Saturday, July 26, 2008

Demonstrative Pronoun Fail

Here's an error message I got the other day when I mistyped a password:

Am I authorised to click 'OK'?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Unitent

When a Unitard clearly isn't going to be be big enough ... ladies and gentlemen, step right up!

Tent erected in honour of the poo germ spray page at PAN.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The apple not falling very far from the tree

You know how sometimes you're struck by a similarity between your own behaviour and your parents'? Like for instance, if I'm making a round of drinks for a few people, I know I'll forget which is which if they're in random order, so some years back I got into the habit of just arranging them alphabetically. OCD you may say, but it keeps me out of trouble. Moreover, in the modern world, you're more likely to know someone's given name than surname, so I alphabetise by given name. A year or two ago, I found out my mother does the very same thing. Surely that can't be very common?

Anyhow, more recently I was tickled to see this. This came at about the end of my song parody heyday, and a month or two after we were talking about Truss' book on PAN. I hadn't discussed either of those things with my mother, so it's a total coincidence ... or genetics!

Monday, March 31, 2008

40000 is a big number

There are forty thousand dots in this picture. One for each post at TMHQ so far.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Crafty me & a computer-generated passive aggressive note

Firstly, I've had some data integrity trouble with the photos of the one thing I ever knitted, a coat for my first kid. So the bottoms of these photos are missing. Sorry. But here's my daughter pretending to be a ghost, and then peek-a-booing. This coat took a very long time to knit, because I had never knit anything before. It was arguably an unsuitable project for a beginner. Still, I enjoyed doing it & I love these photos.

Also, while I'm at it, I'll post the best painting I've ever done. I'm not much of an artist; I'm the artistic dunce of the family. But a couple fo days ago I got roped into joining in when my concubine & our daughters were painting, with this result:

Lastly, a passive-aggressive reply I got from the computer algebra package Mathematica a couple of days ago. I'm not sending this to Kerry, because I doubt it will be everyone's kind of thing, but maybe someone here will see the funny side. I had a system of equations I wanted to solve. These equations involved complex variables and their conjugates (that is, variables from the complex plane and their mirror images reflected through the real axis). I entered my equations into Mathematica which, like Maple (which I had tried first), was unable to solve them. But whereas Maple had just said "sorry, I can't solve your equations" or something like that, Mathematica tried to blame me:What I'd like is to know what all the solutions are, but I'll have to live on in ignorance. I did manage to find a couple of solutions by hand---though evidently, whatever I was doing, it wasn't really "algebra".

Thursday, February 21, 2008

This is an animation I've produced this week to help illustrate a couple of concepts from Operations Research (a branch of ... let's say mathematics). I don't know as I write this whether the image will be shown as an animation. If not, you can probably just download it and open it in Quicktime or whatever. That might be preferable, anyway, since you're supposed to be able to slide the line back & forth with the slider & see what happens. I should compress the image for the web, I know, but I don't know how, sorry.

Loosely, the red lines show the contours of some objective you're trying to achieve, e.g., profit. So the various points on the graph represent various business strategies, and the further northeast you get, the more money you're making. But you can't go into the yellow regions, because of various constraints; each of those lines represents a constraint, probably due to your having a fixed quantity of some resource.

The animation changes one of the constraints, to show how the amount available of that resource affects the profit you can achieve.

Maybe I'd better leave it at that for now!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

With the right attitude, you can't fail

This story's about 8 or 9 weeks old now. I went with my family to Aotearoa for 6 weeks over xmasny, and this is the story of our taxi ride to the airport, at the start of our holiday.

The taxi driver was a cheerful, friendly fellow with a heavy Eastern European accent. Right at the outset, he asked us if we'd mind stopping at a petrol (= gas) station on the way. We had left in plenty of time, and the fare was fixed in advance, so of course we said fine.

He asked a few questions and told us a bit about his life, & at first it was pleasant. However, it's a long way to the airport from our place, & as the conversation wore on, the driver latched onto my 15yo stepson in a fairly misguided and very irritating way. He began to exhort him to work hard at school. That doesn't sound so bad, of course, but it was the way he went about it: "My sons, when they went to university, they never have girlfriends. You know why? They too busy, study, study, study. Now, one is an accountant, the other is a manager. Now, they have fifty girlfriends. They have nice car, nice clothes, they go into a nightclub, any girl there will want to talk to them. I talk to you now like a father, I give you good advice, you listen, you study hard, when you're twenty-five, you'll have very nice car, you can really enjoy life." And on and on and on.

Now, I know, attitudes to material success vary greatly. To my stepson, I'm sure, that sounded like a nightmarish future. But he's a very polite young man, and managed---only just---to feign interest. Eventually we got to the petrol station, & it was quite a relief, because the driver went inside, and concubine and I were able to commiserate with stepson and give him the strength needed to withstand the remainder of the onslaught.

Anyhow, until we got to the petrol station, we were assuming, as probably are you, dear reader, that our object there was to buy petrol. Evidently not. The driver went inside for three or four minutes, came out, resumed driving, got on his cellphone & had a quick conversation with someone about the errand. The only thing I really made out was the line, "He wouldn't sign it. No. I don't know. He wouldn't sign it."

The driver then advised us that there was some accident or roadworks or something on the usual route, & that it would probably be a lot quicker to go another way. I don't know Sydney's roads very well, & we weren't in a hurry anyway, so we said fine, whatever. So we took the alternative route, and it turned out to be very slow, with very heavy traffic. Our punctual arrival at the airport was never in jeopardy, which is just as well; otherwise, I might not have been so amused by the logical dubiosity of the driver's repeatedly indicating all the traffic and saying, self-congratulatorily, "See? I'm not the only smart!!"