/*sidenote tool from arc90 */ /* end of Google Analytics code */ A Random Pattern: July 2006

A Random Pattern

Friday, July 28, 2006

I can count to 30!

I finished the nfshost puzzle the other night. Wasn't terribly exciting, really - I guess I was a little disappointed with the ending. Guess it shows how hard it is to craft a really good puzzle.

Luckily I found this other puzzle to keep me busy now: wefriddles. This one's a lot more friendly, too: each page (so far) tells you what number you're on! The creator also gives directions on the first page. Warning, though, the rumor is this one gets hard quicker.

If you're just looking for hints on n.nfshost.com, most of what is out there is spoilers, which isn't any fun. So I'm going to put up a "gentle tip" guide that will help you out without stealing your satisfaction. Look for that in the next day or so.

If you really just want the answers, I shouldn't provide them, but.... they're here if you look hard enough (sigh).

http://blog.snaggd.com/?p=7: this one at least has hints and explanations.
http://snm.imeem.com/blogentry/VuS7Z4gK,Ridiculously_Annoying_Puzzle_Game No explanations or help, just a spoiler list of all n.nfshost.com links.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

shareboard - collaborative whiteboard and shared document editing space

From this search, you can find my new project on Google Code. Uh, my brand new project...

shareboard - collaborative whiteboard and shared document editing space

Actually, you may have noticed from an earlier post that I've been thinking about this for awhile. Last I looked, there wasn't anything out there that met my needs. This time I found something (the Coccinella project), so I may have to rethink.

Anyways, for the last few days I've been thinking about building a mini-version of this for the Google Desktop Gadget Challenge. Don't think I have enough time to complete it for the challenge, given my current skillset. Still, it would be nice to try.

You can see from my comments on this long-ago post with the Google Talk team that I really have been wanting this for awhile.

Anybody have any feedback or suggestions? I'd love to hear what you have to say. Is this needed? Would you use it, and if so how?

Leopard Screenshot Contest

Gotta dig this stuff. We're still holding on until Steve Jobs does the big unveil of the next Mac OS in less than a month, and these fake, dreamy screenshots are helping me survive. ;)

Please, Steve, fulfill some dreams! My personal faves would be much improved metadata[1], as well as collaboration abilities. Here's the number one winner of the afore-linked contest: First Place, Eric Patterson.

Speaking of which, this person stole my idea! Ok, not really, but I've been thinking about this ever since Google Talk came out. Props to Adam Shutsa for the very nice iMeeting concept.

Think you're not rich?

Very provoking Q&A over on Yahoo Answers. Although lots of complications to the answer are skipped over, it's probably a pretty good gross approximation. Look at this little bit of the answer:
How much money (in US$) would I get if we divided up all the wealth in the world into equal amounts?
...for an individual share value of $6,685.92....
Alright, seriously, go read the answer in full. Then come back here.

Now, think about your net worth. Looking at where my viewership hails from, it's a pretty good bet that you're worth more than $6700. Not to mention you probably use / manage between 10 and 100 times that much wealth.

To me, this means I'm WAAYYYY above the wealth of the average human. Huh. Kinda makes you stop and think, I hope. So if you don't think you have money to give, or that it's not needed....

WAKE UP!!!! You are living in the lap of luxury, and if you can't afford to keep up with your neighbors, maybe you're looking at the wrong people as neighbors!

Microsoft - principled and transparent?!

Take a look at this shocking article, Microsoft says Vista to allow Google search engine:
Microsoft says Vista will allow other search engines as default.

"Our goal is to be principled and transparent as we develop new versions of Windows"
I originally had a 12 paragraph reply, which got eaten when my software crashed. I don't have enough time to rewrite it all, so you're going to get the short version this time. I don't expect much complaining about that. :)

Microsoft has a Monopoly, and in a capitalist environment Monopolies have to follow different rules. Microsoft didn't find this easy: the same ruthless business instinct that got them where they were, made it too easy to keep them there by illegitimate means. Several lawsuits later, Microsoft much more carefully watches it's step.

Still, this move, as smart as it is, surprises me because it doesn't seem Microsoft was forceably backed into it. Instead, they used the massive brainpower stored up in Seattle, and realized they probably would be forced to this. So instead they made the ethical, and competitively-friendly decision to allow distributors to preconfigure computers (gasp!).

Alright, this is getting long, and I hope you get the point. Read the article: it's a nice move from Microsoft, which has slowly been turning the ship the last year or two with help from Scoble and the extensive Office 2007 team. Let's see if the new blood and brains can perservere, and clean out the old, dirty corporation...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Wei-Hwa's Puzzle Challenge links

Via Nathan Weinberg’s return post on InsideGoogle, I quite accidentally discovered this delicious puzzle challenge.

