Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

WWdN: i am the modren man

A touching story of the generation gap between 80's parents and their teenage kids: Wil Wheaton is Mr. Roboto. His son thinks he's lame. I'm Kilroy.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Goblet of Fire: It's OK

I posted this to ericakeithley's LJ, but there's no harm in posting it here, too. We caught the midnight showing of Goblet last night, and maybe I was just tired, but this wasn't nearly as good as PofA and Stone.

The director made Dumbledore into a sniveling girly man in this one. That's not the way I remember him from the book, and was my biggest disappointment. Dumbledore, as Rowling wrote him, is an unwavering rock, like Gandalf and Yoda. In this film, he's more like Piglet. Oh me! oh my! It's quite troublesome being a small weak headmaster with all the evil in the world! What are we to do, Harry Poohter?

There's no house elves at all, either, which means that Dobby, Winky, and S.P.E.W. don't appear in Goblet. Dobby's primary task has been given to another character, which is actually more appropriate than what Rowling wrote, but cutting out Winky made the mystery of the dark mark less mysterious.

Hermione is looking good at the Yule Ball. Tres would hit it. ;-)

On the plus side, the director did a very, very good job at dropping hints as to the biggest whodunit in the story. The book made this more of a deux est machina (I'm sure this is the wrong term, misspelled, but hopefully you know what I mean).

And it's scarier, which was to be expected. Krys had a few eye-covering moments.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Cold turkey poker? Bingo.

So my recent run of poker playing has worried Kim a bit. I'm glad she's there to keep me in check, because my recent ancestors have had trouble with addictive behavior. I think I'm fine (and I'm up to $11.20 out of thin air), but we all know that when you're suffering an addiction, you're not the best judge of your own behavior.

Kim's concern rubbed off on Krys, who on Saturday morning asked me to promise not to play poker for a week, live or online. No problem.

So Saturday night, we're out at the canal, and I'm bored out of my mind. Boredom is kind of the point of going out there, but Wimbledon is running on the DVD player, and I'm scrounging my laptop drive for something to play. The dialup connection is mediocre, and I don't feel like waiting for every Flash game that I might want to try out on AddictingGames.com. I've got Madden 2003 (maybe), I've already played Flight Simulator 2004 (herky-jerky on my laptop), Neverwinter Nights (someday I'll get around to finishing it), and Masque WSOP Casino Game Pak (which Jim McManus says was a decent preparation for the real WSOP). Poker's out, though, so I dig through the disk and find... six-card bingo? What the heck, I'll try it out.

What a pointless, mindless game. How can the old folks find this mentally stimulating?

Barn building, or rounding up migrant workers?

Turk Lurker has a blog post today about the Mechanical Turk and the beauty of distributed work.

[C]ompare it to the street corners in almost every US city where immigrants congregrate to wait for someone to stop by with a truck and hire them for the day or a few hours.

There's nothing ominous in that. It's just that you need some work done and you don't necessarily need a full time employee to do it. Now I'm not advocating paying illegal immigrants like I'm sure someone will point out, but if you need a basement cleaned out quickly you hire 5 guys for a few hours and get it done.
...
Dividing up work and managing it wisely to get it done is when humanity really shines. You can build a barn by yourself, but it's much easier when a community comes together and gets it done quickly and efficiently.

As of last night, I'm up to $7.56. The kid started last night, too, and she's made 39¢. Getting paid to waste time ain't bad work, if you can get it.

Dense cities, like NYC, seem to work best, because almost every building is labeled, and the photos are pretty much on the right block.

Friday, November 11, 2005

But they're sooooted!

At ESPN.com, Phil Gordon writes on The Value of Suits. Runner-runner? 4.2% of the time. Fold.

Unfrozen robot lawyers taking our jobs

"These books and ancient journals, they frighten and confuse me. When I see a lawyer fighting to format his briefs properly, I think 'Oh no! Is the software defective?' I don't know, I'm a robot - that's the way I think.

"When I talk to a lawyer in the courthouse, and they tell me how they Sheperdized a case using the folios in the law library instead of Westlaw, I think, 'Tragedy! The network must be down!', but I don't know, I'm just a robot.

"But I do understand that we robots can win the cases and make the deals for less money than the legacy human lawyers. I never sleep, I have virtually limitless memory, and I get smarter every day. Ladies and gentleman, I'm just a robot, but I do know that Shakespeare was right."

(See also, wikipedia)

The Wonderland Project

From Exit133.com: TV Worth Watching: The Wonderland Project

I’m sure we’ve all dreamt of doing the Wonderland Trail – the 94 mile long hiking trail around Mt. Rainier. Okay, maybe not all of us. But I’ve thought about it and I’ve had a few conversations with folks about what a reasonable amount of time would be to do the trail. I’ve heard eleven or twelve days. I’ve heard nine days. That’s a lot of time spent hanging out with marmots and Cliff Bars.

