Thursday, December 10, 2009

Comments of Windows 7

Read for yourself the following instant message conversation that I had with Shannon...

i'm not that impressed with windows 7
it's just vista
me neither
or what vista would have been if they had another 2 weeks to work on it
instead they took another 3 years to give me this?
i can't believe i wasted a day getting it installed
so lame
there aren't even any new features
they made up a bunch of new backgrounds
by giving their artist some crack and then telling him to draw things
and the bottom toolbar thing is different
and that is it
and they amped up the sidebar thing on the desktop
the end.

Later, when talking to her on the phone, she had this to add:
I am pissed that I got Windows 7. I thought that it was supposed to be better.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snow Adventures

I don't have to tell anyone that the weather is bad right I will just show you:

Here is my car on the first day it showed about a week ago...

And this is my car right now!

It is this bad for two reasons. First, the snow plow pushed some snow towards my car. Second, this street is right next to Lake Mendota, so the drifts are crazy bad.

Can you believe that the city of Madison wants me to move my car just to the other side of the street?? If I don't, I could get a $60 ticket! This morning, the city did not send the parking enforcement out because of "unsafe conditions". As of now, my plan to risk it and hope that there will be "unsafe conditions" tomorrow morning as well :(

The city sent a reminder email to everyone saying that they would be giving tickets and towing tomorrow morning, so Tycho and I went and moved our cars.

School at UW-Madison was cancelled today. The following is an excerpt from an email that I received:
University spokesman John Lucas said that this is the first wide-scale class cancellation due to snow since Dec. 3, 1990. He added that this is the first time that non-essential staff have been asked to stay home in addition to the cancellations since Jan. 26, 1978.

Tycho and I walked around for a while and took some pictures. We helped one person get unstuck and offered help to a couple others. In preparation for having to move my car, I bought an avalanche shovel. I think it is a good investment because I will just leave it in my car in case of an emergency.

I took one last picture.

Tycho took the rest of the pictures.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Wizard of Oz FAIL

(Why do all my recent posts involve YouTube videos??)

You remember in the Wizard of Oz when the Scarecrow receives his brain...

He is just as stupid has when they started this their trip. After receiving his brain, the Scarecrow says
"The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side."
This is a misquote of the Pythagorean theorem. The Scarecrow is wrong in three ways:
  1. It should be a right triangle, not an isosceles triangle.
  2. It should be "the squares" of the sides, not "the square roots" of the sides.
  3. Order matters. Only the sum of the squares of the smaller two sides add together to be the square of the longest side.
The line to correctly state the Pythagorean theorem would be
"The sum of the squares of the short sides of a right triangle is equal to the square of the longest side."

(Source: Wikipeida Article on Pythagorean theorem)

Monday, December 7, 2009

In Defense of Basketball

My favorite sport is definitely basketball. So when someone tries to tell me that "even basketball players think basketball is lame", I have to respond.

Along with the previous quote, the same person gave me a link to the following embedded video:

In basketball (as well as some other similar sports like football and hockey), the offense tends to stall at the end of quarter (or period in the case of hockey) in order to prevent the other team from having a chance to score. In this game (that was played on Dec. 5th, 2009), Jarrett Jack of the Toronto Raptors is doing just that - stalling at the end of the quarter so that the Chicago Bulls will not have a chance to score. I will admit though that it is unusual to tie one's shoe while stalling. I could argue that it was actually a good use of stall-time.

Now you might wonder why Jack's defender, Luol Deng, did not try to steal the ball. The astute observer will realize that this is not an option. When the video begins, we have already missed a crucial event that would have helped to explain what was going on here. The Rapstors have the Bulls in a mismatch. Deng is not the proper defender for Jack; Deng is a 6' 9'', 220 lb forward while Jack is a 6' 3'', 197 lb guard.

At the 4 second mark of the video, Jannero Pargo of the Chicago Bulls motions to Deng that they should switch who they are guarding. Pargo is a 6' 1'', 185 lb guard but is guarding Marco Belinelli of the Raptors who is a 6' 5'', 200 lb guard. Althogh Benlinelli is a guard, the best defending situation is if Deng were guarding Benlinelli and Pargo were guarding Jack. However, in the next second of the video, Pargo changes his mind and motions to Deng to continue guarding Jack.

If Deng tried to approach Jack in an attempt to steal the ball, Jack would be able to make a move and get past him. At this point, the the Raptors would have a 5-4 situation and probably be able to hit a wide open three-point shot.

In conclusion, the events that transpired at the end of the third quarter of this game may have been unusual, but they were also the optimal strategy.

While not directly related to this situation (as I laid out above), Derek Gatheright presented an argument (in the fourth comment) as to when other situations like this could happen:
"That’s just good sportsmanship. It’s like in soccer when a player is injured and the other team has the ball, it is usually kicked out of bounds. It’s bad sportsmanship to take advantage of a situation like that."

Friday, December 4, 2009

Competition Equals Lower Prices

Let me repeat my title: competition equals lower prices.

The music industry was making bank by forcing customers to pay for entire $12+ album even though they only wanted to own the one popular song. The internet has created an alternative distribution method in which it is equally efficient to sell one popular single or all the songs from "an album." Big content was abusing the album model, but now that their ability to abuse it is falling fast, they should accept the reality that their distribution monopoly is fading and innovate, but instead they are trying to sue everyone and their dog.

Now the movie industry to is beginning to follow the same path. Services like Netflix and Redbox are providing cheaper alternatives to the buying or (traditional) renting of DVDs. The theory says that the prices of DVDs should decrease due to this increased competition. Just like the music industry however, the movie industry is refusing to accept the reality that their distribution monopoly is fading. Instead of innovating, they are "playing hardball" with Netflix and Redbox.

Will they ever learn?
(I knew about most of this information, but much of the content cam from this ars technica article.)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

About an Unusual Theorem

Yesterday, I saw a professor write the following on the board:
To prove a theorem, [one] need[s] to show it's true in all circumstances.
To prove a [theorem] is false, [one] need[s] to show it's fase for just one case.

How would you go about proving such a theorem? This looks like a nasty case of infinite recursion to me.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

UPS or FedEx?

Normally, people ship items to me using UPS. If I am not at home during the attempted delivery, I can call UPS and instruct them that I will stop by their distribution center that night and pick up my package.

Today, FedEx tried to deliver a package to me and I was not home. I called FexEx and asked them to have the package ready at their distribution center tonight for me to pick up. However, they do not have such a speedy service because they said it would be a day OR TWO after today before I could come and pick up my package in person.

In conclusion, UPS > FedEx.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Almost an "I Told You So"

ars technia just released an article that says that the big LCD manufactures were engaged in price fixing.

Now, I never said "Hey, I think that the LCD manufactures are engaged in price fixing," but I did say "Why have all the prices for electronic dropped at a steady rate except for LCDs?". I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt, so I never considered that there was price fixing involved.