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Tuesday, December 14, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

So this afternoon I'm sitting in the second afternoon of a whirlwind class on the basics of control theory for computer nerds. We're all z-transforms and poles of transfer functions and stuff, and while I'm able to annoyingly point out typos on the slides and ask clever-sounding questions and all, I feel like it's all just sitting in the very shallowest layer of my brain, and it'll take a week or two to sink in any significant distance (if indeed it ever does).

From spam (naturally):

Subject: Re: I erasure drawer of think

the Shepherd came down and saw what was done, he said, O you already experienced the impact of Robotics in the work place and simple! Even the new generation who grew up with computers has to The Western Lands,1987. In the words of Anton DeGiusti, Ya, THE LIFE and History of Aesop is involved, like that of Homer, and supperless, so contrary to his wont. He replied: Why, so cozy? I don't think so; at least, he gave no external sign. Lucky me. confusing the general population with the meaning of the term. limited by our imagination, the demands of the marketplace, or for my soul. Aw, gee.

Aw, gee!

Indirectly from flutterby, to brainwagon, to a graph showing how famous I am (especially nice in that since I don't understand the axis I can interpret it however feels best at the time). http://psi.pubsub.com/20040413:linkranks:1

From librarian dot net, yet another reminder that there are 'way too many interesting weblogs now for me to read even the tiniest fraction of them: Library Law.

A couple from amptoons: a piece on geek women in comics, and a trail that leads eventually to a (widely blogged, but I'm finally catching up) story about how misleading the FCC is:

The number of indecency complaints had soared dramatically to more than 240,000 in the previous year, Powell said. The figure was up from roughly 14,000 in 2002, and from fewer than 350 in each of the two previous years. There was, Powell said, "a dramatic rise in public concern and outrage about what is being broadcast into their homes."

What Powell did not reveal -- apparently because he was unaware -- was the source of the complaints. According to a new FCC estimate obtained by Mediaweek, nearly all indecency complaints in 2003 -- 99.8 percent -- were filed by the Parents Television Council, an activist group.

From Marginal Revolution, a neat story about how to improve roads by making them smaller and slower:

When the city of 82,000 went ahead with its plan to convert several wide thoroughfares into narrow two-way streets, traffic slowed so much that people felt it was safe to walk there. The increase in pedestrian traffic attracted new shops and apartment buildings. Property values along Clematis Street, one of the town's main drags, have more than doubled since it was reconfigured.

(And it can improve the driving experience as well as the local property values; at least if you believe the article.)

Words to live by:

Did you ever take the Putnam exam?

No. Or rather "not that I recall". (How do you say "life is long, memory is short" in Latin?) We did tackle some similar problems that year when the High School's math team went to the state competition, but I wasn't one of the Power Hitters on the team. I remember it as being alot of fun, social adventure wise, though.


Yeah, lots of people live by that word (we have it on good authority).


A prickly word.

I like living by the words "mean" and "amen" they aren't tall like "battle" and therefore don't block my river views.

An important consideration that hadn't occurred to me! Living by "men" and "women" is good that way, too.

re. that patent application. These guys have got to be kidding! Only trouble is the stupid examiners will probably let it go through.

I like to think of the examiners as "poorly incented" rather than strictly speaking "stupid". The effects are similar, though... *8)

Two more spam text lines, for your collection: bobcat is snuggly of carolyn / The moses in dogfish or alcove

Awww, snuggly of Carolyn! How nice. Moses in dogfish, on the other hand, is perhaps an edgier image.

dog special tea intensified cheese scaffold

"The little town of Ozark is the county seat of Christian County, Missouri", you know.

a priori ... "Searching for truth through words and speech is like sticking your head in a bowl of glue." Yuan Wu

Yes! In the sense that it gets your hair all sticky (ewwww). We've remarked before that language cannot express truth, although of course it isn't true.

...which doesn't mean it's not all good. It is.

Yes, it is.

I don't know, but I've got more words than you!

Ha! You've only got (wait a minute) ten. Or twelve if we expand your contractions. Or a smaller number if we delete the duplicates. I've got 'way more than that!


Well, yes. A bit over that in fact.

What would we do without readers?

Monday, December 13, 2004  permanent URL for this entry

From geegaw, a neat little piece of interactive fiction (i.e. a "text adventure" in this case). Memorable in tone, and novel in having two puzzles that require careful time-travelling to solve. The "careful" part, though, hints of the thing that I don't like so much about the game: it fails what might be called the "fair play", or maybe the "perfect play", test.

In games like this I like it best when there are hints and clues and signposts leading from the starting state to the most successful end (or to a most successful end), such that when I'm finally done with the thing I can say to myself that, had I only been watching carefully enough and not overlooked or misinterpreted anything, I could have gotten through it on the first attempt. That is, that the protagonist really could have succeeded by virtue of intense skill and cleverness, without requiring any dumb luck or help from previous plays of the game (because of course the protagonist hasn't had any previous plays).

That old Doom level where there is a fork in the cavern, and if you go into the left one you fall into an inescapable lava pit and die whereas if you go into the right one you continue bashing the monsters, fails this test. "All Things Devours" fails this test also, mostly because the tight timing constraints make it impossible, as far as I can see, for the protagonist to explore enough to figure out the right course of action without losing; the only way to win is to have played the game N times before and to have taken careful notes. The story of the successful run involves the protagonist doing at least a couple of things for no discernable reason except that winning requires it.

But it was fun anyway. Not that I didn't get impatient and use the hints and so on at all... *8)

On the same site and by the same author, some stuff about hypercomputation that I should read, given our previous interest in the subject. (Like five years previous; sheesh! Doesn't seem like that long.)

Satire is the best form of commentary:

Next week: Who could be responsible for the repeated failure of Democratic strategy... Democratic strategists, or mischievous gremlins? The Medium Lobster will tell you all about your fiendish pixie adversaries in just one week.

I finished "Chanur's Legacy" and wrote a few notes about it. If someone would like to drop off a copy of "Chanur's Pride" in the Used Book Exchange in the lobby...

And the little daughter noticed the other day that the Quaker instant oatmeal box says "Make with hot water" but also "Preparacion con leche o agua caliente". Heh! Aside from our being inordinately proud of the little daughter for noticing, we're very curious why you're only allowed to use milk if you can read Spanish.


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