Monday, February 20, 2017

A Heartreaking Sandwich Order of Staggering Genius

I'm doing a little work at Subway, and a woman (clearly a mom ordering dinner for her family) just came in and ordered four sandwiches with an absolutely dizzying combination of meats, cheeses, vegetables, and sauces.

She consulted no notes.

It was a staggering feat. There were so many nuances that she must have constructed a memory palace to hold it all. I salute you, madam.

In Michigan

I've noticed something very different about Michigan (Grand Rapids, anyway) compared to Austin.

Many parents on the team have worked for the same company for over twenty years. Several of them started working for a company when they were 18 and never left, and most of them are in their mid-to-late forties.

I lived in Austin for almost thirty years, and I never knew one person who worked for the same company for twenty years. Not one.

This may have more to do with Austin being unusual than Michigan--it's grown so quickly, and there was such an extraordinary amount of opportunity that everyone grabbed what they could--but it's a bit startling, nonetheless.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday Links!

Leading off this week, from Meg McReynolds, and these photos are just magnificent: Winners of the 2017 World Press Photo Contest.

From C. Lee, and this is an excellent read: Here’s How to Create a Convincing Constructed Language for Your Video Game. This is one hell of an obituary:  'Evil' Man's Family Gives Him the Obit He Deserved. This is incredibly disturbing: Spyware's Odd Target: Backer's of Mexico's Soda Tax. Don't dismiss this next article because of the description--it's tremendously thought-provoking and worth the read: Is AI Sexist?

From Steven Davis, and this is a remarkable story: Low-tech Baby Care. Next, and this is fascinating, it's Medieval Heating System Lives on in Spain. This is an interesting read: A Surfeit of Emeralds: Healthcare in the Middle Ages. This is quite amazing: A Working Balloon-Powered Paper Pipe Organ Designed by Aliaksei Zholner. This is terrific: The Glass Ribbon Machine.

From Wally, and this is quite the scheme: A Zeppelin Over Africa I and A Zeppelin Over Africa II. Also, and some of these are quite amusing, it.s 101 Ways to Say "Died". This is an excellent read: How algorithms rule our working lives.

Finally, and this is both fascinating and bizarre, it's Once poverty-stricken, China’s “Taobao villages” have found a lifeline making trinkets for the internet.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Fighting Eleven #18: Maybe That Is Dallas

As it turns out, mapping longitude and latitude locations using a 2-D map is an interesting problem, so let's discuss it.

I originally thought if I could properly locate the most distant N/S/E/W points properly on the 2-D map, that everyone else would be accurate, but as it turns out, locating those four points accurately is not possible. Part of that is the inherent 3-D/2-D issue, but it is probably also an issue with the map itself--not only is it 2-D, but it's also not entirely correct. Plus, it just shows the United States, so it's only part of a world map.

Here was my original idea: find the furthest points N/S/E/W. Find the range of possible longitude/latitude values. Then, any city in-between should be a percentage of the possible range, right? So I could take the percentage of that range, bang it off the actual run-time dimensions of the map, and Dallas should be Dallas.

Only that isn't working.

I think part of it is not being able to accurately locate the anchor points, but the the other factor is that the further away you are from the anchor points, the more error that's introduced.

So I'm going to try out the "slice" method.

I can manually locate, for example, ten points of latitude and longitude exactly on the map (or as many as I want). Then, I can calculate the position of a city from the closest possible pre-calculated point on the map. So instead of working with a possible distance of 3,000 miles from an anchor point, I'd be working with a maximum distance of 300 instead.

In theory, that should introduce a much smaller amount of error. And I could even make that every 150 miles.

It doesn't need to be perfect. A 15-mile error would be perfectly acceptable, because you wouldn't even notice on the map, given its size.

Except that may not work either.

It's totally possible to manually enter the pixel-perfect location of cities on the map I'm using, then just look up the values, but there are thousands of cities, so that's much more labor intensive than being able to calculate it (if such a thing is possible with a high degree of accuracy).