There’s already a blog dedicated to Wei-Hwa’s puzzle challenge, and it seems to have most of the weekly puzzles.

If you’d like, you can Add the puzzle to your Google personal homepage (if you have one set up).

If you want some help getting started on week 9’s puzzle, the googlepuzzles blog offered this very helpful hint: Plug one of the words you need to convert into Webster's Online Dictionary, then look near the bottom of the entry for anagrams.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

n.nfshost.com slowly bends before my will

I have made good progress tonight. I believe I'm at 28 now. It's really hard to keep count! (At least for me - I can't even keep count when playing something like racquetball or tennis :) ).

I'm surprised there haven't been more questions. Let's see... I got stuck on 7, then 13, then 17 was a bit of a challenge. From 19 on it's been pretty good and challenging, though some were really easy as they followed on the same thought-path as the previous puzzle.

If you are thoroughly stuck, I recommend the following:
1. Don't look up any spoilers. At least not yet!
2. Go away and try again tomorrow, or later on. When your brain's had a rest, it'll have a better chance.
3. No really, give it a break.
4. Ok, start over on this puzzle. Erase your previous guesses from your mind.
5. What clues are you given? If you don't see a clue, go back to the previous page and compare it to this. What has changed?
6. The easiest way to compare is to view the source for the page. By the 20 puzzle, you ought to be pretty familiar with what the source for this puzzle looks like.
7. Did the clue not help too much? Try a little creative googling (but not for the spoiler! You can still figure this out!)
8. Once you figure out what direction the clue's pointing in, you're good to go.
9. Still stuck? Not even a vague idea? Alright, you can look up some hints. Ask here in the comments, read through my earlier posts, or follow the link to the digg conversation - but be very careful, it's full of spoilers! You won't be nearly as happy if you find something that gives it away. I like to start with gentle hints first. I'll put out the gentle hint guide once I complete the puzzle.

Good luck!

25 out of 30 - not great, not bad

Over the course of several days, I've now made it to 25 out of a reported 30. I generally try and do one or two in the evening, but the other night I had a breakthrough when I got through twenty-one, and flew straight through to 25!

It was fairly satisfying, though the puzzles were easy compared to some of the earlier ones. Still, 25's puzzle looks promisingly challenging. We'll see how it goes tonight...

Monday, July 24, 2006

I hate Blogger

Why does this stupid Blogger's autosave malfunction so badly when I need it?

Completely worthless.

Don't use Blogger unless you have no option - I'll be migrating as soon as I can...

I just lost a 12 paragraph, very detailed, extensively hyperlinked post! Arghh!!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Apple tips its hand? (or The Apple news crowd is too easy....)

In one of many reports on Apple's recent finance call, Bloomberg News reports on the closest a financial call gets to being exciting - unless Microsoft announces mass-layoffs during its next call, at least.

The news is that Apple, oh she of the supremely tight-lipped, the company that sues rumor sites*, actually tipped analysts off to product(s) coming in the Apple pipline. But did Apple really reveal what is spreading around the web? Or are they just taking advantage of the hysteria that accompanies every Apple announcement? Was this a calculated move to satiate Wall Street and the rabid Apple rumor press, while throwing competitors off their trail, even into a panic? Are they using this opportunity to checkmate some more media executives?

Whatever Apple's up to, they've shown up till now several things:
1. A voracious aptitude for sharp business
2. A nose for cool
3. An intense desire - nay, need - for secrecy

Of course, everyone wants an Apple iPhone to appear, so it's not a surprise that we're all so willing to believe. After all, what other company could actually make a phone that would be a pleasure to use?

So what do you think? Bait, or a real whiff of what's coming next year? Maybe some of both? I'm still holding out for a shiny new Apple PDA/Phone. ;)

*IANAL, but from the fairly extensive reading I did, Apple should have won this case. The Judge's opinion seems almost laughable - of course it is very difficult for many judges on the bench to even follow all the new technology that has emerged... (if anyone can find the excellent write-up by someone siding with Apple, quoting extensively from the Appeals Court ruling, please let me know. I can't find the post anymore.)

On count to 30, I've made it to 21...

I've made it to 21. There are a lot of spoilers on this digg discussion, but I've mostly only needed the hints so far.

I seem to enjoy only doing one or two a day (not to mention I'm really short on time this week!), so it may be a few days before I can give out a complete set of hints through 30. Still, if you're stuck I can at least point you in the right direction. See my earlier posts, or ask for help in the comments.

