Posted by me on Thursday, the 4th day of December, anno domini 2008 at 5:00 AM, local time.

When I was little, I was always quite excited by Hyper-Bowls. They sounded like fantastic places to put 5 dimensional cereal.

I was devastated to learn the actual pronunciation…

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Mmmm… Data…

Posted by me on Monday, the 12th day of November, anno domini 2007 at 11:42 AM, local time.

or, Data is cool, and so can you?

Everybody likes data, right?

Everybody collects databases of the stuff for later analysis; everybody saves all their receipts, just in case, one day, they can get all the data into a computer so that complex statistical analysis can be performed; everybody sets up complex sensor networks around their beer making equipment so that an accurate model of the fermentation process can best be formed.

Everybody reads through wikipedia for at least a couple hours a day to gather data on the world.

Everybody constantly sets of web cam filters to gauge the amount of light sensed at the time, and saves that data off, with the proportion of the various colors in the frame, so that later one can determine what the ambient background light composition and intensity of a room is, so that real-time changes in that light, given background expectations, can be used to indicate event occurrence (maybe intruder alerts?).

Everybody wants all their circuits in their house to have nice ammeters hooked up to them so you can tell how much power each circuit is using, and tell if any surges or drops occur unexpectedly that might indicate faulty equipment.

Everybody makes a note of when they started and stopped reading a given book (such as, started reading at page 5 at 4:15pm, stopped reading at page 10 at 4:30pm) so that later your average rate of reading can be computed, and when coupled with how well you liked the book later on some sort of rating scale, and how often in a yearly period you read the book, you can start to figure out how much your interest in the material, comprehension, and familiarity increases your reading rate.

Everybody catalogs their book collection online at LibraryThing, with a complex set of meta-tags with internally encoded extra information because they just don’t collect enough accurate information about the books currently for your liking.

Everybody catalogs their music collection, and when dissatisfied with the amount of information collected and how loosely its formatted, designs a new database structure to accurately capture all the complex relationships that can be used to reference a given piece of music in any number of ways, and then takes the time to type all the new information in.

Everybody reads encyclopedias and dictionaries for fun.

Everybody likes doing complex statistical analysis on random sets of data, just for practice.

Everybody likes March Madness time… so they can try out their new March Madness predictor algorithms that take into account all past season data and uses genetic algorithms to determine the best prediction metric.

Everybody surfs through the Mandelbrot set for fun, just looking for that amazing piece of complex space that is the most beautiful.

Everybody wants to keep track of historical RAM pricing via an automated process, to enable estimation of future pricing.

Everybody wants to tag all their non-searchable data so that later when the non-searchable data becomes searchable (like images), their will be a better semantic meaning ready and waiting to be applied.

Everybody keeps all their old mail in file cabinets… just in case.

Everybody wants to scan in all their old notebooks, to allow easier searching of one’s pasts thoughts and so you don’t forget what you thought about one Thursday 12 years ago.

Everybody wants to make a Euchre playing program that keeps track of the random legal moves that were made in a given situation, and what the eventual outcome was, so that this can later be applied to real games.

Everybody wants to record all of television and save it off for later analysis.

Everybody records all of the classical radio station, along with song data, so that later all the good ones can be saved off and compressed into the library… seriously, even when they already might have a copy of that song, its unlikely that it was the same performer.

Everybody buys multiple translations of old literature so that the differing translations can be compared and word choices analyzed to gain a deeper understanding of the intent of the original.

Everybody wants to get a stopwatch so that various routes to different places can all be timed, so that the data can be added to a database (with the place trying to be reached, starting point, time of day, day of week, etc.) and the best routes from anywhere in town to anywhere else in town can be determined, potentially saving entire seconds of my day!

Everybody loves data…


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The problem with bookstores

Posted by me on Thursday, the 8th day of November, anno domini 2007 at 9:58 PM, local time.

Another quote from iGoogle’s quote-a-day:

Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?
  - Henry Ward Beecher

I’m thinking that even these quotes must be given to people based on Google’s huge database of knowledge of everyone’s habits and behaviors? ‘Cause I sure do seem to get a lot of quotes about how I buy too many books. I mean, seriously, I feel bad enough already. Ah well.

Maybe I should go buy a book to make myself feel better?

