26 November 2008

What are you thankful for?

I have plenty to be thankful for this year (and I hope you all do too).

My continued good health; a gratifying, and awesome, job; wonderful family and friends; and feeling good about life in general.

Happy Thanksgiving!

25 November 2008


This is hot.

Colorware will take your Thinkpad T60/T61 (and select other laptops, phones, and game consoles) and color it in your choice of 35 different colors. Flat and metallic finishes available.

It will set you back $400, though.

22 November 2008

Machine learning in the news

The New York Times published a feature about the Netflix challenge and some of the people who are racking their brains working on it. One major problem to surmount is, apparently, the film "Napoleon Dynamite":

The reason, Bertoni says, is that "Napoleon Dynamite" is very weird and very polarizing. [...] It’s the type of quirky entertainment that tends to be either loved or despised. The movie has been rated more than two million times in the Netflix database, and the ratings are disproportionately one or five stars. [...]

Amazingly, Bertoni has deduced that this single movie is causing 15 percent of his remaining error rate [...] if Bertoni could anticipate whether you’d like "Napoleon Dynamite" as accurately as he can for other movies, this feat alone would bring him 15 percent of the way to winning the $1 million prize.

The NYT also gets geek points for essentially accurately explaining singular value decomposition in layman's terms on page 4 of the article.

In other news, researchers are trying to save humans from the drudgery of watching and annotating soccer games with hidden Markov models:

Detection of goal event in soccer videos [PDF], Hyoung-Gook Kim et al., Department of Communication Systems, Technical University of Berlin.

10 November 2008

How do the right and the left differ?

How do the right and the left differ? is one of Greg Mankiw's classic posts.

It's important to remember that intelligent and (apparently) rational people can look at the same evidence and draw different conclusions from it.

08 November 2008

The litmus test

I think Thomas Friedman has his finger on the reason why I, and probably more than few others, voted the way we did this year. The election was not about McCain and Obama or their foreign policies or even their economic policies. It was about repudiating the Bush administration:

[They] knew that after the abysmal performance of the Bush team, there had to be consequences for the Republican Party. Electing McCain now would have, in some way, meant rewarding incompetence. It would have made a mockery of accountability in government and unleashed a wave of cynicism in America that would have been deeply corrosive.

It's the reason I would have voted for San Francisco's Measure R. The name "George W. Bush" must be widely discredited for all posterity, that policies like his may be avoided in the future.

Not a completely rational reason to vote, but so little about politics is rational anyway.

Windows 7

Reports indicate that Windows 7 will run (and be usable, presumably) on netbooks.

This is probably the most astonishing thing I've heard all month. Color me impressed.

02 November 2008

Useful things to know about the heart

While doing some research I ran across the AHA's booklet of Heart and Stroke Facts. It is easy to read and gives a very good overview for laypeople of many of the things which can go wrong with your heart and circulatory system (including both "plumbing" and "electrical" issues), as well as some of the things which are done to fix those things.