Friday, October 07, 2005

The Great Galactic Grid

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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Optical mice irritation

When Optical mice first came out, the big line was "finally a mouse that works on any surface!" And what did I find? For the first time ever, after I got an optical mouse, I actually had to use mouse mats! Because they just don't work well on wooden desks. You'd think it would be the perfect surface for them, because all the wood grain would give the optical sensor something to track. But the cursor on the screen moves very erratically with them. They actually work better with a sheet of white paper, which is very weird. I have tried many different mice and many different desks.
It must have something to do with the slight surface unevenness of the table (what you can feel rather than what you can see). This also makes no sense, because why would that disturb an *optical* system?
Does anybody else know about this?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Work and riches

"I have long been of the opinion that if work were such a splendid thing the rich would have kept more of it for themselves." -- Bruce Grocott

Another good joke... but unfortunately it perpetuates the myth that most rich people are lazy. Books such as The Millionaire Next Door documents that the great bulk of rich people work very hard indeed, and spend little. Which is how they became rich in the first place.

Shakespeare and monkeys

"We've heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the complete works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know that is not true." -- Robert Wilensky, speech at a 1996 conference

... This is a good joke (as far as I can determine, aimed at the quality of writing on the Net. Well, it was many years ago. :) -- but it also holds the key to an important truth I considered a while ago, which tells us about mathematical complexity, as well as the power of creativity... to wit: not only will a million monkeys NOT produce Shakespeare's works, or even just Hamlet, they will not only produce one straight sentence.
This can be proven, at least subjectively, by a simple Google search. Type in a simple sentence which is not a common expression, put it in quotes and Google it. Odds are it will not be found in all the 5 Billion pages on the web.
"I went to my sister's and got drunk."
"Blue is a bad color for airplanes."
"Autumn is nice for Caucasians."
"I can see empty sky from my window."
... Google goes 'did not match any documents' to all of them.

Think about this. Despite the fact that the "million monkeys" are not hammering at the keyboard at random, but in fact writing in English most of them, they won't even produce a random sentence. And then consider the fact that each time you add a single letter, this gets twenty-six times less likely! It then becomes clear that not even a trillion trillion trillion monkeys hammering away for all the age of the universe would produce "Hamlet". (And if they did, how anybody know?)

The original monkey premise is actually a dig at creativity: "anybody could do what Shakespeare did, heck, a bunch of monkeys could do it if you gave them time enough."
Never has less true words been spoken. Nobody but Shakespeare could write Hamlet. Nobody but van Gogh could make Sunflowers. Nobody but Lennon could write Across the Universe.
An act of creation is divine, literally.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Only listen to half

I found a mortgage at a incredibly low interest.
But I don't need it, for I am now a millionaire due to the stock trading tips I get in the mail.

I can get Viagra at half price.
But I don't need it, because my manhood is now like a cucumber, and without surgery too!

I have a Rolex these days.
But I don't wear it, for everybody now has a top-quality replica.

Morale: if you read your spam, only listen to half.