Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thursday: One day

Finally packed.  It took forever, and my suitcase is crazy heavy.  This is the problem of traveling for two weeks without easy access to washing supplies.  Yes, I know it's possible, and yes, the hotel I'm staying at probably has a service.  I think I'm going to have enough to sort out without that to add on.

I had also planned to put together a series of auto-posts, but I didn't get around to it.  This may make the daily thing a bit hard to keep up with, especially for Saturday, since I basically lose that day almost entirely.

"Are you happy now, Margaret?  I'm sitting closer to you now.  No one's driving the VikToe hover car, but that's not important, is it?"

  • Look at this plot.  This is a terrible plot.  Not only is the y-axis not labeled, but if you assume it's peak normalized, it's normalized to "almost eleven."
  • Pictures.
  • Mathematical!
  • Reasonably good scary stories.  I had come up with more to say while waiting for laundry to dry, but that was like three hours ago, so I'm not going to bother.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wednesday: Two days

What are you doing, cat? You're not a salad! You don't even have any leaves!

What are you doing, fox? You're not a plant! You don't even have any leaves!

What are you doing, snake? You're not you, snake!
I thought I could come up with a "jam" related joke there, but it didn't end up working.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tuesday: Three days


Monday, October 28, 2013

Subject: Your order of "Hyperbole and a Half..." has shipped!


"Your estimated delivery date is:
   Monday, November 4, 2013"

Fuck.  I'm in a different country, giving a talk, and won't be back home for another week and a half.

Monday: Four days

Today I spent a bunch of time discovering that cfitsio still sucks.  I eventually sorted out that "new algorithm X" is at least 20% better than the old one, and some rather large percentage of the remaining 80% are due to a known error in the algorithm.  Tomorrow I need to parallelize the test I'm runnning, and go through 6000 images instead of just one.  You know, because central limit theorem.

Except my pencil is made out of steel.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday: 5 days

I spent a large chunk of the day doing nothing, and wondering what it was in the back of my head that kept pointing out that I was going to do something today.

Turns out that something was "plan what you're going to do in Tokyo, because you're leaving soon."


Ok, quick list time:

  1. Imperial Palace.  I think tickets are gone, but the gardens are open for walking.
  2. Museum of the Imperial Collections.  I think this is in the same basic place, so these are probably the same day.
  3. Tokyo Tower.
  4. Meiji shrine.
  5. Tsukiji market?
  6. Akihabara.
  7. Edo museum.  Hey, I like museums.
  8. Yasukuni shrine?  I'm not a politician, so I probably won't have to deal with any strongly worded letters from diplomats.
  9. Ueno park?  This seems to have the highest density of museums possible.
  10. I like tall places when they are made of steel and concrete.
In any case, I should start making a plan.  London was easy.  Day 1: wander around London, see the Tate.  Day 2: regret only having one day to see the British Museum.  I think I've caused myself problems by allocating more than two days to Tokyo.  There are more variables to minimize.

Or maximize.  See, travel math is even more complicated then I originally thought.  The other thing is that a bunch of the "things to do in Tokyo" pages I find seem to be more "here's how to pretend you're in Lost in Translation."  Even though it'll be obvious, I don't want to go be an annoying tourist.  Everybody hates tourists.

"Hey! Losers!  You done gawking yet?  Some of us have jobs here, you know.  Who do you think resets the avaricious once people like you are done looking at them?  Me.  Phillip the Demon of the Fourth Circle.  Fucking tourists."

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Saturday: regular saturday

No, I did not get them.  Unpriced tends to mean $8 at WF.

  • It's a squirrel.  You can't own a squirrel.
  • I wasn't much of a fan of the union when I was in grad school, partially because a lot of the rhetoric at the time was suggesting that people on research grant money had an unfair advantage over TAs, and that that needed to be equalized by extra contributions from the RAs.  Since grants tend to be fixed, and diverting money from that means less grant time, that's not a good idea.  In any case, I think this problem breaks into two questions.  1) Why is the calendar so badly designed? 2) If these classes were taught by two people, how much would they get paid? 
  • Food stamps.
  • To be honest, the sea lion is probably going to make better use of it.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thursday: Wait, thursday?

