My second installment of my daily thoughts/random discoveries. If you're wondering, the reason for starting at #305 is because November 1st is the 305th day of the year.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

#305 - It's amazing/interesting to think about what you have learnt during the day and find one thing that you feel is worthy to share.

This obviously comes from the post from last week as it was the first time I really sat down at the end of each day and thought about what to write about. In the past I have probably casually just thought about the day that has just passed, but never in much depth. It definitely takes some time to pick out the thing to write about, but I feel it is worth it - especially at the end of the week when I read through my notes I've jotted down for each day. Admittedly at the end of some days it felt like nothing special enough happened that day to write about - after all I can't expect all days to be exciting - just have to make sure there aren't too many of them :)

Monday, 2 November 2009

#306 - Rule of thumb: Red wine doesn't go with seafood - Wine and seafood: Red rags

For those that know me, I hardly drink wine (in fact I hardly drink alcohol). So the random fact of my day is drinking red wine while having seafood can leave a strong and unpleasant fishy taste in your mouth. Iron levels in wine is the cause for the fishy after-taste since iron reacts with the healthy unsaturated fat in fish to form unstable chemical compounds that cause the unpleasant fishy odours. So it seems like it as long as the wine has low iron levels, you can enjoy your seafood dinner - though white wine in general have lower iron levels than red, so probably still a safer choice.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

#307 - Sweeps is gambling for dummies.

Today was Melbourne Cup and when I came into work today saw an email about entering the "Sweeps". There were multiple $2 and $5 sweeps and I had no idea how sweeps worked, other than you had to put money in and you might get some back if you won. It was only after lunch that I found out how sweeps worked - everyone who entered gets assigned a random horse and then at the end of the race, the winnings are paid out in some sort of proportion to the winners (the payout split seems to differs slightly depending on the sweeps organiser).

Guess sweeps works for people like me who don't know much about the horses so getting assigned a random horse is just about the same as picking a horse myself. Maybe I should've tried my luck in the Melbourne Cup sweeps - though it would've helped if I knew how sweeps worked in the first place.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

#308 - A high IQ doesn't mean much, being able to make rational decisions is just as important. - Clever fools

I've always thought that IQ tests are quite pointless and silly - a person isn't "smart" because they can figure out what pattern comes next in the series. Being able to analyse, think logically and connect the dots are definitely important, but in my opinion what makes a person "smart" is how they interact with people, how they make decisions and how they justify their actions.

This is obviously very vague but that is because being "smart" means so many different things in different contexts. The New Scientist article "Clever fools: Why a high IQ doesn't mean you're smart" talks about rational decision making as being an important aspect of an individual's intelligence which I feel is very true. It's a pretty good read and one of the things that I like are some of the analogies used to illustrate how purely measuring IQ is quite limited: "A high IQ is like height in a basketball player...There's a lot more to being a good basketball player than being tall, and there's a lot more to being a good thinker than having a high IQ." -David Perkins

Thursday, 5 November 2009

#309 - Time flies!

Today was a bit of a strange day, a series of events made me realise how time flies! In the morning news today they mentioned it has been a year since Obama was elected as President - to me it definitely didn't seem like a whole year has passed since all the US election frenzy. Then at work, a colleague mentioned that in a few short weeks we will have reached the end of another decade and will be starting a new one: 2010. Ten years ago it was "Year 2000" with all the Y2K worries. Ten years ago I had just started high school. Finally, while filling out some forms I realised that I had been working full time for nearly 9 months now - it might not sound long to some people, but to me it feels like I'm still new and just started not long ago.

Friday, 6 November 2009

#310 - An extra little bit of attention can go a long way.

Not quite sure how this popped into my mind today, but it just did. Simply put, I believe that an extra bit of thought and attention when we do things can make a big difference. Not quite sure how to express it nicely, but basically, spending an extra second or two every now and then to think about what you are doing and if you can do anything different to make things better pays off. It might be beneficial to yourself (eg. noticing the dark clouds outside and packing the umbrella) or others (eg. suggesting that other idea that they might just find helpful). Many times the extra attention will probably go unnoticed, but sometimes you'll be happy you packed the umbrella and the other person might just find that extra little idea to be perfect.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

#311 - The humble mouse movement is controlled by the "Mouse Acceleration Curve"

When you are using a computer, more often than not you'll also be using the mouse to point, click, drag etc. But have you ever thought of how the physical movement of the mouse is translated into the movement of the cursor on your screen? I haven't, until today. For the past few months been using my MacBook Pro and every now and then I will be using the mouse instead of the track-pad and the mouse movement just felt wrong. It'll move fine but then as I am approaching the target (eg. a button) the cursor seems to slow down and become rather unresponsive - very very annoying when playing World of Goo!

Getting rather annoyed at the "broken" mouse movement, I decided to see if there was a fix for it and after a bit of googling I realised neither my mouse nor laptop was broken, instead Apple just had a different (read crappier) "Mouse Acceleration Curve" compared to Windows.

This article I found explains the whole thing quite well - basically, it's obvious that the movement translation can't be a 1:1 ratio - needing to move 1cm physically to move the cursor 1cm on the screen is not practical (this is about as much though as I gave to the mouse movement prior to today...but there is so much more!). The simplest possible solution is to change the ratio to say 3:1 - but that causes another problem: "you'd have to move your mouse about [2.1 mm], no more, no less, to move from the center of the close button to get to the center of the minimize button".

The solution? Use both. When the mouse is moving fast use a X:1 ratio to move a far distance with little motion; while when the mouse is moving slow use a 1:1 ration to get the precision needed. As the article explains "For mouse motion to feel natural (at least for most people), the curve has to start by moving upward fairly moderately, then gradually flattening out as the value of X increases...A comfortable and useful curve is shaped like a curve. Mac OS X's curve, however, is shaped more like a cliff". This explained the "broken" feel I got when using my mouse - general movement across the screen was all ok, but because of the abrupt flattening at the top of the cliff, when I slowed down to click on the target, my mouse practically slowed down to a halt.

Luckily, it can be easily fixed. There are some 3rd party applications (shareware) that can give you a more control over the acceleration curve. USB Overdrive and SteerMouse seem to be two most popular. However, I went with the free option and downloaded drivers for my mouse off the Microsoft website. Now back to playing World of Goo - unfortunately this means I can no longer blame my lack of co-ordination on bad mouse movement!