Archive for August, 2006

When Netflix goes online

August 31, 2006

I finally signed up for Netflix, and I’m totally excited! I mean watching lots of movies and shows will be really fun, but also their website is really good. You can see pop-up movie descriptions anywhere they list a movie name, the friends feature works good, they have online previews, just overall everything is intuitive and fun to use.

A few years before it was available, I got excited about being able to burn my own DVDs of shows I like. First they came out with some of the high dollar DVD recorders, but I wanted more control than that. When my brother Leland got his Media Center PC, I was amazed because there was the technology I wanted, and I didn’t realize it was available yet. I could finally record shows from TV digitally, and keep the ones I wanted on DVD.

So now I am similarly excited about a future development of Netflix (or whatever company does it). I can’t wait till Netflix has a 100% online option. There are already companies offering cable TV on the internet, and obviously it’s really only a matter of bandwidth. Imagine what it will be like to pay $20 a month or whatever, and have the entire Netflix library online, ready to be streamed in DVD quality right to your TV on demand! Pretty sweet. Eventually, you’ll have every movie and every TV show ever made right at your fingertips. It will become as easy to watch something as it is to look up information on the internet today. For example, today if you are trying to remember the words to the Brady Bunch theme, you can hop online and find them lickity split. Demo: here they are, it took me about 1 minute, but that included looking at a couple of sources to make sure I had a pretty accurate version. So in the (hopefully near) future, if you are discussing with friends the episode where Bobby and Cindy get lost at the Grand Canyon, and someone never saw it, you could just get on Netflix and watch it and laugh. It’s pretty fun to think about to me, technology is cool.


Pilot Assembly

August 23, 2006

There’s a lab close to where I sit at work with a sign by the door “Pilot Assembly.” Every time I walk by there I envision a life-sized G.I. Joe doll having his arms and legs snapped into place. Can I get a “woot, woot”?

Fun with statistics (yes, I feel nerdy today)

August 21, 2006

Walter Ray Williams Jr. is unarguably one of the best bowlers ever, and arguably THE best bowler ever. He has a degree in Physics, and likes statistics as well. I was thinking about the chances our team has of winning our bowling league on Wednesday night, and so I’m going to e-mail this blog to Walter and hope he posts a reply, or responds to my e-mail.

We are currently sitting in 3rd place in our league. Here are the standings. Wednesday is our final night, and a position round which means #1 bowls #2, #3 bowls #4, etc. We bowl 4 games a night, there are 2 points for each game, and 2 points for total pins, so a total of 10 points a night. A quick look at the standings and you’ll see that if we win all 10 points, and “Shoe Up!” wins only 2 points (1 game), we’ll tie for first and get to have a playoff. If “Shoe Up!” wins more, or “Aggressive Flavor” wins them all, we can’t catch them. On the other hand, if we win all 10, noone else can catch us. So I wanted to try and figure out what the odds are that we tie for first, and then win the playoff. Of course keep in mind, when I took a graduate level statistics course at SMSU I got a B. That’s the only B I ever got in a math course, and I had plenty of math working on my BS in Electrical Engineering at OC. I attribute it to not being very motivated, but it’s still kind of embarrasing. So…

I assume each game to be a statistically independent event. I guess arguments could be made that mental momentum, etc., would change this, but I won’t worry about that. I do not take into consideration any teams tying either. For each game, handicap is pretty close to the same for all the teams involved, so that is another variable I have considered insignificant. For the match between #1 and #2, there are 16 possible outcomes for 4 games. If we were to list this for the first place team as W or L for win or loss, the outcomes could be WLLL, WWLL, WWWL, etc. Out of these 16 outcomes, only 4 will work for us, the 4 with 1 win… WLLL, LWLL, LLWL, or LLLW. So the odds of this is 4/16, or 0.25. Given one of these 4 outcomes, we need the odds that second place also wins totals, which I think would also be 1/2 (think of totals like one big game). So the odds that everything goes right for us with the match between first and second is 0.25 * 0.5 = 0.125.

Now the odds that we sweep our match. Pretty simple here, 16 outcomes again, and the only one acceptable is WWWW. So the odds we sweep are 1/16 = 0.0625. Given we win each game, we automatically win totals, so we are done with the odds of winning what we need to. So the odds that both matches turn out the way we want are 0.125 * 0.0625 = 0.007813. Then of course we would have a playoff, and since we don’t have any league rules governing this, USBC rule #113b states that the playoff must be the same 4 game format that the normal season used. The chances of us winning the playoff are 1 in 2. This seems intuitive, but can also be derived using the logic I did for the other matches. There is 1/16 way we can win all four games, 4/16 ways to win 3 games, and 6/16 ways to win 2 games. Anything less than 2 we will lose the playoff even if we win total pins. If we win 4 games or 3 games, we win the playoff even if we lose totals. If we win 2 games, we win the playoff only if we win totals, which we again say is a 50% chance. So we can compute the probability of winning the playoff as the sum of weighted probabilities that we win the playoff in any of these three fashions (by winning all 4, winning 3, or winning 2). This gives us the equation (1 * 1/16) + (1 * 4/16) + (0.5 * 6/16) = 0.5. So that is my “proof” that we have a 50% chance to win the playoff.