I think Tuesday got dropped somewhere.  That's the only thing that makes sense to me.

This is the handle to the shower brush thing I bought.

This picture is completely unrelated to that last one.  Completely.

  • Hawkman.
  • Squirrel.
  • Comic.
  • Lalique.
  • Look at the size of the trunk.  What did people need to transport in 1963?
  • This is basically my complaint about a lot of the coverage as well, including basically everything by the Daily Show/Colbert team.  When you have lots of money and job security and all that, you have the time to bitch at the fucking Secretary of HHS about not having a webpage online properly.  Instead of complaining, how about pointing out that people who basically had to hope they didn't get sick can now get information in one of three ways that can help them stabilize a giant uncertainty.
  • So, taking the numbers here, and looking at the current CBO estimates (page three), this suggests that doubling tax rates on the top 1% would effectively balance the baseline budget (or half the deficit in the president's).  Going for the "optimum" 57% rate would just about balance the president's while putting the baseline firmly above water by about 1% of GDP.  Taking the "maximum" solution of 83% would add a whopping 7.26% of GDP to the revenues side, pushing the 2020 balance of accounts (I'm using a 4% year-to-year GDP growth) to like +4% of GDP, or (page twelve), something like 117% of all non-defense discretionary funding.  What does that mean?  Think of all the fun things government provides (excluding blowing shit up): NASA, road construction, I'm sure they do something with ducks, national parks.  We could more than double all of that.  Just imagine that world, Free Market Conservatives.  Two NASAs, racing each other to put people on the moon.  Why do you hate competition?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wednesday: Here's largely how my day went.

I guess I should at least be happy that I've checked two things off the list for this week.

Here's a bear picture, because that will hopefully push that gif off the compose screen, since it's kind of giving me a headache.
Bear doesn't care.  He's got a whole river to explore.
I also discovered a stats bug I should have foreseen.  In the program, I calculate the running median and the running MAD-based sigma proxy.  To save time, I do this as a single pass through the data, and then do some logical scaling of sigma after the fact based on whether we plan to subtract or divide the median values from the data.  However, this is only acceptable when the best fit slope to the median is effectively zero.  When that's not the case, the measured sigma is actually \sigma_M^2 = \sigma_true^2 + \sigma_slope^2.  \sigma_slope is something like (m * w * 0.37), where m is the linear slope, w is the width over which the running stats are done, and the number is based on the Gaussian CDF and blah blah other stuff.  Since most of the data I've been working with have m on the order of 1e-3 and w on the order of 1e1 or so, this hasn't been much of a problem.  However, today I was looking at things with m ~ 10, so all noises were scaled by something like a factor of four or so.

I really think Charles Krauthammer is a dick, but this is just uncalled for,

  • Don't click this link, it's super depressing.  If you do click this link, definitely do not scroll down to the comments to see the other Animal Crossing comic.  It's even worse.
  • Wow, after that last one, Nurse Joy being mean isn't that bad.  I think between the two links, I maybe don't want to get a 3ds so I can play games.
  • I thought that the original one was really far away, but it turns out that it's about the same distance from my house as work is.  I should stop by over the weekend, I think.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Tuesday: Today I fell for the oldest trick in the world.

First, Julie posted a comment about ramen, and how it would be tasty.

That led me to think the same thing, something that was boosted by the fact that I can go get ramen after work just by walking over.  A ramen-a-torium is that close.

Ramen + gyoza + chicken katsu.
While I was finishing up, this song came on the radio at the ramen place, and that's when I realized this had all been an elaborate set up.  See, earlier in the day, I'd sent Julie this parody of that song.

The worst part of this whole situation is that I didn't see any of it coming.

