Routine Order

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How to survive on $12,000 a year – Lifehacker

February 7th, 2007 · No Comments

Via Lifehacker I learnt of this great article that details how one can live on an income of $12000 a year.

Further, Lifehacker says:

Granted, the $12,000 living income is wholly unrealistic for some cities (she’s only paying $525/month in rent), but the idea remains worthwhile…

Dear Lifehacker, living on $12000 a year has another name – “graduate student life”. I have been with the program for over 5 years. All the wisdom of the MSN moneycentral article can be boiled down to this:
Don’t spend what you don’t have in your savings account.

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The history of Evolutionary Computation

February 7th, 2007 · 2 Comments

The history of evolutionary computation, vol. 1 is a great article that merits a read, at least one read, that is.



Why Mocha is Called Mocha

February 6th, 2007 · No Comments

The answer comes in the form of an old port in Yemen! So that variant of coffee you can order at a bistro is also named after a place, after all.

All is at peace in my mind now!

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How to write an awesome scientific paper

February 6th, 2007 · No Comments

How to write an awesome scientific paper | COSMOS magazine
Turning even the most dreary scientific paper into a riveting read is not as hard as it may seem…

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The Brain Says the Coke Ad Was the Best

February 5th, 2007 · No Comments

FKF Applied Research, with the help of UCLA’s Ahmanson Lovelace Brain Mapping Center, said that Coca-Cola’s “Video Game” ad–a 60-second animated spot that promotes random acts of kindness–scored this year because it elicited the most positive emotions in subjects’ brains.


brain scan

Interesting research – they monitor brain activity to see which ads elicit the most “positive” response. They say some ads elicit a fear response and will be quickly forgotten – now we are in hot water. Why? Because people like my girl friend get enormously turned on by horror movies and the like. Going by the idea the FKF research folks put forward, the only movies that make a lasting, positive impression are the feel-good, empathy-generating ones, but we all know that Jaws, Omen etc have been huge hits and have been permanently etched into so many memories, world wide.

I think there is no way to tell which ads were more successful, but yes, you sure can find out which ones were terrible failures – those would be the ads that generated a minimal response from any part of the brain.

Now for your viewing pleasure, here is the best ad, according to the human brain:

It was a neat ad – all things aside, I loved it.

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Lip Balm Anonymous: Are You Addicted?

February 5th, 2007 · No Comments

Lip Balm Anonymous

What do the experts say? By the definition, we are addicted. We use (or used) the substance habitually, often not realizing we were actually applying it since it was such a daily routine. Anyone who has tried to quit can readily attest that when you stop using, your lips become negatively affected for several days or weeks. The physiological dependency is there!

I have always been suspicious of that stick of lip balm my girlfriend carries. I used to tell her she was addicted. Little did I know how close to the truth I was!!!

LBA has been on the web for more than 10 years now. Wierd?, or scary? or both?

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How athletes’ sex is verified

February 4th, 2007 · No Comments

You must remember that I wrote about an Indian Athlete who failed a sex test. I was left wondering what test it was that could possibly identify a female as a male. I also wondered why the physician doing the test would’nt simply ask the athlete to lower his/her pants.

The reason why the pants stay on is that there were questions regarding whether or not it is humiliating.

So how are the test conducted?

Via slashdot, I got to the World Problems Database arranged by the UIO, where I find this problem listed:
Indeterminate sex test.
So, in short, sex is determined via analysis of the athlete’s saliva. The problem description says:

There are a variety of birth defects, affecting perhaps one person in 500, that can cause a discrepancy between chromosome composition and sex. The degrees and physical manifestations vary greatly, but there is little to indicate that it gives an athlete a competitive advantage. One international amateur sporting body has discarded testing and relies primarily on visual examination of a person’s genitals, usually as part of the overall physical

Aha! Though I very much doubt if there are any readers for this blog – I am much happier today. One problem solved, and sealed!

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Wipbox: Research before listing on eBay – Make more money

February 4th, 2007 · No Comments

From Lifehacker I learnt about this cool new mashup website called Wipbox that lets you research a product before listing it for sale on ebay.

You can lookup the average, high and low prices it has sold for on ebay, which enables you to see what you can expect from the sale, or set a reserve price/starting price. You can then lookup product info from Amazon and provide all the information your prospective clients could want. Next, you can create a better looking ebay ad – all from this one website.

It’s awesome – just the way I would have built it if I knew how.

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The Forer effect or Why Horoscopes seem so true

February 2nd, 2007 · No Comments

Today I was searching for the name of the phenomenon by which positive affirmations, predictions or personality analysis always seems true. There is no end to the number of personality tests online – ones that aid self-discovery and promote a better understanding of one’s self – you get what I am talking about.

Turns out there is an effect by the name of “The Forer Effect” or the “Barnum Effect”, which is also called the Personal Validation Fallacy. If someone predicts our future, or produces an analysis of your personality based on some questions, you tend to believe it truly describes you, and is tailor-made just for you even if that was not the case.

Bertram Forer, a psychologist, gave a personality test to his students, and then gave them the results – analysis that described the students. He gave the same analysis to all the students, and yet the students rated the analysis at 4.26/5.00 for its correctness! The text of the analysis that he gave the students is as follows:

You have a need for other people to like and admire you, and yet you tend to be critical of yourself. While you have some personality weaknesses you are generally able to compensate for them. You have considerable unused capacity that you have not turned to your advantage. Disciplined and self-controlled on the outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure on the inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You also pride yourself as an independent thinker; and do not accept others’ statements without satisfactory proof. But you have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. At times you are extroverted, affable, and sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, and reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be rather unrealistic.

I would say that is a pretty accurate analysis of my personality too.

This effect also accounts for why horoscope may seem accurately tailor-made for you, when, clearly, that can’t be the case.

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Acer Includes an ActiveX Control to Launch Apps in your Notebook

February 1st, 2007 · No Comments

Via slashdot, I came across this article that describes an activex control that acer includes in all its laptops. The activex control offers a method for any webpage that uses it to execute programs, open and modify files etc on any laptop that has it.

The page includes the html code for a webpage to test if your acer notebook has this “feature” where any webpage can run arbitrary programs on your laptop when running Microsoft Windows. I tried it with my Acer and much to my surprise, it worked!!!

It is amazing how acer put this “feature” in and how I was kept in the dark about this. This is like handing over the keys to my kingdom without even knowing it.

Kind of makes me want to move to an Operating System without any backdoor, or hidden “features”. Maybe Ubuntu?

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