of scoring, a 50% chance of being tackled and keeping possesion, and 40% chance of being tackled and losing possession. If you pass, the guy will have a 20% chance of scoring, 40 of keeping possessions and 40 of losing. However, your pass has a 75% chance of completing, a 20% chance of being dropped or knocking on for loss of posession, and a 5% chance of an interception for a catastrophic turnover. Now we must assign values to each of these. For concreteness, let's say - scoring is 100 value, keeping possession is 0, losing possession is -10, and interception is -50. So what's the EV of each move? Holding the ball is : 100*.1 + 0*0.5 + -10*0.4 = 10-4 = 6 ; If the pass is made the EV is 100*.2 - 4 = 16. The EV of the pass, however, is 15*0.75 - 10*.2 - 50*.05 = 6.75 ; we see the pass is very slightly better than holding the ball. The main thing this illustrates is all the factors and how delicate they are. For example, if one of you is a bad thrower or bad catacher, that probably throws the balance to where keeping the ball is better. Similarly, if they are in no position to intercept, that makes the pass much higher EV, so even if your catching and throwing aren't the greatest, it's probably worth it.

Another type of analysis that's completely missing from sport is the sort of thinking you have in poker - whenever you make a move that makes them feel sick, that's probably a good move. Similarly the concept of exploiting their weaknesses and playing to your own strengths, I almost never see people or teams do this.

1/08/2004

01-08-04 - 1

01-08-04

There are three primary types of people in the world (when it comes to work) :

  • 1. People who slack off, and will only do good work when it's an emergency. The type 1 people really want to slack off all the time and only work when forced.
  • 2. People who slack off, and will only do good work when it's an emergency. The type 2 people really want to get a lot of work done, but they're terrible planners and procrastinators.
  • 3. People who just do good steady work; these people work best when it's not an emergency.

Now, many of the people in charge tend to be type 2, (they're almost never type 1, since you don't get to be in charge by being purely lazy). The type 2's tend to create emergencies so that work gets done. The 2's also believe that everyone else in the world is a type 1, eg. the emergencies are needed to make people work. The 1's think that they're always doing a reasonable amount of work, comparable to the 3's. The 3's refuse to admit that the emergencies serve any purpose at all, and most realize they're not real emergencies.

old rants