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Self-benefiting favors Thu, Nov 29, 2007
Every now and then I get to do someone a favor that primarily benefits me.  It's a win-win situation for everyone involved. 

My grandparents used to live in an area of Florida heavily populated by old people (a.k.a. anywhere in Florida).  Their neighbor behind them was an old guy with a screened-in pool.  Every time my family visited my grandparents, my parents would strike up a conversation with the neighbor, and I would get to swim in a luxurious, naturally-heated, 86° pool.  It was heaven.  And every time I swam in the pool, the old man would thank me for doing him a favor.  He said no one ever used the pool, so it was good to see it put to some use.  There's no victim in a situation like that. 

Oftentimes at large meal-gatherings, the host doesn't want a bunch of leftovers, so he/she will encourage everyone to eat a lot and finish everything.  On a normal occasion, I might feel bad about finishing the last of someone's home-cooked stuffing or freshly-made apple pie, but when I hear "No, please, finish it; you're doing me a favor," I comply.  I wouldn't want to be a bad guest. #psychology

Almost f-words (6) Thu, Nov 29, 2007
I usually laugh in my head when I say or hear these words, especially if they're punctuated with an exclamation point: 
  1. Fark! (weird news website)
  2. Farco! (last name of a guy from college)
  3. Funk! (preeminent style of music; last name of a girl from church)
  4. Fudge! (a la Christmas Story)

Dog poop (3) Wed, Nov 28, 2007
This ad was part of my place mat at a diner in Tom's River, NJ. 

[Image: petbutler.jpg]

If I had a dog and/or poop in my back yard, I'd call these guys simply for their jokes.  Picking up where your dog left off?  One free cleanup after 1st month's service with this poopon?  #1 in the #2 business?  Priceless.  Their website has some more great poop jokes. #entertainment

Quality of internet writing Wed, Nov 28, 2007
One thing that's been true about the internet since its inception is that its quality of writing is pretty poor.  I'm not talking about the content or the way it's written, but about the spelling and grammar.  And this website is no exception.  I've stated before that I sort of employ my own interpretation of accepted grammar rules.  This is another way of saying "I don't use proper grammar when I write."  Spelling, on the other hand, is usually an automatic thing:  There are plugins and web browsers that automatically point out mistakes, so it'd be stupid to not use them. 

The errors I see most often are twofold:  (1) Confusion with there/their/they're and other similar words, and (2) sentences that don't make sense because they're missing words or don't have a matching subject and verb.  Concerning this site, I make no claims as to the perfection of spelling, grammar, or anything else, mainly because I'm one person.  I do this in my free time.  I don't have an editor.  I proofread things before I publish them, but my eyes don't always catch everything.  But with bigger sites, this really shouldn't be a problem.  If you have an editor and there are still spelling and grammar mistakes, fire your editor.  Mid-sized sites (with editors) like TechCrunch shouldn't be publishing sentences like this: 
Keyhole provided Google Earth, a downloadable program that gave a then unprecedented view of the earth through the use of satellite imagery, but Google isn't a software company, Picasa and a few small efforts aside.
Bigger sites like Yahoo and CNN are usually pretty good about either having several people proofread or just having very careful and smart people in the first place.  But I still occasionally notice little spelling and grammar mistakes, and it annoys me.  Proofread before you publish! 

[Note:  This post probably has spelling and grammar mistakes.] #language

Math and engineering online Tue, Nov 27, 2007
The internet is pretty much endless.  You can find any kind of information for any topic you can possibly think of.  Or at least that's what I thought when I was in college, where I consistently reached dead ends when searching for math and engineering topics.  If I was looking for information on a particular equation or a method of solving a problem, I'd usually get a few results from Ph.D. papers and patent applications, most of which charged money.  (As soon as I see a search result that asks for money, I press the back button and usually never look at that site's results again.)  But there was definitely a void when it came to these topics. 