Onward, into the fog.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Fighting Eleven #17: That's Not Dallas

Hmm, I put in some testing coordinates, so no matter what the recruit's card says, the program thinks he lives in Dallas. That's where the green circle is supposed to be.


Instead, Austin Bambard appears to be living in the Gulf of Mexico, possibly on an offshore oil drilling platform.

While I do find that to be a compelling backstory, it goes on the must-fix list. 

However, other parts are going quite well. I now have the recruit's interests generating properly, and all schools are being scored against the recruit's interests (if there are eight interested schools, the top four are listed, then the user school's place in the top eight). That is all working, and smoothly. 

I still don't have the ability system put in place, so that's dummy data, but everything else on that card is live. I'm actually reasonably close (a week, maybe two) to moving on to the recruiting battle screen, so that's good. 

I am having one strange problem right now, though. 

When I was developing GS, it was easy to share builds. There's a /Release/ folder, and all I had to do was copy all the files in that folder, and anyone could run it on their machine if they had the most recent .NET Framework. 

That worked thousands of times.

This time, though, it's not working. I've checked some of the usual suspects (like an image file not set to content/copy), but I haven't figured anything out yet. I could actually get a little feedback at this point, but until I get that working, it's not going to happen.

Random Lines From Old Radio Programs #4

"That's not someone, lady--that's our corpse!"

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Surface Pro 3: June 20, 2014 - February 14, 2017

My Surface Pro 3 was janky as hell.

The touch screen worked inconsistently, Windows Updates took a frickin' eternity, all kinds of strange things happened at totally random times, and four keys had fallen off the keyboard.

However, it was still perfect as a lightweight screen that could be used as a tablet and a laptop, and I still used it almost every day.

Today, I dropped it, and it landed badly:


Two long cracks across the screen, and a crumbling of the lower right corner. So long, touch screen. 

I can still use it with the keyboard, but as a multi-purpose device, it's dead. 

There were a lot of times when I didn't like it much, but now that it's gone, I already miss it. A little.

Monday, February 13, 2017

From The Wayback Machine



That picture was taken six years ago. Feels like six lifetimes ago. 

Eli 15.6s team played one of the premiere teams in the country on Saturday. It was part of a Hockey Fights Cancer weekend, and instead of 20 people in the stands, there were 200. 

The game was incredibly intense, and it was 1-1 for a long, long time. The third period was going against us, but Eli made a series of terrific saves and fought against the tide.

Then, with two minutes left, we scored. 

Suddenly, it was over. A 2-1 win, and Eli had 32 saves.

There's a website for hockey rankings, and the formula is pretty simple, so you can compare teams and parts of seasons in all kinds of different ways. In Eli's last five games, his team has played at a level equal to fourth best team in the country. 

I'm not going to tell him this. Preparation, not expectations. He doesn't need it in his head. But they are now a very dangerous team.

Here's a photo from this lifetime:


Make Better Decisions: Almost Every Word In This Headline Edition

Mother accused of pointing gun at semi while driving drunk with 5 kids

Friday, February 10, 2017

Friday Links!

This is riveting but a very, very difficult read: Football 'literally killed' a 24-year-old Iowan. His family vows to make the sport safer.

This link is from the multi-talented Thom Moyles, and it's an absolutely fascinating read: Is This the Underground Everest?

This is a surprisingly poignant and touching read: Tommie Woodward yelled, “F--k that gator!” just before he was killed by one in Texas, and his death instantly became a national joke. For his family, grieving means having to rescue the person from the punchline.

It's a big link week for C. Lee, and here we go: We’re Living in a Copycat Culture. Next: Obituary: Arthur Manuel died on January 11th. A leader of Canada’s indigenous “First Nations” was 65. This is a very, very deep article on video formats and all kinds of other things, and it's a fascinating read: Why Deep Space Nine and Voyager May Never Get the HD Remaster They Deserve. This is quite interesting: The state of residential solar power. This is even more worthwhile to watch today: James Baldwin Debates William F. Buckley (1965). This is a terrific read: The Poison Squad: An Incredible History.

