2007-12-30

Frogs are diamagnetic

And so are humans. This video - http://www.hfml.ru.nl/pics/Movies/frog.mpg - shows a levitating frog in 16Tesla constant magnetic field. I wish they could build a big one for humans.

Perhaps my levitating globe just has a frog inside? :)

2007-12-21

Google multi-chat

At last! GTalk got the conference feature (N-user chat). What's funny - it extends it both ways. When everybody quits a multi-chat window - N can become one. Now THAT's a feature - you can finally talk to yourself.

2007-12-18

Multiple universes

It is said that about 50% of physicists today are in favor of many-worlds interpretation of the quantum mechanics. BS: "When I was young, it sounded like something totally freaky".

I have never liked it though, from the point of view of software design strategies.

2007-12-17

Logon to windows

TASE managed to ingeniously name their active directory domain on the unclassified network - "LOCAL", standing for a local network. So when you have to enter your user/password and choose an AD domain, you are miserably left with the two choices. VG: Pity they didn't call it "This computer".

54 °C ??

[Did you know?] The Eurasia's hottest recorded air temperature was measured nowhere else than in Israel (Tirat Zvi), according to this source. For obvious reasons this is Israel's second occurrence on that page.

2007-12-13

A quote

Garrison Keillor: "Intelligence is like 4-wheel drive. It enables you to get stuck in ever more remote places".

What does this remind you more of? Politics? Law? Software design? Physics?

Oh, speaking about stucking.. We recently agreed with Roie that "stuck" is okay as a present-tense word. I think "getting stuck" is too long for the modern world dominated by (ms) software, where it happens much more frequently than to things in the past. RM: "I think it went from past-tense to adjedctive to present-tense. I used to hate it, but now I think it's cool."

Okay, it's time to finish here, and to send you all to re-read the "Share and Enjoy" stucking story [Restaurant at the end of the universe]

2007-12-09

Mouse odometer

This thing measures mileage of your mouse.

http://www.modometer.com/

Funny, but the prog itself is not something. VZ suggested that this information could be used for "10K maintenance" for the mouse and for the hand. In case of ball mice, separate maintenance and therefore mileage for two axes could be interesting.

Some raised a concern whether the PC can actually know the real distance traveled by the mouse.

Surely you are joking..

I am frequently being asked why is the blog's name so strange and how does it relate to the Feynman's infamous book. Some time before starting, at last, with the crazy idea to serialize some of the everyday funny stories into UTF-8, I came across a stupid and severely buggy and dysfunctional program, sent to me by my accountant/bookkeeper to print out 'tlushei maskoret'. According to the bookkeeper, MC, the app was very special - it was supposed to let me print a document but not copy it. Strange. During the installation, it displayed a large splash screen "Thank you for installing [Your application name here]".

The rest of the app was not less wonderful.

More about the title. I was talking to a high-school-time friend of mine, YoavM, whom I met again at TAU physics faculty after our 3-year service in the army. He asked me what I managed to do while serving, and I said that one of the useful things I did was reading the whole of Feynman's book. He asked me "oh, you also read surely you are joking". I said "no, actually I haven't. I read Feynman's lectures on physics". He replied, in English, "surely you are joking..."

2007-12-08

Escaping

Another anecdote brought from the WOC2007: Imre Leader says he had a problem to sign himself up as a leader of the British team to the International Mathematical Olympiad. "Okay, so Imre is the leader, but what's his surname?" they kept asking. VladikG: "Escaping is a common problem in languages, including programming languages. This leads to idiotic bugs like SQL Injection holes"

Perhaps Russian speakers remember the Nikulin's joke about a georgean guy named "avas" who was asked what's his name and after three iterations they gave up. For Hebrew readers, there's an even better one - at least in being a real story - brought by my brother from his army base. They had an Ethiopian immigrant soldier named "moshe lama". He also had severe accent and troubles with understanding. So every time he was asked for his last name for authorities, he answered "lama" (=why, heb) and made some ppl really angry with that.

