Saturday, July 26, 2008

xkcd conundrum

This post was originally written on 7 October 2008, shortly after the related xkcd cartoon was published.

I only discovered XKCD relatively recently (within the last couple of years, '06/'07) and it's not always as funny as it can be, but this particular cartoon got me thinking what I would do:
And over there, we have the labyrinth guards. One always lies, one always tells the truth, and one stabs people who asks tricky questions.
This is clearly a take on the old classic problem where you have to try and find out who's telling the truth, but with the added problem of not being able to ask tricky q's until you've figured out who the stabber is. Obviously you don't want to get stabbed. So perhaps the first question to ask would be "Are you going to stab me?" or similar to one of them. I'm assuming that's not tricky enough to elicit his stab response; but that anything with more than one clause in the question would see you lying in a pool of your own blood if you happened to ask a complex question.

If he says yes and doesn't stab you, he's the liar (but could also be the stabber ); if he says no he can't be the liar because he'd have to stab you and then he wouldn't be the liar - assuming mutual exclusivity of the 3 behaviour traits. Problem is, the way to identify more quickly who's who is to force him to try and stab you by asking a tricky Q which will figure out whether he's the liar or not, and hope you haven't picked the stabber; then run v.quickly out of stab-range after asking (but still so you can hear them)?. Mmm..

Monday, July 21, 2008

Opera Link Sync the bees knees

I LOVE Opera Link synchronisation. I had a feeling it would be a bloody useful feature, and it f'in well is! What is it? Well it's only really useful if you run opera on at least one of your PCs, and you use multiple machines regularly (even if you don't use Opera on all). Seeing as Opera runs on just about anything (Linux, Windows, Mac, almost any smartphone, PDA, or any that can run Java J2ME apps which includes some not-quite-smartphone phones), that's quite easy to do. Read the link for more, but for the lazy: it allows you to see the same bookmarks; notes, speeddial if you want to across any computer you run Opera on. So I can add a bookmark at work, in my "to check out" folder, and when I get home, without any extra work whatsoever, I can load Opera and that bookmark is there ready to check out. It synchronises so quickly I don't even notice it and in the background while working away too.

I know I've mentioned it in my PiM synchronisation post a while ago

Opera is my favourite browser anyway - once you've got it loaded (and it's a lot faster than it used to be at starting up too, even with 30 or 40 tabs loaded at once), it's fast, very stable (more so than Firefox/IE), less of a memory hog (20 tabs loaded in Opera will often use less system resources than 3 tabs loaded in Firefox) and very very customisable. It doesn't have extensions like Firefox, but it has 'widgets' and it's so customisable you almost don't wish for them. Good if you want a UI that's in your own (non-popular) language too. They came up with a lot of the features that other browsers have first, and then FF/IE copied them. Minor annoyances are how the odd site doesn't look quite ok or work quite the same as in IE or Firefox, but they've become more conventional recently too in v9.51 (at the expense of breaking what it should do according to the specifications in some areas - pull yer act together IE!).


Monday, July 14, 2008

Public Windows BSODs

A post over on slashdot caught my eye, referring to a post on publicly visible overpowered uses of Windows:

1. To display a static green arrow over the open TSA security lanes at Detroit Metro. I kid you not, at the main security checkpoint to get into Detroit Metro there are monitors over each metal detector. The ONLY thing those monitors ever display is a big green arrow pointing down. Oh, occasionally they display a blue screen with a Windows error notice.
Classic. What was wrong with an electric switch and an actuator to move a physical sign (maybe even LED backlit) or swap it. No problems with updates or being open to abuse from computer virii/worms.

Reminds me of the time earlier this year on the way back home on the tube, when Bank underground station's status displays were all BSOD'd