I Read Stuff!

Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Disposable Cell

NEC is putting out some fancy cell phones this year.



The Flask, as it's called, is a touch screen phone that is powered by the liquid sloshing around inside it. As you use the phone, the liquid will slowly recede until empty. Whether you can refill it is unknown, but Japanese consumers should find out sometime in 2008.

I find these phones especially appealing since my own cell phone just ran out of juice.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

When Statistics Go Bad

I watched this TED video which is basically a justification for the job of 'Statistician'. Peter Donnelly, also known as the British Hank Azaria, talks about how almost everyone improperly interprets statistics.

The example he uses to illustrate this failing is fascinating if your geek cred is over 600. For those of you still with me, follow closely.

A large number of people are given coins to toss. They are asked to find how many tosses it takes to see the pattern heads, tails, heads, or HTH. They dutifully toss the coins and the pattern occurs after the 11th toss. They do it again and they get it after the 4th toss etc. They do this a million times and then average the number of tosses necessary.

This same group of people, who obviously have a lot of time on their hands, perform the same experiment, but this time they look for the pattern heads, tails, tails, or HTT.

The question to you, dear reader, is which one of these statements is true:

A) The average number of tosses until HTH is larger than the average number of tosses until HTT.

B) The average number of tosses until HTH is the same as the average number of tosses until HTT.

C) The average number of tosses until HTH is smaller than the average number to tosses until HTT.

Think about it. Got your answer?



The vast majority of people, including myself, would say B is true. The actual answer is A. If you did get it right though, don't say anything because the rest of us don't like you.

The reason people get it wrong is because we assume the patterns are basically the same, which they are not. When trying to get the pattern HTH, the researchers get excited when they get an H, then more excited when they get an HT, and finally they either celebrate the HTH or despair at the HTT.

When researching the patter HTT, the experience is different. They get mildly excited at the H, then more excited with the HT, and finally they celebrate the HTT or they are mildly excited again with the H.

You see they either get the pattern they are after, or they are a third of the way into their next attempt. They only start from scratch at the first toss instead of every time the TT pattern emerges. It takes an average of 8 tosses to get HTT where it takes an average of 10 tosses to achieve HTH.

It's a fun exercise that you might dismiss. However Dr. Donnelly then goes on to give examples of how bad statistics presented in court have lead to innocent people being imprisoned. So be very careful when dealing with statistics because you don't know what kinds of assumptions are present.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

N-Strike Vulcan



Hasbro recommends this for "mission supremacy". I'm not sure when you don't want that, so I guess I need the Nerf Vulcan.

Especially because it's belt fed.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Blu's Clues

Toshiba has collected all of the paw prints, done it's time in the Thinking Chair, and has decided to remove HD DVDs from the market.

The first clue was that High-Definition media only represented a half of a percent of the total consumer purchases of all movie formats. Basically consumers have not bought into the Hi-Def marketing blitz. We think DVD's work just fine.

The second clue came from the hands of Sony and Nielsen. 81 percent of the Hi-Def disc sales were Blu-ray. The overwhelming market share sent Time Warner out of the HD DVD camp and into Sony's Blu-ray loving arms.

The final clue, of course, is Apple's iTunes, ATT's U-Verse, XBox Live, Netflix's Watch Now etc. These represent the front line of movie digital download. The future of personal media libraries is not on DVD silicone discs, but on the aluminum platters in your hard drives.

Toshiba's decision is a good move. What makes it a great move is that they are shifting all of their HD DVD funds into a partnership with SanDisk for two new flash memory plants. Toshiba has lost this format battle, but they intend to win the war.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Dog's Name

Huzzah! Another movie series reincarnated from my childhood!



Do you think that Indiana Jones could be recycled in the same manner as the Bond movies? Can America accept an Indiana without Harrison Ford?

I bet we'll find out in about a decade.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

World of Warcraft Killer

This is amazing. No other game could possibly compete. I expect the entire world's populace to be playing this within weeks of release.

It's that virulent.

(For added fun, open the above page in multiple browser windows, and let the happiness wash over you)

In other news....

Monday, February 11, 2008

We're All Going To Die

These TED talks are like a 'Fun Sized' education. Today's lecture is brought to you by The Texan and the letter 'C'. Stephen Petranek talks about the 10 ways the world could end. It's 30 minutes long and I know your ADD ass can't handle such an exorbitant amount of talking.

So I'll break it down for you:

10. We Lose the Will to Survive - The average lifespan of a woman is now 83, and the average goes up almost 1 year of every year that passes. That means 50% of the people born in 2020 will live past 100. Currently 1 out of 5 people in the world is clinically depressed. People over the age of 65 are the people most likely to commit suicide.

9. Aliens Invade Earth - 1993 we discover the first planets outside our own solar system. It is projected there are 100's of millions of planets in the Milky Way. Statistically speaking, there is life on other planets and some of it is smarter than we are.

8. The Ecosystem Collapses - We are experiencing a species extinction rate that exceeds the fossil record by a factor of 10,000. At some point the rainforest will be logged beyond it's ability to sustain itself. A collapsing ecosystem of that size could destroy our atmosphere.

7. Particle Accelerator Mishap - A collider on Long Island performs an experiment that creates miniature black holes. They expect them to evaporate each time. Perhaps the larger collider in Switzerland can create some that don't.

6. Biotech Disaster - BT Corn is a genetically engineered corn that produces a pesticide to kill a corn borer. It is not intended for human consumption. Genes from this corn have been found in Mexico where genetically engineered plants are completely illegal. A disaster like this could potentially make 99% of corn species inedible for humans.

5. Reversal of The Earth's Magnetic Field - This happens every couple of hundred thousand years. The last one happened 800,000 years ago. When this happens we will be irradiated.

