take-home midterm blues

After a riotous halloween party last night (100+ people over the night, lasting until 3:30) and scrubbing the house clean so that my feet no longer stick to the floor, I am really settling down to do my take-home midterm that’s due on Tuesday. We may only use our “own notes from the class, Gallager’s book, and Cover/Thomas.” It seems reasonable on the face of it, but this is a research seminar class where most of the students are doing research in the topics covered by the exam. If one were to literally follow the instructions, almost no research could be done while the exam was out, which seems pretty silly.

Then again, one of the professors for this class was also responsible for the take-home but fixed-time (3 hours) midterm my first semester here. It’s a clever way of circumventing university exam rules, but I really question its usefulness as a method for evaluating knowledge.

people should still write like this

From J. Wolfowitz (father of Paul Wolfowitz), in Coding Theorems of Information Theory:

The use of combinatorial arguments is frequent in probability theory. We shall reverse this usual procedure and use formally probabilistic arguments to obtain combinatorial results. However, the probabilistic arguments to be employed are very simple and of no depth, and could easily be replaced by suitable combinatorial arguments. Their chief role is therefore one of convenience, to enable us to proceed with speed and dispatch.

And now to vanquish this paper I’m writing with “speed and dispatch.”

the perils of the Sims

My friend Sin is getting shown up by his own character in The Sims. Apparently the computer can learn a lot about you:

Normally, you have to get a Sim to flirt with another one for any sort of hanky-panky to take place, but mine? Well, he just moved straight in for the kill, no bones about it. I didn’t tell him to do ANYTHING…he just decided to go for the Mediterranean sausage all on his own.

I’m so gay that I’ve made a COMPUTER CHARACTER GAY WITHOUT EVEN TRYING.

Poor, poor guy. The screenshots are pretty hot though.

overdubbing

Two albums I really need to buy soon. Tom Waits’ Real Gone and Björk’s Medulla. I’m listening to the latter now, courtesy of Rhapsody ($2 a month for Berkeley students!), and it’s pretty awesome. She overdubs herself over voices — even the percussive effects are done by voices. Tom Waits does the same thing with his album. He recorded himself beatboxing (!) and lays the music over that. From a review:

You don’t own a run-down turntable with a rusted stylus? No worry, Real Gone has been recorded and mixed to make you believe that you do. Percussion clanks and scrapes like a ruckus in a submarine’s bowels, guitars and turntables (yes, turntables) squeal like midnight transmissions from pirate radio, chairs squeak and banjos hypothesize.

I’m very excited.

On a side note, I constantly type LaTeX commands to get special characters in HTML, and it never works. I need one of those “auto spellchecker” things.