  • Everyone was talking about ramen today.
  • Wait, what?
  • You should be fired, you jerk.
  • That sucks.  I guess this means that when I order things from amazon, I'll just wait longer in between orders until things pile up.
  • This looks interesting (but I haven't watched it yet, so I don't know).
  • Huh.  Well, I have all the episodes shown so far on my DVR.  Because I haven't watched any yet.  I didn't hear any great buzz about it, so I never had the push to go see what's up with it.  Maybe I'll have to catch up this weekend.  One more note: I thought I heard that they were banned from using well known characters due to some other pre-existing contract issue.  I wonder if that's another reason it wasn't very well received.
  • I like the last panel, where Kara's using her legs to hold the bucket of candy in her lap so she can look through it.  While flying along, because she doesn't actually need to walk.
  • I upgraded things today to get something else working, which forced a google-chrome update, which means I have this ugly ass bug to deal with.  "What's wrong?"  The tab font and the bookmark-bar font are identical, and the same size.  Conveniently, this font also matches my default page body font as well.  Now, in between the two is the url bar in a font twice as large, with different serifs, and at a completely different weight.  The goal of UI should be to use as few fonts as possible in one view.  Breaking this concept, and then marking it as "wontfix" because you have more important things to do is a shitty move.  Not only that, given the 21 other bugs you had to merge into this one, wouldn't it have been better to simply fix what people didn't like just to shut them up?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Monday: I hate mondays.

This is what Monday is like.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sunday: Fuck you, avocado!

I never can get one that ripens sufficiently to be edible.  After one bite of my sandwich, I expelled all remaining slices for being just a waste of my time.  I really wish they'd have "lazy ass avocado" and "these are the ones you want to buy" sections.

Bacon/lettuce/tomato/avocado/cheddar sandwich.
We'll see how it is tomorrow.  I'm also thinking I'll look and see if I can buy an actually edible one tomorrow.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Saturday: Part 2: Sushi and a lot of crazy tinkering


I had a nice seat at position #1, so I could spy on the new things coming out and plan ahead.

And then, just when I was about to order a salmon and an ahi, a giant pile of them appeared on the belt.  Today was the first time in a long time that I've been able to draw solely from the belt and not order anything.
Crazy Tinkering 1: Google

There are a lot of problems that are in general hard to get right.  Specifically, converting speech into machine usable text strings.  Linux has a few programs that attempt to do this, but they tend to be not that great, or require a lot of training runs, or restriction to a small corpus of words.  Apple came out with their magic Siri, and Google followed soon after with their non-anthropomorphic "Speech API."  They added this API somewhat sneakily to chrome browsers, but since part of that code is open source, it didn't take long for people to find the magic and post details.

My first attempts kept failing, but after doing a bit more research, it seems that the "status=5" error I was getting is not "bad file type" that the internet people were trying to claim, but rather "no match found."  This would be returned for a bad file type, but actually means that no words were detected, and so no text could be constructed.  Switching my test sound clip from one taken at a bit of a distance to one taken by speaking directly into my laptop made it clear that this was the problem my test code was having.

Conveniently, Google also provides the inverse operation as well:  given a text string, they can convert it into a sound file using the same voice that my phone's search thing uses when I ask it a question.  The problem this raised?  The speakers attached to teddiursa aren't driven strong enough to be heard over downtown noise.

I think that these two similar problems suggest that the right solution to the problem would be to get a bluetooth headset thing, and use that to connect to a speech to text to speech program.

"Why would you want this, and what would you do with it?"

I don't know.  That's not really the point right now.  I'm sure I could come up with something.


Holy shit, TCM is showing this movie.  I assumed it was a generic Italian/Spanish horror movie, and then I saw Shatner.  There's only one movie commonly in the intersection of {Shatner,horror movie,non-English}.  As a side note, the reason I couldn't place the language is because it's in Esperanto.  The other commonly known fact about the movie.

Crazy Tinkering 2: Wait, that's actually an easy problem.