(A few hours later…)

Now that I’ve done that, I do feel much better. Hopefully, I will get to read the books I have bought soon and can comment on them. They are both things I have not seen before, and I am quite excited that they might both be rather good. Only time will tell!

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Snow! (and something about Canadia land)

Posted by me on Tuesday, the 6th day of November, anno domini 2007 at 1:55 PM, local time.

So, yesterday, it tried really hard to snow here in Rochester, and it did flurry a bit on three separate occasions throughout the day. I was very proud. Soon we’ll have real snow, on the ground and everything!

Then, I saw Andy’s away messages telling me to go look at the MichiganTech webcams. Apparently it snowed there fairly good. The ground is pretty much covered, though it looks like only an inch or so, and it doesn’t appear to snowing at the moment. Very much not fair. But, they always get snow first (and more, obviously) so I really shouldn’t be too surprised. It does make me want to go play in the snow though. From the looks of the forecast here, it will be quite some time yet before we get any accumulation.

On another note, I saw someone else’s away message as well, and it was pretty funny. I am pretty sure its from a movie somewhere, but I can’t remember which one. It was a quote: “No! Don’t you get it? If you die in Canada, you die in REAL LIFE!”


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Persistence Pays Off

Posted by me on Monday, the 5th day of November, anno domini 2007 at 6:53 PM, local time.

or, Things that you were sure never actually happened in the office break-room, but still are funny.

So, I actually saw someone today try to rock the candy machine back and forth to make the bag of M&Ms fall. In the end, it worked for him, but I was almost certain he was going to break the thing, or have it fall on him. He was rocking it several feet backwards, and then pushing it back to its normal position, causing a big crashing noise. It took several such attempts.

I guess I know other people who have done such things, but sometimes you forget that people really need their candy, and they’ll be damned if they have to buy another bag just to get the one they already paid for. But, I gotta say, if the machine falls on you and kills you, is it really worth the trouble? I guess I am once again reminded not to buy a bag of King Size Peanut M&Ms from the break-room candy machine.

Not that I am particularly fond of Peanut M&Ms anyway, but still.

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Sigh. Another apology.

Posted by me on Friday, the 2nd day of November, anno domini 2007 at 11:17 AM, local time.

So, yeah, it had been two months almost. Sorry about that. The longer it got to be, the more frightened I was about blogging. Just too much pressure for a high quality post or two. So, I got that out of the way earlier this week by posting the first random thought in my head: a low quality idea that got soundly berated by all. And that’s OK. Just had to get over my trepidation.

Now I hope to get back into the swing of things. I have taken the time to move all my ideas to blog about from my iGoogle notebook over to my blog’s draft section, hopefully meaning that I can more easily develop them and get them published easier. From opera, book, television, and movie reviews to random thoughts on people, places, and things, there are 46 such items, in various states of done-ness. Some are little more than titles, others are lists of links I should talk about, and some are very close to finished, with sentences and paragraphs and everything. Just need to polish and publish.

So, once again, many apologies for my lack of blogging recently. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. I hope to do better in the future.

Also, don’t expect more than one or so posts per day, possibly down to one or so per week. I don’t want to overwhelm my readers with too much to read. I also don’t want the occasional reader of my blog to miss too much if they only stop by a couple times a week and read the most recent post. Not that my posts are so interesting or important that it would really be that big of a deal. :)

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An interesting study?

Posted by me on Monday, the 29th day of October, anno domini 2007 at 4:10 PM, local time.

So, today at work, I noticed that I am often a mere fives of inches away from my laptop screen. I am pretty sure I don’t actually need to be that close (at the moment I am at least 20 inches away), but over the course of the day I just seem to get closer and closer. Eye fatigue? I don’t know. For another data point, I noticed as I walked down the aisle that I was not the only one with this curious malady.

Perhaps someone should do a study? Average distance of face from laptop screen, screen resolution, average dpi, age of participant, and whether they wear glasses (could be good to know?).

Interestingly enough, I want to get a laptop with almost twice the horizontal resolution as the ones I currently have… in only 1 extra inch of width. Good idea? Hmmm…

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Mistborn 2! Out at last!

Posted by me on Monday, the 27th day of August, anno domini 2007 at 12:19 AM, local time.