That changed somewhat recently, and I'm not really sure why.  Sites like Wolfram MathWorld and even Wikipedia have extensive amounts of information about highly specialized topics in engineering and math.  These sites usually mimic the things found in a typical text book, but occasionally they'll take it a step further and even link to related topics.  It's gotten to the point where I regularly use these sites as references because they've proven themselves to be so reliable.  It's good to be able to have another source of information when I reach a dead end.  Hurray internet! #math

Low score highlights Tue, Nov 27, 2007
From the NFL's website

[Image: nfllowscore.png]

Highlights from a 60-minute game where the score was tied at 0-0 for the first 59 minutes, 43 seconds?  Sign me up! #sports

Productivity (4) Tue, Nov 27, 2007
It occurred to me yesterday that productivity is inversely proportional to time spent.  More accurately, productivity decreases exponentially with time.  In terms of math, productivity is a measure of task completion versus time spent.  For example, if I have a task to complete that has a measurable point of completion (e.g. starting at point A and moving to point B), the more time I spend on the task, the less productive I am. 

[Image: productivity.png]

Let's say I work on a project for two hours, and I don't reach my point of completion.  My productivity is exactly zero during this time period.  Sure I may have completed smaller portions of the project, and my productivity for each of those portions might be high.  But in the larger picture, I haven't completed the overall task, which means I haven't reached the goal of finishing the project, which means I haven't yet been productive. 

Now let's say I work for 15 minutes later in the day and I complete my project.  My productivity during this time period is four (1 task divided by 0.25 hours) (a relatively arbitrary value, but a value no less), which, no matter how you look at it, is way more than zero. 

The bottom line here is that the more time you spend on something, the less productive you'll be.  This just adds fuel to the "waiting till last minute" fire:  If you wait until the last minute to do something, it'll only take a minute. #business

Pound Mon, Nov 26, 2007
The abbreviation "lb" for the unit of mass/weight pound comes from the Latin phrase libra pondo, which means "a unit of measurement by weight."  I can't believe I've gotten this far in life without knowing that.  (via Neatorama) #language

More NFL observations (1) Mon, Nov 26, 2007
Sort of continued from here
  1. Jeremy Shockey isn't all that bad anymore.  Last year, he was annoying and whiny.  This year, he's the only player on the Giants who can catch a pass, and he's finally found a way to control his emotions.
  2. The Eagles will never be a good team as long as they have Donovan McNabb.  In last night's game against the undefeated New England Patriots led by Tom "God" Brady, the Eagles pretty much won the game under the leadership of quarterback AJ Feeley.  Though the score says they lost, it was close enough to call it a win, especially for a pretty bad team playing a really good team.  But McNabb is expected to be ready to play next week, and he'll inevitably start the game, where he'll get sacked several times, throw a few interceptions, and re-injure himself.  It feels like last year all over again:  When you have a good quarterback (Feeley this year, Garcia last year), PLAY YOUR GOOD QUARTERBACK, don't play an aging, injured, has-been.
  3. Quarterbacks are forced to carry too much of the blame when their offense does poorly.  The perfect example is Eli Manning.  Everyone is so quick to criticize him, but what about the fact that the Giants' offense is tied for the 2nd most dropped passes?  Sure, a bad pass can have both a bad passer and a bad receiver.  But you only need to watch a Giants game for a few minutes to see a receiver drop a pass, whether it's thrown directly at his numbers or simply bounces off his hands.

Read receipt Wed, Nov 21, 2007
Microsoft Outlook has the option of requesting a read receipt for emails you send.  If your recipient reads the email you sent, a message gets sent back to you, assuming the recipient allows the read receipt to be sent. 

People at my job send out stupid emails.  And they send a lot of them.  And they send them to about 2000 people at once.  Every time I receive a mass emailed message that asks if I want to send a read receipt, I consider clicking no because the sender likely doesn't even know me, let alone care if I read the message or not.  Instead, I click yes, hoping the stupid sender is overwhelmed by 2000 read receipts all at once.  Have I mentioned I hate mass emails? #technology

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