More Crap for the New Year

closePlease note: This post was published over a year ago, so please be aware that its content may not be quite so accurate anymore. Also, the format of the site has changed since it was published, so please excuse any formatting issues.

Randomness:

On New Year’s Eve, Morah and I had dinner at Fugazzi, I really classy restaurant in downtown Spokane. The food was good, but the wine was what really caught my attention. I’m not sure our meal was really worth $100 (we only paid half of that thanks to a gift certificate I won at the Fox company picnic this past summer), but at least we got to feel really classy and have our last meal of 2004 at a nice restaurant.

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I’m way behind on my magazine reading (again), so I just read this in December’s WIRED Magazine:

US Air Force Captain Edward Murphy said it in 1949, and we all paraphrase: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Most of the scientific community has written off the law as a myth – a result of selective memory or a self-fulfilling expectation. But an amateur mathematician from the UK has another explanation. Phillip Obayda drew up an equation combining the factors that influence the performance of a task – urgency, complexity, and importance, as well as skill (or lack thereof). He calculated the likelihood of a few familiar scenarios. The good news: To change the odds, all you have to do is alter one element of the equation. For instance, try to avoid doing anything complex or important when you’re in a rush, particularly if it requires skills you don’t have. But in general, the math proves that the universe really does hate you.

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New words I like:

Mobile Speed Bumps: Community-group members who drive the highways at the posted speed limit in an effort to force the cars behind them to do the same. <- That's totally me. -) Fabjects - Objects made in fabrication laboratories (fab labs). Think 3D printer. ---- More Crap I Found in WIRED: Neven Vision's idea for a "visual Google". From WIRED:

The company has tweaked its facial analysis algorithms to identify anything from a Coke can to the Mona Lisa, barcodes to kanji. By linking this object-recognition software to a database of images, Neven aims to build a search platform for phonecam users. Don’t know what something is? Snap a pic and the service sends back a match within 10 seconds.

Travel guides are next: Snap a picture of the Pantheon to learn its history, or click a road sign you need translated from German to English. “The system hyperlinks the visual world,” Neven says. “Eventually every building and object will be in the database.”

The True Measure of Success and Why Nerds Are Unpopular are a couple of fantastic articles.

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For some reason the DVD player on my computer won’t play DVDs (I can use it as a normal drive, so I think it’s just a software issue, but no software seems able to play them) and our set-top DVD player has also crapped out.

Last night Tom Dineen and I were tooling around and stopped into Best Buy where I found this DVD player for $41. At first, I thought it would be a crappy DVD player. I mean, look at it, it’s only $41! I asked one of the employees if it had an assigned region and not only is it region free, but the guy said he bought two of them himself.

I also bought Bowling For Columbine; Sex, Lies and Videotape; and The Family Guy Seasons 1 & 2. So far, the DVD player works extremely well and we =finally= have a remote control! Now we can access all the special features we haven’t been able to watch on other discs.

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I wrote another entry about my trip to Hawaii this morning, but it’s going to be overshadowed by this post. If you’re interested in reading it, you can find it here. Kris, make sure you read this one.

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High school chum Daniel Akiyama recently sent me the following in an e-mail. It contains references to people you likely won’t know, but you’ll still get the point.

Little philosophical digression: One of the crucial stages of childhood development, as psychologists have determined, is when a child learns that objects exist even outside of his line of sight. That is, when a ball falls off a table, an infant assumes that the ball has just “disappeared,” that it no longer exists. But there comes a point when the child begins to realize that a ball that has fallen off a table actually still exists, even though he no longer has any physical proof, i.e. he can’t see it or touch it. It’s a matter of being completely trusting of your environment, of accepting that the world still functions beyond your own perception of it.

Some of us — me, for example — never outgrow that stage. I felt so strange coming to the realization that yes, people exist, grow and change, even when I’m not there to witness them. Rachel Antal got married and taught high school! Matt Johnson is writing plays! etc. Weird realization of 1) how successfully everyone is getting on with their lives, and 2) how oddly self-centered I think I’ve been all this time.

Earlier today I participated in a benefit concert to raise funds for victims of the tsunami disasters. THAT helped put things in perspective.

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