Monday, May 18, 2009

The pedant in me: Facebook UK Fail

For a company recently valued at $3.7 billion, I would expect their employees to have better grammar. Such a rich IT company should have the resources to check the language in their interfaces with more than just spell check (the bare minimum for any work in English produced or parsed on a computer).

Screenshots taken from at SGT 9:42 PM Monday, May 18, 2009

I like Cats

Don't know why my sister is mortally afraid of them though.

This is the resident cat at my block. He took the lift up with me.

This post is actually just an excuse to use the 'cat' tag because there's already a 'dog' tag.

NDP Balloting and My Strategy this Year

Ticket application is from 16 May 2009 to 25 May 2009 and is NOT based on a first-come-first-served basis.
P(ballot x tix on y) = P(ballot x tix on z), where y and z are between 16 May 2009 to 25 May 2009
Each applicant must choose one out of the two choices given, either NDP or Preview Ticket. (NDP is on 9 August 2009; the Preview is on 1 August 2009).
I'll ballot for the NDP ticket as I prefer it over the preview.
Each applicant must choose 2, 4 or 6 tickets. The chance of obtaining 2 tickets will be higher than that of obtaining 4 or 6 tickets. Similarly, the chance of obtaining 4 tickets will be higher than that of 6 tickets.
P(2 tix) > P(4 tix) > P(6 tix)

As usual, to maximize the chance of getting a ticket, I'll ask my parents and sister if I can use their NRICs to ballot for the tickets. Last year I balloted for 2, 4 and 6 NDP tickets and didn't get it. It was a flawed strategy, based on what I hope to get. I do not want to get as many NDP tickets as possible. I just want to get 2 (at least 1, but they come in 2s anyway) NDP tickets. Let's analyse why my strategy last year was wrong and what balloting strategy I will be using this year:

First of all, we have to make a few assumptions:
  1. They are using a pseudo-random generator to select the winning ballots. There's no need to rush to ballot since any time within the given time will have equal chance for same ballot. This means that no one can game the system. Incidentally, the company that is running the ballot system is 10tacle Studios, a game development company. Gaming the system, game company.. both got game.. mm.. OK nvm, I'm just being lame.
  2. P(2 tix) = 2*P(4 tix) = 3*P(6 tix) = d, where d is a small positive number closer to 0 than 1. I guess that this is a reasonable assumption. It satisfies "P(2 tix) > P(4 tix) > P(6 tix)", and it's somewhat intuitively fair since the mathematical expectation are the same: E(2 tix) = E(4 tix) = E(6 tix). I mean if I were to set the parameters, I would set it as such.
So last year I balloted for 2, 4 and 6 tickets as I felt since E(2 tix) = E(4 tix) = E(6 tix), it doesn't really matter which I ballot for, and 2, 4, 6 sounds nice and fun. WRONG! I was a weakling who went along with my feelings without thinking logically. I hope I'm better now. The flaw was as result of misusing expectation. Mathematical blasphemy!

Expectation is mostly useful only when dealing with many many many trials. In this case, I only had three ballots. Also, I was seeking to have at least 2 ticket instead of having as many tickets as possible. In fact, with a fixed number of ballots at one's disposal, one cannot improve the expected values of tickets possible based on assumption 2. So what's my strategy for this year's ballot? It's to shoot low in order to maximize P(having at least 2 tix with 3 ballots): P(2 tix) + P(2 tix) + P(2 tix) >= P(a tix) + P(b tix) + P(c tix). There you have it, my NDP ballot strategy for this year~!

Of course, a yet better strategy is to ask around for the tickets or for people to ballot with their NRIC for you. But I don't know many people and don't like to ask for favours.

Have you balloted?
Promoting the ndp website actually reduces the value of d, so I should not do it if I were really desperate to get a ticket. Then again, the value of d is already so small, and my blog probably has a readership of 1 (me) at the moment.

A Pleasant Dream

In my dream I bought a tube of nutripet. I was thinking about licking a bit of it (it's delicious!) and looked at the label which read:
for dogs and cats,
and humans who want to eat it.

I then went to visit my dog. And I hugged him because I missed him so much. He looks and feels the same. In this dream there's no smell though: In my other dreams of him where there's smell he smells the same in the dream. This time around as I hugged him, I tried to elicit a look of empathy from him, and twice he gave me the look that shows that he understands. It greatly comforts me. In real life though, he's the most unfeeling dog.

As I left the kennel, I sternly told him to stay, reflecting my insecurities about him escaping and getting into trouble (him fighting and me punished). Everything I did in the dream is typically what I might have done in real life (this is not one of those dreams where I'm in space or I can fly). Once outside his kennel, I turned his feed bowl in. I noticed that all the other feed bowls were already turned in except for his. I guess the others knew that I wanted to do it by myself. =) Seeing that the construction of the gate is not secure enough, I decided to clip the leash on the gate, but dang. Someone clipped the leash so high up that I couldn't reach it normally.

Then I woke up. I pressed a button on my handphone to see the wallpaper. Yeah, it's him alright.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Use the Correct Tool(s) for the Job

Yet another "aha moment" I got. My moments of insights are as usual, mostly super obvious. But I feel that even though there are many things (1) which we say we know, we don't usually do enough (not all, because we are only human) things in a way that shows we know them (1). In fact many times we do silly things that are appear contrary to the knowledge we purport the have. Okay, I admit, maybe I'm the only silly person here. Perhaps I shouldn't have used the word "we". Nonetheless, I like to re-iterate such maxims followed by a personal anecdote.

There probably exists correct tools for each job. If you use the wrong tool, you run the risk of damaging the things you're working on. For example, if you use a larger-sized wrench, you risk rounding the nut. It may also be less efficient, taking up more effort (time, strength), and even produce inferior results compared to using the correct tools.

So what happened was that my house was repainted last November iirc, and my chin-up bar was taken down. I saw my dad de-rusting the bar using autosol and I took over the job from him, as I felt that I had more experience in using autosol (from my NPCC days). Sure, I think did a decent job but it was too much effort (and painful fingers) just to de-rust a small area, so I set it aside.

One fine day I went to Daiso and saw this "sanding sponge" and I bought one for "de-rusting metal". So just now I used it and it was almost effortless. Using it, I took probably less than 2 minutes to de-rust the entire bar using just a little strength, as compared (using autosol) to taking 30 minutes to de-rust < 10% of the bar using much more strength. Haha, and hoorah for Daiso.

This sounds witty but I guess it's just plain nonsense:
“All of life’s problems can be solved with two things—duct tape and WD40. If it moves and it shouldn’t, you need duct tape. And if it doesn’t move and it should, you need WD40.”—Unknown

Clothes for fat people in Singapore

I used to be an avid forumer and a very helpful one at that. So I took this photo and posted in a few threads where bigger-sized forumers were asking where can they get clothes. Now that I've quit foruming regularly, I'm posting it here, hoping that those who need it can find it, and also delete the photo. Sorry I'm a tad too lazy to digitize the text.

Source: Urban, Straits Times

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The pedant in me: Speaking good English != Writing good English

Let me first qualify my post by saying that I do not speak nor write perfect English.

Of all places I found this at an exhibition at the Central Public Library (Bugis). On top of that, there were "Speak good English, yes I can" (can't remember the exact words) flag banners (sorry, no pic) outside the library adding to the irony. Or maybe the banners were literal (see post title).