Ultramarathon runners Skye Thompson and Zac West attempted do do it in under 24 hours. Their story will be on channel 9 (KCTS) at Sun 11/13 1:00 PM and Mon 11/14 3:00 AM. Get that Tivo ready!

(This cache, on the Wonderland trail, went almost three years before someone claimed it this summer.)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

In Soviet Russia, the turtle sees YOU

Remote-controlled tactical turtles are totally the wave of the future.

Colonial Motel shuttered

Motel closed for safety violations agrees to license revocation:

A Lakewood motel shut down last month for numerous fire, health and safety violations has agreed to the revocation of its license, the state Department of Health announced this week.

Lakewood city and fire officials closed the Colonial Motel, 12117 Pacific Highway Southwest, on Oct. 11. This was the second major inspection of the Colonial. The first one, in 1999, temporarily closed the motel.

Too bad -- this was one of the nicer motels on the strip, which isn't saying much. My school bus used to stop there every morning on the way to Tyee Park.

It's progress, though. The city of Lakewood reports that there's a new La Quinta and an Amerihost being built to the north (by Denny's), and a new commercial center is being built to the south, where the old Fort Clark motel got burned out last year. A sign on the other side of the Bridgeport Way overpass indicates there's a Peppertree Hotel being built there, too.

Methinks there's a demand for hotel rooms.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

WSOP Tournament of Champions finished; even better than last year?

Spoiler, but suffice it to say that Phil Hellmuth and Mike "the mouth" Matusow made it to the final table, and when ESPN broadcasts this show on Christmas Eve, we can expect even more witty repartée than Hellumuth/Annie Duke last year ("sorry, Phil, I thought I had the nuts").

Friday, November 04, 2005

Get paid to find Waldo

Amazon.com has a new program that wants you to 'Complete simple tasks that people do better than computers. And, get paid for it. It's the Amazon Mechanical Turk:

1) Pick a task, which Amazon calls a HIT. "For example a HIT might ask: "Is there a pizza parlour in this photograph?" Typically these tasks are extraordinarily difficult for computers, but simple for humans to answer."

2) Find Waldo.

3) Profit! "The money you earn is deposited into your Amazon.com account, where you can turn it into cash at any time by transferring it to your personal checking account."

(thanks, Slashdot)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

E.R. Rogers for sale

The News Tribune reports, "Steilacoom's landmark E.R. Rogers Restaurant is on the market at an asking price of $1.7 million. It will likely remain a restaurant into next year, but after that, its fate could be up to a new owner."

Will Wal-Mart sell $398 notebooks, desktops?

You'll probably be able to get a laptop for $398, but you'll have to fight the Friday-after-thanksgiving crowds at WalMart to do it.

Bingo.

The best trip report ever: Tiltboys in Vegas

I've no idea how old this is, but this long but hilarious read contains gems like the following flashback to a UK trip:

Yes. For those who haven't gleaned this yet, there are some among us in the group who think the Diceboy's prowess at the craps table, and his winning at poker despite a penchant for playing hands that Malmuth would politely call, "ABSOLUTE FUCKING TRASH", (at least that's what he'd call them after Dave had snapped him off with one) all indicate that Dave is one of those rare individuals who lives on the far right hand side of the normal distribution for luck meted out over one's lifetime. The consensus is that he's actually about six sigmas out. A sort of statistical singularity, if you will. No wonder he's always got that damn self-assured grin on, even when he's drawing slim against you in a huge pot. Rafe helps illustrate Dave's knack:

Here's a typical example from one time when Dave and I were traveling in London and we stopped at one of the card clubs to see what poker was like in the U.K. (at least this is how I remember it ;-):

Diceboy and a Brit are head's up on the river in a hand which the Brit raised preflop under the gun. Flop had come AA2, turn 2, river 2. Dave leads into him every round, the guy raises every time, and Dave calls, except the river which he reraises. The Brit now is thinking what to do.

Dave: You have an ace? I thought so. I started 3-2 off, and just sucked out, so you should probably fold. Unless you want to donate, in which case you should probably raise again.

Brit: [frown]

Dave: Ahh, that frown is a tell. I think you are going to fold. Nice laydown.

Brit: Listen up you young hooligan, you might be able to get away with coffeehousing in the colonies, but here in Great Britian we frown on that sort of thing.

Dave: Aha! I put you on a stuffy British attitude. I just won another 5 pounds in a side bet with my friends. I could tell just by looking at you that I was locked.

Brit: [tilt]. Raise!

Dave: Well, I guess you've got me. I should probably lay down, but instead I'll pop it back once more. If you call, I'll muck though. I'll even show you one card. [exposes the 3]. If you have pocket aces, you should raise.

