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slanty, martha
What do you think of as the difference in meaning between "Software Engineer", "Programmer", and "Coder"? I'm interested in differences in connotation as well as denotation. If you characterize yourself as one of these, which one or ones do you use to describe yourself?
10th-Jun-2013 04:33 pm - Looking for Capitol One Miles
slanty, martha
A friend wants to make a plane trip using miles from her Capitol One credit card. She doesn't have quite enough miles for the trip. Unfortunately, unlike airline-specific miles, Capitol One doesn't let you buy extra miles, or pay with a combination of miles and cash. However, they do allow you to transfer miles from one person to another. So if anyone has a Capitol One card and would be interested in selling some miles, I have a buyer for you.

You'd think that someone would have set up a web site where people who want to buy miles can find people who want to sell miles, but I haven't been able to find one; I can find "we want to buy your miles!" sites, but no "you can buy miles here" site.
13th-Mar-2013 11:21 am - A revealing metaphor.
slanty, martha
So there's some speed at which you can run for a long time. You can run faster than that for a short period, but you can't keep it up; it's not sustainable. Running faster than that is called a "sprint". Sprinting doesn't refer to a particular way of running, or a particular speed; what it means is exactly keeping a pace that is not sustainable for the long term.

So suppose a marathon coach and said

"The secret of running a marathon fast is realizing that sprinting is faster than running. So for the first 100 yards of the marathon, you should sprint. Then for the next 100 yards, you should sprint again. And then another sprint, and another, until you've run the whole marathon fast".

I would conclude they have no idea what they are talking about, and I would discount not only their advice on sprinting, but all their advice on how to go about running a marathon.
13th-Sep-2012 06:56 pm - Lost all my contacts
slanty, martha
So it turns out that when I told my Android "Sync contacts with my google account", this meant "sync existing google contacts on to my phone", but not "Sync contacts I enter onto my phone with my google account". So when my phone crashed, and managed to delete the contacts, I have lost all of them. If you'd like me to have your phone number, assume I don't, and email me, or post it here (comments screened)
slanty, martha
On Saturday, August 25, we will be having our annual* summer party. Swimming! Games! Barbecuing! But most important, just hanging around sand socializing with good friends (that's you!)

Invite to follow in email at some point; but I wanted to get the date on people's calendar.

*Well in theory annucal; somehow we didn't manage it the past two years. This time for sure!
slanty, martha
and my friend siderea has written a very insightful post on the subject. Signal boosting.
2nd-May-2012 04:47 pm - Cross-training works.
slanty, martha
I used to do DDR 4-6 times a week. I've only played 2 or 3 times in the past year, and that was not on my home machine, so I couldn't track my progress. I played a bunch today, and despite being out of practice, set new records on 4 songs.

I don't think it's being in generally better physical shape, because I get winded just as fast or faster than I used to. My best guess is that ballroom dancing has improved my sense of balance, and that makes my accuracy in time better.

Anyway, it's nice to have a video game where being addicted to it is actually good for me!
slanty, martha
I have an extra ticket to the BSO rehearsal tomorrow (Wednesday) night. Music by Kodaly, Dvorak, Mendelssohn. Anyone interested in joining me?

No charge, since the ticket will just go to waste otherwise.
23rd-Sep-2011 12:59 pm - Any Thursday Next fans want a book?
slanty, martha
I went to the last-day-everything-90%-off sale at Borders, and got an extra hardback copy of Thursday Next; First Among Sequels for next to nothing. Anyone want one?

If you've never read the Thursday Next series, I highly recommend them, but you should start at the beginning, with The Eyre Affair
9th-Aug-2011 02:42 pm - Self-identifying spam.
slanty, martha
I got a typical piece of spam today, telling me to buy some penny stock. The two unusual things about this spam are that it got past the gmail spam filters, and that the subject line, rather than being something like "Stock XYZ is going to go up this week!" was something like "SPAM Stock XYZ is going to go up this week!".

My theory is that gmail wants to let discussions of spam get through, while spam doesn't, and has figured out that the discussions of spam contain the word "Spam" much more often than the spam does. Worked well until now, but now the spammers have figured it out.
slanty, martha
Number of hits for the word "shrift": 1 million.
Number of hits for the phrase "short shrift": 2 million.

I'm unable to think of any approximate counting algorithm that would produce these results.
slanty, martha
My Mac died, and will be in the shop for a week or so :-(. Does anyone have a computer I can borrow for a week or so? Ideally a laptop with wifi, but I can cope with a tower that I have to connect via ethernet.
14th-Feb-2011 10:06 am - Comment spam
slanty, martha
I just got a piece of comment spam posted to my LJ. No-one but me sees this, since I screen comments from nonfriends.

I discovered when I went to delete it that this posting had a dozen or so comment spams, but none of my other posts had any comment spam.

Why should this post be full of comment spam, but none of the others?

It doesn't seem to be one spammer who somehow found this URL. Or if it is, it's a spammer who contracts out spamming job, since the spam pointed to a bunch of different porn and Viagra sites.

One possible theory; someone linked to this post, to say "this thing that happened to me happened to luckylefty too", and once there's a link to a post, google is more likely to find it.
7th-Feb-2011 05:40 pm - Want to see a preview on Thursday?
slanty, martha
I have 2 tickets to a preview of The Adjustment Bureau, a Matt Damon movie based on a Philip K. Dick Story, opening next month.

Preview is this Thursday at 4. If you're interested in joining me, let me know, and give me a phone number if I don't have it to work out details (comments screened).
29th-Nov-2010 12:06 am - Speaking of angry birds...
slanty, martha
If you play angry birds, you need to watch this.
slanty, martha
One of the things that makes computer games addictive is the feeling of progress. As you play, you get better and better, and complete harder and harder challenges, and the positive reinforcement this gives you as get better keeps you coming back for more.

