Archive for July, 2010

Consumer Scoring

08:00 30 Jul 2010

I’m not a big fan of shopping, and more or less loathe the idea of it as an entertainment activity. That didn’t stop me from coming up with a scoring system for it, one which could conceivably be useful in restraining spending.

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Consumer Serendipity

16:00 29 Jul 2010

Two weeks ago I wrote about having difficulties finding a wallet to match my somewhat specific requirements. Today, while looking for something else, I found one that matched almost perfectly—it’s like a cheap clone of my earlier wallet.

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Jet Lag and Exercise

23:45 27 Jul 2010. Updated: 08:46 01 Aug 2010

Usually going east is tough for me in terms of jet lag. This is related to my being a night owl—going east means it’s harder to get up in the morning and easier to stay up late, and I have enough issues with both those things already. This time it’s been a little easier, I think physical activity has a lot to do with that.

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The Internet, We Wants It

16:09 26 Jul 2010

Having had no internet here for two days, and with my phone lacking a data plan here, I’ve found myself more disturbed by the absence of internet access than perhaps I would have guessed.

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5 Weeks of the Paleo Diet

13:39 25 Jul 2010

I stayed on the diet for five weeks, a little longer than the challenge required. When I last was on the diet, in the run up to Sectionals, I cheated once per week, getting a burger with buns. This time I didn’t cheat, at least not knowingly. I derived more benefit from it this time around, although I didn’t start really feeling that until the last two weeks.

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Friday Flash Game: pOnd

20:52 23 Jul 2010

pOnd: it’s certainly something different.

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An Eldritch Reading

23:19 22 Jul 2010

I generally don’t listen to podcasts much, but I just listened to the first ten minutes or so of “The Haunter of the Dark” on HPPodcraft.com and I’m really impressed by the quality. They’ve been going for quite some time, so there are plenty of podcasts beyond that one (although many are discussions rather than readings).

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Lifehacker Meditation Guide

23:16 20 Jul 2010

I haven’t tried it out, but this Lifehacker guide to meditation looks good. I’m interested in trying it, but have some resistance because I’ve never gotten anywhere with meditation in the past.

Entirely by coincidence (or at least that’s how it appears to me) the Deutsche Nepal track “The Hierophants of Light”, which I’ve never heard before, starting playing as I wrote this post (I bought the album it’s on, Deflagration of Hell, last night)—and it begins with this looped many times: “You shall hear nothing, you shall see nothing, you shall think nothing, you shall be nothing”.

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Intelligence Scores and Roleplaying Game Combat

21:35 19 Jul 2010

The intelligence characteristic in roleplaying games is problematic. The advantages it confers are often mechanical—more spells, more languages—and it’s hard to have it work for players in ways that the physical characteristics do. A player checking against their strength score to break something is fine, but a player checking against their intelligence score to solve a puzzle—or a plot point, something my players have contemplated trying—just isn’t. Even less fine is a player requesting combat action suggestions on the basis that their character’s high intelligence would mean that they’d come up with something clever.

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Tough Mudding

12:38 18 Jul 2010

I just signed up for the Northern California “Tough Mudder” event, a seven-mile, high-altitude, obstacle-ridden, sadistically-conceived, mud-covered race/challenge at Bear Valley Mountain on 09 October 2010.

Why? A good question, particularly since I’m paying to suffer through it.

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Metaweb Acquired by Google

23:57 16 Jul 2010. Updated: 01:20 17 Jul 2010

The official announcements are out, and my former employer Metaweb no longer exists. I’m happy that the ideas, and most of the people, have found a home, but it feels strange that the company is no longer a distinct entity. In many ways it makes a lot of sense for Google to end up owning them, and I hope the former-Metaweb-now-Google employees prosper.

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Unit Testing as Game

23:23 15 Jul 2010

One of the great things about unit testing is that you can get into a game-like mode where you make incremental but measurable progress—“flow”, basically—but what if it’s just not similar enough to a game for you?

Install Unit Testing Achievements, a Python package that works with nose, unittest, and Django. Somewhat crazy, definitely hilarious. Some of the achievements themselves are excellent, such as My God, It’s Full of Dots: The suite has at least 2,001 passing tests.

Sadly not yet working is another one I like, Heisenbug: Make a passing suite fail without changing anything.

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Consumer’s Lament

23:13 13 Jul 2010

My wallet—not the metaphor, but the physical object I use to hold money and other things—has become worn and ragged. It’s time to buy a new one.

By “new one”, I mean ideally a new wallet of exactly the same model. This wallet has served me extremely well, and I don’t see why I would want to change its configuration given that it’s worked perfectly for years.