Once I finish, it's back to Blifaloo!

Ok, one more hint. Use Google, and try different approaches. The answers can take some guessing: the puzzles don't always seem obvious (self-evident) even after you've solved them. Patience, grasshopper...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Performancing - or not Performancing?

I've already written a blog entry thrice, but you may not get to read it.  That's due to a few reasons.

1.  I'm using Beta software - Firefox 2.0b1 (because I have to have the latest and greatest)
2.  I was really missing Performancing now that I'm blogging regularly again. 
3.  Performancing kindly (?) have approved their plugin all the way through Firefox 3(!!), which won't be released for probably a year (!!!).

Que spooky music as I near completion of a blog post.  Then....

Bam!!  Not once, but twice, but three times completely wiped out.  Crashed.  Dead. 

So I'm going to hurry up and post this before it dies, too.  Enjoy.  :-S

A hint on n.nfshost.com, the "count to 30" game

I'm going to make my tips hard to see. If you're sure you want to read them, highlight the text with your mouse and you'll be able to read it easily. Also, make sure you've really put in best effort before using my clues - you'll just feel cheated otherwise (except perhaps on 13, where you're going to feel cheated regardless). I'm also going to offer progressive tips, to hopefully help you walk the right path to a solution.

If you're stuck on number/page 16, my first recommendation is to think back to number 7. For those stuck on 7, remember: different language. Ok, so if that isn't enough for getting past 16, then use google and do some looking.

If you're still stuck on 16 (it can be hard to find), try this page. That's about all I can help you with. :)

Oh, if you're stuck on another number, put it in the comments. I'm not finished yet, but I'll help where I can.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Puzzles! And ... stuff

I recently discovered another online puzzle, and in searching for help I found this pretty cool puzzle and game forum full of people who must have much more time on their hands than I do!

This may or may not been helpful when I was working on blifaloo (which I really need to get back to).

Anyways, I've noticed recently more incoming links related to puzzling, so I'm going to try to provide more puzzle content here. No promises, but hopefully at least weekly. I'll also tweak the comments so they're back to useful.

Where we go from here is anyone's guess. :) Good luck, adventurers! (If you follow the last link, k-mail Random44).

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Politically Homeless - A Long Tail...

A long tale, indeed. Yes, pun is intended. For those that don't recognize the term long tail, check the link. Everyone else, march along to the article below - I've only quoted a bit, make sure to read the whole thing! The last two paragraphs wander a bit from the political topic, and get really interesting. :)
Politically Homeless: "I'm politically homeless -- part of what Arnold Kling calls the long tail of politics. Although my political philosophy is generally libertarian or Jeffersonian ('that government governs best which governs least'), I stopped supporting the Libertarian Party several years ago because it is a feckless, corrupt organization. Yet the issues that are important to me -- reforming eminent domain, ending the War on Drugs, eliminating corporate welfare and trade barriers (especially with the so-called Third World), maintaining reasonably open immigration, encouraging greater cooperation within the Anglosphere (e.g., sojourner status for citizens of the English-speaking nations), freeing education by giving the schools to the teachers, ending occupational licensing and other restrictions on making a living, safeguarding the right to self-defense, pushing as much power as possible down to the local level, etc. -- are not important to the Republicans or Democrats. These days I tend to follow Kling's advice to vote against incumbents, though I doubt that does much good. Better, I think, to support organizations that are focused on particular issues (e.g., the Castle Coalition on eminent domain reform). Too many people associate politics with electoral politics, which is a hopeless arena because of gerrymandering and the sheer size of electoral districts. I hold out more hope for initiatives,"

Monday, July 17, 2006

Strangely disturbing pictures

A series of haunting, disturbing, and otherwise well done images. Juxtapositions of two disparate, but both common, images result in some weirdly unsettling stuff.

Two of the images, in particular, are likely to give me nightmares. Can you guess which two?

(hint: no, one of them is not the picture included with this post!)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Can you count to 30?

Another day, another challenge. Via Joe Beda's blog:

Check this out. Get to 30. Your day is now shot :)

I'm afraid to say I'm still stuck on 13 (even after a hint! Shame!!)

Hope you fare better. At least do the first five - you'll feel better. :)

Update: I'm now on 17. I think. It's getting harder to remember. :D

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Invisible Board - cool homemade video (not by me!)

