Tater’s Takes

February 16th, 2011 by Potato

Haven’t had one of these for a while.

The bar for the diet goals, as you may recall, was significantly lowered for the thesis writing here, because it’s just too hard to sit and try to write all day and not “fuel up” — and there is a limited supply of willpower. The goal was simply to not gain weight. Sadly, I’ve failed even that, as this last week I’ve jumped up nearly 5 pounds (I blame the 1 kg jar of cashews I just couldn’t resist buying). I got called in to spare a bunch for curling though, so I’ve been doing that about 3 times a week, and the snow keeps coming, leading to lots of shovelling-related “workouts”.

A Toronto statistician found a flaw on some Ontario lottery tickets. Interestingly, the end of the article suggests that Bingo tickets are still exploitable. I’m not sure how useful that is though — in the article, the fellow says he brought the flaw to the OLG not because he was necessarily moral, but because it wasn’t worth his time to try to scam the system. And that was for the tic-tac-toe tickets: the Bingo tickets are much “busier”, and the hit rate isn’t as high according to him, so it would be even less worthwhile trying to exploit. Nonetheless, my curiosity is piqued. If anyone wants to bankroll buying a few dozen tickets to try to find the exploit (might even get a paper published out of it!) I’d be interested in trying to analyze them.

Lenny sent me to a new webcomics site, Abtruse Goose. Lots of geek love there.

For those that like to watch rather than read, TVO has a decent video on the UBB issue, summarizing it in 3 min. And Michael Geist also caught Bell’s admission in the Industry committee hearings: there is no congestion on the last mile (and if there was, they’d have to be fair and charge UBB to their IPTV service).

The Torontoist reports on the CRTC’s cavalcade of failure, this time highlighting their decision to not allow a TV station to air more (Canadian) music videos.

“This is literally a decision that benefits absolutely nobody, which is why it’s so amazing: usually when the CRTC makes a horrendously bad decision, it at least has the appearance of being because Rogers or Bell whispered in their ear that they wanted to make more money.

“But this? This is so witless that we are forced to wonder if maybe we’ve misunderstood the CRTC all along. Maybe they aren’t a shell of a government agency beholden to corporate media giants to the point of uselessness. Maybe they’re simply so stupid that uselessness is their natural state, and all along we’ve been blaming Bell and Rogers for influencing the acts of lunatics. It’s possible. After all, the CRTC honestly thinks MuchMusic airs music videos.”

Via Reddit, an interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson on whether the goal of science (and science funding) should be to improve life. I have to disagree with Neil on the first part of the interview: not everyone would choose the video over the transcript given the option. And not just Canadians with our backwards limited-usage internet. I skip over a lot of video/audio content on the internet because I can read a transcript much faster than an effective audio podcast can convey information, because a transcript is searchable and quotable, and because I just can’t stand listening to some people talk (even more so when they amateurishly try to film from the side of a busy street), even if I wouldn’t mind “hearing” their thoughts. Yes, some content is lost without facial expressions, gestures, cadence, and tone of voice. But you know what? We’ve been communicating effectively for centuries in a textual fashion — on a hot summer’s night, there’s little I like better than curling up with a book at the cottage — so I don’t see how he can call into question the worthiness of producing transcripts.

As Canadians, I think it’s sad that we don’t get to appreciate just how awesome the US version of Amazon is. At the lab today the very real question was asked*: where do we go to buy a superconducting coil? We’re still looking for a supplier to meet our needs, but lo and behold, frakin Amazon! * – PS: science is awesome some days.

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