4. Giant Solar Flares - Usually blocked by the magnetic field. Turns out that while watching other stars, of similar makeup to our own, they will brighten by about 20 times. This brightening is believed to be a large solar flare. Again, we would be irradiated.

3. A New Global Epidemic - About 12,000 years ago there was a massive wave of death in the mammal population. It's believed that this was caused by a plague. All it takes is for one germ to mutate in a very bad way.

2. We Meet a Rogue Black Hole - The universe is vast, but it is also full of black holes. Most are orbiting something, but there are a few that are free traveling. If one of these comes within a billion miles of us, it could turn earths orbit into an elliptical shape. That means summer would be roughly 180 degrees and winter is 50 below.

1. A Really Big Asteroid - In 1989 a planet killing asteroid swung within 400,000 miles of earth. It passed directly through Earth's orbit. The Earth was in that spot 6 hours earlier.

It's not a question of 'if', it's a question of when.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Prison Management

I installed Steam last night. I did this for two reasons. One, I wanted The Orange Box. Two, I believe that digital distribution is the future of purchasing media.

While I was downloading The Orange Box, I decided to explore Steam. One of the top news stories for Steam was the addition of 4 new games.

PuzzleQuest: Challenge of the Warlords - a classic puzzle-game backed with an epic story of good vs. evil.

18 wheels of Steel American Long Haul - build your trucking empire!

Prison Tycoon 3: Lockdown - Build up a low security prison to a SuperMax federal facility.

Hunting Unlimited 2008 - Stalk trophy animals from your home office.

While there is inherent humor in every one of those entries, I'd like to take special note of Prison Tycoon 3. The franchise has been so successful that it deserves 2 sequels!! The love of building prisons is apparently unending.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Flaming Balls

Let's all take a moment from all the intellectual TED talks. As a change of pace, let's watch these fools launch flaming bowling balls with an industrial robot.



Good times... Good times...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Oil Endgame

I can see now that posting TED talks is going to be a reoccurring theme here. They have the knack of getting me excited about the future and where we are headed. This particular talk hits a conversation topic that I'm sure we've all covered more than once. How can we remove the use of oil from our economy?

Most of these talks are FUD oriented. Talking about how we're destroying mother earth and it's all because of the evil corporations. If only we had Captain Planet around to fight Hoggish Greedly!

The reality is that the global economy has reached a point where efficient vehicles are the most profitable. The sticking point for me is that China is not going to build heavy gas guzzling machines. They are going to build light carbon fiber cars that run off of Brazil's biodiesel.

The best part is that they won't have to be smaller cars. Lord knows that American's need their big SUV's. A material made of carbon fiber and nylon can be molded into cars that are lighter, stronger, cheaper, and easier to build.

Ultimately, over the next 10 years, technological innovators and profit maximizing capitalist will save the earth just like they saved the whales.


Games
GameInterestRelease Date
Civilization IV1
C&C 31
Company of Heroes1
Half Life 21
Half Life 2: Episode One1
Supreme Commander1
Call of Duty 22
Darwinia2
Dungeon Runners2
Dungeon Siege II2
Far Cry2
Galactic Civilization II2
Hitman: Blood Money2
Jade Empire2
Neverwinter Nights 22
Prey2
Psychonauts2
Sam & Max: Episode 12
Titan Quest2
Dark Messiah Might and Magic3
Defcon3
Heroes of Might and Magic V3
Indigo Prophecy3
KOTOR II3
LEGO Star Wars3
Marvel Ultimate Alliance3
Space Rangers 2: The Rise of the Dominators3
STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl3
Stubbs the Zombie3
War Front3
Warhammer: Mark of Chaos3
Infernal35/8/2007
Shadowrun25/9/07
Pirates of the Burning SeaM6/1/2007
Enemy Territory: Quake Wars?6/5/2007
Two Worlds?6/26/07
Sins of A Solar Empire?8/1/2007
BioShock18/21/2007
Mass Effect19/7/07
Age of ConanM10/30/07
Crysis1Fall 2007
Elveon?Fall 2007
Half-Life 2: Episode Two1Fall 2007
Portals1Fall 2007
Spore1Fall 2007
Stranglehold?Fall 2007
Tabula RasaMFall 2007
Team Fortress 22Fall 2007
Dragon Age?Winter 2007
Fable 2?Winter 2007
Field Ops?Winter 2007
Halo Wars?Winter 2007
Gods & Heroes: Rome RisingMWinter 2007
Haze?Winter 2007
Hellgate: London1Winter 2007
HuxleyMWinter 2007
Kane & Lynch: Dead Men?Winter 2007
Left 4 Dead?Winter 2007
The AgencyMSpring 2008
Empire Earth III?Spring 2008
Guild Wars 2 MSpring 2008
Jericho?Spring 2008
Sacred 2?Spring 2008
Savage 2?Spring 2008
Time Shift2Spring 2008
Universe at War: Earth Assault3Spring 2008
The Witcher?Spring 2008
CellFactor?2008
Darkest of Days?2008
On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkeness: Episode 122008
Warhammer OnlineM2008
Alliance: The Silent War??
Alone in the Dark??
Assassin's Creed??
BioWare MMO??
The Crossing??
Dungeon Hero??
Fallout 3??
Lego Batman??
Mythos??
Overloard??
Space Seige??
Culdcept SagaPC??
Gears of WarPC??
God of WarPC??
Beautiful KatamariPC??
OkamiPC??
Resistance: Fall of ManPC??
Odin's SpherePC??
Castle CrashersPC??

1 - I will buy it
2 - I'll buy it at discount
3 - Other people think it's good, but I wasn't interested when I first heard about it
M - Mainly Multiplayer. See if friends get interested.
? - Find out more about this game
PC? - Will it be released on the PC?