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8-Bit Cities

21:35 12 Jul 2010

As a geek of my generation, I cannot help but find an eight-bit map of San Francisco (there are maps of other cities too) a wonderful thing. It became even cooler when I found out it was programmed in Python.

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Cephalopod Certitude: Spain 1 Holland 0

21:13 11 Jul 2010

Paul the octopus made the right pick again, and the Spanish ensured the Dutch stand alone as the best side never to win a World Cup.

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Friday Silliness: “AT-AT Day Afternoon”

18:51 09 Jul 2010

Pretty fun idea; how long before Lucas (or ThinkGeek) turns this into a real product?

AT-AT day afternoon from Patrick Boivin on Vimeo.

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Tal Ben-Shahar on Practical Happiness

22:30 08 Jul 2010

Even though Oakland apparently isn’t too bad so far after the Mehserle verdict, thinking about police–protester interactions is depressing, and watching this take on recent events in Toronto didn’t help. So what better than five ways to become happier?

You should follow the link and watch the video, but if you really don’t have time to spare to become happier, a quick summary:

  • Accept emotional pain. It’s indicates that we’re still alive and not psychopathic.
  • Focused time with loved ones. We need it, and we need it without distraction.
  • Regular exercise. We’re not supposed to be sedentary. Even three times a week for thirty–forty minutes helps tremendously.
  • Be grateful. He suggests noting five things you’re grateful for every night.
  • Simplify. Stop trying to jam more and more into less time.

I have experience with some of these, and they work. This includes exercise; the difference it can make is extremely significant. (It doesn’t have to be CrossFit—but do some kind of strenuous exercise three times a week for forty minutes!). I haven’t gotten too far with simplification. The “gratitude journal”, despite its New Age veneer, has some strong evidence behind it. I might try that out.

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Some Recent Web Reading on Economics

22:39 06 Jul 2010

A David Harvey lecture on the recent crises, animated:

An NPR broadcast on how falling real wages have been compensated for by expanding easy credit.

A reminder that money is not real.

Some thoughts on why higher education correlates to higher political self-delusion in Britain. (Also, on why economists and other intellectuals are so likely to construct theories defending even utterly ludicrous levels of inequality.)

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How to Cheat in the Leaving Certificate on YouTube

21:03 05 Jul 2010. Updated: 21:39 06 Jul 2010

Some time ago I wrote a feature film with Graham Jones: How to Cheat in the Leaving Certificate, a heist movie about the Irish education system. It is now available on YouTube.

I’m leery of YouTube as a venue for feature films, since it’s geared much more towards short clips. On the other hand, if the film is insufficiently gripping, that’s down to mistakes we made.

The film has been in the news again recently, mentioned in stories concerning allegedly widespread cheating.

I’m amused that one of the primary funding sources for the film was the now-nationalized Anglo Irish Bank.

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Nadal’s Second Wimbledon/Eighth Grand Slam

19:34 04 Jul 2010

Tomas Berdych overcame the world number two, Roger Federer, and the world number three, Novak Djokovic. But he couldn’t get anywhere near the world number one, Rafael Nadal, who dismantled him in three sets and made it look fairly easy.

It wasn’t a great match to watch. Berdych claimed not to be nervous, but he certainly looked tight. Against Federer and Djokovic he prevailed with heavy serves and heavy power strokes, but those weren’t evident today. Many of his groundstrokes were landing inside the service line, and Nadal is simply too good not to punish that. So he did. 6–3, 7–5, 6–4.

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A Burger at Chez Maman

23:57 02 Jul 2010. Updated: 02:19 03 Jul 2010

This meal seemed to exemplify many of the changes in my eating habits since resuming carnivorism:

A Burger at Chez Maman
Pictured is a medium burger, no bun, with swiss cheese, avocado, bacon, and a fried egg; plus tomato, onions, and salad. It was excellent, and I absolutely recommend Chez Maman—it was excellent when I was last there too, and I wasn’t a carnivore at that point.

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Federer Falls at Wimbledon

22:55 01 Jul 2010

Of the top four seeds, three are through to the semifinals—making it all the more shocking that the only one not to make it is Roger Federer. Tomas Berdych beat him in the quarterfinals 6–4, 3–6, 6–1, 6–4. Losing at the quarterfinal stage in Paris is one thing, but at Wimbledon, where Federer had been in the finals for seven consecutive years? That’s absolutely an upset. The problem is it wasn’t a hugely surprising upset in that Berdych was clearly going to trouble Federer, playing the same kind of power game that Söderling and Del Potro (and, in a more limited way, Davydenko) have been able to hurt him with over the past year. A shocker, but one that you could almost sense coming.

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