I must say, I was glued to my seat watching the season finale of Lost last night. I don't think there's a been a show this enjoyable since the debut of The X-Files. I'm already reading reviews from people who are upset that "nothing was solved." People, it's the first season. The goal of most shows is to make it to seven seasons so they can sell it off into syndication. Since the show is doing well, we'll assume that the producers and writers are working on moving the story along at that seven-season pace. Given that, why would they show you anything this early in the game?
And it's not like we didn't learn anything. We learned that there are indeed "others" who come and steal young children from the island (in one of the most heart-wrenching scenes in recent memory). We learned that there's more significance to Hurley's numbers. To me, that's plenty to understand after the first season. If information is slowly trickled out over the next six seasons, it should make the ending all that much more exciting.
Back in college, one of my favorite classes was Artificial Intelligence. Game theory, all that good stuff, is just fascinating to me. So when I found this little gem, it used up many hours of otherwise productive time.
It is basically the same as any other chess program in the world...with one major exception: it actually shows you what it's thinking. Instead of wondering what the decision tree looks like behind the scenes, you get to see exactly what the computer is contemplating. There are all kinds of little hints as to what is going on.
First, each piece has a sphere of influence, representing by waves coming from each piece. These essentially show the other squares on the board that the piece can affect. Then the fun starts. When you move a piece, the computer starts to figure out which moves will occur next. The green lines represent anticipated moves by white (you); the orange are anticipated counter moves by black (the computer). The brighter the color of the lines, the better the move for that player. From all of this, the computer decides which move to make. Check it out!
Most of the forum postings are one of several things:
- I need to have something that (fill in weird behavior here). Can someone give me the code to do this?
- I can't seem to find why this isn't working (followed by the complete source code that's 100 lines long). Can someone debug this for me?
- I'm trying to do xyz but it's not working, anyone know why? (no source code included)
What's worse is that many of them ask to e-mail them instead of posting to the forum. Why should I take the time to answer your question if you don't even have the time to visit the forum and read the answer?
For these types, I usually don't reply. It seems like people are often using these forums as a crutch. I can't tell you how many times I see a post that says "urgent". If you need a solution that functions at your work and your deadline is close enough to go into the forum with an urgent request, you obviously aren't the person that should be writing this code. And if you're going on to say "I need code to do this" you should be looking into how to do that, not expecting someone to copy and paste a solution for you (or worse, write it themselves).
So here's a few tips on how to get good developers, including myself, to answer your postings in one of these forums:
- Before posting, look for a solution online. Do a search using your favorite search engine or pick up a book. Then, search the forum itself. If you still can't find something, then post.
- Use a descriptive subject (i.e., don't just say "newbie needs help", something like "popup window won't open" works much better).
- Don't paste your entire source code into the posting. If you have trouble with only 5-6 lines of code, post those. If you must include all the source code so someone can test it, add it as an attachment.
- Clean up the code you're sharing. Take out any of the stuff that is irrelevant to the issue at hand.
- Subscribe to your forum posting so you can be notified when someone replies. Don't expect people to e-mail you their responses. The purpose of the forum is to share your information with a lot of people, not simply to help one person with one problem.
Follow these simple rules, and watch how your response rates improve!
I've gotten several e-mails today saying that someone from my "network" had sent out spam. Let me state this, for the record, I do not send spam. I am the only person who controls this domain name; this is not part of a business and therefore no one else can send e-mail from this network. If you received spam that says it originated from this domain, then it was spoofed. This is a common practice among spammers to stop from being caught. I'm sorry if you're getting spam, but I didn't send it. And the only foreign languages I know are Spanish and Greek, the spam you all forwarded me is in German (I think).
As I'm sitting here, trying to do research for a project, Google just isn't coming up. I don't know what the problem is, but it's not at my end. And suddenly my perspective changed. That little box in the corner of my Firefox is now useless...my home page, also useless. I found myself thinking back to a time before Google...how would I have found stuff on the Web back then?
So I ended up going back to Yahoo! It was weird, sort of like running into an ex-girlfriend after leaving your current girlfriend's house. How much should you say? You need to be careful not give the wrong signals because you know somehow your girlfriend would find out if you did and make your life hell.
But yet everytime I do my initial search and look at the first result, my instinct is to type further search terms into the Google box on Firefox. Damn, it still doesn't work. I guess I'll head over to Yahoo! again. Oh wait, I can change the search box to use Yahoo!...hmmmmmm. Maybe this isn't the end of the world, maybe I will be able to still find things on the Internet. It'll take a little while to get used to the change, but maybe there is still a spark there that could bloom into something real.
I'm sorry for all the mean things I ever said about you, Yahoo!. You said some thing, I said some things, and Google was just so much sexier at the time. But now, well, now I've come to appreciate you more. No, I promise it's not just because Google disappeared...