I live in a tall apartment building, and everyone has wireless routers.  Everyone.  That immediately presents the obvious question: where exactly are all these routers located?

"Wait, huh?"

Yeah, if you have signal strength measurements for all the routers, you should be able to triangulate things back and come up with a solution.

"But, isn't that like a lot of variables?"

Surprisingly, no.  You need to minimize the equation:
r = d(t)_i^2 - ( (x(t) - X_i)**2 + (y(t) - Y_i)**2 + (z(t) - Z_i)**2)
where d(t) is the signal strength distance, (x,y,z)(t) is your current position, and (X,Y,Z)_i are the assumed fixed positions of all visible routers, indexed by i.  This means you have 3*i fixed position values to find, and 3*j samples of your own position.  This position is listed as a function of time, as you should be moving around to break the degeneracy of the problem if you don't.  You have i*j samples, which is larger than 3*(i+j) for most values of i,j.

A quick google search led me to this page, which gives the equation:
d(t) = 10**((27.55 - (20 * log10(F * 1e3)) - S)/20)
where F is the channel frequency the router is using, S is the signal level in dB, and d(t) is in...meters?  I assume it's of order meters, based on the values I get for my own router.

How well does it work?  This is where the whole thing fell apart, as I don't have linear algebra code for perl that I know well, so that means I need to write the solver in C, which moves this from a "quick hack" to "actual problem."  I know the Jacobian values:
J_nm = \pm (2 x_n - 2 u_m)
so the solution is just solving
J^T J \beta = J^T r
until it converges.

Plotting up the raw d(t) values makes it look like this is plausible.  Index 1 is my router, and index 3 is what I suspect is my neighbor's.  I moved around t=1650, went to sit on my bed for a minute or so, then returned to the couch.  There's a clear increase in distance, followed by a return to the "couch" normal.


I kind of want to play this game again.  In my head, the name is "Betrayal of Haunting at House on the Hill of Haunts."  The real name is much shorter.

Cool, Squirrel Girl.  I've gotten good at recognizing voices, as I immediately guessed it was Tara Strong.

  • I really can't imagine what absolute assholes live in Maryville, Missouri.
  • The truth is that we don’t know the truth. Mary Jones, founder of the North Texas Tea Party Patriots, could be murdering puppies and babies all this time, drinking their blood, and fashioning bizarre hats from their bones. I just don’t know, all I'm doing is asking the question.
    • Side note on this absolutely ridiculous story: have you ever looked at lists of Tea Party groups? It's Life of Brian, but in real life.  Go look at this list.  "North Houston Tea Party," "North Houston Tea Party Patriots," "North Texas Tea Party", "North East Texas Tea Party Patriots". It wouldn't surprise me if a lot of these are various flavors of "you're doing it wrong, so I'm going to start my own team!" or "you can't tell me what to do, you're some sort of collectivist!".
  • Pika-kiss!

Saturday: Part 1: Morning

Why do I have a morning post today? Yesterday I got a phone call that I had to go get a vaccination due to the new magic drugs I'm taking.  Woo.  In a move that surprised me, they were able to schedule that for today.  The downside of next-day, weekend doctor visits is that they were crazy overbooked, so I ended up sitting and waiting for an hour.  This meant that the next part of the day's plan was going to be delayed.

What was that next part?

Doughnut time!
Since I was up and out in the morning, I figured something breakfast-y was the way to go.

Not the absolute best selection today, and I wanted two of those chocolate/almond ones in the lower right corner, but still, OM NOM NOM.
Then I got stuck in traffic, and started formulating a few equations that attempt to explain why things are slow by modelling v_T as a function like v_T ~ v_0 * (\rho/\rho_0)**-\alpha, where \rho is the car density and \rho_0 is the maximum possible density.  Problems arise during mergers, which should be equivalent to moving from \rho/\rho_0 to (\rho + \rho')/\rho_0.  Since you want to optimize flow = v_T * \rho, you can kind of imagine that flow increases with \rho up to some critical value \rho_C < \rho_0, at which point the addition of more cars due to mergers decreases v_T.  The fact that I had enough time to formulate all of this should suggest that \rho > \rho_C for this trip.