But to get this right, the difficulty level and learning curve have to be properly calibrated. If the puzzles are too hard, or the learning curve too steep, people won't be able to progress, and will get frustrated and quit. If the puzzles are too easy, there's no feeling of progress or accomplishment, so it just feels like mindless repetition, and people get bored and quit.

So you need something that in fact anyone who keeps playing can accomplish, but that feels like something that takes skill to accomplish.

My new idea for how to make this work is to cheat. If each level appears to be something that you play over and over again, being confronted with the same challenge each time, but it actually gets easier each time you try it, then it will seem as though you get better with practice and eventually solve it, but in fact anyone can solve it, because you don't need to get better; the puzzle gets easier.

The reason for the question mark in the title is that I have a suspicion that Angry Birds does exactly this. Just as I'm giving up on a puzzle, I seem to make progress that I can't explain. Maybe I've learned to hit the exact right angle to destroy the building. But maybe the laws of Angry-Bird-Physics change depending on the number of times I've played that particular level, and it's not that I've learned to hit "just the right angle", it's that as I play, a wider and wider range of angles are good enough to count as "just right".

This could be tested by switching between two copies of the game that are at the same level, one of which has been played more at that level than the other. If anyone is near the end of the first third of Angry Birds on a droid, and wants to test my theory that it cheats in this way, let me know.

If Angry Birds doesn't 'cheat' in this way, does anyone know of any other games that do? Or is this a new idea in game design? Hard to know for certain, since anyone using this technique would not publicize it; it depends for its effectiveness on the illusion that the player is getting better, when actually the game is getting easier, and the illusion would be ruined if people knew what was really happening.
22nd-Nov-2010 01:37 am - Popularity of communications media.
slanty, martha
I received birthday wishes...

...by phone from 3 people.
...by IM from 1 person.
...by SMS from 1 person
...by email from 2 people.
...in person from about 8 people.
...on facebook from 60 people.
2nd-Nov-2010 11:19 am - I still don't get Facebook.
slanty, martha
So maybe I'm naive, but I had thought that when I clicked on "recent posts" on facebook I got, well, the recent posts of my friends. Apparently that's not true; I get those recent posts of friends that some mysterious facebook algorithm thinks are the ones I would like.

On LJ, if a friend posts something, I see it. And I have fine-grained control of who gets to see which of my posts. And I don't have the constant "we've changed the privacy policy, so things you thought were private are now public unless you go through a complex procedure to make them private again".

What's the advantage of facebook again? I use it occasionally, only for the reasons "it's where some of my friends post" and "it's where some of my friends will read my posts" (that is, if facebook deems my posts worthy of being shown to them. That is, I only use facebook because other people prefer it to LJ. But there must be some people who actually prefer facebook, and I can't figure out why.
26th-Oct-2010 06:24 pm - Rally to Restore Sanity
slanty, martha
I'm going to Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity in DC this Saturday. Anyone else going that wants to get together in DC, either at the Rally or afterwards?
22nd-Oct-2010 11:03 am - Rutabagas!
slanty, martha
At dinner last night, we discovered that three out of the six of us had, all for different reasons and at different times, read the Wikipedia Turnip Disambiguation Page. I don't know which is stranger; this fact, or the fact that we managed to discover it.
21st-Jun-2010 10:06 pm - Come hear Werd Al!
slanty, martha
We have one extra ticket to the Weird Al Yankovic concert in New Bedford on Tuesday night. Anyone want to join us?
13th-Jun-2010 09:21 am - World Series of Poker
slanty, martha
I'm off to Las Vegas for a week to play in (a couple of smaller events in) the World Series of Poker). Wish me luck!

I'm going to try tweeting how I'm doing from the tournaments. So if you want updates on my progress, follow me on twitter (firstnamelastname). If you're following me on twitter and don't want a bunch of twitter volume, stop following me for a week.

If you're going to be in Las Vegas too, reply with your phone number so we can get in touch (comments screened).
3rd-Jun-2010 11:18 am - Geeky even in my dreams
slanty, martha
In a dream last night, I was discussing whether it was better to have fixed criminal sentences, or have them determined by the judge or the jury. My proposal was that the judge and each juror propose a sentence, and the actual sentence be the logarithm of the average of the exponentials of the proposed sentences.

Trying to explain to the people in the dream why this is better than just taking a straight average caused me to wake up.

Some people think about their dreams and gain insights about their life. I think about my dream and think "well, I would weight the average by counting the judge's vote six or twelve times. And of course it should be the exponential of the average of the logarithms of the proposed sentences, not the other way around".

Add in the rule that the proposed sentences have to be within the statutory range for the crime, and I think it's a pretty reasonable system.
20th-May-2010 12:00 pm - Two exercise timing questions.
slanty, martha
Someone on my friends list must know these things...

When I exercise strenuously, I'm much less sore the next day if I stretch out both before and after the exercise. Is it best to stretch immediately before and immediately after, or to wait a few minutes in between?

I'm pretty sure it's better from an aerobic point of view to stretch immediately before and after, since that will extend the period when your cardiovascular system is getting a workout, but that's not what I care about; I care about reducing next-day soreness.

When I do a weight-training exercise (specifically push-ups, if it makes a difference), and do multiple sets, what's the right length of time to wait between sets? I've been doing as many as I can, then waiting long enough that I can do about 80% as many in the second and third sets.
14th-May-2010 05:24 pm - Another cool video
slanty, martha
A cool optical illusion. If you want to think of this as a puzzle, stop playing at 0:25 to avoid the "spoiler". Not embedded because just seeing the middle frame of the video constitutes a spoiler.
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