2009-03-07

ILPHO archive: Size matters

This story was brought from APhO2005 in Kazakhstan. Our team was met by the Israeli ambassador. Yes, the one that was involved in resolving the long-remembered security problems (See ILPHO's pbwiki). He also shared this lesson on sizes, and lengths in particular, while talking about the local bureaucracy.

The guy was sent for a several years diplomatic mission. As usual, his house contents were packed and shipped to his temporary home in the ex-soviet country. Several months have passed, and the luggage still would't arrive. Nobody seemed to know where was it on planet earth, or how longer will it take.

At some point the guy went completely nervous, and managed to fight his way through the kazakh and the russian bureaucracy to figure out the fate of his luggage. The luggage container was stuck in Omsk*, at a railway station.

The problem was this: the container length is 25 meters. The train car base is 50 meters long. (guess the answer?)

So, the guys have been waiting for another 25-meter container to pack them together, to reduce waste.

*a.k.a. my place of birth

2009-03-06

Random numbers

Any decision-making process ultimately comes down to tossing a random, which is much cheaper than most other techniques.

In the past, people used to toss a coin. Earlier I suggested a more high-tech way, to do it with a credit card.

If it's a matter of honor, you should use rock-paper-scissors, and if you need more choices, you may want to use random.org. Or just say,

int Random() { return 17; }

BTW: Watch the Futurama's S4E15 about coin flipping, The Farnsworth Parabox.

RCLD: More IDF stories - the discipline officer

This is a story about an IDF rasar, pretty similar to the guy described by JoelOnSoftware. If you never served in IDF and don't know what a "Rasar" is, please read Joel's story as an intro. (In fact, I am pretty sure that more or less exact thing with a toilet described by Joel, also happened to me around 97 - but that's not what I am going to tell about).

Being a newbie at the start of the remaining years of my love-and-hate relationship with the 277 regiment's base, I was sent to a gate guarding duty. I was allowed to sit, on a chair, which was a pleasant surprise after what I was used to during the basic training. If have seen an Israeli army base, you know the large concrete protection blocks at the entrance that once were made fun of in MK-22 TV Series.

The chair base was just slightly smaller than the width of a concrete block. So, I put the chair on the block. While sitting high above and waiting for the passing traffic, I have been amusing myself with thoughts about what am I going to answer when I will be asked what is that I think I am doing, like "it's for better visibility" or whatever.

Soon, none other than the car of the base's discipline offier, sergeant major Yosi Nachmias, was approaching on its way out. Uh oh. "Come here, soldier" he said, in the usual scary voice that was supposed to make people turn white at an instant. I jumped off the block with my galil. And, despite all my preparaiton, his next question left me speechless.

"Who told you to sit like that??" he asked.

This way of thinking just never occurred to me. I could very well imagine people doing something without being told to. "Don't sit like that", he told, after which I never did it again.

Friend's account: the 'enlargement' way

One day while V was serving at a [top-secret intelligence research facility], a bunch of high ranked officers surrounded him.

"We have a problem. Someone accidentally deleted a whole bunch of important files. Can you help us?"

He said, "okay, but no questions asked about what I am going to do".. And he shut down all, and took the hard drive to the internet station. While trying to run a few cracks for some recovery tools, a large promotion appeared on the screen with a male penis. It was an 'enlargement pill' advertisement that caused lots of amusement.

The data was successfully recovered. After the incident, a new word was coined. 'Could you please do XYZ using the enlargement way?'

(Serialized with permission)