"This is the "Invisible Board" section of the skate video "Yeah Right!" by Girl/Chocolate. The skaters were filmed skating on green boards, then the boards were edited out. It's definitely one of the cooler portions of an all-around awesome movie. Even if you're not a skater, you have to appreciate the cinematography, and just plain awesomeness. Amazing backgroud music as well."

Hope you guys like it. I'm inspired to do something similar now. A snowboarding version of this would be completely and totally wicked! :P

Friday, July 14, 2006

Elderly Transportation problem? Solution!

Independent Transportation Network® and ITNAmerica™ began as a graduate school project at the Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service in Portland, Maine. Inspired by personal experience when someone in her family was involved in an automobile crash, ITN’s founder, Katherine Freund, realized that crashes are not the problem—they are the symptom.

The problem: the U.S. transportation system does not meet the mobility needs of normally aging people. If older people do not have good transportation options, they cannot make safe transportation choices.

Katherine set out to solve the underlying mobility problem. Throughout the two years she studied for her Masters degree in public policy, she examined all angles of sustainable transportation for older people.

...If the Independent Transportation Network® could effectively solve the problem in one community, creating the ITN model in another community could replicate that solution. The outcome: creating a national non-profit transportation solution for older people who wish to limit or stop driving without losing their independence or compromising their community activity.

That national solution is ITNAmerica™.

This is an example of what one person can accomplish with dedication and vision. Follow the link to the ITN site, and read more about how ITN is addressing part of America's transportation problem.

The story is compelling and inspiring.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Fancy Fireworks Fotos

After some inspiration courtesy of www.fury.com, I set off with family in tow....

Actually they set off with me in tow....

Anyways, as we watched fireworks booming overhead, I saw it all on a tiny lcd screen. Clicking frantically, waving the camera in the air, accidentally turning on flash (I'm sure everyone on the lawn LOOOVED that), the very definition of an American holiday.

The end results are available online in our Picasa photo album. Give'em a look-see, let me know what you think. I'm thinking there's a few marginally good ones in there.

Thanks for the inspiration, Rachel!

p.s. Yes, I know it's spelled photo, not foto. :P

p.s.s. Yes, I know I need to crop and cut and otherwise pretty up my shots. I figured if I didn't just pick the good ones and put them up now, it'd never happen. So deal. :D

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Middle Class - Dual income and Bankrupt

In a rather depressing, but very eye-opening excerpt from “The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers And Fathers Are Going Broke,” by Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi, America's struggling middle-class situation is laid out in black and white. Here's a few of the most interesting paragraphs (check out the excerpt on MSNBC for more details).

The average two-income family earns far more today than did the single-breadwinner family of a generation ago. And yet, once they have paid the mortgage, the car payments, the taxes, the health insurance, and the day-care bills, today’s dual-income families have less discretionary income — and less money to put away for a rainy day — than the single-income family of a generation ago. And so the Two-Income Trap has been neatly sprung. Mothers now work two jobs, at home and at the office. And yet they have less cash on hand. Mom’s paycheck has been pumped directly into the basic costs of keeping the children in the middle class.

At the same time that millions of mothers went to work, the family needed the stay-at-home mom (or a costly replacement) more than ever. The number of frail elderly, most of whom must depend on family for daily care, spiraled upward. Hospitals began discharging patients “quicker and sicker,” expecting the family to pick up the task of nursing them back to health. With Mom in the workforce, parents were faced with a painful choice between paying for expensive care and taking time off work. At the same time, the divorce rate continued its upward climb. This situation was compounded by a leaner-and-meaner business climate that closed plants and laid off workers with alarming frequency. In this tougher world, millions of two-income families learned the price of living without a safety net.

Inevitably, the Two-Income Trap affected the one-income family too. When millions of mothers entered the workforce, they ratcheted up the price of a middle-class life for everyone, including families that wanted to keep Mom at home. A generation ago, a single breadwinner who worked diligently and spent carefully could assure his family a comfortable position in the middle class. But the frenzied bidding wars, fueled by families with two incomes, changed the game for single-income families as well, pushing them down the economic ladder. To keep Mom at home, the average single-income family must forfeit decent public schools and preschools, health insurance, and college degrees, leaving themselves and their children with a tenuous hold on their middle-class dreams.

So what's the state of your union? Are you caught in the "Two-Income Trap"? How can this knowledge influence your votes and your actions as a citizen and member of society?

More cheery fireworks pictures to follow. :)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Happy Fourth, Everyone!

I hope everyone had a happy Fourth (American holiday). Here's one of the better shots I got last night, as we watched and listened to firework explosions.

Explosions had a different meaning and feeling when the first Independence Day happened..... Posted by Picasa