From Wally, and these are beautiful: Colorfully Decorative Storefronts Reveal the Story of Paris. Next, and this is entirely excellent, it's It Was The Best Of Fries, It Was The Worst Of Fries: Charles Dickens, Food Scribe.

From Steven Davis, and this is quite a story: King Gillette's Niagara Metropolis. This is mind-altering: Ouchi-Spillman Illusion. If you liked that last link, this is in a similar vein: Atlantropa.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Still Struggling, So Please Enjoy These Photos

Eli 15.6 went to the dentist yesterday (checkup), and while he was there, they measured and weighed him.

Instead of 137 pound of fury, he's now 141 pounds of fury. 5'11 1/2". He told the nurse that he just couldn't seem to get to six feet, and she said "No one on earth has size 15 feet and is five eleven and a half. Don't worry."


Yeah, those are large.

Also in the category of "large" is the bobblehead I saw in the Penguins practice facility merchandise shop.


That's three feet tall, in case you're wondering. I'm a huge Matt Murray fan, but even I can't figure out the market for this.

There was a nice Mario Lemieux exhibit at the practice facility (it's named after him), and here are the two panels documenting his early days (click on for a larger image that should be readable):




In closing, let's class this up a bit:


Yes, the lumberjack Valentine. Long overdue.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Injured Reserve

I'm getting some tendinitis in my forearms--probably from coding so much in the last few days--so I didn't write anything to try to give me a chance to heal up a bit. Back to usual tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Performance: Escaping the River of Expectations (part two)

Let's talk about the river of expectations today.

I'm going to talk about this in the context of sports, but really, it applies to anything.

I'll use myself as an example, in high school tennis. Before I played a match, I had a range of possibilities in my mind, and the opposite banks of those possibilities were a river of expectations.

Inside the banks of the river was a comfort zone. It was what I expected. I played many matches inside the banks, and usually, I played well.

A few times, though, the match was outside the banks.

Usually, it was me being in position to win a match that I didn't expect to win. Or a match that I thought would be tight, but suddenly I was well up in the third set and it looked like an easy win.

It wasn't though, because I hadn't expected it to happen that way.

I struggled as soon as the match went outside the banks of my expectations. Every single time.

Or a variation, one in particular, when I expected an easy win, and instead turned out to be in a dogfight. I hadn't thought that was possible, and so when things got very, very intense, I felt this sick dread.

It was a close, hard-fought match, and if I had been the underdog, I would have been enjoying myself. But because I was a heavy favorite, and I hadn't even considered the possibility of losing, I was unable to deal with what was happening, and I played too poorly to win.

I can give you an example from the Super Bowl.

The Falcons, I promise, never considered the possibility that they would be ahead 28-3 midway through the third quarter. That was far, far outside the river of their expectations. And because of that, they had no idea what to do.

Even the coaches were affected by this. All they had to do was run the ball in the fourth quarter (in particular, after the Julio Jones catch, which would have easily led to a field goal), but instead, they panicked.

They had not prepared for the possibility because it seemed too remote, too unlikely.

I've noticed over the years that the greatest athletes have a much, much more consistent level of performance. They never coast. They are always mentally ready to play, and that's actually much harder than it sounds, even at the professional level.

I think that's because they don't have expectations. They don't envision a range of results. They don't feather their effort (which is inevitably what can happen when you expect to win).

They do not prepare for a limited range of outcomes. They just prepare to compete at their highest level. Their opponent is internal, not external, and that's how they measure their performance.

Sounds easy, right?

I think very, very few professional athletes are able to prepare like that, far fewer than you might expect. It is every bit as elite a skill as their level of conditioning and skill.

It's satisfying to savor a positive outcome before you play--championships won, celebrations earned. It's even more satisfying to savor it when it looks like it's coming true.

All that savoring, though, comes at a cost. The cost is a steep reduction in the chances of all those wonderful things actually happening.

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