Now, the overall chance of us winning this league is equal to the chance of both matches going the right way, and us winning the playoff, or 0.007813 * 0.5 = 0.003906. Cool, we have almost half a percent chance to win! Now that I’ve done this, I’ll be even more excited if our team is able to win.

How they get ya!

August 18, 2006

It ‘minds me of a story our friend Chris Nelson told. A friend of his went to eat with her dad and one of her friends. They went to a steak place. Not a buffet keep in mind, just a regular old steak restaurant. Keep in mind as well this was not a close family friend the dad knew well, but just a friend of his daughter’s. Well, when they brought out rolls and the girl’s friend started to eat, the dad went into a tirade. He exclamed, “Don’t eat those!! They bring you all these rolls, and you get full on them, and then you can’t eat your meal, and that’s how they get ya!!” Of course noone was sure why he felt like the restaurant would do that, not like you can’t take it with you.

So at Wal-Mart the gallon of milk is more than twice the price of the half gallon. I’m not sure how long it’s been that way, but I buy a gallon of milk now in two containers. I’ve noticed you have to watch stores about stuff like that. One day the smaller quantity of an item will be cheaper per unit, and later it will flip and the larger quantity will be the better value. And that, my friend, is truly how they get ya!


August 9, 2006

I had a visitor today at the house, a cute little kitten. It was really friendly so I let it come in for a while. It ate a whole can of tuna, and then laid with me on the couch while I watched Boston Legal. I let Buddy come in to see how it acted, since Buddy is a lot calmer than Zaria. It hissed a little, but didn’t get mean or anything. Then later when I let both the dogs in it got kind of scared and went to the room. When I went in there, and the dogs followed, it got under the bed. I went ahead and put it back outside then, besides, might have rabbies. Holly had seen it this weekend when she let the dogs out (who?, who?, who?, who?) for me, but this was the first time I had seen it, so it will probably be back. Here’s a picture of it.

I’m in the mood…

August 3, 2006

… to be silly. So, here’s some interesting facts I am about to make up:

– The average American household uses enough plastic Wal-Mart sacks each year to go to the Moon and back 18 times. (With the help of a space shuttle)
– Cars were not really invented until 1997. All the cars you remember before that are the work of a memory implant by the government… part of their plan to confuse us on the usefulness of hemp.
– Speaking of cars, the next time yours breaks down try flying to work… on your PC monitor! Most monitors today support being used like the flying skateboards from “Back to the Future”.
– “Fruit Loops” cereal is not made of 100% fruit. Check the ingredients, they add sugar!
– Air conditioners don’t really work. They are just machines that make some noise, the cooling effect is purely psychological.
– You knew Barnes and Noble was a book store, but did you know this… today’s Barnes and Noble carries more books in stock than Spencer’s Gifts.

Ok, now I’m tired of this. Talk to you all later.

The Garage Door

August 2, 2006

For some reason, my garage door seems to have a vendetta with me lately. Saturday Christina and I went IHOP. When we got home I opened the garage door from the street, checked the mail, and then after I parked I forgot I already opened the garage door and hit the button again. I saw it closing and laughed and hit the opener to stop it, so it was only slightly closed. Then as I was walking in, I guess I was paying too much attention to my leftover sausage and pancakes, because I rammed my head on the garage door. Christina of course thought I was kidding, as my sausage came flying out of the styrofoam container, and I was standing there holding my head. After laughing for a few seconds, she realized it really hurt. And of course I couldn’t help but almost laugh too, don’t you hate it when you hurt yourself and you almost have to laugh? Anyway, this is the cut I got on my head from that (taken tonight, you’ll understand all the junk on my head in a minute):

So then tonight I was about to go to Wal-Mart for some groceries, and I get in the car and shut the garage, and it comes down about half way, stops, and goes back up. I try again, and I notice this cable on the sides of the garage apparently stopping the door somehow. I get out to look at it, and this cable connects to the bottom of the door to help raise and lower it (I didn’t know much about how it worked). The cable was off the spool and all tangled up. I tried winding it up properly, but couldn’t get it all the way. Then I figured out to just take the wire off the bottom of the door (it just had a loop around a bolt thing), and I was able to wind it up. Off course the door is quite heavy, and half the time I was holding it up and all kinds of craziness. At least twice I was seriously doubting whether I could get the door shut again tonight. Some of the rollers on the door came off the track a few times too, which made things worse. I was really hoping the whole door didn’t fall on me. So after unhooking both cables, re-wrapping them, and connecting them I tested the door. It closed successfully, it opened successfully, I was excited. I tried it again. The cable popped off the spool again and locked up. I tried rewinding it all again, and when I tested it that time more rollers came off and things seemed to be getting worse. Here are some pics of the cable that gets tangled up, and one of the bottom rollers that also came off:

Well, after messing with it for an hour and a half, I was worn out and filthy, and it was 10:30. I decided to put off Wal-Mart till tomorrow. I got the door shut again, but it’s not working now. This is me after messing with it, I think the pic conveys the mood well: