Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Real time competitive Sudoku??!?

Ok, google wave is interesting, awesome even. I can certainly see it's function in filling the gap between REAL conversation and post/reply paradigm internet communication. It will be very useful in actually hosting discussions on an editorial topic or hosting virtual meetings. It is alot like the old unix talk with persistence and plug-in's, but the new methodology of interaction will take some getting used to.

Speaking of plug-in's, one of them is a real time competitive sudoku game. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING??!? Facebook, IM, Puzzle Pirates, Freecell, Solitaire, Minesweeper... no more do you destroy the world's productivity.

No, now we can play sudoku in real time, with a score, against friends.

I am pretty certain that no person with a computer will ever get any work done ever again.

It is cool though.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Three Rules of Engineering

I am an Engineer, as in the studied for 4+ years at university to be awarded nothing more than a generic Bachelors Degree (Manufacturing Engineering (Production)) at the end kind of Engineer, a real one.
I love my profession and am passing good at it these days; however as I bemusedly observe society crumbling around me, I am reminded of this training so many years ago and wonder if, perhaps, it is time to publish some memories of what I was taught.
You see, in this environment, where it was explained to me that I was shit, a useless engineer and should be a farmer who made food for useful people, some core rules that govern Engineering Excellence were articulated. These rules allow us to be cleverer than we actually are, catch our mistakes more often than not and avoid the pitfalls of misunderestimating (Thanks Dubya, thats a great word!!) the complexity of the universe.
I am struck now as I watch the global financial crisis unfold amongst unfathomably complicated explainations of why It wasnt possible that are not even 6 months old, I realise that too many people are fooled by what Galbraith called "The Conventional Wisdom", or the verbal trap of "All other things being equal", "Ceteris Paribus". So fooled, they go on to build humongous houses of cards on ice foundations in a desert. Why, because they dont know the rules... if they did, they would have avoided some mistakes.
So, for the world, I would like to let you all know what the rules are, so you can know and love them as I do.
  • Rule 1: You Are Wrong!
    This is not the arrogant statement it appears to be, telling everyone else they are wrong; it refers to EVERYONE and is supposed to be humbling. We are all of us all wrong all of the time; which is a ridiculous postulation, but a useful position to start from. This rule is there because it does not matter if things go well, only if they go badly; so we must be prepared for things to go so very badly. It reminds us that we shouldn't act unless we are relatively certain we know in what way our postulation, idea, plan, strategy, ice cream or theory is wrong before we "run with it". It helps prevent silliness like faith and belief and treat our opinions with the contempt they are due, like the transient poor misinterpretations of our limited experience of reality that they are.
  • Rule 2: Nothing is A Constant.
    Nothing, nothing at all. You cant just whack in an integer co-efficient or a magic number to balance a theory, this is a fudge factor. If your formula doesnt correctly model reality, it is because you forgot Rule 1. Whacking a factor in there to make it look right is just refusing to accept reality, listening David X. Li?
    This Rule has some special interpretations for engineers which are "Everything is a Spring" and "Everything is a Fluid"; to remind us that even the most rigid seeming lump of rock is going to flex or flow given enough of the right kind of force.
    Again, it is a thought tool; it doesn't mean we dont use Fudge Factors... hell, nothing Engineers build would work without them; it means that never, ever forget that they merely vague approximations of reality and not something upon which to base the entirety of the global economy.
  • Rule 3: The Second Law of Thermodynamics always wins.
    It was said that our job as Engineers is to do daily battle with the second law of thermodynamics; before we were introduced to rule 3. Rule 3 simply reminds us that in a closed system Entropy will tend to a maximum, regardless of how hard you struggle. Conceptually this seems odd, since we aren't certain the universe is a closed system. Still, it still reminds us that no matter how efficient we are, we can't be 100% efficient, something is always wasted, nothing is reversible, something is always irretriveably consumed whenever we do anything... even stand still.
Now, having said all of this I want to remind you that these rules should not be disheartening or depressing; They should liberate and empower you, instill confidence that you are moving forward without self delusion and with a clear understanding of the boundaries of your assumptions and the scale of your risk.

This is why I'm so cheerful all the time!

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Sense of Humour is not optional!!!

Apparently this pompous tool has a problem with humour, more specifically, irony.

The Chaser, the only remaining proof that we Australians aren't a bunch of vainglorious, self absorbed and uptight Americans, write a glorious yet scathing satire of the modern media and their habit of cannonizing dead celebrities and folks get upset... FUCKING WRONG!

People, it was a joke, laugh at it. In laughing perhaps you will be a little less depressed at the fact that media DOES cannonize the dead. People dont change when they die; well, they are less interactive and tend to smell a little more if not properly maintained; but their past actions are no less flawed or otherwise. As a wise author once wrote in a sidebar "Dead is dead, parts is parts, dead guys is parts"...

On a more serious note, I personally feel that by glossing over parts of a persons life you arent honouring their memory but trivialising their existance by creating a mere caracature of the individual. And I dont give a shit if you need to do this to cope with your loss, ignoring the truth doesnt change it nor help you move on; people just need to harden the fuck up and learn to cope with reality.

Perhaps we all need to just get the fuck over ourselves and lighten up. This reminds me of the furor over Jay and the Doctor's (from Frenzal Rhomb) "Tsuna-you, Tsuna-me" song which lambasted the public and their taste for soul balming tokenism (and, indeed, promoted donating to useful charities all the while)...

People, a sense of humour and the ridiculous, get one. There is something funny in every event, even if you have to ignore the horror surrounding it. Learn to laugh at yourselves, at your hardships and at the horror of life in general and, oddly, things dont look so bad.

Im so fucking sick of the chorus of mediocraty and political correctness streamed from "mainstream media".

Go Chaser, keep it up!