Brit: [mega tilt]. I raise, you imbecilic twit.

Dave: Did you know that 'imbesilic' and 'besilic' actually mean the same thing? The cabbie on the way here told me. I'll just call.

Brit: [flips over AK]

Dave: Nut full house no good! Runner-runner quad deuces! [flips the 2, does his body-builder's clench]. Grrrrrr!!!

Brit: [hard power tilt, wings the cards at Dave and says] How can you bet and call me the entire way with that fucking trash, you bloody fool?!?!?!

Dave: Didn't anyone tell you? I live about six sigmas out on the tail of the normal distribution. My adjusted odds makes me a 3-1 favorite to win with 2-3 offsuit. I can't believe you called me with AK suited.

Floorman: [Hears the Brit screaming and comes over]. I'm sorry sir, but we have strict rules against throwing cards and using profanity here. I'm afraid I'm going to have to have you removed.

Brit: [froths at the mouth and screams unintelligible profanities at the top of his lungs as the security guards drag him out]

Dave: [to the rest of the table]: Geez, that guy should take it easy, he could burst a blood vessel in his brain. Kinda reminds me of the time I was in India and was playing a no-limit karmic freezout with the Dalai Lama. Good player, the Dalai, but has a tendency to go on tilt. So anyway, I put him all-in with 3-2 and snapped his pocket kings. He wanted to pay me cash instead of karma, but I didn't fall for that trick. I've got good karma for the next twenty years now. So I've got that going for me...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Stick this fish in your ear, and wear these glasses

Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Chapter 5:

Ford, with a lightning movement, clapped his hand to Arthur's ear, and he had the sudden sickening sensation of the fish slithering deep into his aural tract. Gasping with horror he scrabbled at his ear for a second or so, but then slowly turned goggle-eyed with wonder. He was experiencing the aural equivalent of looking at a picture of two black silhouetted faces and suddenly seeing it as a picture of a white candlestick. Or of looking at a lot of coloured dots on a piece of paper which suddenly resolve themselves into the figure six and mean that your optician is going to charge you a lot of money for a new pair of glasses.

He was still listening to the howling gargles, he knew that, only now it had taken on the semblance of perfectly straightforward English.

Pittsburgh Tribune Review, on Carnegie Mellon University's new translation hardware:

CMU computer science graduate student Stan Jou, 34, of Shadyside, stood before the audience yesterday morning with 11 tiny electrodes affixed to the muscles of his cheeks, neck and throat.

The Taiwan native then mouthed -- without speaking aloud -- the following phrase in Mandarin Chinese: "Let me introduce our new prototype."

The sensors captured electrical signals from Jou's facial muscles when they moved to form the silent Chinese words. In a matter of seconds, this information traveled to a computer that recognized the words and translated them into English and Spanish. The phrase was then displayed on a screen and spoken by the computer in both languages.

Never quite got the hang of conjugating French verbs? Always wanted to visit Poland, but were afraid you won't be able to prattle with the Poles?

"In the future, we could implant the electrodes into your mouth and throat if you want and have your mouth become multilingual," Waibel said.

While certainly the most revolutionary, this device wasn't the only new communications tool showcased yesterday.

Waibel exhibited "translation goggles" that displayed his words on a miniature virtual screen, seen only by the wearer of these souped-up eyeglasses. His speech was translated from spoken English into Spanish text, almost like having automatic movie subtitles for the real world.

(found via Engadget)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

MPAA writing legislation to close the analog hole

The EFF says:

[T]hat's not spooky enough for the MPAA. For their party trick this year, they want to take one of the most basic and ubiquitous components in multimedia, and encase it within a pile of legally-enforced, complex, and patented proprietary technology - forever.

Ladies and gentlemen, the MPAA have chosen Halloween week to resurrect their most misconceived monster ever: the Thing from the Analog Hole.

Feel free to flick through this new Halloween document: it's a legislative draft proposed by the MPAA for a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property, on the topic "Content Protection in the Digital Age: The Broadcast Flag, High-Definition Radio, and the Analog Hole," on November 3rd.

On Thursday, they'll be no doubt declaring this law's passing to be vital to the entertainment industry's survival, just as Jack Valenti told the same committee that the home video-recorder would kill the film industry.

Here's what the proposed law says, in a nutshell:

Every consumer analog video input device manufactured in the United States will be, within a year, forced to obey not one, but two new copy restriction technologies: a watermarking system called VEIL, and a rights system called CGMS-A (we've covered CGMS-A before; we'll talk a bit more about VEIL soon).

And what might these MPAA-specified, government-mandated technologies do?

They prescribe how many times (if at all) the analog video signal might be copied - and enforce it.

A hundred years from now, we'll be lucky if we can access any "turn of the century" cultural works at all.