When we came home on Wednesday evening two weeks ago, we noticed that the internet wasn’t working. Julie reset the router, and it didn’t work. Not that I didn’t trust her, but I also reset the router, and it still didn’t work. We shrugged, then went out to play tennis in hopes that it would be back on when we got home.
I have written a lot about my TODO list. I rely heavily on my TODO list because my brain is bad at remembering to do things, but digital lists synced to the cloud and linked to periodic reminders are much more reliable. However, I don’t only use digital systems to remember to do things: I also use them to remember important facts and my ideas. That is why I have an extensive notetaking system that has evolved over the years.
A few weeks ago, TechCrunch published stories about how Facebook and Google used unauthorized iOS apps to gather data about phone usage from external users in ways that the users likely didn’t understand. In light of these stories, I wondered how feasible it was to switch away from Google services to other platforms.
Julie and I have very different understandings of the 5 star rating system. Here’s what usually happens at a restaurant:
(Kevin nosily scrapes the last bits of food from his plate using his finger as a backstop instead of his knife)
Kevin: So how would you rate this restaurant?
Julie: I liked it! Maybe four or five stars?
(Kevin gives Julie a look of horror and confusion)
Julie: Oh, maybe more like three and a half stars
Kevin: Yeah, I was thinking three or four stars
We then (mis)remember how we rated other restaurants and try to slot this meal against those ratings. This process is haphazard at best.
And it’s not just restaurants: I’m consistently more critical than Julie on movies, books, and recipes. However, rather than accept that I am just a negative person, I instead embarked on an empirical study to prove that rating systems, not I, are the flawed party. Continue reading “My Understanding of the 5-star Rating System”
In 1996, Deep Blue played competitive Chess against world champion Garry Kasparov. In 2011, Watson beat Ken Jennings at Jeopardy. In 2016, AlphaGo played and beat Lee Sedol in Go. And in 2018, OpenAI Five played 2 games against professional Data 2 players, and the humans survived 2 very fun games. But in another year, I think that OpenAI Five will handily beat the best human Dota 2 teams.
When Julie and I got back from our road trip from Oregon, we still had a few chapters left on The Golden Compass audiobook. At first, I figured we could finish it inside while we were unpacking, but when we took out the CD, I immediately recognized a problem. It’s 2017, and the only CD drive that we own is in the car stereo. Continue reading “My Life on Shiny, Spinning Disks”
About a week ago, my coworkers were talking about signing up for Instagram over all-you-can-eat sushi. While mentally preparing ourselves for an onslaught of rice and raw fish, they explained the humor in picking a username, the mechanics of gathering followers, the importance of too many hash tags, and anything else that one asks when comparing social media services used in different amounts. It came up again with my college friends over dinner, so 4 years after acquiring a smart phone, I registered for Instagram.
Onboarding was rough. I tried to login using my Facebook account, but it ran into an error after setting my (unique) username, and when I tried to redo those steps, it told me that the name was taken (by me). After quitting the app, it let me login, but I still wonder if I missed a fun and relevant part of the onboarding experience.
Within a minute of registering, I was surprised to find that I already had followers. Inquiring later, apparently by logging in via Facebook, my friends had been notified that I had joined Instagram. Shortly after, I posted my first picture.
In the last 2 weeks, both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive came to consumers as the newest, fanciest virtual reality (VR) hardware available. Maybe you have had an opportunity to try out VR before, but I get the sense that this is the year and iteration on VR that really has the industry excited. Thankfully, my coworker Chris happened to pick up the HTC Vive and brought it into the office for all of us to try it out.
I will repeat the same thing you will hear from everyone else that explains nothing: you have to try it to understand how cool it is. I started out by playing Space Pirate Trainer, a game where Space Invaders-like drones float around you, and you have 2 blasters to shoot all of them down. The game has a few interesting mechanics, such as a shield you can “grab” off of your back, various blaster settings, and a Matrix-like bullet time to help dodge drone shots. Continue reading “First Thoughts on the HTC Vive and Virtual Reality”