Finally, I got home to discover a brand new fucking Pokemon series has started.  I hate when this happens, because they change the name of the show in the listings, which means the DVR misses the first episode and a half.  I think they claimed this was just a preview, so I suspect they'll replay them when the series starts for real.

Because I missed things, I don't know who anyone is.

Like her.  Obviously she's the rival, so I'll call her Not-Misty until I learn her name.  Also that bottle of water has a poke-ball symbol on it, but if you just glance at it quickly, it looks like underwear.

Not-Misty's mom?  Sister?  Friend?  Is she going on the journey too?

Crap. Froakie.  I was hoping for Chespin.  You chose the water type last time, Ash.  Also in the background are Not-Max and Not-May

Officer Jenny knows how to do new series, and nicely lets me know that this is Professor Sycamore.
 Anyway, adventure!
Garchomp is freaking the fuck out because somebody put a shock collar on him.  Ash (having no sense at all) climbs up to try and help while everyone else in the city stands around and acts surprised.

Garchomp's a dick, and flies up to the very top of the Not-Eiffel tower.

Ash, continuing to not have sense, climbs up this totally exposed ladder.

Garchomp shoots them.
Blah blah blah, they save garchomp, blah blah.

But then the ground gives way!

Oh no! Pikachu!

Christ, Ash.  Just...what the fuck was your plan here?

"Pika-pi..." Even Pikachu is a bit confused as to how both of them dying is going to help anything.

But then Mega-Blaziken shows up and saves the day, and Ash continues to not learn the lesson that jumping off tall buildings is fucking stupid.

Froakie pulls out all the cute it can.

Activates its own pokeball, making this pokemon 9486 that Ash has not really captured.

"Everything's going to be great, because I'm immune to the consequences of my actions!"


Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday: And some days I just back date the post to the right day

Oh, fuck you, amazon.

  • Liars lying, even when they could benefit from what they're lying about.
  • I'm pretty sure this is a reason why law professors shouldn't be doing statistics.  Or, you know, should learn statistics.  Given a set of N variables and M groups, claiming that membership in group M_i implies larger values of N_j without clearly stating how you accounted for the effect of the covariance of N illustrates that you're just throwing numbers together.  For this example, something to the effect of "for matched cohorts of age and income" would probably suffice, or at least point out that you're aware of this kind of problem.
  • I'm interested to try this, even if it won't be for like another year (or 18 months, since there's a hipster/new place problem to deal with).  I know they're conceptually just a Steak&Shake, but still.
  • I may or may not have internally come up with elaborate back stories for why I'm purchasing baked goods as well.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Thursday: Why am I suddenly so sleepy?

Today was the day I go buy random things at Target.  I discovered that in the process of adding a new lane to H1, they've made everything slower.  The only thing I can think of to explain this is that people noticed things were different, and panicked, and that's why we were going 15mph.  My evidence for this is that when the construction zone ended (note: no actual construction was happening), everything magically sped up.

I can now say that I had the option to buy these cereals.  An option I declined, but still.

Wait, what?

  • At the beginning of this, that frog faced bastard seemed reasonable.  Then about halfway through, he talks about "dynamic scoring," which some people may just gloss over. "That sounds good.  Everyone like scoring points, and dynamic sounds like it's active!"  No.  The idea behind dynamic scoring is that you rewrite the tax code by claiming that if you decrease tax X by $Ne6, you spur $Me6 in "growth," and therefore you only need to claim that you've cut taxes by $(N - M)e6.  It's slightly more complicated, but that's the idea.  Why is this bad?  Because you could basically just claim whatever you want.  Having the CBO score things, you know, the Congressional Fucking Budget Office (for Budget Calculations, Duh), makes more sense, since that's kind of their damn job.
  • Have you ever kind of wished someone would have a horrible existential crisis that finally crushes their life and soul entirely?  Yeah...that' neither.
  • Everyone else was talking about this today, so why not.
  • But this, I saw nowhere.  Imaginary Onion Joe Biden is one of the greatest fictional characters ever.
  • Adventure time.
  • I didn't originally notice, but the "Dandy Fish" logo is smoking a pipe.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wednesday: I didn't play around with the new computer much today

Mostly because I spent an extra hour at work because I finally sorted out where stuff was being calculated wrong.  I did sort out some stuff with using it to monitor a webcam, and discovered that you can fairly easily write a twitter bot that can handle media posts.  Not that those are at all related.

Plus the government stopped being completely stupid today.

Tuesday: teddiursa

Yes, that tiny little box that I've stuck to the side of the tv stand is a proper full computer.  I'm reasonably sure that it'll be a perfectly valid replacement for kadatheron.  I'm still getting things set up on it, but I haven't run into any major issues yet.  It knows the network, it's crossmounted giant disks across the network, it can see and use the webcam, and it displays to the television with only minor glitches (I'm pretty sure that HDMI-1 on my tv is broken).

I think the hardest question I've had to confront is what to name it.  Kadatheron could be followed up with anything from the set of {thraa, ilarnek, sarnath}, but those are all kind of bad names (the reason I chose kadatheron in the first place).  That suggested taking a new path.  I'm planning on using it to monitor a bunch of things automatically, and have low-level AI attempt to diagnose and notify me of any issues.  This led to the idea of tachikoma, but I already used that name for a laptop (which doesn't really exclude it, as that laptop has been dead for years).  Even though I'm pretty sure they're etymologically distinct, that led me to 熊 pronounced kuma or "bear."  Next on the logic train was the realization that if this works well, I may end up buying more, so it'd be good to have a large supply of assignable names.

Of course, the largest supply of assignable names is Pokemon, so I went with teddiursa, partially because it's cute.

And as a side note, here's the CDF for when I post things to my blog.  I've plotted both the raw times as well as a folded set of times, where posts before 6AM have been appended to the previous day as hours 24-30.  Like today's post is going to end up being because I was busy this evening and didn't get things done on time.
Note how the 50% point is something like 9:30 PM HST.

  • Raspberry pi troubleshooting page.
  • Squirrel.
  • Brock.
  • The Largo is very good.
    • Side complaint: I was listening to this as part of a giant "99 classical songs for $1!" thing from amazon.  For the album this is on, I have 91 tracks.  For another, 67.  WTF, amazon?  The support response I got was "here's a coupon for the price you paid so you can try buying it again."  Of course, it's now $7, so the $1 coupon doesn't fix things.  I think this boils down to the fact that I'm annoyed that the amazon computers have stolen 40 songs from me of total value $0.40404.  Computers are supposed to be reliable, especially when you have to transfer the music files from your magic mp3 vault to the section of the magic mp3 vault that you've assigned to me as my "cloud player."
  • I want to play the game and then get immediately bored, but it doesn't start until the 25th.
  • I fixed the problem. Problem solved.”
  • Why people are so crazy that they've shut down the government.  Tl;dr: they're old white people who are scared of anyone who isn't exactly like them, and since they're too dumb to realize that this is just the result of demographic change brought on by globally increasing population and rapid transportation, have decided that it's all the fault of Lucifer, and therefore it's the end times.
  • I made this point in grad school to someone from a different country, and I think I've come to a more logically sound view on the subject.  The US is an excellent choice for the world's reserve currency because it has something that you really want in that position: permanence.  Having giant stockpiles of nuclear weapons is not something you keep around to force people to use your currency.  You use it to assure those that do use your currency that you will be there next year and you will be there in thirty years, as there are no outside groups that can destabilize you.  Note "outside groups."  The previous link illustrates that there are a lot of people who not only don't care about stability, but actively court instability because that's a herald of their psychotic millennialism.