Speaking of the army, this reminds me of another story of an ethiopean soldier also named Moshe, the story also told by VladikG when he was in Giv'ati. The legend says that the guy was very talanted and learned to speak Russian pretty well - which was a disaster, because for uneducated (officer's) eye his black appearance was misleading, and they were seeking someone else to punish if he speaks out. One night the shortwave frequencies were filled up, as usual, with curses in russian (mat) from unidentified sources, but the truth about Moshe started to leak. At some point a "russian" officer broke the code of silence, "Moshe, shut up already!". After a short silence, the reply was in perfect moscow accent - "Mark, go suck my black dick."^Z. I don't know what punishment he received, but certainly he was one of those clowns who could humiliate themselves to the worst extent possible to give others a good laugh.

2007-12-06

Tournament of Towns - maths olympiads

The Israeli TOT site, taharut.org has published yesterday the problems and solutions of the 17th tournament held in 1996. This reminded me of a personal account - a heroic story from that Olympiad which made the entire ceremony hall laugh.

During the ceremony, the event leader prof. Boris Begun said he is gonna tell about three highlights from checking the works, before giving the prizes. The first was about that all 8 first-place diplomas are from one school this year (It was Shevah-Mofet, TA). Second was a story of the legendary Mark Braverman from Karmiel who got a TOT prize despite being a 3rd grade elementary school student. The third story was about a severe clownship found in one of the works. Well, two of the three stories were related to me.

"In problem #5 (spring season, at the end of the page) there were two parts, A and B. The student haven't succeed to solve either of them, but presented a correct proof that one of the statements of either A or B is correct".

I cannot remember for life what was my proof, but I definitely thought of it as of something simple compared to what looked then like a hard puzzle, which I failed to solve in 5 hours of the competition. I wrote it as a joke, of course not hoping to get any points. I still hope I didn't, and that other 3 solved problems sufficed fair and square for the said diploma I got that year - after very low luck on earlier TOTs.

2007-12-01

Charging laptops

Two weeks ago I was stuck in Athens hotel without a laptop charger. More than 20 stores couldn't sell me one for a ThinkPad x60. VZ told me on the phone, "Try to find one, or maybe make one. Shouldn't be too difficult for you to build a buck converter." He was surely joking, as an electronics engineer he should have known that laptop charger needs as well a rectifier. I didn't find any charger in 3 days, but this reminded me of another short but yet heroic laptop charging story from a few years ago. Now it can be used a a DIY guide if you are stuck in a similar situation, but please be careful.

It was late night in a hotel in Prague, and I didn't have an appropriate plug - but the charger was okay with an Israeli plug. All stores were closed and I desperately wanted to use my laptop, which ran out of battery. It took 2 hours to search the area for something suitable, and a couple more for thinking, after which the following was done: I went to the nearest pizza bar, and asked them for a tiny piece of tinfoil. That seemed to amuse them a little bit, but they gave me. From that, I twisted two electrical wires to stuck into the socket. [NOTE: please don't do it, this is a very dangerous practice. If you do not know how to take electricity precautions, don't blame me for burning your house down].

The mission was a success. Another charger horror story is from a friend of mine codenamed EK. He flied to Washington DC to make an important presentation. To his horror, he forgot the charger for his laptop. After 12 hours flight, he found himself in the conference room, and started it with "questions at the end, please" and was talking very fast. At some point the battery ran out - "Do you have any questions?" he said. He said that the public was amazed, like they didn't know such stupidity is at all possible.

Othello for Pocket PC

I met someone who bought a Qtek phone with MS WinCE instead of a better one just in order to be able to run my program (CEZebra). That was cool :)

However, google search sucks. People are also telling me that they've been searching for mobile Othello/Reversi software, and seen that people keep producing powerless reversi programs for Pocket PC, instead of downloading the right thing. Oops, I see a number of links there are broken, maybe that's why. My mail there is not correct anymore, I will have to update this page. (Double oops).

So, this is to add a little to CEZebra's web footprint. It continues to be the strongest mobile Othello program. If anybody doesn't know the real Zebra, please have a look here: http://radagast.se/othello/

Unfortunately, we haven't been working on it for a few years, it's hard to motivate myself into working on a freeware project. Hopefully, one day we'll resume the effort.

The Princess Bride (1987)

"Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." - was quoted by Ilya Shifman before the game with Jian Cai on the World Othello Championship 2007, after she's beaten Leonid Shifman.

Watch live WOC coverage at http://www.othello.nu/woc2007/live/