Posts Tagged ‘everyday frustrations’


Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Another one of the many perturbing errors in Jeffrey's Subjective Probability, this from §4.1:

If I am sure that it was one of the years from 1951 to 1959, with equal probabilities, then my ex(X) will be 1951
+ 1952
+ … + 1959
, which works out to be 1954.5.
One doesn't even have to do any arithmetic (I didn't) to spot the error; for a sequence of an odd number of equally-spaced integers, the average is the middle-most value, in this case 1955.


Thursday, 25 December 2008

Some of you will recall my highly-localized tradition of anonymous Butterfinger bars. Last night, I went to the local CVS pharmacy and bought an eight-pack of Butterfinger Mini bars, took it home and gift-wrapped it, and then snuck it under the miniature Christmas tree on my neighbors' table.

While at CVS pharmacy, I encountered Chris, who was despairing over an immediate lack of consumer choice. He had an urgent need to replace a mislaid umbrella. He had checked at the local Rite Aid and found none. At CVS pharmacy, his choices were amongst just two children's umbrellas, one with a race-car theme, the other a pink princess thing. Recognizing that the ironic charm of the latter would be quickly exhausted, he chose the former.

My very best seasonal wishes to my friends who are reading this. As to the rest of you, I eye you with suspicion. Don't try nothin' funny!

Backing-up to /dev/null

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

One of the Corsair 8GB Voyager USB flash drives that I bought seems to have completely failed, before I even received the mail-in rebate for it. Grand.

Post Apocalypse

Thursday, 23 October 2008

I got a note the other day referring to 12:00p.m when its author plainly meant noon.

Okay, now, folks, p.m. stands for post meridiemafter noon. Noon isn't after itself. There is a 12:01 p.m., a 12:00:01 p.m., a 12:00:00.0…01 p.m.. But if there is any 12:00 p.m., then it would be mid-night; which, awkwardly, is also the only candidate for 12:00 a.m., since noon also isn't before noon (ante meridiem) either.

Calling noon 12:00 m. would just confuse people, as they'd take the m. as standing for midnight, but 12:00 n. is nicely unambiguous.

You may be high / You may be low

Saturday, 4 October 2008

The Windows installation on my computer is currently spending many hours to accomplish something that should take less than a minute.

Most computer storage systems have a sort of thing that some of us know as directory and others know as folder. People speak and tend to think of files as being in these things, but actually files are only in these things in much the same sense as a persons are in a phone book. Hence, directory is at least the less misleading term (paper files being in paper folders more as people are in buildings). Directories are usually themselves implemented as files, which then makes it trivial to put directories in other directories.

Logical disk C on my computer entirely resides on one physical hard drive. I have a directory on C such that I'd like to move it from one parent directory on C to another on C. What that literally means is that I would like to add a listing for it to another directory, remove a listing from the earlier parent, and change what the moved directory lists as its parent. I don't want to relocate the files that it contains to another part of the logical drive; I certainly don't want to relocate them to another physical drive. I don't even want to relocate the directory in question. I just want to change which parent directory lists the directory in question (and what it lists as its parent directory). So I did a cut-and-paste from one folder to another, something on the order of twelve hours ago. The move is still in-process; the progress bar indicates that it is less than half done. The disk drive is in a state of near-continuous activity, and the dialogue box is listing the subcontents of the directory one-by-one.

(Sadder still, this move is in preparation for moving the files in question to a different physical device, which will take considerable time no matter which operating system is used.)

Hard Sell

Thursday, 25 September 2008

In the wake of a ruling by the Supreme Court of the State of California that required the state to recognize and effect same-sex marriage, there is a measure, Proposition 8, on the ballot to amend the state constitution to halt recognition of further same-sex marriages. I oppose this measure, though (as I have stated various places) what I really want is for the state to get out of the marriage business altogether, and to treat marriages simply as private contracts. (I think that participants should see marriage as far more, but that's not the business of the state.)

This after-noon, I stopped at the San Diego headquarters of Vote No on Prop 8 to buy a couple of bumper-stickers, one to actually slap on a bumper, and one to put on the case of my note-book computer.

The guy who greeted me there was a fool. Instead of just selling me a couple of bumper-stickers, he tried very aggressively to get me to make a substantial donation, starting with the idea that I should give them the equivalent of a dollar an day for a year, by donatiing $365. There isn't a fr__king year left until the election; there's about 40 days. Had he begun by suggesting a $40 donation, well, I might have gone along with that; as it was, he had my back up, and I said no to the other sums that he suggested. I gave them $5 and they gave me the two bumper-stickers that I'd sought. In addition to the bumper-stickers, I left with considerable annoyance.

Another irksome thing, not the fault of Vote No on Prop 8, was that I had to fill-out a d_mn'd form, because I'd made a political contribution, however small. It was a gross violation of my rights as acknowledged by the First and Fourteenth Amendments, but if I didn't fill-out that form, and truthfully, then the money could be confiscated by the state.

State of Ambiguity

Monday, 25 August 2008

A few days ago, Phillip asked to just what the term Midwest refers (this question leading towards a more vexing question). I told him that the region was somewhat vaguely defined, but that in my mind it included the states from Ohio to-and-including Nebraska, and those to their north.

(The more vexing question is then of why it should be called the Midwest, when it is geographically centered to the east of the geographical center of even just the contiguous United States.)

In the course of our conversation, I consulted a 1975 edition of The American Heritage Dictionary, which said that the Midwest ran roughly from Ohio through Iowa, which is one state to the east of Nebraska (thus centering the Midwest even further to the east). Later, I discovered that the United States Bureau of the Census includes Nebraska in the Midwest. Further, some would include West Virginia and Kentucky, and some would exclude Missouri.

For now, it is the Question of Nebraska that exercises me. I have placed a poll at my 'blog.

Heronic Measures

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Most people, at some point or another, when confronted by a vending machine that is supposed to take bills in payment, have had trouble getting it to take a bill. I have a method that has always worked for me. There are two theories as to why it works; I will explain my method in terms of one of these theories.

A vending machine that rejects your bill wishes to thwart you. It infers that you would rather have its product than the bill, and so it would leave you with the bill and deny you the product.

Now, you can keep feeding it the bill until it tires of the game and sells you the product, but who knows how long that might take? Some machines would derive endless pleasure from spitting the bill back at you.

You cannot very well say Oh, I'd rather have this bill than the fizzy sugar water! and, hoping that the machine will be thus fooled, insert the bill. First of all, the machine probably cannot hear you anyway; and, secondly, your actions will in any case speak louder than do your words. It is a given that, at the time that you insert the bill, you would rather have the fizzy sugar water. Hence, you must persuade the machine that you have changed your mind after the insertion of the bill.

You can do this by pulling back on the bill after the rollers have grabbed it. The machine infers that you have just reälized that you won't have enough money for the bus, or have just recognized the bill as a rare collectable. In keeping with its underlying desire to thwart you, it will now hold fast to the bill, pull it inward, and dispense the product.

Feel free to laugh in triumph; as I said, the machine probably cannot hear you anyway.