Monday, February 25, 2008

Am I radiant?

If you're going to steal something from an abandoned building, I recommend choosing something other than the old, radioactive X-ray source. It's also probably not a great idea to sell it on eBay.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Vista -- sorry, it's my bad...

At least according to Slashdot, Amazon caused Vista to ship before it was ready by stealing a key Microsoft SVP, Brian Valentine. He's the SVP of my org at Amazon now.

They also point out that we're paying him something like $33M over four years; for once, though, I'll say it's money well spent. He's probably saved the company that much already by cutting out crap. Very effective leader in my book.

Monday, February 11, 2008

I wax statistical...

I'm watching "Deal or No Deal" -- they have a new gimmick where they're putting up multiple cases with $1 million (12 of 26 for the current contestant), replacing the other high dollar amounts on the board. However, I'm not sure it actually changes the gameplay at all.

Computing the expected value at any point is straightforward. The bank's offers, however, are not solely dependent on the expected value; the number of turns appears to be a factor. A comment on this blog post suggests offer = <value> * turn / 10 (where <value> is the expectation value). The offers the bank is making in the early rounds of the 12 $1 million case version, however, seem low -- almost as if the values on the board were not $1 million but the previous values. The episode ended before the contestant finished, so I'm left wondering at this point.

One thing which strikes me, however, is that the endgame is probably the same. If he/she makes it to the final round, in all likelihood (though I have yet to confirm this statistically) the choice will be between a low dollar amount and a $1 million suitcase. Maybe it's somehow easier to get to this endgame? Hm. You know, I'm going to have to do the math on this one.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Silly me. Silly fitness challenge. I swam just over 6 miles today (10,600 yards). That's the most I've done in a single day and my arms are complaining like crazy.

I'm currently at 23.8 miles for the month; my goal is 56.8 miles (100,000 yards), so I'm a good part of the way there. Let's hope my muscles don't fall apart.

Early results from Washington

At least if the precincts in my caucus were anything to go by, it looks like Obama will have a solid lead in Washington. The breakdown in my precinct was 188 (12 delegates) for Obama, 55 (3 delegates) for Clinton, and 19 (1 delegate) undecided. Other precincts split similarly. Turnout was heavy, as one might expect.

This is the first time I've ever participated in a caucus -- my previous experiences were voting in lame duck primaries in California and Pennsylvania. I quite like Washington's system; you don't register for a particular party, so you can go to either of the caucuses. Since McCain has the Republican nomination pretty much locked up, it made far more sense to attend a Democratic caucus. Listening to people campaign makes for a far more lively atmosphere; participating in the political process is more fun this way.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

When work intrudes on your personal life...

I just saw the Super Bowl ad for Pepsi Stuff. Unremarkable, except they flashed the logo for a fraction of a second. It's so weird seeing that. I forget just how big Amazon is sometimes. It's unusual, because the work I do often has a direct impact on the website.

At every other big company I've worked (IBM, Seagate, Cadence), my work usually ends up being a footnote for some minor offshoot project which never made it into a real product. Until now, it's only been the startups (AstroTerra, Neolinear) where my contributions actually have had a measurable impact for a customer.