Friday, January 05, 2007

a gaggle of minor updates to recent posts

  • I thought up a scenario of House visiting Scrubs, which is mere wishful thinking because the two shows are on different networks. However, the inventive but seldom subtle Scrubs writers explicitly used House as the inspiration/theme for the last episode, "My House", with Cox as a House stand-in. It was okay, but I wish it had been more.
  • Over my holiday time-off, I finally applied myself to trying multiplication and division on my (Japanese) abacus. The experience gave my memory of the 9x9 multiplication table a workout. Other than that, the biggest obstacle I had was keeping track of which rods to add or subtract products from. In the written methods, you can work your way down the page, so each product and addition/subtraction has its own space. On the abacus, I can only move left or right, although the procedure does proceed in a systematic order that feels more natural with practice. This also means that an abacus problem only has a "running" total for the answer; the intermediate steps leave no record. On the other hand, revising an incorrect guess at a digit of a quotient is a pretty simple task (no erasing!).
  • I tuned in to Beauty and the Geek for some reason that I can't remember at the moment. This confirmed to me that I must be almost the very last person to become aware of Freakonomics, because one of the show's challenges consisted of the beauties attempting to carry on an informed interview with one of the book's coauthors, Mr. Dubner. How much do the authors of that book want to be noticed? There's your answer. By the way, I had a guilty conscience about watching a show whose whole premise is based on stereotypes and the attendant mockery, until I remembered that the majority of TV characters are stereotypical so at least this show portrays actual people who are attempting to burst through the boundaries of their stereotypes. And is it so wrong to laugh at the pick-up line, "I wish I were sine squared and you were cosine squared, so together we could be one"?
  • A while ago I noted that Don Syme had made a draft chapter of an F# book available from his blog. Since that time he has added a few more chapters, and updated the old. Taken together, the chapters are great for learning how F# supports the Big Three paradigms: imperative, object-oriented, and functional. Unfortunately, my boss(es) are keen on restricting what languages we can use. I can see their point, but...
  • As some of you may have guessed after reading the small list of Gnome vs. KDE complaints in the post that reported my surrender to the Ubuntu camp, I eventually installed the Kubuntu packages. Couldn't be happier.
Bonus independent mini-rant: I'm starting to hate the sites that have user-submitted, user-judged links. I'm not referring to the usual reasons: too much groupthink (resulting in articles that seem to always be about the same monotonous list of "safe" topics or viewpoints), poor-quality writing in the submissions, links to blogs that link to somewhere else, links to sensationalistic trash, periodically recurring links (cyclic dupes), etc. No, at this point in time I'm referring to the tendency for these sites to act as aggregators for Ars Technica. For crying in the mud, I got the message long (years) ago, when the site used white text on black background, that Ars is worth visiting on a daily basis just because it's Ars. Now please stop trying to constantly bring the site down by directing traffic there 24/7! Gosh!

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