Two advantages of eBooks are that book size hardly matters, and you can easily link from one page to any other page. Now think about what this means for the choose-your-own-adventure genre. Jon Ingold found you could take a totally different approach, and produced a playable murder mystery that would be as tall as a house were it printed physically.
A nice way to remember confirmation bias:
Tolstoy: “The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him.”
Link Google Squared is like Google’s approach to what Wolfram Alpha does. For example, if you search for planets, it tries to understand what you are looking for and what useful things you might like to know about instances of that thing, using Google algorithmic magic.
When Wolfram Alpha has an answer, it’s right – when it doesn’t have an answer, it has nothing. Google Squared lives in the fuzzy space in between.
As a side effect, this means you can use Google Squared as a kind of I-Ching / astrology / random fortune generator.
Try the following:
1) Go here http://www.google.com/squared/
2) Put in your surname
3) If you get results, use ‘add items’ at the bottom to add the first names of your family – if you don’t get any results you will be given some blank fields in which you can enter the first names directly
4) In the top right you can add additional columns. Type in ‘awards’ and press ‘add’
5) Find out how much your family members have won according to the Google Squared lottery!
Personally I was found to have won HK$0.00, whereas my mum got $517,115.00.
You can see what it thinks about you in other ways – for example, add a column titled ‘orbital period’. Turns out my sister has an orbital period of 1,975.4045670 days!
‘Newsarse’ [Now NewsThump – T.M. 1/7/11] is like a less polished, UK version of The Onion, providing a satirical take on current events from a UK perspective.
This week’s puzzle – paper
Why do people generally prefer to read writing on paper than on a screen?
Last puzzle – buttons
The puzzle regarding why buttons do up the way they do (one way for male and the other for female) is a difficult one, since answers cannot be proved, and as such it is all too easy to come up with one theory and feel the matter to have been resolved.
Here’s how I broke it down in reply to some suggestions on the CC list:
There are actually two questions bundled up – why is buttoning consistent, and why is it the way it is for the two genders.
Assumptions: – Buttoning requires both hands to perform a fairly dextrous action and has no particular handedness bias
– Being familiar with buttoning one way will tend to make clothes that button the other way less desirable
– People will tend to wear clothing items for their gender, not so often clothing of the opposite gender
Under these assumptions, we can expect consistency of buttoning to emerge for each sex (but not necessarily opposite to one another) from random starting conditions, and a slight bias one way or the other at the start is likely to have a strong effect on the final outcome.
Arguments could be made in each direction, as it would only take a small effect to tip things one way or the other.
I found an interesting viewpoint on why it should be the opposite way for males vs females in a seemingly well-informed article on a period costume site.
From the last paragraph:
“Since female clothing took on more and more features of male clothing in order to express emancipation […], it became necessary to establish a feature that signalled that an item of clothing was, despite its male appearance, nevertheless female.”