Just a brief update: Last week sometime, Mistborn 2: The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson came out. I didn’t get around to buying it under Thursday, since the week was rather busy, but I got it finally late last week, spent way too much time reading it that night, and then finished it up Friday after work. It was very good! I was very happy with how it went. For a while as it went along, I was quite afraid the author was going to spite me by having things turn out differently than I hoped for, or at the very least waiting until the final book to resolve things to my satisfaction. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the author did not take that simple way out as a cliffhanger or something like that. By the end of the book, most of the plot lines were tied up nicely, and while there is certainly one plot thread (the main danger to the kingdom really) that is still open and needs resolution, all the minor sideline threads are finished up quite nicely.

The first book was much the same. Pretty much all the main internal conflict was resolved and there was just the one problem left for the next books. Now, I just have to wait one year (the guy is already finished with the book, I think, or close to it) for the final exciting chapter! In the meantime, I think most of my readers would probably enjoy the Mistborn books, if you haven’t already read them.

As an aside, I often find, after ready a great long book, that I suddenly feel like I need to find another book to read right away that will engage my interest as fully and enjoyably as the book I just finished. This might be part of the reason that over the years I have read so many books, one after the other. It is only when I get to a book that I don’t enjoy as much, start to get bogged down, and slow way way down in my pace, sometimes where the book sits on my nightstand for weeks or months without being touched, that I stop for a couple months from reading books so quickly. This is rather sad, but I guess its ok, since I do have a lot of other hobbies that I like to do, and sometimes I think I might read too much anyway. :-)

Luckily, with this book, I have no such problem. No offense to the choosers of books, but lately it has been Book Club books that have given me the most trouble. I really should finish that last one… It’s not very long anyway, and surely at some point here Andy will schedule book club. (*hint* *hint*)

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Integrals on the Wall

Posted by me on Wednesday, the 22nd day of August, anno domini 2007 at 9:51 PM, local time.

or, Singing in the Shower

So, I’ve noticed I sing a bit in the shower. And I’m not talking like pop songs, here. I’m talking opera solos. Its kinda crazy. I’m usually a low baritone or medium bass, but in the shower, with no pressure and no mocking friends, I can actually hit a moderately high falsetto (by which I mean a rather low contralto…). Of course, it’s hard to remember the words to the songs, mostly because they are all in Italian or some such. “When the foeman bares his steel” and “When a felon’s not engaged in his employment”, along with “La donna è mobile” and “Largo al factotum” are typical.

Anyway, as cliche as it is to sing in the shower, what else am I supposed to do? It’s not like I can work out math problems on the shower walls in the steam… not that I haven’t left a few integrals on the wall from time to time…

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Losing a song in the sea of opera

Posted by me on Friday, the 17th day of August, anno domini 2007 at 12:02 AM, local time.

I listen to a lot of opera. It’s great stuff. Lots of very memorable songs and overtures, arias, etc. But sometimes, I think I listen to too much opera without concentrating on it. Later, I will find a particular tune is in my head and I know its from an opera, but can’t for the life of me remember what it is. I replay a bunch of the operas I listen to frequently over and over, hoping to happen across the familiar song, all to no avail. A year goes by. More. I begin to fear the worst: I will never hear the song again, except in my head, imperfectly reproduced by my horrible memory.

Then, by chance, one day your friend Jim starts humming a tune, then says , “Isn’t that a great piece from that opera we just saw?”

“What?” I say.

“Yeah, don’t you remember, when Cherubino sings his declaration of love for all women to the countess and hilarious hi-jinks ensue?”

“What?” I say.

Then he brings out Pam’s sheet music for “Le nozze di Figaro”, pages to Act II, scene II, and points out the notes, humming as he goes. “See?”

“Damn it Jim.”

Seriously. Good thing we went to see that opera (which I have to review on my blog yet… how long ago was that?). Otherwise, I may never have found that song again. Even though I have a nice recording of Figaro, and listen to it from time to time (more so since going to see the thing, but that’s a different story).

Anyway, lots of opera, lots of good songs. A pity I can’t remember where they all come from!

*Note: I’ve paraphrased Jim’s actual words. Mostly because I can’t remember what exactly was said, but also because it’s slightly funnier this way. Sorry Jim. Thanks though!

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