Weekend Update: “I’m Gregorus, and You’re Not”

I posted my weekend details on my plan but I thought I’d share them here too:

This has been kind of a crazy weekend, but I think that might be a good thing. I stayed late at work so as not to pay for parking and ended up playing a board game with a coworker at a fast food mexican restaurant.

Then I went straight to my brother’s house without changing out of my work clothes, didn’t get there until 9, then stayed up until 4 in the morning drinking and playing board games and card games and Smash Bros. over there. Which was a good thing!

Why it’s a good thing, I’ll get to. I crashed at his place (actually my parents’ place, they’re at the beach celebrating their 29th anniversary) and woke up at 2:30 PM. This is also part of the good thing. I went home and got cleaned up, put on my Lion’s club shirt and went to what I had signed up for: managing parking at relay for life. And yet, I wanted to go to my cousins graduation party! So I asked the King Lion if they really needed me and he said no so I went to the party (after hanging out with the pending District Governor in our tent). At family parties, we always play board games (are you sensing a trend?) and I bring a bunch so that we can do it. I bought my cousin a card on the way there and drove the hour and 15 minutes to their place in Western Maryland. Cool party!

I enjoyed that, we played games, we laughed, I walked with my two preteen cousins around town. They talked to their friends on my cell phone until my (admittedly paltry) battery died. I stayed up playing one of the more complicated games with the graduate until 11pm. We said our goodbyes and I drove the hour back to relay for life. I was assigned to walk from 1 AM to 3 AM (THE GOOD THING RETURNS). I’d only been up 11 hours so I wasn’t tired. I actually started walking at 12:30 and kept it up ’til 3:08 to be sociable with the people going before and after me.

I came home and slept. And got up at 11 and called another friend and she just called me back and we’re going to hang out at her place in Virginia with another group of friends that I’ve made. She likes board games so we’ll see if that happens. My aim is to have played Dominion with 4 different groups of people this weekend. And I still have unset board game plans with two other people. So it’s all good and it’s very busy.

The whole weekend I’ve been dealing with this tightness/pain in my chest, though. It feels like I’m having a mild heart attack, but I’m totally not. I’ve been to three doctors and they all just essentially said “whatever, you’re fine” and sent me on my way. So I’ll just give it another week or two. I think it might just be neuropathy or bruising or something from holding my phone to my shoulder with my cheek at work. Or it could be something with my arm artery, but the doctors say probably not so whatever.

I only have had one meal since Saturday morning (of potato salad, bread, and 3 brownies) so I should probably eat. But first I’m going to finish making this facebook “how well do you know me?” quiz, I think.

Wolfram Alpha: First Impressions

A friend recently told me about the recent debut of a new search engine called Wolfram Alpha. I had heard about it a while back from some coworkers and heard about how Stephen Wolfram, the inventor of the system, was either a super-genius or a little bit crazy.

I hadn’t been excited about trying a new search engine since Google, so I figured I would try running it through its paces. The claim is that one should pose it questions in natural language and receive answers to those questions rather than links. So that’s the approach I tried.

The first question I asked it (and I don’t know why) was “How many calories are there in an egg mcmuffin?” I was very impressed by the first response. It not only told me, first, how many calories were in an egg mcmuffin. It then proceeded to give me the entire nutritional information and compare it to other foods on a variety of metrics! I was very very impressed.

wacalories

The next thing I did was ask “How many people live in Silver Spring, Maryland?” It seemed to understand my question and it gave me an answer, but the answer was quite succinct. The thing about Silver Spring is that it’s not incorporated; it’s a census-designated place. There’s a lot of different ways to calculate that number and I’d love to have seen more of them and more details like with the first answer.

I started asking more mundane questions at this point; things that would be useful in my daily life like:

None of these questions were even understood by the knowledge engine, and no answer was attempted to be given. I kind of understand this; it may not be the kind of thing it’s meant for, but Google can provide answers for questions of this type (even if the answers are only the opinions of random people on the internet.)

So, in short, I am amazed by what it can do but it doesn’t do enough for it to be my go-to search engine yet. I will keep an eye on it. Let me know if you find anything really cool it can do!

Silver Spring Lunch Calculations

Lunch Time!

Lunch Time!

If there are two things software engineers like to discuss and optimize the most during their work day, they are the commute and where to go for lunch. The latter is the topic of discussion today.

A few weeks ago I decided to put a makeshift lunch-chart on my whiteboard. I listed all the lunch places along one axis and all the people I generally go to lunch with on the other and had everyone rate their choices from 0 to 10. Later on I back-ported a meaning onto this 0-10 scale: multiply by ten to get the percentage chance I could get you to go to this place if I proposed we go there.

Eventually everyone got annoyed that we couldn’t fiddle with the numbers to generate cool statistics. One person even proposed doing an “affinity” chart to see who generally likes the same places as others. All this was too tough to do on a whiteboard, so I ported the numbers over to a Google Spreadsheet (in my spare time, of course). The image above is a slightly dated version of that Spreadsheet.

I think Google Spreadsheet is really awesome and I hope that maybe if you live or work in Silver Spring, this chart will be somewhat beneficial to you, too. And if not, maybe you can make your own chart for the places near you!

View the whole spreadsheet here!